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LUSI A D:
THE DISCOVERY OF INDIA.
AN EPIC POE M.
TRANSLATED FROM THE
ORIGINAL PORTUGUESE OF LUIS DE CAMOËNS.
By WILLIAM JULIUS MICKLE.
NEC VERBUM, VERBO CURABIS REDDERE, FIDUS
HOR. ART, POIT.
IN TWO VOLUMES. "
THE THIRD EDITION.
PRINTED FOR T. CADELL JUN. AND W. DAVIES
IN THE STRAND,
285. m. 119.
IF a concatenation of events centered in one great action, events which gave birth to the present commercial system of the world ; if these be of the first importance in the civil history of mankind, the Lusiad, of all other poems, challenges the attention of the Philosopher, the Politician, and the Gentleman.
In contradistinction to the Iliad and Æneid, the Paradise Loft has been called the Epic Poem of Religion. In the same manner may the Lusiad be named the Epic Poem of Commerce. The happy completion of the most important designs of Henry Duke of Viseo, Prince of Portugal, to whom Europe owes both Gama and Columbus, both the eastern and the western worlds, constitutes the subject of that celebrated epic poem (known hitherto in England almost only by name) which is now offered to the English reader. But before we proceed to the historical introduction necessary to elucidate a poem founded on such an important pea riod of history, some attention is due to the opinion of those theorists in political philosophy, who · VOL. I.
lament that either India was ever discovered, and who affert that the increase of trade is big with the real misery of mankind, and that commerce is only the parent of degeneracy, and the nurse of every vice.
Much indeed may be urged on this side of the question, but much also may be urged against every inftitution relative to man. Imperfection, if not necessary to humanity, is at least the certain attendant on every thing human. Though some part of the traffic with many countries resemble Solomon's importation of apes and peacocks ; though the fuperfluities of life, the baubles of the opulent, and even the luxuries which enervate the irrefolute and administer disease, are introduced by the intercourse of navigation ; the extent of the benefits which attend it, are also to be considered, ere the man of cool reason will venture to pronounce that the world is injured, and rendered less virtuous and less happy by the increase of commerce.
If a view of the state of mankind, where commerce opens no intercourse between nation and nation, be neglected, unjust conclusions will certainly follow. Where the state of barbarians, and of countries under the different degrees of civiliza. tion, are candidly weighed, we may reasonably expect a just decision. As evidently as the appointe ment of Nature gives pasture to the herds, so evi. dently is man born for fociety. As every other