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Albuquerque terrivel, Castro forte",
MANOEL MARIA DE BARBOSA DU BOCAGE, Soneto xxix.
IN the Introduction to the first volume of my translation of the COMMENTARIES OF THE GREAT AFONSO DALBOQUERQUE, I reserved for a future occasion some account of the foundation, rise, progress, and decay of the Portuguese Empire in the Eastern Indies, and some Bibliographical notes in reference to the Indian Cycle of Portuguese Literature, because these two great subjects could hardly be treated with due consideration in that volume. In the course of my remarks upon these points, which must necessarily be very limited even here, I shall incorporate a brief out
line of the exploits of our hero Afonso Dalboquerque, so far as they are put before the reader now for the first time in their English form, that is, down to the first and unsuccessful attack upon the most important position ever held by the Portuguese in the great Indian Continent, viz., the fortress and Island of Goa, and to this I shall add some description of the settlement itself, gathered from such works as treat of this subject.
It was not until the final decade of the fifteenth century that the idea of a fourth quarter of the world, so long and so extensively prevalent among the ancients, began to be put to a crucial and practical test, in place of the visionary theories and unstable conjectures which those who had nothing better to adduce concerning this unseen and unknown world found so easy to multiply and disseminate. As we all know, the honour of the first finding belongs to modern navigators, and mainly, as well as primarily, to the great Christopher Columbus, whose researches in the necessary sciences and arts of the sailor led him irresistibly, and with all the greater force because they led him truly, to believe that the equilibrium of the terrestrial globe demanded incontrovertibly that there should be another continent or hemisphere lying to the westward, and as yet unknown to the civilised world. Of the discoveries which were the result of this great man's inductions-discoveries which were not brought about without an amount of depreciation and obstructiveness almost amounting to prohibition on the part of others, nor without self-denial and endurance on his own part
which would have deterred many from a successful prosecution of them - there is no need to speak here, although indirectly they assisted the settlement of the Portuguese in India, because they stimulated and confirmed the intense desire for maritime investigations which had seized upon so many persons when they contemplated the good fortune which had at length attended the labours of doubling the Cape of Good Hope. I do not pretend to decide whether Columbus, who had acquired his skill in navigation among the Portuguese, and who, therefore, could not but be aware of that nation's long meditated design of discovering the naval road to India round the African coast, was, or not, actuated, as some have asserted, by any feeling of jealousy with respect to the then nearly discovered eastern passage to India, and desired to acquire, for a rival maritime power, a more easy and, as he thought, a shorter western passage, which had been rejected by the Portuguese, to the same places. At the very time that the Spaniards were carrying on their great works of discovery in the newly-found western hemisphere, the sister kingdom of Portugal, shut out from any solid participation in these conquests by the bull of Pope Alexander VI (who adjudged the countries lying to the west of an imaginary meridian line at the distance of four hundred and seventy leagues to the west of Cape Verd and the Azores to be the rightful possession of the King of Spain, while those lands only which when discovered should fall to the eastward of that great circle should belong to the Portuguese monarch), was busily engaged in extending her much anterior
paths of discovery in the very opposite direction,' although Brazil fell, by virtue of accidental discovery in the year 1500 by the Portuguese commander Alvares Cabral as well as by the operation of this papal arbitra
In one very important point the springs which actuated and the machinery which directed Spanish and Portuguese maritime discovery and colonial enterprise differed. The former people, not given to commercial lines of thought, failed to observe the immense financial and political advantages which a well organised system of trade in the natural, nay, spontaneous products of their newly acquired territories offered to their native kingdom; the precious metal alone attracted their attention: the accursed greed of gold, solid mountains of which presented themselves to the over-excited imaginations and sanguine temperaments of a people by very nature prone to irritability and fierce excitements, occupied all their thoughts and prevented them from more generous and noble actions. Hence arose the soon exhausted working of mines, the introduction of foreign, generally negro, labour, the enslaving, persecution, and, finally, extermination of native tribes, the disastrous effects of which proceedings are felt to this very day in the American continents.
The Portuguese, on the other hand, were not so much impelled by the cupidity of gold, as by the ever increasing desire for commercial intercourse with their
1 In 1497, the year before Columbus made the voyage which discovered the mouths of the River Oronoko, Vasco da Gama sailed on his first voyage to India.
newly made subjects and next to the imposition of a tribute upon the inhabitants of districts, or petty kingdoms, added to the Lusitanian yoke, who were left in other respects to the free exercise of their own forms of government, the key-note of all the proceedings of this European power in the West and in the East, immediately upon obtaining a footing in places of apparent promise, is the acquisition of a factory--necessarily a strong house, fortress, or impregnable castle, wherein the few who were placed to manage the sales and purchases might, if necessity should arise, withdraw, for the preservation of their lives against the fury of whole armies arrayed against them.
Whatever may have been the first impulse which set men thinking of land beyond the Eastern seas, there is no doubt that the Fortuguese naval expedition fitted out by Dom João I, King of Portugal, against the Moorish Princes of Africa-with the chivalrous intention of giving his sons an opportunity of exhibiting their prowess and dexterity, and of earning knightly honours -and brought to a successful issue by the capture of Ceuta in 1415, had such an influence upon one of the sons of that sovereign, Dom Henrique, Duke of Viseu, that he encouraged his countrymen in their nascent tastes for navigation,1 maritime enterprises, and riparial exploration which had been thus inaugurated in so
1 "He had already, in 1412, three years before the reduction of Ceuta, sent a ship to make discoveries on the Barbary coast. Cape Nam, as its name (No) implies, was then the ne plus ultra of European navigation; the ship sent by Henry, however, passed it sixty leagues, and reached Cape Bojador."-Mickle.