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Robert Kerr (writer)
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 647 pages of information about A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels Volume 01.

In the foregoing accounts of the voyage of Sighelm, from the first notice in the Saxon Chronicle, through the additions of Malmsbury, and the amplified paraphrase by Harris, we have an instance of the manner in which ingenious men permit themselves to blend their own imaginations with original record, superadding utterly groundless circumstances, and fancied conceptions, to the plain historical facts.  Thus a motely rhetorical tissue of real incident and downright fable is imposed upon the world, which each successive author continually improves into deeper falsehood.  We have here likewise an instance of the way in which ancient manuscripts, first illustrated by commentaries, became interpolated, by successive transcribers adopting those illustrations into the text; and how many fabricators of story, first misled by these additaments, and afterwards misleading the public through a vain desire of producing a morsel of eloquence, although continually quoting original and contemporary authorities, have acquired the undeserved fame of excellent historians, while a multitude of the incidents, which they relate, have no foundations whatever in the truth of record.  He only, who has diligently and faithfully laboured through original records, and contemporary writers, honestly endeavouring to compose the authentic history of an interesting period, and has carefully compared, in his progress, the flippant worse than inaccuracies of writers he has been taught to consider as masterly historians, can form an adequate estimate of the enormity and frequency of this tendency to romance.  The immediate subject of these observations is slight and trivial; but the evil itself is wide-spread and important, and deserves severe reprehension, as many portions of our national history have been strangely disfigured by such indefensible practices.

[1] Harris, I. 873.  Hakluyt, V. II. 38.

[2] Chron.  Sax.  Ed. Gibson, p. 86.

[3] Hakluyt, II. 88.

SECTION V.

Travels of John Erigena to Athens, in the Ninth Century[1].

John Erigena, of the British Nation, descended from noble progenitors, and born in the town of St. Davids in Wales; while the English were oppressed by the cruel wars and ravages of the Danes, and the whole land was in confusion, undertook a long journey to Athens, and there spent many years in the study of the Grecian, Chaldean, and Arabian literature.  He there frequented all the places and schools of the philosophers, and even visited the oracle of the sun, which Esculapius had constructed for himself.  Having accomplished the object of his travels, he returned through Italy and France; where, for his extraordinary learning, he was much favoured by Charles the Bald, and afterwards by Lewis the Stammerer.  He translated into Latin, in 858, the books of Dionysius the Areopagite, concerning the Heavenly Hierarchy, then sent from Constantinople.  Going afterwards

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