BURTON (RICHARD) Revised page proofs of Abeokuta and the Camaroons Mountains: An Exploration, Volume 1, 1863
Lot 176
Sold for £ 2,500 (US$ 3,321) inc. premium

Lot Details
Revised page proofs of Abeokuta and the Camaroons Mountains: An Exploration, volume 1, here entitled Wanderings in West Africa, the proofs comprising the complete text without preliminaries, from the half-title to the conclusion of 'L'Envoi', pp.[1]-307, without folding map, with an autograph note of about forty words on the half-title and further autograph additions and revisions of nearly forty words on p.48; plus other corrections or suggestions in an editorial hand, first and last leaves dust-stained and worn at the edges, dust-staining, especially at the edges, elsewhere, leaves of signature O stained, large 8vo, [1863]


  • A NEWLY DISCOVERED VARIANT OF A CLASSIC TRAVEL BOOK – BURTON'S PROOFS OF ABEOKUTA AND THE CAMAROONS MOUNTAINS, HERE ENITLED WANDERINGS IN WEST AFRICA. Both books were published by the Tinsley Brothers in 1863, Abeokuta and the Cameroons Mountains: An Exploration, followed by Wanderings in West Africa: from Liverpool to Fernando Po. The text of our proof is that of Abeokuta and the Cameroons Mountains, while both the drop title over Chapter I and the left-hand running-titles throughout read 'Wanderings in West Africa'. As published, Abeokuta and the Cameroons Mountains carries the same text as our proof, which does not appear to have been reset. But the drop title over Chapter I has been altered to 'Abeokuta and the Cameroons Mountains' and the left-hand running title now merely repeats the chapter running-title on the right, the 'Wanderings in West Africa' running-title having been dropped. Nor has the division between the two volumes been retained. In our proof of Volume I, the chapter numbers run from I to IX and the volume ends with 'L'Envoi'. By contrast, the published version ends Volume I with Chapter VIII, while Chapter IX and 'L'Envoi' open Volume II. The new section, 'The Cameroons Mountains. An Exploration' which in our version would have opened Volume II instead comes at p.25; where the chapter numbers begin again at I. One can only assume practical difficulties, brought on perhaps by a last-minute change of mind as to the title, necessitated such a clumsy separation between the two volumes. Such infelicities would not have worried the Tinsley Brothers overmuch, with their reputation for being rough and read about such things.

    One might also assume that as Abeokuta and the Cameroons Mountains was originally to have been called 'Wanderings in West Africa', the book that was eventually to be published with that title had already been completed and was ready for, if not already in, the press. So far as we are aware, none of this is known to Burton bibliographers, certainly no mention of our hybrid is made by N.M. Penzer, An Annotated Bibliography of Sir Richard Francis Burton (1923), where both works are discussed, pp.70-72. Penzer notes the presence of a proof a Volume I of Abeokuta in the British Museum [Library] marked up by Burton for a second edition. But this bears the title-page as published and so gives no hint of the change of title. There is similarly an unmarked up proof of both volumes in Burton's library, formerly at the Kensington Library and transferred to the Royal Anthropological Institute.

    Our proofs have been annotated by Burton in two places. On the half-title is an autograph note on Madam Tinubu, the famous Nigerian Iyalode and patriot, amounting to about forty words. On p.48 he has made revisions and additions of nearly forty words, altering his description of the game of 'ayo'. This originally read: 'It is a rude kind of "table," a solid oblong board, with a little handle at one end, and down the length run two parallel rows of six little cups. The game is played by distributing counters, one by one, into each cup, beginning from the starting-place whence they were taken; and if a single counter be found it is removed from the board'. The revised version demonstrates the punctilious care with which Burton described such things, and now reads: "It is played in many ways: the Dahome game differs greatly from others. It is a rude kind of 'table,' a solid oblong board, with a little handle at one end, and down the length run two parallel rows of six little cups, each containing 4 counters. The game is played by distributing the cowries, one by one, into each cup, beginning from any of the line of cups nearest the player; and if 2 or 3 counters be found in 1 cup they are removed from the board". These changes, however, have not been carried into the published edition. (If we are correct in our reading of the word 'Dahome', it would suggest that this addition reflects information gleaned on his first trip to Dahomey in May 1863).

    There is also a sprinkling of editorial suggestions in another hand which have been ignored (proposing for example "Apollo del Belvedere" in place of 'Apollo Belvidere' at p.98 and "patria" for 'patriô' at p.155; see pp.111 and 175 of the published text). Several lacunae found in the proof, such as 'the old Roman [blank]' at p.258 and '[blank] or Zanibar' at p.282, have been filled in the published version, where we have 'the old Roman Nexum' at p. 299 and 'Mekran or Zanzibar' at p.327.

    Abeokuta and the Cameroons Mountains and its companion Wanderings in West Africa date from after Burton's first journey in search of the source of the Nile with Speke and his visit to Mormon America, when, newly married and desperate for funds, he had accepted the post of British Consul to Fernando Po, which he described as 'the very abomination of desolation': 'Burton had no intention of remaining chained at Fernando Po, taking meteorological observations... After living there only one week he was off exploring the delta of the Niger. He returned in October, only to set off immediately for Abeokuta, the capital of Nigeria, where he spent three weeks. In November 1861 he was exploring the Brass and Boney Rivers: in December he was back in southern Nigeria, where he led a small expedition to climb the still unscaled Mt Victoria, one of the highest peaks of the Cameroon Mountains' (Fawn M. Brodie, The Devils Drives, 1967, p.204). At what would transpire to be the end of this posting, he returned home in 1864 to find that Speke and Grant had returned from their expedition and Speke had been credited with discovering the source of the Nile.
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