Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

and erected a column, with an inscription importing that he took possession of that country for the king of Portugal. He treated at the same time with the native sovereign, whose consent he extorted to the payment of a large annual tribute of cinnamon. It has been already related how Sequeira, in 1509, made a voyage to Malacca. He found Sumatra governed then, as at present, by a number of petty princes, whose warlike propensities were so well exercised by their unceasing hostilities with one another, that the Portuguese were never able to make any impression on them. “This island,” says Galvano”, “ is the first land wherein we knew men's flesh to be eaten, by certain people who live in the mountains, called Bacas (Battas), who are accustomed to gild their teeth. They affirm that the flesh of black men is sweeter than that of white. The oxen, kine, and fowls of that country are as black in their flesh as any ink.” Although the merit of being the first to penetrate so far eastward as Malacca is generally ascribed to Sequeira, it is hard to avoid suspecting that he had been preceded by some of his adventurous countrymen. It is barely possible that the Portuguese should have deferred so long their visit to a great emporium, to which they had destined an expedition five years before; for the fleet in which Amerigo Vespucci sailed on his last voyage, in 1504, and which was probably that commanded by Coelho, appears to have had Malacca for its object.t The Moluccas, or Spice Islands, though so long the objects of research, were not discovered, or rather reached, by the Portuguese till the year 1511. Francisco Serrano and Diego d'Abreu were then sent by Albuquerque to make discoveries towards the east ; and being separated by a storm, the former penetrated as far as Ternate, but the latter visited only the island of Amboyna. They spent about eight years in these discoveries, during * Hist. des Descubrimientos. + Igitur,er Lisbonae portu... erivinus, cum proposito, insulam unam all which time they experienced the most kind and hospitable treatment from the natives. Serrano perished on his return home. In 1521, the Portuguese proceeded to take possession of the Spice Islands. A strong armament equipped for this purpose was despatched under the command of George de Britto; but he, making a descent on the coast of Sumatra, in order to plunder a certain temple which was reported to contain immense riches, lost his life in the attempt, and the command devolved on Antonio de Britto. When this officer arrived in the Moluccas, the natives contended with one another for the honour of entertaining their new visiter. Such was their simplicity and want of foresight, that each was solicitous to obtain for his own country the distinction of being elected by the Portuguese as the seat of a military establishment. Ternate at length obtained the dangerous preference: a fort was built there ; and as the degeneracy of manners is naturally increased by distance from control, the Portuguese of the Moluccas far surpassed their superstitious and rapacious countrymen of western India in the heinousness of their crimes. De Britto was astonished to find in the Moluccas the companions of Magellan, who had reached them in the course of the first voyage round the world: these he seized and imprisoned; and the native islanders no sooner became acquainted with Europeans, than they were presented with the odious spectacle of their violent animosities. Soarez, the successor of Albuquerque in the government of India, was the first who thought of establishing a trade with China. For this purpose he sent Andrada, in 1517, with a squadron of eight ships laden with merchandise, to Canton, together with Thome Perez as ambassador from the king of Portugal. The Chinese regarded these strangers with suspicion and mistrust. Only two of the ships were allowed to proceed up the river to Canton, on board of which were Andrada and the ambassador Perez. The former of these completely won the confidence of the Chinese by his conciliating

versus horizontem (orientem ż) positam invisendi, quae Melcha dicitur, et divitiarum multarum famosa, &c. Navig. quart.

VOL. II. I

demeanour and upright conduct, and more particularly by his advertising beforehand the time fixed for his departure, that all who had demands on him or his crew might apply for satisfaction. Pereira in the mean time proceeded towards Pekin. Matters were in this favourable train, when the Portuguese, who had remained at the mouth of the river, unable to restrain for a short season their habitual rapacity, began to trade with the Chinese, and to display towards them the same insolent licentiousness in which they were accustomed to indulge among the other nations of the East. As soon as the governor of the province learned these proceedings, he assembled a great naval force, and surrounded the Portuguese ships, which he would probably have captured, had not a sudden storm dispersed his fleet and allowed them an opportunity of making their escape. Perez, however, who was on his road to court when this took place, became the victim of his countrymen’s misconduct. He was sent back to Canton in chains, and thrown into a dungeon, where he lingered for several years, till death put a period to his sufferings.

In the year 1542, three Portuguese seamen, Antonio de Mota, Francisco Zeimoro, and Antonio Pexoto, deserted from the ship in which they were employed on the coast of Siam, and embarking in a Chinese junk, sailed towards the east. Storms drove them to Japan, and they were the first Europeans who visited that celebrated empire. But in the same year Japan was visited by a Portuguese adventurer of greater notoriety, and whose wanderings shall form the subject of the succeeding chapter.

CHAP. IX.

FERDIN AND MENDEZ PINTO.

FIRST ADVENTUREs of MENDEz PINTo. — HE Goes To INDIA. - VISITs ABYSSINIA. - CARRIED IN CHAINS TO MOCHA. sold As A slav E.— RANSOMED, AND GOES TO GOA. – SENT AS AMBASSADOR TO THE BATTAS. - WONDERS OF SUMATRA. - HE PROCEEDS TO AARU. - SHIPWRECKED AND CAPTURED, - His MISERY. – REDEEMED, AND GOES TO PATANA. — ATTACKED BY PIRATES. - HIS ESCAPE. - TURNS PIRATE. — CAPTURES A BRIDE.-WRECKED ON PIRATEs’ Island.—sing ULAR IoELIVERANCE. — DEATH OF COJA ACEM. - SAILS IN SEARCH oF CALEMPLUY. – ADVENTURES DURING THE VOYAGE. WRECKED. – SENT A PRISONER TO NANKIN. – REMARKs on THE CHINESE. — PROCEEDS TO PEKIN. - MEETS WITH CHRISTIANS. – CONDEMINED TO LABOUR AT QUANSY. – TATAR INWASION. - HOW TREATED BY THE TATARS. - REACHES CoCHIN-CHINA. – JOINS A PIRATE. - CAST AWAY ON JAPAN. - cu RES THE KING OF BUNGo's son.— Dismissed. — WR EckED ON THE GREAT LEQUIO. - CONDEMINED TO DEATH. SAVED BY THE COMPASSION OF THE WOMEN. — MISSION To PEGU AND AVA. - THE IDOL TINA GOOGOO. — PINTO TURNS JESUIT. - REMARKS ON HIS HISTORY.

WHEN the Portuguese had once established their dominion in the East, they no longer spread themselves abroad to gratify curiosity, or for the liberal purpose of enlarging their knowledge of the globe. The wealth of the Indies and the weakness of the natives called forth their worst passions. Avarice, inflamed by religious bigotry, became their chief spring of action, and they are thenceforward to be viewed not so much in the light of skilful and intrepid navigators, as in that of rapacious adventurers, military merchants, pirates, and missionaries. The personal narrative of one of the most extraordinary adventurers of that remarkable age remains to us, and in it we find marked out not only the farthest extent of the geographical knowledge of the Portuguese in the sixteenth century, but also an exact and vivid picture of their IslannerS.

Ferdinand Mendez Pinto, the author and hero of this narrative, was one of the first Europeans who visited Japan; and if the geographical notices which occur in his volume are too often obscure and unintelligible, he contributes, on the other hand, to throw a light on the history of geography, by revealing to us the habits and character of those of his countrymen who first reached the remotest countries of the East.

Mendez Pinto was born of humble parents, in the town of Monte mor Ovelho, in Portugal. When about eleven or twelve years of age, his uncle, desirous to advance him in life, brought him to Lisbon, where he placed him in the service of a lady of high rank. But in this situation he was guilty of some crime, or, as he expresses it, “an accident befell him, that cast him into manifest peril of his life.” Being constrained to fly, he embarked at Pedra in a small bark which he found ready to go to sea. But the vessel was hardly out of sight of land when she was captured by a French pirate, which, abandoning this prize shortly after for one of greater value, landed the wretched captives and Mendez Pinto amongst the rest, “ covered with nothing but the stripes they had received the day before.” After this he entered into the service of Francisco de Faria, who recommended him to the commander of St. Jago. But finding the pittance allowed in great men's houses insufficient for his support, he left his master, for the purpose of making a voyage to the Indies, which he believed to be the best way to rid himself of his poverty.

In March, 1537, he commenced his voyage. Arrived at Diu, he joined an expedition about to sail to the Red Sea. The mission was well received at the Abyssinian court, where our author visited the mother of Prester John, and gratified her curiosity by telling her the name of the “holy father the pope, and also how many kings there were in Christendom.” The object of this mission was to form some alliances that might countervail the formidable power of the Turks in the Red Sea. The Portuguese, on their return, espied three Turkish vessels,

« ForrigeFortsett »