The title of this original document, now first offered to the public in modern English, is “The first Booke of the Historie of the Discoverie and Conquest of the East Indias by the Portingals, in the time of King Don John, the second of that name. By Hernan Lopes de Castaneda; translated into English by Nicholas Lichefield, and dedicated to Sir Fraunces Drake. Imprinted at London by Thomas East, 1582.”
Though the transactions here recorded are limited in the title to the reign of John II. they occupied the reigns of his immediate successor Emmanuel, or Manuel, and of John III. Castanedas history was printed in black letter at Coimbra, in eight volumes folio, in the years 1552, 1553, and 1554, and is now exceedingly scarce. In 1553, a translation of the first book was made into French by Nicolas de Grouchy, and published at Paris in quarto. An Italian translation was published at Venice in two volumes quarto, by Alfonso Uloa, in 1578. That into English by Lichefield, employed on the present occasion, is in small quarto and black-letter. The voyage of De Gama is related by De Barros in his work, entitled Da Asia, and has been described by Osorius, Ramusio, Maffei, and de Faria. Purchas gives a brief account of it, I. ii. 26. The beautiful poem of the Lusiad by Camoens, the Portuguese Homer, is dedicated to the celebration of this important transaction, and is well known through an elegant translation into English by Mickle. In the present chapter, the curious and rare work of Castaneda, so far as his first book extends, is given entire; and the only freedom employed in this version, besides changing the English of 229 years ago into the modern and more intelligible language, has Been to prune a quaint verbosity, mistaken by Lichefield for rhetorical eloquence. The dedication of the early translator to the celebrated Sir Francis Drake, is preserved in its original dress, as a sufficient specimen of the language of England at the close of the sixteenth century.
To the right Worshipfull
Sir Fraunces Drake, Knight,
N, L, G, wisheth all prosperitie.
They haue an auncient custome in Persia (the which is also observed throughout all Asia) that none will enterprise to visit the king, noble man, or perticularly any other person of countenance, but he carieth with him some thing to present him with all worthy of thanks, the which is not onely done in token of great humilitie & obedience, but also of a zealous loue & friendly affection to their superiours & welwillers. So I (right worshipfull following this Persian president) hauing taking vpon me this simple translation out of the Portingale tongue, into our English language, am bold to present & dedicate the same vnto you as a signification of my entire good will. The history conteineth the discouerie and conquest of the East Indias, made by sundry worthy captaines of the Portengales,