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I WHISPER’D HER MY LAST ADIEU f.
I whisper'd her my last adieu,
And her poor heart was torn with sighs;
Most perfect bliss.
f" Luis De Camoens, the author of this and the following effusion, was born at Lisbon about the year 1524. His misfortunes began with his birth, for he never saw the smile of a father, Simon Vaz De Camoens having pe. rished, by shipwreck, in the very year which gave birth to his son. Notwith. standing the diminution of wealth, which the family sustained in consequence of this event, the youthful Camoens was sent to the University of Coimbra' and maintained there by the provident care of his surviving parent.
Having received an education suited to his birth, he returned to Lisbon. Here he had not remained long till he beheld Dona Caterina de Ataide, one of the Queen's ladies, and the object of his purest and earliest attachment, and on whom he composed the greater part of his minor productions. From the peculiar situation in which she was placed, it was sometime before he could enjoy au opportunity of declaring his airection The restraint he was under at length became intolerable, and having been detected in a viola. tion of the royal precincts, was ¡n consequence banished from the court. But Love prepared consolation for its votary, where least he expected it. On the morning of his departure, his mistress, throwing aside the delicacy of her sex, confessed her long concealed afiuction. The sighs of grief were soon lost in. those of mutual delight, and the hour of parting was, perhaps, the sweetest
For love at other times suppress'd,
I saw him weeping in her eyes,
I heard him breathe amongst her sighs,
Thrill'd mine with bliss.
of our poet's existence. Thus comforted, he removed to Santarem, the scene of his banishment, but speedily and secretly returned, again tasted of happi. ness, was a second time detected, and a second time driven into exile. To such a spirit as Camoens, the inactivity of this situation must have been insupportable; it was not long, however, till he received intelligence of an er. pedition fitting out against the Moors in Africa, he accordingly sought and obtained permission to accompany it; here, whilst bravely fighting under the command of a near relation, he was deprived of his right eye, by some splinters from the deck of the vessel in which he was stationed. Many of his most pathetic compositions were written during this campaign, and the toils of a martial life were sweetened by the recollection of her for whom they were endured
“ His heroic conduct in many engagements at length purchased his recal to court. He hastened home, fraught with the most tender anticipations, and found (what must have been his feelings?) that his mistress was no more!
“ There can scarcely be conceived a more interesting theme for the visions of romance than the death of this young and amiable being. She loved, and was beloved, yet unfortunate in her attachment,--she was torn from the world! at the early age of twenty--but her lot was enviable, compared to that of her lover. The measure of his sorrow was yet imperfect. He had still to encounter the cruel neglect of that nation, whose glory ris yalour had contributed to maintain. The claims of mere merit are too often disregarded, but those which are founded on the gratitude of courts are hopeless indeed! Years were passed by Camoens in unsuccessful application for the reward which his services demanded, and in suing for his rights at the feet of men whom he could not but despise. This was a (degradation which his high spirit knew not how to endure, and he accordingly bade adieu to Portugal, to seek, under the burning suns of India, that independence which his own country de nied.
The sight which keen Affection clears,
To me it pictur'd hope, and taught
My spirit this consoling thought,
May set in bliss !
On his arrival in India, we find that Camoens contributed, in no small gree, to the success of an expedition against the Pimenta Isles, carried on the King of Cochin, and his allies the Portuguese. In the following year 155) Manuel de Vasconcelos conducted an armament to the Red Sea. Our et accompanied him, and, with the intrepid curiosity of genius, explored e wild regions of Africa, by which Mount Felix is surrounded. Here his ind was stored with sketches of scenery, which afterwards formed some of e most finished pictures in his Lusiad, and in other compositions, to the mmer of which, on returning to Goa, he devoted his whole attention.
“ After an absence of sixteen years, Camoens was compelled to return to ortugal, poor and friendless as when he departed. His immortal Lusiad as now ready for publication, which, however, was delayed, in consequence Ithe violence with which the plague then raged throughout Lisbon. At ngth, in the summer of 1572, it was printed, and received with all the ho. our due to such a glorious atchievement of genius.
"Whether it recompenced him according to his labour, we are not informed; owever, it is asserted that King Sebastian, to whom it was inscribed, reward. * him with a pension of 375 reis. Admitting the truth of this very doubt. il story, our poet could not have remained in' long possession of the royal ounty. Sebastian was speedily hurled from a tottering throne, and liberality ras a stranger to the soul of his successor. To his eyes the cowl of monkood seemed a more graceful ornament than the noblest laurels of the muse uch was the spirit that patronised De Sa, * and suffered the author of the usiad to starve.
* The latter years of Camoens present a mournful picture, not merely of in, ividual calamity, but of national ingratitude. He, whose best years had been
* Francisco De Sa was an author much in favour with Cardinal lIenry. lis muse was of a theological turn. Ile wrote orthodox sonnets to St. Johil, ind pious little epigrams on Adam and Eve, &c.
O WEEP NOT THUS.
weep not thus we both shall know
Ere long a happier doom ;
Within the tomb.
devoted to the service of his country, he, who had taught her literary fame to rival the proudest efforts of Italy itself, and who seemed born to revive the remembrance of ancient gentility and Lusian heroism, was compelled to wander through the streets, a wretched dependent on casual contribution, One friend alone remained to smooth his downward path, and guide his steps to the grave with gentleness and consolation. It was Antonio, his slave, s native of Java, who had accompanjed Camoens to Europe, after having rescued him from the waves, when shipwrecked at the mouth of the Mecan. This faithful attendant was wont to seek ahs throughout Lisbon, and at night shared the produce of the day with his poor and broken-hearted mas. ter. Blessed, for ever blessed, be the memory of this amiable Indian. But his friendship was employed in vain, Camoens sunk beneath the pressure of penury and disease, and died ju an alms house, early in the year 1579. Over his grave is placed the following simple and comprehensive inscription :
Here lies Luis de Camoens :
And he died so.
M.DLXXIX. “ The character of Camoens may be inferred from his writings. An open and undisguised contempt for every thing base and sordid, whatever were the rank or power of its possesser, formeri one of its' principal features; this honourable audacity of soul, was the chief means of injuring the worldly interest of our Poet. Those who condemn it, must be ignorant that the exercise of this feeling, to an independent and upright character, though por, produces a more enviable delight than any which fortune can bestow; My cradle was the couch of Care,
he poor are not always poor!
And Sorrow rock'd me in it;
My earliest minute
E'en then the griefs I now possess,
As natal boons were given;
Flew back to heaven!
For I was made in Joy's despite,
And meant for Misery's slave;
Across my grave!
The Genius of Camoens was almost universal. Like the great father of English poetry, there is scarsely any species of writing, from the epigram to the epic, which he has not attempted, and, like him, has succeeded in all. To offer any remarks on his principal performance, The Lusiad, our limits
of his minor productions, the general characteristic is ease, not the studied carelessness of modern refinement, but the graceful and charming simplicity of a Grecian muse. He was the first who wrote with elegance in his native tongue. The language of Rome, and even of Greece, had been refined by antecedent authors before the appearance of Virgil, or of Homer, but Camoens was at once the polisher, and in some degree the creator of his own. How deplorable must have been its state, when it naturalised two thousand new words on the authority of a single man!