BURTON’S SCARCE FIRST FOOTSTEPS IN EAST AFRICA, WITH FOUR CHROMOLITHOGRAPHS
BURTON, Richard F. First Footsteps in East Africa; or, An Exploration of Harar. London: Longman, Brown, Green, and Longmans, 1856. Octavo, early 20th-century three-quarter brown morocco, raised bands, elaborately gilt-decorated spines, marbled endpapers, top edge gilt. $2800.
First edition of one of the best and most sought-after of Burton’s works, his account of his visit to the forbidden city of Harar and his ill-fated expedition into Somalia, illustrated with four chromolithographed plates and two maps, bound by Bayntun.
Following the legendary journey to Mecca disguised as a Muslim that made him a household name, Burton rested in Cairo and there met Johann Krapf, a pioneer explorer of East Africa. Kraft inspired Burton to attempt to become the first European to cross Africa from the Indian to the Atlantic Ocean. "To test his capacity for African exploration, Burton first made a journey to the 'forbidden' city of Harar in Somaliland, where the emir was reputed to execute all infidels on sight [and where it was rumored no white man had ever gone before. Disguised as he had been in Mecca, as an Arab merchant] Burton entered the city. But Harar capitulated to Burton as Jericho to Joshua. Then disaster struck. Hostile Somalis attacked the camp at Berbera. Stoyan was killed; Burton and Speke escaped with their lives but only after being within a hair's breadth of death and having sustained terrible wounds. Ever after Burton bore on his cheek a hideous disfiguring scar where a Somali lance had transfixed his jaw" (McLynn, 59). This copy is second issue, as usual; the first issue was suppressed due to its Appendix IV, which detailed Nubian rituals of female circumcision (omitted in the second issue) and is, according to Penzer, "exceedingly rare and practically unobtainable." With 24-page publisher's catalogue dated March 1856 bound at rear. Penzer, 60-63. Casada 35. Abbey Travel 276. Gift inscription.
Interior fine; light rubbing to extremities. An about-fine copy.