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go more right than any other folk. And right height environ, after mine opinion and mine as it seemeth to us that they be under us, right understanding. so it seemeth to them that we be under them. For if a man might fall from the earth unto the firmament, by greater reason the earth and the sea that be so great and so heavy should fall to the firmament: but that may not be, and therefore saith our Lord God, Non timeas me, qui suspendi terram ex nihilo !13
And albeit that it be possible thing that men may so environ all the world, natheless, of a thousand persons, one ne might not happen to return into his country. For the greatness of the earth and of the sea, men may go by a thousand and a thousand other ways, that no man could ready him14 perfectly toward the parts that he came from, but if it were by adventure and hap, or by the grace of God. For the earth is full large and full great, and holds in roundness and about environ15, by above and by beneath, 20425 miles, after the opinion of old wise astronomers; and their sayings I reprove nought. But, after my little wit, it seemeth me, saving their reverence, that it is
And for to have better understanding I say thus. Be there imagined a figure that hath a great compass. And, about the point of the great compass that is clept the centre, be made another little compass. Then after, be the great compass devised by lines in many parts, and that all the lines meet at the centre. So, that in as many parts as the great compass shall be departed16, in as many shall be departed the little, that is about the centre, albeit that the space be less. Now then, be the great compass represented for the firmament, and the little compass represented for the earth. Now then, the firmament is devised by astronomers in twelve signs, and every sign is devised in thirty degrees; that is, 360 degrees that the firmament hath above. Also, be the earth devised in as many parts as the firmament, and let every part answer to a degree of the firmament. And wit it well, that, after the authors of astronomy, 700 furlongs of earth answer to a degree of the firmament, and those be eighty-seven miles and four furlongs. Now be that here multiplied by 360 sithes17, and then they be 31,500 miles every18 of eight furlongs, after19 miles of our country. So much hath the earth in roundness and of
OF THE TREES THAT BEAR MEAL, HONEY, WINE, AND VENOM; AND OF OTHER MARVELS another isle, good and great, that men clepe After that isle, in going by sea, men find Pathen1, that is a great kingdom full of fair In that land grow cities and full of towns.
trees that grow meal, whereof men make good seemeth as it were of wheat, but it is not albread and white and of good savor; and it linges of such savor. And there be other trees that bear honey good and sweet, and other trees that bear venom, against the which there is no medicine but one; and that is to take their propers leaves and stamp them and temper them with water and then drink it, and else he shall die; for triacle will not avail, ne none other medicine. Of this venom the Jews had let seek of one of their friends for to empoison all Christianity, as I have heard them say in their confession before their dying: but thanked be Almighty God! they failed of their purpose; but always they make great mortality of people. And other trees there be also that bear wine of noble sentiment. And if you like to hear how the meal cometh out of the trees I shall say you. Men hew the trees with an hatchet, all about the foot of the tree, till that the bark be parted in many parts, and then cometh out thereof a thick liquor, the which they receive in vessels, and dry it at the heat of the sun; and then they have it to a mill to grind and it becometh fair meal and whites. And the honey and the wine and the venom be drawn out of other trees in the same manner, and put in vessels for to keep.
In that isle is a dead sea, that is a lake that hath no ground: and if anything fall into that lake it shall never come up again. In that lake grow reeds, that be canes, that they clepe Thaby10, that be thirty fathoms long; and of these canes men make fair houses. And there be other canes that be not so long, that grow near the land and have so long roots that endure well a four quarters11 of a furlong or
more; and at the knots of those roots men find precious stones that have great virtues. And he that beareth any of them upon him, iron ne steel may not hurt him, ne draw no blood upon him; and therefore, they that have those stones upon them fight full hardily both upon sea and land, for men may not harm them on no part. And therefore, they that know the manner, and shall fight with them, they shoot to them arrows and quarrels without iron or steel, and so they hurt them and slay them. And also of those canes they make houses and ships and other things, as we have here, making houses and ships of oak or of any other trees. And deem no man that I say it but for a trifle, for I have seen of the canes with mine own eyes, full many times, lying upon the river of that lake, of the which twenty of our fellows ne might not lift up ne bear one to the earth.
OF THE PARADISE TERRESTRIAL
And beyond the land and the isles and the deserts of Prester John's lordship, in going straight toward the east, men find nothing but mountains and rocks, full great. And there is the dark region, where no man may see, neither by day ne by night, as they of the country say. And that desert and that place of darkness dure from this coast unto Paradise terrestrial, where that1 Adam, our foremost2 father, and Eve were put, that dwelled there but little while; and that is towards the east at the beginning of the earth. But that is not that east that we clepe our east on this half, where the sun riseth to us. For when the sun is east in those parts towards Paradise terrestrial, it is then midnight in our part on this half, for the roundness of the earth, of the which I have touched to you of before. For our Lord God made the earth all round in the mid place of the firmament. And there as1 mountains and hills be and valleys, that is not but only of Noah's flood, that wasted the soft ground and the tender, and fell down into valleys, and the hard earth and the rocks abides mountains,
when the soft earth and tender waxed nesh6
through the water, and fell and became valleys. Of Paradise ne can I not speak properly. For I was not there. It is far beyond. And that forthinketh me. And also I was not worthy. But as I have heard say ofs wise men beyond, I shall tell you with good will.
Paradise terrestrial, as wise men say, is the highest place of earth, that is in all the world. And it is so high that it toucheth nigh to the circle of the moon, there as the moon maketh her turn; for she is so high that the flood of Noah ne might not come to her, that would have covered all the earth of the world all about and above and beneath, save Paradise only alone. And this Paradise is enclosed all about with a wall, and men wit not whereof it. is; for the walls be covered all over with moss, as it seemeth. And it seemeth not that the wall is stone of nature, ne of none other thing that the wall is. And that wall stretcheth from the south to the north, and it hath not but one entry that is closed with fire, burning; so that no man that is mortal ne dare not enter.
And in the most high place of Paradise, even in the middle place, is a well that casteth out the four floods that run by divers lands. Of the which the first is clept Pison, or Ganges, that is all one; and it runneth throughout Ind or Emlak, in the which river be many precious stones, and much of lignum aloes10 and much gravel of gold. And that other river is clept Nilus or Gison, that goeth by Ethiopia and after by Egypt. And that other is clept Tigris, that runneth by Assyria and by Armenia the great. And that other is clept Euphrates, that runneth also by Media and Armenia and by Persia. And men there beyond say, that all the sweet waters of the world, above and beneath, take their beginning of the well of Paradise, and out of that well all waters come and
The first river is clept Pison, that is to say in their language, Assembly; for many other rivers meet them there, and go into that river. And some men clepe it Ganges, for a king that was in Ind, that hight11 Gangeres, and that it ran throughout his land. And that water is in some place clear, and in some place troubled, in some place hot, and in some place cold.
The second river is clept Nilus or Gison; for it is always trouble12; and Gison, in the language of Ethiopia, is to say, trouble, and in the language of Egypt also.
The third river, that is clept Tigris, is as much for to say as, fast-running; for he runneth more fast than any of the tother; and also there is a beast, that is clept Tigris, that is fast-running.
The fourth river is clept Euphrates, that is to say, well-bearing; for here grow many goods
upon that river, as corn, fruits, and other formation of men that knew of things that I goods enough plenty.
had not seen myself, and also of marvels and customs that I had seen myself, as far as God would give me grace; and besought his holy fatherhood that my book might be examined and proved by the advice of his said council. And our holy father, of his special grace, remitted my book to be examined and proved by the advice of his said counsel. By the which my book was proved for true, insomuch that they showed me a book, that my book was examined by, that comprehended full more, by an hundred part, by the which the Mappa Mundi2 was made after. And so my book (albeit that many men ne list not to give credence to nothing but to that that they see with their eye, ne be the author ne the person never so true) is affirmed and proved by our holy father, in manner and form as I have said.
And ye shall understand that no man that is mortal ne may not approach to that Paradise. For by land no man may go for wild beasts that be in the desert, and for the high mountains and great huge rocks that no man may pass by, for the dark places that be there, and that many. And by the rivers may no man go. For the water runneth so rudely and so sharply, because that it cometh down so outrageously from the high places above, that it runneth in so great waves, that no ship may not row ne sail against it. And the water roareth so, and maketh so huge a noise and so great tempest, that no man may hear other in the ship, though he cried with all the craft that he could in the highest voice that he might. Many great lords have assayed with great will, many times, for to pass by those rivers towards Paradise, with And I, John Mandeville, knight, abovesaid full great companies. But they might not (although I be unworthy), that departed from speed on their voyage. And many died for our countries and passed the sea, the year of weariness of rowing against those strong waves. grace a thousand three hundred and twenty-two, And many of them became blind, and many that have passed many lands and many isles deaf, for the noise of the water. And some and countries, and searched many full strange were perished and lost within the waves. So places, and have been in many a full good honthat no mortal man may approach to that place, orable country, and at many a fair deed of without special grace of God, so that of that arms (albeit that I did none myself, for mine place I can say you no more; and therefore I unable insufficience), now I am come home, shall hold me still, and return to that that I maugre myself, to rest, for gouts arthritic that have seen. me distrains that define the end of my labor; against my will (God knoweth).
And ye shall understand, if it like you, that at mine home-coming I came to Rome, and showed my life to our holy father the pope, and was assoiled1 of all that lay in my conscience, of many a diverse grievous point; as men must needs that be in company, dwelling amongst so many a diverse folk of diverse sect and of belief, as I have been. And amongst all I showed him this treatise, that I had made after in