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.

[20] This curious account of the origin of ambergris, was revived again
    about twenty-five years ago, and published in the Philosophical
    Transactions of the Royal Society of London, as a new discovery.  The
    only difference in the modern account of the matter is, that the
    ambergris originates within the alimentary canal of the whale, in
    consequence, probably, of some disease; and that the lumps which are
    found afloat, or cast on shore, had been extruded by these

[21] Bahrein is an island in the Persian gulf, on the Arabian shore, still
    celebrated for its pearl fishery.—­E.


Travels of Rabbi Benjamin of Tudela, through Europe, Asia, and Africa, from Spain to China, between A.D. 1160 and 1173[1].

This Spanish Jew was the son of Rabbi Jonas, of Tudela, a small town in Navarre.  According to the testimony of Rabbi Abraham Zuka, a celebrated professor of astronomy at Salamanca, it is supposed that Rabbi Benjamin travelled from 1160 to 1173.  Young Barratier, a prodigy of early literary genius, asserts that Benjamin never made the journey at all, but patched up the whole work from contemporary writers.  There is no doubt that his work is full of incredible tales, yet many of the anomalies it contains, may have proceeded from mistakes of copyists; exaggeration was the taste of the times, and other travellers who are believed actually to have travelled, are not behind him in the marvellous.  These often relate the miracles of pretended Christian saints, while he details the wonders performed by Jewish Rabbis.  He contains however, many curious pieces of information, not to be found anywhere else, and it seems necessary and proper to give a full abstract of his travels in this place.

Travelling by land to Marseilles, Benjamin embarked for Genoa, and proceeded to Rome, from whence he went through the kingdom of Naples to Otranto, where he crossed over to Corfu and Butrinto, and journeyed by land through Greece to Constantinople, having previously visited the country of Wallachia.  All this takes up the four first chapters, which are omitted in Harris.  In the fifth, he gives an account of the city and Court of Constantinople, as follows:  Constantinople is an exceedingly great city, the capital of the Javanites[2], or the nation called Greeks, and the principal seat of the emperor Emanuel[3], whose commands are obeyed by twelve kings, for every one of whom there are several palaces in Constantinople, and they have fortresses and governments in other places of the empire, and to them the whole land is subject.  The principal of these is the Apripus, Praepositus, or prime minister; the second, Mega Dumastukitz, [Greek:  Mezas Domestichos], or great chamberlain; the third Dominot, Dominos, or lord:  but his peculiar office or department does not appear; the fourth Mackducus,

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