Le Vaillant, Francois
Travels into the Interior Parts of Africa. By the Way of the Cape of Good Hope; in the Years 1780, 81, 82, 83, 84, and 85.
Seller ID: 1418
London: G. G. and J. Robinson, 1796. Translated from the French. Second edition, in two volumes (pp. xxiv, 376; 403) describing the first of Le Vailllant’s two journeys. Illustrated with twelve copperplate engravings (several fold-outs) depicting the people, animals and scenes Le Vaillant encountered along the way; large fold-out map of South Africa showing the route of Le Vaillant’s first journey east into Natal (described here) and west, beyond the Fish River region into Namaqualand (described in his second book, New Travels...). Tall octavo (22 cm) in full tree calf, gilt titles and decorations to spine (faded), one hinge skilfully repaired. With the bookplate “ Eyarth House”, a manor house in Denbighshire, Wales, dating from Elizabethan times. Some minor discolouration here and there in the text. According to the account in Quinton and Robinson (Francois Le Vaillant, Traveller in South Africa…), no sooner had Le Vaillant (1753- 1824) arrived at the Cape in 1781 than he lost everything but the clothes he was standing in (and a few coins in his pocket) when the Dutch East India merchant vessel on which he was a passenger was attacked and destroyed by a British naval force. Nevertheless, with renewed resources provided by his sponsor in Holland, the naturalist and merchant Jacob Temminck, Le Vaillant eventually set out on the first of his African collecting expeditions, sending thousands of bird skins and other materials to Holland for sorting and examination. His first journey, north and east, led him out along the edge of European settlement, the interface between pioneering Dutch ‘planters’ and indigenous peoples, and there are accounts of the predictable conflicts over land and cattle and water and of plantations abandoned to sun and drought. Although Le Vaillant is best known as an ornithologist and collector of new bird species, much of his account reads like an adventure story-- lions prowl around his camps, his tame ape Kees steals a ride on a dog’s back, he kills an elephant and later enjoys surprisingly delicious baked elephant’s foot. Never were there so many animals for a hunter to shoot at, if he only had enough powder. He finds much to admire about the native people he employs and those he encounters along the way. Several quite striking portraits of ‘Hottentats’ and ‘Caffres’ suggest Le Vaillant found their confident manner appealing. An attractive copy of an early African naturalist’s journal. See also our Book No. 1443, Quinton, J. C. and A. M. Lewin Robinson, et al., Eds. Francois Le Vaillant Traveller in South Africa and His Collection of 165 Water-colour Paintings 1781- 1784.
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