صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

alone could see. “I have loved my country. I have returned not only to die on her bosom, but to die with her.”

The Lusiad tells the story of the voyage of Vasco da Gama. The sailors of Prince Henry of Portugal, commander of the Portuguese forces in Africa, had passed Cape Nam and discovered the Cape of Storms, which the prince renamed the Cape of Good Hope. His successor Emmanuel, determined to carry out the work of his predecessor by sending out da Gama to undertake the discovery of the southern passage to India. The Portuguese were generally hostile to the undertaking, but da Gama, his brother, and his friend Coello gathered a company, part of which consisted of malefactors whose sentence of death was reversed on condition that they undertake the voyage, and reached India.

The Lusiad is divided into ten cantos, containing one thousand one hundred and two stanzas. Its metre is the heroic iambic, in rhymed octave stanzas.

The Lusiad is marred by its mythological allusions in imitation of Homer and Virgil, but these are forgotten when the poet sings in impassioned strains of his country's past glory.

The Lusiad is simple in style ; its subject is prosaic; it is a constant wonder that out of such unpromising materials Camoens could construct a poem of such interest. He could not have done so had he not been so great a poet, so impassioned a patriot.

Camoens was in one sense of the word a practical man, like Ariosto; he had governed a province, and governed it successfully. But he had also taken up arms for his country, and after suffering all the slights that could be put upon him by an ungrateful and forgetful monarch, still loved his native land, loved it the more, perhaps, that he had suffered for it and was by it neglected. He foresaw, also, as did no one else, the future ruin of his country, and loved it the more intensely, as a parent lavishes the fondest, most despairing affection on child he knows doomed to early death.

The Lusiad is sometimes called the epic of commerce ; it could be called far more appropriately the epic of patriotism.

BIBLIOGRAPHY AND CRITICISM, THE LUSIAD. J. Adamson's Memoirs of Life and Writing of Camoens, 2 vols., 1820 (vol. 2, account of works of Camoens in Portuguese and other languages, and of the works founded on his life or suggested by his writings) ; R. F. Burton's Camoens, his Life and his Lusiad, 2 vols., 1881; M. W. Shelley's Lives of the most Eminent Literary and Scientific Men of Italy, Spain, and Portugal, vol. 3; F. Bouterwek's History of Spanish and Portuguese Literature, 1823 (Tr. by T. Ross); Chambers's Repository, no. 32, Spirit of Camoens's Lusiad; W. T. Dobson's Classic Poets, pp. 240-278 ; Montgomery's Men of Italy, iii., 295 ; Sismondi's Literature of the South of Europe, ii., 475-528 ; Southey's Sketch of Portuguese Literature in vol. i. of Quarterly Review, 1809; Fortnightly Review, i., 184; Quarterly, i., 235; Monthly Review, clx., 505; Edinburgh Review, 1805, vi., 43 ; New England Magazine, liii., 542 ; Revue de Deux Mondes, 1832, vi., 145.

STANDARD ENGLISH TRANSLATIONS, THE LUSIAD. The Lusiad, Tr. by J. J. Aubertin, 2 vols., 1881 (Portuguese text and English Tr., in verse); The Lusiad, Englished by R. F. Burton, 2 vols., 1881 ; The Lusiad, Tr. into Spenserian verse by R. F. Duff, 1880; The Lusiad, Tr. by Sir Richard Fanshawe, 1655; The Lusiad, Tr. by W. J. Mickle, 3 vols., Ed. 5, 1807 ; The Lusiad, Tr. by T. M. Musgrave (blank verse), 1826;

The Lusiad, Tr. by Edward Quillinan, with notes by John Adamson, 1853.



WHEN Jupiter, looking down from Olympus, saw the Lusitanian fleet sailing over the heretofore untravelled seas, he called the gods together, and reviewing the past glory of the Portuguese, their victories over the Castilians, their stand against the Romans, under their shepherd-hero Viriatus, and their conquest of Africa, he foretold their future glories and their discovery and conquest of India.

Bacchus, who had long since made conquests in India, fearful lest his ancient honors should be forgotten, bitterly opposed the scheme of the Portuguese ; Venus, however, was favorable to them, and Mars interceded, counselling Jove not to heed Bacchus, but to permit the Lusitanians to reach India's shore in safety.

When the council of the gods was dismissed, Mercury was sent to guide the Armada, which made its first landing at Mozambique. Canoes with curious palm-leaf sails, laden with dark-skinned natives, swarmed round the ships and were hailed with joy by Gama and his men, who invited them on board. A feast was spread for them, and to them Gama declared his intention of seeking India. Among them was a Moor who had at first thought the Portuguese Moors, on account of their dark skins. Feigning cordiality while plotting their ruin, he offered them a pilot to Quiloa, where, he assured them, they would find a Christian colony. He and his friends also laid a plot to place some soldiers in ambush to attack Gama's men when they landed next day to get water; in this way many would be destroyed, and certain death awaited the survivors at Quiloa, whither the promised pilot would conduct them. But the Moors had not counted on the strength of the Portuguese. Gama's vengeance was swift and certain. The thunder of his guns terrified the Moors, and the regent implored his pardon, and with make-believe tears insisted on his receiving at his hands the promised pilot.

[ocr errors]

Many questions were asked by Gama concerning the spicy shores of India, of the African coasts, and of the island to the north. “Quiloa, that,” replied the Moor, “where from ancient times, the natives have worshipped the blood stained image of the Christ.” He knew how the Moorish inhabitants hated the Christians, and was secretly delighted when Gama directed him to steer thither.

A storm swept the fleet past Quiloa, but the pilot, still determined on revenge, pointed out the island town of Mombaça, as a stronghold of the Christians, and steering the fleet thither, anchored just outside the bar. Bacchus, now intent on the destruction of the Lusitanians, assumed the character of a priest to deceive the heralds sent ashore by Gama, who assured their commander that they saw a Christian priest performing divine rites at an altar above which fluttered the banner of the Holy Ghost. In a few moments the Christian fleet would have been at the mercy of the Moors, but Cytherea, beholding from above the peril of her favorites, hastily descended, gathered together her nymphs, and formed an obstruction, past which the vessels strove in vain to pass. As Gama, standing high on the poop, saw the huge rock in the channel, he cried out, and the Moorish pilots, thinking their treason discovered, leaped into the waves.

Warned in a dream by Mercury that the Moors were preparing to cut his cables, De Gama roused his fleet and set sail for Melinda, whose monarch, Mercury had told him, was both powerful and good.

The fleet, decorated with purple streamers and gold and scarlet tapestry in honor of Ascension Day sailed with drums beating and trumpets sounding, into the harbor of Melinda, where they were welcomed by the kind and truthful people. The fame of the Lusitanians had reached Melinda, and the monarch gladly welcomed them to his land. His herald entreated them to remain with him, and brought them sheep, fowls, and the fruits of the earth, welcome gifts to the mariners. Gama had vowed not to leave the ship until he could step on Indian ground, so the next day the king and the commander, clad in their most splendid vest

[ocr errors]

ments, met in barges, and the monarch of Melinda asked Gama to tell him of the Lusian race, its origin and climate, and of all his adventures up to the time of his arrival at Melinda.

“O king,” said Gama," between the zones of endless winter and eternal summer lies beautiful Europe, surrounded by the sea. To the north are the bold Swede, the Prussian, and the Dane; on her south-eastern line dwelt the Grecian heroes, world-renowned, and farther south are the ruins of proud Rome. Among the beauteous landscapes of Italy lies proud Venice, queen of the sea, and north of her tower the lofty Alps. The olive groves and vineyards of fair Gallia next greet the eye, and then the valorous fields of Spain, Aragon, Granada, and the pride of Spain

Castile. On the west, a crown to it, lies Lusitania, on whom last smiles the setting sun, — against whose shores roll the waves of the western sea.

“Noble are the heroes of my country. They were the first to rise against the Moors and expel them from the kingdom. The forces of Rome were routed by our shepherd-hero, Viriatus. After his death our country languished until Alonzo of Spain arose, whose renown spread far and wide because of his battles against the Moors.

“ Alonzo rewarded generously the heroes who fought under him, and to Prince Henry of Hungaria he gave the fields through which the Tagus flows and the hand of his daughter. To them was born a son, Alfonso, the founder of the Lusian throne. After the death of his father Henry, Alfonso's mother became regent, and ere long wedded her minister Perez and plotted to deprive her young son of his inheritance. The eighteen year old son arose, won the nobility to his side, and defeated his guilty mother and her husband in the battle of Guimaraens. Forgetful of the reverence due to parents, he cruelly imprisoned his mother, whose father, the king of Spain, indignant at such treatment of his daughter, now marched against the young prince and defeated him. As he lay in prison, his faithful guardian Egas knelt before the king, and vowed that his master, if released,

« السابقةمتابعة »