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A SPEECH IN PORTUGUESE
They have been at a great feast of languages, and stolen the scraps. SHAKSPEARE, Love's Labour Lost, Act V. Sc. 1.
NEVER shall I forget my Viceregal visit to Goa, still the capital of the Portuguese possessions in India, as it has been ever since the famous Alfonso de Albuquerque made his triumphal entry into the older city on 17th February 1510. During the succeeding century the name of Goa was a synonym throughout the Eastern world for all that was fastidious in ostentation and refulgent in splendour. The Portuguese power, resting on the double basis of a dominant military organisation and a wealthy and proselytising church, presented a gorgeous external façade, though infected with the germs of an early and inevitable decay. Luxury, profligacy, and a complete lack of the colonising and even the commercial spirit sapped the structure which had been so easily and brilliantly reared. With the fall of the Portuguese Empire, its outlying possessions dwindled and decayed, the territory was invaded, internal revolutions were frequent, and Goa sank into a swift and irremediable decline.
The old town of Goa, five miles higher up the river
than the modern capital, was abandoned, and is now the site only of a few fine churches, in one of which the Apostle of the Indies, St. Francis Xavier, is interred in a magnificent tomb. In buildings half as large as St. Paul's, services are still kept up by a handful of native Catholic priests for a congregation that is non-existent, and the vestries and chapels are packed with inestimable treasures in vestments, sacramental plate, and other works of art. Otherwise, except when the great church festivals are held, and the body of the saint, at rare intervals, is exposed to view, old Goa is a deserted city, where the relics of bygone splendour are gripped by the encroaching jungle, and the towers of the empty churches spring from a forest of palms. Still, however, at the head of the road leading up from the river stands the great archway under which each new Governor-General on assuming office has to pass on his way to Bom Jesus, where he is inducted into his office with a service during which he holds the staff that at other times is borne by the effigy of St. Francis, which stands on the altar before his shrine.
At about the time when George III. was ascending the British Throne, the ruin of old Goa was already so far advanced that the capital was moved to a site a few miles lower down the river and in more convenient proximity to its mouth; and there, at Panjim or New Goa, the seat of government of the shrunken Portuguese dominions in India has ever since been placed.
Lord Ripon was the only Viceroy before myself who had ever been to Goa, and that in an unofficial
THE RUINS OF THE FAMOUS COLLEGE OF ST. PAUL, GOA
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originally the Franciscan College of Santa Fé, used by St. Francis Xavier as a training school for Native missionaries