Gama’s long recital being concluded, the poet resumes the thread of his story in his own person. The Portuguese admiral enters into an alliance with the King of Melinda, assures him that the vessels of his nation will always in future anchor on his shores. Gama receives from the monarch a faithful pilot to conduct him to India. Bacchus, now has recourse to Neptune, at whose palace the divinities of the sea assemble. The gods of the sea consent to let loose the winds and waves against the daring navigators. During the night the sailors on the watch relate to each other amusing stories. Veloso urges them to relate some proud feats of war. The history of the contest of the twelve knights of England with the twelve of Portugal is then told. A violent tempest assails the fleet. Vivid picture of a storm at sea. Gama addresses his prayer to God; and Venus, with her nymphs so captivates the storm-gods that a calm ensues. The boy at the masthead raises a joyful cry of Land! re-echoed by the whole crew. The pilot informs the Portuguese that they are now approaching the kingdom of Calicut. The poet’s reflections.
WITH heart sincere the royal pagan joy’d,
And hospitable rites each hour employ’d,
For much the king the Lusian band admir’d,
And, much their friendship and their aid desir’d;
Each hour the gay festivity prolongs,
Melindian dances, and Arabian songs;
Each hour in mirthful transport steals away,
By night the banquet, and the chase by day;
And now, the bosom of the deep invites,
And all the pride of Neptune’s festive rites;
Their silken banners waving o’er the tide,
A jovial band, the painted galleys ride;
The net and angle various hands employ,
And Moorish timbrels sound the notes of joy.
Such was the pomp, when Egypt’s beauteous 1 queen
Bade all the pride of naval show convene,
In pleasure’s downy bosom, to beguile
Her love-sick warrior: 2 o’er the breast of Nile,
Dazzling with gold, the purple ensigns flow’d,
And to the lute the gilded barges row’d;
While from the wave, of many a shining hue,
The anglers’ lines the panting fishes drew.
Now, from the West the sounding breezes blow,
And far the hoary flood was yet to plough:
The fountain and the field bestow’d their store,
And friendly pilots from the friendly shore,
Train’d in the Indian deep, were now aboard,
When GAMA, parting from Melinda’s lord,
The holy vows of lasting peace renew’d,
For, still the king for lasting friendship sued;
That Lusus’ heroes in his port supplied,
And tasted rest, he own’d his dearest pride,
And vow’d, that ever while the seas they roam,
The Lusian fleets should find a bounteous home,
And, ever from the gen’rous shore receive
Whate’er his port, whate’er his land could give. 3
Nor less his joy the grateful chief declar’d;
And now, to seize the valued hours prepar’d.
Full to the wind the swelling sails he gave,
And, his red prows divide the foamy wave:
Full to the rising sun the pilot steers,
And, far from shore through middle ocean bears.
The vaulted sky now widens o’er their heads,
Where first the infant morn his radiance sheds.
And now, with transport sparkling in his eyes,
Keen to behold the Indian mountains rise,
High on the decks each Lusian hero smiles,
And, proudly in his thoughts reviews his toils.
When the stern demon, burning with disdain,
Beheld the fleet triumphant plough the main:
The powers of heav’n, and heav’n’s dread lord he knew,
Resolv’d in Lisbon glorious to renew
The Roman honours--raging with despair
From high Olympus’ brow he cleaves the air,
On earth new hopes of vengeance to devise,
And sue that aid denied him in the skies;
Blaspheming Heav’n, he pierc’d the dread abode
Of ocean’s lord, and sought the ocean’s god.
Deep, where the bases of the hills extend,
And earth’s huge ribs of rock enormous bend,
Where, roaring through the caverns, roll the waves
Responsive as the aërial tempest raves,
The ocean’s monarch, by the Nereid train,
And wat’ry gods encircled, holds his reign.
Wide o’er the deep, which line could ne’er explore,
Shining with hoary sand of silver ore,
Extends the level, where the palace rears
Its crystal towers, and emulates the spheres;
So, starry bright, the lofty turrets blaze,
And, vie in lustre with the diamond’s rays.
Adorn’d with pillars, and with roofs of gold,
The golden gates their massy leaves unfold:
Inwrought with pearl the lordly pillars shine,
The sculptur’d walls confess a hand divine.
Here, various colours in confusion lost,
Old Chaos’ face and troubled image boast.
Here, rising from the mass, distinct and clear,
Apart, the four fair elements appear.
High o’er the rest ascends the blaze of fire,
Nor, fed by matter did the rays aspire,
But, glow’d ætherial, as the living flame,
Which, stol’n from heav’n, inspir’d the vital frame.
Next, all-embracing air was spread around,
Thin as the light, incapable of wound;
The subtle power the burning south pervades,
And penetrates the depth of polar shades.
Here, mother Earth, with mountains crown’d, is seen,
Her trees in blossom, and her lawns in green;
The lowing beeves adorn the clover vales,
The fleecy dams bespread the sloping dales;
Here, land from land the silver streams divide;
The sportive fishes through the crystal tide,
Bedropt with gold their shining sides display:
And here, old Ocean rolls his billows grays
Beneath the moon’s pale orb his current flows,
And, round the earth his giant arms he throws.
Another scene display’d the dread alarms
Of war in heav’n, and mighty Jove in arms;
Here, Titan’s race their swelling nerves distend
Like knotted oaks, and from their bases rend
And tower the mountains to the thund’ring sky,
While round their heads the forky lightnings fly;
Beneath huge Etna vanquish’d Typhon lies, 1
And vomits smoke and fire against the darken’d skies.
Here, seems the pictur’d wall possess’d of life:
Two gods contending 2 in the noble strife,
The choicest boon to humankind to give,
Their toils to lighten, or their wants relieve:
While Pallas here appears to wave her hand, 1
The peaceful olive’s silver boughs expand:
Here, while the ocean’s god indignant frown’d,
And rais’d his trident from the wounded ground,
As yet entangled in the earth, appears
The warrior horse; his ample chest he rears,
His wide red nostrils smoke, his eye-balls glare,
And his fore-hoofs, high pawing, smite the air.
Though wide, and various, o’er the sculptur’d stone 2
The feats of gods, and godlike heroes shone;
On speed the vengeful demon views no more:
Forward he rushes through the golden door,
Where ocean’s king, enclos’d with nymphs divine,
In regal state receives the king of wine: 3
"O Neptune!" instant as he came, he cries,
"Here let my presence wake no cold surprise.
A friend I come, your friendship to implore
Against the Fates unjust, and Fortune’s power;
Beneath whose shafts the great Celestials bow,
Yet ere I more, if more you wish to know,
The wat’ry gods in awful senate call,
For all should hear the wrong that touches all."
Neptune alarm’d, with instant speed commands
From ev’ry shore to call the wat’ry bands:
Triton, who boasts his high Neptunian race,
Sprung from the god by Salacé’s 1 embrace,
Attendant on his sire the trumpet sounds,
Or, through the yielding waves, his herald, bounds:
Huge is his bulk, deform’d, and dark his hue;
His bushy beard, and hairs that never knew
The smoothing comb, of seaweed rank and long,
Around his breast and shoulders dangling hung,
And, on the matted locks black mussels clung;
A shell of purple on his head he bore, 1
Around his loins no tangling garb he wore,
But all was cover’d with the slimy brood,
The snaily offspring of the unctuous flood;
And now, obedient to his dreadful sire,
High o’er the wave his brawny arms aspire;
To his black mouth his crooked shell applied,
The blast rebellows o’er the ocean wide:
Wide o’er their shores, where’er their waters flow,
The wat’ry powers the awful summons know;
And instant, darting to the palace hall,
Attend the founder of the Dardan wall; 2
Old Father Ocean, with his num’rous race
Of daughters and of sons, was first in place.
Nereus and Doris, from whose nuptials sprung
The lovely Nereid train, for ever young,
Who people ev’ry sea on ev’ry strand,
Appear’d, attended with their filial band;
And changeful Proteus, whose prophetic mind 3
The secret cause of Bacchus’ rage divin’d,
Attending, left the flocks, his scaly charge,
To graze the bitter, weedy foam at large.
In charms of power the raging waves to tame,
The lovely spouse of ocean’s sov’reign came. 4
From Heaven and Vesta sprung the birth divine,
Her snowy limbs bright through the vestments shine.
Here, with the dolphin, who persuasive led
Her modest steps to Neptune’s spousal bed,
Fair Amphitrité mov’d, more sweet, more gay
Than vernal fragrance, and the flowers of May;
Together with her sister-spouse she came,
The same their wedded lord, their love the same;
The same the brightness of their sparkling eyes,
Bright as the sun, and azure as the skies.
She, who, the rage of Athamas to shun, 1
Plung’d in the billows with her infant son;
A goddess now, a god the smiling boy,
Together sped; and Glaucus lost to joy, 2
Curs’d in his love by vengeful Circé’s hate,
Attending, wept his Scylla’s hapless fate.
And now, assembled in the hall divine,
The ocean gods in solemn council join;
The goddesses on pearl embroid’ry sat,
The gods, on sparkling crystal chairs of state,
And, proudly honour’d, on the regal throne,
Beside the ocean’s lord, Thyoneus 3 shone.
High from the roof the living amber glows, 4
High from the roof the stream of glory flows,
And, richer fragrance far around exhales
Than that which breathes on fair Arabia’s gales.
Attention now, in list’ning silence waits:
The power; whose bosom rag’d against the Fates,
Rising, casts round his vengeful eyes, while rage
Spread o’er his brows the wrinkled seams of age .
"O thou," he cries, "whose birthright sov’reign sway,
From pole to pole, the raging waves obey;
Of human race ’tis thine to fix the bounds,
And fence the nations with thy wat’ry mounds:
And thou, dread power, O Father Ocean, hear,
Thou, whose wide arms embrace the world’s wide sphere,
’Tis thine the haughtiest victor to restrain,
And bind each nation in its own domain:
And you, ye gods, to whom the seas are giv’n,
Your just partition with the gods of heav’n;
You who, of old unpunish’d never bore
The daring trespass of a foreign oar;
You who beheld, when Earth’s dread offspring strove 1
To scale the vaulted sky, the seat of Jove:
Indignant Jove deep to the nether world
The rebel band in blazing thunders hurl’d.
Alas! the great monition lost on you,
Supine you slumber, while a roving crew,
With impious search, explore the wat’ry way,
And, unresisted, through your empire stray:
To seize the sacred treasures of the main,
Their fearless prows your ancient laws disdain:
Where, far from mortal sight his hoary head
Old Ocean hides, their daring sails they spread,
And their glad shouts are echo’d where the roar
Of mounting billows only howl’d before.
In wonder, silent, ready Boreas 2 sees
Your passive languor, and neglectful ease;
Ready, with force auxiliar, to restrain
The bold intruders on your awful reign;
Prepar’d to burst his tempests, as of old,
When his black whirlwinds o’er the ocean roll’d,
And rent the Mynian 1 sails, whose impious pride
First brav’d their fury, and your power defied.
Nor deem that, fraudful, I my hope deny;
My darken’d glory sped me from the sky.
How high my honours on the Indian shore!
How soon these honours must avail no more!
Unless these rovers, who with doubled shame
To stain my conquests, bear my vassal’s 2 name,
Unless they perish on the billowy way.
Then rouse, ye gods, and vindicate your sway.
The powers of heaven, in vengeful anguish, see
The tyrant of the skies, and Fate’s decree;
The dread decree, that to the Lusian train
Consigns, betrays your empire of the main:
Say, shall your wrong alarm the high abodes?
Are men exalted to the rank of gods?
O’er you exalted, while in careless ease
You yield the wrested trident of the seas,
Usurp’d your monarchy, your honours stain’d,
Your birthright ravish’d, and your waves profan’d
Alike the daring wrong to me, to you,
And, shall my lips in vain your vengeance sue!
This, this to sue from high Olympus bore------"
More he attempts, but rage permits no more.
Fierce, bursting wrath the wat’ry gods inspires,
And, their red eye-balls burn with livid fires:
Heaving and panting struggles evr’y breast,
With the fierce billows of hot ire oppress’d.
Twice from his seat divining Proteus rose,
And twice he shook, enrag’d, his sedgy brows:
In vain; the mandate was already giv’n,
From Neptune sent, to loose the winds of heav’n
In vain; though prophecy his lips inspir’d,
The ocean’s queen his silent lips requir’d.
Nor less the storm of headlong rage denies,
Or counsel to debate, or thought to rise.
And now, the God of Tempests swift unbinds
From their dark caves the various rushing winds:
High o’er the storm the power impetuous rides,
His howling voice the roaring tempest guides;
Right to the dauntless fleet their rage he pours,
And, first their headlong outrage tears the shores:
A deeper night involves the darken’d air,
And livid flashes through the mountains glare:
Uprooted oaks, with all their leafy pride,
Roll thund’ring down the groaning mountain’s side;
And nien and herds in clam’rous uproar run,
The rocking towers and crashing woods to shun.
While, thus, the council of the wat’ry state
Enrag’d, decreed the Lusian heroes’ fate,
The weary fleet before the gentle gale
With joyful hope display’d the steady sail;
Thro’ the smooth deep they plough’d the length’ning way;
Beneath the wave the purple car of day
To sable night the eastern sky resign’d,
And, o’er the decks cold breath’d the midnight wind.
All but the watch in warm pavilions slept,
The second watch the wonted vigils kept:
Supine their limbs, the mast supports the head,
And the broad yard-sail o’er their shoulders spread
A grateful cover from the chilly gale,
And sleep’s soft dews their heavy eyes assail.
Languid against the languid power they strive,
And, sweet discourse preserves their thoughts alive.
When Leonardo, whose enamour’d thought
In every dream the plighted fair one sought-
"The dews of sleep what better to remove
Than the soft, woful, pleasing tales of love?"
"Ill-timed, alas!" the brave VELOSO cries,
"The tales of love, that melt the heart and eyes.
The dear enchantments of the fair I know,
The fearful transport, and the rapturous woe:
But, with our state ill suits the grief or joy;
Let war, let gallant war our thoughts employ:
With dangers threaten’d, let the tale inspire
The scorn of danger, and the hero’s fire."
His mates with joy the brave VELOSO hear,
And, on the youth the speaker’s toil confer.
The brave VELOSO takes the word with joy,
"And truth," he cries, "shall these slow hours decoy.
The warlike tale adorns our nation’s fame,
The twelve of England give the noble theme.
"When Pedro’s gallant heir, the valiant John,
Gave war’s full splendour to the Lusian throne,
In haughty England, where the winter spreads
His snowy mantle o’er the shining meads, 1
The seeds of strife the fierce Erynnis sows; 2
The baleful strife from court dissension rose.
With ev’ry charm adorn’d, and ev’ry grace,
That spreads its magic o’er the female face,
Twelve ladies shin’d the courtly train among,
The first, the fairest of the courtly throng;
But, Envy’s breath revil’d their injur’d name,
And stain’d the honour of their virgin fame.
Twelve youthful barons own’d the foul report;
The charge at first, perhaps, a tale of sport.
Ah, base the sport that lightly dares defame
The sacred honour of a lady’s name!
What knighthood asks the proud accusers yield,
And, dare the damsels’ champions to the field. 3
‘There let the cause, as honour wills, be tried,
And, let the lance and ruthless sword decide.’
The lovely dames implore the courtly train,
With tears implore them, but implore in vain.
So fam’d, so dreaded tower’d each boastful knight,
The damsels’ lovers shunn’d the proffer’d fight.
Of arm unable to repel the strong,
The heart’s each feeling conscious of the wrong,
When, robb’d of all the female breast holds dear,
Ah Heaven, how bitter flows the female tear!
To Lancaster’s bold duke the damsels sue;
Adown their cheeks, now paler than the hue
Of snowdrops trembling to the chilly gale,
The slow-pac’d crystal tears their wrongs bewail.
When down the beauteous face the dew-drop flows,
What manly bosom can its force oppose!
His hoary curls th’ indignant hero shakes,
And, all his youthful rage restor’d, awakes:
‘Though loth,’ he cries, ‘to plunge my bold compeers
In civil discord, yet, appease your tears:
From Lusitania’--for, on Lusian ground
Brave Lancaster had strode with laurel crown’d;
Had mark’d how bold the Lusian heroes shone,
What time he claim’d the proud Castilian throne, 1
How matchless pour’d the tempest of their might,
When, thund’ring at his side, they rul’d the fight:
Nor less their ardent passion for the fair,
Gen’rous and brave, he view’d with wond’ring care,
When, crown’d with roses, to the nuptial bed
The warlike John his lovely daughter led-
‘From Lusitania’s clime,’ the hero cries,
‘The gallant champions of your fame shall rise.
Their hearts will burn (for well their hearts I know)
To pour your vengeance on the guilty foe.
Let courtly phrase the heroes’ worth admire,
And, for your injur’d names, that worth require:
Let all the soft endearments of the fair,
And words that weep your wrongs, your wrongs declare.
Myself the heralds to the chiefs will send,
And to the king, my valiant son, commend.’
He spoke; and twelve of Lusian race he names
All noble youths, the champions of the dames.
The dames, by lot, their gallant champions choose, 2
And each her hero’s name, exulting, views.
Each in a various letter hair her chief,
And, earnest for his aid, relates her grief:
Each to the king her courtly homage sends,
And valiant Lancaster their cause commends.
Soon as to Tagus’ shores the heralds came,
Swift through the palace pours the sprightly flame
Of high-soul’d chivalry; the monarch glows
First on the listed field to dare the foes;
But regal state withheld. Alike their fires,
Each courtly noble to the toil aspires:
High on his helm, the envy of his peers,
Each chosen knight the plume of combat wears.
In that proud port, half circled by the wave,
Which Portugallia to the nation gave,
A deathless name, 1 a speedy sloop receives
The sculptur’d bucklers, and the clasping greaves,
The swords of Ebro, spears of lofty size,
And breast-plates, flaming with a thousand dyes,
Helmets high plum’d, and, pawing for the fight,
Bold steeds, whose harness shone with silv’ry light
Dazzling the day. And now, the rising gale
Invites the heroes, and demands the sail,
When brave Magricio thus his peers address’d,
’Oh, friends in arms, of equal powers confess’d,
Long have I hop’d through foreign climes to stray,
Where other streams than Douro wind their way;
To note what various shares of bliss and woe
From various laws and various customs flow;
Nor deem that, artful, I the fight decline;
England shall know the combat shall be mine.
By land I speed, and, should dark fate prevent,
(For death alone shall blight my firm intent),
Small may the sorrow for my absence be,
For yours were conquest, though unshar’d by me.
Yet, something more than human warms my breast,
And sudden wispers, 1 In our fortunes blest,
Nor envious chance, nor rocks, nor whelmy tide,
Shall our glad meeting at the list divide.’
"He said; and now, the rites of parting friends
Sufficed, through Leon and Castile he bends.
On many a field, enrapt, the hero stood,
And the proud scenes of Lusian conquest view’d.
Navarre he pass’d, and pass’d the dreary wild,
Where rocks on rocks o’er yawning glens are pil’d;
The wolf’s dread range, where, to the ev’ning skies
In clouds involv’d, the cold Pyrenians rise.
Through Gallia’s flow’ry vales, and wheaten plains
He strays, and Belgia now his steps detains.
There, as forgetful of his vow’d intent,
In various cares the fleeting days he spent:
His peers, the while, direct to England’s strand,
Plough the chill northern wave; and now, at land,
Adorn’d in armour, and embroid’ry gay,
To lordly London hold the crowded way:
Bold Lancaster receives the knights with joy;
The feast, and warlike song each hour employ.
The beauteous dames, attending, wake their fire,
With tears enrage them, and with smiles inspire.
And now, with doubtful blushes rose the day,
Decreed the rites of wounded fame to pay.
The English monarch gives the listed bounds,
And, fix’d in rank, with shining spears surrounds.
Before their dames the gallant knights advance,
(Each like a Mars), and shake the beamy lance:
The dames, adorn’d in silk and gold, display
A thousand colours glitt’ring to the day:
Alone in tears, and doleful mourning, came,
Unhonour’d by her knight, Magricio’s dame.
‘Fear not our prowess,’ cry the bold eleven,
‘In numbers, not in might, we stand uneven.
More could we spare, secure of dauntless might,
When for the injur’d female name we fight.’
"Beneath a canopy of regal state,
High on a throne, the English monarch sat,
All round, the ladies and the barons bold,
Shining in proud array, their stations hold.
Now, o’er the theatre the champions pour,
And facing three to three, and four to four,
Flourish their arms in prelude. From the bay
Where flows the Tagus to the Indian sea,
The sun beholds not, in his annual race,
A twelve more sightly, more of manly grace
Than tower’d the English knights. With frothing jaws,
Furious, each steed the bit restrictive gnaws,
And, rearing to approach the rearing foe,
Their wavy manes are dash’d with foamy snow:
Cross-darting to the sun a thousand rays,
The champions’ helmets as the crystal blaze.
Ah now, the trembling ladies’ cheeks how wan!
Cold crept their blood; when, through the tumult ran
A shout, loud gath’ring; turn’d was ev’ry eye
Where rose the shout, the sudden cause to spy.
And lo, in shining arms a warrior rode,
With conscious pride his snorting courser trod;
Low to the monarch, and the dames he bends,
And now, the great Magricio joins his friends.
With looks that glow’d, exulting rose the fair,
Whose wounded honour claim’d the hero’s care.
Aside the doleful weeds of mourning thrown,
In dazzling purple, and in gold she shone.
Now, loud the signal of the fight rebounds,
Quiv’ring the air, the meeting shock resounds
Hoarse, crashing uproar; griding splinters spring
Far round, and bucklers dash’d on bucklers ring.
Their swords flash lightning; darkly reeking o’er
The shining mail-plates flows the purple gore.
Torn by the spur, the loosen’d reins at large,
Furious, the steeds in thund’ring plunges charge;
Trembles beneath their hoofs the solid ground,
And, thick the fiery sparkles flash around,
A dreadful blaze! With pleasing horror thrill’d,
The crowd behold the terrors of the field.
Here, stunn’d and stagg’ring with the forceful blow,
A bending champion grasps the saddle-bow;
Here, backward bent, a falling knight reclines,
His plumes, dishonour’d, lash the courser’s loins.
So, tir’d and stagger’d toil’d the doubtful fight,
When great Magricio, kindling all his might,
Gave all his rage to burn: with headlong force,
Conscious of victory, his bounding horse
Wheels round and round the foe; the hero’s spear
Now on the front, now flaming on the rear,
Mows down their firmest battle; groans the ground
Beneath his courser’s smiting hoofs: far round
The cloven helms and splinter’d shields resound.
Here, torn and trail’d in dust the harness gay,
From the fall’n master springs the steed away;
Obscene with dust and gore, slow from the ground
Rising, the master rolls his eyes around,
Pale as a spectre on the Stygian coast,
In all the rage of shame confus’d, and lost:
Here, low on earth, and o’er the riders thrown,
The wallowing coursers and the riders groan:
Before their glimm’ring vision dies the light,
And, deep descends the gloom of death’s eternal night.
They now who boasted, ’Let the sword decide,’
Alone in flight’s ignoble aid confide:
Loud to the skies the shout of joy proclaims
The spotless honour of the ladies’ names.
"In painted halls of state, and rosy bowers,
The twelve brave Lusians crown the festive hours.
Bold Lancaster the princely feast bestows,
The goblet circles, and the music flows;
And ev’ry care, the transport of their joy,
To tend the knights the lovely dames employ;
The green-bough’d forests by the lawns of Thames
Behold the victor-champions, and the dames
Rouse the tall roe-buck o’er the dews of morn,
While, through the dales of Kent resounds the bugle-horn.
The sultry noon the princely banquet owns,
The minstrel’s song of war the banquet crowns:
And, when the shades of gentle ev’ning fall,
Loud with the dance resounds the lordly hall:
The golden roofs, while Vesper shines, prolong
The trembling echoes of the harp and song.
Thus pass’d the days on England’s happy strand,
Till the dear mem’ry of their natal land
Sigh’d for the banks of Tagus. Yet, the breast
Of brave Magricio spurns the thoughts of rest.
In Gaul’s proud court he sought the listed plain,
In arms, an injur’d lady’s knight again.
As Rome’s Corvinus 1 o’er the field he strode,
And, on the foe’s huge cuirass proudly trod.
No more by tyranny’s proud tongue revil’d,
The Flandrian countess on her hero smil’d. 2
The Rhine another pass’d, and prov’d his might, 3
A fraudful German dar’d him to the fight.
Strain’d in his grasp, the fraudful boaster fell-------"
Here sudden stopp’d the youth; the distant yell
Of gath’ring tempest sounded in his ears,
Unheard, unheeded by his list’ning peers.
Earnest, at full, they urge him to relate
Magricio’s combat, and the German’s fate.
When, shrilly whistling through the decks, resounds
The master’s call, and loud his voice rebounds:
Instant from converse, and from slumber, start
Both bands, and instant to their toils they dart.
"Aloft, oh speed, down, down the topsails!" cries
The master: "sudden from my earnest eyes
Vanish’d the stars; slow rolls the hollow sigh,
The storm’s dread herald." To the topsails fly
The bounding youths, and o’er the yardarms whirl
The whizzing ropes, and swift the canvas furl;
When, from their grasp the bursting tempests bore
The sheets half-gather’d, and in fragments tore.
"Strike, strike the mainsail!" loud again he rears
His echoing voice; when, roaring in their ears,
As if the starry vault, by thunders riv’n,
Rush’d downward to the deep the walls of heav’n,
With headlong weight a fiercer blast descends,
And, with sharp whirring crash, the mainsail rends;
Loud shrieks of horror through the fleet resound;
Bursts the torn cordage; rattle far around
The splinter’d yardarms; from each bending mast,
In many a shred, far streaming on the blast
The canvas floats; low sinks the leeward side,
O’er the broad vessels rolls the swelling tide:
"Oh strain each nerve!" the frantic pilot cries--
"Oh now!"--and instant every nerve, applies,
Tugging what cumbrous lay, with strainful force;
Dash’d by the pond’rous loads, the surges hoarse
Roar in new whirls: the dauntless soldiers ran
To pump, yet, ere the groaning pump began
The wave to vomit, o’er the decks o’erthrown
In grovelling heaps, the stagger’d soldiers groan:
So rolls the vessel, not the boldest three,
Of arm robustest, and of firmest knee,
Can guide the starting rudder; from their hands
The helm bursts; scarce a cable’s strength commands
The stagg’ring fury of its starting bounds,
While to the forceful, beating surge resounds
The hollow crazing hulk: with kindling rage
The adverse winds the adverse winds engage,
As, from its base of rock their banded power
Strove in the dust to strew some lordly tower,
Whose dented battlements in middle sky
Frown on the tempest and its rage defy;
So, roar’d the winds: high o’er the rest upborne
On the wide mountain-wave’s slant ridge forlorn,
At times discover’d by the lightnings blue,
Hangs GAMA’s lofty vessel, to the view
Small as her boat; o’er Paulus’ shatter’d prore
Falls the tall mainmast, prone, with crashing roar;
Their hands, yet grasping their uprooted hair,
The sailors lift to heaven in wild despair,
The Saviour-God each yelling voice implores.
Nor less from brave Coello’s war-ship pours
The shriek, shrill rolling on the tempest’s wings:
Dire as the bird of death at midnight sings
His dreary howlings in the sick man’s ear,
The answ’ring shriek from ship to ship they hear.
Now, on the mountain-billows upward driv’n,
The navy mingles with the clouds of heav’n;
Now, rushing downward with the sinking waves,
Bare they behold old Ocean’s vaulty caves.
The eastern blast against the western pours,
Against the southern storm the northern roars:
From pole to pole the flashy lightnings glare,
One pale, blue, twinkling sheet enwraps the air;
In swift succession now the volleys fly,
Darted in pointed curvings o’er the sky;
And, through the horrors of the dreadful night,
O’er the torn waves they shed a ghastly light;
The breaking surges flame with burning red,
Wider, and louder still the thunders spread,
As if the solid heav’ns together crush’d,
Expiring worlds on worlds expiring rush’d,
And dim-brow’d Chaos struggled to regain
The wild confusion of his ancient reign.
Not such the volley when the arm of Jove
From heav’n’s high gates the rebel Titans drove;
Not such fierce lightnings blaz’d athwart the flood,
When, sav’d by Heaven, Deucalion’s vessel rode
High o’er the delug’d hills. Along the shore
The halcyons, mindful of their fate, deplore; 1
As beating round, on trembling wings they fly,
Shrill through the storm their woful clamours die.
So, from the tomb, when midnight veils the plains,
With shrill, faint voice, th’ untimely ghost complains. 1
The am’rous dolphins to their deepest caves
In vain retreat, to fly the furious waves;
High o’er the mountain-capes the ocean flows,
And tears the aged forests from their brows:
The pine and oak’s huge, sinewy roots uptorn,
And, from their beds the dusky sands upborne
On the rude whirlings of the billowy sweep,
Imbrown the surface of the boiling deep.
High to the poop the valiant GAMA springs,
And all the rage of grief his bosom wrings,
Grief to behold, the while fond hope enjoy’d
The meed of all his toils, that hope destroy’d.
In awful horror lost, the hero stands,
And rolls his eyes to heav’n, and spreads his hands,
While to the clouds his vessel rides the swell,
And now, her black keel strikes the gates of hell;
"O Thou," he cries, "whom trembling heav’n obeys,
Whose will the tempest’s furious madness sways,
Who, through the wild waves, ledd’st Thy chosen race,
While the high billows stood like walls of brass: 1
O Thou, while ocean bursting o’er the world
Roar’d o’er the hills, and from the sky down hurl’d
Rush’d other headlong oceans; oh, as then
The second father of the race of men 2
Safe in Thy care the dreadful billows rode,
Oh! save us now, be now the Saviour-God!
Safe in Thy care, what dangers have we pass’d!
And shalt Thou leave us, leave us now at last
To perish here--our dangers and our toils
To spread Thy laws unworthy of Thy smiles;
Our vows unheard? Heavy with all thy weight,
Oh horror, come! and come, eternal night!"
He paus’d;--then round his eyes and arms he threw
In gesture wild, and thus: "Oh happy you!
You, who in Afric fought for holy faith,
And, pierc’d with Moorish spears, in glorious death
Beheld the smiling heav’ns your toils reward,
By your brave mates beheld the conquest shar’d;
Oh happy you, on every shore renown’d!
Your vows respected, and your wishes crown’d.".
He spoke; redoubled rag’d the mingled blasts;
Through the torn cordage and the shatter’d masts
The winds loud whistled, fiercer lightnings blaz’d,
And louder roars the doubled thunders rais’d,
The sky and ocean blending, each on fire,
Seem’d as all Nature struggled to expire.
When now, the silver star of Love appear’d, 1
Bright in the east her radiant front she rear’d;
Fair, through the horrid storm, the gentle ray
Announc’d the promise of the cheerful day;
From her bright throne Celestial Love beheld
The tempest burn, and blast on blast impell’d:
"And must the furious demon still," she cries,
"Still urge his rage, nor all the past suffice!
Yet, as the past, shall all his rage be vain------"
She spoke, and darted to the roaring main;
Her lovely nymphs she calls, the nymphs obey,
Her nymphs the virtues who confess her sway;
Round ev’ry brow she bids the rose-buds twine,
And ev’ry flower adown the locks to shine,
The snow-white lily, and the laurel green,
And pink and yellow as at strife be seen.
Instant, amid their golden ringlets strove
Each flow’ret, planted by the hand of Love;
At strife, who first th’ enamour’d powers to gain,
Who rule the tempests and the waves restrain:
Bright as a starry band the Nereids shone,
Instant old Eolus’ sons their presence 2 own;
The winds die faintly, and, in softest sighs,
Each at his fair one’s feet desponding lies:
The bright Orithia, threatening, sternly chides
The furious Boreas, and his faith derides;
The furious Boreas owns her powerful bands:
Fair Galatea, with a smile commands
The raging Notus, for his love, how true,
His fervent passion and his faith she knew.
Thus, every nymph her various lover chides;
The silent winds are fetter’d by their brides;
And, to the goddess of celestial loves,
Mild as her look, and gentle as her doves,
In flow’ry bands are brought. Their am’rous flame
The queen approves, and "ever burn the same,"
She cries, and joyful on the nymphs’ fair hands,
Th’ Eolian race receive the queen’s commands,
And vow, that henceforth her Armada’s sails
Should gently swell with fair propitious gales. 1
Now, morn, serene, in dappled grey arose
O’er the fair lawns where murm’ring Ganges flows;
Pale shone the wave beneath the golden beam,
Blue, o’er the silver flood, Malabria’s mountains gleam;
The sailors on the main-top’s airy round,
"Land, land!" aloud with waving hands resound;
Aloud the pilot of Melinda cries,
"Behold, O chief, the shores of India rise!"
Elate, the joyful crew on tip-toe trod,
And every breast with swelling raptures glow’d;
GAMA’s great soul confess’d the rushing swell,
Prone on his manly knees the hero fell;
"O bounteous heav’n!" he cries, and spreads his hands
To bounteous heav’n, while boundless joy commands
No further word to flow. In wonder lost,
As one in horrid dreams through whirlpools toss’d,
Now, snatch’d by demons, rides the flaming air,
And howls, and hears the howlings of despair;
Awak’d, amaz’d, confus’d with transport glows,
And, trembling still, with troubled joy o’erflows;
So, yet affected with the sickly weight
Left by the horrors of the dreadful night,
The hero wakes, in raptures to behold
The Indian shores before his prows unfold:
Bounding, he rises, and, with eyes on fire,
Surveys the limits of his proud desire.
O glorious chief, while storms and oceans rav’d,
What hopeless toils thy dauntless valour brav’d!
By toils like thine the brave ascend to heav’n,
By toils like thine immortal fame is giv’n.
Not he, who daily moves in ermine gown,
Who nightly slumbers on the couch of down;
Who proudly boasts through heroes old to trace
The lordly lineage of his titled race;
Proud of the smiles of every courtier lord,
A welcome guest at every courtier’s board;
Not he, the feeble son of ease, may claim
Thy wreath, O GAMA, or may hope thy fame.
’Tis he, who nurtur’d on the tented field,
From whose brown cheek each tint of fear expell’d,
With manly face unmov’d, secure, serene,
Amidst the thunders of the deathful scene,
From horror’s mouth dares snatch the warrior’s crown,
His own his honours, all his fame his own:
Who, proudly just to honour’s stern commands,
The dogstar’s rage on Afric’s burning sands,
Or the keen air of midnight polar skies,
Long watchful by the helm, alike defies:
Who, on his front, the trophies of the wars,
Bears his proud knighthood’s badge, his honest scars;
Who, cloth’d in steel, by thirst, by famine worn,
Through raging seas by bold ambition borne,
Scornful of gold, by noblest ardour fir’d,
Each wish by mental dignity inspir’d,
Prepar’d each ill to suffer, or to dare,
To bless mankind, his great, his only care;
Him whom her son mature Experience owns,
Him, him alone Heroic Glory crowns.
Once more the translator is tempted to confess his opinion, that the contrary practice of Homer and Virgil affords, in reality, no reasonable objection against the exclamatory exuberances of Camoëns. Homer, though the father of the epic poem, has his exuberances, which violently trespass against the first rule of the epopea, the unity of the action. A rule which, strictly speaking, is not outraged by the digressive exclamations of Camoëns. The one now before us, as the severest critic must allow, is happily adapted to the subject of the book. The great dangers which the hero had hitherto encountered are particularly described. He is afterwards brought in safety to the Indian shore, the object of his ambition, and of all his toils. The exclamation, therefore, on the grand hinge of the poem has its propriety, and discovers the warmth of its author’s genius. It must also please, as it is strongly characteristic of the temper of our military poet. The manly contempt with which he speaks of the luxurious, inactive courtier, and the delight and honour with which he talks of the toils of the soldier, present his own active life to the reader of sensibility. His campaigns in Africa, where in a gallant attack he lost an eye, his dangerous life at sea, and the military fatigues, and
the battles in which he bore an honourable share in India, rise to our idea, and possess us with an esteem and admiration of our martial poet, who thus could look back with a gallant enthusiasm (though his modesty does not mention himself) on all the hardships he had endured; who thus could bravely esteem the dangers to which he had been exposed, and by which he had severely suffered. as the most desirable occurrences of his life, and the ornament of his name.
END OF THE SIXTH BOOK.
165:2 Every display of eastern luxury and magnificence was lavished in the fishing parties on the Nile, with which Cleopatra amused Mark Antony, when at any time he showed symptoms of uneasiness, or seemed inclined to abandon the effeminate life which he led with his mistress. At one of these parties, Mark Antony, having procured divers to put fishes upon his hooks while under the water, he very gallantly boasted to his mistress of his great dexterity in angling. Cleopatra perceived his art, and as gallantly outwitted him. Some other divers received her orders, and in a little while Mark Antony’s line brought up a fried fish in place of a live one, to the vast entertainment of the queen, and all the convivial company. Octavius was at this time on his march to decide who should be master of the world.
165:3 The friendship of the Portuguese and Melindians was of long continuance. Alvaro Cabral, the second admiral who made the voyage to India, in an engagement with the Moors off the coast of Sofala, took two ships richly freighted from the mines of that p. 166 country. On finding that Xeques Fonteyma, the commander, was uncle to the King of Melinda, he restored the valuable prize, and treated him with the utmost courtesy. Their good offices were reciprocal. By the information of the King of Melinda, Cabral escaped the treachery of the King of Calicut. The Kings of Mombaz and Quiloa, irritated at the alliance with Portugal, made several depredations on the subjects of Melinda, who in return were effectually revenged by their European allies.
167:1 A giant.
167:2 Two gods contending.--According to the fable, Neptune and Minerva disputed the honour of giving a name to the city of Athens. They agreed to determine the contest by a display of their wisdom and power, in conferring the most beneficial gift on mankind. Neptune p. 168 struck the earth with his trident and produced the horse, whose bounding motions are emblematical of the agitation of the sea. Pallas commanded the olive-tree, the symbol of peace, and of riches, to spring forth. The victory was adjudged to the goddess, from whom the city was named Athens. The taste of the ancient Grecians clothed almost every occurrence in mythological allegory. The founders of Athens, it is most probable, disputed whether their new city should be named from the fertility of the soil or from the marine situation of Attica. The former opinion prevailed, and the town received its name in honour of the goddess of the olive-tree--Athēnē.
168:1 While Pallas here appears to wave her hand.--As Neptune struck the earth with his trident, Minerva, says the fable, struck the earth with her lance. That she waved her hand while the olive boughs spread, is a fine poetical attitude, and varies the picture from that of Neptune, which follows.
168:2 Though wide, and various, o’er the sculptur’d stone.--The description of palaces is a favourite topic several times touched upon by the two great masters of epic poetry, in which they have been happily imitated by their three greatest disciples among the moderns, Camoëns, Tasso, and Milton. The description of the palace of Neptune has great merit. Nothing can be more in place than the picture of chaos and the four elements. The war of the gods, and the contest of Neptune and Minerva are touched with the true boldness of poetical colouring. To show to the English reader that the Portuguese poet is, in his manner, truly classical, is the intention of many of these notes.
169:1 The description of Triton, who, as Fanshaw says--
is in the style of the classics. His parentage is differently related. Hesiod makes him the son of Neptune and Amphitrité. By Triton, in the physical sense of the fable, is meant the noise, and by Salacé, the mother by some ascribed to him, the salt, of the ocean. The origin of the fable of Triton, it is probable, was founded on the appearance of a sea animal, which, according to some ancient naturalists, in the upward parts resembles the human figure. Pausanias relates a wonderful story of a monstrously large one, which often came ashore on the meadows of Bœotia. Over his head was a kind of finny cartilage, which, at a distance, appeared like hair; the body covered with brown scales; the nose and ears like the human; the mouth of a dreadful width, jagged with the teeth of a panther; the eyes of a greenish hue; the hands divided into fingers, the nails of which were crooked, and of a shelly substance. This monster, whose extremities ended in a tail like a dolphin’s, devoured both men and beasts as they chanced in his way. The citizens of Tanagra, at last, contrived his destruction. They set a large vessel full of wine on the sea shore. Triton got drunk with it, and fell into a profound sleep, in which condition the Tanagrians beheaded him, and afterwards, with great propriety, hung up his body in the temple of Bacchus; where, says Pausanias, it continued a long time.
170:1 A shell of purple on his head he bore.--In the Portuguese--
[paragraph continues] Thus rendered by Fanshaw--
170:3 And changeful Proteus, whose prophetic mind.--The fullest and best account of the fable of Proteus is in the fourth Odyssey.
170:* Montera, the Spanish word for a huntsman’s cap.
171:1 She who the rage of Athamas to shun.--Ino, the daughter of Cadmus and Hermione, and second spouse of Athamas, king of Thebes. The fables of her fate are various. That which Camoëns follows is the most common. Athamas, seized with madness, imagined that his spouse was a lioness, and her two sons young lions. In this frenzy he slew Learchus, and drove the mother and her other son, Melicertus, into the sea. The corpse of the mother was thrown ashore on Megara and that of the son at Corinth. They were afterwards deified, the one as a sea goddess, the other as the god of harbours.
171:2 And Glaucus lost to joy.--A fisherman, says the fable, who, on eating a certain herb, was turned into a sea god. Circé was enamoured of him, and in revenge of her slighted love, poisoned the fountain where his mistress usually bathed. By the force of the enchantment the favoured Scylla was changed into a hideous monster, whose loins were surrounded with the ever-barking heads of dogs and wolves. Scylla, on this, threw herself into the sea. and was metamorphosed into the rock which bears her name. The rock Scylla at a distance appears like the statue of a woman. The furious dashing of the waves in the cavities, which are level with the water, resembles the barking of wolves and dogs.
171:3 Thyoneus, a name of Bacchus.
171:4 High from the roof the living amber glows.--
172:1 The Titans.
172:2 The north wind.
173:1 And rent the Mynian sails.--The sails of the Argonauts, inhabitants of Mynia.
173:2 See the first note on the first book of the Lusiad.
[paragraph continues] In the original--
that is, "In illustrious England, always covered with northern snow." Though the translator was willing to retain the manner of Homer, he thought it proper to correct the error in natural history fallen into by Camoëns. Fanshaw seems to have been sensible of the mistake of his author, and has given the following (uncountenanced by the Portuguese) in place of the eternal snows ascribed to his country:--
175:2 Eris, or Discordia, the goddess of contention, VIRGIL, Æneid ii. 337.--Ed.
[paragraph continues] The translator has not been able to discover the slightest vestige of p. 176 this chivalrous adventure in any memoirs of the English history. It is probable, nevertheless, that however adorned with romantic ornament, it is not entirely without foundation in truth. Castera, who unhappily does not cite his authority, gives the names of the twelve Portuguese champions: Alvaro Vaz d’Almada, afterwards Count d’Avranches in Normandy; another Alvaro d’Almada, surnamed the Juster, from his dexterity at that warlike exercise; Lopez Fernando Pacheco; Pedro Homen d’Acosta; Juan Augustin Pereyra; Luis Gonfalez de Malafay; the two brothers Alvaro and Rodrigo Mendez de Cerveyra; Ruy Gomex de Sylva; Soueyro d’Acosta, who gave his name to the river Acosta in Africa; Martin Lopez d’Azevedo; and Alvaro Gonfalez de Coutigno, surnamed Magricio. The names of the English champions, and of the ladies, he confesses are unknown, nor does history positively explain the injury of which the dames complained. It must, however, he adds, have been such as required the atonement of blood; il falloit qu’elle fût sanglante, since two sovereigns allowed to determine it by the sword. "Some critics," says Castera, "may perhaps condemn this episode of Camoëns; but for my part," he continues, "I think the adventure of Olindo and Sophronia, in Tasso, is much more to be blamed. The episode of the Italian poet is totally exuberant, whereas that of the Portuguese has a direct relation to his proposed subject: the wars of his country, a vast field, in which he has admirably succeeded, without prejudice to the first rule of the epopea, the unity of the action." The severest critic must allow that the episode related by Veloso, is happily introduced. To one who has ever been at sea, the scene must be particularly pleasing. The fleet is under sail, they plough the smooth deep--
[paragraph continues] All but the second watch are asleep in their warm pavilions; the second watch sit by the mast, sheltered from the chilly gale by a broad sail-cloth; sleep begins to overpower them, and they tell stories to entertain one another. For beautiful, picturesque simplicity there is no sea-scene equal to this in the Odyssey, or Æneid.
177:1 What time he claim’d the proud Castilian throne.--John of Gaunt, duke of Lancaster, claimed the crown of Castile in the right of his wife, Donna Constantia, daughter of Don Pedro, the late king. Assisted by his son-in-law, John I. of Portugal, he entered Galicia, and was proclaimed king of Castile at the city of St. Jago de Compostella. He afterwards relinquished his pretensions, on the marriage of his daughter, Catalina, with the infant, Don Henry of Castile.
177:2 The dames by lot their gallant champions choose.--The ten champions, who in the fifth book of Tasso’s Jerusalem are sent by p. 178 Godfrey for the assistance of Armida, are chosen by lot. Tasso, who had read the Lusiad, and admired its author, undoubtedly had the Portuguese poet in his eye.
[paragraph continues] Oporto, called by the Romans Calle. Hence Portugal.
[paragraph continues] In the Portuguese--
[paragraph continues] Literally, "But, if my spirit truly divine." Thus rendered by Fanshaw--
182:1 As Rome’s Corvinus.--Valerius Maximus, a Roman tribune, who fought and slew a Gaul of enormous stature, in single combat. During the duel a raven perched on the helmet of his antagonist, sometimes pecked his face and hand, and sometimes blinded him with the flapping of his wings. The victor was thence named Corvinus, from Corvus. Vid. Livy, l. 7, c. 26.
182:2 The Flandrian countess on her hero smil’d.--The princess, for whom Magricio signalized his valour, was Isabella of Portugal, and spouse to Philip the Good, duke of Burgundy, and earl of Flanders. Some Spanish chronicles relate that Charles VII. of France, having assembled the states of his kingdom, cited Philip to appear with his other vassals. Isabella, who was present, solemnly protested that the earls of Flanders were not obliged to do homage. A dispute arose, on which she offered, according to the custom of that age, to appeal to the fate of arms. The proposal was accepted, and Magricio the champion of Isabella, vanquished a French chevalier, appointed by Charles. Though our authors do not mention this adventure, and though Emmanuel de Faria, and the best Portuguese writers treat it with doubt, nothing to the disadvantage of Camoëns is thence to be inferred. A poet is not obliged always to follow the truth of history.
182:3 The Rhine another pass’d, and prov’d his might.--This was Alvaro Vaz d’Almada. The chronicle of Garibay relates, that at Basle he p. 183 received from a German a challenge to measure swords, on condition that each should fight with the right side unarmed; the German by this hoping to be victorious, for he was left-handed. The Portuguese, suspecting no fraud, accepted. When the combat began he perceived the inequality. His right side unarmed was exposed to the enemy, whose left side, which was nearest to him was defended with half a cuirass. Notwithstanding all this, the brave Alvaro obtained the victory. He sprang upon the German, seized him, and, grasping him forcibly in his arms, stifled and crushed him to death; imitating the conduct of Hercules, who in the same manner slew the cruel Anteus. Here we ought to remark the address of our author; he describes at length the injury and grief of the English ladies, the voyage of the twelve champions to England, and the prowess they there displayed. When Veloso relates these, the sea is calm; but no sooner does it begin to be troubled, than the soldier abridges his recital: we see him follow by degrees the preludes of the storm, we perceive the anxiety of his mind on the view of the approaching danger, hastening his narration to an end. Behold the strokes of a master!--This note, and the one preceding, are from Castera.
185:1 The halcyons, mindful of their fate, deplore.--Ceyx, king of Trachinia, son of Lucifer, married Alcyone, the daughter of Eolus. On a voyage to consult the Delphic Oracle, he was shipwrecked. His corpse was thrown ashore in the view of his spouse, who, in the agonies of her love and despair, threw herself into the sea. The gods, in pity of her pious fidelity, metamorphosed them into the birds which bear her name. The halcyon is a little bird about the size of a thrush, its plumage of a beautiful sky blue, mixed with some traits of white and carnation. It is vulgarly called the kingfisher. The halcyons very seldom appear but in the finest weather, whence they are fabled to build their nests on the waves. The female is no less remarkable than the turtle, for her conjugal affection. She nourishes and attends the male when sick, and survives his death but a few days. When the halcyons are surprised in a tempest, they fly about as in the utmost terror, with the most lamentable and doleful cries. To introduce them, therefore, in the picture of a storm is a proof, both of the taste and judgment of Camoëns.
186:1 With shrill, faint voice, th’ untimely ghost complains.--It may not perhaps be unentertaining to cite Madame Dacier and Mr. Pope on the voices of the dead. It will, at least, afford a critical observation which appears to have escaped them both. "The shades of the suitors," observes Dacier, "when they are summoned by Mercury out of the palace of Ulysses, emit a feeble, plaintive, inarticulate sound, τρίζουσι, strident: whereas Agamemnon, and the shades that have been long in the state of the dead, speak articulately. I doubt not but Homer intended to show, by the former description, that when the soul is separated from the organs of the body, it ceases to act after the same manner as while it was joined to it; but how the dead recover their voices afterwards is not easy to understand. In other respects Virgil paints after Homer:--
To this Mr. Pope replies, "But why should we suppose, with Dacier, that these shades of the suitors (of Penelope) have lost the faculty of speaking? I rather imagine that the sounds they uttered were signs of complaint and discontent, and proceeded not from an inability to speak. After Patroclus was slain he appears to Achilles, and speaks very articulately to him; yet, to express his sorrow at his departure, he acts like these suitors: for Achilles--
[paragraph continues] Dacier conjectures that the power of speech ceases in the dead, till they are admitted into a state of rest; but Patroclus is an instance to the contrary in the Iliad, and Elpenor in the Odyssey, for they both speak before their funereal rites are performed, and consequently before they enter into a state of repose amongst the shades of the happy."
The critic, in his search for distant proofs, often omits the most material one immediately at hand. Had Madame Dacier attended to the episode of the souls of the suitors, the world had never seen her ingenuity in these mythological conjectures; nor had Mr. Pope any need to bring the case of Patroclus or Elpenor to overthrow her system. Amphimedon, one of the suitors, in the very episode which gave birth to Dacier’s conjecture, tells his story very articulately to the shade of Agamemnon, though he had not received the funereal rites:--
[paragraph continues] On the whole, the defence of Pope is almost as idle as the conjectures p. 187 of Dacier. The plain truth is, poetry delights in personification; everything in it, as Aristotle says of the Iliad, has manners; poetry must therefore personify according to our ideas. Thus in Milton:--
[paragraph continues] And thus in Homer, while the suitors are conducted to hell:--
and, unfettered with mythological distinctions, either shriek or articulately talk, according to the most poetical view of their supposed circumstances.
187:1 Exod. xiv. 29.
188:2 For the fable of Eolus see the tenth Odyssey.
[paragraph continues] In innumerable instances Camoëns discovers himself a judicious imitator of the ancients. In the two great masters of the epic are several prophecies oracular of the fate of different heroes, which give an air of solemn importance to the poem. The fate of the Armada thus obscurely anticipated, resembles in particular the prophecy of the safe return of Ulysses to Ithaca, foretold by the shade of Tiresias, which was afterwards fulfilled by the Phæacians. It remains now to make some observations on the machinery used by Camoëns in this book. The necessity of machinery in the epopea, and the, perhaps, insurmountable difficulty of finding one unexceptionably adapted to a poem where the heroes are Christians, or, in other words, to a poem whose subject is modern, have already been observed in the preface. The machinery of Camoëns has also been proved, in every respect, to be less exceptionable than that of Tasso in his Jerusalem, or that of Voltaire in his Henriade. The descent of Bacchus to the palace of Neptune, in the depths of the sea, and his address to the watery gods, are noble imitations of Virgil’s Juno in the first Æneid. The description of the storm is also masterly. In both instances the conduct of the Æneid is joined with the descriptive exuberance of the Odyssey. The appearance of the star of Venus through the storm is finely imagined; the influence of the nymphs of that goddess over the winds, and their subsequent nuptials, are in the spirit of the promise of Juno to Eolus:--
[paragraph continues] And the fiction itself is an allegory, exactly in the manner of Homer. Orithia, the daughter of Erecteus, and queen of the Amazons, was ravished and carried away by Boreas.