« ForrigeFortsett »
sensibly to affect the compassionate islanders. The Lequio ladies gathered round the sufferers, and, participating in their sorrow, resolved to intercede in their favour. They accordingly wrote a letter to the king's mother, whom they styled “a sacred pearl congealed in the greatest shell of the profoundest depth of the waters;” and conjured her to take pity on the strangers and procure their pardon. Female compassion was not without effect ; the Portuguese were discharged from prison, and provided with a ship in which they sailed for China. “In this manner,” says Pinto, “we departed from Pungor, the capital city of the island of Lequio, of which I will here make a brief relation, to the end that if it shall one day please God to inspire the Portugal nation, principally for the exaltation and increase of the catholic faith, and next for the great benefit that may redound thereof, to undertake the conquest of this island, they may know where first to begin, as also the commodities of it, and the easiness of its conquest.” The inhabitants (he adds) are little inclined to arms, and altogether unfurnished with them. Pinto arrived safely at Liampoo ; whence he returned to Malacca, little improved in fortune by his adventures. Here the governor, Pedro de Faria, willing to render him a service, despatched him on a mission to Martaban, the object of which was to conclude a treaty of peace with the king of that country. He had no sooner arrived there than he witnessed one of those terrific revolutions that characterise and so often desolate the East. The king of Martaban was besieged by the king of Brama, defeated, and taken prisoner: he was flung into the river along with about fifty of his nobles; his wives, 140 in number, were hanged with their heads downwards. Many other cruelties are here ascribed to the king of Brama, which could hardly have entered into a European imagination; but of which, unhappily, instances still frequently occur in eastern countries. Mendez Pinto, with some other Portuguese captives, was carried to Ava ; whence he accompanied the ambassador of the king of Brama to Timplan, the capital city of the calaminham, or lord of the white elephant. This journey he performed in the humble capacity of a slave. The country which he traversed in his route to Timplan is but little known ; and the names which he gives to places are obviously so disfigured that little instruction can be derived from his account. His description of the “feast or fair of the Gentiles,” at the pagoda of Tinagoogoo, coincides exactly with the fair of Juggernaut. Fanatics threw themselves under the wheels of the chariots, or, cutting themselves with knives, flung pieces of their flesh among the crowd. The statue of Tinagoogoo, he observes, had the hair of a negro, the ordinary characteristic of Buddha. The frightful instances of frantic devotion exhibited by its votaries, made our author remark, “How little we do to save our souls, compared with what they do to lose them " On his return to Malacca, Pinto was furnished with the means of trading to Sunda, in order that he might repair his fortune: but repose or prosperity did not belong to his eventful life. To his levity and love of change, perhaps, it may be attributed, that he was involved in every revolution that took place, and that his life was an unbroken series of hazardous adventures. At Malacca he joined the society of the Jesuits, and wrote home an account of Siam and Pegu, calculated to encourage the missionaries to engage in the work of converting the inhabitants of those countries. The Siamese, it appears, are in the habit of crying, whenever they sneeze, Sam ropit or Three and one / which mysterious expression seemed to the devout novice to intimate a disposition to become Christians.” He afterwards visited China; and accompanied the missionary Belquior to Japan, in 1556; and appears to have acquitted himself well on this mission, for on his return to Portugal, in 1558, he brought with him from the governor of Malacca a testimonial of his services. But the court set less value on his adventures
* Diversi Avisi dall' India di Portogallo dall’ anno 1551 sino al 1558, dalli Rev. Padri della Compagnia di Giesu. 12mo, Venet.
than he did himself; and he complains bitterly, that after enduring endless hardships for one and twenty years in the service of his country, as he is pleased to say, he met with no reward. Credit was long denied to the narrative of Mendez Pinto, or Mendaa' Pinto, as a learned writer of ours jocosely calls him *; and our great dramatic poet has given currency to this opinion.t But as we have acquired a greater knowledge of the countries which he visited, his credit has become re-established, and his travels can no longer be looked upon as mere fictions. He unquestionably embellishes his adventures; but this liberty, as well as the contradictions of which he is frequently guilty, are pardonable in an unlettered man who writes from memory, and whose taste is swayed by the secret attachment which ignorance always feels to whatever is wonderful. Yet his volume is not characterised by exaggeration so much as by the multitude of events and particulars graphically set forth, and related with all the air of reality. When he tells his conversations with the Chinese and other eastern people, he must certainly be assisted by his imagination: yet it ought to be considered that he lived for years among adventurers of all nations; that he was rarely without interpreters; and that in all his descriptions he preserves the language and manners of the East with a fidelity which proves that he studied from the life. He is no where boastful of his own exploits; on the contrary, he always seems to have been the least considered of his party; and, indeed, no credit could redound to himself or his countrymen from the adventures that he relates. The simplicity and vividness of his style, with the variety of his fortunes, procured great success for his history, which was long regarded by the Portuguese as a classical production. * Astley's Collection, vol. i. p.85. + Ferdinand Mendez Pinto was but a type of thee,
Thou liar of the first magnitude!
VOYAGES TO THE NORTH.
voyAGES OF SEBASTIAN CABOT. - FIRST DISCOVERY OF NEwFoun DLAND.— THE Corter EALs. – VOYAGES OF THE FRENCH. - CANADA. - FIRST EXPEDITIONS OF THE ENGLISH. – ATTEMPTS To FIND A NoFTH-EAST PASSAGE. - FATE OF SIR HUGH willough BY. — RICHARD CHANCELoR Goes To MosCow. – HIS RECEPTION. – STEVEN BOROUGH REACHES THE , strait of waigAtz. - Frto BIs HER sails To discow ER THE NoFTH-WESTERN PAssage. — FRIESLAND. - BRINGS Homs E SoME ESQUIMAUx. — SUPPOSED GOLD ORE. - HIS SECOND voy AGE. - His SHIPS LADEN WITH THE ORE. - HE SAILS A THIRD TIME TO PLANT A COLONY. — FAILURE OF THE ATTEMPT. — Woy AGE OF SIR HUMPHREY GILBERT. - SHIPS PROVIDED WITH AMUSEMENTS, - HE FIXES A COLONY IN NEWFoundLAND. — PRoceeds on DISCOVERY, AND PERISHEs.
THE conquests of the Spaniards and Portuguese in the New World and the East present such a brilliant train of exploits and discoveries as must always hold a prominent place in an historical review of geographical knowledge. But other nations in the mean time were not inattentive to these movements, or indifferent to the advantages that might result from an improved acquaintance with the globe. They did not proceed, it is true, in their researches with the same bold strides; but their slow and patient efforts were of a nature better calculated to conduct to ultimate success. England in particular soon distinguished itself as the school of intrepid and skilful mariners. John Gavotta or Cabot, a native of Venice, arrived in England, and settled at Bristol, in the reign of Henry VII. That monarch, disappointed in his hopes of forming an engagement with Columbus, gladly extended his protection to the Venetian, whose reputation as a skilful pilot was little inferior to that of the celebrated Genoese. By a patent dated the 5th of March, 1496, he granted to Cabot and his three sons, Louis, Sebastian, and Sancius, permission to go in search of unknown lands, and to conquer and settle them. In the accounts which remain to us respecting the voyages undertaken in virtue of this patent, irreconcilable diversities and contradictions occur. Of Sebastian Cabot alone we know any thing with certainty. In the report made to the pope's legate in Spain *, he is made to say, that “understanding, by reason of the sphere, that if he should sail by way of north-west, he should by a shorter tract come into India, he thereupon caused the king to be advertised of his device, who immediately commanded two caravels to be furnished with all things appertayning to the voyage, which was, as farre as he remembered, in the year 1496, in the beginning of summer. He began, therefore, to sail toward the northwest, not thinking to find any other land than that of Cathay, and from thence to turn towards India; but after certaine days he found that the land ran toward the north, which was to him a great displeasure. Nevertheless, sayling along the coast to see if he could find any gulf that turned, he found the land still continued to the 56th degree under our pole. And seeing that there the coast turned to the east, despairing to find a passage, he turned back again, and sayled downe by the coast of that land toward the equinoctiall (ever with intent to find the said passage to India), and came to that part of this firm land which is now called Florida; where his victuals failing, he departed from thence and returned unto England, where he found great tumults among the people, and preparations for warres in Scotland, by reason whereof there was no more consideration had unto this voyage.” It is probable that John Cabot and his son jointly, in their first voyage, discovered Newfoundland, to which they gave the name of Prima Vista. It appears that they brought home with them three of the natives; and “ these savages, it is said, were cloathed in beastes skins,