John Barrow

Travels into the Interior of Southern Africa

In Which are Described the Character and the Condition of the Dutch Colonists of the Cape of Good Hope, and of the Several Tribes of Natives Beyond its Limits: The Natural History of Such Subjects as Occurred in the Animal, Mineral, and Vegetable Kingdoms; and the Geography of the Southern Extremity of Africa, Comprehending Also a Topographical and Statistical Sketch of the Cape Colony: With an Inquiry into its Importance as a Naval and Military Station as a Commercial Emporium; and as a Territorial Possession

London: T. Cadell and W. Davies

Sir John Barrow, 1st Baronet, FRS , FRGS , LL.D was an English statesman who accompanied the first British embassy to China from 1792-94 as comptroller of the household to Lord Macartney. In 1797 Barrow accompanied Lord Macartney, as private secretary, in his important and delicate mission to settle the government of the newly acquired colony of the Cape of Good Hope. Barrow was entrusted with the task of reconciling the Boers and "Kaffirs" and of reporting on the country in the interior. On his return from his journey, in the course of which he visited all parts of the colony, he was appointed auditor-general of public accounts.

Barrow accompanied an expedition from Cape Town to Graaff-Reinet, and another to Namaqualand, and he gives an excellent description of the country traversed, particularly with regard to the botany and zoology of these regions. Algoa Bay was visited, and observations taken of the bay and the coast, together with the "circumjacent" country, mention being made of the discovery of lead at Van Staaden's River. Significant evidence is afforded with regard to the alleged brutality of the Boers to their slaves and their Hottentot servants, and there is a description of the characteristics, habits and customs of the various native races. The author and his companions had an interview with Gaika, and he remarks, "We were surprised to find so much good sense and prudence in a very young man ." Among the districts visited was the Bushman country; the expedition proceeding later on to Plettenberg Bay. The second volume contains detailed accounts of the various divisions of the Cape Colony, together with much information concerning the inhabitants, and the importance of the country from a military and commercial point of view. (from Mendelssohn)

Barrow decided to settle in South Africa, married Anne Maria Trüter, and in 1800 bought a house in Cape Town. But the surrender of the colony at the peace of Amiens (1802) upset this plan. Barrow returned to England in 1804, was appointed Second Secretary to the Admiralty by Viscount Melville, a post which he held for nearly forty years.

Barrow's work is one of the great early works on South Africa.

The first edition is dated 1801, with a second volume published in 1804. This edition contained only one plate, an uncolored aquatint.

In 1806, "the second, and best edition, of this important African travel work" was published. "This edition was the first to have the hand-colored illustrations and colored maps." There are a total of seventeen plates, eight hand-colored aquatint illustrations after Samuel Daniell, and nine folding maps and charts.

The First Edition Title-Pages

My copies of the Second Edition, 1806

The Second Edition Title-Pages

Beautiful color plates in the Second Edition

The 9 maps in the Second Edition