Imatges de pÓgina


in port, where I may leave to my children, for me. morial and inheritance, this rude and imperfect work, I feel how grateful I ought to be to the Giver of all mercies. I write for my children, that they may know the wonderful hazards I encountered in twenty-one years, having been thirteen times captive, and seventeen times sold to the Indians and savages of Ethiopia, Arabia Felix, China, Tartary, Madagascar, Sumatra, and many other kingdoms and states of that oriental Archipelago, at the extre. mity of Asia, which the Chinese, Siamese, Gueos, and Luquinese justly termed the eyelids of the world, and of which I shall hereafter more fully treat; whereby they may learn what is to be effected by courage, fortitude, and perseverance, in every pinch and extremity of fate. Thanking God, therefore, for his singular favours, and owning all my sufferings to be the consequences of my sins, I take for the beginning of my work the time that I passed in Portugal, where I lived till I was ten or twelve years old, in the misery and poverty of my father's house, in the town of Monte Mor Ouelho; when an uncle, desirous of promoting my fortune and withdrawing me from the blind indulgence of my mother, carried me to Lisbon, and placed me in the service of an illustrious and wealthy lady.This happened on St. Lucy's Day, 13th of. December, 1521, the same on which they celebrated the funeral ceremony of our late king, Don Emanuel, of happy memory, which is the very earliest thing I can recollect. After having been one year and a half in the service of this lady, an affair occurred which placed my life in instant jeopardy; so that to escape from death I left her house in all haste, being so bewildered, and overcome with terror, that I knew not whither I fled, until I arrived at the Port de Pedra, and beheld a galley loading with horses for. Setuval, where the king, Don John the Third, whom God absolve! then held his court, on account of the great plague with which

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many parts of the kingdom were infested. Embarking in this galley, I sailed the next day; but, alas! no sooner were we fairly out at sea than we were attacked by a French corsair, who, unexpectedly boarding us with fifteen or twenty men, carried our vessel. After having stripped and pillaged us, they took out our cargo, with six thousand ducats, and then scuttled and sunk the galley, so that out of our crew of seventeen not one escaped slavery. As they were freighted with arms for the Mahometans, they bound us hand and foot, intending to sell us for slaves in Barbary; but at the end of thirteen days it pleased fortune that, about sunset, they discovered a ship, to which they gave chase all night, following in her track, like old corsairs accustomed to such brigandage, and running alongside towards day break, they fired three guns and boarded her, killing six Portuguese and ten or twelve slaves.

“ It proved to be a large and goodly vessel belonging to a Portuguese merchant, called Sylvestre Godinho, coming from St. Thomas's, with a great quantity of sugar and slaves, worth 40,000 ducats; so that having now such a rich booty, the corsairs abandoned their plan of going to Barbary, and set sail for the coast of France, taking with them as slaves such of our crew as were capable of assisting them in their navigation. As for me, and the others who remained, they landed us by night at a place called melides, where we remained all miserably naked, and covered with wounds, from the blows and lashes we had received. In this pitiable state we arrived next morning at St. James de Cacen, and here our sufferings were relieved, principally by a lady named Donna Beatrix, daughter of count Villanova ; when after being cured of our wounds, we all betook ourselves withersoever we thought we might best mend our fortunes. For my part, poor as I was, I wandered with six or seven companions in misery to Setuval, where good fortune instantly


placed me in the service of Francisco de Faria, a gentleman in the household of the grand commander of St. James, who, in reward for four years service, gave me to the aforesaid commander, to act as chamberlain, which I did for eighteen months. But as the wages then paid were insufficient for my support, necessity compelled me to quit him ; though I availed myself of his influence to obtain permission for embarking to the Indies, being resolved to try my fortune in the east, and submit to whatever good or ill fate might be reserved for me in those unknown and remote countries.”

On the 11th of March, 1537, our traveller set sail with a fleet of five ships, and arrived safely at Mozambique, whence they were ordered by the governor to proceed to Diu, as he was in daily expectation of the armies of the Grand Turk, to avenge the loss of sultan Bandar, king of Cambay, whom the said governor had put to death the year before. On their passage from Diu to the Straits of Mecca, they were audaciously attacked by a privateer of inferior force, upon whom, however, they retaliated with such destructive effect, that all the crew, consisting of eighty, were killed or drowned, with the exception of five, whom they made prisoners. One of these was the captain, who, upon being put to the torture, confessed that he was a renegado Christian, having been born at Cedenha, but that becoming enamoured of a beautiful Greek Mahometan, he had renounced Christianity and married her. Earnest and friendly proposals were made to him to abandon his errors, and resume the Catholic faith ; all which he resisted with the most unshaken obstinacy and resolution. “Whereupon," says our traveller, “ the captain infallibly concluding that this abandoned miscreant was not to be won from his blindness and heresy, in not believing the thrice holy Catholic faith, became suddenly inspired with such a lively zeal and vehement love of God, that he tied


him neck and heels, and having attached a large stone to his neck, cast him into the sea, where the wretch now shares the torments of his Mahomet, and keeps him company in the other world, for having been his disciple in this."

Giving this extract as a short specimen of the more authentic, or, at least, the more credible portion of his narrative, I shall cite a few equally brief passages, illustrative of those marvellous statements, and stupendous assertions, which have occasioned the name of Ferdinand Mendez Pinto, to be generally mentioned with the complimentary cognomen of the liar."

It will hardly be expected that any summary or analysis of his book should be attempted, when the reader is informed, that it consists of 229 closely printed chapters, into which we shall therefore only dip hap-hazard, as if consulting the Virgilian lots, and leave the result to declare its own auguries. And here it is at least consolatory, that we are never deluded by hearsay, nor fobbed off, as in the case of Sir John Maundeville, with “ thei seyne -or men seyne, but I have not sene it;" for honest Pinto is very properly scrupulous upon these points, and scorns to be satisfied with any thing less than ocular demonstration. It is true, that both him. self and the captain of the vessel, Antonio de Faria, did occasionally entertain very grave doubts as to the marvellous averments of their Chinese pilot, Similau, who disdained any other reply to their injurious suspicions than forthwith to carry his vessel into the very thick and centre of the wonders he had described, and submit them to the evidences of their seven senses. Opening the ponderous tome at a venture, we seem to be poaching upon the manor of bishop Pontoppidan, expecting with every line to Gatch a kraken, such is the abundance of large fishes and other large sea game with which we are instantly environed. Even our traveller, accustomed

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as he was to portentous spectacles, acknowledges that he was somewhat startled at the sight. arrived at length at a port called Buxiphalem, in the 49th degree north, where we saw an infinity of fishes and serpents, of such strange forms, that I can hardly describe them without terror. In this place we beheld some in the form of ray fish, which we called Peixes Mantas, above four fathoms in circumference, with a muzzle like an ox; others like enormous lizards, spotted black and green, having three rows of bristles on the back, extremely sharp, and as thick as an arrow, with others all over the body, though not so thick. These fish occasionally bristle up like porcupines, which renders them very dreadful to behold. They have a very black and pointed snout, with sharp teeth, a foot and a half long, issuing from the jaws like the tusks of a wild boar, which the Chinese call Puchissuchopns. Here also, we saw another sort, having the whole body extremely black, like the fish we call the Miller's Thamh, but so prodigiously large, that the head alone is 'six paces across, and when they extend their fins in the water they appear a fathom broad. I shall pass over in silence the innumerable other species we saw, as being foreign to my subject; suffice it to say, that during the two nights we passed in this spot we never thought ourselves in safety, on account of the lizards, whales, fish, and serpents, by which we were surrounded; especially as we heard such a constant hissing, flapping, and neighing of sea horses, which abound in these parts, that words cannot describe the uproar."-Chap. 71.

In the very next chapter we encounter a race of giants, whom subsequent travellers thought proper to transplant to Patagonia, whence, however, they have been ejected by more accurate navigators; and these lofty specimens of humanity threaten to become extinct, unless revived by some voyager not less splendidè mendax than the subject of our article.

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