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Letters To Dead Authors
LETTER--To Sir John Maundeville, Kt. (OF THE WAYS INTO YNDE.)
by Lang, Andrew


Sir John,--Wit you well that men holden you but light, and some clepen you a Liar. And they say that you never were born in Englond, in the town of Seynt Albones, nor have seen and gone through manye diverse Londes. And there goeth an old knight at arms, and one that connes Latyn, and hath been beyond the sea, and hath seen Prester John's country. And he hath been in an Yle that men clepen Burmah, and there bin women bearded. Now men call him Colonel Henry Yule, and he hath writ of thee in his great booke, Sir John, and he holds thee but lightly. For he saith that ye did pill your tales out of Odoric his book, and that ye never saw snails with shells as big as houses, nor never met no Devyls, but part of that ye say, ye took it out of William of Boldensele his book, yet ye took not his wisdom, withal, but put in thine own foolishness. Nevertheless, Sir John, for the frailty of Mankynde, ye are held a good fellow, and a merry; so now, come, let me tell you of the new ways into Ynde.

In that Lond they have a Queen that governeth all the Lond, and all they ben obeyssant to her. And she is the Queen of Englond; for Englishmen have taken all the Lond of Ynde. For they were right good werryoures of old, and wyse, noble, and worthy. But of late hath risen a new sort of Englishman very puny and fearful, and these men clepen Radicals. And they go ever in fear, and they scream on high for dread in the streets and the houses, and they fain would flee away from all that their fathers gat them with the sword. And this sort men call Scuttleres, but the mean folk and certain of the baser sort hear them gladly, and they say ever that Englishmen should flee out of Ynde.

Fro Englond men gon to Ynde by many dyverse Contreyes. For Englishmen ben very stirring and nymble. For they ben in the seventh climate, that is of the Moon. And the Moon (ye have said it yourself, Sir John, natheless, is it true) is of lightly moving, for to go diverse ways, and see strange things, and other diversities of the Worlde. Wherefore Englishmen be lightly moving, and far wandering. And they gon to Ynde by the great Sea Ocean. First come they to Gibraltar, that was the point of Spain, and builded upon a rock; and there ben apes, and it is so strong that no man may take it. Natheless did Englishmen take it fro the Spanyard, and all to hold the way to Ynde. For ye may sail all about Africa, and past the Cape men clepen of Good Hope, but that way unto Ynde is long and the sea is weary. Wherefore men rather go by the Midland sea, and Englishmen have taken many Yles in that sea.

For first they have taken an Yle that is clept Malta; and therein built they great castles, to hold it against them of Fraunce, and Italy, and of Spain. And from this Ile of Malta Men gon to Cipre. And Cipre is right a good Yle, and a fair, and a great, and it hath 4 principal Cytees within him. And at Famagost is one of the principal Havens of the sea that is in the world, and Englishmen have but a lytel while gone won that Yle from the Sarazynes. Yet say that sort of Englishmen where of I told you, that is puny and sore adread, that the Lond is poisonous and barren and of no avail, for that Lond is much more hotter than it is here. Yet the Englishmen that ben werryoures dwell there in tents, and the skill is that they may ben the more fresh.

From Cypre, Men gon to the Lond of Egypte, and in a Day and a Night he that hath a good wind may come to the Haven of Alessandrie. Now the Lond of Egypt longeth to the Soudan, yet the Soudan longeth not to the Lond of Egypt. And when I say this, I do jape with words, and may hap ye understond me not. Now Englishmen went in shippes to Alessandrie, and brent it, and over ran the Lond, and their soudyours warred agen the Bedoynes, and all to hold the way to Ynde. For it is not long past since Frenchmen let dig a dyke, through the narrow spit of lond, from the Midland sea to the Red sea, wherein was Pharaoh drowned. So this is the shortest way to Ynde there may be, to sail through that dyke, if men gon by sea.

But all the Lond of Egypt is clepen the Vale enchaunted; for no man may do his business well that goes thither, but always fares he evil, and therefore clepen they Egypt the Vale perilous, and the sepulchre of reputations. And men say there that is one of the entrees of Helle. In that Vale is plentiful lack of Gold and Silver, for many misbelieving men, and many Christian men also, have gone often time for to take of the Thresoure that there was of old, and have pilled the Thresoure, wherefore there is none left. And Englishmen have let carry thither great store of our Thresoure, 9,000,000 of Pounds sterling, and whether they will see it agen I misdoubt me. For that Vale is alle fulle of Develes and Fiendes that men clepen Bondholderes, for that Egypt from of olde is the Lond of Bondage. And whatsoever Thresoure cometh into the Lond, these Devyls of Bondholders grabben the same. Natheless by that Vale do Englishmen go unto Ynde, and they gon by Aden, even to Kurrachee, at the mouth of the Flood of Ynde. Thereby they send their souldyours, when they are adread of them of Muscovy.

For, look you, there is another way into Ynde, and thereby the men of Muscovy are fain to come, if the Englishmen let them not. That way cometh by Desert and Wildernesse, from the sea that is clept Caspian, even to Khiva, and so to Merv; and then come ye to Zulfikar and Penjdeh, and anon to Herat, that is called the Key of the Gates of Ynde. Then ye win the lond of the Emir of the Afghauns, a great prince and a rich, and he hath in his Thresoure more crosses, and stars, and coats that captains wearen, than any other man on earth.

For all they of Muscovy, and all Englishmen maken him gifts, and he keepeth the gifts, and he keepeth his own counsel. For his lond lieth between Ynde and the folk of Muscovy, wherefore both Englishmen and men of Muscovy would fain have him friendly, yea, and independent. Wherefore they of both parties give him clocks, and watches, and stars, and crosses, and culverins, and now and again they let cut the throats of his men some deal, and pill his country. Thereby they both set up their rest that the Emir will be independent, yea, and friendly. But his men love him not, neither love they the English, nor the Muscovy folk, for they are worshippers of Mahound, and endure not Christian men. And they love not them that cut their throats, and burn their country.

Now they of Muscovy ben Devyls, and they ben subtle for to make a thing seme otherwise than it is, for to deceive mankind. Wherefore Englishmen putten no trust in them of Muscovy, save only the Englishmen clept Radicals, for they make as if they loved these Develes, out of the fear and dread of war wherein they go, and would be slaves sooner than fight. But the folk of Ynde know not what shall befall, nor whether they of Muscovy will take the Lond, or Englishmen shall keep it, so that their hearts may not enduren for drede. And methinks that soon shall Englishmen and Muscovy folk put their bodies in adventure, and war one with another, and all for the way to Ynde.

But St. George for Englond, I say, and so enough; and may the Seyntes hele thee, Sir John, of thy Gowtes Artetykes, that thee tormenten. But to thy Boke I list not to give no credence.

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