The Lusiads (tr. Mickle)/Book I
L U S I A D.
With prowess more than human forc'd their way
To the fair kingdoms of the rising day:
What wars they wag'd, what seas, what dangers past,
What glorious empire crown'd their toils at last,
Vent'rous I sing, on soaring pinions borne,
And all my country's wars the song adorn;
What kings, what heroes of my native land
Thunder'd on Asia's and on Afric's strand:
Illustrious shades, who levell'd in the dust
The idol-temples and the shrines of lust;
And where, erewhile, foul demons were rever'd,
To holy faith unnumber'd altars rear'd:
Illustrious names, with deathless laurels crown'd,
While time rolls on in every clime renown'd!
Let Fame with wonder name the Greek no more,
What lands he saw, what toils at sea he bore;
No more the Trojan's wandering voyage boast,
What storms he brav'd on many a per'lous coast:
No more let Rome exult in Trajan's name,
Nor eastern conquests Ammon's pride proclaim;
A nobler hero's deeds demand my lays
Than e'er adorn'd the song of ancient days;
Illustrious GAMA, whom the waves obey'd,
And whose dread sword the fate of empire sway'd.
And you, fair nymphs of Tagus, parent stream,
If e'er your meadows were my pastoral theme,
While you have listen'd, and by moonshine seen
My footsteps wander o'er your banks of green,
O come auspicious, and the song inspire
With all the boldness of your hero's fire:
Deep and majestic let the numbers flow,
And, rapt to heaven, with ardent fury glow;
Unlike the verse that speaks the lover's grief,
When heaving sighs afford their soft relief,
And humble reeds bewail the shepherd's pain:
But like the warlike trumpet be the strain
To rouse the hero's ire; and far around,
With equal rage, your warriors' deeds resound.
And thou, O born the pledge of happier days,
To guard our freedom and our glories raise,
Given to the world to spread Religion's sway,
And pour o'er many a land the mental day,
Thy future honours on thy shield behold,
The cross, and victor's wreath, embost in gold:
At thy commanding frown we trust to see,
The Turk and Arab bend the suppliant knee:
Beneath the morn, dread king, thine empire lies,
When midnight veils thy Lusitanian skies;
And when, descending in the western main,
The sun still rises on thy lengthening reign:
Thou blooming Scion of the noblest stem,
Our nation's safety, and our age's gem,
O young Sebastian, hasten to the prime
Of manly youth, to Fame's high temple climb:
Yet now attentive hear the Muse's lay
While thy green years to manhood speed away:
The youthful terrors of thy brow suspend,
And, O propitious, to the song attend,
The numerous song, by patriot-passion fir'd,
And by the glories of thy race inspir'd:
To be the herald of my country's fame
My first ambition and my dearest aim:
Nor conquests fabulous nor actions vain,
The muse's pastime, here adorn the strain:
Orlando's fury, and Rugero's rage,
And all the heroes of th' Aonian page,
The dreams of bards surpass'd the world shall view,
And own their boldest fictions may be true;
Surpass'd, and dimm'd by the superior blaze
Of GAMA's mighty deeds, which here bright Truth displays.
Nor more let history boast her heroes old,
Their glorious rivals here, dread prince, behold:
Here shine the valiant Nunio's deeds unfeign'd,
Whose single arm the falling state sustain'd;
Here fearless Egas' wars, and, Fuas, thine,
To give full ardour to the song combine;
But ardour equal to your martial ire
Demands the thundering sounds of Homer's lyre.
To match the twelve so long by bards renown'd,
Here brave Magricio and his peers are crown'd
(A glorious twelve!) with deathless laurels, won
In gallant arms before the English throne.
Unmatch'd no more the Gallic Charles shall stand,
Nor Cæsar's name the first of praise command:
Of nobler acts the crown'd Alonzos see,
Thy valiant sires, to whom the bended knee
Of vanquish'd Afric bow'd. Nor less in fame,
He who confin'd the rage of civil flame,
The godlike John, beneath whose awful sword
Rebellion crouch'd, and trembling own'd him lord.
Those heroes too, who thy bold flag unfurl'd,
And spread thy banners o'er the eastern world,
Whose spears subdued the kingdoms of the morn,
Their names and glorious wars the song adorn:
The daring GAMA, whose unequall'd name
Proud monarch shines o'er all of naval fame:
Castro the bold, in arms a peerless knight,
And stern Pacheco, dreadful in the fight:
The two Almeydas, names for ever dear,
By Tago's nymphs embalm'd with many a tear;
Ah, still their early fate the nymphs shall mourn,
And bathe with many a tear their hapless urn:
Nor shall the godlike Albuquerque restrain
The muse's fury; o'er the purpled plain
The muse shall lead him in his thundering car
Amidst his glorious brothers of the war,
Whose fame in arms resounds from sky to sky,
And bids their deeds the power of death defy.
And while, to thee, I tune the duteous lay,
Assume, O potent king, thine empire’s sway;
With thy brave host through Afric march along,
And give new triumphs to immortal song:
On thee with earnest eyes the nations wait,
And, cold with dread the Moor expects his fate;
The barbarous mountaineer on Taurus' brows
To thy expected yoke his shoulder bows;
Fair Thetis woos thee with her blue domain,
Her nuptial son, and fondly yields her reign;
And from the bowers of heaven thy grandsires see
Their various virtues bloom afresh in thee;
One for the joyful days of peace renown'd,
And one with war's triumphant laurels crown'd:
With joyful hands, to deck thy manly brow,
They twine the laurel and the olive-bough;
With joyful eyes a glorious throne they see,
In Fame's eternal dome, reserved for thee.
Yet, while thy youthful hand delays to wield
The sceptre'd power, or thunder of the field,
Here view thine Argonauts, in seas unknown,
And all the terrors of the burning zone,
Till their proud standards, rear'd in other skies,
And all their conquests meet thy wondering eyes.
Now, far from land, o'er Neptune's dread abode
The Lusitanian fleet triumphant rode;
Onward they traced the wide and lonesome main,
Where changeful Proteus leads his scaly train;
The dancing vanes before the zephyrs flow'd,
And their bold keels the trackless ocean plow'd;
Unplow'd before, the green-tinged billows rose,
And curl'd and whiten'd round the nodding prows.
When Jove, the God who with a thought controls
The raging seas, and balances the poles,
From heav'n beheld, and will'd, in sov'reign state,
To fix the Eastern World's depending fate:
Swift at his nod th' Olympian herald flies,
And calls th' immortal senate of the skies;
Where, from the sov'reign throne of earth and heav'n,
Th' immutable decrees of fate are given.
Instant the regents of the spheres of light,
And those who rule the paler orbs of night,
With those, the gods whose delegated sway
The burning south and frozen north obey;
And they whose empires see the day-star rise,
And evening Phoebus leave the western skies,
All instant pour'd along the milky road,
Heaven's crystal pavements glittering as they trod:
And now, obedient to the dread command,
Before their awful Lord in order stand.
Sublime and dreadful on his regal throne,
That glow'd with stars, and bright as lightning shone,
Th' immortal sire, who darts the thunder, sat,
The crown and sceptre added solemn state;
The crown, of heaven's own pearls, whose ardent rays,
Flam'd round his brows, outshone the diamond's blaze:
His breath such gales of vital fragrance shed,
As might, with sudden life, inspire the dead:
Supreme controul throned in his awful eyes
Appear'd, and mark'd the monarch of the skies.
On seats that burn'd with pearl and ruddy gold,
The subject gods their sovereign lord enfold,
Each in his rank, when with a voice that shook
The towers of heaven the world's dread ruler spoke:—
Immortal heirs of light, my purpose hear,
My counsels ponder, and the Fates revere:
Unless Oblivion o'er your minds has thrown
Her dark blank shades, to you, ye Gods, are known
The Fate's decree, and ancient warlike fame
Of that bold race which boasts of Lusus' name;
That bold advent'rous race, the Fates declare,
A potent empire in the east shall rear,
Surpassing Babel's or the Persian fame,
Proud Grecia's boast, or Rome's illustrious name.
Oft from these brilliant seats have you beheld
The sons of Lusus on the dusty field,
Though few, triumphant o'er the numerous Moors,
Till, from the beauteous lawns on Tago's shores
They drove the cruel foe. And oft has heaven
Before their troops the proud Castilians driven;
While Victory her eagle-wings display'd
Where-e'er their warriors waved the shining blade,
Nor rests unknown how Lusus' heroes stood
When Rome's ambition dy'd the world with blood;
What glorious laurels Viriatus gain'd,
How oft his sword with Roman gore was stain'd;
And what fair palms their martial ardour crown'd,
When led to battle by the chief renown'd,
Who feign'd a dæmon, in a deer conceal'd,
To him the counsels of the Gods reveal'd.
And now, ambitious to extend their sway
Beyond their conquests on the southmost bay
Of Afric's swarthy coast, on floating wood
They brave the terrors of the dreary flood,
Where only black-wing'd mists have hover'd o'er,
Or driving clouds have sail'd the wave before;
Beneath new skies they hold their dreadful way
To reach the cradle of the new-born day:
And Fate, whose mandates unrevok'd remain,
Has will'd that long shall Lusus' offspring reign
The lords of that wide sea, whose waves behold
The sun come forth enthroned in burning gold.
But now, the tedious length of winter past,
Distress'd and weak, the heroes faint at last.
What gulphs they dared, you saw, what storms they braved,
Beneath what various heavens their banners waved!
Now Mercy pleads, and soon the rising land
To their glad eyes shall o'er the waves expand.
As welcome friends the natives shall receive,
With bounty feast them, and with joy relieve.
And, when refreshment shall their strength renew,
Thence shall they turn, and their bold route pursue.
So spoke high Jove: The gods in silence heard,
Then rising each, by turns, his thoughts preferr'd:
But chief was Bacchus of the adverse train;
Fearful he was, nor fear'd his pride in vain,
Should Lusus' race arrive on India's shore,
His ancient honours would be known no more;
No more in Nysa should the native tell
What kings, what mighty hosts before him fell.
The fertile vales beneath the rising sun
He view'd as his, by right of victory won,
And deem'd that ever in immortal song
The conqueror's title should to him belong.
Yet Fate, he knew, had will'd, that loos'd from Spain
Boldly advent'rous through the polar main,
A warlike race should come, renown'd in arms,
And shake the Eastern World with war's alarms,
Whose glorious conquests and eternal fame
In black Oblivion's waves should whelm his name.
Urania-Venus, queen of sacred love,
Arose and fixed her asking eyes on Jove:
Her eyes, well pleas'd, in Lusus' sons could trace
A kindred likeness to the Roman race,
For whom of old such kind regard she bore;
The same their triumphs on Barbaria's shore,
The same the ardour of their warlike flame,
The manly music of their tongue the same.
Affection thus the lovely goddess sway'd,
Nor less what fate's unblotted page display'd;
Where'er this people should their empire raise,
She knew her altars would unnumber'd blaze,
And barbarous nations at her holy shrine
Be humaniz'd and taught her lore divine.
Her spreading honours thus the one inspired,
And one the dread to lose his worship fired.
Their struggling factions shook th' Olympian state
With all the clamorous tempest of debate.
Thus, when the storm with sudden gust invades
The ancient forest's deep and lofty shades,
The bursting whirlwinds tear their rapid course,
The shatter'd oaks crash, and with echoes hoarse
The mountains groan, while whirling on the blast
The thickening leaves a gloomy darkness cast.
Such was the tumult in the blest abodes,
When Mars, high towering o'er the rival gods,
Stept forth; stern sparkles from his eye-balls glanc'd,
And now, before the throne of Jove advanc'd,
O'er his left shoulder his broad shield he throws,
And lifts his helm above his dreadful brows:
Bold and enrag'd he stands, and, frowning round,
Strikes his tall spear-staff on the sounding ground;
Heaven trembled, and the light turn'd pale—Such dread
His fierce demeanour o'er Olympus spread:
When thus the warrior,—O eternal sire,
Thine is the sceptre, thine the thunder's fire,
Supreme dominion thine; then, father, hear:
Shall that bold race which once to thee was dear,
Who, now fulfilling thy decrees of old,
Through these wild waves their fearless journey hold,
Shall that bold race no more thy care engage,
But sink the victims of unhallowed rage!
Did Bacchus yield to reason's voice divine,
Bacchus the cause of Lusus' sons would join;
Lusus, the lov'd companion of his cares,
His earthly toils, his dangers, and his wars:
But envy still a foe to worth will prove,
To worth though guarded by the arm of Jove.
Then thou, dread lord of fate, unmov'd remain,
Nor let weak change thine awful counsels stain,
For Lusus' race thy promis'd favour show:
Swift as the arrow from Apollo's bow
Let Maia's son explore the watery way,
Where spent with toil, with weary hopes, they stray;
And safe to harbour, through the deep untried,
Let him, empower'd, their wand'ring vessels guide;
There let them hear of India's wish'd-for shore,
And balmy rest their fainting strength restore.
He spoke: high Jove assenting bow'd the head,
And floating clouds of nectar'd fragrance shed:
Then lowly bending to th' eternal sire,
Each in his duteous rank, the gods retire.
Whilst thus in heaven's bright palace Fate was weigh'd,
Right onward still the brave armada stray'd:
Right on they steer by Ethiopia's strand
And pastoral Madagascar's verdant land.
Before the balmy gales of cheerful spring,
With heav'n their friend, they spread the canvas wing;
The sky cerulean, and the breathing air,
The lasting promise of a calm declare.
Behind them now the Cape of Praso bends,
Another ocean to their view extends,
Where black-topt islands, to their longing eyes,
Lav'd by the gentle waves, in prospect rise.
But GAMA, (captain of the vent'rous band,
Of bold emprize, and born for high command,
Whose martial fires, with prudence close allied,
Ensured the smiles of fortune on his side)
Bears off those shores which waste and wild appear'd,
And eastward still for happier climates steer'd:
When gathering round, and blackening o'er the tide,
A fleet of small canoes the pilot spied;
Hoisting their sails of palm-tree leaves, inwove
With curious art, a swarming crowd they move:
Long were their boats, and sharp to bound along
Through the dash'd waters, broad their oars and strong:
The bending rowers on their features bore
The swarthy marks of Phaeton's fall of yore;
When flaming lightnings scorch'd the banks of Po,
And nations blacken'd in the dread o'erthrow.
Their garb, discover'd as approaching nigh,
Was cotton strip'd with many a gaudy dye:
'Twas one whole piece; beneath one arm, confin'd;
The rest hung loose and flutter'd on the wind;
All, but one breast, above the loins was bare,
And swelling turbans bound their jetty hair:
Their arms were bearded darts and faulchions broad,
And warlike music sounded as they row'd.
With joy the sailors saw the boats draw near,
With joy beheld the human face appear:
What nations these, their wondering thoughts explore,
What rites they follow, and what god adore!
And now with hands and kerchiefs wav'd in air
The barb'rous race their friendly mind declare.
Glad were the crew, and ween'd that happy day
Should end their dangers and their toils repay.
The lofty masts the nimble youths ascend,
The ropes they haul, and o'er the yard-arms bend;
And now their bowsprits pointing to the shore,
(A safe moon'd bay), with slacken'd sails they bore:
With cheerful shouts they furl the gather'd sail
That less and less flaps quivering on the gale;
The prows, their speed stopt, o'er the surges nod,
The falling anchors dash the foaming flood:
When sudden as they stopt, the swarthy race
With smiles of friendly welcome on each face,
The ship's high sides swift by the cordage climb:
Illustrious GAMA, with an air sublime,
Soften'd by mild humanity, receives,
And to their chief the hand of friendship gives
Bids spread the board, and, instant as he said,
Along the deck the festive board is spread:
The sparkling wine in crystal goblets glows,
And round and round with cheerful welcome flows.
While thus the vine its sprightly glee inspires,
From whence the fleet, the swarthy chief enquires,
What seas they past, what 'vantage would attain,
And what the shore their purpose hop'd to gain?
From farthest west, the Lusian race reply,
To reach the golden Eastern shores we try.
Through that unbounded sea whose billows roll
From the cold northern to the southern pole;
And by the wide extent, the dreary vast
Of Afric's bays, already have we past;
And many a sky have seen, and many a shore,
Where but sea-monsters cut the waves before.
To spread the glories of our monarch's reign,
For India's shore we brave the trackless main,
Our glorious toil, and at his nod would brave
The dismal gulfs of Acheron's black wave.
And now, in turn, your race, your country tell,
If on your lips fair truth delights to dwell,
To us, unconscious of the falsehood, show,
What of these seas and India’s site you know.
Rude are the natives here, the Moor reply'd,
Dark are their minds, and brute-desire their guide:
But we, of alien blood and strangers here,
Nor hold their customs nor their laws revere.
From Abram's race our holy prophet sprung,
An angel taught, and heaven inspir'd his tongue;
His sacred rites and mandates we obey,
And distant empires own his holy sway.
From isle to isle our trading vessels roam,
Mozambique's harbour our commodious home.
If then your sails for India's shore expand,
For sultry Ganges or Hydaspes' strand,
Here shall you find a pilot skill'd to guide
Through all the dangers of the perilous tide,
Though wide-spread shelves, and cruel rocks unseen,
Lurk in the way, and whirlpools rage between.
Accept, mean while, what fruits these islands hold,
And to the regent let your wish be told.
Then may your mates the needful stores provide,
Then all your various wants be here supplied.
So spake the Moor, and bearing smiles untrue,
And signs of friendship, with his bands withdrew.
O'erpower'd with joy unhoped the sailors stood,
To find such kindness on a shore so rude.
Now shooting o'er the flood his fervid blaze,
The red-brow'd sun withdraws his beamy rays;
Safe in the bay the crew forget their cares,
And peaceful rest their wearied strength repairs.
Calm twilight now his drowsy mantle spreads,
And shade on shade, the gloom still deepening sheds.
The moon, full orb'd, forsakes her wat'ry cave,
And lifts her lovely head above the wave.
The snowy splendours of her modest ray
Stream o'er the glistening waves, and quivering play:
Around her, glittering on the heaven's arched brow,
Unnumber'd stars, enclosed in azure, glow,
Thick as the dew-drops of the April dawn,
Or May-flowers crowding o'er the daisy-lawn:
The canvas whitens in the silvery beam,
And with a mild pale red the pendants gleam:
The masts' tall shadows tremble o'er the deep;
The peaceful winds a holy silence keep;
The watchman's carol, echo'd from the prows,
Alone, at times, awakes the still repose.
Aurora now, with dewy lustre bright,
Appears, ascending on the rear of night.
With gentle hand, as seeming oft to pause,
The purple curtains of the morn she draws;
The sun comes forth, and soon the joyful crew,
Each aiding each, their joyful tasks pursue.
Wide o'er the decks the spreading sails they throw;
From each tall mast the waving streamers flow;
All seems a festive holiday on board
To welcome to the fleet the island's lord.
With equal joy the regent sails to meet,
And brings fresh cates, his offerings to the fleet:
For of his kindred race their line he deems,
That savage race who rush'd from Caspia's streams,
And triumph'd o'er the east, and, Asia won,
In proud Byzantium fixt their haughty throne.
Brave Vasco hails the chief with honest smiles,
And gift for gift with liberal hand he piles.
His gifts, the boast of Europe's heart disclose,
And sparkling red the wine of Tagus flows.
High on the shrouds the wondering sailors hung,
To note the Moorish garb, and barbarous tongue:
Nor less the subtle Moor, with wonder fired,
Their mien, their dress, and lordly ships admired:
Much he enquires, their king's, their country's name,
And, if from Turkey's fertile shores they came?
What god they worshipp'd, what their sacred lore,
What arms they wielded, and what armour wore?
To whom brave GAMA: Nor of Hagar's blood
Am I, nor plow from Izmael's shores the flood;
From Europe's strand I trace the foamy way,
To find the regions of the infant day.
The God we worship stretch'd yon heaven's high bow,
And gave these swelling waves to roll below;
The hemispheres of night and day he spread,
He scoop'd each vale, and rear'd each mountain's head;
His word produced the nations of the earth,
And gave the spirits of the sky their birth;
On earth, by him, his holy lore was given,
On earth he came to raise mankind to heaven.
And now behold, what most your eyes desire,
Our shining armour, and our arms of fire;
For who has once in friendly peace beheld,
Will dread to meet them on the battle-field.
Straight as he spoke the warlike stores display'd
Their glorious show, where, tire on tire inlaid,
Appear'd of glittering steel the carabines,
There the plumed helms, and ponderous brigandines;
O'er the broad bucklers sculptur'd orbs embost,
The crooked faulchions dreadful blades were crost:
Here clasping greaves, and plated mail-quilts strong;
The long-bows here, and rattling quivers hung,
And like a grove the burnish'd spears were seen,
With darts, and halberts double-edged between;
Here dread grenadoes, and tremendous bombs,
With deaths ten thousand lurking in their wombs,
And far around, of brown and dusky red,
The pointed piles of iron balls were spread.
The bombardeers, now to the regent's view
The thundering mortars and the cannon drew;
Yet, at their leader's nod, the sons of flame
(For brave and generous ever are the same)
Withheld their hands, nor gave the seeds of fire To rouse the thunders of the dreadful tire. For GAMA's soul disdain'd the pride of show Which acts the lion o'er the trembling roe.
- His joy and wonder oft the Moor exprest,
But rankling hate lay brooding in his breast; With smiles obedient to his will's control, He veils the purpose of his treacherous soul: For pilots, conscious of the Indian strand, Brave VASCO sues, and bids the Moor command What bounteous gifts shall recompense their toils;— The Moor prevents him with assenting smiles, Resolved that deeds of death, not words of air, Shall first the hatred of his soul declare: Such sudden rage his rankling mind possest,When GAMA's lips Messiah's name confest.
Oh depth of heaven's dread will, that rancorous hate
On heaven's best lov'd in every clime should wait!
Now smiling round on all the wondering crew
The Moor attended by his bands withdrew:
His nimble barges soon approach'd the land,
And shouts of joy received him on the strand.
From heaven's high dome the vintage-god beheld,
(Whom nine long months his father's thigh conceal'd)
Well-pleased he mark'd the Moor's determined hate,
And thus his mind revolved in self-debate:
Has heaven, indeed, such glorious lot ordain'd!
By Lusus' race such conquests to be gain'd
O'er warlike nations, and on India's shore,
Where I, unrival'd, claim'd the palm before!
I, sprung from Jove! And shall these wandering few,
What Ammon's son unconquer'd left, subdue!
Ammon's brave son who led the god of war
His slave auxiliar at his thundering car!
Must these possess what Jove to him deny'd,
Possess what never sooth'd the Roman pride!
Must these the victor's lordly flag display
With hateful blaze beneath the rising day,
My name dishonour'd, and my victories stain'd,
O'erturn'd my altars, and my shrines profan'd!
No—be it mine to fan the regent's hate
Occasion seized commands the action's fate.
'Tis mine—this captain now my dread no more,
Shall never shake his spear on India's shore.
So spake the power, and with the lightning's flight
For Afric darted thro' the fields of light.
His form divine he cloth'd in human shape,
And rush'd impetuous o'er the rocky cape:
In the dark semblance of a Moor he came
For art and old experience known to fame:
Him all his peers with humble deference heard,
And all Mozambique and its prince rever'd:
The prince in haste he sought, and thus exprest
His guileful hate in friendly counsel drest:
And to the regent of this isle alone
Are these adventurers and their fraud unknown?
Has Fame conceal'd their rapine from his ear?
Nor brought the groans of plunder'd nations here?
Yet still their hands the peaceful olive bore
Whene'er they anchor'd on a foreign shore:
But nor their seeming, nor their oaths I trust,
For Afric knows them bloody and unjust.
The nations sink beneath their lawless force,
And fire and blood have mark'd their deadly course.
We too, unless kind heaven and thou prevent,
Must fall the victims of their dire intent,
And, gasping in the pangs of death, behold
Our wives led captive, and our daughters sold.
By stealth they come, ere morrow dawn, to bring
The healthful beverage from the living spring:
Arm'd with his troops the captain will appear;
For conscious fraud is ever prone to fear.
To meet them there, select a trusty band,
And in close ambush take thy silent stand;
There wait, and sudden on the heedless foe
Rush, and destroy them ere they dread the blow.
Or say, should some escape the secret snare,
Saved by their fate, their valour, or their care,
Yet their dread fall shall celebrate our isle,
If fate consent, and thou approve the guile.
Give then a pilot to their wandering fleet,
Bold in his art, and tutor'd in deceit;
Whose hand adventurous shall their helms misguide,
To hostile shores, or whelm them in the tide.
So spoke the god, in semblance of a sage
Renown'd for counsel and the craft of age.
The prince with transport glowing in his face
Approved, and caught him in a kind embrace;
And instant at the word his bands prepare
Their bearded darts and iron fangs of war,
That Lusus' sons might purple with their gore
The crystal fountain which they sought on shore:
And still regardful of his dire intent,
A skilful pilot to the bay he sent,
Of honest mien, yet practised in deceit,
Who far at distance on the beach should wait,
And to the 'scaped, if some should 'scape the snare,
Should offer friendship and the pilot's care;
But when at sea, on rocks should dash their pride,
And whelm their lofty vanes beneath the tide.
Apollo now had left his watery bed,
And o'er the mountains of Arabia spread
His rays that glow'd with gold; when GAMA rose,
And from his bands a trusty squadron chose:
Three speedy barges brought their casks to fill
From gurgling fountain, or the crystal rill:
Full-arm'd they came, for brave defence prepared,
For martial care is ever on the guard:
And secret warnings ever are imprest
On wisdom, such as waked in GAMA's breast.
And now, as swiftly springing o'er the tide
Advanced the boats, a troop of Moors they spy'd;
O'er the pale sands the sable warriors crowd,
And toss their threatening darts, and shout aloud.
Yet seeming artless, though they dared the fight,
Their eager hope they placed in artful flight,
To lead brave GAMA where unseen by day
In dark-brow'd shades their silent ambush lay.
With scornful gestures o'er the beach they stride,
And push their levell'd spears with barbarous pride,
Then fix the arrow to the bended bow,
And strike their sounding shields, and dare the foe.
With generous rage the Lusian race beheld,
And each brave breast with indignation swell'd,
To view such foes like snarling dogs, display
Their threatening tusks, and brave the sanguine fray:
Together with a bound they spring to land,
Unknown whose step first trod the hostile strand.
Thus, when to gain his beauteous charmer's smile,
The youthful lover dares the bloody toil,
Before the nodding bull's stern front he stands,
He leaps, he wheels, he shouts, and waves his hands:
The lordly brute disdains the stripling's rage,
His nostrils smoke, and, eager to engage,
His horned brows he levels with the ground,
And shuts his flaming eyes, and wheeling round
With dreadful bellowing rushes on the foe,
And lays the boastful gaudy champion low.
Thus to the sight the sons of Lusus sprung,
Nor slow to fall their ample vengeance hung:
With sudden roar the carabines resound,
And bursting echoes from the hills rebound;
The lead flies hissing through the trembling air,
And death's fell dæmons through the flashes glare.
Where, up the land, a grove of palms enclose,
And cast their shadows where the fountain flows,
The lurking ambush from their treacherous stand
Beheld the combat burning on the strand:
They see the flash with sudden lightnings flare,
And the blue smoke slow rolling on the air:
They see their warriors drop, and starting, hear
The lingering thunders bursting on their ear.
Amazed, appall'd, the treacherous ambush fled,
And raged, and curst their birth, and quaked with dread.
The bands that vaunting show'd their threaten'd might,
With slaughter gored, precipitate in flight;
Yet oft, though trembling, on the foe they turn
Their eyes, that red with lust of vengeance burn:
Aghast with fear and stern with desperate rage
The flying war with dreadful howls they wage,
Flints, clods, and javelins hurling as they fly,
As rage and wild despair their hands supply.
And soon disperst, their bands attempt no more
To guard the fountain or defend the shore:
O'er the wide lawns no more their troops appear:
Nor sleeps the vengeance of the victor here;
To teach the nations what tremendous fate
From his dread arm on perjur'd vows should wait,
He seized the time to awe the Eastern World,
And on the breach of faith his thunders hurl'd.
From his black ships the sudden lightnings blaze,
And o'er old ocean flash their dreadful rays:
White clouds on clouds inroll'd the smoke ascends,
The bursting tumult heaven's wide concave rends:
The bays and caverns of the winding shore
Repeat the cannon's and the mortar's roar:
The bombs, far-flaming, hiss along the sky
And whirring through the air the bullets fly;
The wounded air, with hollow deafened sound,
Groans to the direful strife, and trembles round.
Now from the Moorish town the sheets of fire,
Wide blaze succeeding blaze, to heaven aspire.
Black rise the clouds of smoke, and by the gales
Borne down, in streams hang hovering o'er the vales;
And slowly floating round the mountain's head
Their pitchy mantle o'er the landscape spread.
Unnumber'd sea-fowl rising from the shore,
Beat round in whirls at every cannon's roar:
Where o'er the smoke the masts tall heads appear,
Hovering they scream, then dart with sudden fear;
On trembling wings far round and round they fly,
And fill with dismal clang their native sky.
Thus fled in rout confus'd the treacherous Moors
From field to field, then, hast'ning to the shores,
Some trust in boats their wealth and lives to save,
And wild with dread they plunge into the wave;
Some spread their arms to swim, and some beneath
The whelming billows, struggling, pant for breath,
Then whirl'd aloft their nostrils spout the brine;
While showering still from many a carabine
The leaden hail their sails and vessels tore,
Till struggling hard they reach'd the neighb'ring shore:
Due vengeance thus their perfidy repaid,
And GAMA's terrors to the east display’d.
Imbrown'd with dust a beaten pathway shews
Where 'midst umbrageous palms the fountain flows;
From thence at will they bear the liquid health;
And now sole masters of the island's wealth,
With costly spoils and eastern robes adorn'd,
The joyful victors to the fleet return'd.
With hell's keen fires, still for revenge athirst,
The regent burns, and weens, by fraud accurst,
To strike a surer, yet a secret blow,
And in one general death to whelm the foe.
The promised pilot to the fleet he sends,
And deep repentance for his crime pretends.
Sincere the herald seems, and while he speaks,
The winning tears steal down his hoary cheeks.
Brave GAMA, touch'd with generous woe, believes,
And from his hand the pilot's hand receives:
A dreadful gift! instructed to decoy,
In gulfs to whelm them, or on rocks destroy.
The valiant chief, impatient of delay,
For India now resumes the watery way;
Bids weigh the anchor and unfurl the sail,
Spread full the canvas to the rising gale.
He spoke; and proudly o'er the foaming tide,
Borne on the wind, the full-wing'd vessels ride;
While as they rode before the bounding prows
The lovely forms of sea-born nymphs arose.
The while brave VASCO's unsuspecting mind
Yet fear'd not ought the crafty Moor design'd:
Much of the coast he asks, and much demands
Of Afric's shores and India's spicy lands.
The crafty Moor, by vengeful Bacchus taught,
Employ'd on deadly guile his baneful thought;
In his dark mind he planned, on GAMA's head
Full to revenge Mozambique and the dead.
Yet all the chief demanded he reveal'd,
Nor aught of truth, that truth he knew, conceal'd:
For thus he ween'd to gain his easy faith,
And gain'd, betray to slavery or death.
And now, securely trusting to destroy,
As erst false Sinon snared the sons of Troy,
Behold, disclosing from the sky, he cries,
Far to the north, yon cloud-like isle arise:
From ancient times the natives of the shore
The blood-stain'd image on the cross adore.
Swift at the word, the joyful GAMA cry'd,
For that fair island turn the helm aside,
O bring my vessels where the Christians dwell,
And thy glad lips my gratitude shall tell:
With sullen joy the treacherous Moor comply'd,
And for that island turn'd the helm aside.
For well Quiloa's swarthy race he knew,
Their laws and faith to Hagar's offspring true;
Their strength in war, through all the nations round,
Above Mozambique and her powers renown'd;
He knew what hate the Christian name they bore,
And hoped that hate on VASCO's bands to pour.
Right to the land the faithless pilot steers,
Right to the land the glad Armada bears;
But heavenly love's fair queen, whose watchful care
Had ever been their guide, beheld the snare.
A sudden storm she rais'd: Loud howl'd the blast,
The yard-arms rattled, and each groaning mast
Bended beneath the weight. Deep sunk the prows,
And creaking ropes the creaking ropes oppose;
In vain the pilot would the speed restrain;
The captain shouts, the sailors toil in vain;
Aslope and gliding on the leeward side
The bounding vessels cut the roaring tide:
Soon far they past; and now the slacken'd sail
Trembles and bellies to the gentle gale:
Till many a league before the tempest tost
The treacherous pilot sees his purpose crost:
Yet vengeful still, and still intent on guile,
Behold, he cries, yon dim emerging isle:
There live the votaries of Messiah's lore
In faithful peace, and friendship with the Moor.
Yet all was false, for there Messiah's name,
Reviled and scorn'd, was only known by fame.
The grovelling natives there, a brutal herd,
The sensual lore of Hagar's son preferr'd.
With joy brave GAMA hears the artful tale,
Bears to the harbour, and bids furl the sail.
Yet watchful still fair love's celestial queen
Prevents the danger with a hand unseen;
Nor past the bar his vent'rous vessel guides:
And safe at anchor in the road he rides.
Between the isle and Ethiopia's land
A narrow current laves each adverse strand;
Close by the margin where the green tide flows,
Full to the bay a lordly city rose:
With fervid blaze the glowing evening pours
Its purple splendors o'er the lofty towers;
The lofty towers with milder lustre gleam,
And gently tremble in the glassy stream.
Here reign'd a hoary king of ancient fame;
Mombaze the town, Mombaze the island's name.
As when the pilgrim, who with weary pace
Through lonely wastes untrod by human race,
For many a day disconsolate has stray'd,
The turf his bed, the wild-wood boughs his shade,
O'erjoy'd beholds the cheerful seats of men
In grateful prospect rising on his ken:
So GAMA joy’d, who many a dreary day
Had trac'd the vast, the lonesome watery way,
Had seen new stars, unknown to Europe, rise,
And brav'd the horrors of the polar skies:
So joy'd his bounding heart when, proudly rear'd,
The splendid city o'er the wave appear'd,
Where heaven's own lore, he trusted, was obey'd,
And holy faith her sacred rites display'd.
And now, swift crowding through the hornèd bay,
The Moorish barges wing'd their foamy way:
To GAMA's fleet with friendly smiles they bore
The choicest products of their cultur'd shore.
But there fell rancour veil'd its serpent-head,
Though festive roses o'er the gifts were spread.
For Bacchus veil'd, in human shape, was here,
And pour'd his counsel in the sovereign's ear.
O piteous lot of man's uncertain state!
What woes on Life's unhappy journey wait!
When joyful Hope would grasp its fond desire,
The long-sought transports in the grasp expire.
By sea what treacherous calms, what rushing storms,
And death attendant in a thousand forms!
By land what strife, what plots of secret guile,
How many a wound from many a treacherous smile!
O where shall man escape his numerous foes,
And rest his weary head in safe repose!
END OF THE FIRST BOOK.
- The Lusiad; in the original, Os Lusiadas, The Lusiads, from the Latin name of Portugal, derived from Lusus or Lysas, the companion of Bacchus in his travels, who settled a colony in Lusitania. See Plin. I. iii. c. i.
- Thro' seas where sail was never spread before.—M. Duperron de Castera, the French translator of the Lusiad, has given a long note on this passage, which he tells us, must not be understood literally. His arguments are these: Our author, says he, could not be ignorant that the African and Indian Oceans had been navigated before the times of the Portuguese. The Phœnicians, whose fleets passed the straits of Gibraltar, made frequent voyages in these seas, though they carefully concealed the course of their navigation that other nations might not become partakers of their lucrative traffic. It is certain that Solomon, and Hiram king of Tyre, sent ships to the East by the Red Sea. It is also certain that Hanno, a Carthaginian captain, made a voyage round the whole coast of Africa, as is evident from the history of the expedition, written by himself in the Punic language; a Greek translation of which is now extant. Besides, Pliny, Pomponius Mela, Ptolomy and Strabo, assure us, that Mozambic and the adjacent islands, and some parts of India, were known to the Romans: and these words of Macrobius, Sed nec monstruosis carnibus abstinetis, inserentes poculis testiculos Castorum et venenata corpora Viperarum; quibus admiscetis quidquid India nutrit, sufficiently prove that they carried on a considerable traffic with the East. From all which, says M. Castera, we may conclude that the Portuguese were rather the restorers than the discoverers of the navigation to the Indies.
In this first book, and throughout the whole poem, Camöens frequently describes his heroes as passing through seas which had never before been navigated; and
Que só dos feyos focas se navega.
Where but sea-monsters cut the waves before.
That this supposition afforded our author a number of poetical images, and adds a solemn grandeur to his subject, might perhaps with M. Castera be esteemed a sufficient apology for the poetical licence in such a violation of historical truth. Yet whatever liberties an epic or a tragic poet may commendably take in embellishing the actions of his heroes, an assertion relative to the scene where his poem opens, if false, must be equally ridiculous as to call Vespasian the first who had ever assumed the title of Cæsar. But it will be found that Camoens has not fallen into such absurdity. The poem opens with a description of the Lusitanian fleet, after having doubled the Cape of Hope, driving about in the great Ethiopian Ocean, so far from land that it required the care of the Gods to conduct it to some hospitable shore. Therefore, though it is certain that the Phœnicians passed the Ne plus ultra of the ancients; though it is probable they traded on the coast of Cornwall, and the isles of Scilly; though there is some reason to believe that the Madeiras and Carribees were known to them; and though it has been supposed that some of their ships might have been driven by storm to the Brazils or North-America; yet there is not the least foundation in history to suppose that they traded to the Indies by the Cape of Good Hope. There is rather a demonstration of the contrary; for it is certain they carried on their traffic with the East, by a much nearer and safer way, by the two ports of Elath and Eziongeber on the Red Sea. Neither is it certainly known in what particular part, whether in the Persian gulph, or in the Indian ocean, the Tarihish and Ophir of the ancients are situated. Though it is certain that Hanno doubled the Cape of Good Hope, it is also equally certain that his voyage was merely a coasting one, like that of Nearchus in Alexander's time, and that he never ventured into the great ocean, or went so far as Gama. The citation from Macrobius proves nothing at all relative to the point in question, for it is certain that the Romans received the merchandise of India by the way of Syria and the Mediterranean, in the same manner as the Venetians imported the commodities of the East from Alexandria before the discoveries of the Portuguese. It remains, therefore, that Gama, who sailed by the compass, after having gone further than his cotemporary Bartholomew Diaz, was literally the first who ever spread sail in the great southern ocean, and that the Portuguese were not the restorers, but literally the discoverers of the present rout of navigation to the East Indies.
- And all my country's wars.—"He interweaves artfully the history of Portugal." Voltaire.
- To holy faith unnumber'd altars rear'd.—In no period of history does human nature appear with more shocking features than in the Spanish conquest of South America. To the immortal honour of the first Portuguese discoverers, their conduct was in every respect the reverse. To establish a traffic equally advantageous to the natives as to themselves, was the principle they professed, and the strictest honour, and that humanity which is ever inseparable from true bravery, presided over their transactions. Nor did they ever proceed to hostilities till provoked, either by the open violence or by the perfidy of the natives. Their honour was admired, and their friendship courted by the Indian princes. To mention no more, the name of Gama was dear to them, and the great Albuquerque was beloved as a father, and his memory honoured with every token of affection and respect by the people and princes of India. It was owing to this spirit of honour and humanity, which in the heroical days of Portugal characterised that nation, that the religion of the Portuguese was eagerly embraced by many kings and provinces of Africa and India; while the Mexicans with manly disdain rejected the faith of the Spaniards, professing they would rather go to hell to escape these cruel tyrants, than go to heaven, where they were told they should meet them. Zeal for the Christian religion was esteemed, at the time of the Portuguese grandeur, as the most cardinal virtue, and to propagate Christianity and extirpate Mohammedism was the most certain proofs of that zeal. In all their expeditions this was professedly a principle motive of the Lusitanian monarchs; and Camöens understood the nature of epic poetry too well to omit, That the design of his hero was to deliver the law of heaven to the eastern world; a circumstance which gives a noble air of importance and of interest to the business of his poem.
- And thou, O born.—King Sebastian, who came to the throne in his minority. Though the warm imagination of Camoëns anticipated the praises of the future hero, the young monarch, like Virgil's Pollio, had not the happiness to fulfil the prophecy. His endowments and enterprising genius promised indeed a glorious reign. Ambitious of military laurels, he led a powerful army into Africa, on purpose to replace Muley Hamet on the throne of Morocco, from which he had been deposed by Muley Molucco. On the 4th of August, 1578, in the twenty-fifth year of his age, he gave battle to the Usurper on the plains of Alcazar. This was that memorable engagement, to which the Moorish Emperor, extremely weakened by sickness, was carried in his litter. By the impetuosity of the attack, the first line of the Moorish infantry was broken, and the second disordered. Muley Molucco on this mounted his horse, drew his sabre, and would have put himself at the head of his troops, but was prevented by his attendants. On this act of violence, his emotion of mind was so great that he fell from his horse, and one of his guards having caught him in his arms, conveyed him to his litter, where, putting his finger on his lips to enjoin them silence, he immediately expired. Hamet Taba stood by the curtains of the carriage, opened them from time to time, and gave out orders as if he had received them from the emperor. Victory declared for the Moors, and the defeat of the Portuguese was so total, that not above fifty of their whole army escaped. Hieron de Mendoça, and Sebastian de Mesa relate, that Don Sebastian, after having two horses killed under him, was surrounded and taken; but the party who had secured him quarrelling among themselves whose prisoner he was, a Moorish officer rode up and struck the king a blow over the right eye, which brought him to the ground; when, despairing of ransom, the others killed him. Faria y Sousa, an exact and judicious historian, reports, that Lewis de Brito meeting the king with the royal standard wrapped round him, Sebastian cried out, "Hold it fast, let us die upon it." Brito affirmed, that after he himself was taken prisoner, he saw the king at a distance unpursued. Don Lewis de Lima afterwards met him making towards the river; and this, says the historian, was the last time he was ever seen alive. About twenty years after this fatal defeat, there appeared a stranger at Venice, who called himself Sebastian, king of Portugal. His person so perfectly resembled Sebastian, that the Portuguese of that city acknowledged him for their sovereign. Philip II. of Spain was now master of the crown and kingdom of Portugal. His ambassador at Venice charged this stranger with many atrocious crimes, and had interest to get him apprehended and thrown into prison as an impostor. He underwent twenty-eight examinations before a committee of the nobles, in which he clearly acquitted himself of all the crimes that had been laid to his charge; and he gave a distinct account of the manner in which he had passed his time from the fatal defeat at Alcazar. It was objected, that the successor of Muley Molucco sent a corpse to Portugal which had been owned as that of the king by the Portuguese nobility who survived the battle. To this he replied, that his valet de chambre had produced that body to facilitate his escape, and that the nobility acted upon the same motive: and Mesa and Baena confess, that some of the nobility, after their return to Portugal, acknowledged, that the corpse was so disfigured with wounds that it was impossible to know it. He showed natural marks on his body, which many remembered on the person of the king whose name he assumed. He entered into a minute detail of the transactions that had passed between himself and the republic, and mentioned the secrets of several conversations with the Venetian ambassadors in the palace of Lisbon. The committee were astonished, and showed no disposition to declare him an impostor; the senate however refused to discuss the great point, unless requested by some prince or state in alliance with them. This generous part was performed by the Prince of Orange, and an examination was made with great solemnity, but no decision followed, only the senate set him at liberty, and ordered him to depart their dominions in three days. In his flight he fell into the hands of the Spaniards, who conducted him to Naples, where they treated him with the most barbarous indignities. After they had often exposed him, mounted on an ass, to the cruel insults of the brutal mob, he was shipped on board a galley as a slave. He was then carried to St. Lucar, from thence to a castle in the heart of Castile, and never was heard of more. The firmness of his behaviour, his singular modesty and heroical patience, are mentioned with admiration by de la Clede. To the last he maintained the truth of his assertions; a word never slipt from his lips which might countenance the charge of imposture, or justify the cruelty of his persecutors. All Europe were astonished at the ministry of Spain, who, by their method of conducting it, had made an affair so little to their credit, the topic of general conversation; and their assertion, that the unhappy sufferer was a magician, was looked upon as a tacit acknowledgment of the truth of his pretensions.
- Beneath the morn, dread king, thine empire lies.—When we consider the glorious successes which had attended the arms of the Portuguese in Africa and India, and the high reputation of their military and naval prowess, for Portugal was then empress of the ocean, it is no matter of wonder that the imagination of Camöens was warmed with the view of his country's greatness, and that he talks of its power and grandeur in a strain, which must appear as mere hyperbole to those whose ideas of Portugal are drawn from its present broken spirit, and diminished state.
- The sun.—Imitated perhaps from Rutilius, speaking of the Roman Empire:
Volvitur ipse tibi, qui conspicit omnia, Phœbus,
Atque tuis ortos in tua condit equos.
or more probably from these lines of Buchannan, addressed to John III. king of Portugal, the grandfather of Sebastian:
Inque tuis Phœbus regnis oriensque cadensque
Vix longum fesso conderet axe diem.
Et quæcunque vago se circumvolvit Olympo
Affulget ratibus flamma ministra tuis.
- To match the twelve so long by bards renown'd.—The twelve peers of Charlemagne, often mentioned in the old romances. For the episode of Magricio and his eleven companions, see the sixth Lusiad.
- Thy grandsires.—John III. king of Portugal, celebrated for a long and peaceful reign; and the Emperor Charles V. who was engaged in almost continual wars.
——————reserved for thee.—————
Aune novum tardis sidus te meusibus addas,
Qua locus Epigonen inter chelasque sequentes
Panditur; ipse tibi jam brachia contrahit ardens
Scorpius, et cœli justa plus parte reliquit. Virg.
- ——thy wondering eyes.—Some critics have condemned Virgil for stopping his narrative to introduce even a short observation of his own. Milton's beautiful complaint of his blindness has been blamed for the same reason, as being no part of the subject of his poem. The address of Camoens to Don Sebastian has not escaped the same censure; though in some measure undeservedly, as the poet has had the art to interweave therein some part of the general argument of his poem.
- What glorious laurels Viriatus gain'd.—This brave Lusitanian, who was first a shepherd and a famous hunter, and afterwards a captain of banditti, exasperated at the tyranny of the Romans, encouraged his countrymen to revolt and shake off the yoke. Being appointed general, he defeated Vetilius the prætor, who commanded in Lusitania, or farther Spain. After this he defeated in three pitched battles, the prætors C. Plautius Hypsæus and Claudius Unimanus, though they led against him very numerous armies. For six years he continued victorious, putting the Romans to flight wherever he met them, and laying waste the countries of their allies. Having obtained such advantages over the proconsul, Servilianus, that the only choice which was left to the Roman army was death or slavery; the brave Viriatus, instead of putting them all to the sword, as he could easily have done, sent a deputation to the general, offering to conclude a peace with him on this single condition, That he should continue master of the country now in his power, and that the Romans should remain possessed of the rest of Spain.
The proconsul, who expected nothing but death or slavery, thought these very favourable and moderate terms, and without hesitation concluded a peace, which was soon after ratified by the Roman senate and people. Viriatus, by this treaty, completed the glorious design he had always in view, which was to erect a kingdom in the vast country he had conquered from the republic. And had it not been for the treachery of the Romans, he would have become, as Florus calls him, the Romulus of Spain: He would have founded a monarchy capable of counterbalancing the power of Rome.
The senate, desirous to revenge their late defeat, soon after this peace ordered Q. Servilius Cæpio to exasperate Viriatus, and force him by repeated affronts to commit the first acts of hostility. But this mean artifice did not succeed. Viriatus would not be provoked to a breach of the peace. On this the conscript fathers, to the eternal disgrace of their republic, ordered Cæpio to declare war, and to proclaim Viriatus, who had given no provocation, an enemy to Rome. To this baseness Cæpio added one still greater; he corrupted the ambassadors whom Viriatus had sent to negotiate with him, who, at the instigation of the Roman, treacherously murdered their protector and general while he slept.—UNIV. HIST.
- Who feign'd a dæmon.—Sertorius, who was invited by the Lusitanians to defend them against the Romans. He had a tame white hind, which he had accustomed to follow him, and from which he pretended to receive the instructions of Diana. By this artifice he imposed upon the superstition of that people.——Vid. PLUT.
- But chief was Bacchus.—The French translator has the following note on this place: Le Camöens n'a pourtant fait en cela que suivre l'example de l'Ecriture, comme on le voit dans ces paroles du premiere chapitre de Job. Quodam autem die cum venissent, &c. Un jour que les enfans du Seigneur s'étoient assemble devant son trône, Satan y vin taussi, &c.
- No more in Nysa.—An ancient city in India, sacred to Bacchus.
- Urania-Venus.—We have already observed, that an allegorical machinery has always been esteemed an essential requisite of the Epopœia, and the reason upon which it is founded has been pointed out. The allegorical machinery of the Lusiad has now commenced; and throughout the poem the hero is guarded and conducted by the celestial Venus, or divine love. The true poetical colouring is thus supported and preserved: but in illustration of this, see the preface, and the note on the allegory of Homer, at the end of the sixth Lusiad.
- For whom of old.—See the note in the second book on the following passage:
As when in Ida's bower she stood of yore, &c.
- The manly music of their tongue the same.——Camoens says,
E na lingoa, na qual quando imagina,
Com pouca corrupçao cré que he Latina.
Qualifications are never elegant in poetry. Fanshaw's translation, and the original, both prove this:
Which she thinks Latin with small dross among.
- ——and the light turn'd pale.—The thought in the original has something in it wildly great, though it is not expressed in the happiest manner of Camoens,
O Ceo tremeo, e Apollo detorvado
Hum pouco a luz perdeo, como infiado.
- And pastoral Madagascar.—Called by the ancient geographers Menuthia, and Cerna Ethiopica; by the natives, the Island of the Moon; and by the Portuguese, the Isle of St. Laurence, on whose festival they discovered it.
- Lav'd by the gentle waves.—The original says, the sea shewed them new islands, which it encircled and laved. Thus rendered by Fanshaw,
Neptune disclos'd new isles which he did play
About, and with his billows danc't the hay.
- ———of Phaeton's fall——
——ferunt luctu Cycnum Phaëtonis amati,
Populeas inter frondes umbramque sororum
Dum canit, & mæstum musa solatur amorem:
Canentem molli pluma duxisse senectam,
Linquentem terras, et sidera voce sequentem. Virg. Æn.
The historical foundation of the fable of Phaeton is this: Phaeton was a young enterprising prince of Libya. Crossing the Mediterranean in quest of adventures, he landed at Epirus, from whence he went to Italy to see his intimate friend Cygnus. Phaeton was skilled in astrology, from whence he arrogated to himself the title of the son of Apollo. One day in the heat of summer, as he was riding along the banks of the Po, his horses took fright at a clap of thunder, and plunged into the river, where, together with their master, they perished. Cygnus, who was a poet, celebrated the death of his friend in verse, from whence the fable.
Vid. Plutar. in vit. Pyrr.
- From Abram's race our holy prophet sprung.—Mohammed, who was descended from Ishmael, the son of Abraham by Hagar.
- Calm twilight now.—Camoëns, in this passage, has imitated Homer in the manner of Virgil: by diversifying the scene he has made the description his own. The passage alluded to is in the eighth Iliad:
Ως δ' ὅτ' ἐν οὐρανῷ ἄστρα φαεινὴν ἀμφὶ σελήνην
φαίνετ' ἀριπρεπέα, &c.
Thus elegantly translated by Pope:
As when the moon, refulgent lamp of night,
O'er heaven's clear azure spreads her sacred light,
When not a breath disturbs the deep serene,
And not a cloud o'ercasts the solemn scene;
Around her throne the vivid planets roll,
And stars unnumber'd gild the glowing pole,
O'er the dark trees a yellower verdure shed,
And tip with silver every mountain's head;
Then shine the vales, the rocks in prospect rise,
A flood of glory bursts from all the skies:
The conscious swains rejoicing in the sight,
Eye the blue vault, and bless the useful light.
- When Gama's lips Messiah's name confest.—This, and of consequence, the reason of the Moor's hate, together with the fine description of the armoury, is entirely omitted by Castera. The original is, the Moor conceived hatred, "knowing they were followers of the truth which the son of David taught." Thus rendered by Fanshaw,
Knowing they follow that unerring light,
The son of David holds out in his book.
By this Solomon must be understood, not the Messiah, as meant by Camoëns.
"Zacocia (governor of Mozambic) made no doubt but our people were of some Mohammedan country.—The mutual exchange of good offices between our people and these islanders promised a long continuance of friendship, but it proved otherwise. No sooner did Zacocia understand the strangers were Christians, than all his kindness was turned into the most bitter hatred; he began to meditate their ruin, and sought by every means to destroy the fleet." Osorius Silvensis Episc. de Rebus Eman. Regis Lusit. gestis.
- Whom nine long months his father's thigh conceal'd.—According to the Arabians, Bacchus was nourished during his infancy in a cave of Mount Meros, which in Greek signifies a thigh. Hence the fable.
- His form divine he cloth'd in human shape——
Alecto torvam faciem et furialia membra
Exuit: in vultus sese transformat aniles,
Et frontem obscenum rugis arat.———Vir. Æn. 7.
Thus, when to gain his beauteous charmer's smile,
The youthful lover dares the bloody toil——
This simile is taken from a favourite exercise in Spain, where it is usual to see young gentlemen of the best families, adorned with ribbons, and armed with a javelin or kind of, which the Spaniards call machete, appear the candidates of fame in the lists of the bull-fight. Though Camöens in this description of it has given the victory to the bull, it very seldom so happens, the young caballeros being very expert at this valorous exercise, and ambitious to display their dexterity, which is a sure recommendation to the favour and good opinion of the ladies.
O velho inerte, e a māy, que o filho cria.
Thus translated by Fanshaw,
—————————curst their ill luck,
Th' old devil, and the dam that gave them suck.
- Flints, clods, and javelins hurling as they fly,
As rage, &c.
Jamque faces et saxa volant, furor arma ministrat. Virg. Æn. I.
The Spanish commentator on this place relates a very extraordinary instance of the furor arma ministrans. A Portuguese soldier, at the siege of Diu in the Indies, being surrounded by the enemy, and having no ball to charge his musket, pulled out one of his teeth, and with it supplied the place of a bullet.
- But heavenly love's fair queen.—When Gama arrived in the east, the Moors were the only people who engrossed the trade of those parts. Jealous of such formidable rivals as the Portuguese, they employed every artifice to accomplish the destruction of Gama's fleet, for they foresaw the consequences of his return to Portugal. As the Moors were acquainted with these seas and spoke the Arabic language, Gama was obliged to employ them both as pilots and interpreters. The circumstance now mentioned by Camoëns is an historical truth. The Moorish pilot, says De Barros, intended to conduct the Portuguese into Quiloa, telling them that place was inhabited by Christians; but a sudden storm arising, drove the fleet from that shore, where death or slavery would have been the certain fate of Gama and his companions. The villainy of the pilot was afterwards discovered. As Gama was endeavouring to enter the port of , his ship struck on a sand bank, and finding their purpose of bringing him into the harbour defeated, two of the Moorish pilots leaped into the sea and swam ashore. Alarmed at this tacit acknowledgment of guilt, Gama ordered two other Moorish pilots who remained on board to be examined by whipping, who, after some time, made a full confession of their intended villainy. This discovery greatly encouraged Gama and his men, who now interpreted the sudden storm which had driven them from Quiloa, as a miraculous interposition of Divine Providence in their favour.