Heinrich Barth: An Incredible Explorer And Ethnographer

The name Heinrich Barth is almost unknown today.  But he is without doubt the greatest explorer that Germany produced in the nineteenth century, and probably even in the twentieth.  Not only did he penetrate completely unknown regions of Africa, but he kept a meticulous record of his travels, to such an extent that his published works are still useful to scholars today.  Even in his own day he did not receive the recognition that he deserved; central Africa was then so unknown even to educated Europeans that a balanced appraisal of his work was not possible at the time.  Yet a review of his life and travels leaves little doubt that he must be ranked among the bravest and most resourceful of all explorers of the African continent.

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John Ireland: Captured By Cannibals In The South Seas

We have here related incredible tales of suffering, adventure, and endurance.  The little-known account of the adventures of John Ireland ranks high on the list of harrowing stories of nineteenth century explorations.  The world was a larger place then, vastly less explored than now, and some places in the remoter regions of the globe were as isolated as they had been for thousands of years.  Just how isolated and remote, the reader here will soon discover.

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The Special Fruitfulness Of Verona In Northern Italy

The humanist and historian Biondo Flavio (1392–1463) conducted a historical survey of all of Italy, going through the country region by region.  The result of his labors was the massive Italia Illustrata, probably the first topographical survey since ancient times.  We have recorded elsewhere his description of bird-hunting in Anzio.  We will now linger over his description of the rich agricultural regions near Verona and the River Adige.

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Even When Glory Departs, Something Always Remains

The Italian humanist Ciriaco de’ Pizzicolli lived from 1391 to 1452.  He is more commonly known as Cyriac of Ancona.  While most humanists of his era were content to labor at their desks, he was unusual in that he sought to observe ancient monuments and inscriptions in person.  He was, in fact, one of the very first to undertake a systematic survey of the surviving monuments of Greek antiquity in the Eastern Mediterranean; his work is of great value to the modern antiquarian, since many of the inscriptions and temples he sketched now no longer exist, ravaged by the cruelties of time and man.

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Catching Birds In Anzio, Italy

The Italian humanist Biondo Flavio of Forli (1392-1463) was one of the great names of Renaissance humanism.  His extensive Description of Italy (Italia Illustrata) collected anecdota and geographical information about every region of the country from ancient times until his own day.  It was first published in 1451, but saw frequent additions and revisions until Flavio’s death.  Book II, section 7 of his treatise provides some details on how the natives of Nettuno (a town in the region of Lazio, south of Rome) go about netting birds.  The passage attracted my attention for some reason, and I thought it might be worth relating; it may even be of interest to modern hunters.  Flavio himself can provide the specific details:

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A Few Traditional Irish Recipes

I recently picked up an interesting cookbook at a used book sale:  George L. Thomson’s Traditional Irish Recipes.  Thomson apparently traveled all over the country to select the most traditional representations of the nation’s cuisine.  Hearty and relatively straightforward in preparation, many of these recipes make great additions to your kitchen arsenal.  I’ve decided to present a few of them here.  The average person may find it difficult to obtain traditional Irish ingredients like eel, cockles, nettle tops, and carragheen moss, so I’ve made an effort to pick recipes that are likely to be more practical.  I’ve prepared each of these dishes and can tell you that they are very good.

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Seeking One’s Fortune, And Meeting George Washington

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François-René de Chateaubriand (1768-1848) was a French writer, diplomat and historian famous for his posthumous autobiography Memoirs from Beyond the Tomb.  The book is appealing for its admixture of blunt honesty and romantic reflection that capture the spirit of the times in a way that enables the reader to feel he is a participant himself.

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