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To Ferdinand Martinez, Canon of Lisbon, Paui the Physician
wisheth health. . I am very glad to hear of the farniliarity you have with your most serene and magnificent king; and though I have very often discoursed concerning the short way there is from hence to the Indies, where the spice is produced, by sea, which I look upon to be shorter than that you take by the coast of Guinea, yet you now tell me that his highness would have me make out and demonstrate it, so as it may be understood and put in practice. Therefore, though I could better show it him with a globe in my hand, and make hirn sensible of the figure of the world, yet I have resolved, to render it more easy and intelligible, to show this way upon a chart, such as are used in navigation, and therefore I send one to his majesty, made and drawn with my own hand, wherein is set down the utmost bounds of the west, from Ireland in the north to the farthest part of Guinea, with all the islands that lie in the way. Opposite to which western coast is described the beginning of the Indies, with the islands and places whither you may go, and how far you may bend from the north pole towards the equinoctial, and for how long a
time; that is, how many leagues you may sail before you come to those places most fruitful in all sorts of spice, jewels, and precious stones. Do not wonder if I term that country where the spice grows west, that product being generally ascribed to the east ; because those who shall sa I westward will always find those places in the west, and they that travel by land eastward will ever find those places in the east. The straight lines that lie lengthways in the chart show the distance there is from west to east; the others cross them, show the distance from north to south. I have also marked down in the said chart several places in India where ships might' put in upon any 'storm, or contrary winds, or any other accident unforeseen.
Moreover, to give you full information of all those places which you are very desirous to know, you must understand that none but traders live or reside in all those islands, and that there is as great number of ships and seafaring people with merchandise as in any other part of the world, particularly in a most noble port called Zacton, where there are every year a hundred large ships of pepper loaded and unloaded, besides many other ships that take in'other spice.
This country is mighty populous, and there
are many provinces and kingdoms, and innumerable cities under the dominion of a prince called the kham, which name signifies king of kings, who for the most part resides in the Province of Cathay. His predecessors were very desirous to have commerce and be in amity with Christians, and 200 years since sent ambassadors to the pope, desiring him to send them many learned men and doctors to teach them our faith ; but, by reason of some obstacles the ambassadors met with, they returned back without coming to Rome.
Besides, there came an ambassador to Pope Eugenius IV., who told him the great friendship there was between those princes, their people, and the Christians. I discoursed with him a long while upon the several matters of the grandeur of their royal structures, and of the greatness, length, and breadth of their rivers. He told me many wonderful things of the multitude of towns and cities founded along the banks of the rivers, and that there were 200 cities upon one river only, with marble bridges over it of a great length and breadth, and adorned with abundạnce of pillars. · This country deserves as well as any other to be discovered ; and there may not only be great profit made there, and many things of value found, but also gold,
silver, all sorts of precious stones, and spices in abundance, which are not brought into our parts. And it is certain that many wise men, philosophers, astrologers, and other persons skilled in all arts, and very ingenious, govern that mighty province, and command their armies.
From Lisbon directly westward there are in the chart 26 spaces, each of which contains 250 miles, to the most noble and yast city of Quisay, which is 100 miles in compass, that is, 35 leagues; in it there are ten marble bridges. The name signifies a heavenly city, of which wonderful things are reported as to the ingenuity of the people, the buildings, and the revenues. This space above mentioned is almost the third part of the globe. This city is in the province of Mango, bordering on that of Cathay, where the king for the most part resides.
From the island Antilla, which you call the Seven Cities, and of which you have some knowledge, to the most noble island of Cipango, are ten spaces, which make 2500 miles, or 225 leagues ; which island abounds in gold, pearls, and precious stones; and you must understand, they cover their temples and palaces with plates of pure gold: so that, for want
of knowing the way, all these things are hid. den and concealed, and yet may be gone to with safety.
Much more might be said ; but, having told you what is most material, and you being wise and judicious, I am satisfied there is nothing of it but what you understand, and therefore I will not be more prolix. Thus much may serve to satisfy your curiosity, it being as much as the shortness of time and my business would permit me to say. So I remain most ready to satisfy and serve his highness to the utmost, in all the commands he shall lay upon me.
Florence, June 25, 1474.
To Christopher Columbus, Paul the Physician wisheth health.
I received your letters with the things you bent me, which I shall take as a great favour, and commend your noble and ardent desire of sailing from east to west, as it is marked out in the chart I sent you, which would demonstrate itself better in the form of a globe.
I am glad it is well understood, and that the voyage laid down is not only possible, but true, certain, honourable, very advantageous, and most glorious among all Christians. Yor