Richard Francis Burton (19 March 1821 – 20 October 1890) was a British explorer.


Abeokuta and the Camaroons Mountains, ch. 1Edit

English originalEdit

After a fortnight all was ready for departure. The little party consisted of Commander Bedingfield,—who, with that condescension which characterizes every truly great man, had permitted me to form part of his suite or train — Mr. Eales, and myself. The dog Sancho must precede Mr. Williams, a 'sassy,' half-educated Egba interpreter to the Government at Lagos, who, in his quality of interpreter, went on in a canoe, preferring, more Africano, lying at full length to sitting upright, and who intrigued like a black Talleyrand throughout the week. Commander Bedingfield, who, and who only, believing in his own omniscience touching African affairs, had, as will appear, sundry affairs to settle, and was destined not to succeed in all and every of them. The second, Mr. Eales, added to the natural wish of sight-seeing, the idée fixe that unicorns abound in Northern Yoruba. He had heard of the animal from certain merchants resident at Lagos—one of them had promised to provide him with a specimen—and he had read of it in the matter-of-fact and highly imaginative pages of Mr. Bowen. The tales reported by this missionary-militant remind one of the Chinese tiger with nine human heads, the 'intelligent creature of a thousand souls,' the dog-headed rhinoceros with six horns, the five-headed crocodile, the bird with one eye, and the horse-like deer with leopard's spots, white head, and red tail. We read in 'Central Africa' of [...] the Alabiwo, men-unicorns, with a small goat-like horn projecting from the middle of the forehead. They are black, very intelligent, and when captured, becoming ashamed of what some men wear with such complacency, they hide the formation under a kerchief.

Yet after all the unicorn, like the great sea-serpent, has its advocates; and it is not a little curious that many African tribes have a distinct name for it.[1] However it may be, Mr. Eales left Abeokuta sans unicorn, and he has not yet, I believe, found it.

  1. Dr. Baikie, writing to the 'Athenæum,' from Bida Nupe, the Nyffe of Richard Lander, in Central Africa, January 15, 1862, concerning this 'romance of natural history,' declares that five years of experience have shaken his scepticism; and that whereas he once looked upon the unicorn as a myth, he now 'simply holds that its non-existence is not proven'—a giant's step on the path of faith. The horn, he has heard, is long, black, and straight, or nearly straight, and the hunters of the one-horned rhinoceros carefully distinguish between this and the equine monoceros. Finally, he supplies the following list of names by which the animal is called in various countries, from Lake Chad to the Gulf of Guinea:—
    Búndiá-ru and Kamáramiin Kanuri (Bornu).
    Maríriin Hausa.
    Yílifú and Dákarkúlewalin Fulfulde, or Filáni.
    Kárafituin Márgí.
    Pānlíliin Núpe.
    Agábain Bonu (where a skull is said to be).
    Iwúin Yoruba.
    Tenesekin A'zbentsi (Tawárek).

    M. D'Abbadie alludes to it in Kordofan under the name of A'nasa. Mr. Bowen's agbangrere was described as having the form of a sorrel horse with the feet of a cow, and with a single horn like that of an antelope. A horn was produced, 'black in colour, coarsely rugose below and smooth towards the top;' possibly it was a kudu's. The unfortunate slayer is sure to die within a year.

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