London: Tinsley Brothers, 1865. First Edition. Cloth. 8vo, original publisher's dark red cloth with gold lettering & thin rules on spine, xxx, [xxxi-xxxii] + 455 pages. Very Good / None. Item #4271
SCARCE Burton extravaganza about the wonderfully rich, nuanced, and wise sayings of West Africans. The book is yet another flourish of Burton's linguistic and scholarly gifts: this time the fruits of his tenure as one of His Majesties learned Consuls. It is a collection of proverbs and sayings he harvested from the Wolof, Kanuri, Oji, Ga [Accra], Yoruba, Efik or Old Calabar, and Mpangwe languages. Burton was interested in identifying and publicizing the wisdom and cleverness of "Negro" peoples, and this book demonstrates same in abundance.
Sir Richard Francis Burton KCMG FRGS (1821 – 1890) was a famous British polymath: explorer, geographer, translator, writer, soldier, orientalist, cartographer, ethnologist, spy, linguist, poet, fencer, and diplomat. He was famed for his travels and explorations in Asia, Africa and the Americas, as well as his extraordinary knowledge of languages and cultures.
Much of the substance in this engaging book came from Burton's posting in 1861 as Consul later in life to Fernando Po, so named from its colonization by the Portuguese, and now called Bioko (or Bioco). It's an island 32 km (20 mi) off the west coast of Cameroon, and the northernmost part of Equatorial Guinea.
Condition: VG solid, clean copy. Light wear and soil to cloth. Front hinge paper is cleanly split not seemingly affecting the underlying sewing or attachment so the text block remains solid. Uniform age-toning to somewhat brittle but unchipped pages with slight darkening to their tops & fore-edges.
Norman Penzer's bibliography indicates that the first issue has red cloth (pp.75-6). It is difficult for these eyes to ascertain whether the cloth is "red"--my preference--or "plum," but because the spine lacks extra gilt decoration, we provisionally assume it is the first issue.