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whence he took shipping for Portugal, with twentyfive 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 signalised 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 terror, 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 shewn 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 irreconcileable 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 had 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 Bemin, to desire that preachers might be sent to instruct him and his subjects in the true religion. He related that in the inland country, three hundred and fifty leagues eastward from Bemin, was a mighty monarch called Ogane, who had jurisdiction both spiritual and temporal over other kings; that the king of Bemin and his neighbours, at their accession, sent ambassadors to him with rich presents, and received from him the investiture of their dominions, and the marks of sovereignty, which were a kind of sceptre, a helmet, and a latten cross, without which they could not be considered as lawful kings; that this great prince was never seen but on the day of audience, and then held out one of his feet to the ambassador, who kissed it with great reverence, and who at his departure had a cross of latten hung on his neck, which ennobled bim thenceforward, and exempted him from all servile offices.
Bemoin had likewise told the king, that to the east of the kingdom of Tombut, there was among other princes, one that was neither Mahometan nor idolater, but who seemed to profess a religion nearly resembling the christian. These informations compared with each other, and with the current accounts of Prester John, induced the king to an opinion, which, though formed somewhat at hazard, is still believed to be right, that by passing up the river Senegal his dominions would be found. It was there
fore ordered that when the fortress was finished, an attempt should be made to pass upward to the source of the river. The design failed then, and has never yet succeeded.
Other ways likewise were tried of penetrating to the kingdom of Prester John, for the king resolved to leave neither sea nor land unsearched till he should be found. The two messengers who were sent first on this design, went to Jerusalem, and then returned, being persuaded that, for want of understanding the language of the country, it would be vain or impossible to travel farther. Two more were then dispatched, one of whom was Pedro de Covillan, the other Alphonso de Paiva ; they passed from Naples to Alexandria, and then travelled to Cairo, from whence they went to Aden, a town of Arabia, on the Red-sea, near its mouth. From Aden, Paiva set sail for Ethiopia, and Covillan for the Indies. Covillan visited Canavar, Calicut, and Goa in the Indies, and Sosula in the eastern Africa, thence he returned to Aden, and then to Cairo, where he had agreed to meet Paiva. At Cairo he was informed that Paiva was dead, but he met with two Portuguese Jews, one of whom had given the king an account of the situation and trade of Ormus : they brought orders to Covillan, that he should send one of them home with the journal of his travels, and go to Ormus with the other.
Covillan obeyed the orders, sending an exact account of his adventures to Lisbon, and proceeding with the other messenger to Ormus; where having made sufficient enquiry, he sent his companion homewards with the caravans that were going to Aleppo, and embarking once more on the Red-sea, arrived in time at Abyssinia, and found the prince whom he had sought so long, and with such danger.
Two ships were sent out upon the same search, of which Bartholomew Diaz had the chief command; they were attended by a smaller vessel laden with provisions, that they might not return upon pretence of want either felt or feared.
Navigation was now brought nearer to perfection. The Portuguese claim the honour of many inventions by which the sailor is assisted, and which enable him to leave sight of land, and commit himself to the boundless ocean. Diaz had orders to proceed beyond the river Zaire, where Diego Can had stopped, to build monuments of his discoveries, and to leave upon the coasts negroe men and women well instructed, who might enquire after Prester John, and fill the natives with reverence for the Portuguese.
Diaz, with much opposition from his crew, whose mutinies he repressed, partly by softness and partly by steadiness, sailed on till he reached the utmost point of Africa, which from the bad weather that he met there, he called Cabo Tormentoso, or the Cape of Storms. He would have gone forward, but his crew forced him to return. In his way back he met the Victualler, from which he had been parted nine months before; of the nine men which were in it at the separation, six had been killed by the negroes, and of the three remaining, one died for joy at the sight of his friends. Diaz returned to Lisbon in December 1487, and gave an account of his voyage to the king, who ordered the Cape of