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

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.

[3] It is true that grapes grow wild in Canada which are very good
    to eat, yet no one has ever been able to make good wine from their
    juice.  Whether these wild grapes are found in Newfoundland I know not. 
    The species of vines which grow in North America, are named by
    Linnaeus, Vitis labrusca, vulpina, and arborea.—­Forst.

The propriety of the names imposed by the Norwegians on their new discoveries is admirable.  Iceland, Greenland, Helleland, Markland, Winland, and many others; which are perfectly philosophical, excellently systematic, and infinitely preferable to the modern clumsy appellations, New Britain, New France, New England, New Holland, Sandwich Islands, Society islands, and a multitude of much worse names.—­E.

CHAP.  IV.

Travels of two Mahomedans in India and China, in the Ninth Century.[1]

INTRODUCTION.

This curious remnant of antiquity was translated from the Arabic, and published in 1718, by Eusebius Renaudot, a learned Member of the French Academy, and of the Academy of Inscriptions and Belles Lettres.  It is not known by whom the travels were actually performed, neither can their exact date be ascertained, as the commencement of the MS. which was translated by Renaudot was imperfect; but it appears to have been written in the 237th year of the Hegira, or in the year 851 of the Christian era.  Though entitled the travels of two Mahomedans, the travels seem to have been mostly performed by one person only; the latter portion being chiefly a commentary upon the former, and appears to have been the work of one Abu Zeid al Hasan of Siraf, and to have been written about the 803d year of the Hegira, or A.D. 915.  In this commentary, indeed, some report is given of the travels of another Mahomedan into China.  The MS. employed by Renaudot belonged to the library of the Count de Seignelay, and appears to have been written in the year 619 of the Hegira, or A.D. 1173.  The great value of this work is, that it contains the very earliest account of China, penned above four hundred years earlier than the travels of Marco Polo, who was esteemed the first author on the subject before this publication appeared.

There are many curious and remarkable passages in these travels, which convey information respecting customs and events that are nowhere else to be found; and though some of these carry a fabulous appearance, the greatest part of them have been confirmed and justified by the best writers in succeeding ages.  The first portion, or the actual narrative, begins abruptly, on account of some portion of the original manuscript being lost, which would probably have given the name and country of the author, and the date and occasion of his voyage.

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