It is generally and traditionally praised, but those who have read it will be more disposed to agree with Charles Lamb, who considers it "of a vile and debasing tendency," and thinks it "almost impossible to suppose the author in earnest."
He had already persecuted and plundered the Jews and the Lombard bankers, and repeated recourse to the debasing of the coinage had led to a series of small risings.
At last that final expedient of weak governments, the debasing of the coinage, led to a crisis.
The history of furs can be read in Marco Polo, as he grows eloquent with the description of the rich skins of the khan of Tatary; in the early fathers of the church, who lament their introduction into Rome and Byzantium as an evidence of barbaric and debasing luxury; in the political history of Russia, stretching out a powerful arm over Siberia to secure her rich treasures; in the story of the French occupation of Canada, and the ascent of the St Lawrence to Lake Superior, and the subsequent contest to retain possession against England; in the history of early settlements of New England, New York and Virginia; in Irving's Astoria; in the records of the Hudson's Bay Company; and in the annals of the fairs held at Nizhniy Novgorod and Leipzig.
By debasing the coinage he hastened the decay of Byzantine commerce.