The poet, having expatiated on the glorious achievements of the Portuguese, describes the Germans, English, French, and Italians, reproaching them for their profane wars and luxury, while they ought to have been employed in opposing the enemies of the Christian faith. He then describes the western peninsula of India--the shores of Malabar--and Calicut, the capital of the Zamorim, where Gama had landed. Monsaide, a Moor of Barbary, is met with, who addresses Gama in Spanish, and offers to serve him as interpreter. Monsaide gives him a particular account of everything in India. The Zamorim invites Gama to an audience. The catual, or prime minister, with his officers, visits the ships, and embraces the opportunity of asking Gama to relate to him the history of Portugal.
HAIL glorious chief! 1 where never chief before
Forc’d his bold way, all hail on India’s shore!
And hail, ye Lusian heroes, fair and wide
What groves of palm, to haughty Rome denied,
For you by Ganges’ length’ning banks unfold!
What laurel-forests on the shores of gold
For you their honours ever verdant rear,
Proud, with their leaves, to twine the Lusian spear!
Ah Heav’n! what fury Europe’s sons controls!
What self-consuming discord fires their souls!
’Gainst her own breast her sword Germania turns,
Through all her states fraternal rancour burns; 2
Some, blindly wand’ring, holy faith disclaim, 1
And, fierce through all, wild rages civil flame.
High sound the titles of the English crown,
"King of Jerusalem," 2 his old renown!
Alas, delighted with an airy name,
The thin, dim shadow of departed fame,
England’s stern monarch, sunk in soft repose,
Luxurious riots mid his northern snows
Or, if the starting burst of rage succeed,
His brethren are his foes, and Christians bleed;
While Hagar’s brutal race his titles stain,
In weeping Salem unmolested reign,
And with their rites impure her holy shrines profane.
And thou, O Gaul, 3 with gaudy trophies plum’d.
"Most Christian" nam’d; alas, in vain assum’d!
What impious lust of empire steels thy breast 4
From their just lords the Christian lands to wrest!
While holy faith’s hereditary foes 5
Possess the treasures where Cynifio flows; 6
And all secure, behold their harvests smile
In waving gold along the banks of Nile.
And thou, O lost to glory, lost to fame,
Thou dark oblivion of thy ancient name,
By every vicious luxury debas’d,
Each noble passion from thy breast eras’d,
Nerveless in sloth, enfeebling arts thy boast,
O Italy, how fall’n, how low, how lost! 1
In vain, to thee, the call of glory sounds,
Thy sword alone thy own soft bosom wounds.
Ah, Europe’s sons, ye brother-powers, in you
The fables old of Cadmus 2 now are true;
Fierce rose the brothers from the dragon teeth,
And each fell, crimson’d with a brother’s death.
So, fall the bravest of the Christian name, 1
While dogs unclean 2 Messiah’s lore blaspheme,
And howl their curses o’er the holy tomb,
While to the sword the Christian race they doom.
From age to age, from shore to distant shore,
By various princes led, their legions pour;
United all in one determin’d aim,
From ev’ry land to blot the Christian name.
Then wake, ye brother-powers, combin’d awake,
And, from the foe the great example take.
If empire tempt ye, lo, the East expands,
Fair and immense, her summer-garden lands:
There, boastful Wealth displays her radiant store;
Pactol and Hermus’ streams, o’er golden ore,
Roll their long way; but, not for you they flow,
Their treasures blaze on the stern sultan’s brow:
For him Assyria plies the loom of gold,
And Afric’s sons their deepest mines unfold
To build his haughty throne. Ye western powers,
To throw the mimic bolt of Jove is yours,
Yours all the art to wield the arms of fire,
Then, bid the thunders of the dreadful tire
Against the walls of dread Byzantium 3 roar,
Till, headlong driven from Europe’s ravish’d shore
To their cold Scythian wilds, and dreary dens,
By Caspian mountains, and uncultur’d fens,
(Their fathers’ seats beyond the Wolgian Lake, 4)
The barb’rous race of Saracen betake.
And hark, to you the woful Greek exclaims;
The Georgian fathers and th’ Armenian dames,
Their fairest offspring from their bosoms torn,
(A dreadful tribute!) 1 loud imploring mourn.
Alas, in vain! their offspring captive led,
In Hagar’s 2 sons’ unhallow’d temples bred,
To rapine train’d, arise a brutal host,
The Christian terror, and the Turkish boast.
Yet sleep, ye powers of Europe, careless sleep,
To you in vain your eastern brethren weep;
Yet, not in vain their woe-wrung tears shall sue,
Though small the Lusian realms, her legions few,
The guardian oft by Heav’n ordain’d before,
The Lusian race shall guard Messiah’s lore.
When Heav’n decreed to crush the Moorish foe
Heav’n gave the Lusian spear to strike the blow.
When Heav’n’s own laws o’er Afric’s shores were heard,
The sacred shrines the Lusian heroes rear’d; 3
Nor shall their zeal in Asia’s bounds expire,
Asia, subdu’d, shall fume with hallow’d fire.
When the red sun the Lusian shore forsakes,
And on the lap of deepest west 4 awakes,
O’er the wild plains, beneath unincens’d skies
The sun shall view the Lusian altars rise.
And, could new worlds by human step be trod,
Those worlds should tremble at the Lusian nod. 5
And now, their ensigns blazing o’er the tide,
On India’s shore the Lusian heroes ride.
High to the fleecy clouds resplendent far
Appear the regal towers of Malabar,
Imperial Calicut, 1 the lordly seat
Of the first monarch of the Indian state.
Right to the port the valiant GAMA bends,
With joyful shouts, a fleet of boats attends:
Joyful, their nets they leave and finny prey,
And, crowding round the Lusians,, point the way.
A herald now, by VASCO’S high command
Sent to the monarch, treads the Indian strand;
The sacred staff he bears, in gold he shines,
And tells his office by majestic signs.
As, to and fro, recumbent to the gale,
The harvest waves along the yellow dale,
So, round the herald press the wond’ring throng,
Recumbent waving as they pour along,
And much his manly port and strange attire,
And much his fair and ruddy hue admire:
When, speeding through the crowd, with eager haste,
And honest smiles, a son of Afric press’d:
Enrapt with joy the wond’ring herald hears
Castilia’s manly tongue salute his ears. 1
"What friendly angel from thy Tago’s shore
Has led thee hither?" cries the joyful Moor.
Then, hand in hand (the pledge of faith) conjoin’d--
"Oh joy beyond the dream of hope to find,
To hear a kindred voice," the Lusian cried,
"Beyond unmeasur’d gulfs and seas untried;
Untried, before our daring keels explor’d
Our fearless way! O Heav’n, what tempests roar’d,
While, round the vast of Afric’s southmost land,
Our eastward bowsprits sought the Indian strand!"
Amaz’d, o’erpower’d, the friendly stranger stood--
"A path now open’d through the boundless flood!
The hove of ages, and the dread despair,
Accomplish’d now, and conquer’d!"--Stiff his hair
Rose thrilling, while his lab’ring thoughts pursued
The dreadful course by GAMA’s fate subdued.
Homeward, with gen’rous warmth o’erflow’d, he leads
The Lusian guest, and swift the feast succeeds;
The purple grape, and golden fruitage smile;
And each choice viand of the Indian soil
Heap’d o’er the board, the master’s zeal declare;
The social feast the guest and master share:
The sacred pledge of eastern faith 1 approv’d,
By wrath unalter’d, and by wrong unmov’d.
Now, to the fleet the joyful herald bends,
With earnest pace the Heav’n-sent friend attends:
Now, down the river’s sweepy stream they glide,
And now, their pinnace cuts the briny tide:
The Moor, with transport sparkling in his eyes,
The well-known make of GAMA’s navy spies,
The bending bowsprit, and the mast so tall,
The sides black, frowning as a castle wall,
The high-tower’d stern, the lordly nodding prore,
And the broad standard slowly waving o’er
The anchor’s moony 2 fangs. The skiff he leaves,
Brave GAMA’S deck his bounding step receives;
And, "Hail!" he cries: in transport GAMA sprung,
And round his neck with friendly welcome hung;
Enrapt, so distant o’er the dreadful main,
To hear the music of the tongue of Spain.
And now, beneath a painted shade of state,
Beside the admiral, the stranger sat.
Of India’s clime, the natives, and the laws,
What monarch sways them, what religion awes?
Why from the tombs devoted to his sires
The son so far? the valiant chief inquires.
In act to speak the stranger waves his hand,
The joyful crew in silent wonder stand,
Each gently pressing on, with greedy ear,
As erst the bending forests stoop’d to hear
In Rhodope, 1 when Orpheus’ heavenly strain,
Deplor’d his lost Eurydice in vain;
While, with a mien that gen’rous friendship won
From ev’ry heart, the stranger thus began:--
"Your glorious deeds, ye Lusians, well I know,
To neighb’ring earth the vital air I owe;
Yet--though my faith the Koran’s lore revere;
So taught my sires; my birth at proud Tangier,
A hostile clime to Lisbon’s awful name--
I glow, enraptur’d, o’er the Lusian fame;
Proud though your nation’s warlike glories shine,
These proudest honours yield, O chief, to thine;
Beneath thy dread achievements low they fall,
And India’s shore, discover’d, crowns them all.
Won by your fame, by fond affection sway’d,
A friend I come, and offer friendship’s aid.
As, on my lips Castilia’s language glows,
So, from my tongue the speech of India flows:
Mozaide my name, in India’s court belov’d,
For honest deeds (but time shall speak) approv’d.
When India’s monarch greets his court again,
(For now the banquet on the tented plain:
And sylvan chase his careless hours employ), 2
When India’s mighty lord, with wond’ring joy,
Shall hail you welcome on his spacious shore
Through oceans never plough’d by keel before,
Myself shall glad interpreter attend,
Mine ev’ry office of the faithful friend.
Ah! but a stream, the labour of the oar,
Divides my birthplace from your native shore;
On shores unknown, in distant worlds, how sweet
The kindred tongue, the kindred face, to greet!
Such now my joy; and such, O Heav’n, be yours!
Yes, bounteous Heav’n your glad success secures.
Till now impervious, Heav’n alone subdued
The various horrors of the trackless flood:
Heav’n sent you here for some great work divine,
And Heav’n inspires my breast your sacred toils to join.
"Vast are the shores of India’s wealthful soil;
Southward sea-girt she forms a demi-isle:
His cavern’d cliffs with dark-brow’d forests crown’d,
Hemodian Taurus 1 frowns her northern bound:
From Caspia’s lake th’ enormous mountain 1 spreads,
And, bending eastward, rears a thousand heads:
Far to extremest sea the ridges thrown,
By various names, through various tribes are known:
Here down the waste of Taurus’ rocky side
Two infant rivers pour the crystal tide,
Indus the one, and one the Ganges nam’d,
Darkly of old through distant nations fam’d:
One eastward curving holds his crooked way,
One to the west gives his swoll’n tide to stray:
Declining southward many a land they lave,
And, widely swelling, roll the sea-like wave,
Till the twin offspring of the mountain sire
Both in the Indian deep engulf’d expire:
Between these streams, fair smiling to the day,
The Indian lands their wide domains display,
And many a league, far to the south they bend,
From the broad region where the rivers end,
Till, where the shores to Ceylon’s isle oppose,
In conic form the Indian regions close.
To various laws the various tribes incline,
And various are the rites esteem’d divine:
Some, as from Heav’n, receive the Koran’s lore,
Some the dread monsters of the wild adore;
Some bend to wood and stone the prostrate head,
And rear unhallow’d altars to the dead.
By Ganges’ banks, as wild traditions tell, 1
Of old the tribes liv’d healthful by the smell;
No food they knew, such fragrant vapours rose
Rich from the flow’ry lawns where Ganges flows:
Here now the Delhian, and the fierce Pathan,
Feed their fair flocks; and here, a heathen clan,
Stern Dekhan’s sons the fertile valleys till,
A clan, whose hope to shun eternal ill,
Whose trust from ev’ry stain of guilt to save,
Is fondly plac’d in Ganges’ holy wave; 2
If to the stream the breathless corpse be giv’n
They deem the spirit wings her way to heav’n.
Here by the mouths, where hallow’d Ganges ends,
Bengala’s beauteous Eden wide extends,
Unrivall’d smile her fair luxurious vales:
And here Cambaya 3 spreads her palmy dales;
A warlike realm, where still the martial race
From Porus, 4 fam’d of yore, their lineage trace.
Narsinga 5 here displays her spacious line,
In native gold her sons and ruby shine:
Alas, how vain! these gaudy sons of fear,
Trembling, bow down before each hostile spear.
And now, behold! "--and while he spoke he rose,
Now, with extended arm, the prospect shows,--
"Behold these mountain tops of various size
Blend their dim ridges with the fleecy skies:
Nature’s rude wall, against the fierce Canar 1
They guard the fertile lawns of Malabar.
Here, from the mountain to the surgy main,
Fair as a garden, spreads the smiling plain:
And lo, the empress of the Indian powers,
Their lofty Calicut, resplendent towers;
Hers ev’ry fragrance of the spicy shore,
Hers ev’ry gem of India’s countless store:
Great Samoreem, her lord’s imperial style,
The mighty lord of India’s utmost soil:
To him the kings their duteous tribute pay,
And, at his feet, confess their borrow’d sway.
Yet higher tower’d the monarchs ancients boast,
Of old one sov’reign rul’d the spacious coast.
A votive train, who brought the Koran’s lore,
(What time great Perimal the sceptre bore),
From blest Arabia’s groves to India came;
Life were their words, their eloquence a flame
Of holy zeal: fir’d by the powerful strain,
The lofty monarch joins the faithful train,
And vows, at fair Medina’s 2 shrine, to close
His life’s mild eve in prayer, and sweet repose.
Gifts he prepares to deck the prophet’s tomb,
The glowing labours of the Indian loom,
Orissa’s spices, and Golconda’s gems;
Yet, e’er the fleet th’ Arabian ocean stems,
His final care his potent regions claim,
Nor his the transport of a father’s name:
His servants, now, the regal purple wear,
And, high enthron’d, the golden sceptres bear.
Proud Cochim one, and one fair Chalé sways,
The spicy isle another lord obeys;
Coulam and Cananoor’s luxurious fields,
And Cranganore to various lords he yields.
While these, and others thus the monarch grac’d,
A noble youth his care unmindful pass’d:
Save Calicut, a city poor and small,
Though lordly now, no more remain’d to fall:
Griev’d to behold such merit thus repaid,
The sapient youth the ‘king of kings’ he made,
And, honour’d with the name, great Zamoreem,
The lordly, titled boast of power supreme.
And now, great Perimal 1 resigns his reign,
The blissful bowers of Paradise to gain:
Before the gale his gaudy navy flies,
And India sinks for ever from his eyes.
And soon to Calicut’s commodious port
The fleets, deep-edging with the wave, resort:
Wide o’er the shore extend the warlike piles,
And all the landscape round luxurious smiles.
And now, her flag to ev’ry gale unfurl’d,
She towers, the empress of the eastern world:
Such are the blessings sapient kings bestow,
And from thy stream such gifts, O Commerce, flow.
"From that sage youth, who first reign’d ‘king of kings,’
He now who sways the tribes of India springs.
Various the tribes, all led by fables vain,
Their rites the dotage of the dreamful brain.
All, save where Nature whispers modest care,
Naked, they blacken in the sultry air.
The haughty nobles and the vulgar race
Never must join the conjugal embrace;
Nor may the stripling, nor the blooming maid,
(Oh, lost to joy, by cruel rites betray’d!)
To spouse of other than their father’s art,
At Love’s connubial shrine unite the heart:
Nor may their sons (the genius and the view
Confin’d and fetter’d) other art pursue.
Vile were the stain, and deep the foul disgrace,
Should other tribe touch one of noble race;
A thousand rites, and washings o’er and o’er,
Can scarce his tainted purity restore.
Poleas 1 the lab’ring lower clans are nam’d:
By the proud Nayres the noble rank is claim’d;
The toils of culture, and of art they scorn,
The warrior’s plumes their haughty brows adorn;
The shining falchion brandish’d in the right,
Their left arm wields the target in the fight;
Of danger scornful, ever arm’d they stand
Around the king, a stern barbarian band.
Whate’er in India holds the sacred name
Of piety or lore, the Brahmins claim:
In wildest rituals, vain and painful, lost,
Brahma, 2 their founder, as a god they boast. 3
To crown their meal no meanest life expires,
Pulse, fruit, and herbs alone their board requires:
Alone, in lewdness riotous and free,
No spousal ties withhold, and no degree:
Lost to the heart-ties, to his neighbour’s arms,
The willing husband yields his spouse’s charms:
In unendear’d embraces free they blend;
Yet, but the husband’s kindred may ascend
The nuptial couch: alas, too blest, they know
Nor jealousy’s suspense, nor burning woe;
The bitter drops which oft from dear affection flow.
But, should my lips each wond’rous scene unfold,
Which your glad eyes will soon amaz’d behold,
Oh, long before the various tale could run,
Deep in the west would sink yon eastern sun.
In few, all wealth from China to the Nile,
All balsams, fruit, and gold on India’s bosom smile."
While thus, the Moor his faithful tale reveal’d,
Wide o’er the coast the voice of Rumour swell’d;
As, first some upland vapour seems to float
Small as the smoke of lonely shepherd cote,
Soon o’er the dales the rolling darkness spreads,
And wraps in hazy clouds the mountain heads,
The leafless forest and the utmost lea;
And wide its black wings hover o’er the sea:
The tear-dropp’d bough hangs weeping in the vale,
And distant navies rear the mist-wet sail.
So, Fame increasing, loud and louder grew,
And to the sylvan camp resounding flew:
"A lordly band," she cries, "of warlike mien,
Of face and garb in India never seen,
Of tongue unknown, through gulfs undar’d before,
Unknown their aim, have reach’d the Indian shore."
To hail their chief the Indian lord prepares,
And to the fleet he sends his banner’d Nayres:
As to the bay the nobles press along,
The wond’ring city pours th’ unnumber’d throng.
And now brave GAMA, and his splendid train,
Himself adorn’d in all the pride of Spain,
In gilded barges slowly bend to shore,
While to the lute the gently falling oar
Now, breaks the surges of the briny tide,
And now, the strokes the cold fresh stream divide.
Pleas’d with the splendour of the Lusian band,
On every bank the crowded thousands stand.
Begirt with high-plum’d nobles, by the flood
The first great minister of India stood,
The Catual 1 his name in India’s tongue:
To GAMA swift the lordly regent sprung;
His open arms the valiant chief enfold,
And now he lands him on the shore of gold:
With pomp unwonted India’s nobles greet
The fearless heroes of the warlike fleet.
A couch on shoulders borne, in India’s mode,
(With gold the canopy and purple glow’d),
Receives the Lusian captain; equal rides
The lordly catual, and onward guides,
While GAMA’S train, and thousands of the throng
Of India’s sons, encircling, pour along.
To hold discourse in various tongues they try;
In vain; the accents unremember’d die,
Instant as utter’d. Thus, on Babel’s plain
Each builder heard his mate, and heard in vain.
GAMA the while, and India’s second lord,
Hold glad responses, as the various word
The faithful Moor unfolds. The city gate
They pass’d, and onward, tower’d in sumptuous state,
Before them now the sacred temple rose;
The portals wide the sculptur’d shrines disclose.
The chiefs advance, and, enter’d now, behold
The gods of wood, cold stone, and shining gold;
Various of figure, and of various face,
As the foul demon will’d the likeness base.
Taught to behold the rays of godhead shine
Fair imag’d in the human face divine,
With sacred horror thrill’d, the Lusians view’d
The monster forms, Chimera-like, and rude. 1
Here, spreading horns a human visage bore ,
So, frown’d stern Jove in Lybia’s fane of yore.
One body here two various faces rear’d;
So, ancient Janus o’er his shrine appear’d.
A hundred arms another brandish’d wide;
So, Titan’s son 2 the race of heaven defied.
And here, a dog his snarling tusks display’d;
Anubis, thus in Memphis’ hallow’d shade
Grinn’d horrible. With vile prostrations low
Before these shrines the blinded Indians bow. 3
And now, again the splendid pomp proceeds;
To India’s lord the haughty regent leads.
To view the glorious leader of the fleet
Increasing thousands swell o’er every street;
High o’er the roofs the struggling youths ascend,
The hoary fathers o’er the portals bend,
The windows sparkle with the glowing blaze
Of female eyes, and mingling diamond’s rays.
And now, the train with solemn state and slow,
Approach the royal gate, through many a row
Of fragrant wood-walks, and of balmy bowers,
Radiant with fruitage, ever gay with flowers.
Spacious the dome its pillar’d grandeur spread,
Nor to the burning day high tower’d the head;
The citron groves around the windows glow’d,
And branching palms their grateful shade bestow’d;
The mellow light a pleasing radiance cast;
The marble walls Dædalian sculpture grac’d
Here India’s fate, 1 from darkest times of old,
The wondrous artist on the stone enroll’d;
Here, o’er the meadows, by Hydaspes’ stream,
In fair array the marshall’d legions seem:
A youth of gleeful eye the squadrons led,
Smooth was his cheek, and glow’d with purest red:
Around his spear the curling vine-leaves wav’d;
And, by a streamlet of the river lav’d,
Behind her founder, Nysa’s walls were rear’d; 1
So breathing life the ruddy god appear’d,
Had Semele beheld the smiling boy, 2
The mother’s heart had proudly heav’d with soy.
Unnumber’d here, were seen th’ Assyrian throng,
That drank whole rivers as they march’d along:
Each eye seem’d earnest on their warrior queen, 3
High was her port, and furious was her mien;
Her valour only equall’d by her lust;
Fast by her side her courser paw’d the dust,
Her son’s vile rival; reeking to the plain
Fell the hot sweat-drops as he champ’d the rein.
And here display’d, most glorious to behold,
The Grecian banners, op’ning many a fold,
Seem’d trembling on the gale; at distance far
The Ganges lav’d the wide-extended war.
Here, the blue marble gives the helmets’ gleam;
Here, from the cuirass shoots the golden beam.
A proud-eyed youth, with palms unnumber’d gay,
Of the bold veterans led the brown array;
Scornful of mortal birth enshrin’d he rode,
Call’d Jove his father, 4 and assum’d the god.
While dauntless GAMA and his train survey’d
The sculptur’d walls, the lofty regent said:
"For nobler wars than these you wond’ring see
That ample space th’ eternal fates decree:
Sacred to these th’ unpictur’d wall remains,
Unconscious yet of vanquish’d India’s chains.
Assur’d we know the awful day shall come,
Big with tremendous fate, and India’s doom.
The sons of Brahma, by the god their sire
Taught to illume the dread divining fire,
From the drear mansions of the dark abodes
Awake the dead, or call th’ infernal gods;
Then, round the flame, while glimm’ring ghastly blue,
Behold the future scene arise to view.
The sons of Brahma, in the magic hour,
Beheld the foreign foe tremendous lower;
Unknown their tongue, their face, and strange attire,
And their bold eye-balls burn’d with warlike ire:
They saw the chief o’er prostrate India rear
The glitt’ring terrors of his awful spear.
But, swift behind these wint’ry days of woe
A spring of joy arose in liveliest glow,
Such gentle manners, leagued with wisdom, reign’d
In the dread victors, and their rage restrain’d.
Beneath their sway majestic, wise, and mild,
Proud of her victors’ laws, thrice happier India smil’d.
So, to the prophets of the Brahmin train
The visions rose, that never rose in vain."
The regent ceas’d; and now, with solemn pace,
The chiefs approach the regal hall of grace.
The tap’stried walls with gold were pictur’d o’er,
And flow’ry velvet spread the marble floor. 1
In all the grandeur of the Indian state,
High on a blazing couch, the monarch sat,
With starry gems the purple curtains shin’d,
And ruby flowers and golden foliage twin’d
Around the silver pillars: high o’er head
The golden canopy its radiance shed:
Of cloth of gold the sov’reign’s mantle shone,
And, his high turban flam’d with precious stone
Sublime and awful was his sapient mien,
Lordly his posture, and his brow serene.
A hoary sire, submiss on bended knee,
(Low bow’d his head), in India’s luxury,
A leaf, 1 all fragrance to the glowing taste,
Before the king each little while replac’d.
The. patriarch Brahmin (soft and slow he rose),
Advancing now, to lordly GAMA bows,
And leads him to the throne; in silent state
The monarch’s nod assigns the captain’s seat;
The Lusian train in humbler distance stand:
Silent, the monarch eyes the foreign band
With awful mien; when valiant GAMA broke
The solemn pause, and thus majestic spoke:--
"From where the crimson sun of ev’ning laves
His blazing chariot in the western waves,
I come, the herald of a mighty king,
And, holy vows of lasting friendship bring
To thee, O monarch. for resounding Fame
Far to the west has borne thy princely name;
All India’s sov’reign thou! Nor deem I sue,
Great as thou art, the humble suppliant’s due.
Whate’er from western Tagus to the Nile,
Inspires the monarch’s wish, the merchant’s toil,
From where the north-star gleams o’er seas of frost,
To Ethiopia’s utmost burning coast,
Whate’er the sea, whate’er the land bestows,
In my great monarch’s realm unbounded flows.
Pleas’d thy high grandeur and renown to hear,
My sov’reign offers friendship’s bands sincere:
Mutual he asks them, naked of disguise,
Then, every bounty of the smiling skies
Shower’d on his shore and thine, in mutual flow,
Shall joyful Commerce on each shore bestow.
Our might in war, what vanquish’d nations fell
Beneath our spear, let trembling Afric tell;
Survey my floating towers, and let thine ear,
Dread as it roars, our battle-thunder hear.
If friendship then thy honest wish explore,
That dreadful thunder on thy foes shall roar.
Our banners o’er the crimson field shall sweep,
And our tall navies ride the foamy deep,
Till not a foe against thy land shall rear
Th’ invading bowsprit, or the hostile spear:
My king, thy brother, thus thy wars shall join,
The glory his, the gainful harvest thine."
Brave GAMA spake; the pagan king replies,
"From lands which now behold the morning rise,
While eve’s dim clouds the Indian sky enfold,
Glorious to us an offer’d league we hold.
Yet shall our will in silence rest unknown,
Till what your land, and who the king you own,
Our council deeply weigh. Let joy the while,
And the glad feast, the fleeting hours beguile.
Ah! to the wearied mariner, long toss’d
O’er briny waves, how sweet the long-sought coast!
The night now darkens; on the friendly shore
Let soft repose your wearied strength restore,
Assur’d an answer from our lips to bear,
Which, not displeas’d, your sov’reign lord shall hear.
More now we add not." 1 From the hall of state
Withdrawn, they now approach the regent’s gate;
The sumptuous banquet glows; all India’s pride
Heap’d on the board the royal feast supplied.
Now, o’er the dew-drops of the eastern lawn
Gleam’d the pale radiance of the star of dawn,
The valiant GAMA on his couch repos’d,
And balmy rest each Lusian eye-lid clos’d
When the high catual, watchful to fulfil
The cautious mandates of his sov’reign’s will,
In secret converse with the Moor retires;
And, earnest, much of Lusus’ sons inquires;
What laws, what holy rites, what monarch sway’d
The warlike race? When thus the just Mozaide:--
"The land from whence these warriors well I know,
(To neighb’ring earth my hapless birth I owe)
Illustrious Spain, along whose western shores
Grey-dappled eve the dying twilight pours.--
A wondrous prophet gave their holy lore,
The godlike seer a virgin mother bore,
Th’ Eternal Spirit on the human race
(So be they taught) bestow’d such awful grace.
In war unmatch’d, they rear the trophied crest:
What terrors oft have thrill’d my infant breast 1
When their brave deeds my wond’ring fathers told;
How from the lawns, where, crystalline and cold,
The Guadiana rolls his murm’ring tide,
And those where, purple by the Tago’s side,
The length’ning vineyards glisten o’er the field,
Their warlike sires my routed sires expell’d
Nor paus’d their rage; the furious seas they brav’d,
Nor loftiest walls, nor castled mountains saved;
Round Afric’s thousand bays their navies rode,
And their proud armies o’er our armies trod.
Nor less, let Spain through all her kingdoms own,
O’er other foes their dauntless valour shone:
Let Gaul confess, her mountain-ramparts wild,
Nature in vain the hoar Pyrenians pil’d.
No foreign lance could e’er their rage restrain,
Unconquer’d still the warrior race remain.
More would you hear, secure your care may trust
The answer of their lips, so nobly just,
Conscious of inward worth, of manners plain,
Their manly souls the gilded lie disdain.
Then, let thine eyes their lordly might admire,
And mark the thunder of their arms of fire:
The shore, with trembling, hears the dreadful sound,
And rampir’d walls lie smoking on the ground.
Speed to the fleet; their arts, their prudence weigh,
How wise in peace, in war how dread, survey."
With keen desire the craftful pagan burn’d
Soon as the morn in orient blaze return’d,
To view the fleet his splendid train prepares;
And now, attended by the lordly Nayres,
The shore they cover, now the oarsmen sweep
The foamy surface of the azure deep:
And now, brave Paulus gives the friendly hand,
And high on GAMA’S lofty deck they stand.
Bright to the day the purple sail-cloths glow,
Wide to the gale the silken ensigns flow;
The pictur’d flags display the warlike strife;
Bold seem the heroes, as inspir’d by life.
Here, arm to arm, the single combat strains,
Here, burns the combat on the tented plains
General and fierce; the meeting lances thrust,
And the black blood seems smoking on the dust.
With earnest eyes the wond’ring regent views
The pictur’d warriors, and their history sues.
But now the ruddy juice, by Noah found, 1
In foaming goblets circled swiftly round,
And o’er the deck swift rose the festive board;
Yet, smiling oft, refrains the Indian lord:
His faith forbade with other tribe to join
The sacred meal, esteem’d a rite divine. 2
In bold vibrations, thrilling on the ear,
The battle sounds the Lusian trumpets rear;
Loud burst the thunders of the arms of fire,
Slow round the sails the clouds of smoke aspire,
And rolling their dark volumes o’er the day
The Lusian war, in dreadful pomp, display.
In deepest thought the careful regent weigh’d
The pomp and power at GAMA’S nod bewray’d;
Yet, seem’d alone in wonder to behold
The glorious heroes, and the wars half told
In silent poesy.--Swift from the board
High crown’d with wine, uprose the Indian lord;
Both the bold CAMAS, and their gen’rous peer,
The brave Coello, rose, prepar’d to hear
Or, ever courteous, give the meet reply:
Fix’d and inquiring was the regent’s eye:
The warlike image of a hoary sire,
Whose name shall live till earth and time expire,
His wonder fix’d, and more than human glow’d
The hero’s look; his robes of Grecian mode;
A bough, his ensign, in his right he wav’d,
A leafy bough.--But I, fond man depraved!
Where would I speed, as madd’ning in a dream,
Without your aid, ye Nymphs of Tago’s stream!
Or yours, ye Dryads of Mondego’s bowers!
Without your aid how vain my wearied powers!
Long yet, and various lies my arduous way
Through low’ring tempests and a boundless sea.
Oh then, propitious hear your son implore,
And guide my vessel to the happy shore.
Ah! see how long what perilous days, what woes
On many a foreign coast around me rose,
As, dragg’d by Fortune’s chariot-wheels along,
I sooth’d my sorrows with the warlike song: 1
Wide ocean’s horrors length’ning now around,
And, now my footsteps trod the hostile ground;
Yet, mid each danger of tumultuous war
Your Lusian heroes ever claim’d my care:
As Canace 2 of old, ere self-destroy’d,
One hand the pen, and one the sword employ’d,
Degraded now, by poverty abhorr’d,
The guest dependent at the lordling’s board:
Now blest with all the wealth fond hope could crave,
Soon I beheld that wealth beneath the wave
For ever lost; 3 myself escap’d alone,
On the wild shore all friendless, hopeless, thrown;
My life, like Judah’s heaven-doom’d king of yore, 4
By miracle prolong’d; yet not the more
To end my sorrows: woes succeeding woes
Belied my earnest hopes of sweet repose:
In place of bays around my brows to shed
Their sacred honours, o’er my destin’d head
Foul Calumny proclaim’d the fraudful tale,
And left me mourning in a dreary jail. 5
Such was the meed, alas! on me bestow’d,
Bestow’d by those for whom my numbers glow’d,
By those who to my toils their laurel honours ow’d.
Ye gentle nymphs of Tago’s rosy bowers,
Ah, see what letter’d patron-lords are yours!
Dull as the herds that graze their flow’ry dales,
To them in vain the injur’d muse bewails:
No fost’ring care their barb’rous hands bestow,
Though to the muse their fairest fame they owe.
Ah, cold may prove the future priest of fame
Taught by my fate: yet, will I not disclaim
Your smiles, ye muses of Mondego’s shade;
Be still my dearest joy your happy aid
And hear my vow: Nor king, nor loftiest peer
Shall e’er from me the song of flatt’ry hear;
Nor crafty tyrant, who in office reigns,
Smiles on his king, and binds the land in chains;
His king’s worst foe: nor he whose raging ire,
And raging wants, to shape his course, conspire;
True to the clamours of the blinded crowd,
Their changeful Proteus, insolent and loud:
Nor he whose honest mien secures applause,
Grave though he seem, and father of the laws,
Who, but half-patriot, niggardly denies
Each other’s merit, and withholds the prize:
Who spurns the muse, 1 nor feels the raptur’d strain,
Useless by him esteem’d, and idly vain:
For him, for these, no wreath my hand shall twine;
On other brows th’ immortal rays shall shine:
He who the path of honour ever trod,
True to his king, his country, and his God,
On his blest head my hands shall fix the crown
Wove of the deathless laurels of renown.
END OF THE SEVENTH BOOK.
193:1 Vasco de Gama.
193:2 This refers to the Catholic persecutions of Protestants whom they had previously condemned at the Diet of Spires. War was declared against the Protestants in 1546. It lasted for six years, when a treaty of peace was signed at Passau on the Danube, in 1552.--Ed.
194:1 Some blindly wand’ring, holy faith disclaim.--At the time when Camoëns wrote, the German empire was plunged into all the miseries of a religious war, the Catholics using every endeavour to rivet the chains of Popery, the adherents of Luther as strenuously endeavouring to shake them off.
[paragraph continues] The title of "King of Jerusalem" was never assumed by the kings of England. Robert, duke of Normandy, son of William the Conqueror, was elected King of Jerusalem by the army in Syria, but declined it in hope of ascending the throne of England. Henry VIII. filled the throne of England when our author wrote: his luxury and conjugal brutality amply deserved the censure of the honest poet.
194:4 What impious lust of empire steels thy breast.--The French translator very cordially agrees with the Portuguese poet in the strictures upon Germany, England, and Italy.
194:5 The Mohammedans.
194:6 Where Cynifio flows.--A river in Africa, near Tripoli.--VIRGIL, Georg. iii. 311.--Ed.
195:1 O Italy! how fall’n, how low, how lost!--However these severe reflections on modern Italy may displease the admirers of Italian manners, the picture on the whole is too just to admit of confutation. Never did the history of any court afford such instances of villainy and all the baseness of intrigue as that of the pope’s. That this view of the lower ranks in the pope’s dominions is just, we have the indubitable testimony of Addison. Our poet is justifiable in his censures, for he only follows the severe reflections of the greatest of the Italian poets. It were easy to give fifty instances; two or three, however, shall suffice. Dante, in his sixth canto, del Purg.--
[paragraph continues] "Ah, slavish Italy, the inn of dolour, a ship without a pilot in a horrid tempest:--not the mistress of provinces, but a brothel!"
Ariosto, canto 17:--
[paragraph continues] "O inebriated Italy, thou sleepest the sink of every filthy vice!"
[paragraph continues] "From the impious Babylon (the Papal Court) from whence all shame and all good are fled, the inn of dolour, the mother of errors, have I hastened away to prolong my life."
195:2 The fables old of Cadmus.--Cadmus having slain the dragon which guarded the fountain of Dirce, in Bœotia, sowed the teeth of the monster. A number of armed men immediately sprang up, and surrounded Cadmus, in order to kill him. By the counsel of Minerva he threw a precious stone among them, in striving for which they slew one another. Only five survived, who afterwards assisted him to build the city of Thebes.--Vid. Ovid. Met. iv.
[paragraph continues] Imitated from a fine passage in Lucan, beginning--
196:2 The Mohammedans.
196:4 Beyond the Wolgian Lake.--The Caspian Sea, so called from the large river Volga, or Wolga, which empties itself into it.
[paragraph continues] By this barbarous policy the tyranny of the Ottomans was long sustained. The troops of the Turkish infantry and cavalry, known by the name of Janissaries and Spahis, were thus supported. "The sons of Christians--and those the most completely furnished by nature--were taken in their childhood from their parents by a levy made every five years, or oftener, as occasion required."--SANDYS.
[paragraph continues] See the note on book v. p. 137.
197:4 Of deepest west.--Alludes to the discovery and conquest of the Brazils by the Portuguese.
197:5 The poet, having brought his heroes to the shore of India, indulges himself with a review of the state of the western and eastern worlds; the latter of which is now, by the labour of his heroes, p. 198 rendered accessible to the former. The purpose of his poem is also strictly kept in view. The west and the east he considers as two great empires; the one of the true religion, the other of a false. The professors of the true, disunited and destroying one another; the professors of the false one, all combined to extirpate the other. He upbraids the professors of the true religion for their vices, particularly for their disunion, and for deserting the interests of holy faith. His countrymen, however, he boasts, have been its defenders and planters, and, without the assistance of their brother powers, will plant it in Asia.
"The Crusaders," according to Voltaire, "were a band of vagabond thieves, who had agreed to ramble from the heart of Europe in order to desolate a country they had no right to, and massacre, in cold blood, a venerable prince, more than fourscore years old, and his whole people, against whom they had no pretence of complaint."
To prove that the Crusades were neither so unjustifiable, so impolitic, nor so unhappy in their consequences as superficial readers of history are accustomed to regard them, would not be difficult.
Upon the whole, it will be found that the Portuguese poet talks of the political reasons of a Crusade with an accuracy in the philosophy of history as superior to that of Voltaire, as the poetical merit of the Lusiad surpasses that of the Henriade. And the critic in poetry must allow, that, to suppose the discovery of GAMA the completion of all the endeavours to overthrow the great enemies of the true religion, gives a dignity to the poem, and an importance to the hero, similar to that which Voltaire, on the same supposition, allows to the subject of the Jerusalem of Tasso.
198:1 Calicut is the name of a famous sea-port town in the province of Malabar.
[paragraph continues] This is according to the truth of history. While the messenger sent ashore by GAMA was borne here and there, and carried off his feet by the throng, who understood not a word of his language, he was accosted in Spanish by a Moorish merchant, a native of Tunis, who, according to Osorius, had been the chief person with whom King Ferdinand had formerly contracted for military stores. He proved himself an honest agent, and of infinite service to GAMA; he returned to Portugal, where, according to Faria, he died in the Christian communion. He was named Monzaida.
200:1 The sacred pledge of eastern faith.--To eat together was, and still is, in the east looked upon as the inviolable pledge of protection. As a Persian nobleman was one day walking in his garden, a wretch in the utmost terror prostrated himself before him, and implored to be protected from the rage of a multitude who were in pursuit of him, to take his life. The nobleman took a peach, eat part of it, and gave the rest to the fugitive, assuring him of safety. As they approached the house, they met a crowd who carried the murdered corpse of the nobleman’s beloved son. The incensed populace demanded the murderer, who stood beside him, to be delivered to their fury. The father, though overwhelmed with grief and anger, replied, "We have eaten together, and I will not betray him." He protected the murderer of his son from the fury of his domestics and neighbours, and in the night facilitated his escape.
200:2 i.e. crescent-shaped.--Ed.
201:1 In Rhodope.--The beautiful fable of the descent of Orpheus to hell, for the recovery of his beloved wife, Eurydice, will be found in Virgil’s Georgics, bk. iv., lines 460-80.--Ed.
[paragraph continues] The great Mogul, and other eastern sovereigns, attended by their courtiers, spend annually some months of the finest season in encampments in the field, in hunting parties, and military amusements.
202:1 Th’ enormous mountain.--The Himalaya range, which is a continuation of an immense chain of mountains girdling the northern regions of the earth and known by various names, as Caucasus, Hemodus, Paropamissus, Imaus, etc., and from Imaus extended through Tartary to the sea of Kamschatka. Not the range of mountains so called in Asia Minor.--Ed.
203:1 As wild traditions tell.--Pliny, imposed upon by some Greeks, who pretended to have been in India, relates this fable.--Vide Nat. Hist. lib. 12.
203:2 Is fondly plac’d in Ganges’ holy wave.--Almost all the Indian nations attribute to the Ganges the virtue of cleansing the soul from the stains of sin. They have such veneration for this river, that if any one in their presence were to throw any filth into the stream, an instant death would punish his audacity.
203:3 Cambaya, the ancient Camanes of Ptolemy, gives name to the gulf of that name at the head of which it is situated. It is the principal seaport of Guzerat.--Ed.
203:4 Porus was king of part of the Punjaub, and was conquered by Alexander the Great.--Ed.
203:5 Narsinga.--The laws of Narsinga oblige the women to throw themselves into the funeral pile, to be burnt with their deceased husbands. An infallible secret to prevent the desire of widowhood.--CASTERA from Barros, Dec. 4.
204:1 The Canarese, who inhabit Canara, on the west coast of India.--Ed.
204:2 Medina, a city of Arabia, famous as being the burial-place of Mohammed, and hence esteemed sacred.--Ed.
205:1 According to tradition, Perimal, a sovereign of India, embraced Islamism about 800 years before GAMA’S voyage, divided his dominions into different kingdoms, and ended his days as a hermit at Mecca.--Ed.
206:1 i.e. pariahs, outcasts.
206:2 Brahma their founder as a god they boast.--Antiquity has talked much, but knew little with certainty of the Brahmins, and their philosophy. Porphyry and others esteem them the same as the Gymnosophists of the Greeks, and divide them into several sects, the Samanæi, the Germanes, the Pramnæ, the Gymnetæ, etc. Brahma is the head of the Hindu triad which consists of Brahma, Vishnu and Siva.--Ed.
206:3 Almost innumerable, and sometimes as whimsically absurd as the "Arabian Nights’ Entertainments," are the holy legends of India. The accounts of the god Brahma, or Brimha, are more various than those of any fable in the Grecian mythology. According to Father Bohours, in his life of Xavier, the Brahmins hold, that the Great God having a desire to become visible, became man. In this state he produced three sons, Mayso, Visnu, and Brahma; the first, born of his mouth, the second, of his breast, the third, of his belly. Being about to return to his invisibility, he assigned various departments to his three sons. To Brahma he gave the third heaven, with the superintendence of the rites of religion. Brahma having a desire for children, begat the Brahmins, who are the priests of India, and who are believed by the other tribes to be a race of demi-gods, who have the blood of heaven running in their veins. Other accounts say, that Brahma produced the priests from his head, the more ignoble tribes from his breast, thighs, and feet.
According to the learned Kircher’s account of the theology of the Brahmins, the sole and supreme god Vishnu, formed the secondary god Brahma, out of a flower that floated on the surface of the great deep before the creation. And afterwards, in reward of the virtue, fidelity, and gratitude of Brahma, gave him power to create the universe.
Hesiod’s genealogy of the gods, though refined upon by the schools of Plato, is of the same class with the divine genealogies of the Brahmins. The Jewish fables, foolish questions and genealogies, reproved by Saint Paul. (epist. Tit.), were probably of this kind, for the Talmudical legends were not then sprung up. Binah, or Understanding, said the cabalists, begat Kochmah, or Wisdom, etc., till at p. 207 last comes Milcah, the Kingdom, who begat Shekinah, the Divine Presence. In the same manner the Christian Gnostics, of the sect of Valentinus, held their Πλήρωμα, and their thirty Eons. Ampsiu and Auraan, they tell us, i.e. Profundity and Silence, begat Bacua and Tharthuu, Mind and Truth; these begat Ubucua and Thardeadie, Word and Life, and these Merexa and Atarbarba, Man and Church. The other conjunctions of their thirty Æons are of similar ingenuity. The prevalence of the same spirit of mythological allegory in such different nations, affords the philosopher a worthy field for speculation.
Almost as innumerable as their legends are the dreadful penances to which the Hindus submit themselves for the expiation of sins. Some hold the transmigration of souls, and of consequence abstain from all animal food. * Yet, however austere in other respects, they freely abandon themselves to every species of debauchery, some of them esteeming the most unnatural abominations as the privilege of their sanctity. The cow they venerate as sacred. If a dying man can lay hold of a cow’s tail, and expire with it in his hands, his soul is sure to be purified, and perhaps will enjoy the signal favour to transmigrate into the body of one of those animals. The temples of India, which are numerous, are filled with innumerable idols of the most horrid figures. The Brahmins are allowed to eat nothing but what is cooked by themselves. Astrology is their principal study; yet, though they are mostly a despicable set of fortune-tellers, some of them are excellent moralists, and particularly inculcate the comprehensive virtue of humanity, which is enforced by the opinion, that Divine beings often assume the habit of mendicants, in order to distinguish the charitable from the inhuman. They have several traditions of the virtuous, on these happy trials, being translated into heaven; the best designed incitement to virtue, perhaps, which their religion contains. Besides the Brahmins, the principal sect of that vast region called India, there are several others, who are divided and subdivided, according to innumerable variations, in every province. In Cambaya, the Banians, a sect who strictly abstain from all animal food, are numerous.
The sacred books of the Hindoos are written in a dead language, the Sanskrit, which none but the Brahmins are allowed to study. So strict in this are they, says Mr. Dow, that only one Mussulman was ever instructed in it, and his knowledge was obtained by fraud. Mahummud Akbar, emperor of India, though bred a Mohammedan, studied several religions. In the Christian he was instructed by a Portuguese. But, finding that of the Hindoos inaccessible, he had recourse to art. A boy named Feizi, was, as the orphan of a Brahmin, p. 208 put under the care of one of the most eminent of these philosophers, and obtained full knowledge of their hidden religion. But the fraud being discovered, he was laid under the restraint of an oath, and it does not appear that he ever communicated the knowledge thus acquired.
206:* Though from the extracts given by Mr. Dow, the philosopher Goutam appears to have been a very Duns Scotus or Aquinas in metaphysics, the Pythagorean reason why the Brahmins abstain from animal food, is a convincing proof of their ignorance in natural philosophy. Some will let vermin overrun them; some of the Banians cover their mouth with a cloth, lest they should suck in a gnat with their breath; and some carefully sweep the floor ere they tread upon it, lest they dislodge the soul of an insect. And yet they do not know that in the water they drink, and in every salad they eat, they cause the death of innumerable living creatures.
209:1 Kotwâl, the chief officer of police in a town: FORBES’ Hindustani Dictionary.
210:1 The monster forms, Chimera-like, and rude.--Chimera, a monster slain by Bellerophon.
210:2 So Titan’s son.--Briareus.
210:3 Before these shrines the blinded Indians bow.--In this instance, Camoëns has, with great art, deviated from the truth of history. As it was the great purpose of his hero to propagate the law of heaven in the East, it would have been highly absurd to have represented GAMA and his attendants as on their knees in a pagan temple. This, however, was the case. "GAMA, who had been told," says Osorius, "that there were many Christians in India, conjectured that the temple, to which the catual led him, was a Christian church. At their entrance they were met by four priests, who seemed to make crosses on their foreheads. The walls were painted with many images. In the middle was a little round chapel, in the wall of which, opposite to the entrance, stood an image which could hardly be discovered. The four priests ascending, some entered the chapel by a little brass door, and pointing to the benighted image, cried aloud, ‘Mary, Mary!’ The catual and his attendants prostrated themselves on the ground, while the Lusians on their bended knees adored the blessed virgin." Thus Osorius. Another writer says, that a Portuguese, having some doubt, exclaimed, If this be the devil’s image, I however worship God."
211:1 Here India’s fate.--The description of the palace of the zamorim, situated among aromatic groves, is according to history; the embellishment of the walls is in imitation of Virgil’s description of the palace of King Latinus:--
"The palace built by Picus, vast and proud,
Supported by a hundred pillars stood,
And round encompass’d with a rising wood.
The pile o’erlook’d the town, and drew the sight,
Surprised, at once, with reverence and delight . . . .
Above the portal, carv’d in cedar wood,
Placed in their ranks their godlike grandsires stood.
Old Saturn, with his crooked scythe on high;
And Italus, that led the colony:
And ancient Janus with his double face,
And bunch of keys, the porter of the place.
There stood Sabinus, planter of the vines,
On a short pruning-hook his head reclines;
And studiously surveys his gen’rous wines.
Then warlike kings who for their country fought,
And honourable wounds from battle brought.
Around the posts hung helmets, darts, and spears;
And captive chariots, axes, shields, and bars;
And broken beaks of ships, the trophies of their wars.
Above the rest, as chief of all the band
Was Picus plac’d, a buckler in his hand;
His other wav’d a long divining wand.
Girt in his Gabin gown the hero sate------"
DRYDEN, An. vii.
[paragraph continues] This is in the perspective manner of the beautiful descriptions of the figures on the shield of Achilles.--IL. xviii.
212:2 Had Semele beheld the smiling boy.--The Theban Bacchus, to whom the Greek fabulists ascribed the Indian expedition of Sesostris, king of Egypt.
212:4 Call’d Jove his father.--The bon-mot of Olympias on this pretension of her son Alexander, was admired by the ancients. "This hot-headed youth, forsooth, cannot be at rest unless he embroil me in a quarrel with Juno."--QUINT. CURT.
[paragraph continues] According to Osorius.
214:1 A leaf.--The Betel.
215:1 More now we add not.--The tenor of this first conversation between the zamorim and GAMA, is according to the truth of history.
216:1 What terrors oft have thrill’d my infant breast.--The enthusiasm with which Monzaida, a Moor, talks of the Portuguese, may perhaps to some appear unnatural. Camoëns seems to be aware of this by giving a reason for that enthusiasm in the first speech of Monzaida to Gama--
[paragraph continues] And, that this Moor did conceive a great affection to GAMA, whose religion he embraced, and to whom he proved of the utmost service, is according to the truth of history.
217:1 The ruddy juice by Noah found.--Gen. ix. 20. "And Noah began to be an husbandman, and he planted a vineyard, and he drank of the wine," etc.
[paragraph continues] The opinion of the sacredness of the table is very ancient in the East. It is plainly to be discovered in the history of Abraham. When Melchizedek, a king and priest, blessed Abraham, it is said, "And he p. 218 brought forth bread and wine and he blessed him."--Gen. xiv. 18. The patriarchs only drank wine, according to Dr. Stukely, on their more solemn festivals, when they were said to rejoice before the Lord. Other customs of the Hindoos are mentioned by Camoëns in this book. If a noble should touch a person of another tribe--
[paragraph continues] Nothing, says Osorius, but the death of the unhappy commoner can wipe off the pollution. Yet we are told by the same author, that Hindoo nobility cannot be forfeited, or even tarnished by the basest and greatest of crimes; nor can one of mean birth become great or noble by the most illustrious actions. The noblemen, says the same writer, adopt the children of their sisters, esteeming there can be no other certainty of the relationship of their heirs.
219:1 The warlike song.--Though Camoëns began his Lusiad in Portugal, almost the whole of it was written while on the ocean, while in Africa, and in India.--See his Life.
219:2 As Canace.--Daughter of Eolus. Her father, having thrown her incestuous child to the dogs, sent her a sword, with which she slew herself. In Ovid she writes an epistle to her husband-brother, where she thus describes herself:--
[paragraph continues] See the Life of Camoëns.
219:4 My life, like Judah’s Heaven-doom’d king of yore.--Hezekiah.--See Isaiah xxxviii.
219:5 And left me mourning in a dreary jail.--This, and the whole paragraph from--
alludes to his fortunes in India. The latter circumstance relates particularly to the base and inhuman treatment he received on his return to Goa, after his unhappy shipwreck.--See his Life.
220:1 Who spurns the muse.--Similarity of condition has produced similarity of sentiment in Camoëns and Spenser. Each was the ornament of his country and his age, and each was cruelly neglected by the men of power, who, in truth, were incapable to judge of their merit, or to relish their writings. We have seen several of the strictures of Camoëns on the barbarous nobility of Portugal. The similar complaints of Spenser will show, that neglect of genius, however, was not confined to the court of Lisbon:--
It is thought Lord Burleigh, who withheld the bounty intended by Queen Elizabeth, is here meant. But he is more clearly stigmatized in these remarkable lines, where the misery of dependence on court favour is painted in colours which must recall several strokes of the Lusiad to the mind of the reader:--
These lines exasperated still more the inelegant, illiberal Burleigh. So true is the observation of Mr. Hughes, that, "even the sighs of a miserable man are sometimes resented as an affront by him that is the occasion of them."