Mandeville affirms that he was descended of an ancient and noble family, and was born at St Albans. After receiving the rudiments of a liberal education, he says that he studied mathematics, physic, and divinity, and wrote books on all these sciences; and became expert in all the exercises then befitting a gentleman. Having a desire to travel, he crossed the sea in 1322, or 1332, for different manuscripts give both dates, and set out on a journey through France towards the Holy Land, a description of which country, replete with monkish tales, and filled with the most absurd holy fables, occupies half of his ridiculous book. In the very outset he pretends to have visited India, and the Indian islands, and other countries; all of which appears to be fabulous, or interpolation. Before proceeding to the Holy Land, perhaps the sole country which he really visited, he gives various routes or itineraries to and from Constantinople, containing no personal adventures, or any other circumstances that give the stamp of veracity; but abundance of nonsensical fables about the cross and crown of our Saviour, at the imperial city.
He pretends to have served in the army of the sultan of Egypt, whom he calls Mandybron, who must have been Malek el Naser Mohammed, who reigned from 1310 to 1341, and states a war against the Bedouins, or Arabs of the desert, as the scene of his own exploits. Yet he seems to have been entirely unacquainted with Egypt, and gives only a slight mention of Cairo. He represents the sultan as residing in Bablyon, and blunders into pedantic confusion between Babylon in Egypt, and Babylon in Chaldea, all of which is probably an injudicious complement from books common at the time.
About the middle of the book he gives some account of the ideas of the Saracens concerning Christ; and then falls into a roaming description of various countries, obviously compiled without consideration of time or changes of people and names; deriving most of his materials from ancient authors, particularly from Pliny, and describing Mesopotamia, Chaldea, Albania, Hircania, Bactria, Iberia, and others, as if such had actually existed in the geography of the fourteenth century. Where any thing like modern appears, it is some childish fable, as that the ark of Noah was still visible on mount Ararat. He even gives the ancient fable of the Amazons, whom he represents as an existing female nation.
He next makes a transition to India, without any notice of his journey thither; arid gravely asserts that he has often experienced, that if diamonds be wetted with May-dew, they will grow to a great size in a course of years. This probably is an improvement upon the Arabian philosophy or the production of pearls by the oysters catching that superlative seminal influence. The following singular article of intelligence respecting India, may be copied as a specimen of the work: “In that countree growen many strong vynes: and the women drynken wyn, and men not: and the