Gama, Vasco

, an illustrious Portuguese, is immortalized by his discovery of the passage to the East Indies by the Cape of Good Hope. The maritime town of Sines in Portugal was the place of his birth, his family was good, but not noble, till made so by the h.)no;irs he acquired. In 1497, Emanuel king of Portugal, earnestly desirous of making discoveries in those parts of the globe, appointed Gama to command an expedition to endeavour to sail round the Cape, then called the Cape of Tempests. Vasco highly pleased with this appointment, which suited his undaunted and adventurous spirit, sailed from the Tagus, July 8, having two ships besides his own, and a store ship. At Lisbon he was generally considered as going to certain destruction, and the whole equipment as devoted; but though, on his approach to the Cape, he actually encountered dreadful storms, his perseverance was not to be conquered. Like Columbus, he had to contend with the mutinous despondence of his own people, as well as with the elements, but was superior to all. Having doubled the Cape on the 20th of November, he sailed along the eastern coast of Africa, but met with inveterate | hostility and treachery from the Moorish settlers, except the king of Melinda. He proceeded as far as Calicut, doubled the Cape again in April 1499, and returned to Lisbon in the space of two years and alifkost two months. The king and nation were overjoyed at this success, and he was created count of Vidiguere, and admiral of the Indian, Persian, and Arabian seas. Gama now rested a few years, while Cabral was sent out with thirteen ships; and John de Nova, with a reinforcement of three more, visited Calicut; but it was found that greater force was wanted, and in 1502, he set sail again, having twenty ships under his command. He returned in September 1503, with thirteen ships laden with riches. When Emanucl, kingof Portugal died, the credit of Gama continued unimpaired, and in 1524, he was by his successor, John III. appointed viceroy of India. He returned thither a third time, and established his seat of government at Cochin, but died on the 24th of December 1525, almost as soon as he was settled. He was honoured with the title of don fof himself and his posterity, and created a grandee of Portugal. Gama was formed by nature to conduct the most arduous enterprises. His intrepidity, which was invincible, was not more remarkable than his sagacity and prudence: and the feelings of his heart appear to wonderful advantage, when we find him, amidst all the extravagance of public applause, after his first return from India, drooping for the loss of his brother and companion of his voyage, Paulus de Gama, and unable to enjoy his fame. He had even sent his flag-ship home before him, under the command of Coello, his next officer, that he might attend and sooth the death-bed of tbis beloved brother. Such a victory of tenderness over ardent and successful ambition, gives a better picture of his heart than the most elaborate eulogium. The poem of Camoens, entitled “The Lusied,” on Gama’s first expedition, is now well known in this country by Mickle’s able translation. 1


Moreri. Robertson’s Hist, of Arfterica.