A Voyage to the Cape of Good Hope towards the Antarctic Polar Circle Round the World and to the Country of the Hottentots and the Caffres (In two Volumes)
The young Swede, Anders Sparrman (1748 – 1820), was the first traveler to give an extended and readable account of travels into the interior of the Cape, between 1772 and 1776. As a student of Linnaeus, he was particularly well qualified to explore the rich floral heritage of South Africa. Although he trod familiar paths, his fresh and lively comments offer valuable insights into life in Cape Town, into the flora and fauna of the interior and the indigenous people whom he encountered.
In this volume he travelled from Cape Town via the “Warm Bath” (today’s Caledon) on to Swellendam and then to Mossel Bay. From there the journey proceeded along the Langkloof Valley and into the Tsitsikamma forests. In the second volume of Sparrman’s travels (VRS II-7) he completed his journey through the eastern parts of the Cape, eventually reaching the Fish River.
Sparrman became increasingly interested in the indigenous Khoi and Xhosa people whom he encountered, commenting extensively on their lives. and the volume includes ‘Hottentot’ and ‘Caffre’ vocabularies. Apart from its botanical and zoological value, Sparrman’s work contributed significantly to our knowledge of eighteenth-century indigenous societies. The animals he encountered were evidently to him among the most rewarding incidents of his travels. This enthusiasm has outrun his discretion as to what would constitute a fair proportion of space in this topic for the average reader.
Plate of a Rhinoceros that appeared in the original Swedish Edition
Sparrman was led on by the attraction of something strange and wonderful and keeping in mind what his readers would be interested in. He therefore devotes a lot of space to the “Hottentots” and the San. His descriptions of these peoples are most valuable now because it is mainly due to written accounts such as these that our knowledge of their cultures have been enriched.
“Arms of the Hottentots” as appeared in the original Swedish edition
Sparrman’s map of the Cape (1779) is a milestone in the history of South African cartography. In spite of its defects it was a great advance on its printed predecessors.
Maps of Sparrman’s two Journeys interpreted from his Journals