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The object of this volume is to exhibit, within a moderate compass, whatever is most interesting in the adventures and observations of those travellers who, from the earliest ages, and in various directions, have sought to explore Africa; and also to give a general view of the physical and social condition of that extensive continent at the present day. This quarter of the globe has afforded more ample scope than any
other to the exertions of that class of men whose enterprising spirit impels them, regardless of toil and peril, to penetrate into unknown countries. Down to a comparatively recent period, the greater part of its immense surface was the subject only of vague report and conjecture. The progress of those discoverers, by whom a very large extent of its interior regions has at length been disclosed, having been accompanied with arduous labours, and achieved in the face of the most formidable obstacles, presents a continued succession of striking incidents, as well as of new and remarkable objects : And our interest cannot fail to be heightened by the consideration, that Britain, by the intrepid spirit of her travellers, her associations of distinguished individuals, and her national patronage, has secured almost the exclusive glory of the many important discoveries which have been made within the last forty years.
The work now submitted to the public, and the recent one on the Polar Regions, embrace two of the most interesting fields of modern discovery. The adventurers who traversed these opposite parts of the world, frequently found their efforts checked, and their career arrested, by the operation of causes which, although equally powerful, were yet extremely different in their nature. In the Northern Seas, they suffered from that dreadful extremity of cold to which high latitudes are exposed ; in Africa, from the scorching heat and pestilential vapours peculiar to a tropical climate: There, they encountered the fury of oceans and tempests; here, the privations and fatigues which oppress the traveller in parched and boundless deserts. In the former they had less to endure from that almost total absence of human life, which renders the Arctic zone so dreary, than they had to experience in the latter from the fierce, contemptuous, and persecuting character of the people who occupy the interior parts of the Libyan continent. In a word, while exploring these remote regions, they braved almost every species of danger, and passed through every variety of suffering, by which the strength and fortitude of man can be tried.
The Narrative of these successive Travels and Expeditions has been contributed by Mr Hugh Murray. The Geological Illustrations have been furnished by the justly celebrated Professor Jameson; and for the interesting and very ample account of its Natural History the reader is indebted to Mr James Wilson, author of“ Illustrations of Zoology,” and the principal contributor in that branch of science to the new edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica.
The present volume, having for its main object the History of Discovery and Adventure, does not
include the countries on the Mediterranean coast, which, from the earliest ages, have been well known to the nations of Europe.-Egypt, again, from its high antiquity, its stupendous monuments, and the memorable revolutions through which it has passed, presented matter at once too interesting and ample to be comprehended within such narrow limits. The history of that kingdom, therefore, has been reserved for a separate volume, which will contain also an account of Nubia and Abyssinia.
So varied and extensive are the subjects introduced into this work, that, in order to do justice to them, it has been found necessary to exceed, very considerably, the limits to which the volumes of the EDINBURGH CABINET LIBRARY must in general be confined. As the Publishers, however, have made no increased charge on this account, the reader, it is presumed, will appreciate the motives which, in the present instance, have induced them to incur the expense of a few additional sheets.
EDINBURGH, 20th November, 1830.