A Dedication to Sir Richard Francis Burton
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Sir Richard Francis Burton KCMG FRGS (1821–1890) was a British writer, poet, linguist, explorer, translator, geographer, ethnologist, orientalist, Freemason, diplomat, and cartographer best remembered for extensively travelling in and exploring Africa, Asia, and the Americas. An extraordinary polyglot, he spoke 29 languages and gained extensive knowledge of many different cultures and their practices. His most famous works include English translations of “One Thousand and One Nights” and the “Kama Sutra”, as well as an incredible account of his incognito trip to Mecca when Europeans were strictly forbidden to do so. “A Dedication to Sir Richard Francis Burton” contains a fantastic collection of poetry and excepts by various authors concerning Burton's incredible work and accomplishments, including: “Richard Loves Me, A Memoir by Isabel Burton”, “The Truth About 'The Scented Garden', by William Henry Wilkins”, “A Neglected Genius: Sir Richard Burton, by Arthur Symons”, “To Richard F. Burton, by Algernon Charles Swinburne”, “On the Death of Richard Burton, by Algernon Charles Swinburne”, and “'Honor, Not Honors', by Florence Earle Coates”. Read & Co. Books is publishing this brand new collection of classic writings now complete with an introductory biography of the author by James Sutherland Cotton.



Publié par
Date de parution 21 décembre 2020
Nombre de lectures 5
EAN13 9781528792370
Langue English
Poids de l'ouvrage 2 Mo

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Copyright © 2021 Read & Co. Books
This edition is published by Read & Co. Books, an imprint of Read & Co.
This book is copyright and may not be reproduced or copied in any way without the express permission of the publisher in writing.
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By James Suthe rland Cotton
A Memoir By I sabel Burton
By William H enry Wilkins
By A rthur Symons
By Algernon Charl es Swinburne
By Algernon Charl es Swinburne
By Florence Earle Coates

By James Sutherland Cotton
Explorer and scholar, was the eldest son of Colonel Joseph Netterville Burton of the 36th regiment. His paternal grandfather was the Rev. Edward Burton, rector of Tuam, and owner of an estate in co. Galway. The family originally came from Shap in Westmoreland. His mother was Martha Beckwith, daughter and co-heiress of Richard Baker of Barham House, Hertfordshire. His parents led a nomadic life, and his father seems to have been a thorough Irishman at heart. In his youth he had seen service in Sicily under Sir John Moore, and was for some years stationed in Italy. Shortly after his marriage (in 1819) he retired from the army, and ultimately died at Bath in 1857. He had three children, of whom a daughter married General Sir Henry William Stisted, and the younger son (Edward Joseph Netterville) became a captain in the 37 th regiment.
Richard Francis Burton was born at Barham House (the residence of his maternal grandfather) on 19 March 1821, and was baptised in the parish church of Elstree. He never had any regular education. When about five he was taken abroad by his parents, who, according to the fashion of those days, wandered over the continent, staying sometimes for a few years, sometimes for a few months, at such places as Tours, Blois, Pau, Pisa, Rome, and Naples. For a short while, in 1829, he was placed at the well-known preparatory school of the Rev. D. C. Delafosse, in Richmond, where he was miserable, and during the later time a travelling tutor was provided for the two boys in the person of an Oxford undergraduate, H. R. Dupre, afterwards rector of Shellingford, whom they seem to have treated badly. Such knowledge as he acquired was picked up from French and Italian masters, or from less reputable sources. As a boy he learnt colloquially half a dozen languages and dialects, and also the use of the small-sword. A cosmopolitan he remained to the last.
The father had destined both his sons for the church, and so, while the younger was entered at Cambridge, Richard Francis matriculated at Trinity College, Oxford, on 19 Nov. 1840, when already well on in his twentieth year. Before getting rooms in college, he lived for a short time in the house of Dr. William Alexander Greenhill, then physician to the Radcliffe Infirmary. Here he met John Henry Newman, whose churchwarden Dr. Greenhill was, and also Dr. Arnold of Rugby. It was Dr. Greenhill who started him in the study of Arabic, by introducing him to Don Pascual de Gayangos, the Spanish scholar. Burton’s academical career was limited to five terms, or little more than one year. With his continental education and his obstinate temper, he was not likely to conform to the monastic conventions then prevailing at Oxford. The only place where he was really at his ease seems to have been the newly opened gymnasium of Archibald Maclaren. Many of the stories current of his wildness are probably exaggerated. It is certain that he deliberately contrived to be rusticated, in order that he might achieve his ambition of going into the army instead of the church. In after life he never regarded the university as an injusta noverca. He was glad to revisit Oxford, to point out his former rooms in college, and to call on one of his old tutors, the Rev. T homas Short.
At the beginning of 1842, when the first Afghan war was still unfinished, there was little difficulty in obtaining for Burton the cadetship that he desired in the Indian army. He set sail for India round the Cape on 18 June 1842, accompanied by a bull terrier of the Oxford breed, and landed at Bombay on 28 Oct. He was forthwith posted as ensign to the 18th regiment of the Bombay native infantry, on the cadre of which he remained (rising to the rank of captain) until he accepted a consular appointment in 1861, His military service in India was confined to seven years. His first station was Baroda, the capital of a native principality in Gujarat, ruled by a Maratha chief known as the Gaikwar. Here he initiated himself into oriental life, quickly passing examinations in Hindustani and Gujarathi, which qualified him for the post of regimental interpreter within a year, and practising swordsmanship, wrestling, and riding with the sepoys. At the end of 1843 the regiment moved to Sind. Burton was fortunate in getting into the good graces of Sir Charles Napier, the governor, one of the few men whom he regarded as a hero. While his regiment languished in pestilential quarters he was appointed assistant in the Sind survey, under his friend Captain Scott, nephew of Sir Walter. This was the formative period of Burton’s life, during which the process of initiation into orientalism, begun at Baroda, was perfected. For some three years off and on he had a commission to wander about what is still the most purely Muhammadan province in India. Having learnt all that he could from the regimental munshi and the regimental pandit , he now attached to himself private teachers, in whose company he lived for weeks the life of a native, or—as his brother officers expressed it—like a ‘white nigger.’ The intimate familiarity with Muhammadan manners and customs thus acquired was afterwards of service to him in his adventurous journey to Meccah and in annotating the ‘Arabian Nights.’ A private report on certain features of native life, which he wrote at the request of Sir Charles Napier, reached the secretariat at Bombay, and undoubtedly interfered with his official advancement. During this period he qualified in four more languages—Marathi, Sindhi, Punjabi, and Persian—and also studied Arabic, Sanskrit, and Pushtu, the language of the Afghans. To Burton’s vigorous mind the acquisition of a new language was like the acquisition of a new feat of gymnastics, to be gained by resolute perseverance. But languages were valued by him only as a key to thought. Arabic opened to him the Koran, Persian the mystic philosophy of Sufi-ism. He even practised the religious exercises and ceremonies of Islam in order that he might penetrate to the heart of Musalm an theology.
The routine of his life was twice broken by the hope of active service, which he was destined never to see. In January 1840 he rejoined his regiment, which had been ordered to take part in the first Sikh war; but peace was proclaimed before the force from Sind entered the Punjab. Again, when the second Sikh war broke out in April 1848, he volunteered his services as interpreter, but his application was refused. Between these dates he had taken two years’ leave to recruit his health on the Nilgiri Hills. As a matter of fact the two years were cut down to six months, during which he found time to visit Goa and form his first acquaintance with the language of Camoens. Soon afterwards his health broke down. His work in the sandy deserts of Sind had brought on ophthalmia, combined with other ailments, against which a bitter sense of disappointed ambition prevented him from struggling. Nursed by a faithful Sindian servant he sailed for England, again round the Cape, in May 1849, bringing with him a large collection of oriental manuscripts and curios, and the materials for no less than four books about India.
Burton’s first publications were three papers in the Journal of the Bombay branch of the Asiatic Society: A Grammar of the Jataki or Belochki Dialect, A Grammar of the Multani Language , and Critical Remarks on Dr. Dorn’s Chrestomathy of Pushtu, or the Afghan Dialect (all 1849). Though falling short of the modern standard, these are remarkable productions for a young man without any philological training. On his return to England he brought out in one year (1851) Sind, or the Unhappy Valley (2 vols.); Sind, and the Races that inhabit the Valley of the Indus, which are still valued as books of reference; and Goa and the Blue Mountains , a marvellous record of a six months’ trip. He also published Falconry in the Valley of the Indus (1852) and A Complete System of Bayonet Exercise (1853), which failed to win the approval of the military authorities. His leave was spent in the company of his relatives, to whom he was devotedly attached, partly in England and partly on the continent. At Malvern he was one of the earliest to try the hydropathic system of treatment. At Boulogne he gained the brevet de pointe in the fencing school, which gave him the qualification of maître d’armes , as he afterwards styled himself on the title-page of the Book of the Sword . At Boulogne, also, he first saw his future wife, then a girl of nineteen.
During nearly four years at home Burton did not allow his orientalism to rust, and continued to cherish his dream of a pilgrimage to Meccah. At one time he formed the larger project of traversing the peninsula of Arabia from sea to sea, and obtained the support of the Royal Geographical Society for this enterprise. But the directors of the East India Company refused the three years’ leave required. All they would grant was an additional furlough of twelve months, ‘that he might pursue his Arabic studies in lands where the language is best learned.’ From the moment of leaving London (in April 1853) Burton adopted a disguise: first as a Persian Mirza, then as a Dervish, and finally as a Pathan, or Indian-born Afghan, educated at Rangoon as a hakim or doctor. The name that he took was Al-Haj ( = the pilgrim) Abdullah, as he used ever afterwards to sign himself in Arabic characters. From Southampton he went to Egypt, this being his first visit to that country which he afterwards knew so well. The actual pilgrimage began with a journey on camel-back from Cairo to Suez. Then followed twelve days in a pilgrim ship on the Red Sea from Suez to Yambu, the port of El-Medinah. So far the only risk was from detection by his companions. Now came the dangers of the inland road, infested by Bedawin robbers. The journey from Yambu to El-Medinah, thence to Meccah, and finally to the sea again at Jeddah, occupied altogether from 17 July to 23 Sept., including some days spent in rest, and many more in devotional exercises. From Jeddah Burton returned to Egypt in a British steamer, intending to start afresh for the interior of Arabia via Muwaylah. But this second project was frustrated by ill-health, which kept him in Egypt until his period of furlough was exhausted. The manuscript of his Personal Narrative of a Pilgrimage to El-Medinah and Meccah (1855, 3 vols.) was sent home from India, and seen through the press by a friend in England. It is deservedly the most popular of Burton’s books, having passed through four editions. As a story of bold adventure, and as lifting a veil from the unknown, its interest will never fade. But it cannot be called easy reading. The author, as his manner was, has crowded into it too much, and presumes on the ignorance of his readers. It has been doubted whether Burton’s disguise was never penetrated during the pilgrimage, even by his two servants. He himself always denied the widespread story that he had to kill a man who detected him performing an operation of nature in a non-orien tal fashion.
Burton now returned to India for a brief period of regimental duty. The middle of 1854, however, found him back again in the Red Sea, with leave from the Bombay government to explore Somaliland. His ambition was to penetrate through the mountains to the upper waters of the Nile. On this occasion he had four comrades, John Hanning Speke and Herne of the Indian army, and Strovan of the Indian navy. Before starting with them. Burton set out alone on a pioneer trip to Harar, the inland capital of the country, which no European had ever visited. On this occasion he assumed the disguise of an Arab merchant, but when once within the city he disclosed himself to the Amir, The success of this adventure perhaps encouraged him to neglect necessary precautions when the regular expedition was organised. While still near the port of Berberah the camp was attacked one night by the Somalis. Stroyan was killed; Speke was wounded in no less than eleven places; Burton’s face was transfixed by a spear from cheek to cheek; Herne alone escaped unhurt. The party could do nothing but return to Aden, whence Burton proceeded to England on sick certificate. While under treatment for his wound he wrote First Footsteps in East Africa (1856), and again met his future wife. As soon as he had recovered he volunteered for the Crimea, where he spent a year from October 1855. His only appointment was that of chief of the staff to General Beatson, an old Indian officer of fiery temper, in command of a large body of irregular cavalry, known as ‘Bashi-Buzouks,’ who were stationed at the Dardanelles, far from the seat of war. Here Burton submitted to Lord Stratford de Redcliffe two characteristic schemes—one for the relief of Kars, the other for raising the Caucasus under Schamyl in the rear of the Russians—but nothing came of either. When General Beatson was dismissed from his command Burton also resigned and returned to England.
Meanwhile arrangements had been made with the Royal Geographical Society that Burton should lead an exploring expedition into Central Africa, with Speke as second in command. The government gave a grant of 1,000 l. towards the expenses, and the East India Company allowed its officers two years’ leave. This was the first serious attempt undertaken to discover the sources of the Nile. Little more was then known about Central Africa than in the days of Ptolemy. German missionaries had caught sight of the Mountains of the Moon, and had brought back native stories of the existence of a great lake. It was Burton’s business to find this great lake, by a route never before trodden by white feet. The expedition may be said to have lasted altogether for two years and a half. Burton left England in October 1856, and did not return until May 1859. He had to go first to Bombay to report himself to the local government. Some months were occupied in a preliminary exploration of the mainland near Zanzibar, which was to be the scene of preparation and the point of departure. The actual start from the coast was made at the end of June 1857. After incredible difficulties and hardships, due as much to the untrustworthiness of their followers as to opposition from native tribes, Lake Tanganyika, the largest of the Central African lakes, was seen on 14 Feb. 1858. About three months were spent on the shores of the lake, and on 26 May the return journey was commenced. On the way back Speke was detached to verify reports of another lake to the northward, which he sighted from a distance, and surmised to be the true source of the Nile. This lake is the Victoria Nyanza, and Speke’s surmise was proved to be correct by his subsequent expedition in company with James Augustus Grant Tanganyika only supplies one of the head-waters of the Congo.

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