Slike strani

intended fortress, on which he planted a banner with the arms of Portugal, and took possession in the name of his master. He then raised an altar at the foot of a great tree, on which mass was celebrated, the whole assembly, says Lafitau, breaking out into tears of devotion at the prospect of inviting these barbarous nations to the profession of the true faith. Being secure of the goodness of the end, they had no scruple about the means, nor ever considered how differently from the primitive martyrs and apostles they were attempting to make proselytes. The first propagators of Christianity recommended their doctrines by their sufferings and virtues; they entered no defenceless territories with swords in their hands; they built no forts upon ground to which they had no right, nor polluted the purity of religion with the avarice of trade, or insolence of power.

What may still raise higher the indignation of a Christian mind, this purpose of propagating truth appears never to have been seriously pursued by any European nation; no means, whether lawful or unlawful, have been practised with diligence and perseverance for the conversion of savages. When a fort is built, and a factory established, there remains no other care than to grow rich. It is soon found that ignorance is most easily kept in subjection, and that by enlightening the mind with truth, fraud and usurpation would be made less practicable and less secure.

In a few days an interview was appointed between Caramansa and Azambue. The Portuguese uttered, by his interpreter, a pompous speech, in which he made the negro prince large offers of his master's friendship, exhorting him to embrace the religion of his new ally; and told him, that, as they came to form a league of friendship with him, it was necessary that they should build a fort, which might serve as a retreat from their common enemies, and in which the Portuguese might be always at hand to lend him assistance.

The negro, who seemed very well to understand what the admiral intended, after a short pause, returned an

answer full of respect to the king of Portugal, but appeared a little doubtful what to determine with relation to the fort. The commander saw his diffidence, and used all his art of persuasion to overcome it. Caramansa, either induced by hope, or constrained by fear, either desirous to make them friends, or not daring to make them enemies, consented, with a show of joy, to that which it was not in his power to refuse; and the new comers began the next day to break the ground for the foundation of a fort.

Within the limit of their intended fortification were some spots appropriated to superstitious practices; which the negroes no sooner perceived in danger of violation by the spade and pickaxe, than they ran to arms, and began to interrupt the work. The Portuguese persisted in their purpese, and there had soon been tumult and bloodshed, had not the admiral, who was at a distance to superintend the unlading the materials for the edifice, heen informed of the danger. He was told, at the same time, that the support of their superstition was only a pretence, and that all their rage might be appcased by the presents which the prince expected, the delay of which had greatly offended. him.

The Portuguese admiral immediately ran to his men, prohibited all violence, and stopped the commotion; he then brought out the presents, and spread them with great pomp before the prince; if they were of no great value, they were rare, for the negroes had never seen such wonders before; they were, therefore, received with ecstacy, and, perhaps, the Portuguese derided them for their fondness of trifles, without considering how many things derive their value only from their scarcity, and that gold and rubies would be trifles, if nature had scattered them with less frugality.

The work was now peaceably continued, and such was the diligence with which the strangers hastened to secure the possession of the country, that in twenty days they had sufficiently fortified themselves against the hostility of the negroes. They then proceeded to complete their design.

A church was built in the place where the first altar had been raised, on which a mass was established to be celebrated for ever once a day, for the repose of the soul of Henry, the first mover of these discoveries.

In this fort the admiral remained with sixty soldiers, and sent back the rest in the ships, with gold, slaves, and other commodities. It may be observed that slaves were never forgotten, and that, wherever they went, they gratified their pride, if not their avarice, and brought some of the natives, when it happened that they brought nothing else.

The Portuguese endeavoured to extend their dominions still farther. They had gained some knowledge of the Jaloffs, a nation inhabiting the coast of Guinea, between the Gambia and Senegal. The king of the Jaloffs being vicious and luxurious, committed the care of the government to Bemoin, his brother by the mother's side, in preference to two other brothers by his father. Bemoin, who wanted neither bravery nor prudence, knew that his station was invidious and dangerous, and, therefore, made an alliance with the Portuguese, and retained them in his defence by liberality and kindness. At last the king was killed by the contrivance of his brothers, and Bemoin was to lose his power, or maintain it by war.

He had recourse, in this exigence, to his great ally the king of Portugal, who promised to support him, on condition that he should become a Christian, and sent an ambassador, accompanied with missionaries. Bemoin promised all that was required, objecting only, that the time of a civil war was not a proper season for a change of religion, which would alienate his adherents; but said, that when he was once peaceably established, he would not only embrace the true religion himself, but would endeavour the conversion of the kingdom.

This excuse was admitted, and Bemoin delayed his conversion for a year, renewing his promise from time to time. But the war was unsuccessful, trade was at a stand, and Bemoin was not able to pay the money which he had borrowed of the Portuguese merchants, who sent intelli

gence to Lisbon of his delays, and received an order from the king, commanding them, under severe penalties, to return home.

Bemoin here saw his ruin approaching, and, hoping that money would pacify all resentment, borrowed of his friends a sum sufficient to discharge his debts; and finding that even this enticement would not delay the departure of the Portuguese, he embarked his nephew in their ships with a hundred slaves, whom he presented to the king of Portugal, to solicit his assistance. The effect of this embassy he could not stay to know; for being soon after deposed, he sought shelter in the fortress of Arguin, whence he took shipping for Portugal, with twenty-five of his principal followers.

The king of Portugal pleased his own vanity and that of his subjects, by receiving him with great state and magnificence, as a mighty monarch who had fled to an ally for succour in misfortune. All the lords and ladies of the court were assembled, and Bemoin was conducted with a splendid attendance into the hall of audience, where the king rose from his throne to welcome him. Bemoin then made a speech with great ease and dignity, representing his unhappy state, and imploring the favour of his powerful ally. The king was touched with his affliction, and struck by his wisdom.

The conversion of Bemoin was much desired by the king; and it was, therefore, immediately, proposed to him that he should become a Christian. Ecclesiasticks were sent to instruct him; and having now no more obstacles from interest, he was easily persuaded to declare himself whatever would please those on whom he now depended.. He was baptized on the third day of December, 1489, in the palace of the queen, with great magnificence, and named John, after the king.

Some time was spent in feasts and sports on this great occasion, and the negroes signalized themselves by many feats of agility, far surpassing the power of Europeans, who, having more helps of art, are less diligent to cultivate the

qualities of nature. In the mean time twenty large ships were fitted out, well manned, stored with ammunition, and laden with materials necessary for the erection of a fort. With this powerful armament were sent a great number of missionaries under the direction of Alvarez the king's confessor. The command of this force, which filled the coast of Africa with terrour, was given to Pedro Vaz d'Acugna, surnamed Bisagu; who, soon after they had landed, not being well pleased with his expedition, put an end to its inconveniencies, by stabbing Bemoin suddenly to the heart. The king heard of this outrage with great sorrow, but did not attempt to punish the murderer.

The king's concern for the restoration of Bemoin was not the mere effect of kindness, he hoped by his help to facilitate greater designs. He now began to form hopes of finding a way to the East Indies, and of enriching his country by that gainful commerce: this he was encouraged to believe practicable, by a map which the Moors had given to prince Henry, and which subsequent discoveries have shown to be sufficiently near to exactness, where a passage round the south-east part of Africa was evidently described.

The king had another scheme, yet more likely to engage curiosity, and not irreconcilable with his interest. The world had, for some time, been filled with the report of a powerful Christian prince, called Prester John, whose country was unknown, and whom some, after Paulus Venetus, supposed to reign in the midst of Asia, and others in the depth of Ethiopia, between the ocean and Red sea. The account of the African Christians was confirmed by some Abyssinians who had travelled into Spain, and by some friars that bad visited the Holy Land; and the king was extremely desirous of their correspondence and alliance.

Some obscure intelligence had been obtained, which made it seem probable that a way might be found from the countries lately discovered, to those of this far-famed monarch. In 1486, an ambassador came from the king of



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