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induce him to form the intention of translating it. Boswell tells us that he went so far as to render the two first cantos into English prose, preparatory to forming them into couplets, similar to those of his “Vanity of Human Wishes ;" but that the labor and time required by his Dictionary and Lives of the Poets, forced him to relinquish the task ; not, however, without strongly advising Goldsmith to undertake it, and offering him all possible assistance. Goldsmith had every disposition to gratify his illustrious friend, and actually commenced the translation. But he had already entered into arrangements with the booksellers for the translation of Buffon, and the compilation of his histories of England, Greece, and Rome ; and his necessities left him no choice
: ; but to proceed with the latter, and defer his version of the Lusiad to another time—a time, unfortunately for the fame of Camoens and the cause of classic literature, never to arrive. Had the poem been lost a century since, and that we had not now a veştige of it left, from which we could form an estimate of its merits, the fact that it was so much admired, not only by Johnson and Goldsmith, but also by Milton, Pope, and Dryden, might well be regarded as satisfactory proof that it was a noble performance. But even Mickle gives sufficient of the beauties of the original to show this. Before we give any specimens, however, of the passages in which he has taken least liberties with the text, we will here take a brief glance at the machinery of the poem.
The action opens with a view of the Portuguese fleet in a prosperous gale, on the coast of Ethiopia. The deities of classical mythology are represented as in council, deliberating on the fate of the fleet, on which the fate of the eastern world depends. Meantime the crews, weary with struggling against the winds, long for a friendly harbor, where they might be able to rest, and get fresh provisions, if not money to send to their wives and children, who mourned at home for their absence, and the dangers to which they were exposed. The gods having fully discussed the probable results of an eastern empire, established by a western people, Jupiter, as president, declares that the Lusians shall be successful-a decision considerably influenced, if not brought about, by the eloquent pleadings of Venus, who assumes the office of protectress of the Portuguese ; Mars interests himself in the same cause, and his chief duty is to prevent Jupiter, by fre
quent intercessions, from altering his mind. On the opposite side we have Bacchus, as the evil demon of Mohamadanism, who, foreseeing the danger of his own empire and religion, does all in his power to destroy the fleet, and by means similar to those adopted by Juno against Æneas, he is on the point of succeeding, when the son of Maia leads the fleet into a safe harbor at Mozambique. Here they engage in battle with the natives, and on gaining the victory, they take a Moorish pilot on board, who tries to induce them to enter another harbor, in which their destruction would have been inevitable; but they receive timely warning of the danger from celestial Venus. In all this the Lusiad resembles the Iliad and Æneid, especially the latter, without borrowing from either. As Virgil makes Æncas relate to Dido the cause of his voyage, the destruction of Troy, and blends the history of Rome up to his own time, with his narrative ; so does Camoens make Gama relate to the King of Melinda all that is interesting in the history of Portugal, including the circumstances which led to the expedition on which he was now embarked. The evil demon pursues the fleet everywhere. While crossing the Indian Ocean, he implores Neptune to raise one of his worst tempests. Nor does the god of the sea refuse ; but just as shipwreck begins to seem inevitable, Venus is introduced, under the appearence of the star bearing her name. She calls on her nymphs to still the tempest, as Juno calls on Eolus in the Æneid, the former, as well as the latter, promising marriage as the reward of compliance :
“ Thus every nymph her various lover chides;
The silent winds are fettered by their brides;
In flowery beds are brought." While returning to Europe, after Gama had accomplished his purpose, the fleet is pursued by the demon the same as it was in its way to India ; and as there would be too much sameness in finding safe harbors again, Venus is made to form the celebrated Floating Island -a sort of Marine Paradise, intended to reward her heroes. The poet has been censured for this ; but it contains nothing more lascivious than is to be found in any of the other great poets, whether of ancient or moderns times, not excepting Milton. After the goddess of the ocean gives her hand, and commits her empire to Gama, she conducts him to her palace, as Dido
does Æneas in similar circumstances ; but not an indelicate word
Beneath the glistening wave the god of day
As when hoarse surges lash their rocky mounds, &c.
I spoke, when rising through the darken'd air,
There is grandeur in every stage of the fiction. The daring tone in which the phantom is interrogated and questioned by Gama, is stamped with the genuine spirit of the heroic age.
What art thou, horrid form, that ridest the air ?
All the incidents are perfectly in character and consistent with each other. There is no mingling of the terrible and ludicrous
; and finally we are told, that when the monster vanished
The frightened billows gave a rolling swell,
There is wonderful variety in the Lusiad ; undoubtedly more
l than in any other modern epic—nay more than there is in the Æneid, and quite as much as there in the Iliad. To, perhaps, not a few this will seem exaggeration ; but it is not the less strictly true. There would be no need for proof were the poem known in its true form. Since this cannot be until there is a new translation, a few explanatory facts are necessary. In the first place it is admitted on all hands, in every civilized country, that the genius of Camoens is of the highest order. It is equally known that a more enthusiastic patriot never lived, and that even among poets there has been no warmer admirer of the gentler sex, or one more susceptible of the gentle passion. Besides the literatures of Greece and Rome, with which his mind was deeply imbued, he knew all that was worth knowing in the literature of modern Italy-namely, the works of Dante, Petrarch, Bocaccio, and a few others. He admired the beauties of nature, and was fond of adventure ; and what he thought and felt, he did not shrink from expressing. He recognized no patron like either Virgil or Tasso ; he preferred to be poor and wretched rather than be a parasite. It was for no king or great lord that he tuned his lyre ; but for the glory of his country and for immortality, the noblest motives which can actuate the human mind. If he offers up the incense of praise, it is to beauty and virtue; not to wealth and power ; and if he has complaints to make, it is the former, not the latter, he addresses ; as, for example, in that beautiful passage in the seventh canto, tolerably well rendered by Mickle, thus :
Ye gentle nymphs of Tago's rosy bowers,
With similar independence and love of truth he interweaves the history of his country with the narrative of the Lusiad, bestowing, indeed, full praise where praise is deserved, but equally ready to censure where censure is deserved. Nor does he spare the king more than the beggar. In describing the reign of Don John and Queen Leonora, he says :
There is a melancholy pleasure in turning from the character of Leanora, to the tragic story of Ignez de Castro, as given in the form of an episode-a story which has afforded a subject for more