2 vols, 8vo (190 x 130 mm), pp. viii, [ii], 303, [1, blank]; [vi], 295, [1, blank], with a folding map and one plate; original brown cloth; upper joint of vol. I slightly rubbed; front inner hinge of vol. II cracked, but a good, bright copy.
US $3340 €2838
First edition. Burton’s description of his journey to Fernando Po on the Bight of Biafra where he was to assume the position of consul. The voyage lasted just over a month with stopovers at 24 ports en route. ‘Everywhere the ship visited – Madeira, Tenerife, Bathurst, Sierra Leone, Cape Palmas, the Gold Coast, the Grain Coast, Lagos (in the Bight of Benin) etc., was examined and minutely detailed by him; the geography, inhabitants and customs dissected and set out. He had read all the books available on the route and found them wanting, he said, so he wrote the book he would like to have been able to purchase, with information he considered would be useful to future travellers. Immediately the ship dropped anchor Burton was off exploring, questioning, collecting, sketching’ (Lovell, A rage to live p. 387).
‘Burton was an explorer par excellence . . . . In himself he combined to an extraordinary extent those specific qualities that are essential to a man whose work it is to open up and scientifically report upon the nature and conditions of hitherto unknown territories. Thus in the first place he possessed unusual strength both of body and of mind, and consequently was able for many years to carry out his appointed labours in the face of disease and dire difficulties few others could have encountered and survived. Secondly, his knowledge of human nature in various conditions of race, country, and occupation was wonderful and often quite uncanny in its discernment of what individuals, groups or even whole nations would do in given circumstances . . . . Thirdly, Burton’s immense powers of keen and accurate observation, coupled with a marvellously retentive memory and an invariable adhesion to straightforward action and truth on all occasions and at whatever cost, are conspicuous features of his character, and as such were of the utmost importance to him as a scientific explorer and as a reliable recorder of his many discoveries and travels . . . . Fourthly, Burton was exceptionally well equipped for his special form of research, by possessing an immense store of all-round scientific and artistic knowledge; in addition to which he was one of the two, or possibly three, most proficient linguists of whom we have authentic and genuine historical records . . . . Finally, he was unrivalled in his never-failing power to hide his own identity in that of a member of an alien race in manner, speech, customs and appearance, and the temperamental characteristics of the individual whose identity he assumed’ (Penzer pp. 4–5). Burton’s name is not given on the book’s title-page but it appears below the title on the spines.
Casada 70; Penzer p. 71.
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