1902 Encyclopedia > Luiz de Camoens

Luiz de Camoens
(Luiz de Camoes)
Portuguese poet

LUIZ DE CAMOENS (or, according to the Portuguese spelling, CAMOES), (1524-1579), the son of Simâo Vaz de Camoens and Ana de Sâ e Miranda, was descended in the female line from the Gamas of Algarve, with which family Vasco de Gama claimed kinship ; on the male side also the Camoens were of gentle birth and high social position. Lisbon, Coimbra, Alemquer, and Santarem have claimed to be the cradle of this " prince of poets of his time ; " the balance of evidence, however, is now generally considered to be in favour of Lisbon. Manoel Correia, who was on terms of intimacy with the poet, in his Commentaries on, the Lusiad, states : " The author of this book is Luiz de Camoens, Portuguese by nationality, born and bred, in the city of Lisbon, of noble and accredited parentage." Correia states in his notes to canto 10 of the Lusiad, that Camoens was more than forty years of age when he wrote it ; and, further on, that the canto was written in 1570. The evidence of Faria e Sousa, extracted in 1643 from the registers of the "India House at Lisbon," proves Camoens to have been twenty-five years of age in 1550; and 1524 is now generally accepted as approximately the year of his birth.

Alarmed by the shock of an earthquake as early as 1526, the court removed to Coimbra, where it remained until the pestilence, which devastated Lisbon and the border lands of the Tagus, had moderated ; the nobles and " fidalguia " followed the king and court. Simao Vaz de Camoens having house and possessions at Coimbra, would naturally follow the court there with his family; the more so as his brother Bento had, prior to 1527, taken " the habit in the monastery of Santa Cruz," where he was often visited by the king. Evidently a man of culture, he was chosen, on the reforma-tion of the university in 1529, "being then prior of his order," the first chancellor. The popularity of the training at the newly-reformed university drew within its walls most of the sons of the nobility and " fidalguia." Here Camoens was entered as one of " the honourable poor students " in 1537, remaining there until he had completed his eighteenth year. Of his manner of life during the period which inter-vened between his removal to Coimbra and the commence-ment of his university career, something may be gathered from his minor writings, from which it appears that he wandered by Mondego's banks, " careless and unfettered in the free licence of boyhood."

The position of the poet's uncle, Dom Bento de Camoens, as prior of Santa Cruz, in addition to his status as chan-cellor of the university, naturally suggested the church as a career for Camoens. This seems to have found no favour with him, as he writes, " I felt the pulse of many states of life. The clergy, I see, take stronger hold of life than of the salvation of souls ; and the monks, although shrouded in hood and habit, expose some small tokens inconsistent with the profession that he who turns his back upon the world for God should desire nothing that the world can give." Freely and injudiciously expressed at an inoppor-tune moment in the ardour of youth, such home truths would tend to mar his advancement in church or state; while his honesty, culture, wit, poetic genius, and comely appearance would induce much jealous enmity at a court where he was the idol of the women.

During his studentship, and possibly at a vacation revel, or when some degree was conferred, the students acted his Amphiirid'es in imitation of Plautus. The dramatic representations at the university had usually been of the tragedies of Seneca, or of original Latin compositions. This work of Camoens, in popular " redondilhos," and in the vernacular, was considered an attempt to popularize a poetic reaction which satirized the mode in which the grave doctors of the university desired that all instruction should be imparted. In a satire of Besende's, " to Luiz Camoens, reprehending those who, despising the learned, waste their own time with jesters," he indicates Camoens " as a pitiful poet, an unlucky monster, boasting to be a Latin bachelor."

With reference to the precise period when Camoens removed entirely from his alma mater and became again resident in Lisbon, some speculations have been hazarded by his biographers. The one carrying the most weight is cited by the Visconde de Juromenha, who founds it upon the statement made by the poet in his first letter from India : " Because, when I reflect that without sin, which would sentence me to thirteen days of purgatory, I have passed thirteen thousand caused by evil tongues." Upon this Juromenha observes : " These thirteen thousand days are equal to eight years and eight days, and deducting the two years Camoens passed in Ceuta, and the one year of banishment on the upper Tagus, this leaves 1542 as the year of his departure from Coimbra." Thus we find Camoens quitting college to return to the court at Lisbon in his eighteenth year. A French biographer has assumed, with some force, that " Corte " simply means Lisbon, and not the court; for as Camoens was not of the titular nobility, he would not be received at court. Contemporary evidence, on the other hand, rather favours the assump-tion that being of the " fidalguia," gentle born, and well cultured, he would be chosen as companion by many of the young nobles who were his fellow-students at Coimbra.

Gentleness of birth, classical attainments of no mean order, a cultivated intellect, and poetic genius, united to a pleasing personal appearance and witty manner, must have been good passports to the court of John III., in which resided at that time the Infante Dom Luiz, a man of considerable attainments and a fair poet; also the Infanta Donna Maria, patroness of the Belles Lettres, surrounded by a bevy of fair damsels who could compose song, dirge, epigram, and roundelay, or jest with the quick wit of a Beatrice, and who, like her, knew many " merry tales " by heart. Statesmen, such as the Conde de Sortelha and the Conde de Vimioso, courtly poets, and fellow-students of Camoens at Coimbra, both in the full blaze of court favour, would gladly welcome to Lisbon so polished a youth as Camoens must at that time have been. Of this same court of John III. Gil Vicente writes, " It is a sea in which many fished, but found the pastime dangerous." Sa de Miranda also blamed " the economic error of herd-ing together all the young nobility in Lisbon."

Here, no doubt, Camoens formed acquaintanceships if not friendships, and became quickly initiated into the mysteries of court life and manners. Precocious and born a poet, his facility in every style of versification, a mind stored with romances of chivalry as well as popular fiction, and the poetic lore then available in his own, the Spanish, Italian, and classical idioms, would, added to his youth and sprightly manner, render him popular with the gentler, and unpopular with the sterner sex. Aban-doning in some degree the antiquated forms of composi-tion in vogue, he introduced eclogues, songs, and sonnets, full of tenderness and beauty, after the manner of the Italian school. Montemayor and Sa de Miranda, both Portuguese, residing in Italy, had already adopted and naturalized to some extent the Italian form of pastoral poetry.

Here we must speak of Camoens's romantic passion for a certain high-born lady of the court. " The sweet unwit-ting cause " of so much detriment to his court advance-ment, and, if we are to credit his muse, of anguish to his heart, was a certain Donna Caterina de Ataide in attendance upon the queen of John III. The anagram of Natercia for Caterina clearly indicates the lady's name, in addition to which an acrostic coupling the names of Luiz with Caterina de Atafde, said to be by Camoens, puts the matter beyond all doubt. The tradition is that, on a certain Good Friday, Camoens for the first time en-countered the lady's eyes at her devotions in the Church of the Chagas, Lisbon. That the wound proved deep and permanent there is abundant evidence in his Rimas.

The lady's father, Dom Antonio de Lima, held the office of chamberlain in the royal household, a certain Pero de Andrade de Caminha serving in a similar capacity the Infante Dom Duarte. Caminha was a poet of fair ability, and was probably jealous of the success of Camoens; in addition to which tradition asserts that Caminha himself, favoured by her father, aspired to the hand, if not the heart, of the Donna Caterina. We may infer that the lady was not ignorant of the effect her eyes wrought upon the author of the Lusiad; at any rate Caminha was jealous, and revenged himself in weak splenetic rather than satirical verse, while the lady's father employed his interest to mar the poet's prospects.
The precise cause which led to Camoens's banishment from Lisbon is not clear. The principal reason, no doubt, was his passion for the golden-tressed Caterina, but there may have been in addition to this some unintentional con-tent! it of the rigid court etiquette which hedged the royalty of that day; for it was the custom that lyric offerings intended for the ladies of the queen's court should first be submitted to the chamberlain, and then by him transferred to the chief lady in waiting, who handed the effusion to the queen,—she, in her turn, after perusal, passiug the " burning lines of passion " into the hands of the damsel to whom they were addressed. Camoens, doubtless, would essay some safer and more secret mode of conveying his offerings to the lovely Caterina. The dislike of De Lima, and the jealousy of Cammha, aided by the indiscretion and free-lance life of Camoens, may have led to this mark of the royal severity. Whether such or other causes inter-vened, the fact remains that he was banished from the court. The precise locality to which he retired, however, still remains conjectural only. Adding the year of his banishment to the two years he was absent with the army of Africa at Ceuta, where, in a naval engagement with the Moors, a chance splinter destroyed the sight of his right eye, we find him again in Lisbon in 1550.

During the three years which intervened between Camoens's return from Ceuta and his embarkation for India in 1553, he seems to have led a careless and discredit-able kind of life, consorting with the least reputable court gallants, and a certain dissolute ex-Franciscan friar, who had abandoned the cowl to adopt the rdle of a low comedian. Since he inherited the traditions of " fidalguia,"—candid, brave, impetuous, and crossed in love,—much of the free and careless life credited by tradition at this period to Camoens is reasonably accounted for, if it may not be con-doned. At this period occurred the fracas which led to his imprisonment and subsequent embarkation for India. On the occasion of a grand procession at the festival of Corpus Christi, one of the king's equerries appears to have had a dispute with two masquerading companions of Camoens. The latter, unhappily intervening to defend one of these friends hardly pressed, wounded the equerry in the neck, his two friends escaping in the confusion. For this Camoens lay some time in prison, and was only pardoned upon the understanding that he should embark forthwith for India. Juromenha gives the full text of this pardon.

With reference to the poet's departure for India in March 1553, the indefatigable Faria e Sousa discovered the following entry on the books of the registry of the Lisbon India House :o—" Fernando Casado, inhabitant of Lisbon, went in his stead Luiz de Camoens, son of Simon and Ana de Sa." His father did not offer himself as the customary surety, while it is seen from a document, dated the 7th of March that year, that he was still alive, and an inhabitant of Lisbon.

Camoens, in his first letter from India, alludes to his departure from his native city; and as he sailed out of the " golden-sanded Tagus " in the twilight, exclaimed in the bitterness of his heart, using the words of Scipio Africanus,—" Ungrateful country, thou shalt not possess my bones !"

The ship in which he sailed, the " San Bento," parted company with her consorts during a storm, and reached Tier destination in the same year, while her missing consorts did not anchor at Goa until the following spring. On landing at Goa, Camoens found the Viceroy Noronha pre-paring an expedition to act against the king of Pimenta, who had invaded the territories of the allies of Portugal. With this expedition sailed Camoens ; and " after chastis-ing the enemy," he says, " with little trouble, we destroyed the people trained to the use of the curved bow, punishing them with death and fire." He returned to Goa early in the following year, 1554.

The friendly terms upon which Camoens remained with the governor, and probably his disgust at the vice and venality rampant around him, induced him to join the expedition organized with a view to check the depredations of the Moorish rovers on the coast of Arabia. The com-mander, Menezes, received instructions to cruise on that coast where he expected to intercept the galleys sailing from Bassorah. The fleet cleared from Goa early in the year 1555 ; and, after seeking the Moorish galleys in vain, wintered at Ormuz. Returning in the following spring to Goa, Camoens, in cancao 10, describes his unpleasant impressions of this voyage: " Here fate's most cruel chances led me; here in this lonely, sterile, sun-scorched land did Fortune will that part of my brief life be passed, and thus in fragments scattsred lie throughout the world." Some of Camoens's biographers allude to the governor Barreto as one of his relentless persecutors. Juromenha, however, demurs to this, alleging that two intimate friends of Camoens then at Goa, in the most frank and decided language, laud Barreto as " a liberal obliging comrade, and one ever ready to overlook offences received." That Camoens was unpopular with the venal many, his expression " This land is the mother of great villains and the step-mother of honourable men " loaves little doubt. He came to uphold the honour of Portugal, and not to intrigue, brawl, and barter his soul for gold. His satirical exposure of the abuses so rife then in the Eastern dominions of Portugal will readily account for his numerous enemies, official and lay. Festivals, banquets, and dramatic representa-tions inaugurated the governorship of Barreto. Camoens's pen was not idle. He wrote a comedy for the occasion, entitled Filodemo. Correia, who describes himself as " companion in the state of India, and a great friend of Camoens," happily secured either the original MS. or a copy, which is, or was, in the national library at Lisbon. It is entitled, A Comedy made by Luis de Camoens, and represented in Lndia during the governorship of Barreto, and in which the following characters figure, &c.

Camoens's unpropitious star still dominated his fate. The vices rampant in Goa; the drunkenness, dicing, brawl-ing, and cowardice, were notorious; and during these festivities, which lasted some weeks, were more pro-nounced than ever.

A certain satire, said to be from the pen of Camoens, passed from hand to hand, entitled A Jest which was made upon some men who did not think ill of wine, feigning that in Goa, at the feasts which w.ere made on the governor's succession, these gallants went to sport with canes bearing devices on their banners, and verses conforming to their designs and inclinations. It is written chiefly in prose, having verses introduced. No names of the " gallants" appear. After introducing a few of these revellers, the author concludes by stating " that several other illustrious personages desired to be admitted to the feasts-'and sports, and to have an account of their qualifications chronicled; " but, he observes, " the writing would be infinite, because all the men in India are so distinguished, and therefore let these suffice as examples." This jest, intended to satirize the corruption and immorality of the daily life of the Portuguese in India, caused intense amusement to those who did not recognize their own portraits on the canvas ; while, on the other hand, those who did, or imagined they did, were furious,—so much so, that " the innocent author remained ready to hang himself."
The tradition is that this Jest was appended to Camoens's second letter from India, and that the author desired its source should remain unknown ; " because I do not wish that of my little so many should eat." Be that as it may, Camoens was banished from Goa, and this Jest is said to have been the cause. Some of those ridiculed were powerful, malignant, and treacherous; and it is surmised that Barreto was of the number, but it is difficult to imagine that if Barreto intended punishment he should have made of this banishment a stepping-stone to a lucrative appointment, which must have been one of con-siderable importance, embracing as it did the custody of the property of absentees, and of those Portuguese who had died in India. In a letter from Francisco de Souza to John III. the importance of this office is recognized, grave complaints of embezzlement and misappropriation of the property of deceased merchants and others having reached Lisbon, so that, "early in 1556, a commission was despatched from the mother country to take charge of the effects of deceased subjects," and, in 1557, "full instruc-tions as to the management of this state department followed." Barreto, with a laudable desire to abate these scandals, may well have appointed a bold energetic man, upon whose integrity he could rely, and Camoens was selected.

During the absence of Camoens from Goa his friend Luiz Franco Correia collected the verses he had scattered amongst his friends, shrewdly observing, " that they who knew not the poetic art failed to estimate its value."

Apart from the vices and intrigues of Goa, and in the quietude of the Grotto still shown at Macao as the spot where much of the Lusiad was penned, we may imagine halcyon days for the persecuted poet. Here Antonio, the Javanese slave, is first introduced to history,—he who tended Camoens so affectionately and with such solicitude through those latter years of misery and neglect, which were the lot of this unhappy " prince of poets of his time." It is surmised that the first six cantos of the Lusiad were com-posed during Camoens's stay at Macao ; for in the seventh, allusion is made to the shipwreck he suffered on his return to Goa.

During his absence slanderous tongues were not silent, and we hear of his return to Goa by order of the governor, to make answer to charges brought against him in his capacity as commissary. Wrecked near the mouth of the River Mekong, Camoens and his faithful Javanese escaped only with their lives. Camoens, rescuing nothing but the manuscript of his epic, at length landed at Goa in the last days of Barreto's governorship, and was cast into prison. Here he received the only news which could aggravate his pain—the sad tidings of the death of Donna Caterina de Ataide, the Natercia of his impassioned youth. We can estimate the depth and tenderness of his grief touchingly expressed in many of the liirnas.

The arrival in the autumn of the following year of Dom Constantinho de Braganca as governor to replace Barreto led to the liberation of Camoens, the charges against him having been proved to be unfounded. Under the protection of Dom Constantinho the poet enjoyed some respite from his persecutors. It was during this period of "cultured calm " that he invited several " versifying friends" to a banquet, where each, on uncovering his plate, discovered, in place of the first course, an appropriate stanza. The surprise gave occasion to considerable mirth and amuse-ment. Three years later Dom Constantinho was replaced by the Conde de Redondo, an early friend and companion of the poet's. Towards the close of 1562 Camoens suffered a new reverse. Miguel Rodriguez Coutinho, a rich braggart, nick-named Fios Seccos (dry threads), detained him in custody for a trifling debt. On this occasion Camoens sent a request to the Conde to release him, in epi-grammatic verse, which well revenges Coutinho's meanness, commencing—" What devil so completely damned but fears the edge of Fios Seccos' sword." Camoens was released, but does not appear to have accompanied the viceroy and his splendid retinue to Zamorin. Being desirous to return to his native land, a certain Captain Barreto, nephew of the old governor of Goa, charmed with the society of the poet, agreed to carry him to Sofala ; once there he hoped to detain him, and claimed a small sum he was unable to discharge. Here the expedition under Noronha, ex-governor of Goa, found him; and of Camoens's condition Diogo de Couto wrote: " Here we encountered that ' prince of poets of his time,' my fellow-sailor and friend, Luiz de Camoens, so poor that he lived upon his acquaint-ance, who found him necessary clothing and gladly gave him to eat. During that winter he prepared his Lusiad . for the press, and wrote much in a book he called the Parnaso of Luiz de Camoens."

The fleet, including the " Santa Clara," with Camoens on board, sailed from Sofala in November 1569, and on the 7th April 1570 the good ship cast anchor in the broad I waters of the "golden-sanded Tagus."

After seventeen years of weary exile we may imagine the thrill of joy that wanned the heart of Camoens at the first sight of the headland which bares its base to the wash of the Atlantic, and marks the entrance to the Tagus. " From the round-top of the loftiest mast a sailor shouts,, ' The land, the land !' This is my native land so fondly loved, which heaven grant, all perils past, my task accomplished, these eyes behold once more before their light be dimmed for ever." While others from the far Indies brought rich merchandize and gold, he who had suffered banishments and imprisonments, had encountered tempests and shipwreck, came freighted only with a single manu-script, on the pages of which were traced in immortal verse the glorious historic deeds of the Portuguese nation, and the touching episode of Ignez de Castro. Here Fortune still continued to persecute Camoens. He and his com-panions were not permitted to land, Lisbon having recently suffered from the effects of a pestilence which had destroyed 50,000 souls.

Late in the month of April, the great plague having abated, a procession of our Lady of Health was decreed; and it is supposed that Camoens had already landed and embraced his mother, then "very old and very poor." The Lusiad, being now completed and ready for the press,, after much delay and many impediments, was, through the influence of Dom Manoel, ambassador to Castile,, presented in manuscript to the young king in the follow-ing year, 1571; the royal permission to print the work was accorded, the Alvara bearing date the 23d September of that year. Later the " censura " of the holy office was-obtained, bearing date 12th March 1572. It carries the signature of Father Ferreira, a man of singular ability and evidently liberal views, and is as follows :—" I saw, by order of the Holy Inquisition, these ten cantos of the Lusiad of Luiz de Camoens, relating the valorous deeds in arms of the Portuguese in Asia and Europe, and I did not find in them a single offensive thing, nor aught contrary to the faith and good manners; only it seemed to me necessary to warn the reader that the author, in order to exaggerate the perils of the navigation and entrance into India of the Portuguese, makes use of a fiction of the heathen gods; and although San Agostinho in his Retractacoes corrects the having called the muses god-desses, nevertheless, as this is poetry and fiction, and the author does not pretend more than to adorn his poetic style, I have not considered it inconvenient this fable of the gods in this work, knowing it for such, and while is always preserved the truth of our Holy Faith, that all the gods of the heathen are devils, and therefore it appeared to me that the book is worthy of being printed, and the author displays in it much talent and erudition in the human sciences." The Lisbon upon which Camoens turned his back in 1553 had sadly changed; the times were out of joint. A. dreadful pestilence had decimated the population ; the intrigues inseparable from a regency, and a young king, the sport of youthful favourites, ruled by the Jesuits, brave and impetuous, already meditating the luckless expedition to Africa, overshadowed both court and kingdom. Remarking this, in his address to the young king Camoens wrote,—" The humility of the anchorite should not be the only virtue of your ministers."

At length the epic, dreamed of at Coimbra, commenced in banishment, continued at Ceuta, resumed at Goa and Macao, revised at Mozambique and Sofala, and perfected in a humble room in the Rua de Santa Ana, Lisbon, was issued from the press of Antonio Gocalvez.

The first edition of the Lusiad bears date Lisbon, 1572. Its success was immense, and the despair and malice of the mediocre poets of the court intense. A second edition was issued from the press of Gocalvez in the same year.

Isolated amid this literary strife, Camoens lived retired, and was very poor. He lived in the knowledge of many, and in the companionship of few, inhabiting an apartment in a house adjoining the convent Santa Ana, at the bottom of a small street which led to the college of the Jesuits, where the sole consolation of his later years was his intimacy with some of the fathers. By the death of the Princess Donna Maria, who expired in 1578, Camoens lost the last of his protectors, and was reduced to extreme poverty ; then came the heaviest blow of all, the death of his faithful Javanese Antonio.

Early in the year 1578, after the grand ceremony of the Benediction of the Standards, Dom Sebastiào, the boy king, departed on his ill-starred expedition to Africa,— Bernardes, a court poet and a courtier, being selected in preference to Camoens to accompany the expedition and sing its triumphs. In August occurred the fatal rout of Alcazar-quivir, and the death of the young king, after which, according to the testimony of Bernardo Rodriguez, " Camoens went as one dreaming."

Three months prior to the poet's death, Benito Caldera's Castilian version of the Lusiad was printed at Alcalá de Henares, and we may reasonably infer that Camoens saw a copy."

The disaster of Alcazar-quivir shook Portuguese nation-ality to its base. In the last letter Camoens penned he alludes to this event. " I have so loved my country that not only do I deem myself happy to die in her bosom but happy to die with her.

The sad sickness unto death came at last, on the 10th of June, 1580. In a small, cheerless room of a shabby house in the Rua de Santa Ana (No. 52 or 54) Luiz de Camoens died, and he was buried in the neighbouring convent of Santa Ana. On the fly-leaf of a copy of the first edition of the Lusiad (said to be in the library of Holland House), and in the handwriting of Fray José Indio, a Carmelite monk of Guadalajara, is found the following statement :—
' ' What thing more grievous than to see so great genius lacking success ! I saw him die in a hospital in Lisbon, without a sheet to cover him, after having triumphed in the Indies, and having sailed five thousand five hundred leagues by sea. What warning so great for those, who, by night and day, weary themselves in study without profit, like the spider weaving a web to catch small flies."

Some picturesque and touching, but probably apocryphal narratives are chronicled by Camoens's biographers. One tells of the faithful Javanese Antonio sallying forth at even-tide to beg from passers-by the means to procure a modest meal for himself and his master ; another, of Barbara, a mul-atto woman, who, from the scanty store upon her stall and the still scantier treasury of her pocket, spared a daily ration and an occasional silver coin in pity for one she might have known prosperous at Macao; and a third of a " fidalgo," named Buy Diaz de Camara, who came to his poor dwelling to complain of the non-fulfilment of a promise of a translation of the penitential psalms, and to whom Camoens replied—" When I wrote verses I was young, had ample food, was a lover, and beloved by many friends and by the ladies ; therefore, I felt poetic ardour. Now I have no spirit, no peace of mind ; behold there my Javanese who asks me for two coins to purchase fuel, and I have none to give him." On his deathbed he is said to have exclaimed, " Who ever heard that on so small a stage as a poor bed, Fortune should care to represent so great misfortune, and I, as if such were not sufficient, place myself on her side, because to dare to resist such ills would appear effrontery."

Camoens was spared the pain and humiliation of seeing a Castilian king upon the throne of Portugal. It is, however, related of Philip II. that, soon after his occupa-tion of Lisbon, he inquired for Camoens, and finding him already dead, gave (as documentary evidence shows) instructions that a pension be granted to the poet's mother, still " very old and very poor." She survived the poet some years.

Of Camoens's personal appearance Manoel Severim de Faria, one of his biographers, writes thus : " He was of middle stature, his face full, and his countenance slightly lowering; his nose long, raised in the middle, and large at the end. He was much disfigured by the loss of his right eye. Whilst young his hair (like Tasso's) was so yellow as to resemble saffron. Although his appearance was not perhaps prepossessing, his manners and conversa-tion were pleasing and cheerful. He was afterwards a prey to melancholy, was never married, and left no child." On a marble slab fixed in the wall of the church of Santa Ana, Dom Goncalo de Coutinho had an inscription placed; but as both church and inscription perished in the earthquake of 1755, there is some doubt as to its precise wording, and whether " he lived poor and neglected and so died " formed part of it or not.

Amid many tributes to Camoens's memory, those of Manoel de Sousa, Diogo Bernardes, Tasso, and Lope-de-Vega are well known. The last alludes to him as " the divine Camoens," and adds, " Strange fortune that to so much wit and learning gave a life of poverty and a rich sepulchre."

A Spanish biographer of Cervantes has shown " that the most remarkable coincidence of fortune may be traced in the events which marked the lives of Camoens and the author of Don Quixote."

Estimating the popularity of Camoens great epic Os Lusiadas by the number of editions printed in Portugal, it was without ques-tion considerable, no less than thirty-eight having been published at Lisbon prior to the year 1700, and in addition four in Spain,—three in Castilian and one in Portuguese. There exist translations in English, French, German, Italian, Dutch, Polish, Bohemian, Danish, Swedish, Russian, Latin, Greek, and even Hebrew. The earliest in English is by Sir Richard Fanshaw (London, 1655), and was com-posed during his banishment at Tankersley Park, Yorkshire, in 1652. Had he lived to prepare a second edition, many errors and imperfec-tions arising from an incomplete knowledge of the Portuguese idiom would, no doubt, have been rectified. He was appointed ambassador to Portugal in 1661, where he remained three years, being then transferred to Madrid, where he died in 1666. Mickle's Lusiad was first published in 1776, and hardly merits Southey's condemnation (he preferring that of Fanshaw) of "most unfaithful." It is fairly close in places, but much of the force of the original is sacrificed for the sake of smooth versification. Another translation by Musgrave in blank verse appeared in 1826, the latter cantos of which are closer and more effective than the earlier. A version of the first five cantos by Quillinan followed in 1853, rendered with considerable grace and with greater accuracy than Mickle's. In 1854 appeared a version by Sir Thomas Mitchell.
In estimating the genius of Camoens, it must be remembered that "we build with ready materials, but he dug the quarry, rough-hewing and polishing with his own hands the material for his edifice." He strengthened and polished the Portuguese language, and his influence preserved it from destruction as an idiom during the Spanish occupation, when the language of the court was Castilian. The circumstances under which his great epic was penned were peculiarly unfavourable to the production and elaboration of such a work ; still he triumphed over every difficulty, and produced the epic master-piece of his age. Theophilo Braga, his latest Portu-guese biographer, observes, "In Camoens w'e find exemplified that tradition which insures moral unity to a people, and is the bond which constitutes their nationality, as in the Homeric poems are centered the Hellenic traditions. This same spirit animated Camoens, for in Os Lusiadas are gathered together many beautiful and excit-ing traditions of Portuguese history." Extended and elaborate notices of the Lusiad will be found in Adamson, Mickle, and Bou-terwek.

Of Camoens's minor works, or Rimas, a full and exhaustive notice will be found in Memoirs of the Life and Writings of Luis de Camoens, by John Adamson, London, 1820; two exquisite trifles (the originals in Spanish) will be found in Ticknor's History of Spanish Literature. Lord Strangford, Adamson, Hayley, and Southey have each, translated striking examples of the Rimas. (P. W. CO.)


No record has been discovered of the death of Simao Vaz, father of the poet, but it is conjectured that he died of the plague during the autumn of 1569-

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