Imatges de pÓgina

mounting and alighting from these animals at full gallop. After being instructed in the Christian religion, he was baptized, and did homage to the king and to the Pope for the crown which was to be placed on his head; for which purpose a powerful armament, under the command of Pero Vaz d'Acunha, was sent out with him to the banks of the Senegal.

The conclusion of this adventure was extremely tragical. quarrel having arisen between Bemoy and the commander, the latter stabbed the prince on board of his vessel. Whether this violent deed was prompted by the heat of passion, or by well-grounded suspicions of Bemoy's fidelity, was never fully investigated; but the king learned the event with deep regret, and even, in consequence, gave up his design of building a fort on the Senegal. He made, however, no pause in his indefatigable efforts to trace the abode of Prester John. Ambassadors were sent into the interior, and, according to De Barros, even as far as Timbuctoo. All endeavours were vain as to the primary object; but the Portuguese thereby gained a more complete knowledge of this part of Interior Africa than was afterward attained in Europe till a very recent period. Most of this intelligence, however, has either perished, or still remains locked up in the archives of the Lusitanian monarchy.

The Portuguese continued to prosecute African discovery, till, in 1471, they reached the Gold Coast, when, dazzled by the importance and splendour of the commodity, the commerce of which gave name to that region, they built Elmina (the mine), making it the capital of their possessions in this continent. Pushing onward to Benin, they received a curious account of an embassy said to be sent, at the accession of every new monarch, to the court of a sovereign called Ogane, resident seven or eight hundred miles in the interior. When the ambassadors were introduced, a silk curtain shrouded the monarch from their view, till the moment of their departure, when the royal foot was graciously put forth from under the veil, and "reverence done to it as to a holy thing." This statement greatly excited the curiosity of the Portuguese, to whom this mysterious monarch appeared, more likely than any they had yet heard of, to be Prester John. Who this Ogane really was has been a subject of much doubtful discussion.

The Portuguese had for some time been desirous to frame a title to this extensive coast, part of which they had now discovered. They appealed chiefly to the religion, or rather to the superstition, of the age. The maxim had been early established, that whatever country should be conquered from infidel nations was to be held the property of the victors. This claim was rendered available by a grant obtained from the Pope, assigning to them in full dominion all lands which should be discovered beyond Cape Bojador, and in their farther progress eastward. Hence, after the establishment at Elmina, the king no longer hesitated to assume the pompous title of Lord of Guinea, and instructed his commanders that, instead of the wooden cross hitherto erected in sign of conquest, they should raise pillars of stone double the height of a man, with suitable inscriptions, surmounted by crucifixes inlaid with lead. In 1484, Diego Cam sailed from Elmina in quest of new shores on which this emblem of Portuguese dominion might be planted. After passing Cape St. Catherine, he found himself involved in a very strong current setting out from the land, which was still distant; though the water, when tasted, was found to be fresh. It was conjectured, therefore, that he was near the mouth of a great river, which proved to be the fact. It has since been celebrated under the name of the Zaire or Congo. Diego, on reaching its southern bank, erected his first pillar, an event considered so memorable, that the stream itself has often, by Portuguese writers, been termed the "River of the Pillar." He ascended its borders, opened an intercourse with the natives, and inquired after the residence of their sovereign. They pointed to a place at a considerable distance in the interior, and undertook to guide thither a mission, which they pledged themselves, within a stipulated period, to lead back in safety. As the natives meantime passed and repassed on the most intimate footing, Diego took advantage of a moment when several of the principal persons were on board his ship, weighed anchor, and stood out to sea. He soothed the alarm visible in the countenances of their countrymen on shore, by signs, intimating that this step was taken solely to gratify the anxious desire of his sovereign to see and converse with these African chiefs; that in fifteen moons they should certainly

be brought back again; and that, meanwhile, a number of his people should be left as hostages. Diego then sailed to Lisbon, where he introduced with triumph these living trophies of his discovery. The king was highly gratified, and held many conversations with the Congo princes, whom he loaded with honours, and caused to be conveyed back at the appointed period to the shores of the Zaire. On Diego's arrival at that river, it was highly gratifying to see, waiting on the bank, the part of his crew whom he had left as pledges, and respecting whom he had felt some anxiety. He was invited to court, where the king not only received him with kindness, but agreed to embrace Christianity, and to send several of his principal lords to Europe, to be instructed in its principles. They sailed, accordingly, and this new arrival of Congo leaders of the first rank gave fresh satisfaction at Lisbon. They remained two years, experiencing the very best treatment; and on their being considered ripe for baptism, the king stood godfather to the principal envoy, and his chief nobles to others; on which occasion the Africans received the names of the persons by whom they had been thus honoured.

In 1490, a new armament, guided by Ruy de Sousa, conveyed back the Congo nobles to their native country. The Portuguese, on their arrival, were received by the king in full pomp. The native troops approached in three lines, making so prodigious a noise with horns, kettledrums, and other instruments, and raising shouts so tremendous, as to surpass all that the Europeans had ever witnessed in Catholic processions and invocations to the saints. The king himself was seated in the midst of a large park, upon an ivory chair raised on a platform. He was dressed in rich and glossy skins of wild beasts, a bracelet of brass hanging from his left arm, a horse's tail from his shoulder, and on his head a bonnet of fine cloth woven from the palm-tree. He gave full permission to erect a church and, when murmurs were heard from a few of his attend. ants, he instantly offered to put them to death on the spot; but the Portuguese laudably dissuaded him from so violent a step. He himself and all his nobles were baptized; and free scope was allowed to the exertions of the Catholic missionaries. These churchmen seem to have been really

animated with a very devoted and persevering zeal; but they had, unfortunately, conceived an incorrect idea of what they came to teach, and, instead of inculcating the pure doctrines and precepts of Christianity, merely amused the people with empty and childish pageantry. The presentation of beads, Agni Dei, images of the Madonna and saints; the splendid processions; the rich furniture and solemn ceremonies of the church, dazzled the eyes of the savage natives, and made them view Christianity only as a gay and pompous pageant, in which it would be an amusement to join. The sacrament of baptism, to which the Catholics attach such pre-eminent importance, was chiefly recommended by a part of the ritual that consisted in putting into the mouth a certain quantity of salt, which, in Congo, is an extremely rare and valued commodity; and the missionaries were not a little disconcerted to find that the very form by which the natives expressed baptism was "to eat salt." Thus an immense body of the people were very speedily baptized and called Christians, but without any idea of the duties and obligations which that sacred name imposes. There was, however, one point which the missionaries soon began very conscientiously, and perhaps in rather too hasty and peremptory a manner, to enforce. Appalled by the host of wives that surrounded every African prince or chief, who fulfilled for him every purpose of state and domestic service, and whom it had been his constant study and pride to multiply, the missionaries made a call on their converts to select one, and to make a sweeping dismissal of all the others. This was considered an unwarrantable inroad on one of the most venerated institutions of the realm of Congo. To the aged monarch the privation appeared so intolerable that he thereupon renounced his Christian profession, and plunged again into the abyss of pagan superstition. Happily, Alphonso, the youthful heirapparent, saw nothing so dreadful in the sacrifice; he cheerfully submitted to it, and, braving his father's displeasure, remained attached to the Portuguese. The old king dying soon after, the zealous convert became entitled to reign; but his brother, Panso Aquitimo, supported by the nobles and almost the whole nation, raised the standard of rebellion in support of polygamy and paganism. A civil war ensued, in which the prince had little more than a

handful of Portuguese to oppose to the innumerable host of his rebel countrymen; however, in consequence, as his adherents believed, of the appearance in the clouds, at one time of St. James, and at another of the Virgin Mary, he always came off victorious. Doubtless the better arms and discipline of the Portuguese rendered them superior in the field to the tumultuary host of their rude assailants.

Alphonso being thus firmly seated on his throne, the missionaries for a time secured a safe and comfortable establishment in Congo. Being reinforced by successive bodies of their brethren, they spread over the neighbouring countries, Sundi, Pango, Concobella, Maopongo, many tracts of which were rich and populous, though the state of society was often extremely rude. Every where their career was nearly similar. The people gave them the most cordial reception, flocked in crowds to witness and to share in the pomp of their ceremonies, accepted with thankfulness their sacred gifts, and received by thousands the rite of baptism. They were not, however, on this account prepared to renounce their ancient habits and superstitions. The inquisition, which was speedily instituted among their ecclesiastical arrangements, caused a sudden revulsion; and the missionaries thenceforth maintained only a precarious and even a perilous position. They were much reproached, it appears, for the rough and violent methods employed to effect their pious purposes; and though they treat the accusation as most unjust, some of the proceedings of which they boast with the greatest satisfaction tend not a little to countenance the charge. When, for example, they could not persuade the people to renounce their idols, they used a large staff with which they threw them down and beat them in pieces; they even sometimes stole secretly into the temples and set them on fire. A missionary at Maopongo having met one of the queens, and finding her mind inaccessible to all his instructions, determined to use sharper remedies, and, seizing a whip, began to apply it to her majesty's person. The effect he describes as most auspicious; every successive blow opened her eyes more and more to the truth, and she at length declared herself wholly unable to resist such affecting arguments in favour of the Catholic doctrine. It was found, however, that she had hastened to the king with loud complaints respecting this

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