Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

native pirates, and seemed to have thought that in right of their nation they were not bound by any restraints of morality or justice. On one occasion they observed several small vessels approaching, with music playing, banners flying, and other demonstrations of rejoicing. On board of one of these was the daughter of the governor of Colem, betrothed to a neighbouring chieftain, who was to have met her in this place. The bride, mistaking the ships of the Portuguese for those of her destined spouse, sent a letter, couched in the hyperbolical language of the East, to reproach him for his coldness. She assured him, “ that if the feeble sex of a woman would permit her, she would fly to kiss his tardy feet as the hungry falcon flies after the fearful heron.” The Portuguese in the mean time lay concealed, their Chinese seamen alone remaining on deck. The bride's vessel, and those which attended her, were captured without resistance. The lady and her brothers, “being young, white, and well favoured,” with about twenty of the seamen, were retained; the rest, who were good for nothing, were sent ashore. The bridegroom soon after made his appearance with five vessels, and saluted the Portuguese as he passed, “ with great store of music and show of gladness,” ignorant that they were carrying off his bride. After Faria and his associates had cruised up and down seven months and a half without hearing of Coja Acem, they agreed to winter in Siam, and divide the spoil. This agreement being sworn to and signed by all, they went and anchored under the island De los Ladrones, or Pirates’ Island. Here a violent hurricane overtook them; and about two hours after midnight the four vessels ran foul of one another, dashed on shore, and went to pieces. Four hundred and eighty persons were drowned: of fifty-three who were saved, only twenty-three were Portuguese. Faria, a second time reduced to utter poverty, found strength in despair. He even endeavoured to draw consolation from religion, while he abandoned every principle of morality, and assured his followers, that as God never did ill but for a greater good, there was no doubt that for the 500,000 ducats they had lost, he would permit them to rob 600,000 more. One day, when our adventurers were scattered in the woods, gathering fruits for their subsistence, a small vessel was seen to approach the shore: the Chinese, to whom she belonged, about thirty in number, jumped on land, and commenced lighting fires, drying their clothes, and amusing themselves as men weary of a long voyage and suspecting no harm. Faria in the mean time drawing his companions together, assured them that the boat was sent by a special providence to their relief; and as superstition is naturally selfish, they readily gave credit to a miracle wrought in their own favour. Their measures were soon concerted; and a signal being given, they rushed suddenly to the shore, made themselves masters of the boat, and stood out to sea. The Chinese, who were taken by surprise, stood stupified with horror and amazement when they found themselves left thus helpless and forlorn. Proceeding in this small vessel to the port of Xingran, our heroes boarded a large junk in the dead of night, and, getting out to sea in their new prize, shortly after joined company with a Chinese pirate, who promised to serve them faithfully on condition of receiving one third of the spoil. This reinforcement arrived at a lucky season. Faria received intelligence of his deadly enemy Coja Acem, whom he proceeded immediately to encounter. The battle was desperately contended; but the victory remained with the Portuguese. The body of Coja Acem was cut in pieces, and thrown overboard; five of his followers, who remained alive, were cast into the hold, in order to be tortured till they might disclose the valuable secrets of his hidden treasures. The victors sailed to Liampoo (Ning-Po), where they were received with the greatest honours by the Portuguese merchants. Faria was met on his arrival by a splendid procession, and conducted to the town, where preparations had been

made for his reception. When the Chinese enquired who was the person treated with so much distinction, it was answered, “ that his father shod the horses whereon the king of Portugal rode; and the Chinese, believing all this to be true, cried out, in admiration, * Truly there are great kings in the world whereof our ancient historians, through ignorance, hath made no mention.’” The public rejoicings at the arrival of Faria concluded with a mass and sermon, which our pious author ventures to criticise in a vein of jocularity. “Mass being ended, the sermon followed, that was made by Bstevano Noguera, an ancient man, and curate of the place, who, to speak the truth, through discontinuance of preaching, was but little versed in pulpit matters. Howbeit, desiring to show himself that day a learned man in so remarkable a solemnity, he laboured to make demonstration of his best rhetoric ; to which effect he grounded all his sermon on the praises of Antonio de Faria, and that in words so ill placed, and so far from his text, that our captain was much ashamed of it; wherefore some of his friends plucked him three or four times by the surplice to make him give over, but he being nettled, cried, ‘I will not stop, but will rather say more, for I speak nothing but what is as true as gospel. In regard whereof let me alone, I pray you; for I have made a vow to God never to desist from praising this noble captain, as he deserves it at my hands, for saving me 7000 ducats' venture that Merim Taborda had of mine in his junk, and was taken from him by that dog Coja Acem; for which let the soul of so cursed a rogue and wicked devil be tormented in hell for ever and ever: whereunto say all with me, Amen.’” At Liampoo, Faria became acquainted with a Chinese pirate named Similau, who gave him an extravagant account of an island called Calempluy, in which were the tombs of seventeen kings of China, all of gold, besides immense treasures of different descriptions. The Portuguese adventurer, “being naturally curious,” as our author observes, resolved to seek and carry off these riches. It is obvious that Similau, when he spoke of golden tombs, related a popular story; and it shows in what estimation the courage and the prowess of the Portuguese were held, when a prize too romantically rich to be sought by a Chinese alone was thought a fit object for their ambition. It is not easy to understand the course which our author says was followed in this enterprise. They arrived at a port called Buxipalem in 49° north, where the climate was cold and the sea crowded with monsters which our author is fearful to describe. They were now two months and a half at sea, generally following a north-easterly course, and had not yet arrived at Calempluy. The Portuguese reproached Similau with steering only by guess, and Faria at one time grew so violent that he threatened to stab him. Similau, in consequence, made his escape, and his example was followed by thirty-six of the Chinese seamen. Faria, thus left without a guide, persisted in seeking the royal sepulchres, and at length arrived at Calempluy, in the description of which our author may be suspected of drawing largely on his imagination. “The island,” he says, “about a league in circuit, is all enclosed with a platform of jasper six and twenty spans high ; the stones being so neatly joined that the whole wall seemed one piece. Pillars of copper, at intervals of about forty feet, were ranged on the wall, and on each of these was the figure of a woman holding a bowl in her hand. Within this gallery were rows of arches, gilt towers, and monstrous figures, cast in metal, with three hundred and threescore hermitages, dedicated to the gods of the year. Faria immediately landed, and breaking into one of the hermitages, began to collect the silver which was mixed with the bones of the dead, and which was derived, as he was informed by the astonished hermit, from the alms carried with them by the deceased to support them in the world of the moon, where they live eternally.” Faria, while ransacking this place, confessed himself conscious that it was a very great sin, and declared that it was his intention, at some future period, to atone by penance for so enormous a crime. To this the Chinese sage replied, “ that he who knows these things, and doth them not, runs far greater danger than he who sins through ignorance.” The Portuguese robbers then withdrew to their ships, intending to return to the work of pillage with the daylight. But their sins, as our author observes, would not allow them to see the happy issue of the business. They were hardly on board when they saw fires lighted on the island, and heard bells ringing, from which they concluded that the alarm was given. Faria hastened again on shore in the dead of night, and ran up and down with a frantic desire to carry off some valuable prize; but it was now too late, and the danger was so imminent that his companions forced him to fly. They spread all sail, and stood out to sea, so sad from their disappointment that they hardly spoke to one another during the voyage. When they had been about a month at sea, a furious gale came on in the gulf of Nankin, which reduced them to such distress, that they were obliged to lighten the ships by every means in their power, to cut down their masts, and throw overboard their chests full of silver. About midnight, the people in Antonio de Faria's ship were heard to cry out “Lord have mercy upon us!” and when day broke it was found that she had disappeared. The other ship was in a sinking state, and the crew, as their only chance, ran her upon the coast, where she instantly went to pieces. Fourteen Portuguese were saved; the number of the drowned, including Chinese mariners, was six and thirty. “This miserable disaster,” says our author, “happened on a Monday, the 5th of August, in the year 1540, for which the Lord be praised everlastingly.” The shipwrecked pirates met with but an indifferent reception from the Chinese, who seem to have a particular dislike to the appearance of a lawless vagabond. Pinto and his companions were thrust into a pond, where they were almost devoured by leeches.

« ForrigeFortsett »