A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels — Volume 01 eBook

Robert Kerr (writer)
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 770 pages of information about A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels — Volume 01.

Although we have admitted this article into our collection, on the authority of Ramusio and J. R. Forster, we are disposed to consider the whole as a fabrication, altogether unworthy of any credit.  The first section, indeed, may possibly have had some foundation in truth, as the Zenos may have navigated about the close of the fourteenth century to the Orkneys, and some imperfect and disfigured narrative of their voyage may have fallen into the hands of Marcolini, the author or editor of these strangely distorted and exaggerated or pretended voyages.  In regard to the second section, unless we could suppose, that, by Estoitland and Drogio, some strangely distorted account of different districts in Ireland were meant to be enigmatically conveyed, the whole of that section must be pronounced a palpable and blundering forgery.  But it appears obviously intended by the relater, to impress upon his readers, that some portion of the western hemisphere, afterwards named America, had been visited by Antonio Zeno; and the high probability is, that Marcolini, a patriotic Venetian, had invented the whole story, on purpose to rob the rival republic of Genoa of the honour of haying given birth to the real discoverer of the New World.  If there be any truth whatever in the voyages of the Zenos, it is only to be found in the first section of this chapter; and even there the possible truth is so strangely enveloped in unintelligible names of persons and places, as to be entirely useless.  The second section is utterly unworthy of the slightest serious consideration; and must either have been a posterior fabrication, engrafted upon an authentic, but ignorantly told narrative; or the seeming possibility of the first section was invented to give currency to the wild forgery of the second.  Latin books, a library, gold, ships, and foreign trade, corn, beer, numerous towns and castles, all in the most northern parts of America in the fourteenth century, where only nomadic savages had ever existed, are all irrefragable evidence, that the whole, or at least that portion of the voyages of the Zenos, is an idle romance.  To increase the absurdity, as if to try the gullability of the readers, Dedalus, a king of Scotland! is assumed to have been the first discoverer of the Western World; and his son Icarus is introduced to give his name to a civilized island, already named Estoitland in the narrative.

After this decided opinion of the falsehood and absurdity of the whole of this present chapter, it may be necessary to state, that, in a work so general and comprehensive as that we have undertaken, it did not seem advisable or proper to suppress an article which had been admitted into other general collections of voyages and travels.  The remainder of this introduction is from the work of Mr J. R, Forster, extracted partly from Ramusio, and partly consisting of an ingenious attempt to explain and bolster up the more than dubious production of Marcolini:  But these observations are here considerably abridged; as an extended, grave, and critical commentary on a narrative we believe fabulous, might appear incongruous, though it did not seem proper to omit them altogether.—­E.

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