In his own words, Francis Patrick Fleming experienced “stirring times” in his life of seventy-two years. Born in Ireland in 1823, he served as chaplain during the period that included the Eighth Frontier War. Thereafter, within three months of a new posting on Mauritius, 17000 people died of cholera. Indeed, four of the five chaplains succumbed to the disease, Fleming being the only survivor. Following his service in Mauritius, Fleming returned home. He volunteered for service under his old head, Lord Cathcart, during the Crimean War, but was turned down on medical grounds. Fleming later became chaplain to Princess Alice, daughter of Queen Victoria, and served in her hospital during the Franco-Prussian War, receiving recognition from the French government for his work.
Fleming’s had wide-ranging experience of the region of the Eastern Cape then known as Kaffraria. He helped Bishop Robert Gray to found one of the earliest mission stations in the province, St Luke’s, at the kraal of the chief, Mhala. His fossil discoveries in the area earned him a fellowship of the Royal Geographical Society. Reading his book Kaffraria, and Its Inhabitants, one is also impressed by his descriptions of plants, wildlife and scenery: many of these observations will resonate for modern readers who know the area. He accurately describes the Plumbago, and “the beautiful Tecoma Capensis, with its brilliant orange flowers”, as well as the Karoo boer-bean (Schotia afra): “The blossom is of a brilliant scarlet and, in some species, crimson colour, and adds much to the beauty of the plant, growing in small bunches or clusters, all over the tree close to the branches.” This month we have Fleming’s very own copy of Kaffraria, and Its Inhabitants, with his bookplate and inscription.
Among the exciting Gardening and Natural History titles on offer this month are Gardening with Indigenous Trees and Gardening with Indigenous Shrubs, by David and Sally Johnson, which contain precise information on growing Plumbago, Karoo boer-bean, Tecoma and many other species in you own garden.
An excellent early edition of Travel and Adventure in South-East Africa, by Frederick Courteney Selous, also features this month. The diet of the famous hunter seems to have been somewhat limited when left to his own devices, but he held a high opinion of the Boers and their hospitality. Selous would have valued such books as Camdeboo Karoo Venison, and the numerous titles on Boerekos featuring in our latest list. We have never had such an exciting collection of cookery books in fantastic condition. Cookbooks are a fertile field for collecting, and one can specialise in a particular cuisine. Now that South African chefs are earning Michelin stars, it seems that our food is gaining the sort of recognition it deserves!
There are one hundred and thirty titles in the list. We hope that this little appetiser will prompt you to examine them more closely. The details can be found here:
Lindsay and Wendy