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obtaining by fixed places of frequently recurring pause and elevation of the voice, by rhyme and other devices, a large number of places of fixed emphasis, that cause stress to be laid on every important word, while they set thought to music. Whatever will bear this continuous enforcement is fit matter for verse; but the customary thought of men, though put into words that fit it perfectly, and are therefore the best, is less intense, and therefore is best expressed in the straightforward method of our customary speech.
Much of our early English prose is translation, cramped by some transference of foreign idiom, and with the choice of words sometimes determined rather by a foreign text than by the familiar association between word and thought. But it is always unaffected. Thus, Sir John Mandeville's account of his travels, written, as it appears from the texts, first in French, and then translated into Latin, was translated also into English, and that version is ascribed in the Introduction to some copies of it to Sir John himself. As there are errors of translation into which the original author of the book could not have fallen, because they imply gross ignorance of his meaning, the English version of the Travels must have been from another hand; but it represents prose of the fourteenth century.
Sir John Mandeville was born at St. Albans, and was old enough in 1322 to set out upon his travels. He was absent thirty years, and when he came back, troubled with rheumatic gout, he busied himself with his
The English version of his Travels is said to have been made in 1356. The chief aim of Mandeville's Travels to desctibe routes to Jerusalem; he adapted his record of travel to this view of the chief object of travel. He says
that he and his men served in a war the Sultan of Babylon, and were for fifteen months with the Great Khan of the Tartars of Cathay. Although Mandeville travelled far and saw much, there can be little doubt that in his desire to gain a lively and full view of the travellers' world he worked into his narrative some records of other men's adventures.
In other respects he tells honestly what he has seen, and shows only the good appetite of his time for marvels that he heard. The fabulous Prester John, whose country is described in the section here given from Mandeville's Travels, was first heard of at Roine in 1145 as a Nestorian priest who claimed to be descended from the Magi. He had taken Ecbatana, and was going to Jerusalem, after the example of his ancestors the Magi, but taking with him all his force, when he was stopped by the Tigris, went north, where he hoped to cross at the winter freezing of the river, waited some years, found no ice, and went back. Fables thenceforth spread rapidly concerning Prester John as a great Christian emperor of the East. Travellers to the far East were inquisitive upon
this subject, and this is the account given by Sir John Mandeville of
his realm, and many great and large isles. For all the country of India is divided into isles, by the great floods that come from Paradise, that separate all the land into many parts. And also in the sea he has full many isles. And the best city in the isle of Penthexoire is Nyse, a very royal city, noble and very rich. This Prester John has under him many kings and many isles, and many divers people of divers conditions. And this land is full good and rich, but not so rich as the land of the Great Khan. For the merchants come not thither so commonly to buy merchandise, as they do in the land of the Great Khan, for it is too far. And on the other side, in the isle of Cathay, men find all things needful to man, cloths of gold, of silk, and spicery. And therefore, although men have them cheap in the isle of Prester John, they dread the long way and the great perils in the sea. For in many places of the sea are great rocks of stone of adamant (loadstone), which of its nature draws iron to it; and therefore there pass no ships that have either bonds or nails of iron in them; and if they do, anon the rocks of adamant draw them to them, that they may never go thence. I myself have seen afar in that sea, as though it had been a great isle full of trees and bushes, full of thorns and briers, in great plenty; and the shipmen told us that all that was of ships that were drawn thither by the adamants, for the iron that was in them. And of the rottenness and other things that were within the ships, grew such bushes, and thorns, and briers, and green grass, and such kinds of things; and of the masts and of the sail-yards, it seemed a great wood or a grove. And such rocks are in many places there about. And therefore merchants dare not pass there, except they know well the passages, or unless they have good pilots. And also they dread the long way, and, therefore, they go to Cathay, because it is nearer; and yet it is not so nigh but men must travel by sea and land eleven or twelve months, from Genoa or from Venice, to Cathay. And yet is the land of Prester John more far, by many dreadful days' journey. And the merchants pass by the kingdom of Persia, and go to a city called Hermes, because Hermes the philosopher founded it. And after that they pass an arm of the sea, and then they go to another city called Golbache ; and there they find mer. chandise, and as great abundance of parrots as men find here
In that country is but little wheat or barley, and therefore they eat rice and honey, milk, cheese, and fruit.
This emperor, Prester John, takes always to wife the daughter of the Great Khan;3 and the Great Khan also in the same wise the daughter of Prester John. For they two are the greatest lords under the firmament.
In the Land of Prester John are many divers things and many precious stones, so great and so large, that men make of them plates, dishes, cups, &c. And many other marvels are there, that it were too long to put in a book. But I will tell you of his principal isles, and of his estate, and of his law. This emperor Prester John is a Christian, and a great part of his country also; but they have not all the articles of our faith. They believe in the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, and they are very devout and true to one another. And he has under him seventy-two provinces, and in every province is a king, all which kings are tributary to Prester John. And in his lordships are many great marvels, for in his country is the sea called the Gravelly Sea, which is all
THE LAND OF PRESTER JOHN.
i Great and large isles. Colonel Yule observes that Mandeville makes islands of nearly all the Eastern regions. He ascribes this old practice partly to the loose use by the Arabs of the word Jazireh, but asks also, Was the word used for a place reached by sea ?
2 Cathay was the mediæval name of China.
3 The Great Khan was the Emperor of China in Cambalu or Pekin (Khan-bálig, the Khan's City).
This emperor, Prester John, possesses very extensive territory, and has many very noble cities and good towns in
gravel and sand, without a drop of water; and it ebbs and with other precious stones and great pearls. All the pillars flows in great waves, as other seas do, and it is never still. in his chamber are of fine gold with precious stones, and And no man can pass that sca with ships, and, therefore, no with many carbuncles, which give great light by night man knows what land is beyond that sea. And although it to all people. And although the carbuncle gives light has no water, men find therein, and on the banks, very good enough, nevertheless at all times a vessel of crystal, full fish, of different nature and shape from what is found in any of balm, is burning to give good smell and odour to the other sea; and they are of very good taste and delicious to emperor, and to expel all wicked airs and corruptions. The eat.
frame of his bed is of fine sapphires blended with gold, to Three days from that Sea are great mountains, out of make him sleep well.
He hath also a very which runs a great river which comes from Paradise, and it fair and noble palace in the city of Nice, where he dwells is full of precious stones, without a drop of water, and it when he likes ; but the air is not so temperate as it is at the runs through the desert, on one side, so that it makes the city of Susa. And you shall understand that in his country, Gravelly Sea where it ends. And that river runs only three and in the countries surrounding, men eat but once in the days in the week, and brings with it great stones and the day, as they do in the court of the Great Khan. And more rocks also therewith, and that in great plenty. And when than thirty thousand persons eat every day in his court, they are entered into the Gravelly Sea they are seen no besides goers and comers, but these thirty thousand persons more. And in those three days that that river runneth, no spend not so much as twelve thousand of our country. This man dare enter into it, but in the other days men dare enter emperor Prester John has evermore seven kings with him, to well enough. Beyond that river, more up towards the serve him, who share their service by certain months; and with deserts, is a great plain all gravelly between the mountains ; these kings serve always seventy-two dukes and three hun. and in that plain, every day at sun-rise, small trees begin to dred and sixty earls. And all the days of the year, twelve grow, and they grow till mid-day, bearing fruit; but no man archbishops and twenty bishops eat in his household and in dare take of that fruit, for it is a thing of faerie. And after his court. And the patriarch of St. Thomas is there what mid-day they decrease and enter again into the earth, so that the pope is here. And the archbishops, and the bishops, and at sun-set they appear no more; and so they do every day. the abbots in that country, are all kings. And each of these
In that desert are many wild men, hideous to look on, and great lords knows well the attendance of his service. One is horned; and they speak nought, but grunt like pigs. And master of his household, another is his chamberlain, another there is also great plenty of wild dogs. And there are many serveth him with a dish, another with a cup, another is parrots, which speak of their own nature, and salute men steward, another is marshal, another is prince of his arms; that go through the deserts, and speak to them as plainly as and thus is he full nobly and royally served. And his land though it were a man. And they that speak well have a extends in extreme breadth four months' journey, and in large tongue, and have five toes upon each foot. And there length out of measure, including all the isles under earth, are also others which have but three toes upon each foot, and that we suppose to be under us. they speak but little.
Near the isle of Penthexoire, which is the land of Prester This emperor Prester John, when he goes to battle against John, is a great isle, long and broad, called Milsterak," which any other lord, has no banners borne before him; but he has is in the lordship of Prester John. That isle is very rich. three large crosses of gold full of precious stones ; and each There was dwelling not long since a rich man, named Gathocross is set in a chariot full richly arrayed. And to keep lonabes, who was full of tricks and subtle deceits. He had each cross are appointed ten thousand men of arms, and more a fair and strong castle in a mountain, so strong and noble than one hundred thousand footmen. And this number of that no man could devise a fairer or a stronger. And he people is independent of the chief army. And when he has had caused the mountain to be all walled about with a strong no war, but rides with a private company, he has before him and fair wall, within which walls he had the fairest garden but one plain cross of wood, in remembrance that Jesus that might be imagined; and therein were trees bearing all Christ suffered death upon a wooden cross.
And they carry
manner of fruits, all kinds of herbs of virtue and of good before him also a platter of gold full of earth, in token that smell, and all other herbs also that bear fair flowers. And his nobleness, and his might, and his flesh, shall turn to he had also in that garden many fair wells, and by them he earth, And he has borne before him also a vessel of silver, had made fair halls and fair chambers, painted all with gold full of noble jewels of gold and precious stones, in token of and azure, representing many divers things and many divers his lordship, nobility, and power. He dwells commonly in stories. There were also beasts and birds which sung full the city of Susa, and there is his principal palace, which is so delectably, and moved by craft, that it seemed that they were rich and noble that no man can conceive it without seeing it. alive. And he had also in his garden all kinds of birds and And above the chief tower of the palace are two round beasts, that men might have play or sport to behold them. pommels of gold, in each of which are two large carbuncles, And he had also in that place the fairest damsels that might which shine bright in the night. And the principal gates of his palace are of the precious stones called sardonyx; and the 1 Milsterak, the Millestorte of Friar Odoric of Pordenone, from borders and bars are of ivory; and the windows of the halls
whom Mandeville seems to have borrowed much in this part of his
book. Odoric of Pordenone, in Friuli, was born about the year 1286, and chambers are of crystal ; and the tables, on which men
became early in life a Franciscan friar at Udine, and was famous eat, some are of emeralds, some of amethyst, and some of for sanctity before he started on his travels in the year 1316, 1317, or gold, full of precious stones, and the pillars that support 1318. He had for companion Friar James, an Irishman. the tables are of the same precious stones. Of the steps
Western India soon after 1921, spent between 1322 and 1328 three
years in Northern China, and returned in 1330. In May of that year approaching his throne, where he sits at meat, one is of onyx,
he dictated his story to a brother of big order, William of Solagna, another crystal, another green jasper, another amethyst, an- who took it down in Latin, Odorio died in January, 1331. His travels, other sardonyx, another cornelian, and the seventh, on which with valuable introductory information and notes, are translated into he sets his feet, is of chrysolite. All these steps are bordered English in Colonel Yule's “Cathay and the Way Tbither," a most
interesting collection, in two volumes, of medieval notices of China, with fine gold, with the other precious stones, set with great
published by the Hakluyt Society in 1866. orient pearls. The sides of the seat of his throne are of
This Eastern tradition of an Old Man of the Mountains was also emeralds, and bordered full nobly with gold, and dubbed told to Marco Polo and Odoric, and is given by then.
He was in
be found under the age of fifteen years, and the fairest young striplings that men might get at that same age ; and they were all clothed full richly in clothes of gold; and he said they were angels. And he had also caused to be made three fair and noble wells, all surrounded with stone of jasper and crystal, diapered with gold, and set with precious stones and great orient pearls. And he had made a conduit under the earth, so that the three wells, at his will, should run one with milk, another with wine, and another with honey. And that place he called Paradise. And when any good knight, who was hardy and noble, came to see this royalty, he would lead him into Paradise, and show him these wonderful things, for his sport, and the marvellous and delicious song of divers birds, and the fair damsels, and the fair wells of milk, wine, and honey, running plentifully. There he would let divers instruments of music sound in a high tower, so merrily that it was joy to hear, and no man should see the craft thereof; and those he said were angels of God, and that place was Paradise, that God had promised to his friends, saying “I will give you a land flowing with milk and honey.” And then he would make them drink of certain drink, whereof anon they should be drunk ; after which they seemed to have greater delight than they had before. And then would he say to them, that if they would die for him and for his love, after their death they should come to his paradise; and they should be of the age of the damsels, and they should play with them and yet they would remain maidens. And after that he would put them in a fairer paradise, where they should see the God of Nature visibly, in His majesty and bliss. And then would he show them his intent, and tell them, if they would go and slay such a lord or such a man who was his enemy, or disobedient to his will, they should not fear to do it, or to be slain themselves in doing it; for after their death he would put them into another paradise that was a hundred fold fairer than any of the others; and there should they dwell with the fairest damsels that might be, and play with them evermore. And thus went many divers lusty bachelors to slay great lords in divers countries, that were his enemies, in hopes to have that paradise. And thus he was often revenged of his enemies by his subtle deceits and false tricks. But when the worthy men of the country had perceived this subtle falsehood of this Gatholonabes, they assembled with force, and assailed his castle, and slew him, and destroyed all the fair places of that paradise. The place of the wells and of the walls and of many other things are yet clearly to be seen, but the riches are clean gone. And it is not long ago since that place was destroyed
Near that isle of Milaterak, upon the left side, nigh to the river of Pison, is a marvellous thing. There is a vale between the mountains which extends nearly four miles; and some call it the Enchanted Vale, some call it the Vale of Devils, and some the Perilous Vale. In that Vale men hear oftentimes great tempests and thunders, and great murmurs and noises, day and night; and great noise, as it were, of tabors, and nakers, and trumpets, as though it were of a great feast.
This vale is all full of devils, and has been always ; and men say there that it is one of the entrances of hell. In that vale is great plenty of gold and silver ; wherefore many misbelieving men, and many Christians also, often times go in, to have of the treasure ; but few return,
especially of the misbelieving men, for they are strangled by the devils. And in the centre of that vale, under a rock, is a head and the visage of a devil bodily, full horrible and dreadful to see, and it shows but the head to the shoulders. But there is no man in the world so bold, Christian or other, but he would be in dread to behold it, and he would feel almost dead with fear, so hideous is it to behold. For he looks at every man so sharply with dreadful eyes, that are ever moving and sparkling like fire, and changes and stirs so often in divers manners, with so horrible a countenance, that no man dare approach towards him. And from him issues smoke, and stink, and fire, and so much abomination that scarce any man may endure there. But the good Christians, that are stable in their faith, enter without peril; for they will first shrive them, and mark them with the sign of the holy cross, so that the fiends have no power over them. But although they are without peril, yet they are not without dread when they see the devils visibly and bodily all about them, that make full many divers assaults and menaces, in air and on earth, and terrify them with strokes of thunder blasts and of tempests. And the greatest fear is that God will take vengeance then of that which men have misdone against His will.
And you shall understand that when my fellows and I were in this vale, we were in great thought whether we durst put our bodies in aventure, to go in or not, in the protection of God; and some of our fellows agreed to enter, and some not. So there were with us two worthy men, friars minors of Lombardy, who said that if any man would enter they would go in with us; and when they had said so, upon the gracious trust of God and of them, we heard mass, and every man was shriven and housled ; and then we entered, fourteen persons, but at our going out we were but nine. And so we never knew whether our fellows were lost, or had turned back for fear; but we never saw them after. They were two men of Greece, and three of Spain. And our other fellows, that would not go in with us, went by another road to be before us; and so they were. And thus we passed that Perilous Vale, and found therein gold and silver, and precious stones, and rich jewels, in great plenty, both here and there, as it seemed; but whether it was as it seemed I know not, for I touched none; because the devils are so subtle to make a thing to seem otherwise than it is, to deceive mankind; and therefore I touched none; and also because that I would not be put out of my devotion, for I was more devout then than ever I was before or after, and all for the dread of fiends that I saw in divers figures; and also for the great multitude of dead bodies that I saw there lying by the way, in all the vale, as though there had been a battle between two kings, and the mightiest of the country, and that the greater party had been discomfited and slain. And I believe that hardly should any country have so many people in it as lay slain in that vale, as it seemed to us, which was a hideous sight to see. And I marvelled much that there were so many, and the bodies all whole, without rotting; but I believe that fiends made them seem to be so fresh, without rotting. And many of them were in habits of Christian men ; but I believe they were such as went in for covetousness of the treasure that was there, and had overmuch feebleness in faith ; so that their hearts might not endure in the belief for dread. And therefore we were the more devout a great deal; and yet we were cast down and beaten down many times to the hard earth by winds and thunders, and tempests; but evermore God of His grace
i The account of the Perilous Vale seems to be taken from Odoric, though Mandeville joins it to his own experiences. The first eight years of Mandeville's travels correspond to the eight last of Odoric's, and as both certainly went to the far East, they may have met; the “two friars minors of Lombardy" being Odoric and James.
* Nakers, kettle-drums an; Arabic word.
3 A rock sculpture may have been thus amplified by tradition. Noises heard in deep mountain gorges have more than once been compared in sober narrative to sound of kettle-drums.
helped us. And so we passed that perilous vale without peril and without encumbrance, thanked be almighty God !
After this, beyond the vale, is a great isle, the inhabitants of which are great giants of twenty-eight or thirty feet long, with no clothing but skins of beasts, that they hang upon them; and they eat nothing but raw flesh, and drink milk of beasts. They have no houses to lie in. And they eat more gladly man's flesh than any other flesh. Into that isle dare no man enter; and if they see a ship, and men therein, anon they enter into the sea to take them. And men told us that in an isle beyond that were giants of greater stature, some of forty-five or fifty feet long, and even, as some men say, of fifty cubits long; but I saw none of those, for I had no lust to go to those parts, because that no man comes either into that isle or into the other but he will be devoured anon. And among those giants are sheep as great as oxen here, which bear great rough wool. Of the sheep I have seen many times. And men have said many times those giants take men, in the sea, out of their ships, and bring them to land, two in one hand and two in the other, eating them going, all raw and alive. In another isle, towards the north, in the Sea of Ocean, are very evil women, who have precious stones in their eyes ; and if they behold any man with wrath, they slay him with the look.
After that is another isle, where women make great sorrow when their children are born; and when they die, they make great feasts, and great joy and revel, and then they cast them into a great burning fire. And those that love well their husbands, if their husbands die, they cast themselves also into the fire, with their children, and burn them. In that isle they make their king always by election; and they choose him not for nobleness or riches, but such a one as is of good manners and condition, and therewithal just; and also that he be of great age, and that he have no children.
In that isle men are very just, and they do just judgments in every cause, both of rich and poor, small and great, according to their trespasses. And the king may not judge a man to death without assent of his barons and other wise men of council, and unless all the court agree thereto. And if the king himself do any homicide or crime, as to slay a man, or any such case, he shall die for it; but he shall not be slain as another man; but they forbid, on pain of death, that any man be so bold as to make him company or to speak with him, or give or sell him meat or drink; and so shall he die disgracefully. They spare no man that has trespassed, either for love, or favour, or riches, or nobility; but that he shall have according to what he has done.
Beyond that isle is another, where is a great multitude of people, who will not eat flesh of hares, hens, or geese ; and yet they breed them in abundance, to see and behold them only, but they eat flesh of all other beasts, and drink milk. In that country they take their daughters or their sisters to wife, and their other kinswomen.
In that country, and in all India, are great plenty of 'cockodrills, a sort of long serpent, as I have said before ; and in the night they dwell in the water, and in the day upon the land, in rocks and caves; and they eat no meat in winter, but lie as in a dream, as do serpents. These serpents slay men, and they eat them weeping; and when they eat, they move the upper jaw, and not the lower jaw; and they have no tongue. In that country, and in many others beyond, and also in many on this side, men sow the seed of cotton; and they sow it every year, and then it grows to small trees, which bear cotton. And so do men every year, so that there is plenty of cotton at all times. In this isle also, and in many others, there is a manner of wood, hard and strong; and whoever covers the coals of that wood under the
ashes thereof, the coals will remain alive a year or more. And among other trees there are nut trees, that bear nuts as great as a man's head. There are also animals called orafles, which are called, in Arabia, gerfauntz. They are spotted, and a little higher than a horse, with a neck twenty cubits long; and the croup and tail are like those of a hart; and one of them may look over a high house. And there are also in that country many cameleons; and there are very great serpents, some one hundred and twenty feet long, of divers colours, as rayed, red, green and yellow, blue and black, and all speckled. And there are others that have crests upon their heads; and they go upon their feet upright. And there are also wild swine of many colours, as great as oxen in our country, all spotted like young fawns. And there are also hedgehogs, as great as wild swine, which we call porcupines. And there are many other extraordinary animals.
And beyond that isle is another isle, great and rich, where are good and true people, and of good living after their belief, and of good faith. And although they are not christened, yet by natural law they are full of all virtue, and eschew all vices; for they are not proud, nor covetous, nor envious, nor wrathful, nor gluttonous, nor lecherous; nor do they to any man otherwise than they would that other men did to them; and in this point they fulfil the ten commandments of God. And they care not for possessions or riches ; and they lie not, nor do they swear, but say simply yea and nay; for they say he that sweareth will deceive his neighbour; and therefore all that they do, they do it without oath. And that isle is called the isle of Bragman, and some men call it the Land of Faith; and through it runs a great river called Thebe. And in general all the men of those isles, and of all the borders thereabout, are truer than in any country thereabout, and more just than others in all things. In that isle is no thief, no murderer, no common woman, no poor beggar, and no man was ever slain in that country. And they be as chaste, and lead as good a life, as though they were monks ; and they fast all days. And because they are so true, and so just, and so full of all good conditions, they are never grieved with tempests, nor with thunder and lightning, nor with hail, nor with pestilence, nor with war, nor with famine, nor with any other tribulation, as we are many times amongst us for our sins; wherefore it appeares evident that God loveth them for their good deeds. They believe well in God that made all things, and worship Him; and they prize no earthly riches; and they live full orderly, and so soberly in meat and drink, that they live right long. And the most part of them die without sickness, when nature faileth them for old age. And it befell, in king Alexander's time, that he purposed to conquer that isle ; but when they of the country heard it, they sent messengers to him with letters, that said thus :“ What may we be now to that man to whom all the world is insufficient ? Thou shalt find nothing in us to cause thee to war against us; for we have no riches, nor do we desire any; and all the goods of our country are in common. Our meat, with which we sustain our bodies, is our riches; and instead of treasure of gold and silver, we make our treasure of acorns and pease, and to love one another. And to apparel our bodies we use a simple cloth to wrap our carcase. Our wives are not arrayed to make any man pleased. When men labour to array the body, to make it seem fairer than God made it, they do great sin; for man should not devise nor ask greater beauty than God hath ordained him to have at his birth. The earth ministereth to us two things; our livelihood, that cometh of the earth that we live by, and our sepulchre after our death. We have been in perpetual peace
1 Gerfauntz, giraffes.
till now that thou art come to disinherit us; and also we And there they always make their king by election. In that have a king. Not to do justice to every man,
for he shall find isle are two summers and two winters; and men harvest the no forfeit among us; but to keep nobleness, and to show that corn twice a year; and in all seasons of the year the gardens we are obedient, we have a king. For justice has among us are in flower. There dwell good people, and reasonable; ani no place; for we do to no man otherwise than we desire that many Christian men among them, who are so rich that they men do to us, so that righteousness or vengeance have nought know not what to do with their goods. Of old time, when to do among us; so that thou mayest take nothing from us men passed from the land of Prester John unto that isle, men but our good peace, that always hath endured among us." made ordinance to pass by ship in twenty-three days or more; And when king Alexander had read these letters, he thought but now men pass by ship in seven days. And men may see that he should do great sin to trouble them.
the bottom of the sea in many places; for it is not very deep. There is another isle called Oxidrate, and another called Beside that isle, towards the east, are two other isles, one Gymnosophe, where there are also good people, and full of called Orille, the other Argyte, of which all the land is mines good faith; and they hold, for the most part, the same good of gold and silver. And those isles are just where the Red conditions and customs, and good manners, as men of the Sea separates from the Ocean Sea. And in those isles men country above mentioned; but they all go naked. Into that see no stars so clearly as in other places; for there appears isle entered king Alexander, to see the customs; and when only one clear star called Canopus.
And there the moon is he saw their great faith, and the truth that was amongst not seen in all the lunation, except in the second quarter. In them, he said that he would not grieve them, and bade them the isle, also, of this Taprobane are great hills of gold, that ask of him what they would have of him, riches or any thing ants keep full diligently. else, and they should have it with good will. And they And beyond the land, and isles, and deserts of Prester answered that he was rich enough that had meat and drink John's lordship, in going straight towards the east, men find to sustain the body with ; for the riches of this world, that is nothing but mountains and great rocks; and there is the transitory, are of no worth; but if it were in his power to dark region, where no man may see, neither by day nor night, make them immortal, thereof would they pray him, and as they of the country say. And that desert, and that place thank him. And Alexander answered them that it was not of darkness, lasts from this coast unto Terrestrial Paradise, in his power to do it, because he was mortal, as they were. where Adam, our first father, and Eve were put, who dwelt And then they asked him why he was so proud, and so fierce, there but a little while; and that is towards the east, at the and so busy to put all the world under his subjection, “right beginning of the earth. But this is not that east that we call as thou wert a God, and hast no term of this life, neither our east, on this half, where the sun rises to us; for when day nor hour; and covetest to have all the world at thy the sun is east in those parts towards Terrestrial Paradise, it is command, that shall leave thee without fail, or thou leave it. then midnight in our parts on this half, on account of the And right as it hath been to other men before thee, right so roundness of the earth, of which I have told you before; for it shall be to others after thee, and from hence shalt thou our Lord God made the earth all round, in the middle of the carry nothing; but as thou wert born naked, right so all firmament. And there have mountains and hills been, and naked shall thy body be turned into earth, that thou wert valleys, which arose only from Noah's flood, that wasted the made of. Wherefore thou shouldst think, and impress it on soft and tender ground, and fell down into valleys; and the thy mind, that nothing is immortal but only God, that hard earth and the rock remnain mountains, when the soft and made all things.” By which answer Alexander was greatly tender earth was worn away by the water, and fell, and astonished and abashed, and all confused departed from them. became valleys.
Many other isles there are in the Land of Prester John, and Of Paradise I cannot speak properly, for I was not there. many great marvels, that were too long to tell, both of his It is far beyond; and I repent not going there, but I was not riches and of his nobleness, and of the great plenty also of worthy. But as I have heard say of wise men beyond, I precious stones that he has. I think that you know well shall tell you with good will. Terrestrial Paradise, as wise now, and have heard say, why this emperor is called Prester men say, is the highest place of the earth ; and it is so high John. There was some time an emperor there, who was a that it nearly touches the circle of the moon there, as the moon worthy and a full noble prince, that had Christian knights in makes her turn. For it is so high that the flood of Noah his company, as he has that now is. So it befell that he had might not come to it, that would have covered all the great desire to see the service in the church among Chris- earth of the world all about, and above and beneath, except tians; and then Christendom extended beyond the sea, in- Paradise. And this Paradise is inclosed all about with a cluding all Turkey, Syria, Tartary, Jerusalem, Palestine, wall, and men know not whereof it is; for the wall is Arabia, Aleppo, and all the land of Egypt. So it befell that covered all over with moss, as it seems; and it seems this emperor came, with a Christian knight with him, into a not that the wall is natural stone. And that wall stretches church in Egypt; and it was the Saturday in Whitsuntide.
from the south to the north; and it has but one entry, And the bishop was conferring orders; and he beheld and which is closed with burning fire, so that no
man that listened to the service full attentively; and he asked the is mortal dare enter. And in the highest place of Paradise, Christian knight what men of degree they should be that the exactly in the middle, is a well that casts out the four prelate had before him; and the knight answered and said streams, which run by divers lands, of which the first is that they were priests. And then the emperor said that he called Pison, or Ganges, that runs throughout India, or would no longer be called King nor Emperor, but Priest; and Emlak, in which river are many precious stones, and much that he would have the name of the first priest that went out lignum aloes, and much sand of gold. And the other river is of the church; and his name was John. And so, evermore
called Nile, or Gyson, which goes through Ethiopia, and after since, he is called Prester John.
through Egypt. And the other is called Tigris, which runs Towards the east of Prester John's land is a good and great by Assyria, and by Armenia the Great. And the other is isle called Taprobane,' and it is very fruitful; and the king called Euphrates, which runs through Media, Armenia, and thereof is rich, and is under the obeisance of Prester John. Persia. And men there beyond say that all the sweet waters
of the world, above and beneath, take their beginning from 1 Taprobane, Ceylon.
the well of Paradise ; and out of that well all waters como