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that he had not seen as much as his neighbours,
so all bid against each other for the
most tremendous and well-conditioned
falsehoods their brains could devise; and for
centuries and centuries men believed in
anthropophagi with heads growing beneath their
shoulders, and folks with but one eye in the
middle of their foreheads, and in unicorns and
basilisks and all the rest of the fabulous beasts
which made every step of foreign travel an
heroic adventure; and there was no one found
sceptical or bold enough to deny them.

Travellers also, on the other hand, seemed to
lie when they told the truth. Many of Pliny's
stories, long disbelieved, have turned out to be
not inconsistent with truth when the light of
modern observation and modern science has
been cast upon them. Herodotus lay for ages
under the ban of enormous lying; but later
travellers have testified in one or two instances
to the truth of stories which the father of history
reported often from hearsay. Two modern
instances we may quote, Bruce and Du Chaillu.
Bruce's tales were, for a time, as utterly
disbelieved as the rodomontades of Baron Munchausen ;
but later authors have restored his memory
to credibility. As for Du Chaillu, his testimony
on several minor points still hangs in suspense.

There is a sound rule laid down by a writer on
the Theory of Probabilities, with regard to what
travellers' stories may be believed, and which of
them disbelieved. If, is this dictum, a man of good
character and known credibility returns from a
country to which no one else had ever penetrated,
and tells such stories as we have enumerated
above, we ought not hastily to contradict him;
because, inasmuch as it is not repugnant to the
laws of organised nature, that animals in human
form may exist whose heads do grow in an unsual
part of the body, or that they have only one
central eye to see with, he ought not to be condemned
until we can get the evidence of more and better
witnesses to the contrary; in other words, until
other travellers have brought back more likely
stories from the same regions. Though we may
doubt to the fullest extent, we ought not, in the
absence of all actual proof, to brand the forehead
of the former traveller with the ugly little word
of four letters. But if that explorer returns
with the story that he has discovered a nation
amongst whom two and two make five, we know
him at once for a liar, and treat him as such without
any discussion whatever.

In obedience to the first part of this rule,
therefore, do not let us be too hard on our
ancestors (who had, let us say, fine, broad,
poetical imaginations) for putting faith in such
books as that of Dr. John Bulwer, with the neat
little title of Anthropometamorphosis; or, The
Artificial Changeling; and in other works, that
described with the most painful minuteness and
perfect belief monsters, human and inhuman,
and natural phenomena of the most wildly
improbable, though not physically impossible kind.
The witnesses that came to them from the nether
ends of the earth were too few to enable them
to play one off against another, to enable them
to sum up the evidence concerning the most
incredible travellers' tales, and to say that their
stories are false.

There was Sir John Mandevileor, to give
him his proper title and superscription, "John
Maundevile Knyght of Ingelond, that was y
bore in the toun of Seynt Albons, and travelide
aboute in the wordle in manye diverse contreis
to se mervailes and customes of countreis and
diversiteis of folkys, and diverse shap of men,
and of beistis, and all the mervaill that he say
he wrot and tellith in this book,"— it would be
hard to find a larger collection of " that which
is not" packed up in a smaller compass than
what the worthy and honourable knight wrote
as his own experiences. Certainly he has
sometimes the grace to fence round his assertions
with a small wire netting, such as " Thei seyn
(say), or, men seyn, but I have not sene it;" but
for the most part the reader is required to open
wide the mouth of faith, and shut close the eyes
of reason, and swallow, without wry faces, whatever
the knightly traveller presents as good and
wholesome intellectual food. Sometimes the dish
is filled with the fact that the monks of the Isle
of Cypress, laying claim to one half of the True
Cross, possess only that on which the good thief
Dysmas was hanged; or that the True Cross was
made of the tree whereof Adam eat the apple,
and which we moderns call cypress; or that a
plate of gold was found in the earth beneath the
church of Saint Sophia, which plate of gold bore
a confession of the Christian faith written in
Hebrew, Greek, and Latin letters, long before the
advent of the Christian era. Or it is the daughter
of " Ypocras," who, in form and likeness of a
dragon a hundred fathoms long, yet lives in an
old castle in a cave, and shows herself twice or
thrice in the year, waiting for the knight
hardier than the Knight of Rhodeswho shall
kiss her on the mouth, and so restore her to her
woman's shape again; or it is the marvellous
gravel which turns all manner of metal into glass,
yet which, when itself made into glass, is
resolved into gravel again if reheated; or the deadly
monster, like a man-goat horned, who talked to
a holy hermit reasonably, and whose head, with
its two horns, was sent to Alexandria for the
much marvelling of all beholders; or the Phoenix
who, at the end of every five hundred years,
comes to burn himself upon the altar of the
Temple of the Sun in the city of the Sun,
becoming, the first day after that voluntary cremation,
a worm, on the second a bird " quick" and
perfect, and on the third flying away to its own
native land, a miracle like as there is none other;
or the apples of Paradise, which, cut them into
as many pieces or " gobbets" as you will, yet
ever show the sign of the Holy Cross in the
midst of each; or Adam's apple with the teeth
marks in the side; or the balm-trees which
must be cut with flint or bone by Christian
men, for if cut with iron all the strength and
manhood of the pruner will be taken from him,
and if by the " Sarazines" all the virtue and
flavour of the tree will be lost; or the serpents
of Sicily which obligingly settle all registration

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