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Missionary Travels and Researches in South Africa
Preface


When honored with a special meeting of welcome by the Royal Geographical Society a few days after my arrival in London in December last, Sir Roderick Murchison, the President, invited me to give the world a narrative of my travels; and at a similar meeting of the Directors of the London Missionary Society I publicly stated my intention of sending a book to the press, instead of making many of those public appearances which were urged upon me.  The preparation of this narrative [Several attempts having been made to impose upon the public, as mine,  spurious narratives of my travels, I beg to tender my thanks  to the editors of the `Times' and of the `Athenaeum' for aiding  to expose them, and to the booksellers of London for refusing to SUBSCRIBE  for any copies.] has taken much longer time than, from my inexperience in authorship, I had anticipated.

Greater smoothness of diction and a saving of time might have been secured by the employment of a person accustomed to compilation; but my journals having been kept for my own private purposes, no one else could have made use of them, or have entered with intelligence into the circumstances in which I was placed in Africa, far from any European companion.  Those who have never carried a book through the press can form no idea of the amount of toil it involves. The process has increased my respect for authors and authoresses a thousand-fold.

I can not refrain from referring, with sentiments of admiration and gratitude, to my friend Thomas Maclear, Esq., the accomplished Astronomer Royal at the Cape.  I shall never cease to remember his instructions and help with real gratitude.  The intercourse I had the privilege to enjoy at the Observatory enabled me to form an idea of the almost infinite variety of acquirements necessary to form a true and great astronomer, and I was led to the conviction that it will be long before the world becomes overstocked with accomplished members of that profession. Let them be always honored according to their deserts; and long may Maclear, Herschel, Airy, and others live to make known the wonders and glory of creation, and to aid in rendering the pathway of the world safe to mariners, and the dark places of the earth open to Christians!

I beg to offer my hearty thanks to my friend Sir Roderick Murchison, and also to Dr. Norton Shaw, the secretary of the Royal Geographical Society, for aiding my researches by every means in their power. His faithful majesty Don Pedro V., having kindly sent out orders to support my late companions until my return, relieved my mind of anxiety on their account.  But for this act of liberality, I should certainly have been compelled to leave England in May last; and it has afforded me the pleasure of traveling over, in imagination, every scene again, and recalling the feelings which actuated me at the time. I have much pleasure in acknowledging my deep obligations to the hospitality and kindness of the Portuguese on many occasions. I have not entered into the early labors, trials, and successes of the missionaries who preceded me in the Bechuana country, because that has been done by the much abler pen of my father-in-law, Rev. Robert Moffat, of Kuruman, who has been an energetic and devoted actor in the scene for upward of forty years.  A slight sketch only is given of my own attempts, and the chief part of the book is taken up with a detail of the efforts made to open up a new field north of the Bechuana country to the sympathies of Christendom. The prospects there disclosed are fairer than I anticipated, and the capabilities of the new region lead me to hope that by the production of the raw materials of our manufactures, African and English interests will become more closely linked than heretofore, that both countries will be eventually benefited, and that the cause of freedom throughout the world will in some measure be promoted.

Dr. Hooker, of Kew, has had the kindness to name and classify for me, as far as possible, some of the new botanical specimens which I brought over; Dr. Andrew Smith (himself an African traveler) has aided me in the zoology; and Captain Need has laid open for my use his portfolio of African sketches, for all which acts of liberality my thanks are deservedly due, as well as to my brother, who has rendered me willing aid as an amanuensis. Although I can not profess to be a draughtsman, I brought home with me a few rough diagram-sketches, from one of which the view of the Falls of the Zambesi has been prepared by a more experienced artist.  October, 1857.


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