MOFFAT, Robert (1795-1883) - SMITH, Sir Andrew (1797-1872). Two autograph letters signed to Robert Moffat, South African Museum, Cape Town, and Great Choai, 9 January 1825 and 18 October 1835, together 7 pages, 4to, on bifolia.
In the first letter, Smith asks Moffat at his missionary station in Kuruman to assist by providing information and samples for the newly-founded South African Museum, 'an institution framed for the purpose of receiving every thing, the produce either of nature or art', arguing the religious benefits of such an institution; Smith feels 'a particular interest in the Snakes of this country', and sends instructions for Moffat's guidance, also on the question of quadrupeds, speculating that there may be species at Kuruman not to be found further south; he enquires also after 'a very large frog that is found near you and whose noise can be heard to a very considerable distance', and 'a large snake said to be found in the interior', giving instructions on preserving skins. In the second letter, Smith sends news of his laborious return journey from an expedition north, which included a meeting with the Matabele king Mzelekaze: their outward progress was halted by the absence of water, and the return has been much hampered by the deaths of oxen; however an arrangement with Mzelekaze will remove this difficulty on the next attempt. The letter closes with news of preparations for war in the area through which he is passing, and details of his estimated itinerary on his return.
Sir Andrew Smith came to the Cape in 1820, initially as a military doctor, before turning his attention to the founding of the South African museum. The expedition from which he is returning in the second of these letters was an ambitious attempt at a scientific exploration of the areas to the north of the boundaries of Cape Colony. For a journal of the expedition, see lot 375; for a letter by Moffat describing his encounter with Mzelekaze, see lot 673. (2)