2 volumes, I. viii + [iv contents] + 582, II. [vi] + 648 pages, errata leaf, half title page in volume I but not in volume II, hand-coloured aquatint frontispiece in each volume, 20 hand-coloured aquatint plates - 5 of which are fine folding panoramas, 96 wood engravings, early twentieth century half green morocco with marbled paper sides, marbled endpapers and edges, bookplates on the front paste-down endpapers. The spines are faded to brown and the eather is lightly worn at the corners and the marbled paper is lightly worn along the edges. Foxing on the title pages and the following pages, the frontispiece in volume II is offset on the title page, occasional light foxing throughout, overall a very good set.
With 'Hints on Emigration to the Cape of Good Hope' By the Same Author, 4 pages, bound in at the end of volume I.
The large folding map (850 x 720 mm) is bound in at the end of volume I as called for. It is lightly foxed.
Ian D. Colvin, in his famous introduction to Sydney Mendelssohn's South African Bibliography, writes, 'Of Burchell I might say without much exaggeration that he is in many respects the greatest name in our bibliography. He is not, certainly, one of our greatest travellers, if we judge travel by extent of the new country explored; his greatness lies rather in the quality of his observation. His drawings express the manner of the man he was; in their loving accuracy we see a reflection of a mind devoted to truth for its own sake, not a hard scientific truth as in barrow, but truth seen with human eyes, in all its colour and beauty. He had a kind of genius for observation, whether in broad outline, as where he describes Cape Town, or in the detail as in his account of a Hottentot’s eyes or an antelope’s horns. Thus, for example, in describing the feathers of the Wilde Paauw, he says: "The irides were of a beautiful, pellucid, changeable, silvery, ferrugineous colour." Or take this sentence in his description of a vulture: "There was a heaviness in their gait and looks, which made one feel half-inclined to consider them rather as beasts of prey, than as feathered inhabitants of the air."…To my mind Burchell is the equal of the best in this style of writing; not even Ruskin could have improved on many of his passages.'
This copy contains 'Hints on Emigration to the Cape of Good Hope'. See Abbey (J.R.) Travel in Aquatint and Lithography 1770-1860, number 327 (pages 281/2), for a discussion on possible variant editions. Abbey’s copy which was in the original boards contained neither Hints nor the half title pages which might indicate that it was an early issue. Abbey also mentions that 750 copies of volume I and 500 copies of volume II were printed.
See also Alfred Gordon-Brown's introduction to the facsimile reprint published by Struik in 1967.
- Overall Condition: A Very Good Set
- Size: 4to (270 x 215 mm)