The somewhat gruesome illustration on the front cover of this book may offend many, but the contents make for fascinating reading. The author, a military man who was evidently involved in a visit made by the then Duke of Edinburgh (Victoria's son Alfred) to the Cape in 1867, after a military career in South Africa spanning some 30-odd years. The chapter headings and sub-headings reveal a life of almost incessant activity, whether on the battlefield or in more sporting situations. It thus offers an amazingly personal impression of life in that continent in the 19th century, when Britannia ruled the world.
Sir John Jarvis Bisset KCMG, CB (1819–1894) was a British Army officer who spent his life in South Africa, having been brought there as a child in 1820. Commissioned as an ensign in the Cape Mounted Riflemen in 1835, he fought in the 6th, 7th and 8th Frontier wars, rising to be commanding officer of his regiment and going on to become Acting Governor of Natal in 1865. He also became Colonel of the 106th Regiment of Foot.
Our book is a very rare copy dating from 1875 - possibly a first edition? It has suffered some deterioration over its almost 150 years of life, its dull red cloth covers rather faded at edges, angles and corners, some scuffing generally, bumped corners and shelf wear to top & tail of the spine; but the black, gilt & silver decoration on the front, the black decoration on the back, and the gilt letters of the title etc on the spine, are surprisingly clear and bright. Inside, both dark green endpapers are broken at the spine, and the front cover is hanging on to the book by just a small piece of webbing. The front endpaper in particular has some white areas and a small loss at the bottom and bottom R/H corner of the fep. Apart from these deficiencies, however, the sewn binding is generally firm with just one major point of weakness at pp.144-5 (see photo), and one loose illustration page. There are occasional light brownish marks, but no serious evidence of foxing. A frontipiece portrait of the Duke of Edinburgh faces the title page. A folding map of South Africa ends the book, and is followed by a catalogue of John Murray publications spanning 32 pages. A binder's label is pasted at the foot of the back cover.