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First Footsteps in East Africa. as an Arab .. additional numbers, the undaunted remnants from time of these warriors as his capital, the populous village of.
Table of contents
Passing Gafra we ascertained from the Midgans that the Gerad Adan had sent for my books and stored them in his own cottage. We made in a direct line for Kondura. Entering the village we discharged our fire-arms: Lastly, in true humility, crept forward the End of Time, who, as he kissed my hand, was upon the point of tears: We entered the smoky cottage.
The Gerad and his sons were at Wilensi settling the weighty matter of a caravan which had been plundered by the Usbayhan tribe — in their absence the good Khayrah and her daughters did the duties of hospitality by cooking rice and a couple of fowls. A pleasant evening was spent in recounting our perils as travellers will do, and complimenting one another upon the power of our star. At eight the next morning we rode to Wilensi. As we approached it all the wayfarers and villagers inquired Hibernically if we were the party that had been put to death by the Amir of Harar.
Loud congratulations and shouts of joy awaited our arrival. The Kalendar was in a paroxysm of delight: We reviewed our property and found that the One-eyed had been a faithful steward, so faithful indeed, that he had well nigh starved the two women. Presently appeared the Gerad and his sons bringing with them my books; the former was at once invested with a gaudy Abyssinian Tobe of many colours, in which he sallied forth from the cottage the admired of all admirers. The pretty wife Sudiyah and the good Khayrah were made happy by sundry gifts of huge Birmingham ear-rings, brooches and bracelets, scissors, needles, and thread.
The evening as usual ended in a feast. A Somali was despatched to the city under orders to load an ass with onions, tobacco, spices, wooden platters, and Karanji 2 , which our penniless condition had prevented our purchasing. I spent the time collecting a vocabulary of the Harari tongue under the auspices of Mad Said and All the poet, a Somali educated at the Alma Mater. He was a small black man, long-headed and long-backed, with remarkably prominent eyes, a bulging brow, nose pertly turned up, and lean jaws almost unconscious of beard. He knew the Arabic, Somali, Galla, and Harari languages, and his acuteness was such, that I found no difficulty in what usually proves the hardest task — extracting the grammatical forms.
He was also a patriot and a Tyrtaeus. I will offer a literal translation of the exordium, though sentient of the fact that modesty shrinks from such quotations. He hath visited Audal, and Sahil and Adari 3 ;. When not engaged with Ali the Poet I amused myself by consoling Mad Said, who was deeply afflicted, his son having received an ugly stab in the shoulder. Thinking, perhaps, that the Senior anticipated some evil results from the wound, I attempted to remove the impression. At other times we summoned the heads of the clans and proceeded to write down their genealogies.
This always led to a scene beginning with piano, but rapidly rising to the strepitoso.
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Each tribe and clan wished to rank first, none would be even second — what was to be done? When excitement was at its height, the paper and pencil were torn out of my hand, stubby beards were pitilessly pulled, and daggers half started from their sheaths. These quarrels were, however, easily composed, and always passed off in storms of abuse, laughter, and derision.
The Shaykh informed me that his peaceful errand on that occasion was to determine a claim of blood-money amongst the neighbouring Bedouins. The case was rich in Somali manners. One man gave medicine to another who happened to die about a month afterwards: On Sunday, the 21st of January, our messenger returned from Harar, bringing with him supplies for the road: When the rumour went abroad every inhabitant of the village flocked to our hut, with the view of seeing what he could beg or borrow: The divine appeared in the afternoon accompanied by all the incurables of the country side: The Shaykh at first doubted their efficacy.
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But when my diploma as a master Sufi was exhibited, a new light broke upon him and his attendant Widads. Shaykh Jami carefully inspected the document, raised it reverently to his forehead, and muttered some prayers: The former request was granted without hesitation, about the latter I preferred to temporize: The morning fixed for our departure came; no one, however, seemed ready to move. The Hammal, who but the night before had been full of ardour and activity, now hung back; we had no coffee, no water-bags, and Deenarzade had gone to buy gourds in some distant village.
This was truly African: No servants had been procured for us by the Gerad, although he had promised a hundred whenever required. Long Guled had imprudently lent his dagger to the smooth-tongued Yusuf Dera, who hearing of the departure, naturally absconded. And, at the last moment, one Abdy Aman, who had engaged himself at Harar as guide to Berberah for the sum of ten dollars, asked a score. A display of energy was clearly necessary. I sent the Gerad with directions to bring the camels at once, and ordered the Hammal to pull down the huts.
Abdy Aman was told to go to Harar — or the other place — Long Guled was promised another dagger at Berberah; a message was left directing Deenarzade to follow, and the word was given to load. By dint of shouting and rough language, the caravan was ready at 9 A. The Gerad Adan and his ragged tail leading, we skirted the eastern side of Wilensi, and our heavily laden camels descended with pain the rough and stony slope of the wide Kloof dividing it from the Marar Prairie.
Presently, Long Guled and the End of Time were missing; contrary to express orders they had returned to seek the dagger. Attended only by the Hammal, I entered with pleasure the Marar Prairie. In vain the Gerad entreated us not to venture upon a place swarming with lions; vainly he promised to kill sheep and oxen for a feast; — we took abrupt leave of him, and drove away the camels. Journeying slowly over the skirt of the plain, when rejoined by the truants, we met a party of travellers, who, as usual, stopped to inquire the news. Their chief, mounted upon an old mule, proved to be Madar Farih, a Somali well known at Aden.
He consented to accompany us as far as the halting place, expressed astonishment at our escaping Harar, and gave us intelligence which my companions judged grave. The Gerad Hirsi of the Berteri, amongst whom Madar had been living, was incensed with us for leaving the direct road. Report informed him, moreover, that we had given dollars and various valuables to the Gerad Adan — Why then had he been neglected? We alighted at the village formerly beneath Gurays, now shifted to a short distance from those hills. Presently appeared Deenarzade, hung round with gourds and swelling with hurt feelings: Then came Yusuf Dera with a smiling countenance and smooth manners, bringing the stolen dagger and many excuses for the mistake; he was accompanied by a knot of kinsmen deputed by the Gerad as usual for no good purpose.
That worthy had been informed that his Berteri rival offered a hundred cows for our persons, dead or alive: My Somal lent a willing ear to a speech which smelt of falsehood a mile off: I proposed proceeding at once. They declared that the camels could not walk, and that the cold of the prairie was death to man. Pointing to a caravan of grain-carriers that awaited our escort, I then spoke of starting next morning.
At length darkness came on, and knowing it to be a mere waste of time to debate over night about dangers to be faced next day, I ate my dates and drank my milk, and lay down to enjoy tranquil sleep in the deep silence of the desert. The morning of the 23rd of January found my companions as usual in a state of faint-heartedness. This was positively refused. I could not, however, object to sending sundry Tobes to the cunning idiot, in order to back up a verbal request for the escort. Thereupon Yusuf Dera, Madar Farih, and the other worthies took leave, promising to despatch the troop before noon: I saw them depart with pleasure, feeling that we had bade adieu to the Girhis.
The greatest danger we had run was from the Gerad Adan, a fact of which I was not aware till some time after my return to Berberah: Noon arrived, but no cavalry. My companions had promised that if disappointed they would start before nightfall and march till morning. But when the camels were sent for, one, as usual if delay was judged advisable, had strayed: I then had a sharp explanation with my men, and told them in conclusion that it was my determination to cross the Prairie alone, if necessary, on the morrow. That night heavy clouds rolled down from the Gurays Hills, and veiled the sky with a deeper gloom.
Presently came a thin streak of blue lightning and a roar of thunder, which dispersed like flies the mob of gazers from around my Gurgi; then rain streamed through our hut as though we had been dwelling under a system of cullenders. Deenarzade declared herself too ill to move; Shehrazade swore that she would not work: At dawn, on the 24th, we started across the Marar Prairie with a caravan of about twenty men and thirty women, driving camels, carrying grain, asses, and a few sheep.
The air was raw; piles of purple cloud settled upon the hills, whence cold and damp gusts swept the plain; sometimes we had a shower, at others a Scotch mist, which did not fail to penetrate our thin raiment. My people trembled, and their teeth chattered as though they were walking upon ice. In our slow course we passed herds of quagga and gazelles, but the animals were wild, and both men and mules were unequal to the task of stalking them.
About midday we closed up, for our path wound through the valley wooded with Acacia — fittest place for an ambuscade of archers. We dined in the saddle on huge lumps of sun-dried beef, and bits of gum gathered from the trees. Having at length crossed the prairie without accident, the caravan people shook our hands, congratulated one another, and declared that they owed their lives to us.
I was now haunted by the dread of a certain complaint for which sulphur is said to be a specific. This is the pest of the inner parts of Somali-land; the people declare it to arise from flies and fleas: On the 25th January, we were delayed by the weakness of the camels, which had been half starved in the Girhi mountains.
And as we were about to enter the lands of the Habr Awal 5 , then at blood feud with my men, all Habr Gerhajis, probably a week would elapse before we could provide ourselves with a fit and proper protector. Whilst thus chewing the cud of bitter thought where thought was of scant avail, suddenly appeared the valiant Beuh, sent to visit us by Dahabo his gay sister. He informed us that a guide was in the neighbourhood, and the news gave me an idea. I proposed that he should escort the women, camels, and baggage under command of the Kalendar to Zayla, whilst we, mounting our mules and carrying only our arms and provisions for four days, might push through the lands of the Habr Awal.
After some demur all consented. It was not without apprehension that I pocketed all my remaining provisions, five biscuits, a few limes, and sundry lumps of sugar. Any delay or accident to our mules would starve us; in the first place, we were about to traverse a desert, and secondly where Habr Awal were, they would not sell meat or milk to Habr Gerhajis.
My attendants provided themselves with a small provision of sun-dried beef, grain, and sweetmeats: We arose at dawn after a wet night on the 26th January, but we did not start till 7 A. Having taken leave of our friends and property 6 , we spurred our mules, and guided by Beuh, rode through cloud and mist towards Koralay the Saddle-back hill. At a distance we were descried by an old acquaintance, Fahi, who straightways began to dance like a little Polyphemus, his shock-wig waving in the air: Remounting, we resumed our journey over a mass of rock and thicket, watered our mules at holes in a Fiumara, and made our way to a village belonging to the Ugaz or chief of the Gudabirsi tribe.
He was a middle-aged man of ordinary presence, and he did not neglect to hold out his hand for a gift which we could not but refuse. Halting for about an hour, we persuaded a guide, by the offer of five dollars and a pair of cloths, to accompany us. He could not ride, the saddle cut him, and he found his mule restive; lately married, he was incapacitated for walking, and he suffered sadly from thirst.
The Donkey little knew, when he promised to show Berberah on the third day, what he had bound himself to perform: By way of precaution, we ordered our protector to choose desert roads and carefully to avoid all kraals. At first, not understanding our reasons, and ever hankering after milk, he could not pass a thorn fence without eyeing it wistfully.
On the next day, however, he became more tractable, and before reaching Berberah he showed himself, in consequence of some old blood feud, more anxious even than ourselves to avoid villages. Remounting, under the guidance of the Donkey, we resumed our east-ward course. He was communicative even for a Somali, and began by pointing out, on the right of the road, the ruins of a stone-building, called, as customary in these countries, a fort.
Richard Francis Burton
Beyond it we came to a kraal, whence all the inhabitants issued with shouts and cries for tobacco. The Gudabirsi tribe received them from the Girhi in lieu of blood-money: Without returning the salutations of the Bedouins, who loudly summoned us to stop and give them the news, we trotted forwards in search of a deserted sheep-fold.
At sunset we passed, upon an eminence on our left, the ruins of an ancient settlement, called after its patron Saint, Ao Barhe: After a ride of thirty-five miles, we arrived at a large fold, where, by removing the inner thorn-fences, we found fresh grass for our starving beasts. The night was raw and windy, and thick mists deepened into a drizzle, which did not quench our thirst, but easily drenched the saddle cloths, our only bedding.
In one sense, however, the foul weather was propitious to us. Our track might easily have been followed by some enterprising son of Yunis Jibril; these tracts of thorny bush are favourite places for cattle lifting; moreover the fire was kept blazing all night, yet our mules were not stolen. We shook off our slumbers before dawn on the 27th. I remarked near our resting-place, one of those detached heaps of rock, common enough in the Somali country: The Donkey declared that the summit still bears traces of building, and related the legend connected with Moga Medir.
The enemies of her tribe, after sustaining heavy losses, hit upon the expedient of an attack, not en chemise , but with their heads muffled in bundles of hay. When Moga, the maiden, informed her sire and clan that a prairie was on its way towards the hill, they deemed her mad; the manoeuvre succeeded, and the unhappy seer lost her life. The legend interested me by its wide diffusion. The guide had deceived us: These people seem to lie involuntarily: They deceive without object for deceit, and the only way of obtaining from them correct information is to inquire, receive the answer, and determine it to be diametrically opposed to fact.
I will not trouble you, dear L. For twenty-four hours we did not taste water, the sun parched our brains, the mirage mocked us at every turn, and the effect was a species of monomania. As I jogged along with eyes closed against the fiery air, no image unconnected with the want suggested itself. Water ever lay before me — water lying deep in the shady well — water in streams bubbling icy from the rock — water in pellucid lakes inviting me to plunge and revel in their treasures. Now an Indian cloud was showering upon me fluid more precious than molten pearl, then an invisible hand offered a bowl for which the mortal part would gladly have bartered years of life.
Then — drear contrast! I tried to talk — it was in vain, to sing in vain, vainly to think; every idea was bound up in one subject, water. As the sun sank into the East we descended the wide Gogaysa valley. With unspeakable delight we saw in the distance a patch of lively green: To spring from the saddle, to race with our mules, who now feared not the crumbling sides of the pits, to throw ourselves into the muddy pools, to drink a long slow draught, and to dash the water over our burning faces, took less time to do than to recount.
A calmer inspection showed a necessity for caution; — the surface was alive with tadpoles and insects: Playfair conducted the tests; despite Burton's success living as an Arab, Playfair had recommended to the committee that Burton be failed. Badger later told Burton that "After looking [Burton's test] over, I [had] sent them back to [Playfair] with a note eulogising your attainments and Following his return to Cairo from Mecca, Burton sailed to India to rejoin his regiment.
In March , he transferred to the political department of the East India Company and went to Aden on the Arabian Peninsula in order to prepare for a new expedition, supported by the Royal Geographical Society, to explore the interior of the Somali Country and beyond, where Burton hoped to discover the large lakes he had heard about from Arab travelers.
It was in Aden in September of this year that he first met Lieutenant John Hanning Speke , who would accompany him on his most famous exploration. Burton undertook the first part of the trip alone. He made an expedition to Harar in present-day Ethiopia , which no European had entered indeed there was a prophecy that the city would decline if a Christian was admitted inside. Burton not only travelled to Harar but also was introduced to the Emir and stayed in the city for ten days, officially a guest of the Emir but in reality his prisoner.
The journey back was plagued by lack of supplies, and Burton wrote that he would have died of thirst had he not seen desert birds and realized they would be near water. Following this adventure, Burton prepared to set out for the interior accompanied by Lieutenant Speke, Lieutenant G. Herne and Lieutenant William Stroyan and a number of Africans employed as bearers. However, while the expedition was camped near Berbera , his party was attacked by a group of Somali waranle "warriors".
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The officers estimated the number of attackers at In the ensuing fight, Stroyan was killed and Speke was captured and wounded in eleven places before he managed to escape. Burton was impaled with a javelin, the point entering one cheek and exiting the other. This wound left a notable scar that can be easily seen on portraits and photographs.
He was forced to make his escape with the weapon still transfixing his head. It was no surprise then that he found the Somalis to be a "fierce and turbulent race". While he was largely cleared of any blame, this did not help his career. He describes the harrowing attack in First Footsteps in East Africa In , Burton rejoined the army and traveled to the Crimea , hoping to see active service in the Crimean War.
He served on the staff of Beatson's Horse , a corps of Bashi-bazouks , local fighters under the command of General Beatson, in the Dardanelles. The corps was disbanded following a "mutiny" after they refused to obey orders, and Burton's name was mentioned to his detriment in the subsequent inquiry. In , the Royal Geographical Society funded another expedition in which Burton set off from Zanzibar to explore an " inland sea " that had been described by Arab traders and slavers.
His mission was to study the area's tribes and to find out what exports might be possible from the region. It was hoped that the expedition might lead to the discovery of the source of the River Nile , although this was not an explicit aim. Burton had been told that only a fool would say his expedition aimed to find the source of the Nile because anything short of that would then be regarded as a failure. Before leaving for Africa, Burton became secretly engaged to Isabel Arundell. Her family, particularly her mother, would not allow a marriage since Burton was not a Catholic and was not wealthy, although in time the relationship became tolerated.
John Hanning Speke again accompanied him and on 27 June , they set out from the east coast of Africa heading west in search of the lake or lakes.
They were helped greatly by the Omani Arabs who lived and traded in the region. They followed the traditional caravan routes, hiring professional porters and guides who had been making similar treks for years. From the start, the outward journey was beset with problems such as recruiting reliable bearers and the theft of equipment and supplies by deserting expedition members. Both men were beset by a variety of tropical diseases on the journey. Speke was rendered blind by a disease for some of the journey and deaf in one ear due to an infection caused by attempts to remove a beetle.
Burton was unable to walk for some of the journey and had to be carried by the bearers. The expedition arrived at Lake Tanganyika in February Burton was awestruck by the sight of the magnificent lake, but Speke, who had been temporarily blinded, was unable to see the body of water. By this point much of their surveying equipment was lost, ruined, or stolen, and they were unable to complete surveys of the area as well as they wished.
Burton was again taken ill on the return journey, and Speke continued exploring without him, making a journey to the north and eventually locating the great Lake Victoria , or Victoria Nyanza. Lacking supplies and proper instruments, Speke was unable to survey the area properly but was privately convinced that it was the long sought source of the Nile. Burton's description of the journey is given in Lake Regions of Equatorial Africa Both Burton and Speke were in extremely poor health after the journey and returned home separately.
As usual, Burton kept very detailed notes, not just on the geography but also on the languages, customs, and even sexual habits of the people he encountered. Although it was Burton's last great expedition, his geographical and cultural notes proved invaluable for subsequent explorations by Speke and James Augustus Grant , Samuel Baker , David Livingstone and Henry Morton Stanley. Speke and Grant's exploration began on the east coast near Zanzibar again and went around the west side of Lake Victoria to Lake Albert and finally returned in triumph via the River Nile.
However, crucially, they had lost track of the river's course between Lake Victoria and Albert. This left Burton, and others, unsatisfied that the source of the Nile was conclusively proven. A prolonged public quarrel followed, damaging the reputations of both Burton and Speke. Some biographers have suggested that friends of Speke particularly Laurence Oliphant had initially stirred up trouble between the two. Tim Jeal, who has accessed Speke's personal papers, suggests that it was more likely the other way around, Burton being jealous and resentful of Speke's determination and success.
Speke had earlier proven his mettle by trekking through the mountains of Tibet , but Burton regarded him as inferior as he did not speak any Arabic or African languages. Despite his fascination with non-European cultures, some have portrayed Burton as an unabashed imperialist convinced of the historical and intellectual superiority of the white race, citing his involvement in the Anthropological Society , an organization that established a doctrine of scientific racism.
There were also problems with the debt associated with their expedition, for which Speke claimed Burton had sole responsibility. But their biggest disagreement was on the source of the Nile. The two men travelled home separately. Speke returned to London first and presented a lecture at the Royal Geographical Society , claiming Lake Victoria as the source of the Nile. According to Burton, Speke broke an agreement they had made to give their first public speech together.
Apart from Burton's word, there is no proof that such an agreement existed, and most modern researchers doubt that it did. Tim Jeal, evaluating the written evidence, says the odds are "heavily against Speke having made a pledge to his former leader". Burton arrived in London to find Speke being lionized and his own role being considered secondary. Speke had already applied for further expeditions to the region without Burton. In subsequent months both men attempted to harm each other's reputations.
Burton disparaged Speke's claims, calling his evidence inconclusive and his measurements inaccurate. Speke, in light of the issues he was having with Burton, had Grant sign a statement saying, among other things, "I renounce all my rights to publishing On 16 September , Burton and Speke were scheduled to debate the source of the Nile at a meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science.
On the day before the debate, Burton and Speke sat near each other in the lecture hall. According to Burton's wife, Speke stood up, said "I can't stand this any longer," and abruptly left the hall. That afternoon Speke went hunting on the nearby estate of a relative. He was discovered lying near a stone wall, felled by a fatal gunshot wound from his hunting shotgun. Burton learned of Speke's death the following day while waiting for their debate to begin. A jury ruled Speke's death an accident.
An obituary surmised that Speke, while climbing over the wall, had carelessly pulled the gun after himself with the muzzle pointing at his chest and shot himself. Alexander Maitland, Speke's only biographer, concurs. On 22 January , Burton and Isabel married in a quiet Catholic ceremony although he did not adopt the Catholic faith at this time. Shortly after this, the couple were forced to spend some time apart when he formally entered the Diplomatic Service as consul on the island of Fernando Po, now Bioko in Equatorial Guinea.
This was not a prestigious appointment; because the climate was considered extremely unhealthy for Europeans, Isabel could not accompany him. Burton spent much of this time exploring the coast of West Africa. He described some of his experiences, including a trip up the Congo River to the Yellala Falls and beyond, in his book Two trips to gorilla land and the cataracts of the Congo. The couple were reunited in when Burton was transferred to Santos in Brazil. In and he made two visits to the war zone of the Paraguayan War , which he described in his Letters from the Battlefields of Paraguay In he was appointed as the British consul in Damascus , an ideal post for someone with Burton's knowledge of the region and customs.
He managed to antagonise much of the Jewish population of the area because of a dispute concerning money-lending. It had been the practice for the British consulate to take action against those who defaulted on loans but Burton saw no reason to continue this practice and this caused a great deal of hostility. He and Isabel greatly enjoyed their time there, and considered it the best years of their lives. They befriended Jane Digby , the well-known adventurer, and Abdelkader El Djezairi , a prominent leader of the Algerian revolution then living in exile.
However, the area was in some turmoil at the time with considerable tensions between the Christian, Jewish and Muslim populations. Burton did his best to keep the peace and resolve the situation, but this sometimes led him into trouble. On one occasion, he claims to have escaped an attack by hundreds of armed horsemen and camel riders sent by Mohammed Rashid Pasha, the Governor of Syria.
He wrote, "I have never been so flattered in my life than to think it would take three hundred men to kill me. In addition to these incidents, there were a number of people who disliked Burton and wished him removed from such a sensitive position. He was recalled in , prompting a telegram to Isabel "I am superseded.
Pay, pack, and follow at convenience", and reassigned in to the sleepy port city of Trieste in Austria-Hungary. In Burton's own words, the main aim of the society through the publication of the periodical Anthropologia was "to supply travelers with an organ that would rescue their observations from the outer darkness of manuscript and print their curious information on social and sexual matters". He wrote a number of travel books in this period that were not particularly well received.
Published in this period, but composed on his return journey from Mecca, The Kasidah  has been cited as evidence of Burton's status as a Bektashi Sufi. Deliberately presented by Burton as a translation, the poem and his notes and commentary on it contain layers of Sufic meaning, that seem to have been designed to project Sufi teaching in the West. As well as references to many themes from Classical Western myths, the poem contains many laments that are accented with fleeting imagery such as repeated comparisons to "the tinkling of the Camel bell" that becomes inaudible as the animal vanishes in the darkness of the desert.
Other works of note include a collection of Hindu tales, Vikram and the Vampire ; and his uncompleted history of swordsmanship , The Book of the Sword The book The Jew, the Gipsy and el Islam was published posthumously in and was controversial for its criticism of Jews and for its assertion of the existence of Jewish human sacrifices. Burton's investigations into this had provoked hostility from the Jewish population in Damascus see the Damascus affair. The manuscript of the book included an appendix discussing the topic in more detail, but by the decision of his widow, it was not included in the book when published.
Burton died in Trieste early on the morning of 20 October of a heart attack. His wife Isabel persuaded a priest to perform the last rites, although Burton was not a Catholic and this action later caused a rift between Isabel and some of Burton's friends. It has been suggested that the death occurred very late on 19 October and that Burton was already dead by the time the last rites were administered.
On his religious views, Burton called himself an atheist, stating he was raised in the Church of England which he said was "officially his church". Isabel never recovered from the loss. After his death she burned many of her husband's papers, including journals and a planned new translation of The Perfumed Garden to be called The Scented Garden , for which she had been offered six thousand guineas and which she regarded as his "magnum opus".
She believed she was acting to protect her husband's reputation, and that she had been instructed to burn the manuscript of The Scented Garden by his spirit, but her actions have been widely condemned. Isabel wrote a biography in praise of her husband. The couple are buried in a remarkable tomb in the shape of a Bedouin tent , designed by Isabel,  in the cemetery of St Mary Magdalen Roman Catholic Church Mortlake in southwest London. The coffins of Sir Richard and Lady Burton can be seen through a window at the rear of the tent, which can be accessed via a short fixed ladder.
Next to the lady chapel in the church there is a memorial stained-glass window to Burton, also erected by Isabel; it depicts Burton as a mediaeval knight. Burton had long had an interest in sexuality and some erotic literature. However, the Obscene Publications Act of had resulted in many jail sentences for publishers, with prosecutions being brought by the Society for the Suppression of Vice. Burton referred to the society and those who shared its views as Mrs Grundy. A way around this was the private circulation of books amongst the members of a society.
For this reason Burton, together with Forster Fitzgerald Arbuthnot , created the Kama Shastra Society to print and circulate books that would be illegal to publish in public.