Sir Richard Francis Burton
Burton in 1864
|Died||20 October 1890 69) (aged|
|Burial place||St Mary Magdalen Roman Catholic Church, Mortlake, London, England|
|Other names||Mirza Abdullah the Bushri|
Hâjî Abdû El-Yezdî
|Alma mater||Trinity College, Oxford|
|Occupation||Soldier, diplomat, explorer, translator, arabist, author|
|Personal Narrative of a Pilgrimage to Al Madinah and Meccah;|
The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night ;
Isabel Arundell (m. 1861)
|Years of service||1842–61|
|Awards|| Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George |
Sir Richard Francis Burton KCMG FRGS ( // ; 19 March 1821 – 20 October 1890) was a British explorer, geographer, translator, writer, soldier, orientalist, cartographer, ethnologist, spy, linguist, poet, fencer, and diplomat. He was famed for his travels and explorations in Asia, Africa and the Americas, as well as his extraordinary knowledge of languages and cultures. According to one count, he spoke 29 European, Asian and African languages.
Fellowship of the Royal Geographical Society (FRGS) is a prestigious Fellowship granted by the Royal Geographical Society (RGS) that is open to those over the age of 21 who can demonstrate:
A geographer is a scientist whose area of study is geography, the study of Earth's natural environment and human society. The Greek prefix, "geo," means "earth" and the Greek suffix, "graphy," meaning "description," so a geographer is someone who studies the earth. The word "geography" is a Middle French word that is believed to have been first used in 1540.
Oriental studies is the academic field of study that embraces Near Eastern and Far Eastern societies and cultures, languages, peoples, history and archaeology; in recent years the subject has often been turned into the newer terms of Middle Eastern studies and Asian studies. Traditional Oriental studies in Europe is today generally focused on the discipline of Islamic studies, while the study of China, especially traditional China, is often called Sinology. The study of East Asia in general, especially in the United States, is often called East Asian studies, while the study of Israel and Jews are called Israel studies and Jewish studies respectively, although they are often considered the same field.
Burton's best-known achievements include: a well-documented journey to Mecca in disguise, at a time when Europeans were forbidden access on pain of death; an unexpurgated translation of One Thousand and One Nights (commonly called The Arabian Nights in English after early translations of Antoine Galland's French version); the publication of the Kama Sutra in English; a translation of The Perfumed Garden , the Arab Kama Sutra; and a journey with John Hanning Speke as the first Europeans to visit the Great Lakes of Africa in search of the source of the Nile.
Mecca, also spelled Makkah, is a city in the Hejazi region of Saudi Arabia. 70 km (43 mi) inland from Jeddah, in a narrow valley 277 m (909 ft) above sea level, 340 kilometres (210 mi) south of Medina, its population in 2012 was 2 million, although visitors more than triple this number every year during the Ḥajj ("Pilgrimage"), held in the twelfth Muslim lunar month of Dhūl-Ḥijjah.
The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night (1885), subtitled A Plain and Literal Translation of the Arabian Nights Entertainments, is an English language translation of One Thousand and One Nights – a collection of Middle Eastern and South Asian stories and folk tales compiled in Arabic during the Islamic Golden Age – by the British explorer and Arabist Richard Francis Burton (1821–1890). It stood as the only complete translation of the Macnaghten or Calcutta II edition of the "Arabian Nights" until the Malcolm C. and Ursula Lyons translation in 2008.
Antoine Galland was a French orientalist and archaeologist, most famous as the first European translator of One Thousand and One Nights which he called Les mille et une nuits. His version of the tales appeared in twelve volumes between 1704 and 1717 and exerted a significant influence on subsequent European literature and attitudes to the Islamic world. Jorge Luis Borges has suggested that Romanticism began when his translation was first read.
His works and letters extensively criticised colonial policies of the British Empire, even to the detriment of his career. Although he aborted his university studies, he became a prolific and erudite author and wrote numerous books and scholarly articles about subjects including human behaviour, travel, falconry, fencing, sexual practices and ethnography. A characteristic feature of his books is the copious footnotes and appendices containing remarkable observations and information. William Henry Wilkins wrote: "So far as I can gather from all I have learned, the chief value of Burton’s version of The Scented Garden lay not so much in his translation of the text, though that of course was admirably done, as in the copious notes and explanations which he had gathered together for the purpose of annotating the book. He had made this subject a study of years. For the notes of the book alone he had been collecting material for thirty years, though his actual translation of it only took him eighteen months."
Falconry is the hunting of wild animals in their natural state and habitat by means of a trained bird of prey. Small and larger animals are hunted; squirrels and rabbits often fall prey to these birds. There are two traditional terms used to describe a person involved in falconry: a falconer flies a falcon; an Austringer flies a hawk or an eagle. In modern falconry, the red-tailed hawk, the Harris's hawk, and the peregrine falcon are some of the more commonly used birds of prey. The practice of hunting with a conditioned falconry bird is also called hawking or gamehawking, although the words hawking and hawker have become used so much to refer to petty traveling traders, that the terms falconer and falconry now apply to most use of trained birds of prey to catch game. Many contemporary practitioners still use these words in their original meaning, however.
Human sexual activity, human sexual practice or human sexual behaviour is the manner in which humans experience and express their sexuality. People engage in a variety of sexual acts, ranging from activities done alone to acts with another person in varying patterns of frequency, for a wide variety of reasons. Sexual activity usually results in sexual arousal and physiological changes in the aroused person, some of which are pronounced while others are more subtle. Sexual activity may also include conduct and activities which are intended to arouse the sexual interest of another or enhance the sex life of another, such as strategies to find or attract partners, or personal interactions between individuals. Sexual activity may follow sexual arousal.
Ethnography is the systematic study of people and cultures. It is designed to explore cultural phenomena where the researcher observes society from the point of view of the subject of the study. An ethnography is a means to represent graphically and in writing the culture of a group. The word can thus be said to have a double meaning, which partly depends on whether it is used as a count noun or uncountable. The resulting field study or a case report reflects the knowledge and the system of meanings in the lives of a cultural group.
Burton was a captain in the army of the East India Company, serving in India, and later briefly in the Crimean War. Following this, he was engaged by the Royal Geographical Society to explore the east coast of Africa, where he led an expedition guided by locals and was the first European known to have seen Lake Tanganyika. In later life, he served as British consul in Fernando Pó (now Bioko, Equitorial Guinea), Santos in Brazil, Damascus (Ottoman Syria) and finally in Trieste. He was a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and was awarded a knighthood in 1886.
The East India Company (EIC), also known as the Honourable East India Company (HEIC) or the British East India Company, and informally known as John Company, Company Bahadur, or simply The Company, was an English and later British joint-stock company. It was formed to trade in the Indian Ocean region, initially with Mughal India and the East Indies, and later with Qing China. The company ended up seizing control over large parts of the Indian subcontinent, colonised parts of Southeast Asia, and colonised Hong Kong after a war with Qing China.
The Crimean War was a military conflict fought from October 1853 to February 1856 in which the Russian Empire lost to an alliance of the Ottoman Empire, France, Britain and Sardinia. The immediate cause involved the rights of Christian minorities in the Holy Land, which was a part of the Ottoman Empire. The French promoted the rights of Roman Catholics, while Russia promoted those of the Eastern Orthodox Church. The longer-term causes involved the decline of the Ottoman Empire and the unwillingness of Britain and France to allow Russia to gain territory and power at Ottoman expense. It has widely been noted that the causes, in one case involving an argument over a key, have never revealed a "greater confusion of purpose", yet they led to a war noted for its "notoriously incompetent international butchery".
The Royal Geographical Society is the UK's learned society and professional body for geography, founded in 1830 for the advancement of geographical sciences. Today, it is the leading centre for geographers and geographical learning. The Society has over 16,500 members and its work reaches millions of people each year through publications, research groups and lectures.
Burton was born in Torquay, Devon, at 21:30 on 19 March 1821; in his autobiography, he incorrectly claimed to have been born in the family home at Barham House in Elstree in Hertfordshire.He was baptized on 2 September 1821 at Elstree Church in Borehamwood, Hertfordshire. His father, Lt.-Colonel Joseph Netterville Burton, of the 36th Regiment, was an Irish-born British army officer of Anglo-Irish extraction who through his mother's family—the Campbells of Tuam—was a first cousin of Lt.-Colonel Henry Peard Driscoll and Mrs Richard Graves. Richard's mother, Martha Baker, was the daughter and co-heiress of a wealthy English squire, Richard Baker (1762–1824), of Barham House, Hertfordshire, for whom he was named. Burton had two siblings, Maria Katherine Elizabeth Burton (who married Lt.-General Sir Henry William Stisted) and Edward Joseph Netterville Burton, born in 1823 and 1824, respectively.
Torquay is a seaside town in Devon, England, part of the unitary authority area of Torbay. It lies 18 miles (29 km) south of the county town of Exeter and 28 miles (45 km) east-north-east of Plymouth, on the north of Tor Bay, adjoining the neighbouring town of Paignton on the west of the bay and across from the fishing port of Brixham.
Elstree is a village in the Hertsmere borough of Hertfordshire, England. It is about 13 miles northwest of central London on the former A5 road, that follows the course of Watling Street. In 2011, its population was 5,110. It forms part of the civil parish of Elstree and Borehamwood, originally known simply as Elstree.
Borehamwood is a town in southern Hertfordshire. It is a commuter town near St Albans and London, situated 12 miles (19 km) from Charing Cross. Borehamwood has a population of 31,074, and is within the civil parish of Elstree and Borehamwood and the London commuter belt. The town is perhaps most well known for its multiple film and TV studios, commonly known as Elstree Studios, hence the association with Elstree.
Burton's family travelled extensively during his childhood and employed various tutors to educate him. In 1825, they moved to Tours in France. In 1829, Burton began a formal education at a preparatory school in Richmond Green in Richmond, Surrey, run by Reverend Charles Delafosse.Over the next few years, his family travelled between England, France, and Italy. Burton showed a talent to learn languages and quickly learned French, Italian, Neapolitan and Latin, as well as several dialects. During his youth, he allegedly had an affair with a Roma girl and learned the rudiments of the Romani language. The peregrinations of his youth may have encouraged Burton to regard himself as an outsider for much of his life. As he put it, "Do what thy manhood bids thee do, from none but self expect applause".
Tours is a city in the west of France. It is the administrative centre of the Indre-et-Loire department and the largest city in the Centre-Val de Loire region of France. In 2012, the city of Tours had 134,978 inhabitants, and the population of the whole metropolitan area was 483,744.
Richmond Green is a recreation area located near the centre of Richmond, a town of about 20,000 inhabitants situated in south west London. Owned by the Crown Estate, it is leased to the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames. The Green, which has been described as "one of the most beautiful urban greens surviving anywhere in England", is essentially square in shape and its open grassland, framed with broadleaf trees, extends to roughly twelve acres. On the north-east side there is also a smaller open space called Little Green. Richmond Green and Little Green are overlooked by a mixture of period townhouses, historic buildings and municipal and commercial establishments including the Richmond Lending Library and Richmond Theatre. On summer weekends and public holidays the Green attracts many residents and visitors. It has a long history of hosting sporting events; from the 16th century onwards tournaments and archery contests have taken place on the Green, while cricket matches have occurred since the mid 18th century, continuing to the present day.
Neapolitan is a Romance language of the Italo-Dalmatian group spoken across much of southern Italy, except for southern Calabria, southern Apulia, and Sicily, as well as in a small part of central Italy. It is not named specifically after the city of Naples, but rather the homonymous Kingdom that once covered most of the area, and of which the city was the capital. On October 14, 2008, a law by the Region of Campania stated that Neapolitan was to be protected. While the term "Neapolitan language" is used in this article to refer to the language group of related dialects found in southern continental Italy, it may also refer more specifically to the dialect of the Neapolitan language spoken in the Naples area or in Campania.
Burton matriculated at Trinity College, Oxford, on 19 November 1840. Before getting a room at the college, he lived for a short time in the house of William Alexander Greenhill, then doctor at the Radcliffe Infirmary. Here, he met John Henry Newman, whose churchwarden was Greenhill. Despite his intelligence and ability, Burton was antagonised by his teachers and peers. During his first term, he is said to have challenged another student to a duel after the latter mocked Burton's moustache. Burton continued to gratify his love of languages by studying Arabic; he also spent his time learning falconry and fencing. In April 1842, he attended a steeplechase in deliberate violation of college rules and subsequently dared to tell the college authorities that students should be allowed to attend such events. Hoping to be merely "rusticated"—that is, suspended with the possibility of reinstatement, the punishment received by some less provocative students who had also visited the steeplechase—he was instead permanently expelled from Trinity College.
In his own words, "fit for nothing but to be shot at for six pence a day", [ by whom? ] since it would usually have required long study, fasting, and a partial shaving of the head. It has been suggested that his teacher, a Nagar Brahmin, could have been an apostate. Burton's interest (and active participation) in the cultures and religions of India was considered peculiar by some of his fellow soldiers, who accused him of "going native" and called him "the White Nigger". Burton did have many peculiar habits that set him apart from other soldiers. While in the army, he kept a large menagerie of tame monkeys in the hopes of learning their language. He also earned the name "Ruffian Dick" for his "demonic ferocity as a fighter and because he had fought in single combat more enemies than perhaps any other man of his time".Burton enlisted in the army of the East India Company at the behest of his ex-college classmates who were already members. He hoped to fight in the first Afghan war, but the conflict was over before he arrived in India. He was posted to the 18th Bombay Native Infantry based in Gujarat and under the command of General Charles James Napier. While in India, he became a proficient speaker of Hindustani, Gujarati, Punjabi, Sindhi, Saraiki and Marathi as well as Persian and Arabic. His studies of Hindu culture had progressed to such an extent that "my Hindu teacher officially allowed me to wear the Janeu (Brahmanical Thread)", although the truth of this has been questioned,
Motivated by his love of adventure, Burton got the approval of the Royal Geographical Society for an exploration of the area, and he gained permission from the board of directors of the British East India Company to take leave from the army. His seven years in India gave Burton a familiarity with the customs and behaviour of Muslims and prepared him to attempt a Hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca and, in this case, Medina). It was this journey, undertaken in 1853, which first made Burton famous. He had planned it whilst travelling disguised among the Muslims of Sindh, and had laboriously prepared for the adventure by study and practice (including undergoing the Muslim tradition of circumcision to further lower the risk of being discovered).
Although Burton was certainly not the first non-Muslim European to make the Hajj (Ludovico di Varthema did this in 1503), neither Koran or Sultan enjoin the death of Jew or Christian intruding within the columns that note the sanctuary limits, nothing could save a European detected by the populace, or one who after pilgrimage declared himself an unbeliever". The pilgrimage entitled him to the title of Hajji and to wear the green head wrap. Burton's own account of his journey is given in A Personal Narrative of a Pilgrimage to Al-Madinah and Meccah.his pilgrimage is the most famous and the best documented of the time. He adopted various disguises including that of a Pashtun to account for any oddities in speech, but he still had to demonstrate an understanding of intricate Islamic traditions, and a familiarity with the minutiae of Eastern manners and etiquette. Burton's trek to Mecca was dangerous, and his caravan was attacked by bandits (a common experience at the time). As he put it, though "...
When Burton returned to the British[ citation needed ] Army, he sat for examination as an Arab linguist. The examiner was Robert Lambert Playfair, who disliked Burton. As Professor George Percy Badger knew Arabic well, Playfair asked Badger to oversee the exam. Having been told that Burton could be vindictive, and wishing to avoid any animosity should Burton fail, Badger declined. Playfair conducted the tests; despite Burton's success living as an Arab, Playfair had recommended to the committee that Burton be failed. Badger later told Burton that "After looking [Burton's test] over, I [had] sent them back to [Playfair] with a note eulogising your attainments and ... remarking on the absurdity of the Bombay Committee being made to judge your proficiency inasmuch as I did not believe that any of them possessed a tithe of the knowledge of Arabic you did."
Following his return to Cairo from Mecca, Burton sailed to India to rejoin his regiment. In March 1854, he transferred to the political department of the East India Company and went to Aden on the Arabian Peninsula in order to prepare for a new expedition, supported by the Royal Geographical Society, to explore the interior of the Somali Country and beyond, where Burton hoped to discover the large lakes he had heard about from Arab travellers. It was in Aden in September of this year that he first met Lieutenant John Hanning Speke, who would accompany him on his most famous exploration. Burton undertook the first part of the trip alone. He made an expedition to Harar (in present-day Ethiopia), which no European had entered (indeed there was a prophecy that the city would decline if a Christian was admitted inside).[ citation needed ]
This leg of the expedition lasted from 29 October 1854 to 9 February 1855, with much of the time spent in the port of Zeila, where Burton was a guest of the town's Governor Haji Sharmarke Ali Saleh. Burton, "assuming the disguise of an Arab merchant", awaited word that the road to Harar was safe. Burton not only travelled to Harar but also was introduced to the Emir and stayed in the city for ten days, officially a guest of the Emir but in reality his prisoner. The journey back was plagued by lack of supplies, and Burton wrote that he would have died of thirst had he not seen desert birds and realized they would be near water.
Following this adventure, Burton prepared to set out for the interior accompanied by Lieutenant Speke, Lieutenant G. E. Herne and Lieutenant William Stroyan and a number of Africans employed as bearers. However, while the expedition was camped near Berbera, his party was attacked by a group of Somali waranle ("warriors") belonging to Isaaq clan. The officers estimated the number of attackers at 200. In the ensuing fight, Stroyan was killed and Speke was captured and wounded in eleven places before he managed to escape. Burton was impaled with a javelin, the point entering one cheek and exiting the other. This wound left a notable scar that can be easily seen on portraits and photographs. He was forced to make his escape with the weapon still transfixing his head. It was no surprise then that he found the Somalis to be a "fierce and turbulent race".However, the failure of this expedition was viewed harshly by the authorities, and a two-year investigation was set up to determine to what extent Burton was culpable for this disaster. While he was largely cleared of any blame, this did not help his career. He describes the harrowing attack in First Footsteps in East Africa (1856).
In 1855, Burton rejoined the army and travelled to the Crimea, hoping to see active service in the Crimean War. He served on the staff of Beatson's Horse, a corps of Bashi-bazouks, local fighters under the command of General Beatson, in the Dardanelles. The corps was disbanded following a "mutiny" after they refused to obey orders, and Burton's name was mentioned (to his detriment) in the subsequent inquiry.[ citation needed ]
In 1856, the Royal Geographical Society funded another expedition in which Burton set off from Zanzibar to explore an "inland sea" that had been described by Arab traders and slavers. His mission was to study the area's tribes and to find out what exports might be possible from the region. It was hoped that the expedition might lead to the discovery of the source of the River Nile, although this was not an explicit aim. Burton had been told that only a fool would say his expedition aimed to find the source of the Nile because anything short of that would then be regarded as a failure.[ citation needed ]
Before leaving for Africa, Burton became secretly engaged to Isabel Arundell. Her family, particularly her mother, would not allow a marriage since Burton was not a Catholic and was not wealthy, although in time the relationship became tolerated.[ citation needed ]
John Hanning Speke again accompanied him and on 27 June 1857, they set out from the east coast of Africa heading west in search of the lake or lakes. They were helped greatly by the Omani Arabs who lived and traded in the region. They followed the traditional caravan routes, hiring professional porters and guides who had been making similar treks for years. From the start, the outward journey was beset with problems such as recruiting reliable bearers and the theft of equipment and supplies by deserting expedition members.[ citation needed ]
Both men were beset by a variety of tropical diseases on the journey. Speke was rendered blind by a disease for some of the journey and deaf in one ear (due to an infection caused by attempts to remove a beetle). Burton was unable to walk for some of the journey and had to be carried by the bearers.[ citation needed ]
The expedition arrived at Lake Tanganyika in February 1858. Burton was awestruck by the sight of the magnificent lake, but Speke, who had been temporarily blinded, was unable to see the body of water. By this point much of their surveying equipment was lost, ruined, or stolen, and they were unable to complete surveys of the area as well as they wished. Burton was again taken ill on the return journey; Speke continued exploring without him, making a journey to the north and eventually locating the great Lake Victoria, or Victoria Nyanza. Lacking supplies and proper instruments, Speke was unable to survey the area properly but was privately convinced that it was the long-sought source of the Nile. Burton's description of the journey is given in Lake Regions of Equatorial Africa (1860). Speke gave his own account in The Journal of the Discovery of the Source of the Nile (1863).
Both Burton and Speke were in extremely poor health after the journey and returned home separately. As usual, Burton kept very detailed notes, not just on the geography but also on the languages, customs, and even sexual habits of the people he encountered. Although it was Burton's last great expedition, his geographical and cultural notes proved invaluable for subsequent explorations by Speke and James Augustus Grant, Samuel Baker, David Livingstone and Henry Morton Stanley. Speke and Grant's 1863 exploration began on the east coast near Zanzibar again and went around the west side of Lake Victoria to Lake Albert and finally returned in triumph via the River Nile. However, crucially, they had lost track of the river's course between Lake Victoria and Albert. This left Burton, and others, unsatisfied that the source of the Nile was conclusively proven.[ citation needed ]
A prolonged public quarrel followed, damaging the reputations of both Burton and Speke. Some biographers have suggested that friends of Speke (particularly Laurence Oliphant) had initially stirred up trouble between the two.Burton's sympathizers contend that Speke resented Burton's leadership role. Tim Jeal, who has accessed Speke's personal papers, suggests that it was more likely the other way around, Burton being jealous and resentful of Speke's determination and success. "As the years went by, [Burton] would neglect no opportunity to deride and undermine Speke's geographical theories and achievements".
Speke had earlier proven his mettle by trekking through the mountains of Tibet, but Burton regarded him as inferior as he did not speak any Arabic or African languages. Despite his fascination with non-European cultures, some have portrayed Burton as an unabashed imperialist convinced of the historical and intellectual superiority of the white race, citing his involvement in the Anthropological Society, an organization that established a doctrine of scientific racism.Speke appears to have been kinder and less intrusive to the Africans they encountered, and reportedly fell in love with an African woman on a future expedition.
There were also problems with the debt associated with their expedition, for which Speke claimed Burton had sole responsibility. But their biggest disagreement was on the source of the Nile.[ citation needed ]
The two men travelled home separately. Speke returned to London first and presented a lecture at the Royal Geographical Society, claiming Lake Victoria as the source of the Nile. According to Burton, Speke broke an agreement they had made to give their first public speech together. Apart from Burton's word, there is no proof that such an agreement existed, and most modern researchers doubt that it did. Tim Jeal, evaluating the written evidence, says the odds are "heavily against Speke having made a pledge to his former leader".
Burton arrived in London to find Speke being lionized and his own role being considered secondary. Speke had already applied for further expeditions to the region without Burton. In subsequent months both men attempted to harm each other's reputations. Burton disparaged Speke's claims, calling his evidence inconclusive and his measurements inaccurate.[ citation needed ]
Speke undertook a second expedition, along with Captain James Grant and Sidi Mubarak Bombay, to prove that Lake Victoria was the true source of the Nile. Speke, in light of the issues he was having with Burton, had Grant sign a statement saying, among other things, "I renounce all my rights to publishing ... my own account [of the expedition] until approved of by Captain Speke or [the Royal Geographical Society]". Burton and Livingstone were still unconvinced, but believing the matter had settled, the Royal Geographical Society awarded Speke its Gold Medal.[ citation needed ]
On 16 September 1864, Burton and Speke were scheduled to debate the source of the Nile at a meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science. On the day before the debate, Burton and Speke sat near each other in the lecture hall. According to Burton's wife, Speke stood up, said "I can't stand this any longer," and abruptly left the hall. That afternoon Speke went hunting on the nearby estate of a relative. He was discovered lying near a stone wall, felled by a fatal gunshot wound from his hunting shotgun. Burton learned of Speke's death the following day while waiting for their debate to begin. A jury ruled Speke's death an accident. An obituary surmised that Speke, while climbing over the wall, had carelessly pulled the gun after himself with the muzzle pointing at his chest and shot himself. Alexander Maitland, Speke's only biographer, concurs.
On 22 January 1861, Burton and Isabel married in a quiet Catholic ceremony although he did not adopt the Catholic faith at this time. Shortly after this, the couple were forced to spend some time apart when he formally entered the Diplomatic Service as consul on the island of Fernando Po, now Bioko in Equatorial Guinea. This was not a prestigious appointment; because the climate was considered extremely unhealthy for Europeans, Isabel could not accompany him. Burton spent much of this time exploring the coast of West Africa. He described some of his experiences, including a trip up the Congo River to the Yellala Falls and beyond, in his 1876 book Two trips to gorilla land and the cataracts of the Congo.
The couple were reunited in 1865 when Burton was transferred to Santos in Brazil. Once there, Burton travelled through Brazil's central highlands, canoeing down the São Francisco River from its source to the falls of Paulo Afonso.
In 1868 and 1869 he made two visits to the war zone of the Paraguayan War, which he described in his Letters from the Battlefields of Paraguay (1870).
In 1868 he was appointed as the British consul in Damascus, an ideal post for someone with Burton's knowledge of the region and customs.However, Burton made many enemies during his time there. He managed to antagonise much of the area’s Jewish population because of a dispute concerning money-lending: It had been the practice of the British consulate to take action against those who defaulted on loans but Burton saw no reason to continue this, which caused a great deal of hostility.
He and Isabel greatly enjoyed their time there, and considered it the best years of their lives. They befriended Jane Digby, the well-known adventurer, and Abdelkader El Djezairi, a prominent leader of the Algerian revolution then living in exile.[ citation needed ]
However, the area was in some turmoil at the time with considerable tensions between the Christian, Jewish and Muslim populations. Burton did his best to keep the peace and resolve the situation, but this sometimes led him into trouble. On one occasion, he claims to have escaped an attack by hundreds of armed horsemen and camel riders sent by Mohammed Rashid Pasha, the Governor of Syria. He wrote, "I have never been so flattered in my life than to think it would take three hundred men to kill me."
In addition to these incidents, a number of people disliked Burton and wished him removed from such a sensitive position. He was recalled in 1871, prompting him to telegram Isabel "I am superseded. Pay, pack, and follow at convenience." He was reassigned in 1872 to the sleepy port city of Trieste in Austria-Hungary. [ dead link ] A "broken man", Burton was never particularly content with this post, but it required little work, was far less dangerous than Damascus (as well as less exciting), and allowed him the freedom to write and travel.
In 1863 Burton co-founded the Anthropological Society of London with Dr. James Hunt. In Burton's own words, the main aim of the society (through the publication of the periodical Anthropologia) was "to supply travellers with an organ that would rescue their observations from the outer darkness of manuscript and print their curious information on social and sexual matters". On 13 February 1886, Burton was appointed a Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George (KCMG) by Queen Victoria.
He wrote a number of travel books in this period that were not particularly well received. His best-known contributions to literature were those considered risqué or even pornographic at the time, which were published under the auspices of the Kama Shastra society. These books include The Kama Sutra of Vatsyayana (1883) (popularly known as the Kama Sutra), The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night (1885) (popularly known as The Arabian Nights), The Perfumed Garden of the Shaykh Nefzawi (1886) and The Supplemental Nights to the Thousand Nights and a Night (seventeen volumes 1886–98).
Published in this period but composed on his return journey from Mecca, The Kasidahhas been cited as evidence of Burton's status as a Bektashi Sufi. Deliberately presented by Burton as a translation, the poem and his notes and commentary on it contain layers of Sufic meaning that seem to have been designed to project Sufi teaching in the West. "Do what thy manhood bids thee do/ from none but self expect applause;/ He noblest lives and noblest dies/ who makes and keeps his self-made laws" is The Kasidah's most-quoted passage. As well as references to many themes from Classical Western myths, the poem contains many laments that are accented with fleeting imagery such as repeated comparisons to "the tinkling of the Camel bell" that becomes inaudible as the animal vanishes in the darkness of the desert.
Other works of note include a collection of Hindu tales, Vikram and the Vampire (1870); and his uncompleted history of swordsmanship, The Book of the Sword (1884). He also translated The Lusiads , the Portuguese national epic by Luís de Camões, in 1880 and, the next year, wrote a sympathetic biography of the poet and adventurer. The book The Jew, the Gipsy and el Islam was published posthumously in 1898 and was controversial for its criticism of Jews and for its assertion of the existence of Jewish human sacrifices. (Burton's investigations into this had provoked hostility from the Jewish population in Damascus (see the Damascus affair). The manuscript of the book included an appendix discussing the topic in more detail, but by the decision of his widow, it was not included in the book when published).[ citation needed ]
Burton died in Trieste early on the morning of 20 October 1890 of a heart attack. His wife Isabel persuaded a priest to perform the last rites, although Burton was not a Catholic and this action later caused a rift between Isabel and some of Burton's friends. It has been suggested that the death occurred very late on 19 October and that Burton was already dead by the time the last rites were administered. On his religious views, Burton called himself an atheist, stating he was raised in the Church of England which he said was "officially (his) church".
Isabel never recovered from the loss. After his death she burned many of her husband's papers, including journals and a planned new translation of The Perfumed Garden to be called The Scented Garden, for which she had been offered six thousand guineas and which she regarded as his "magnum opus". She believed she was acting to protect her husband's reputation, and that she had been instructed to burn the manuscript of The Scented Garden by his spirit, but her actions have been widely condemned.
Isabel wrote a biography in praise of her husband.
The couple are buried in a remarkable tomb in the shape of a Bedouin tent, designed by Isabel,in the cemetery of St Mary Magdalen Roman Catholic Church Mortlake in southwest London. The coffins of Sir Richard and Lady Burton can be seen through a window at the rear of the tent, which can be accessed via a short fixed ladder. Next to the lady chapel in the church there is a memorial stained-glass window to Burton, also erected by Isabel; it depicts Burton as a medieval knight. Burton's personal effects and a collection of paintings, photographs and objects relating to him are in the Burton Collection at Orleans House Gallery, Twickenham.
Burton had long had an interest in sexuality and some erotic literature. However, the Obscene Publications Act of 1857 had resulted in many jail sentences for publishers, with prosecutions being brought by the Society for the Suppression of Vice. Burton referred to the society and those who shared its views as Mrs Grundy . A way around this was the private circulation of books amongst the members of a society. For this reason Burton, together with Forster Fitzgerald Arbuthnot, created the Kama Shastra Society to print and circulate books that would be illegal to publish in public.
One of the most celebrated of all his books is his translation of The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night (commonly called The Arabian Nights in English after early translations of Antoine Galland's French version) in ten volumes (1885), with seven further volumes being added later. The volumes were printed by the Kama Shastra Society in a subscribers-only edition of one thousand with a guarantee that there would never be a larger printing of the books in this form. The stories collected were often sexual in content and were considered pornography at the time of publication. In particular, the Terminal Essay in volume 10 of the Nights contained a 14,000-word essay entitled "Pederasty" (Volume 10, section IV, D), at the time a synonym for homosexuality (as it still is, in modern French). This was and remained for many years the longest and most explicit discussion of homosexuality in any language. Burton speculated that male homosexuality was prevalent in an area of the southern latitudes named by him the "Sotadic zone". [ citation needed ]Rumours about Burton's own sexuality were already circulating and were further incited by this work.
Perhaps Burton's best-known book is his translation of The Kama Sutra . It is untrue that he was the translator since the original manuscript was in ancient Sanskrit, which he could not read. However, he collaborated with Forster Fitzgerald Arbuthnot on the work and provided translations from other manuscripts of later translations. The Kama Shastra Society first printed the book in 1883 and numerous editions of the Burton translation are in print to this day.
His English translation from a French edition of the Arabic erotic guide The Perfumed Garden was printed as The Perfumed Garden of the Cheikh Nefzaoui: A Manual of Arabian Erotology (1886). After Burton's death, Isabel burnt many of his papers, including a manuscript of a subsequent translation, The Scented Garden , containing the final chapter of the work, on pederasty. Burton all along intended for this translation to be published after his death, to provide an income for his widow, [ citation needed ]and also, as a final gesture of defiance against Victorian society.
Burton's writings are unusually open and frank about his interest in sex and sexuality. His travel writing is often full of details about the sexual lives of the inhabitants of areas he travelled through. Burton's interest in sexuality led him to make measurements of the lengths of the penises of male inhabitants of various regions, which he includes in his travel books. He also describes sexual techniques common in the regions he visited, often hinting that he had participated, hence breaking both sexual and racial taboos of his day. Many people at the time considered the Kama Shastra Society and the books it published scandalous.
Biographers disagree on whether or not Burton ever experienced homosexual sex (he never directly acknowledges it in his writing). Allegations began in his army days when Charles James Napier requested that Burton go undercover to investigate a male brothel reputed to be frequented by British soldiers. It has been suggested that Burton's detailed report on the workings of the brothel may have led some to believe he had been a customer.There is no documentary evidence that such a report was written or submitted, nor that Napier ordered such research by Burton, and it has been argued that this is one of Burton's embellishments.
A story that haunted Burton up to his death (recounted in some of his obituaries) was that he came close to being discovered one night when he lifted his robe to urinate rather than squatting as an Arab would. It was said that he was seen by an Arab and, in order to avoid exposure, killed him. Burton denied this, pointing out that killing the boy would almost certainly have led to his being discovered as an impostor. Burton became so tired of denying this accusation that he took to baiting his accusers, although he was said to enjoy the notoriety and even once laughingly claimed to have done it.A doctor once asked him: "How do you feel when you have killed a man?", Burton retorted: "Quite jolly, what about you?". When asked by a priest about the same incident Burton is said to have replied: "Sir, I'm proud to say I have committed every sin in the Decalogue." Stanley Lane-Poole, a Burton detractor, reported that Burton "confessed rather shamefacedly that he had never killed anybody at any time."
These allegations coupled with Burton's often irascible nature were said to have harmed his career and may explain why he was not promoted further, either in army life or in the diplomatic service. As an obituary described: "...he was ill fitted to run in official harness, and he had a Byronic love of shocking people, of telling tales against himself that had no foundation in fact." ... used to hint dark horrors about Burton, and certainly justly or unjustly he was disliked, feared and suspected ... not for what he had done, but for what he was believed capable of doing." Whatever the truth of the many allegations made against him, Burton's interests and outspoken nature ensured that he was always a controversial character in his lifetime.[ citation needed ]Ouida reported: "Men at the FO [Foreign Office]
The existence of a Sotadic Zone was a hypothesis of Burton. He asserted that there exists a geographic zone in which pederasty (romantic-sexual intimacy between a boy and a man) is prevalent and celebrated among the indigenous inhabitants.The name derives from Sotades, a 3rd-century BC Greek poet who was the chief representative of a group of writers of obscene, and sometimes pederastic, satirical poetry. (These homoerotic verses are preserved in the Greek Anthology , a collection of poems spanning the Classical and Byzantine periods of Greek literature.)
Burton first advanced his Sotadic Zone concept in the "Terminal Essay"contained in Volume 10 of his translation of The Arabian Nights —which he called The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night —in 1886.
According to Burton's description, the Sotadic Zone is:
Burton published over 40 books and countless articles, monographs and letters. A great number of his journal and magazine pieces have never been catalogued. Over 200 of these have been collected in PDF facsimile format at burtoniana.org.
An extensive selection of Burton's correspondence can be found in the four-volume Book of Burtoniana edited by Gavan Tredoux (burtoniana.org, 2016), which is freely downloadable in HTML, PDF, Kindle/MOBI and ePub formats.
Brief selections from a variety of Burton's writings are available in Frank McLynn's Of No Country: An Anthology of Richard Burton (1990; New York: Charles Scribner's Sons).
The Nile is a major north-flowing river in northeastern Africa, and is the longest river in Africa and the disputed longest river in the world, as the Brazilian government claims that the Amazon River is longer than the Nile. The Nile, which is about 6,650 km (4,130 mi) long, is an "international" river as its drainage basin covers eleven countries, namely, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Ethiopia, Eritrea, South Sudan, Republic of the Sudan and Egypt. In particular, the Nile is the primary water source of Egypt and Sudan.
Sir Henry Morton Stanley was a Welsh journalist and explorer who was famous for his exploration of central Africa and his search for missionary and explorer David Livingstone. Upon finding Livingstone, Stanley reportedly asked, "Dr. Livingstone, I presume?" Stanley is also known for his search for the source of the Nile, his pioneering work that enabled the plundering of the Congo Basin region by King Leopold II of Belgium, and his command of the Emin Pasha Relief Expedition. He was knighted in 1899.
David Livingstone was a Scottish physician, Congregationalist, and pioneer Christian missionary with the London Missionary Society, an explorer in Africa, and one of the most popular British heroes of the late 19th-century Victorian era. He had a mythical status that operated on a number of interconnected levels: Protestant missionary martyr, working-class "rags-to-riches" inspirational story, scientific investigator and explorer, imperial reformer, anti-slavery crusader, and advocate of British commercial and colonial expansion.
John Hanning Speke was an English explorer and officer in the British Indian Army who made three exploratory expeditions to Africa. He is most associated with the search for the source of the Nile and was the first European to reach Lake Victoria. He is also known for propounding the Hamitic hypothesis in 1863, in which he supposed that the Wahuma ethnic group were descendants of the biblical figure Ham, and had lighter skin and more Hamitic features than the Bantu over whom they ruled.
Sir Samuel White Baker, KCB, FRS, FRGS was an English explorer, officer, naturalist, big game hunter, engineer, writer and abolitionist. He also held the titles of Pasha and Major-General in the Ottoman Empire and Egypt. He served as the Governor-General of the Equatorial Nile Basin between April 1869 and August 1873, which he established as the Province of Equatoria. He is mostly remembered as the first European to visit Lake Albert, as an explorer of the Nile and interior of central Africa, and for his exploits as a big game hunter in Asia, Africa, Europe and North America. Baker wrote a considerable number of books and published articles. He was a friend of King Edward VII, who as Prince of Wales, visited Baker with Queen Alexandra in Egypt. Other friendships were with explorers Henry Morton Stanley, Roderick Murchison, John H. Speke and James A. Grant, with the ruler of Egypt Pasha Ismail The Magnificent, Major-General Charles George Gordon and Maharaja Duleep Singh.
Mountains of the Moon is a 1990 Rankcolor theatrical film depicting the 1857–58 journey of Richard Francis Burton and John Hanning Speke in their expedition to Central Africa – the project that culminated in Speke's discovery of the source of the Nile River. The expedition led to a bitter rivalry between the two men. The film stars Patrick Bergin as Burton and Iain Glen as Speke. Delroy Lindo made an early film appearance as an African native the adventurers meet.
Isabel, Lady Burton was an English writer. She was the wife and partner of explorer, adventurer, and writer Sir Richard Francis Burton (1821–1890).
John Julian Timothy Jeal but known as Tim Jeal is a biographer of notable Victorians and is also a novelist. His publications include a memoir and biographies of David Livingstone (1973), Robert Baden-Powell (1989), and Henry Morton Stanley (2007). Jeal was formally educated in London and Oxford, and lives in North London. He has a wife and three daughters.
Selim Aga, a native of Sudan who was abducted by slave traders when he was eight years of age, was brought to Scotland in 1836, and raised and educated as a free man. Selim wrote an autobiography of his life as a slave, accompanied by his poetic Ode to Britain and printed in Aberdeen in 1846. He regularly lectured in Great Britain on the African topics, and in 1857 left with William Balfour Baikie for an expedition of the Niger River. Later he accompanied John Hawley Glover and Richard Francis Burton on their African expeditions. In late 1860s Selim relocated to Liberia, probably aspiring for presidency; he was killed by Grebo insurgents in 1875.
Between 1874 and 1877 Henry Morton Stanley traveled central Africa East to West, exploring Lake Victoria, Lake Tanganyika and the Lualaba and Congo rivers. He covered 7,000 miles (11,000 km) from Zanzibar in the east to Boma in the mouth of the Congo in the west and resolved a number of open questions concerning the geography of central Africa. This including identifying the source of the Nile, which he proved was not the Lualaba – which is in fact the source of the river Congo.
Sidi Mubarak Bombay (1820–1885) was an African guide who participated in numerous expeditions by 19th century British explorers to East Africa.
Edward Rehatsek was an Orientalist and translator of several works of Islamic literature including the Gulistan of Saadi Shirazi, ibn Ishaq’s Prophetic biography, and the Rawẓat aṣ-ṣafāʾ. All three translations were originally published by the Kama Shastra Society founded by Richard Francis Burton and Forster Fitzgerald Arbuthnot at the end of the 19th century.
The Strange Affair of Spring-Heeled Jack is a steampunk novel by British writer Mark Hodder, the first novel in the Burton & Swinburne series; it won the 2010 Philip K. Dick Award. The series follows the adventures of two Victorian-era protagonists based on two historical figures, Richard Francis Burton and Algernon Charles Swinburne, in mid-late 19th Century London.
Eugène Maizan was a French Naval lieutenant and explorer, possibly the first European to penetrate East Africa and the first to enter tropical Africa from Zanzibar. In 1844-1845 Maizan reached as far as the district of Dege la Mhora, on the Uzaramo plateau about 80-150 kilometers from the coast, where he was seized by Zaramo tribesmen under Hembé, the son of Chief Mazungera, and bound to a calabash tree before being tortured, mutilated and murdered. Hembé amputated Maizan's limbs and sliced off his genitals while still alive before beheading him. Hembé later claimed to be acting on the orders of Arab ivory traders.
Lake Uniamési or the Uniamesi Sea was the name given by missionaries in the 1840s and 1850s to a huge lake or inland sea they supposed to lie within a region of Central East Africa with the same name.
William Desborough Cooley (1795?–1883) was an Irish geographer. Discoveries by European explorers gradually showed that a number of his theories about Central Africa, though strongly held, were incorrect. In other controversies his position is now considered to have had some justification. His major contributions are now seen as relating to source criticism of historical records, the understanding of West Africa, and as a perceptive historian of globalisation.
Burton and Speke is a 1982 historical novel by William Harrison recounting the 1857 expedition of the search for the source of the Nile by the famous Victorian explorer, linguist and anthropologist Sir Richard Burton and English aristocrat and amateur hunter John Hanning Speke. The book was adapted for film in 1990 by Harrison and director Bob Rafelson.
The Mausoleum of Sir Richard and Lady Burton is a Grade II* listed tent-shaped mausoleum of Carrara marble and Forest of Dean stone in the churchyard of St Mary Magdalen Roman Catholic Church Mortlake in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames. It contains the tombs of the Victorian explorer Sir Richard Burton (1821–90), who took part in the search for the source of the River Nile and translated The Arabian Nights, and his wife Isabel, Lady Burton (1831–96), who designed it. The coffins of Sir Richard and Lady Burton can be seen through a glass panel at the rear of the tent, which can be accessed via a short fixed ladder. The inscription includes a commemorative sonnet by Justin Huntly McCarthy (1859–1936), who lived in Putney.
The British explorer and Arabist Sir Richard Francis Burton (1821–1890) published over 40 books and countless articles, monographs and letters. Most of Burton's books are travel narratives and translations. His only works of original imaginative fiction are both in verse: Stone Talk (1865) and the well-known The Kasidah (1880), both of which he published under the pseudonym "Frank Baker".
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