No lesson can be of greater national importance than the history of the rise and the fall of a commercial empire. The view of what advantages were acquired, and of what might have been still added; the means by which such empire might have been continued, and the errors by which it was lost, are as particularly conspicuous in the naval and commercial history of Portugal as if Providence had intended to give a lasting example to mankind; a chart, where the course of the safe voyage is pointed out, and where the shelves and rocks, and the seasons of tempest are discovered and foretold.
The history of Portugal, as a naval and commercial power, begins with the designs of Prince Henry. But as the enterprises of this great man, and the completion of his designs are intimately connected with the state of Portugal, a short view of the progress of the power, and of the character of that kingdom, will be necessary to elucidate the history of the revival of commerce, and the subject of the Lusiad.
During the centuries when the effeminated Roman provinces of Europe were desolated by the irruptions of the northern barbarians, the Saracens spread the same horrors of brutal conquest over the finest countries of the eastern world. The northern conquerors of the finer provinces of Europe embraced the Christian religion as professed by the monks, and, contented with the
luxuries of their new settlements, their military spirit soon declined. The Saracens, on the other hand, having embraced the religion of Mohammed, their rage for war received every addition which can possibly be inspired by religious enthusiasm. Not only the spoils of the vanquished, but Paradise itself was to be obtained by their sabres. Strengthened and inspired by a commission which they esteemed divine, the rapidity of their conquests far exceeded those of the Goths and Vandals. The majority of the inhabitants of every country they subdued embraced their religion and imbibed their principles; thus, the professors of Mohammedanism became the most formidable combination ever leagued together against the rest of mankind. Morocco and the adjacent countries had now received the doctrines of the Koran, and the arms of the Saracens spread slaughter and desolation from the south of Spain to Italy, and the islands of the Mediterranean. All the rapine and carnage committed by the Gothic conquerors were now amply returned on their less warlike posterity. In Spain, and the province now called Portugal, the Mohammedans erected powerful kingdoms, and their lust of conquest threatened destruction to every Christian power. But a romantic military spirit revived in Europe under the auspices of Charlemagne. The Mohammedans, during the reign of this sovereign, made a most formidable irruption into Europe; France in particular felt the weight of their fury. By the invention of new military honours that monarch drew the adventurous youth of every Christian power to his standards, which eventually resulted in the crusades, the beginning of which, in propriety, should be dated from his reign. Few indeed are the historians of this period, but enough remains to prove, that though the writers of the old romance seized upon it, and added the inexhaustible machinery of magic to the adventures of their heroes, yet the origin of their fictions was founded on historical facts. * Yet, however this period may thus resemble the fabulous ages of Greece, certain it is, that an Orlando, a Rinaldo, a Rugero, and other celebrated names in romance, acquired great
honour in the wars which were waged against the Saracens, the invaders of Europe. In these romantic wars, by which the power of the Mohammedans was checked, several centuries elapsed, when Alonzo, King of Castile, apprehensive that the whole force of the Mohammedans of Spain and Morocco was ready to fall upon him, prudently imitated the conduct of Charlemagne. He availed himself of the spirit of chivalry, and demanded leave of Philip I. of France, and other princes, that volunteers from their dominions might be allowed to distinguish themselves, under his banners, against the Saracens. His desire was no sooner known than a brave army of volunteers thronged to his standard, and Alonzo was victorious. Honours and endowments were liberally distributed among the champions; and to Henry, a younger son of the Duke of Burgundy, he gave his daughter, Teresa, in marriage, with the sovereignty of the countries south of Galicia as a dowry, commissioning him to extend his dominions by the expulsion of the Moors. Henry, who reigned by the title of Count, improved every advantage which offered. The two rich provinces of Entro Minho e Douro, and Tras os Montes, yielded to his arms; great part of Beira also was subdued, and the Moorish King of Lamego became his tributary. Many thousands of Christians, who had lived in miserable subjection to the Moors, took shelter under the generous protection of Count Henry. Great numbers of the Moors also changed their religion, and chose rather to continue in the land where they were born than be exposed to the severities and injustice of their native governors. And thus, one of the most beautiful * and fertile spots of the world, with the finest climate, in consequence of a crusade † against the Mohammedans, became in the end the kingdom of Portugal, a sovereignty which in course of time spread its influence far over the world.
Count Henry, after a successful reign, was succeeded by his infant son, Don Alonzo-Henry, who, having surmounted the dangers which threatened his youth, became the founder of the Portuguese monarchy. In 1139 the Moors of Spain and Barbary united their forces to recover the dominions from which they had been driven by the Christians. According to the accounts of the
Portuguese writers, the Moorish army amounted to near 400,000 men; nor is this number incredible when we consider what armies they at other times have brought into the field, and that at this time they came to take possession of lands from which they had been expelled. Don Alonzo, however, with a very small army, gave them battle on the plains of Ourique, and after a struggle of six hours, obtained a most glorious and complete victory, and one which was crowned with an event of the utmost importance. On the field of battle Don Alonzo was proclaimed King of Portugal by his victorious soldiers, and he in return conferred the rank of nobility on the whole army. The constitution of the monarchy, however, was not settled, nor was Alonzo invested with the regalia till six years after this memorable victory. The kind of government the Portuguese had submitted to under the Spaniards and Moors, and the advantages which they saw were derived from their own valour, had taught them the love of liberty, while Alonzo himself understood the spirit of his subjects too well to make the least attempt to set himself up as a despotic monarch. After six years spent in further victories, he called an assembly of the prelates, nobility, and commons, to meet at Lamego. When the assembly opened, Alonzo appeared seated on the throne, but without any other mark of regal dignity. Before he was crowned, the constitution of the state was settled, and eighteen statutes were solemnly confirmed by oath * as the charter of king and people; statutes diametrically opposite to the divine right and arbitrary power of kings, principles which inculcate and demand the unlimited passive obedience of the subject.
The founders of the Portuguese monarchy transmitted to their heirs those generous principles of liberty which complete and adorn the martial character. The ardour of the volunteer, an ardour unknown to the slave and the mercenary, added to the most romantic ideas of military glory, characterized the Portuguese under the reigns of their first monarchs. Engaged in almost continual wars with the Moors, this spirit rose higher and higher; and the desire to extirpate Mohammedanism--the principle which animated the wish of victory in every battle--seemed to take deeper root in every age. Such were the manners, and such the principles of the people who were governed by the successors of Alonzo I.--
a succession of great men who proved themselves worthy to reign over so military and enterprising a nation.
By a continued train of victories the Portuguese had the honour to drive the Moors from Europe. The invasions of European soil by these people were now requited by successful expeditions into Africa. Such was the manly spirit of these ages, that the statutes of Lamego received additional articles in favour of liberty, a convincing proof that the general heroism of a people depends upon the principles of freedom. Alonzo IV., * though not an amiable character, was perhaps the greatest warrior, politician, and monarch of his age. After a reign of military splendour, he left his throne to his son Pedro, surnamed the Just. Ideas of equity and literature were now diffused by this great prince, † who was himself a polite scholar, and a most accomplished gentleman. Portugal began to perceive the advantages of cultivated talents, and to feel its superiority over the barbarous politics of the ignorant Moors. The great Pedro, however, was succeeded by a weak prince, and the heroic spirit of the Portuguese seemed to exist no more under his son Fernando, surnamed the Careless.
Under John I. ‡ all the virtues of the Portuguese again shone forth with redoubled lustre. Happily for Portugal, his father had bestowed an excellent education upon this prince, which, added to his great natural talents, rendered him one of the greatest of monarchs. Conscious of the superiority which his own liberal education gave him, he was assiduous to bestow the same advantages upon his children, and he himself often became their preceptor in science and useful knowledge. Fortunate in all his affairs, he was most of all fortunate in his family. He had many sons, and he lived to see them become men of parts and of action, whose only emulation was to show affection to his person and to support his administration by their great abilities.
All the sons of John excelled in military exercises, and in the literature of their age; Don Edward and Don Pedro § were
particularly educated for the cabinet, and the mathematical genius of Don Henry received every encouragement which a king and a father could give to ripen it into perfection and public utility.
History was well known to Prince Henry, and his turn of mind peculiarly enabled him to make political observations upon it. The history of ancient Tyre and Carthage showed him what a maritime nation might hope to become; and the flourishing colonies of the Greeks were the frequent topic of his conversation. Where Grecian commerce extended its influence the deserts became cultivated fields, cities rose, and men were drawn from the woods and caverns to unite in society. The Romans, on the other hand, when they destroyed Carthage, buried in her ruins the fountain of civilization, improvement and opulence. They extinguished the spirit of commerce, and the agriculture of the conquered nations. And thus, while the luxury of Rome consumed the wealth of her provinces, her uncommercial policy dried up the sources of its continuance. Nor were the inestimable advantages of commerce the sole motives of Henry. All the ardour that the love of his country could awaken conspired to stimulate the natural turn of his genius for the improvement of navigation.
As the kingdom of Portugal had been wrested from the Moors, and established by conquest, so its existence still depended on the superiority of force of arms; and even before the birth of Henry, the superiority of the Portuguese navies had been of the utmost consequence to the protection of the state. Whatever, therefore, might curb the power of the Moors, was of the utmost importance to the existence of Portugal. Such were the views and circumstances which united to inspire the designs of Henry, designs which were powerfully enforced by the religion of that prince. Desire to extirpate Mohammedanism was synonymous with patriotism in Portugal. It was the principle which gave birth to, and supported their monarchy. Their kings avowed it; and Prince Henry always professed, that to propagate the Gospel and extirpate Mohammedanism, was the great purpose of all his enterprises. The same
principles, it is certain, inspired King Emmanuel, under whom the eastern world was discovered by Gama. *
The crusades, which had rendered the greatest political service to Spain and Portugal, had begun now to have some effect upon the commerce of Europe. The Hanse Towns had received charters of liberty, and had united together for the protection of their trade against the pirates of the Baltic. The Lombards had opened a lucrative traffic with the ports of Egypt, from whence they imported into Europe the riches of India; and Bruges, the mart between them and the Hanse Towns, was, in consequence, surrounded with the best agriculture of these ages, † a certain proof of the dependence of agriculture upon the extent of commerce. The Hanse Towns were liable, however, to be buried in the victories of a tyrant, and the trade with Egypt was exceedingly insecure and precarious. Europe was still enveloped in the dark mists of ignorance; commerce still crept, in an infant state, along the coasts, nor were the ships adapted for long voyages. A successful tyrant might have overwhelmed the system of commerce entirely, for it stood on a much narrower basis than in the days of Phœnician and Greek colonization. A broader and more permanent foundation of commerce than the world had yet seen was wanting to bless mankind, and Henry, Duke of Viseo, was born to give it.
In order to promote his designs, Prince Henry was appointed Commander-in-chief of the Portuguese forces in Africa. He had already, in 1412, three years before the reduction of Ceuta, ‡ sent a ship to make discoveries on the Barbary coast. Cape Nam § (as its name implies) was then the ne plus ultra of European navigation;
the ship sent by Henry, however, passed it sixty leagues, and reached Cape Bojador. About a league and a half from Cape St. Vincent (supposed to be the Promontorium Sacrum of the Romans), Prince Henry built his town of Sagrez, the best planned and fortified town in Portugal. Here, where the view of the ocean inspired his hopes, he erected his arsenals, and built and harboured his ships. And here, leaving the temporary bustle and cares of the State to his father and brothers, he retired like a philosopher from the world in order to promote its happiness. Having received all the information he could obtain in Africa, he continued unwearied in his mathematical and geographical studies; the art of ship-building received amazing improvement under his direction, and the correctness of his ideas of the structure of the globe is now confirmed. He it was who first suggested the use of the mariner’s compass, and of longitude and latitude in navigation, and demonstrated how these might be ascertained by astronomical observations. Naval adventurers were now invited from all parts to the town of Sagrez, and in 1418 Juan Gonsalez Zarco and Tristran Vaz set sail on an expedition of discovery, the circumstances of which give us a striking picture of the state of navigation ere it was remodelled by the genius of Henry.
Cape Bojador, so named from its extent, * runs about forty leagues to the westward, and for about six leagues off land there is a most violent current, which, dashing upon the shallows, makes a tempestuous sea. This was deemed impassable, for it had not occurred to any one that by standing out to sea the current might be avoided. To pass this formidable Cape was the commission of Zarco and Vaz, who were also ordered to survey the African coast, which, according to the information given to Henry by the Moors, extended to the Equator. Zarco and Vaz, however, lost their course in a storm, and were driven to a small island, which, in the joy of their deliverance, they named Puerto Santo, or the Holy Haven. Nor was Prince Henry less joyful of their discovery than they had been of their escape: sufficient proof of the miserable state of navigation in those days; for this island is only a few days’ voyage from Sagrez.
The discoverers of Puerto Santo, accompanied by Bartholomew Perestrello, were, with three ships, sent out on farther trial. Perestrello, having sown some seeds and left some cattle at Puerto
Santo, returned to Portugal. * Zarco and Vaz directing their course southward, in 1419, perceived something like a cloud on the water, and sailing towards it, discovered an island covered with woods, which from this circumstance they named Madeira. † And this rich and beautiful island was the first reward of the enterprises of Prince Henry.
Nature calls upon Portugal to be a maritime power, and her naval superiority over the Moors, was, in the time of Henry, the surest defence of her existence as a kingdom. Yet, though all his labours tended to establish that naval superiority on the surest basis, though even the religion of the age added its authority to the clearest political principles in favour of Henry, yet were his enterprises and his expected discoveries derided with all the insolence of ignorance, and the bitterness of popular clamour. Barren deserts like Lybia, it was said, were all that could be found, and a thousand disadvantages, drawn from these data, were foreseen and foretold. The great mind and better knowledge of Henry, however, were not thus to be shaken. Twelve years had elapsed since the discovery of Madeira in unsuccessful endeavours to carry navigation farther. At length, one of his captains, named Galianez, in 1434 passed the Cape of Bojador, till then invincible; an action, says Faria, not inferior to the labours of Hercules.
Galianez, the next year, accompanied by Gonsalez Baldaya, carried his discoveries many leagues farther. Having put two horsemen on shore to discover the face of the country, the adventurers, after riding several hours, saw nineteen men armed with javelins. The natives fled, and the two horsemen pursued, till one of the Portuguese, being wounded, lost the first blood that was sacrificed to the new system of commerce. A small beginning, it soon swelled into oceans, and deluged the eastern and western worlds. The cruelties of Hernando Cortez, and that more horrid barbarian, Pizarro, ‡ are no more to be charged upon Don Henry
and Columbus, than the villainies of the Jesuits and the horrors of the Inquisition are to be ascribed to Him who commands us to do to our neighbour as we would wish our neighbour to do to us. But, if it be maintained that he who plans a discovery ought to foresee the miseries which the vicious will engraft upon his enterprise, let the objector be told that the miseries are uncertain, while the advantages are real and sure.
In 1440 Anthony Gonsalez brought some Moors prisoners to Lisbon. These he took two and forty leagues beyond Cape Bojador, and in 1442 he returned with his captives. One Moor escaped, but ten blacks of Guinea and a considerable quantity of gold dust were given in ransom for two others. A rivulet at the place of landing was named by Gonsalez, Rio del Oro, or the River of Gold. And the islands of Adeget, Arguim, and De las Garças were now discovered.
The negroes of Guinea, the first ever seen in Portugal, and the gold dust, excited other passions beside admiration. A company was formed at Lagos, under the auspices of Prince Henry, to carry on a traffic with the newly discovered countries; and, as the
[paragraph continues] Portuguese considered themselves in a state of continual hostility with the Moors, about two hundred of these people, inhabitants of the Islands of Nar and Tider, in 1444, were brought prisoners to Portugal. Next year Gonzalo de Cintra was attacked by the Moors, fourteen leagues beyond Rio del Oro, where, with seven of his men, he was killed.
This hostile proceeding displeased Prince Henry, and in 1446 Anthony Gonsalez and two other captains were sent to enter into a treaty of peace and traffic with the natives of Rio del Oro, and also to attempt their conversion. But these proposals were rejected by the barbarians, one of whom, however, came voluntarily to Portugal, and Juan Fernandez remained with the natives, to observe their manners and the products of the country.
In 1447 upwards of thirty ships followed the route of traffic which was now opened; and John de Castilla obtained the infamy to stand the first on the list of those names whose villainies have disgraced the spirit of commerce, and afforded the loudest complaints against the progress of navigation. Dissatisfied with the value of his cargo, he seized twenty of the natives of Gomera (one of the Canaries), who had assisted him, and with whom he was in friendly alliance, and brought them as slaves to Portugal. But Prince Henry resented this outrage, and having given them some valuable presents of clothes, restored the captives to freedom and their native country.
The reduction of the Canaries was also this year attempted; but Spain having challenged the discovery of these islands, the expedition was discontinued. In the Canary Islands a singular feudal custom existed; giving to the chief man, or governor, a temporary right to the person of every bride in his district.
In 1448 Fernando Alonzo was sent ambassador to the king of Cape Verde with a treaty of trade and conversion, which was defeated at that time by the treachery of the natives. In 1449 the Azores were discovered by Gonsalo Vello; and the coast sixty leagues beyond Cape Verde was visited by the fleets of Henry. It is also certain that some of his commanders passed the equinoctial line.
Prince Henry had now, with inflexible perseverance, prosecuted his discoveries for upwards of forty years. His father, John I., concurred with him in his views, and gave him every assistance; his brother, King Edward, during his short reign, took the same interest in his expeditions as his father had done; nor was the eleven
years’ regency of his brother Don Pedro less auspicious to him. * But the misunderstanding between Pedro and his nephew Alonzo V., who took upon him the reins of government in his seventeenth year, retarded the designs of Henry, and gave him much unhappiness. † At his town of Sagrez, from whence he had not moved for many years, Don Henry, now in his sixty-seventh year, yielded to the stroke of fate, in the year of our Lord 1463, gratified with the certain prospect that the route to the eastern world would one day crown the enterprises to which he had given birth. He saw with pleasure the naval superiority of his country over the Moors established on the most solid basis, its trade greatly upon the increase, and flattered himself that he had given a mortal wound to Mohammedanism. To him, as to their primary author, are due all the inestimable advantages which ever have flowed, or ever will flow from the discovery of the greatest part of Africa, and of the East and West Indies. Every improvement in the state and manners of these countries, or whatever country may be yet discovered, is strictly due to him. What is an Alexander, crowned with trophies at the head of his army, compared with a Henry contemplating the ocean from his window on the rock of Sagrez! The one suggests the idea of a destroying demon, the other of a benevolent Deity.
From 1448, when Alonzo V. assumed the power of government, till the end of his reign in 1471, little progress was made in maritime affairs. Cape Catherine alone was added to the former discoveries. But under his son, John II., the designs of Prince Henry were prosecuted with renewed vigour. In 1481 the Portuguese built a fort on the Gold Coast, and the King of Portugal took the title of Lord of Guinea. Bartholomew Diaz, in 1486, reached the river which he named dell’ Infante on the eastern side of Africa, but deterred by the storms of that coast from proceeding farther, on his return he had the happiness to be the discoverer of the
promontory, unknown for many ages, which bounds the south of Africa. From the storms he there encountered he named it Cape of Storms; but John, elated with the promise of India, which this discovery, as he justly deemed, included, gave it the name of the Cape of Good Hope. The arts and valour of the Portuguese had now made a great impression on the minds of the Africans. The King of Congo sent the sons of some of his principal officers to Lisbon, to be instructed in arts and religion; and ambassadors from the King of Benin requested teachers to be sent to his kingdom. On the return of his subjects, the King and Queen of Congo, with 100,000 of their people, were baptized. An ambassador also arrived from the Christian Emperor of Abyssinia, and Pedro de Covillam and Alonzo de Payva were sent by land to penetrate into the East, that they might acquire whatever intelligence might facilitate the desired navigation to India. Covillam and Payva parted at Toro in Arabia, and took different routes. The former having visited Conanor, Calicut, and Goa in India, returned to Cairo, where he heard of the death of his companion. Here also he met the Rabbi Abraham of Beja, who was employed for the same purpose by King John. Covillam sent the Rabbi home with an account of what countries he had seen, and he himself proceeded to Ormuz and Ethiopia, but, as Camoëns expresses it--
Men, whose genius led them to maritime affairs began now to be possessed by an ardent ambition to distinguish themselves; and the famous Columbus offered his service to King John, and was rejected. Every one knows the discoveries of this great adventurer, but. his history is generally misunderstood. * The simple truth is,
[paragraph continues] Columbus, who acquired his skill in navigation among the Portuguese, could be no stranger to the design, long meditated in that kingdom, of discovering a naval route to India, which, according to ancient geographers and the opinion of that age, was supposed to be the next land to the west of Spain. And that India and the adjacent islands were the regions sought by Columbus is also certain. John, who esteemed the route to India as almost discovered, and in the power of his own subjects, rejected the proposals of the foreigner. But Columbus met a more favourable reception from Ferdinand and Isabella, the king and queen of Castile. Columbus, therefore, proposed, as Magalhaens afterwards did, for the same reason, to steer a westward course, and having in 1492 discovered some western islands, in 1493, on his return to Spain, he put into the Tagus with great tokens of the riches of his discovery. Some of the Portuguese courtiers (the same ungenerous minds, perhaps, who advised the rejection of Columbus because he was a foreigner) proposed the assassination of that great man, thereby to conceal from Spain the advantages of his navigation. But John, though Columbus rather roughly upbraided him, looked upon him now with a generous regret, and dismissed him with honour. The King of Portugal, however, alarmed lest the discoveries of Columbus should interfere with those of his crown, gave orders to equip a war-fleet to protect his rights. But matters were adjusted by embassies, and that celebrated treaty was drawn up by which Spain and Portugal divided the western and eastern worlds between them. The eastern half of the world was allotted for the Portuguese, and the western for the Spanish navigation. A Papal Bull also, which, for obvious reasons, prohibited the propagation of the gospel in these bounds by the subjects of any other state, confirmed this amicable and extraordinary treaty.
Soon after this, however, while the thoughts of King John were intent on the discovery of India, his preparations were
interrupted by his death. But his earnest desires and great designs were inherited, together with his crown, by his cousin Emmanuel; and in 1497 (the year before Columbus made the voyage in which he discovered the mouth of the river Oronoko), Vasco de Gama sailed from the Tagus for the discovery of India.
Of this voyage, the subject of the Lusiad, many particulars are necessarily mentioned in the notes; we shall therefore only allude to these, but be more explicit on the others, which are omitted by Camoëns in obedience to the rules of epic poetry.
Notwithstanding the popular clamour against the undertaking, Emmanuel was determined to prosecute the views of Prince Henry and John II. Three sloops of war and a store ship, manned with only 160 men, were fitted out; for hostility was not the purpose of this expedition. Vasco de Gama, a gentleman of good family, who, in a war with the French, had given signal proofs of his naval skill, was commissioned admiral and general, and his brother Paul, with his friend Nicholas Coello, were appointed to command under him. It is the greatest honour of kings to distinguish the characters of their officers, and to employ them accordingly. Emmanuel in many instances was happy in this talent, particularly in the choice of his admiral for the discovery of India. All the enthusiasm of desire to accomplish his end, joined with the greatest heroism, the quickest penetration, and coolest prudence, united to form the character of Gama. On his appointment he confessed to the king that his mind had long aspired to this expedition. The king expressed great confidence in his prudence and honour, and gave him, with his own hand, the colours which he was to carry. On this banner, which bore the cross of the military Order of Christ, Gama, with great enthusiasm, took the oath of fidelity.
About four miles from Lisbon is a chapel on the sea side. To this, the day before their departure, Gama conducted the companions of his expedition. He was to encounter an ocean untried, and dreaded as unnavigable, and he knew the power of religion on minds which are not inclined to dispute its authority, The whole night was spent in the chapel in prayers for success, and in the rites of their devotion. The next day, when the adventurers marched to the fleet, the shore of Belem * presented one of the most solemn and affecting scenes perhaps recorded in history. The beach was covered with the inhabitants of Lisbon.
[paragraph continues] A procession of priests, in their robes, sang anthems and offered up invocations to heaven. Every one looked on the adventurers as brave men going to a dreadful execution; as rushing upon certain death; and the vast multitude caught the fire of devotion, and joined aloud in prayers for their success. The relations, friends, and acquaintances of the voyagers wept; all were affected; the sight was general; Gama himself shed manly tears on parting with his friends, but he hurried over the tender scene, and hastened on board with all the alacrity of hope. He set sail immediately, and so much affected were the thousands who beheld his departure, that they remained immovable on the shore, till the fleet, under full sail, vanished from their sight.
It was on the 8th of July when Gama left the Tagus. The flag ship was commanded by himself, the second by his brother, the third by Coello, and the store ship by Gonsalo Nunio. Several interpreters, skilled in Arabic, and other oriental languages, went along with them. Ten malefactors (men of abilities, whose sentences of death were reversed, on condition of their obedience to Gama in whatever embassies or dangers among the barbarians he might think proper to employ them), were also on board. The fleet, favoured by the weather, passed the Canary and Cape de Verde islands, but had now to encounter other fortune. Sometimes stopped by dead calms, but for the most part tossed by tempests, which increased in violence as they proceeded to the south. Thus driven far to sea they laboured through that wide ocean which surrounds St. Helena, in seas, says Faria, unknown to the Portuguese discoverers, none of whom had sailed so far to the west. From the 28th of July, the day they passed the isle of St. James, they had seen no shore, and now on November the 4th they were happily relieved by the sight of land. The fleet anchored in a large bay, * and Coello was sent in search of a river where they might take in wood and fresh water. Having found one, the fleet made towards it, and Gama, whose orders were to acquaint himself with the manners of the people wherever he touched, ordered a party of his men to bring him some of the natives by force, or stratagem. One they caught as he was gathering honey on the side of a mountain, and brought him to the fleet. He expressed the greatest indifference about the gold and fine clothes which they showed him, but was greatly delighted
with some glasses and little brass bells. These with great joy he accepted, and was set on shore; and soon after many of the blacks came for, and were gratified with, the like trifles; in return for which they gave plenty of their best provisions. None of Gama’s interpreters, however, could understand a word of their language, or obtain any information of India. The friendly intercourse between the fleet and the natives was, however, soon interrupted by the imprudence of Veloso, a young Portuguese, which occasioned a skirmish wherein Gama’s life was endangered. Gama and some others were on shore taking the altitude of the sun, when in consequence of Veloso’s rashness they were attacked by the blacks with great fury. Gama defended himself with an oar, and received a dart in his foot. Several others were likewise wounded, and they found safety in retreat. A discharge of cannon from the ships facilitated their escape, and Gama, esteeming it imprudent to waste his strength in attempts entirely foreign to the design of his voyage, weighed anchor, and steered in search of the extremity of Africa.
In this part of the voyage, says Osorius, "The heroism of Gama was greatly displayed." The waves swelled up like mountains, the ships seemed at one time heaved up to the clouds, and at another precipitated to the bed of the ocean. The winds were piercing cold, and so boisterous that the pilot’s voice could seldom be heard, and a dismal darkness, which at that tempestuous season involves these seas, added all its horrors. Sometimes the storm drove them southward, at other times they were obliged to stand on the tack and yield to its fury, preserving what they had gained with the greatest difficulty.
[paragraph continues] During any interval of the storm, the sailors, wearied out with fatigue, and abandoned to despair, surrounded Gama, and implored him not to suffer himself, and those committed to his care, to perish by so dreadful a death. The impossibility that men so weakened could endure much longer, and the opinion that this ocean was torn by eternal tempest, and therefore had hitherto been, and was impassable, were urged. But Gama’s resolution to
proceed was unalterable. * A conspiracy was then formed against his life. But his brother discovered it, and the courage and prudence of Gama defeated its design. He put the chief conspirators and all the pilots in irons, and he himself, his brother, Coello, and some others, stood night and day at the helm and directed the course. At last, after having many days, with unconquered mind, withstood the tempest and mutiny (molem perfidiæ) the storm suddenly ceased, and they beheld the Cape of Good Hope.
On November the 20th all the fleet doubled that promontory, and steering northward, coasted along a rich and beautiful shore, adorned with large forests and numberless herds of cattle. All was now alacrity; the hope that they had surmounted every danger revived their spirits, and the admiral was beloved and admired. Here, and at the bay, which they named St. Blas, they took in provisions, and beheld these beautiful rural scenes, described by Camoëns. And here the store sloop was burnt by order of the admiral. On December the 8th a violent tempest drove the fleet out of sight of land, and carried them to that
dreadful current which made the Moors deem it impossible to double the Cape. Gama, however, though unlucky in the time of navigating these seas, was safely carried over the current by the violence of a tempest; and having recovered the sight of land, as his safest course he steered northward along the coast. On the 10th of January they discovered, about 230 miles from their last watering place, some beautiful islands, with herds of cattle frisking in the meadows. It was a profound calm, and Gama stood near to land. The natives were better dressed and more civilized than those they had hitherto seen. An exchange of presents was made, and the black king was so pleased with the politeness of Gama, that he came aboard his ship to see him. At this place, which he named Terra de Natal, Gama left two of the malefactors before mentioned to procure what information they could against his return. On the 15th of January, in the dusk of the evening, they came to the mouth of a large river, whose banks were shaded with trees laden with fruit. On the return of day they saw several little boats with palm-tree leaves making towards them, and the natives came aboard without hesitation or fear. Gama received them kindly, gave them an entertainment, and some silken garments, which they received with visible joy. Only one of them, however, could speak a little broken Arabic. From him Fernan Martinho learned that not far distant was a country where ships, in shape and size like Gama’s, frequently resorted. This gave the fleet great encouragement, and the admiral named this place "The River of Good Signs."
Here, while Gama refitted his ships, the crews were attacked with a violent scurvy, which carried off several of his men. Having taken in fresh provisions, on the 24th of February he set sail, and on the 1st of March they descried four islands on the coast of Mozambique. From one of these they perceived seven vessels in full sail bearing to the fleet. The Râis, or captain, knew Gama’s ship by the admiral’s ensign, and made up to her, saluting her with loud huzzas and instruments of music. Gama received them aboard, and entertained them with great kindness. The interpreters talked with them in Arabic. The island, in which was the principal harbour and trading town, they said, was governed by a deputy of the King of Quiloa; and many Arab merchants, they added, were settled here, who traded with Arabia, India, and other parts of the world. Gama was overjoyed, and the crew, with uplifted hands, returned thanks to Heaven.
Pleased with the presents which Gama sent him, and imagining that the Portuguese were Mohammedans from Morocco, the governor, dressed in rich embroidery, came to congratulate the admiral on his arrival in the east. As he approached the fleet in great pomp, Gama removed the sick out of sight, and ordered all those in health to attend above deck, armed in the Portuguese manner; for he foresaw what would happen when the Mohammedans should discover it was a Christian fleet. During the entertainment provided for him Zacocia seemed highly pleased, and asked several questions about the arms and religion of the strangers. Gama showed him his arms, and explained the force of his cannon, but he did not affect to know much about religion; however he frankly promised to show him his books of devotion whenever a few days refreshment should give him a more convenient time. In the meanwhile he entreated Zacocia to send him some pilots who might conduct him to India. Two pilots were next day brought by the governor, a treaty of peace was solemnly concluded, and every office of mutual friendship seemed to promise a lasting harmony. But it was soon interrupted. Zacocia, as soon as he found the Portuguese were Christians, used every endeavour to destroy the fleet. The life of Gama was attempted. One of the Moorish pilots deserted, and some of the Portuguese who were on shore to get fresh water were attacked by the natives, but were rescued by a timely assistance from the ships.
Besides the hatred of the Christian name, inspired by their religion, the Arabs had other reasons to wish the destruction of Gama. Before this period, they were almost the only merchants of the East; they had colonies in every place convenient for trade, and were the sole masters of the Ethiopian, Arabian, and Indian seas. They clearly foresaw the consequences of the arrival of Europeans, and every art was soon exerted to prevent such formidable rivals from effecting any footing in the East. To these Mohammedan traders the Portuguese gave the name of Moors.
Immediately after the skirmish at the watering-place, Gama, having one Moorish pilot, set sail, but was soon driven back by tempestuous weather. He now resolved to take in fresh water by force. The Moors perceiving his intention, about two thousand of them rising from ambush, attacked the Portuguese detachment. But the prudence of Gama had not been asleep. His ships were stationed with art, and his artillery not only dispersed the hostile Moors, but reduced their town, which was built of wood, into a
heap of ashes. Among some prisoners taken by Paulus de Gama was a pilot, and Zacocia begging forgiveness for his treachery, sent another, whose skill in navigation he greatly commended.
A war with the Moors was now begun. Gama perceived that their jealousy of European rivals gave him nothing to expect but open hostility and secret treachery; and he knew what numerous colonies they had on every trading coast of the East. To impress them, therefore, with the terror of his arms on their first act of treachery, was worthy of a great commander. Nor was he remiss in his attention to the chief pilot who had been last sent. He perceived in him a kind of anxious endeavour to bear near some little islands, and suspecting there were unseen rocks in that course, he confidently charged the pilot with guilt, and ordered him to be severely whipped. The punishment produced a confession and promises of fidelity. And he now advised Gama to stand for Quiloa, which he assured him was inhabited by Christians. Three Ethiopian Christians had come aboard the fleet while at Zacocia’s island, and the opinions then current about Prester John’s country inclined Gama to try if he could find a port where he might obtain the assistance of a people of his own religion. A violent storm, however, drove the fleet from Quiloa, and being now near Mombas, the pilot advised him to enter that harbour, where, he said, there were also many Christians.
The city of Mombas is agreeably situated on an island, formed by a river which empties itself into the sea by two mouths. The buildings are lofty and of solid stone, and the country abounds with fruit-trees and cattle. Gama, happy to find a harbour where everything wore the appearance of civilization, ordered the fleet to cast anchor, which was scarcely done, when a galley, in which were 100 men in oriental costume, armed with bucklers and sabres, rowed up to the flag ship. All of these seemed desirous to come on board, but only four, who by their dress seemed officers, were admitted; nor were these allowed, till stripped of their arms. When on board they extolled the prudence of Gama in refusing admittance to armed strangers; and by their behaviour, seemed desirous to gain the good opinion of the fleet. Their country, they boasted, contained all the riches of India; and their king, they professed, was ambitious of entering into a friendly treaty with the Portuguese, with whose renown he was well acquainted. And, that a conference with his majesty and the offices of friendship might be rendered more convenient, Gama was requested to enter the
harbour. As no place could be more commodious for the recovery of the sick, Gama resolved to enter the port; and in the meanwhile sent two of the pardoned criminals as an embassy to the king. These the king treated with the greatest kindness, ordered his officers to show them the strength and opulence of his city; and, on their return to the navy, he sent a present to Gama of the most valuable spices, of which he boasted such abundance, that the Portuguese, he said, if they regarded their own interest, would seek for no other India.
To make treaties of commerce was the business of Gama; and one so advantageous was not to be refused. Fully satisfied by the report of his spies, he ordered to weigh anchor and enter the harbour. His own ship led the way, when a sudden violence of the tide made Gama apprehensive of running aground. He therefore ordered the sails to be furled, and the anchors to be dropped, and gave a signal for the rest of the fleet to follow his example. This manœuvre, and the cries of the sailors in executing it, alarmed the Mozambique pilots. Conscious of their treachery, they thought their design was discovered, and leaped into the sea. Some boats of Mombas took them up, and refusing to put them on board, set them safely on shore, though the admiral repeatedly demanded the restoration of the pilots. These proofs of treachery were farther confirmed by the behaviour of the King of Mombas. In the middle of the night Gama thought he heard some noise, and on examination, found his fleet surrounded by a great number of Moors, who, with the utmost secrecy, endeavoured to cut his cables. But their scheme was defeated; and some Arabs, who remained on board, confessed that no Christians were resident either at Quiloa or Mombas. The storm which drove them from the one place, and their late escape at the other, were now beheld as manifestations of the Divine favour, and Gama, holding up his hands to heaven, ascribed his safety to the care of Providence. * Two days, however, elapsed before they could get clear of the rocky bay of Mombas. Having now ventured to hoist their sails, they steered for Melinda, a port, they had been told, where many merchants from India resorted. In their way thither they took a Moorish vessel, out of which Gama selected fourteen prisoners, one
of whom he perceived by his mien to be a person of distinction. By this Saracen, Gama was informed that he was near Melinda, that the king was hospitable, and celebrated for his faith, and that four ships from India, commanded by Christian masters, were in that harbour. The Saracen also offered to go as Gama’s messenger to the king, and promised to procure him an able pilot to conduct him to Calicut, the chief port of India.
As the coast of Melinda appeared to be dangerous, Gama anchored at some distance from the city, and, unwilling to risk the safety of any of his men, he landed the Saracen on an island opposite to Melinda. This was observed, and the stranger was brought before the king, to whom he gave so favourable an account of the politeness and humanity of Gama, that a present of several sheep, and fruits of all sorts, was sent by his majesty to the admiral, who had the happiness to find the truth of what his prisoner had told him confirmed by the masters of the four ships from India. These were Christians from Cambaya. They were transported with joy on the arrival of the Portuguese, and gave several useful instructions to the admiral.
The city of Melinda was situated in a fertile plain, surrounded with gardens and groves of orange-trees, whose flowers diffused a most grateful odour. The pastures were covered with herds; and the houses, built of square stones, were both elegant and magnificent. Desirous to make an alliance with such a state, Gama requited the civility of the king with great generosity. He drew nearer the shore, and urged his instructions as apology for not landing to wait upon his majesty in person. The apology was accepted, and the king, whose age and infirmity prevented him going on board, sent his son to congratulate Gama, and enter into a treaty of friendship. The prince, who had some time governed under the direction of his father, came in great pomp. His dress was royally magnificent, the nobles who attended him displayed all the riches of silk and embroidery, and the music of Melinda resounded all over the bay. Gama, to express his regard, met him in the admiral’s barge. The prince, as soon as he came up, leaped into it, and distinguishing the admiral by his habit, embraced him with all the intimacy of old friendship. In their conversation, which was long and sprightly, he discovered nothing of the barbarian, says Osorius, but in everything showed an intelligence and politeness worthy of his high rank. He accepted the fourteen Moors, whom Gama gave to him, with great pleasure. He seemed
to view Gama with enthusiasm, and confessed that the build of the Portuguese ships, so much superior to what he had seen, convinced him of the greatness of that people. He gave Gama an able pilot, named Melemo Cana, to conduct him to Calicut; and requested, that on his return to Europe, he would carry an ambassador with him to the court of Lisbon. During the few day’s the fleet stayed at Melinda, the mutual friendship increased, and a treaty of alliance was concluded. And now, on April 22, resigning the helm to his skilful and honest pilot, Gama hoisted sail and steered to the north. In a few days they passed the line, and the Portuguese with ecstasy beheld the appearance of their native sky. Orion, Ursa Major and Minor, and the other stars about the north pole, were now a more joyful discovery than the south pole had formerly been to them. * The pilot now stood out to the east, through the Indian ocean; and after sailing about three weeks, he had the happiness to congratulate Gama on the view of the mountains of Calicut, who, transported with ecstasy, returned thanks to Heaven, and ordered all his prisoners to be set at liberty.
About two leagues from Calicut, Gama ordered the fleet to anchor, and was soon surrounded by a number of boats. By one of these he sent one of the pardoned criminals to the city. The appearance of an unknown fleet on their coast brought immense crowds around the stranger, who no sooner entered Calicut, than he was lifted from his feet and carried hither and thither by the concourse. Though the populace and the stranger were alike
earnest to be understood, their language was unintelligible to each other, till, happily for Gama, a Moorish merchant accosted his messenger in the Spanish tongue. The next day this Moor, who was named Monzaida, waited upon Gama on board his ship. He was a native of Tunis, and the chief person, he said, with whom John II. had at that port contracted for military stores. He was a man of abilities and great intelligence of the world, and an admirer of the Portuguese valour and honour. The engaging behaviour of Gama heightened his esteem into the sincerest attachment. Monzaida offered to be interpreter for the admiral, and to serve him in whatever besides he might possibly befriend him. And thus, by one of those unforeseen circumstances which often decide the greatest events, Gama obtained a friend who soon rendered him the most important services.
At the first interview, Monzaida gave Gama the fullest information of the climate, extent, customs, religion, and riches of India, the commerce of the Arabs, and the character of the sovereign. Calicut was not only the imperial city, but the greatest port. The king, or zamorim, * who resided here, was acknowledged as emperor by the neighbouring princes; and, as his revenue consisted chiefly of duties on merchandise, he had always encouraged the resort of foreigners to his ports.
Pleased with this promising prospect, Gama sent two of his officers with Monzaida to wait upon the zamorim at his palace, at Pandarene, a few miles from the city. They were admitted to the royal apartment, and delivered their embassy; to which the zamorim replied, that the arrival of the admiral of so great a prince as Emmanuel, gave him inexpressible pleasure, and that he would willingly embrace the offered alliance. In the meanwhile, as their present station was extremely dangerous, he advised them to bring the ships nearer to Pandarene, and for this purpose he sent a pilot to the fleet.
A few days after this, the zamorim sent his first minister, or catual, † attended by several of the nayres, or nobility, to conduct Gama to the royal palace. As an interview with the zamorim was absolutely necessary to complete the purpose of his voyage, Gama immediately agreed to it, though the treachery he had already experienced since his arrival in the eastern seas showed
him the personal danger which he thus hazarded. He gave his brother, Paulus, and Coello the command of the fleet in his absence.
The revenue of the zamorim arose chiefly from the traffic of the Moors; the various colonies of these people were combined in one interest, and the jealousy and consternation which his arrival in the eastern seas had spread among them, were circumstances well known to Gama: and he knew, also, what he had to expect, both from their force and their fraud. But duty and honour required him to complete the purpose of his voyage. He left peremptory command, that if he was detained a prisoner, or any attempt made upon his life, they should take no step to save him or to reverse his fate; to give ear to no message which might come in his name for such purpose, and to enter into no negotiation on his behalf. They were to keep some boats near the shore, to favour his escape if he perceived treachery before being detained by force; yet the moment that force rendered his escape impracticable they were to set sail, and carry the tidings to the king. As this was his only concern, he would suffer no risk that might lose a man, or endanger the homeward voyage. Having left these orders, he went ashore with the catual, attended only by twelve of his own men, for he would not weaken his fleet, though he knew the pomp of attendance would in one respect have been greatly in his favour at the first court of India.
As soon as landed, he and the catual were carried in great pomp, in palanquins, upon men’s shoulders, to the chief temple, and thence, amid immense crowds, to the royal palace. The apartment and dress of the zamorim were such as might be expected from the luxury and wealth of India. The emperor reclined on a magnificent couch, surrounded with his nobility and officers of state. Gama was introduced to him by a venerable old man, the chief brahmin. His majesty, by a gentle nod, appointed the admiral to sit on one of the steps of his sofa, and then demanded his embassy. It was against the custom of his country, Gama replied, to deliver his instructions in a public assembly; he therefore desired that the king and a few of his ministers would grant him a private audience. This was complied with, and Gama, in a manly speech, set forth the greatness of his sovereign Emmanuel, the fame he had heard of the zamorim, and the desire he had to enter into an alliance with so great a prince; nor were the mutual advantages of such a treaty omitted by the admiral. The zamorim, in reply, professed great esteem for the friendship of the King of
[paragraph continues] Portugal, and declared his readiness to enter into a friendly alliance. He then ordered the catual to provide proper apartments for Gama in his own house; and having promised another conference, he dismissed the admiral with all the appearance of sincerity.
The character of this monarch is strongly marked in the history of Portuguese Asia. Avarice was his ruling passion; he was haughty or mean, bold or timorous, as his interest rose or fell in the balance of his judgment; wavering and irresolute whenever the scales seemed doubtful which to preponderate. He was pleased with the prospect of bringing the commerce of Europe to his harbours, but he was also influenced by the threats of the Moors.
Three days elapsed ere Gama was again permitted to see the zamorim. At this second audience he presented the letter and presents of Emmanuel. The letter was received with politeness, but the presents were viewed with an eye of contempt. Gama noticed it, and said he only came to discover the route to India, and therefore was not charged with valuable gifts, before the friendship of the state, where they might choose to traffic, was known. Yet, indeed, he brought the most valuable of all gifts, the offer of the friendship of his sovereign, and the commerce of his country. He then entreated the king not to reveal the contents of Emmanuel’s letter to the Moors; and the king, with great apparent friendship, desired Gama to guard against the perfidy of that people. At this time, it is highly probable, the zamorim was sincere.
Every hour since the arrival of the fleet the Moors had held secret conferences. That one man of it might not return was their purpose; and every method to accomplish this was meditated. To influence the king against the Portuguese, to assassinate Gama, to raise a general insurrection to destroy the foreign navy, and to bribe the catual, were determined. And the catual (the master of the house where Gama was lodged) accepted the bribe, and entered into their interest. Of all these circumstances, however, Gama was apprised by his faithful interpreter, Monzaida, whose affection to the foreign admiral the Moors hitherto had not suspected. Thus informed, and having obtained the faith of an alliance from the sovereign of the first port of India, Gama resolved to elude the plots of the Moors; and accordingly, before the dawn, he set out for Pandarene, in hope to get aboard his fleet by some of the boats which he had ordered to hover about the shore.
But the Moors were vigilant. His escape was immediately known, and the catual, by the king’s order, pursued and brought
him back by force. The catual, however (for it was necessary for their schemes to have the ships in their power), behaved with politeness to the admiral, and promised to use all his interest in his behalf.
The eagerness of the Moors now contributed to the safety of Gama. Their principal merchants were admitted to a formal audience, when one of their orators accused the Portuguese as a nation of faithless plunderers: Gama, he said, was an exiled pirate, who had marked his course with blood and depredation. If he were not a pirate, still there was no excuse for giving such warlike foreigners any footing in a country already supplied with all that nature and commerce could give. He expatiated on the great services which the Moorish traders had rendered to Calicut; and ended with a threat, that all the Moors would leave the zamorim’s ports and find some other settlement, if he permitted these foreigners any share in the commerce of his dominions.
However staggered with these arguments and threats, the zamorim was not blind to the self-interest and malice of the Moors. He therefore ordered, that the admiral should once more be brought before him. In the meanwhile the catual tried many stratagems to get the fleet into the harbour; and at last, in the name of his master, made an absolute demand that the sails and rudders should be delivered up, as the pledge of Gama’s honesty. But these demands were as absolutely refused by Gama, who sent a letter to his brother by Monzaida, enforcing his former orders in the strongest manner, declaring that his fate gave him no concern, that he was only unhappy lest the fruits of all their fatigue and dangers should be lost. After two days spent in vain altercation with the catual, Gama was brought as a prisoner before the king. The king repeated his accusation; upbraided him with non-compliance to the requests of his minister; urged him, if he were an exile or a pirate, to confess freely, in which case he promised to take him into his service, and highly promote him on account of his abilities. But Gama, who with great spirit had baffled all the stratagems of the catual, behaved with the same undaunted bravery before the king. He asserted his innocence, pointed out the malice of the Moors, and the improbability of his piracy; boasted of the safety of his fleet, offered his life rather than his sails and rudders, and concluded with threats in the name of his sovereign. The zamorim, during the whole conference, eyed Gama with the keenest attention, and clearly perceived in his unfaltering mien the dignity of truth,
and the consciousness that he was the admiral of a great monarch. In their late address, the Moors had treated the zamorim as somewhat dependent upon them, and he saw that a commerce with other nations would certainly lessen their dangerous importance. His avarice strongly desired the commerce of Portugal; and his pride was flattered in humbling the Moors. After many proposals, it was at last agreed, that of his twelve attendants he should leave seven as hostages; that what goods were aboard his fleet should be landed; and that Gama should be safely conducted to his ship, after which the treaty of commerce and alliance was to be finally settled. And thus, when the assassination of Gama seemed inevitable, the zamorim suddenly dropped his demand for the sails and rudders, rescued him from his determined enemies, and restored him to liberty and the command of his navy.
As soon as he was aboard * the goods were landed, accompanied by a letter from Gama to the zamorim, wherein he boldly complained of the treachery of the catual. The zamorim, in answer, promised to make inquiry, and punish him, if guilty; but did nothing in the affair. Gama, who had now anchored nearer to the city, every day sent two or three different persons on some business to Calicut, that as many of his men as possible might be able to give some account of India. The Moors, meanwhile, every day assaulted the ears of the king, who now began to waver; when Gama, who had given every proof of his desire of peace and friendship, sent another letter, in which he requested the zamorim to permit him to leave a consul at Calicut to manage the affairs of King Emmanuel. But to this request--the most reasonable result of a commercial treaty--the zamorim returned a refusal full of rage and indignation. Gama, now fully master of the character of the zamorim, resolved to treat a man of such an inconstant, dishonourable disposition with a contemptuous silence. This contempt was felt by the king, who, yielding to the advice of the catual and the entreaties of the Moors, seized the Portuguese goods, and ordered two of the seven hostages--the two who had the charge of the cargo--to be put in irons. The admiral remonstrated by means of Monzaida, but the king still persisted in his treacherous breach of faith. Repeated solicitations made him more haughty, and it was now the duty and interest of Gama to use force. He took a vessel, in which were six nayres, or noblemen, and nineteen of their servants.
[paragraph continues] The servants he set ashore to relate the tidings, the noblemen he detained. As soon as the news had time to spread through the city, he hoisted his sails, and, though with a slow motion, seemed to proceed on his homeward voyage. The city was now in an uproar; the friends of the captive noblemen surrounded the palace, and loudly accused the policy of the Moors. The king, in all the perplexed distress of a haughty, avaricious, weak prince, sent after Gama, delivered up all the hostages, and submitted to his proposals; nay, even solicited that an agent should be left, and even descended to the meanness of a palpable lie. The two factors, he said, he had put in irons, only to detain them till he might write letters to his brother Emmanuel, and the goods he had kept on shore that an agent might be sent to dispose of them. Gama, however, perceived a mysterious trifling, and, previous to any treaty, insisted upon the restoration of the goods.
The day after this altercation Monzaida came aboard the fleet in great perturbation. The Moors, he said, had raised great commotions, and had enraged the king against the Portuguese. The king’s ships were getting ready, and a numerous Moorish fleet from Mecca was daily expected. To delay Gama till this force arrived was the purpose of the Court and of the Moors, who were now confident of success. To this information Monzaida added, that the Moors, suspecting his attachment to Gama, had determined to assassinate him; that he had narrowly escaped from them; that it was impossible for him to recover his effects, and that his only hope was in the protection of Gama. Gama rewarded him with the friendship .he merited, took him with him, as he desired, to Lisbon, and procured him a recompense for his services.
Almost immediately seven boats arrived loaded with the goods, and demanded the restoration of the captive noblemen. Gama took the goods on board, but refused to examine if they were entire, and also refused to deliver the prisoners. He had been promised an ambassador to his sovereign, he said, but had been so often deluded he could trust such a faithless people no longer, and would therefore carry away the captives to convince the King of Portugal what insults and injustice his ambassador and admiral had suffered from the Zamorim of Calicut. Having thus dismissed the Indians, he fired his cannon and hoisted his sails. A calm, however, detained him on the coast some days; and the zamorim, seizing the opportunity, sent what vessels he could fit out (sixty in all), full of armed men, to attack him. Though Gama’s cannon were well
handled, confident of their numbers, they pressed on to board him, when a sudden tempest arose, which Gama’s ships rode out in
safety, miserably dispersed the Indian fleet, and completed their ruin.
After this victory the admiral made a halt at a little island near the shore, where he erected a cross, * bearing the name and arms of his Portuguese majesty. From this place, by the hand of Monzaida, he wrote a letter to the zamorim, wherein he gave a full and circumstantial account of all the plots of the catual and the Moors. Still, however, he professed his desire of a commercial treaty, and promised to represent the zamorim in the best light to Emmanuel. The prisoners, he said, should be kindly used, were only kept as ambassadors to his sovereign, and should be returned to India when they were enabled from experience to give an account of Portugal. The letter he sent by one of the captives, who by this means obtained his liberty.
The fame of Gama had now spread over the Indian seas, and the Moors were everywhere intent on his destruction. As he was near the shore of Anchediva, he beheld the appearance of a floating isle, covered with trees, advance towards him. But his prudence was not to be thus deceived. A bold pirate, named Timoja, by linking together eight vessels full of men and covered with green boughs, thought to board him by surprise. But Gama’s cannon made seven of them fly; the eighth, loaded with fruits and provision, he took. The beautiful island of Anchediva now offered a convenient place to careen his ships and refresh his men. While he stayed here, the first minister of Zabajo, king of Goa, one of the most powerful princes of India, came on board, and, in the name of his master, congratulated the admiral in the Italian tongue. Provisions, arms, and money were offered to Gama, and he was entreated to accept the friendship of Zabajo. The admiral was struck with admiration; the address and abilities of the minister appeared so conspicuous. He said he was an Italian by birth, but in sailing to Greece, had been taken by pirates, and after various misfortunes, had been necessitated to enter into the service of a Mohammedan prince, the nobleness of whose disposition he
commended in the highest terms. Yet, with all his abilities, Gama perceived an artful inquisitiveness--that nameless something which does not accompany simple honesty. After a long conference, Gama abruptly upbraided him as a spy, and ordered him to be put to the torture. And this soon brought a confession, that he was a Polish Jew by birth, and was sent to examine the strength of the fleet by Zabajo, who was mustering all his power to attack the Portuguese. Gama, on this, immediately set sail, and took the spy along with him, who soon after was baptized, and named Jasper de Gama, the admiral being his godfather. He afterwards became of great service to Emmanuel.
Gama now stood westward through the Indian Ocean, and after being long delayed by calms, arrived off Magadoxa, on the coast of Africa. This place was a principal port of the Moors; he therefore levelled the walls of the city with his cannon, and burned and destroyed all the ships in the harbour. Soon after this he descried eight Moorish vessels bearing down upon him; his artillery, however, soon made them use their oars in flight, nor could Gama overtake any of them for want of wind. The hospitable harbour of Melinda was the next place he reached. His men, almost worn out with fatigue and sickness, here received a second time every assistance which an accomplished and generous prince could bestow. And having taken an ambassador on board, he again set sail, in hope that he might pass the Cape of Good Hope while the favourable weather continued; for his acquaintance with the eastern seas now suggested to him that the tempestuous season was periodical. Soon after he set sail his brother’s ship struck on a sand bank, and was burnt by order of the admiral. His brother and part of the crew he took into his own ship, the rest he sent on board of Coello’s; nor were more hands now alive than were necessary to man the two vessels which remained. Having taken in provisions at the island of Zanzibar (where they were kindly entertained by a Mohammedan prince of the same sect with the King of Melinda), they safely doubled the Cape of Good Hope on April 26, 1499, and continued till they reached the island of St. Iago, in favourable weather. But a tempest here separated the two ships, and gave Gama and Coello an opportunity to show the goodness of their hearts in a manner which does honour to human nature.
The admiral was now near the Azores, when Paulus de Gama, long worn with fatigue and sickness, was unable to endure the motion of the ship. Vasco, therefore, put into the island of Tercera,
in hope of his brother’s recovery. And such was his affection, that rather than leave him he gave the command of his ship to one of his officers. But the hope of recovery was vain. John de Sa proceeded to Lisbon with the flag ship, while the admiral remained behind to soothe the deathbed of his brother, and perform his funeral rites. Coello, meanwhile, landed at Lisbon, and hearing that Gama had not arrived, imagined he might either be shipwrecked or beating about in distress. Without seeing one of his family he immediately set sail again, on purpose to bring relief to his friend and admiral, But this generous design was prevented by an order from the king, ere he got out of the Tagus.
The particulars of the voyage were now diffused by Coello, and the joy of the king was only equalled by the admiration of the people. Yet, while all the nation was fired with zeal to express their esteem of the happy admiral, he himself, the man who was such an enthusiast to the success of his voyage that he would willingly have sacrificed his life in India to secure that success, was now in the completion of it a dejected mourner. The compliments of the Court, and the shouts of the street, were irksome to him; for his brother, the companion of his toils and dangers, was not there to share the joy. As soon as he had waited on the king, he shut himself up in a lonely house near the seaside at Belem, from whence it was some time ere he was drawn to mingle in public life.
During this important expedition, two years and almost two months elapsed. Of 160 men who went out, only 55 returned. These were all rewarded by the king. Coello was pensioned with 100 ducats a year, and made a fidalgo, or gentleman of the king’s household, a degree of nobility in Portugal. The title of Don was annexed to the family of Vasco de Gama. He was appointed admiral of the eastern seas, with an annual salary of 3000 ducats, and a part of the king’s arms was added to his. Public thanksgivings to Heaven were celebrated throughout the churches of the kingdom; while feasts, dramatic performances, and chivalrous entertainments (or tournaments), according to the taste of that age, demonstrated the joy of Portugal.
Pedro Alvarez Cabral was the second Portuguese admiral who sailed for India. He entered into alliance with Trimumpara, king of Cochin, and high priest of Malabar. (See Bk. x. p. 302.)
Gama, having left six ships for the protection of Cochin and Cananor, had sailed for Portugal with twelve ships, laden with the riches of the East. As soon as his departure was made known, the
zamorim made great preparations to attack Cochin--a city situated on an island, divided by an arm of the sea from the main-land. At one part, however, this creek was fordable at low water. The zamorim having renewed the war, at length, by force of numbers and bribery, took the city; and the King of Cochin, stripped of his dominions, but still faithful to the Portuguese, fled to the island of Viopia. Francisco Albuquerque, with other commanders, having heard of the fate of Cochin, set sail for its relief; the garrison of the zamorim fled, and Trimumpara was restored to his throne. Every precaution by which the passage to the island of Cochin might be secured was now taken by Pacheco. The Portuguese took the sacrament, and devoted themselves to death. The King of Cochin’s troops amounted only to 5000 men, while the army of the zamorim numbered 57,000, provided with brass cannon, and assisted by two Italian engineers. Yet this immense army, laying siege to Cochin, was defeated. Seven times the zamorim raised new armies; yet they were all vanquished at the fords of Cochin, by the intrepidity and stratagems of Pacheco. In the later battles the zamorim exposed himself to the greatest danger, and was sometimes sprinkled with the blood of his slain attendants--a circumstance mentioned in the Lusiad, bk. x. p. 304. He then had recourse to fraud and poison; but all his attempts were baffled. At last, in despair, he resigned his throne, and shut himself up for the rest of his days in one of the temples.
Soon after the kingdom of Cochin was restored to prosperity Pacheco was recalled. The King of Portugal paid the highest compliments to his valour, and gave him the government of a possession of the crown in Africa. But merit always has enemies: Pacheco was accused and brought to Lisbon in irons, where he remained for a considerable time chained in a dungeon. He was at length tried, and after a full investigation of the charges made against him, was honourably acquitted. His services to his country were soon forgotten, his merits were no longer thought of, and the unfortunate Pacheco ended his days in an alms-house--a circumstance referred to in the Lusiad, bk. x. p. 305.
liii:* Ariosto, who adopted the legends of the old romance, chose this period for the subject of his Orlando Furioso. Paris besieged by the Saracens, Orlando and the other Christian knights assemble in aid of Charlemagne, who are opposed in their amours and in battle by Rodomont, Ferraw, and other Saracen knights. That there was a noted Moorish Spaniard, named Ferraw, a redoubted champion of that age, we have the testimony of Marcus Antonius Sabellicus, a writer of note of the fifteenth century.
liv:* Small indeed in extent, but so rich in fertility, that it was called Medulla Hispanica, "The marrow of Spain."--Vid. Resandii Antiq. Lusit. l. iii.
liv:† In propriety most certainly a crusade, though that term has never before been applied to this war.
lv:* The power of deposing, and of electing their kings, under certain circumstances, is vested in the people by the statutes of Lamego.
lvi:* For the character of this prince, see the note, Bk. iii. p. 96.
lvi:† For anecdotes of this monarch, see the notes, Bk. iii. p. 99.
lvi:‡ This great prince was the natural son of Pedro the Just. Some years after the murder of his beloved spouse, Inez de Castro (see Lusiad, Bk. iii. p. 96), lest his father, whose severe temper he too well knew, should force him into a disagreeable marriage, Don Pedro commenced an amour with a Galician lady, who became the mother of John I., the preserver of the Portuguese monarchy.
lvi:§ The sons of John, who figure in history, were Edward, Juan, Fernando, p. lvii Pedro, and Henry. Edward succeeded his father. Juan, distinguished both in the camp and cabinet, in the reign of his brother Edward had the honour to oppose the expedition against Tangier, which was proposed by his brother Fernando, in whose perpetual captivity it ended.
lviii:* The dominion of the Portuguese in the Indian seas cut the sinews of the Egyptian and other Mohammedan powers.
lviii:† Flanders has been the school-mistress of husbandry to Europe. Sir Charles Lisle, a royalist, resided in this country several years during the Commonwealth; and after the Restoration, rendered England the greatest service, by introducing the present system of agriculture. Where trade increases, men’s thoughts are set in action; hence the increase of food which is wanted is supplied by a redoubled attention to husbandry; and hence it was that agriculture was of old improved and diffused by the Phœnician colonies.
lviii:‡ At the reduction of Ceuta in Africa, and in other engagements, Prince Henry displayed military genius and valour of the first magnitude. The important fortress of Ceuta was in a manner won by his own sword.
lviii:§ Nam, in Portuguese, a negative. It is now called by corruption Cape Nun.
lix:* Cape Bojador, from the Spanish, bojar, to compass or go about.
lx:* Unluckily, he also left on this island two rabbits, whose young so increased that in a few years it was found not habitable, every vegetable being destroyed by the great increase of these animals.
lx:† Madeira in Portuguese signifies timber.--Ed.
lx:‡ If one would trace the true character of Cortez and the Americans, he must have recourse to the numerous Spanish writers, who were either witnesses of the first wars, or soon after travelled in these countries. [The reader cannot do better than refer to Prescott’s History of the Conquest of Mexico and Peru for information on these points.--Ed.] In these he will p. lxi find many anecdotes which afford a light not to be found in our modern histories. Cortez set out to take gold by force, and not by establishing any system of commerce with the natives, the only just reason for effecting a settlement in a foreign country. He was asked by various states, what commodities or drugs he wanted, and was promised abundant supply. He and his Spaniards, he answered, had a disease at their hearts, which nothing but gold could cure; and he received intelligence that Mexico abounded with it. Under pretence of a friendly conference, he made the Mexican emperor, Montezuma, his prisoner, and ordered him to pay tribute to Charles V. Immense sums were paid, but the demand was boundless. Tumults ensued. Cortez displayed amazing generalship, and some millions of those who boasted of the greatness of Montezuma were sacrificed to the disease of Cortez’s heart. Pizarro, however, in the barbarity of his character, far exceeded him. There is a bright side to the character of Cortez, if we can forget that his avarice was the cause of a most unjust and most bloody war; but Pizarro is a character completely detestable, destitute of every spark of generosity. He massacred the Peruvians because they were barbarians, and he himself could not read. Atabalipa, the Peruvian Inca, amazed at the art of reading, got a Spaniard to write the word Dios (God) on his finger. On trying if the Spaniards agreed in what it signified, he discovered that Pizarro could not read. And Pizarro, in revenge of the contempt he perceived in the face of Atabalipa, ordered that prince to be tried for his life, for having concubines, and being an idolater. Atabalipa was condemned to be burned; but on submitting to baptism, he was only hanged. See Prescott’s Conquest of Peru.
lxiii:* The difficulties he surmounted, and the assistance he received, are sufficient proofs that an adventurer of inferior birth could never have carried his designs into execution.
lxiii:† Don Pedro was villainously accused of treacherous designs by his illegitimate brother, the first Duke of Braganza. Henry left his town of Sagrez to defend his brother at court, but in vain. Pedro, finding the young king in the power of Braganza, fled, and soon after was killed in defending himself against a party who were sent to seize him. His innocence, after his death, was fully proved, and his nephew, Alonzo V., gave him an honourable burial.
lxiv:* Henry, who undertook to extend the boundaries which ignorance had given to the world, had extended them much beyond the sensible horizon long ere Columbus appeared. Columbus indeed taught the Spaniards the use of longitude and latitude in navigation, but that great mathematician, Henry, was the author of that grand discovery, and of the use of the compass. Every alteration ascribed to Columbus, had almost fifty years before been effected by Henry. Even Henry’s idea of sailing to India was adopted by Columbus. It was everywhere his proposal. When he arrived in the West Indies he thought he had found the Ophir of Solomon, and thence these islands received their general name, and on his return he told John II. that he had been at the islands of India. To find the Spice Islands of the East was his proposal at the court of Spain; and even on his fourth and last voyage in 1502, three years after Gama’s return, he promised p. lxv the King of Spain to find India by a westward passage. But though great discoveries rewarded his toils, his first and last purpose he never completed. It was reserved for Magalhaens to discover the westward route to the Eastern world.
Gomara and other Spanish writers relate, that while Columbus lived in Madeira, a pilot, the only survivor of a ship’s crew, died at his house. This pilot, they say, had been driven to the West Indies, or America, by tempest, and on his death-bed communicated the journal of his voyage to Columbus.
lxvi:* Or Bethlehem, so named from the chapel.
lxvii:* Now called St. Helen’s.
lxix:* The voyage of Gama has been called merely a coasting one, and therefore regarded as much less dangerous and heroical than that of Columbus, or of Magalhaens. But this is one of the opinions hastily taken up, and founded on ignorance. Columbus and Magalhaens undertook to navigate unknown oceans, and so did Gama; with this difference, that the ocean around the Cape of Good Hope, which Gama was to encounter, was believed to be, and had been avoided by Diaz, as impassable. Prince Henry suggested that the current of Cape Bojador might be avoided by standing out to sea, and thus that Cape was first passed. Gama for this reason did not coast, but stood out to sea for upwards of three months of tempestuous weather. The tempests which afflicted Columbus and Magalhaens are by their different historians described with circumstances of less horror and danger than those which attacked Gama. All the three commanders were endangered by mutiny; but none of their crews, save Gama’s, could urge the opinion of ages, and the example of a living captain, that the dreadful ocean which they attempted was impassable. Columbus and Magalhaens always found means, after detecting a conspiracy, to keep the rest in hope; but Gama’s men, when he put the pilots in irons, continued in the utmost despair. Columbus was indeed ill obeyed; Magalhaens sometimes little better; but nothing, save the wonderful authority of Gama’s command, could have led his crew through the tempest which he surmounted ere he doubled the Cape of Good Hope. Columbus, with his crew, must have returned. The expedients which he used to soothe them, would, under his authority, have had no avail in the tempest which Gama rode through. From every circumstance it is evident that Gama had determined not to return, unless he found. India. Nothing less than such resolution to perish or attain his point could have led him on.
lxxiii:* It afterwards appeared that the Moorish King of Mombas had been informed of what happened at Mozambique, and intended to revenge it by the total destruction of the fleet.
lxxv:* Amerigo Vespucci, describing his voyage to America, says, "Having passed the line," e come desideroso d’essere autore che segnassi la stelle--desirous to be the namer and discoverer of the Pole-star of the other hemisphere, I lost my sleep many nights in contemplating the stars of the other pole." He then laments, that as his instruments could not discover any star of less motion then ten degrees, he had not the satisfaction of giving a name to any one. But as he observed four stars, in form of an almond, which had but little motion, he hoped in his next voyage he should be able to mark them out.--All this is curious, and affords a good comment on the temper of the man who had the art to defraud Columbus, by giving his own name to America; of which he challenged the discovery. Near fifty years before the voyage of Amerigo Vespucci, the Portuguese had crossed the line; and Diaz fourteen, and Gama nearly three years before, had doubled the Cape of Good Hope; had discovered seven stars in the constellation of the south pole, and from the appearance of the four most luminous, had given it the name of "The Cross," a figure which it better resembles than that of an almond.
lxxvi:* Properly "Samudra-Rajah," King of the Sea, corrupted into Zamorim.--Ed.
lxxvi:† "Kotwal" signifies Superintendent of the Police.--Ed.
lxxx:* Faria y Sousa.
lxxxii:* It was the custom of the first discoverers to erect crosses at various places remarkable in their voyage. Gama erected six: one, dedicated to St. Raphael, at the river of Good Signs; one to St. George, at Mozambique; one to St. Stephen, at Melinda; one to St. Gabriel, at Calicut; and one to St. Mary, at the island thence named, near Anchediva.