I confess that with all my curiosity to meet an Altrurian, I was in no hospitable mood toward the traveler when he finally presented himself, pursuant to the letter of advice sent me by the friend who introduced him. It would be easy enough to take care of him in the hotel; I had merely to engage a room for him, and have the clerk tell him his money was not good if he tried to pay for anything. But I had swung fairly into my story; its people were about me all the time; I dwelt amid its events and places, and I did not see how I could welcome my guest among them, or abandon them for him. Still, when he actually arrived, and I took his hand as he stepped from the train, I found it less difficult to say that I was glad to see him than I expected. In fact, I was glad, for I could not look upon his face without feeling a glow of kindness for him.
Born in Hamburg, Henry (Heinrich) Barth (1821-1865) studied history, archaeology, geography and Arabic. He joined James Richardson's 1849 expedition to Africa, which aimed to open the interior to trade and to study slavery. Following the deaths of Richardson (1851) and his colleague Overweg (1852), Barth led the expedition alone. His travels extended to Lake Chad in the east, Cameroon in the south and Timbuktu in the west. He was the first European to use the oral traditions of the local tribes for historical research, learning several African languages, and studying the history, resources, geography and civilisations of the people he encountered. The five volumes of Travels and Discoveries include plates, engravings and detailed annotated maps. This fascinating record of a groundbreaking expedition was published in both English and German in 1857-1858, and is still regarded as a major source on African culture.
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