"THEY DO NOT SO MUCH AS KNOW THE USE OF HOUSEHOLD FURNITURE, THE SLOTHFUL BED, THE CHAIR, THE TABLE, POT, SPOON, ETC. HERE ARE USELESS; FOR A FEW DRY SEDGES, OR REEDS SERVE THEM FOR A BED, AND THE GROUND IS THEIR SEAT…"
SMITH, William. A New Voyage to Guinea: Describing the Customs, Manners, Soil, Climate, Habits, Buildings, Education, Manual Arts, Agriculture, Trade, Employments, Languages, Ranks of Distinction, Habitations, Diversions, Marriages, and whatever else is memorable among the Inhabitants. London: John Nourse, . Octavo, early 20th-century full green morocco gilt, raised bands, all edges gilt. $6800.
First edition, with frontispiece and five engraved plates of plants and animals, of this rare 18th century work on West Africa.
Smith was commissioned by the Royal African Company in 1726 "to take exact plans, drafts, and prospects of all their forts and settlements; as also of the principal rivers, harbours, and other places of trade of the coast of Africa"; sailing to Africa on the Bonetta with Captain James Livingston, they "made landfall near Cape Verde on 22 September… On his first day, finding himself floundering through deep mud along the shore with huge, venomous ants infesting the mangrove trees and attacked by ferocious wasps, Smith regretted ever having undertaken this survey, but ‘having put hand to plough’ (Smith, 2) could not look back. Inevitably his actions with measuring wheel and theodolite caused some of the natives to suspect him of witchcraft, but as the survey progressed and he grew accustomed to the terrain he was able to record something of the plants and wildlife, and the various customs of the peoples he encountered… Smith worked for a little way up the principal rivers, taking soundings and marking sandbanks, but otherwise did not venture inland from the coast" (DNB). "A work containing much information in a small compass" (Lowndes, 2431). Cox I: 378-79. Bookplate of John Ralph Willis, noted professor of African studies and collector of rare Africana.
Text and plates bright and clean. Morocco spine and extremities toned to brown. Quite rare.