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The Journal Of A Mission To The Interior Of Africa, In The Year 1805 by Mungo Park

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Together with Other Documents, Official And Private,

Relating To The Same Mission, to Which Is Prefixed

an Account of the Life off Mr. Park.



Edited and Commentary by John Whishaw

The original documents relating to Mr. Mungo Park's last mission into
Africa having been entrusted to the Directors of the African Institution
by the Secretary of State for the Colonial Department, with liberty to
publish them, in case they should deem it expedient; the Directors now
avail themselves of this permission, by publishing the papers for the
benefit of Mr. Park's family.

These documents, together with other papers furnished by Mr. Park's
connections and friends, which also form a part of the present
publication, consist of the following particulars:

1. The original Journal of the expedition, officially transmitted by Mr.
Park to the Secretary of State; containing several of Mr. Park's
drawings and sketches, illustrative of particular descriptions, which
are copied in this publication.

2. The Journal, as translated from the Arabic language, in which it was
originally composed, of Isaaco, a native African, commissioned in the
year 1810, by the Governor of Senegal, to go in search of Mr. Park and
ascertain his fate; which Journal was likewise officially transmitted to
the Secretary of State.

3. A Memoir delivered by Mr. Park at the Colonial Office in the year
1804, relative to the plan and objects of the intended expedition into
Africa; together with the Official Instructions which he received for
his guidance; and two letters addressed by him to the Secretary of
State, one, written shortly after his arrival at the Coast of Africa,
and the other, at the time of transmitting his Journal, previously to
his final embarkation on the Niger.

4. Several private letters of Mr. Park, principally written during the
time he was engaged in this mission; which, together with the documents
included under the last mentioned head, have been incorporated into the
Account of Mr. Park's Life, which is prefixed to the Journal.

It has before been stated, that the official papers are published under
the authority of the Directors of the African Institution. It may be
proper to add, that the individual, who has undertaken to prepare this
work for the press, is alone responsible for the publication of the
private letters, and for whatever else is contained in this volume,
besides the official documents.

Of the papers before enumerated, the most important, and the only one
which calls for any particular observation, is Mr. Park's own Journal;
respecting which, it may be necessary to apprize the reader that it was
written without the slightest view to publication, being intended only
(as he informed the Secretary of State, by his letter of the 17th of
November, 1805) "to recall to his own recollection _other_ particulars
illustrative of the manners and customs of the natives, which would have
swelled the communication to a most unreasonable size." The work,
therefore, which is now submitted to the public, can be considered in no
other light than as the mere outline of a much more extended and
detailed narrative, which it was the author's intention to prepare for
the press after his return to England.

A work, thus imperfect, and which the unfortunate fate of its author has
prevented from being brought to a completion, is entitled to peculiar
indulgence; and if those allowances are made, which candour and justice
require, the editor confidently hopes, that Mr. Park's Journal will not
disappoint the public expectation. It will be found to contain several
interesting particulars concerning Africa, not hitherto known, and to
illustrate and confirm, in various material respects, some of the most
important discoveries communicated in Mr. Park's former Travels. It
bears strong internal marks of truth and fidelity; and, perhaps, the
very nakedness and simplicity of its descriptions and its minute details
of petty circumstances, may be thought by some readers to convey a more
accurate and distinct conception of the process of an African journey,
and of the difficulties with which such expeditions are attended, than a
more elaborate and polished narrative.

With a view of rendering the present publication more complete, and of
gratifying in a certain degree that reasonable curiosity, which will
naturally be felt by many readers of this Journal and the former
Travels, it has been thought advisable to add a biographical Memoir of
the Author. But as the events of Mr. Park's life, with the exception of
those contained in the works just alluded to, are few and unimportant,
the editor has been induced, in the course of this undertaking, to
deviate occasionally into other topics, more or less connected with the
principal subject; in the discussion of which he has inadvertently
exceeded the limits which he had originally assigned to himself. This
circumstance has added considerably to the length of the Memoir and its
Appendix; for which, he would willingly believe, that the interest
belonging to the topics themselves, will be deemed a sufficient apology.

In preparing this Memoir, the editor naturally applied for information
to Mr. Park's family, and was much gratified by discovering, that some
materials, with a view to a similar undertaking, had been collected by a
brother-in-law of Mr. Park, Mr. Archibald Buchanan of Glasgow; who, on
being made acquainted with the editor's intention, immediately and with
the greatest candour, transmitted to him the whole of his papers.

These materials have been of great use in preparing the Memoir; in which
the editor has likewise been assisted by much useful information which
he has received from another brother-in-law of Mr. Park, Mr. James
Dickson, whose name will occur in the course of the ensuing Memoir; and
also from Mr. Park's two brothers, Mr. Adam Park of Gravesend, and Mr.
Alexander Park of Selkirk, the latter of whom is unfortunately since

The editor is likewise greatly indebted to Major Rennell and to Zachary
Macaulay, Esq. for several interesting particulars concerning Mr. Park;
and to the latter in particular, for much valuable information relative
to the trade of this country with Africa, which will be found in the
Appendix to the Memoir.

But his acknowledgments are due, in an especial manner, to Sir Joseph
Banks; who has not only favoured the editor with the fullest
communication of his correspondence with Mr. Park, and of his papers
relating to this subject, but has in every other respect assisted and
promoted the present undertaking with a kindness and liberality,
proportioned to his sincere and constant friendship for Mr. Park, and to
his uniform zeal for whatever he considers to be in any degree connected
with useful knowledge and scientific discovery.

* * * * *

It remains only to say a few words respecting the Map, which is prefixed
to this publication. The readers of Mr. Park's former Travels are
already apprized, that the map which accompanied that work, was
constructed by Major Rennell, whose interesting Geographical Memoir in
illustration of Mr. Park's first journey, was also annexed to the quarto
edition. It would have been highly gratifying to the editor of this
work, and most satisfactory to the public, if the same valuable
assistance could have been obtained on the present occasion. But
unfortunately, Major Rennell's other engagements rendered this wholly
impracticable. He had the kindness, however, to furnish the editor with
some notes which he had taken, and with a construction of part of Mr.
Park's route in 1805, which he had traced out from the Journal now
published, when it was formerly submitted to his inspection.

These papers together with Mr. Park's Journal, were placed in the hands
of a respectable artist, employed by the publisher to construct the map
intended to illustrate the present work; at whose request the following
statement respecting certain difficulties which have occurred in its
construction, is subjoined.

"In compiling the map of Mr. Park's route in 1805, much difficulty has
arisen from the bearings of places not being mentioned in the Journal;
and also in consequence of there being occasionally great differences
between the latitudes and longitudes of places according to the
astronomical observations, and the distances computed according to the
journies. Considerable pains have been taken to reconcile these
differences; but the general result has been, that it was found
necessary in adhering to the astronomical observations, to carry Mr.
Park's former route in 1796 farther north, and to place it in a higher
latitude than that in which it appears in Major Rennell's map annexed to
the former volume of Travels."

London, March 1, 1815.


* * * * *

Appendix, No. I.
No. II.
No. III.
No. IV.
No. V.
No. VI.

Explanation of African Words

* * * * *



Departure from Kayee--Arrival at Pisania--Preparations there, and
departure into the Interior--Samee--Payment to Mumbo Jumbo--Reach
Jindey; process of dying cottons at that place--Departure from
Jindey--Cross the Wallia Creek--Kootakunda--Madina--Tabajang--Kingdom of
Jamberoo--Visit from the King's son--Tatticonda--Visit from the son of
the former King of Woolli--Reach Madina, the capital of Woolli--Audience
of the King; his unfriendly conduct--Presents made to him and his
courtiers--Barraconda--Bambakoo--Kanipe; inhospitable conduct of its
inhabitants--Kussai--Nittatrees; restrictions relating to them--Enter
the Simbani Woods--precautions thereon, and sacrifice and prayers for
success--Banks of the Gambia--Crocodiles and hippopotami--Reach
Faraba--Loss of one of the soldiers--Rivers Neaulico and
Nerico--Astronomical observations.


Arrival at Jallacotta--Maheena--Tambico--Bady; hostile conduct of the
Faranba, or Chief, and its consequences--Reach Jeningalla--
Iron-furnaces--Mansafard--Attacked by wolves--Enter the
Tenda Wilderness--Ruins and Plain of Doofroo--Attacked by a swarm of
bees--Astronomical observations--Arrival at Sibikillin--Shea
trees--Badoo; presents made to the King--Tambacunda--Ba Deema
River--Tabba Gee--Mambari--Julifunda; unfriendly conduct of its Chief;
and presents sent to him and the King--Visit from the latter--Reach
Eercella--Baniserite--Celebrate his Majesty's birthday--Mode of fluxing
iron--Madina--Falema river--Satadoo--Sickness and death of the
Carpenter--Arrival at Shrondo; commencement of the rainy season; and
alarming sickness amongst the soldiers--Gold mines; process for
procuring the gold--Dindikoo; gold pits--Cultivation--Arrival at Fankia.


Departure from Fankia--Tambaura mountains, and difficulties in ascending
the Pass--Toombin--Great embarrassments on the road--Serimanna--Fajemmia
Astronomical observations--Increase of the sick--Nealakatla--Balee
River--Boontoonkooran--Doggikotta--Falifing--Losses on the road--Gimbia;
inhospitable treatment--Sullo--Face of the country--Secoba
Konkromo--Passage of the Ba Fing--Mode of smelting and working
gold--Fatal accident in crossing the Ba Fing--Hippopotami--Deaths and
losses on the route--Increase of sickness--Reach Viandry--Koeena--Danger
from young lions--Koombandi--Great embarrassments on the
road--Fonilla--Ba Woolima River; difficulties in crossing it--Isaaco
seized by a crocodile--Boolinkoonbo--Distressing situation of the whole
of the party--Reach Serrababoo-Saboseera.


Arrival at Keminoom, or Manniakorro, on the Ba lee river.--Visit to the
Chief--Depredations upon the coffle by the inhabitants--Continued
attacks from banditti as far as the Ba Woolima river.--Difficulties in
passing it--Temporary bridge made by the natives.--Astronomical
observations--Arrival at Mareena; inhospitable conduct of its
inhabitants--Bangassi; interview with the King--Continued sickness, and
deaths among the soldiers.--Arrival at Nummasoolo--Obliged to leave five
of the sick behind--reach Surtaboo--Sobee--Affray between Isaaco and two
soldiers--Balanding--Balandoo--More of the soldiers fall
behind--Koolihori--Greatly annoyed by wolves.


Departure from Koolihori--Ganifarra--Scarcity of provisions--Distressing
situation of the Author from deaths and sickness of the party--Escapes
from three lions--Intricate route to Koomikoomi--Dombila--Visit from
Karfa Taura--View of the Niger--Reduced state of the party--Bambakoo--
Losses from wolves--Bosradoo; embark on the Niger; incidents in the
voyage to Marraboo--Isaaco sent to Sego with presents for Mansong--
Message from Mansong--Course to Koolikorro--Deena--Yamina--Samee--
Return of Isaaco; account of his interview with Mansong--Messengers
sent by Mansong, and enquiries respecting the Author's journey--Quit
Samee--Excessive heat--Reach Sansanding--Account of that city and its
trade--Death of Mr. Anderson--Preparations for continuing the voyage
eastward--Information collected respecting various districts.





Mungo Park was born on the 10th of September 1771, at Fowlshiels, a farm
occupied by his father, under the duke of Buccleugh, on the banks of the
Yarrow not far from the town of Selkirk. His father, who bore the same
name, was a respectable yeoman of Ettrick Forest. His mother, who is
still living, is the daughter of the late Mr. John Hislop, of Tennis, a
few miles higher up on the same river. The subject of this Memoir was
the seventh child, and third son of the family, which consisted of
thirteen children, eight of whom attained to years of maturity.

Prior to the time of Mungo Park's birth, the father had for many years
practised farming with assiduity and success on the estate at
Fowlshiels, where he died in 1792, after a long and exemplary life, at
the age of seventy-seven.

Among other estimable qualities which distinguished the father's
character, was a constant and unremitting attention to the education of
his children; a species of merit, which is indeed of common occurrence
among the Scottish farmers and peasantry, but which appears to have been
exemplary and remarkable in the present instance. His family being
numerous, he did not content himself with personally superintending
every part of their education; but, though far from being in affluent
circumstances, engaged a private teacher to reside in his house and
assist in their early instruction.

It is most satisfactory to add, that these paternal cares were followed
by the happiest results, and received their appropriate reward. Mr. Park
had the gratification of seeing the greater part of his children
respectably settled during his life, and of witnessing their success and

After having received the first rudiments of education in his father's
family, Mungo Park was in due time removed to the Grammar School at
Selkirk, where he remained a considerable number of years. He had shewn
a great love of reading from his childhood, and was indefatigable in his
application at school, where he was much distinguished and always at the
head of his class. Even at that early age, he was remarked for being
silent, studious and thoughtful: but some sparks of latent ambition
occasionally broke forth: and indications might even then be discovered
of that ardent and adventurous turn of mind, which distinguished him in
after life, and which often lies concealed under a cold and reserved

It was the original intention of Park's father to educate him for the
Scottish church, for which he appeared to be well fitted by his studious
habits and the serious turn of his mind; but, his son having made choice
of the medical profession, he was readily induced to acquiesce. In
consequence of this determination, Mungo Park was bound apprentice at
the age of fifteen to Mr. Thomas Anderson, a respectable surgeon in
Selkirk, with whom he resided three years; continuing, at the same time,
to pursue his classical studies and to attend occasionally at the
grammar school. In the year 1789, he quitted Mr. Anderson, and removed
to the University of Edinburgh, where he pursued the course which is
common to medical students, and attended the usual Lectures during three
successive sessions.

Nothing particular is recorded of his academical life. He appears,
however, to have applied to the studies connected with the science of
medicine with his accustomed ardour and assiduity, and to have been
distinguished among his fellow-students. During his summer vacations he
paid great attention to botanical pursuits, for which he seems always to
have had a great predilection; and a tour which he made, about this time
to the Highlands, in company with his brother-in-law, Mr. James Dickson,
a distinguished Botanist, contributed greatly to his improvement in this

After having completed his studies at Edinburgh, Park removed to London
in search of some medical employment. In this pursuit he was much
assisted by his relation Mr. Dickson, to whom he had before been
indebted in his botanical studies. By his means Park was now introduced
to Sir Joseph Banks; whose interest or recommendation shortly afterwards
procured for him the appointment of Assistant Surgeon to the Worcester
East Indiaman.

From this period Park was honoured with the patronage, and indeed with
the constant friendship, of Sir Joseph Banks, from which he derived many
important advantages, and which had a material influence on the
subsequent events of his life. For this highly valuable friendship he
was originally indebted to a connection which had subsisted for many
years between Sir Joseph and Mr. Dickson: and it may not therefore be
improper, to describe shortly the origin and nature of this connection;
which, besides its immediate influence on Park's fortunes, was attended
with several characteristic circumstances highly honourable to the
parties concerned, and in themselves not uninteresting.

Mr. Dickson was born of humble parents, and came early in life, from
Scotland, his native country, to London. For some time he worked as a
gardener in the grounds of a considerable nurseryman at Hammersmith,
where he was occasionally seen by Sir Joseph Banks, who took notice of
him as an intelligent young man. Quitting this situation he lived for
some years as gardener in several considerable families: after which he
established himself in London as a seedsman; and has ever since followed
that business with unremitting diligence and success. Having an ardent
passion for botany, which he had always cultivated according to the best
of his means and opportunities; he lost no time in presenting himself to
Sir Joseph Banks, who received him with great kindness, encouraged him
in his pursuits, and gave him access to his valuable library. He thus
obtained the free use of one of the most complete collections on Botany
and Natural History, which has perhaps, ever yet been formed; and which,
through the liberality of its possessor, has contributed in a greater
degree to the accommodation of scientific men, and the general
advancement of science than many public establishments. Such leisure
hours as Mr. Dickson could command from his business, he devoted to an
assiduous attendance in this library or to the perusal of scientific
books obtained from thence. In process of time he acquired great
knowledge and became eminent among the English Botanists; and is now
known in Europe among the proficients in that science as one of its most
successful cultivators, and the author of some distinguished Works. At
an advanced period of life he is still active in business, and continues
to pursue his botanical studies with unabated ardour and assiduity.
[Footnote: Mr. Dickson is a Fellow of the Linnaean Society, of which he
was one of the original founders: and also Fellow and Vice President of
the Horticultural Society. Several communications from him, appear in
different volumes of the Linnaean Transactions; but he is principally
known among Botanists by a work entitled, "Fasciculi Quatuor Plantarum,
Cryptogamicarum Britanniae." _Lond._ 1785-93; in which he has described
upwards of four hundred plants not before noticed. He has the merit of
having directed the attention of the Botanists of this country to one of
the most abstruse and difficult parts of that science; to the
advancement of which he has himself, very greatly contributed.]

Such an instance of successful industry united with a taste for
intellectual pursuits, deserves to be recorded; not only on account of
its relation to the subject of this narrative, but because, it
illustrates in a very striking and pleasing manner, the advantages of
education in the lower classes of life. The attention of the Scottish
farmers and peasantry to the early instruction of their children has
been already remarked, and is strongly exemplified in the history of Mr.
Park's family. The diffusion of knowledge among the natives of that part
of the kingdom, and their general intelligence, must be admitted by
every unprejudiced observer; nor is there any country in which the
effects of education are so conspicuous in promoting industry and good
conduct, and in producing useful and respectable men of the inferior and
middle classes, admirably fitted for all the important offices of common
life. [Footnote: See Appendix, No. I.]

* * * * *

In consequence of the appointment which Mungo Park had obtained as
surgeon in the East India Company's service, by the interest of Sir
Joseph Banks, he sailed for the East Indies in the Worcester in the
month of February, 1792; and having made a voyage to Bencoolen, in the
island of Sumatra, returned to England in the following year. Nothing
material occurred during this voyage: but he availed himself of all the
opportunities which it afforded to obtain information in his favourite
scientific pursuits, and appears to have made many observations, and
collected many specimens, in Botany and Natural History. Several of
these were the subjects of a communication made by him to the Linnaean
Society, which was afterwards published in their printed Transactions.
[Footnote: In the Third Volume of the Linnaean Transactions, p. 83, is a
paper by Park, read Nov. 4,1794, containing descriptions of eight new
fishes from Sumatra; which he represents to be the fruit of his leisure
hours during his stay on that coast.]

It does not sufficiently appear, whether Mr. Park, after his return from
the East Indies, came to any final resolution with regard to his
continuing as a surgeon in the Company's service. But whatever might be
his intention in this respect, new prospects now opened upon him, and a
scene of action far more congenial to his taste and feelings, was
presented to his ambition.

Some years prior to this period, a few distinguished individuals,
induced by a very liberal spirit of curiosity, had formed themselves
into an Association for promoting discoveries in the Interior of Africa,
and were now prosecuting their researches with great activity and
success. In the course of a few years they had investigated, and placed
in a clearer point of view than had hitherto been done by geographers,
some of the leading facts relative to the Northern part of that
Continent; the characteristic differences of the principal tribes, their
commercial relations, the routes of the great caravans, the general
diffusion of the Mahomedan religion, and the consequent prevalence of
the Arabic language throughout a considerable part of that vast
continent. [Footnote: See Vol. I. of the Proceedings of African
Association. London, 1810.] With the assistance of their distinguished
Associate, Major Rennell, they were now proceeding to trace the
principal geographical outlines of Northern Africa; and were
endeavouring to ascertain the course of the great inland river Joliba or
Niger, and to obtain some authentic information concerning Tombuctoo, a
principal city of the interior and one of the great marts of African

In the course of these enquiries, the Association, since their first
establishment in 1788, had employed several persons, well qualified for
such undertakings, upon missions into various parts of the African
Continent. Several of these were known to have perished, either as
victims of the climate, or in contests with the natives; [Footnote: The
persons who had been sent out prior to this period, were Mr. Ledyard,
Mr. Lucas, Major Houghton, and Mr. Horneman: subsequently to which,
several others have been employed; viz. Mr. Nichols, Mr. Bourcard, &c.]
and intelligence had lately been received of the death of Major
Houghton, who had been sent out to explore the course of the Niger, and
to penetrate, if possible, to Tombuctoo and Houssa. The Association
appear to have found considerable difficulty in supplying Major
Houghton's place; and had made known their readiness to give a liberal
compensation to any person, competently qualified, who might be willing
to proceed on this important and arduous mission.

The attention of Park was naturally drawn to this subject, in
consequence of his connection with Sir Joseph Banks, who had received
him with great kindness and cordiality on his return from the East
Indies, and with whom he was now in habits of frequent intercourse. Sir
Joseph Banks was one of the most active and leading members of the
African Association, and with his accustomed zeal for the promotion of
scientific discovery, was earnest in his endeavours to find out a proper
person to undertake the mission in search of the Niger. There was
nothing in Park's previous studies which had particularly led him
towards geographical pursuits; but he had a general passion for
travelling; he was in the full vigour of life; his constitution had been
in some degree inured to hot climates; he saw the opportunities which a
new country would afford of indulging his taste for Natural History: nor
was he insensible to the distinction which was likely to result from any
great discoveries in African geography. These considerations determined
him. Having fully informed himself as to what was expected by the
Association, he eagerly offered himself for the service; and after some
previous enquiry into his qualifications, the offer was readily

Between the time of Park's return from India in 1793, and his departure
to Africa, an interval elapsed of about two years. During the whole of
this period (with the exception of a short visit to Scotland in 1794),
he appears to have resided in London or its neighbourhood; being engaged
partly in his favourite studies, or in literary or scientific society;
but principally in acquiring the knowledge and making the preparations,
which were requisite for his great undertaking.

Having received his final instructions from the African Association, he
set sail from Portsmouth on the 22d of May, 1795, on board the
Endeavour, an African trader, bound for the Gambia, where he arrived on
the 21st of the following month. It is not the intention of this
narrative to follow him through the details of this journey, a full
account of which was afterwards published by Park, and is familiar to
every reader. But it may be useful to mention the material dates and
some of the principal transactions.

Having landed on the 21st of June at Jillifree, a small town near the
mouth of the River Gambia; he proceeded shortly afterwards to Pisania, a
British factory about 200 miles up the same river, where he arrived on
the 5th of July, and was most hospitably received by Dr. Laidley, a
gentleman who had resided many years at that settlement. He remained at
Dr. Laidley's house for several months, in order to learn the Mandingo
language, which is in general use throughout that part of Africa, and
also to collect information concerning the countries he intended to
visit. During two of these months he was confined by a severe fever,
caught by imprudently exposing himself during the rainy season.

He left Pisania on the 2d of December, 1795, directing his course
easterly, with a view of proceeding to the River Joliba, or Niger. But
in consequence of a war between two sovereigns in the Interior, he was
obliged, after he had made some progress, to take a northerly direction
towards the territory of the Moors. He arrived at Jarra, the frontier
town of that country, on the 18th of February, 1796. Pursuing his
journey from thence, he was taken and detained as a prisoner, by Ali,
the chieftain or king of that territory, on the 7th of March; and after
a long captivity and a series of unexampled hardships, escaped at last
with great difficulty early in the month of July.

The period was now approaching when he was to receive some compensation
for so many sufferings. After wandering in great misery for about three
weeks through the African Wilderness, he arrived at Sego, the capital of
Bambarra, a city which is said to contain thirty thousand inhabitants.
He was gratified at the same time by the first sight of the Niger, the
great object of his journey; and ascertained the extraordinary fact,
that its course is from West to East.

After a short stay at Sego (where he did not find it safe to remain),
Park proceeded down the river to Silla, a large town distant about
seventy or eighty miles, on the banks of the Niger. He was now reduced
to the greatest distress, and being convinced by painful experience,
that the obstacles to his further progress were insurmountable, he
reluctantly abandoned his design of proceeding eastwards; and came to
the resolution of going back to Sego, and endeavouring to effect his
return to the Gambia by a different route from that by which he had
advanced into Africa.

On the 3d of August, 1796, he left Silla, and pursuing the course of the
Niger, arrived at Bammakoo, the frontier of Bambarra, about the 23d of
the same month. Here he quitted the Niger, which ceases to be navigable
at this place; and travelling for several weeks through a mountainous
and difficult country, reached Kamalia, in the territory of Manding, on
the 16th of September. He performed the latter part of this journey on
foot, having been obliged to leave his horse, now worn out with fatigue
and unable to proceed farther.

Having encountered all the horrors of the rainy season, and being worn
down by fatigue, his health had, at different times, been seriously
affected. But, soon after his arrival at Kamalia, he fell into a severe
and dangerous fit of sickness, by which he was closely confined for
upwards of a month. His life was preserved by the hospitality and
benevolence of Karfa Taura, a Negro, who received him into his house,
and whose family attended him with the kindest solicitude. The same
excellent person, at the time of Park's last Mission into Africa,
hearing that a white man was travelling through the country, whom he
imagined to be Park, took a journey of six days to meet him; and joining
the caravan at Bambakoo, was highly gratified by the sight of his
friend. [Footnote: See Journal, p. 137.]

There being still a space of five hundred miles to be traversed (the
greater part of it through a desert) before Park could reach any
friendly country on the Gambia, he had no other resource but to wait
with patience for the first caravan of slaves that might travel the same
track. No such opportunity occurred till the latter end of April, 1797;
when a coffle, or caravan, set out from Kamalia under the direction of
Karfa Taura, in whose house he had continued during his long residence
of more than seven months at that place.

The coffle began its progress westwards on the 17th of April, and on the
4th of June reached the banks of the Gambia, after a journey of great
labour and difficulty, which afforded Park the most painful
opportunities of witnessing the miseries endured by a caravan of slaves
in their transportation from the interior to the coast. On the 10th of
the same month Park arrived at Pisania, from whence he had set out
eighteen months before; and was received by Dr. Laidley (to use his own
expression) as one risen from the grave. On the 15th of June he embarked
in a slave ship bound to America, which was driven by stress of weather
to the West Indies; and got with great difficulty, and under
circumstances of considerable danger, into the Island of Antigua. He
sailed from thence on the 24th of November, and after a short, but
tempestuous passage, arrived at Falmouth on the 22d of the following
month, having been absent from England two years and seven months.

Immediately on his landing he hastened to London, anxious in the
greatest degree about his family and friends, of whom he had heard
nothing for two years. He arrived in London before day-light on the
morning of Christmas day, 1797; and it being too early an hour to go to
his brother-in-law, Mr. Dickson, he wandered for some time about the
streets in that quarter of the town where his house was. Finding one of
the entrances into the gardens of the British Museum accidentally open,
he went in and walked about there for some time. It happened that Mr.
Dickson, who had the care of those gardens, went there early that
morning upon some trifling business. What must have been his emotions on
beholding at that extraordinary time and place, the vision, as it must
at first have appeared, of his long-lost friend, the object of so many
anxious reflexions, and whom he had long numbered with the dead!

* * * * *

Park's arrival was hailed with a sort of triumph by his friends of the
African Association, and in some degree, by the public at large. The
nature and objects of his mission, his long absence, and his unexpected
return, excited a very general interest; which was afterwards kept up by
the reports which prevailed respecting the discoveries he had made. The
Association, with that liberality which characterised every part of
their proceedings, gave him full permission to publish his Travels for
his own benefit; and it was speedily announced, that a complete
narrative of the journey would be prepared by Park himself, and given to
the public. But in the mean time, in order to gratify, in a certain
degree, the curiosity which prevailed, an Abstract, of the Travels,
prepared from Park's own minutes, was drawn up by Mr. Bryan Edwards,
secretary of the African Association, and was printed and distributed
for the private use of the subscribers. [Footnote: Proceedings of
African Association. Vol. I. p. 327.] This Abstract, which was written
with perspicuity and elegance, formed the principal ground-work of the
Book of Travels which was subsequently published.

To the Abstract or Narrative, thus circulated, was annexed an important
Memoir by Major Rennell, consisting of geographical illustrations of
Park's Journey, which afterwards, by that gentleman's permission, formed
a valuable appendage to the quarto edition of the Travels.

After his return from Africa, Park remained for a considerable time
stationary in London, and was diligently employed in arranging the
materials for his intended publication. He had frequent occasion, also,
to communicate on the subject of his discoveries with the members of the
African Association, especially with Major Rennell and Mr. Edwards,
whilst they were engaged in preparing the two Memoirs before alluded to.
With Mr. Edwards, in particular, he seems to have lived on terms of
great friendship, and to have occasionally paid him visits at his
country residence near Southampton.

It was nearly about this time (the Spring of the year 1798) that
Government, having it in contemplation to procure a complete survey of
New Holland, made some application to Park, with a view of employing him
upon that service. The particulars of this transaction are not known to
Park's family, nor is it now material to enquire; since the proposal,
whatever it might be, was declined. It was afterwards repeated, and
again declined, during the following year.

In June, 1798, he visited his mother, who still resided at Fowlshiels,
and his other relations in Scotland, and remained with them the whole of
the summer and autumn. During all this time he was assiduously employed
in compiling and arranging the Account of his Travels. His materials for
this work are stated to have consisted of short notes or memoranda,
written on separate pieces of paper, forming an imperfect journal of his
proceedings. Where these were wanting, he supplied the deficiency from
his memory. [Footnote: Enquiry has been made for the notes here alluded
to, with a view to the elucidation of several points connected with this
narrative, but without success; it being stated by Mr. Dickson, that a
number of loose papers were left at his house by Park, and remained
there for some time; but being considered of no use, were mislaid or
destroyed; and that none of them are now to be found.]

His family represent him dating this period as leading the life of a
severe student, employed on his papers during the whole of the mornings,
and allowing himself little or no recreation, except a solitary evening
walk on the banks of the Yarrow. Occasionally, however, he would indulge
himself in longer excursions among the wild and romantic scenery of that
neighbourhood, to which he was fondly and almost enthusiastically
attached. [Footnote: The situation of Fowlshiels on the banks of the
Yarrow is said to be picturesque and striking. It is in the immediate
vicinity of Bow-hill, a beautiful summer-residence of the Duke of
Buccleugh; and at no great distance from the ruins of Newark Castle, and
other scenes celebrated in the _Lay of the Last Minstrel_]

He quitted Fowlshiels, with great regret towards the latter end of 1798,
when it was necessary for him to return to London, to prepare for his
intended publication. He carried back with him a great mass of papers,
the produce of his summer's labour; and after his return to London,
bestowed considerable pains in the correction and retrenchment of his
manuscript before it was sent to the press. It was finally published in
the Spring of the year 1799.

The applause with which this work was received, and the permanent
reputation which it has obtained, are well known. Two impressions were
rapidly sold off; several other editions have since been called for; and
it continues even at the present time to be a popular and standard book.
This distinguished success has been owing, not only to the interesting
nature of its subject, but in a certain degree also to the merits of the
work as a composition; to the clearness of the descriptions, the natural
and easy flow of the narration, and the general elegance of the style.

But the essential merit of this book, and that which has conferred a
lasting distinction on the name of its author, consists in the authentic
and important information which it contains. Considered in this point of
view, it must unquestionably be regarded as the greatest accession to
the general stock of geographical knowledge, which was ever yet made by
any single traveller. The claim of Park to this distinction will be
apparent from a short view of his principal discoveries.

Among the great variety of facts concerning the Interior of Africa not
before known, or at least not ascertained, which the labours of Park
have placed beyond all doubt, the most interesting unquestionably are,
those which relate to the existence of the great inland river, the
Niger, as a distinct and separate stream, and its course from West to
East; affording a remarkable confirmation of what had been stated
concerning this river by Herodotus and the ancient writers; but which
was afterwards controverted by the geographers of the middle ages, who
asserted (what, independently of direct evidence, seemed more probable)
that the course of the river was from East to West. This latter opinion
had accordingly been followed by the greater part of the moderns; with
the exception indeed of some of the most distinguished geographers of
later times, particularly, D'Anville and Major Rennell, who had called
in question the doctrine then prevalent, and given strong reasons for
adhering to the ancient opinion. This however at the time of Park's
journey, could be considered in no other light than as a reasonable
conjecture, till the fact was ascertained by the unexceptionable
testimony of an eye-witness. [Footnote: See Appendix, No. II.]

Another important circumstance respecting the Niger, previously unknown,
but which was fully established by Park, is the vast magnitude of that
stream; an extraordinary fact, considering its situation and inland
course, and which has led, as will hereafter be seen, to several
interesting conjectures respecting the course and the termination of
that river.

In addition to these discoveries relative to the _physical_ state of
Africa, others were made by Park scarcely less important; in what may be
termed its moral geography; namely, the kind and amiable dispositions of
the Negro inhabitants of the Interior, as contrasted with the
intolerance and brutal ferocity of the Moors; the existence of great and
populous cities in the heart of Africa; and the higher state of
improvement and superior civilization of the inhabitants of the
interior, on a comparison with the inhabitants of the countries
adjoining to the coast.

To this it may be added, that the work in question contains many
interesting details not before known, concerning the face of the
country, its soil and productions, as well as the condition of the
inhabitants; their principal occupations, and their manners and habits
of life; and the anecdotes which are interspersed, illustrative of the
character and disposition of the Negro inhabitants at a distance from
the coast, and beyond the influence of the Slave Trade, are in the
highest degree interesting and affecting. [Footnote: See especially the
following passages in Park's Travels, p. 82, 197, 336.]

The difficulties and dangers endured by the author in traversing this
unknown continent; and the rare union of prudence, temper and
perseverance, with the greatest ardour and enterprise, which
distinguished his conduct in the most trying situations, give an
additional value to Park's narrative. In this important, but difficult,
part of his work be appears to have been peculiarly successful. His
natural and unaffected manner of describing exertions and sufferings
which almost surpass the fictions of romance, carries a feeling and
conviction of truth to the mind of every reader, and excites deeper and
more powerful emotions than have often been produced, even by works of

It is painful, after bestowing this well-merited praise, to be under the
necessity of adverting to two circumstances unfavourable to Park's
memory, connected with the history of this publication. These are, 1st.
an opinion which has prevailed, that Park was a supporter of the cause
of Slavery, and an enemy to the Abolition of the African Slave Trade;
and 2dly. a report, equally current, that the Travels, of which he was
the professed author, were composed not by Park himself, but in a very
considerable degree, by Mr. Bryan Edwards.--Topics, thus personal and
invidious, the writer of this Memoir would naturally wish to decline;
but they are too intimately connected with the principal occurrences of
Park's life to admit of being passed over without particular enquiry and
examination. For this purpose, it will be necessary to trace, more
distinctly than has hitherto been done, the connection between Park and
Mr. Bryan Edwards; which was a principal cause of the reports above
alluded to.

Mr. Edwards was an intelligent and respectable man, of no inconsiderable
literary attainments, and known as the author of the _History of the
British Colonies in the West Indies_. Being possessed of property in
Jamaica, he resided there many years as a planter; during which time he
was an eloquent and leading member of the House of Assembly, or
Provincial Legislature of that island. Some time about the year 1794,
when the question of the Slave Trade had for several years engaged the
attention of the British parliament and public, he quitted the West
Indies and came to England, where he fixed his residence for the
remainder of his life. He shortly afterwards obtained a seat in the
House of Commons, where he established a character as a man of business,
and came forward on every occasion as the advocate of the planters, and
the supporter of what are called the West India interests. In all
debates upon questions connected with the Slave Trade he took an active
part; and during the whole of his parliamentary career was a leading and
systematic opponent of the Abolition.

As secretary of the African Association, Mr. Edwards had constant
intercourse and communication with Park from the time when the latter
first arrived from Africa; and must immediately have seen the advantage
to be gained for the Slave Trade by a skilful use of the influence which
this situation gave him. His first object must naturally have been, to
gain the services of Park in the direct support of the Slave Trade; or,
if this should be found impracticable, he might at least hope to secure
his neutrality, and prevent him from joining the ranks of his opponents.
It is not meant to be insinuated that Mr. Edwards exerted any influence
which was manifestly undue and improper, or that he was disposed to go
greater lengths than any other man of a warm and sanguine temper, in
support of a cause in which he was deeply embarked, and of the
importance of which he felt the strongest conviction. The sentiments and
conduct here imputed to him, arose naturally out of the situation in
which he was placed; and he probably did no more than would have been
done under similar circumstances, by any partizan of the Abolition,
equally able and zealous.

A previous knowledge of these particulars is necessary for enabling the
reader to form a judgment upon the two points connected with the
publication of Park's Travels, which were before alluded to. With
respect to the first of these questions, namely, that relative to Park's
sentiments on the subject of the Abolition, the writer of this
narrative, in consequence of information he has obtained from some of
Park's nearest relations, is enabled to state with great confidence,
that Park uniformly expressed a great abhorrence of Slavery and the
Slave Trade, whenever these subjects occurred in conversation. But the
same persons farther represent, that he considered the Abolition of the
Slave Trade as a measure of _state policy_; for which reason he thought
it would be improper for him, in any work he might give to the public,
to interpose his private opinion relative to a question of such
importance, and which was then under the consideration of the

Whatever may be thought of the correctness of this opinion, it is
necessary to observe that the rule which he thus prescribed for his own
conduct, was not strictly adhered to; or rather, that the system of
neutrality which he professed, had, in a certain degree, the effect of a
declaration of opinion. From the time of the publication of Park's
Travels, his name was constantly mentioned in the list of persons
conversant with Africa, who were not friendly to the Abolition; and his
authority was always appealed to with some triumph by the advocates of
the Slave Trade: and this, apparently, with good reason. For, although
the author avowedly abstained from giving an explicit opinion as to the
effects of that traffic, yet the general tone of his work appeared to
leave no doubt with regard to his real sentiments; and indeed the
_silence_ of so intelligent a traveller relative to a subject which must
necessarily have engaged so much of his attention, was in itself a
sufficient proof, of a bias existing in the mind of the writer,
unfavourable to the Abolition. For to what other cause could it be
attributed, that the Slave Trade was never once mentioned in Park's book
as having the smallest share in promoting the barbarism and internal
disorders of the African Continent? Or, that in his pathetic description
of the miseries endured by the caravan of slaves which the author
accompanied from Kamalia to the Gambia (a journey of five hundred
miles), not the slightest allusion was made to the obvious and immediate
cause of these sufferings, the demand for slaves on the coast?--It must
further be recollected, that the Slave Trade, at the time when Park
wrote, had engaged universal attention, and was become the subject of
much controversy and public discussion; yet this topic, of so much
interest and importance, occurs only once in the course of these
Travels; and is then hastily dismissed with a slight and unmeaning

[Footnote: The passage here particularly alluded to, is so
extraordinary, and affords such an illustration of the influence under
which this work was composed, that it deserves to be transcribed. After
a description of the state of slavery in Africa, which the author
represents as a sort of necessary evil, deeply rooted in the habits and
manners of that country (but without in the least alluding to the great
aggravation of the evil arising from the European Slave Trade), the
author concludes his remarks as follows: "Such are the general outlines
of that system of slavery which prevails in Africa; and it is evident,
from its nature and extent, that it is a system of no modern date. It
probably had its origin in the remote ages of antiquity, before the
Mahomedans explored a passage across the Desert. How far it is
maintained and supported by the Slave Traffic which, for two hundred
years, the nations of Europe have carried on with the natives of the
coast, it is neither within my province, nor in my power, to explain. If
my sentiments should be required concerning the effect which a
discontinuance of that commerce would produce on the manners of the
natives, I should have no hesitation in observing, that in the present
unenlightened state of their minds, my opinion is, the effect would
neither be so extensive nor beneficial as many wise and worthy persons
fondly expect." (Park's Travels, p. 297.)

On reading this passage, it is impossible not to be struck both with the
opinion itself and the manner in which it is expressed. The proposition,
literally taken, is a mere _truism_, undeniably just, but of no
practical value or importance. For, who doubts that the probable good
effects of the Abolition may have been overrated by men of warm and
sanguine benevolence? Or, who would assert, that such exaggerations
ought to have any weight in argument, except as inducements to greater
caution and deliberation?--But, the evident intention of the passage is,
to convey a meaning beyond what "meets the ear"; to produce an
_impression_ on the reader, independent of any proofs or principles by
which his opinion ought to be governed; and to insinuate, what it is not
thought proper to assert, that the zeal manifested in favour of the
Abolition originated solely in ignorance and enthusiasm.]

It is a remarkable circumstance, that while the supposed _opinions_ of
Park have always been appealed to by the advocates of the Slave Trade,
his _facts_ have as constantly been relied on by their opponents; and
that in the various discussions which have taken place upon that subject
since this work has appeared, the principal illustrations of the
arguments in favour of the Abolition, have always been derived from the
statements contained in Park's Travels. This circumstance deserves
particular attention, considering the evident bias under which the work
was composed; and affords a strong presumption of the truth and fidelity
of the narrative. [Footnote: For an enumeration of the various facts
contained in Park's Travels, which are relied on as favourable to the
cause of the Abolition, accompanied by the proper references, see _A
concise statement of the question regarding the Abolition of the Slave
Trade._ 3d Ed. 1804, p. 99-106. A work, containing the most complete
summary of the arguments upon this great subject, which has yet

The fair result of the foregoing enquiry, relative to Park's opinions
with regard to the Abolition, appears to be shortly this; that he was at
no time the friend or deliberate advocate of the Slave Trade; but that,
his respect and deference for Mr. Edwards led him, in a certain degree,
to sacrifice his own opinions and feelings upon that subject; and that
he became, perhaps almost unconsciously, the supporter of a cause of
which he disapproved. That he should have been under any temptation to
suppress or soften any important opinion, or to deviate in any respect
from that ingenuousness and good faith which naturally belonged to his
character, is a circumstance which cannot be sufficiently lamented. But
if there are any who feel disposed to pass a very severe censure upon
Park's conduct, let his situation at the time when he was preparing his
Travels for the press, be fairly considered. He was then a young man,
inexperienced in literary composition, and in a great measure dependent,
as to the prospects of his future life, upon the success of his intended
publication. His friend and adviser, Mr. Edwards, was a man of letters
and of the world, who held a distinguished place in society, and was,
besides, a leading member of the African Association, to which Park owed
every thing, and with which his fate and fortunes were still intimately
connected. It is difficult to estimate the degree of authority which a
person possessing these advantages, and of a strong and decisive
character, must necessarily have had over the mind of a young man in the
situation which has now been described. Suggestions coming from such a
quarter, must have been almost equivalent to commands; and instead of
animadverting very severely on the extent of Park's compliances, we
ought perhaps rather to be surprised, that more was not yielded to an
influence which must have been nearly unlimited.

Before we dismiss this subject, it may be proper to add, that some time
subsequent to the publication of his Travels, Park appeared to be fully
sensible that the manner in which he had treated the question of the
Slave Trade, was liable to some objections; and evidence now exists,
that upon some occasions when his authority had been appealed to as
being favourable to that system, he expressed his regret that an
improper stress had been laid upon certain passages in his Travels, and
that a meaning had been attributed to them, which it was not intended
that they should bear.

It remains to be enquired, whether there is any just foundation for the
opinion which has prevailed with regard to the degree of assistance
given by Mr. Edwards in the actual composition of Park's work; as to
which very few remarks will be necessary. The intimate connection of Mr.
Edwards with Park, the interest which he took in the success of his
publication, and the influence which he appears to have exerted with
respect to its contents, make it quite evident, that he must have seen,
and been consulted upon, every part of the work; and there can be no
question but that he, at least, revised and corrected the whole
manuscript before it was sent to the press. It was avowed by Park
himself, that as occasion offered, he had incorporated into different
parts of his work, by permission of Mr. Edwards, the _whole_ of the
narrative prepared by the latter for the use of the Association.
[Footnote: Park's Travels. Preface, p. ix.] A person accustomed to
literary composition, and confident of his own powers, would hardly have
chosen to avail himself of this assistance; which would be attended only
with a slight saving of labour, and might probably have the unpleasant
effect of a mixture of different styles. No such disadvantage, it maybe
observed, has in fact resulted from the course pursued in the present
instance. No inequalities are apparent in Park's narrative; nor are the
passages which have been inserted from Mr. Edwards's Memoir, to be
distinguished from the rest of the work. The style is throughout
uniform, and bears all the marks of a practised pen. Generally speaking
indeed, it is more simple, and consequently more pleasing, than that of
Mr. Edwards's avowed compositions. But, notwithstanding its general
merits, it is altogether perhaps too much laboured; and in particular
passages, betrays too much of the art of a professed writer. [Footnote:
It would be easy, but invidious, to produce passages from Park's work
more or less marked with some of the characteristics of Mr. Edwards's
style, and, in particular, with that tendency to ambitious ornament,
which is so conspicuous in many parts of the _History of the West
Indies_.--The following extract from Park's chapter on the state of
Slavery in Africa, may be sufficient. "In a country divided into a
thousand petty states, mostly independent, and jealous of each other,
where every freeman is accustomed to arms, and fond of military
achievements; where the youth who has practised the bow and spear from
his infancy, longs for nothing so much as an opportunity to display his
valour, it is natural to imagine, that wars frequently originate from
very frivolous provocation. When one nation is more powerful than
another, a pretext is seldom wanting for commencing hostilities. Thus,
the war between Kajaaga and Kasson was occasioned by the detention of a
fugitive slave:--that between Bambarra and Kaarta by the loss of a few
cattle. Other cases of the same nature perpetually occur, _in which the
folly or mad ambition of their princes and the zeal of their religious
enthusiasts give full employment for the scythe of desolation_." (Park's
Travels, p. 290.)--On reading this passage, and the chapter from which
it is taken, it may deserve to be remarked, (with reference to former
observations as to the bias under which Park's work was written) that in
enumerating the causes of the wars which desolate Africa, the Slave
Trade is never once mentioned.]

From these observations, combined with the several facts before stated,
it seems clearly to follow, that Mr. Edwards had a large share in Park's
work; and, without attempting to ascertain in what degree he assisted in
the composition, it may safely be affirmed that the assistance afforded
was considerable and important. [Footnote: See Appendix, No. III.]

It would be a subject of sincere regret to the author of this
biographical sketch, if he thought that this opinion (which he does not
feel himself at liberty to suppress,) was likely to detract in any
material degree from Park's well-earned reputation. But he is satisfied
that there is no just cause for such an apprehension. It is
unquestionably most desirable, that the adventures and discoveries of
distinguished travellers should be given to the public, as far as
circumstances will permit, in the language of the parties themselves;
and there is no judicious reader, who would not decidedly prefer the
simple, but authentic, narrative of an eye-witness, to any account of
the same transactions from a different hand, however superior in
literary merit. But the custom of employing professional writers upon
similar occasions, has become so frequent, that the resorting to such
assistance in any particular instance can no longer be considered as a
just subject of animadversion; and, in forming our judgment upon books
of voyages and travels (in which this practice is most common), we must
in general rest satisfied, if we can obtain a reasonable assurance, that
the compiler has made a correct and proper use of his materials. That
this duty has been faithfully and conscientiously performed in the case
of Park's Travels, there is not the slightest reason to doubt. The
authenticity of the work is apparent, not only, as has been already
stated, from the internal evidence of many parts of the narrative, but
from the known character of Park, as well as of Mr. Edwards, his
associate; who (there is every reason to believe) was a man of honour
and veracity, and incapable of concealing or wilfully misrepresenting
any important fact or circumstance.

It must further be recollected, that the essential merit of works of
this description, consists in the authenticity and importance of the
information they contain; compared with which, the beauties of style and
composition are only of secondary and very inferior importance. The
literary character of Park forms a small part of his general reputation.
This must always rest upon grounds altogether independent of the merits
of his work as a composition; and whatever may be hereafter thought of
his claims to distinction as a writer, his fame as a geographical
discoverer, an explorer of unknown countries, and a man of courage and
capacity in the most arduous and trying situations, must ever remain

* * * * *

After the publication of his Travels, Park began to think of settling
himself in life. During his last residence in Scotland in the Summer and
Autumn of 1798, he had formed a matrimonial engagement with the eldest
daughter of Mr. Anderson of Selkirk, with whom he had served his
apprenticeship. He returned therefore to Scotland in the Summer of 1799,
and was married on the 2d of August in that year. This union, which
connected him still more closely with a family with which he had long
lived in friendship, contributed in a high degree to his future comfort
and happiness.

For more than two years after his marriage, he resided with his mother
and one of his brothers, who lived together and carried on the farm at
Fowlshiels. The reason of his continuing there so long a time does not
very distinctly appear, nor is any thing particular related as to the
manner in which he employed himself during this period. The profits of
his publication, and the liberal compensation which he had received from
the African Association for the services rendered to them, had placed
him, for the present, in easy circumstances: and he remained for a long
time altogether doubtful and unsettled as to his future plan of life.
During part of the year 1799 he appears to have been engaged in a
negotiation with government (which finally proved unsuccessful) relative
to some public appointment in the colony of New South Wales. At another
time he had partly determined to look out for a farm; and at last came,
somewhat reluctantly, to the determination of practising his profession,
to which he was perhaps at no time much attached, and which was now
become more irksome from disuse.

The uncertainty in the state of his affairs during this period was much
encreased by the hope, which he constantly entertained, of being sent
out on another expedition, either by the African Association or by
Government. This clearly appears from a letter which he wrote to Sir
Joseph Banks, dated 31st of July, 1800; in which, he alludes to the late
capture of Goree, which he considers as introductory to opening a
communication with the Interior of Africa; and after entering into some
details relative to that subject, he proceeds as follows: "If such are
the views of Government, I hope that my exertions in some station or
other, may be of use to my country. I have not as yet found any
situation in which I could practise to advantage as a surgeon; and
unless some of my friends interest themselves in my behalf, I must wait
patiently, until the cloud which hangs over my future prospects is

An opportunity for medical practice, which was thought sufficiently
promising, having offered itself at Peebles, he went to reside at that
town in the month of October, 1801, and betook himself in good earnest
to the exercise of his profession. Within no great length of time he
acquired a good share of the business of the place and its
neighbourhood: but this being very limited, his profits were at no time
considerable. He was however very fully employed; for he was greatly
distinguished by the kindness which he shewed towards the poor, and by
that disinterested attention to the lower classes, which is one of the
great virtues of the medical profession.

Under these circumstances, it cannot be thought surprising that he was
dissatisfied with his situation, and looked anxiously forward to some
other establishment. His former habits of life had indeed in a great
measure disqualified him for his present humble occupations. The
situation of a country practitioner in Scotland, attended with great
anxiety and bodily fatigue, and leading to no distinction or much
personal advantage, was little calculated to gratify a man, whose mind
was full of ambitious views, and of adventurous and romantic
undertakings. His journies to visit distant patients--his long and
solitary rides over "cold and lonely heaths" and "gloomy hills assailed
by the wintry tempest," seem to have produced in him feelings of disgust
and impatience, which he had perhaps rarely experienced in the deserts
of Africa. His strong sense of the irksomeness of this way of life broke
out from him upon many occasions; especially, when previously to his
undertaking his second African mission, one of his nearest relations
expostulated with him on the imprudence of again exposing himself to
dangers which he had so very narrowly escaped, and perhaps even to new
and still greater ones; he calmly replied, that a few inglorious winters
of country practice at Peebles was a risk as great, and would tend as
effectually to shorten life, as the journey which he was about to

It might have been expected, that a person who had been so much
accustomed to literary and scientific society, and who had lately been
in some degree admitted into the fashionable circles of the metropolis,
in which he had become an object of much interest and attention, would
have felt great repugnance to the solitude and obscurity of a small
market town. But this does not appear to have been the case. General
society, for which indeed he was not particularly suited, was not much
to his taste; and during every period of his life, he always looked
forward to a state of complete retirement and seclusion in the country,
as the object and end of all his labours. He had great enjoyment however
in his own domestic circle, and in the society of select friends; and
his residence at Peebles was, in this respect, highly fortunate for him,
since it was the occasion of his becoming acquainted with two
distinguished residents in that neighbourhood; Colonel John Murray of
Kringaltie, a very respectable old officer, then retired from the
service, and Dr. Adam Ferguson; with both of whom he became intimate,
and passed much of his time. The latter of these, then residing at
Hallyards in Tweedsdale, is the well-known author of the _Essay on Civil
Society_, and _History of the Roman Republic_, and was formerly
Professor of Moral Philosophy at Edinburgh; where, during many years, he
was one of that distinguished literary circle, of which Hume, Smith,
Black, and Robertson, were the principal ornaments. At the venerable age
of ninety-one, he is still living, the last survivor of that illustrious

The friendship of a man thus interesting and distinguished, was highly
honourable to Park, who was duly sensible of its value. Nor was this
instance singular. The papers transmitted by his family speak of other
testimonies of respect, which, subsequently to Park's return to Scotland
in 1799, he received from various distinguished individuals of his own
country; and they mention, in particular, that he was very highly
gratified by some personal attentions which he received about this time
from Mr. Dugald Stewart.

In the midst of these occupations Park's thoughts were still turned upon
Africa. Soon after the signature of the Preliminary Articles of Peace
with France, in October, 1801, he received a letter from Sir Joseph
Banks, acquainting him, "that in consequence of the Peace, the
Association would certainly revive their project of sending a mission to
Africa; in order to penetrate to, and navigate, the Niger; and he added,
that in case Government should enter into the plan, Park would certainly
be recommended as the person proper to be employed for carrying it into
execution." But the business remained for a considerable time in
suspense; nor did any specific proposal follow this communication till
the autumn of the year 1803; when he received a letter addressed to him
from the Office of the Colonial Secretary of State, desiring his
attendance without delay. On his arrival in London he had an interview
with the present Earl of Buckinghamshire, then Lord Hobart, and
Secretary of State for the Colonial department, who acquainted him with
the nature of an expedition to Africa, which was about to take place,
and in which it was proposed, that Park should bear a principal part. To
this offer he declined giving an immediate answer, requesting a short
time to deliberate and consult with his friends. He returned home for
this purpose about ten days afterwards.

On his return to Scotland he formally consulted a few of his friends;
but, in his own mind, the point was already decided. From the time of
his interview with Lord Hobart, his determination was in fact taken. His
imagination had been indulging itself for some years past upon the
visions of discoveries which he was destined to make in the Interior of
Africa; and the object of his ambition was now within his grasp. He
hastily announced to Lord Hobart his acceptance of the proposal;
employed a few days in settling his affairs and taking leave of his
friends; and left Scotland in December, 1803, with the confident
expectation of embarking in a very short time for the coast of Africa.
But many delays were yet to take place previously to his final

The principal details of the intended expedition had been fully
considered, and in a great measure arranged, in the Colonial department,
before the application was made to Park; and he had therefore flattered
himself that the business was in a state of considerable forwardness.
But on his arrival in London, he was much disappointed to find that the
sailing of the expedition had been postponed; and it was not till after
two months that his departure was finally appointed for the end of
February, 1804. But, unfortunately, when this period arrived, the
apprehension of important political changes, which eventually took place
by the resignation of Mr. Addington a short time afterwards, caused some
embarrassment in the measures and proceedings of the Administration.
After all was ready at Portsmouth for the embarkation, and part of the
troops destined for the service were actually on board, the expedition
was suddenly countermanded; and the question, whether it should finally
proceed to Africa or not, was reserved for the decision of Lord Camden,
who shortly afterwards succeeded to Lord Hobart in the Colonial

In consequence of this change, Park was informed at the Colonial Office,
that the expedition could not possibly sail before September; and it was
suggested to him by some person in authority, that he might employ the
interval with great advantage in improving himself in the practice of
taking astronomical observations, and in acquiring some knowledge of the
Arabic language. He was at the same time informed, that any reasonable
expence which he might incur in acquiring this instruction would be
reimbursed to him by Government. In consequence of this intimation, he
engaged a native of Mogadore, named Sidi Omback Boubi, then residing in
London, who had served as the interpreter of Elphi Bey, (the ambassador
of the Mamelukes from Cairo) to accompany him to Scotland, for the
purpose of instructing him in Arabic. They immediately left London
together, and arrived early in March at Peebles; where Park continued to
reside together with his African instructor, till about the middle of
May. He then finally quitted his house at Peebles, and took his family
to the farm at Fowlshiels, where he quietly waited the expected summons
of the Secretary of State. During all this time he employed himself with
great diligence in acquiring a familiar use of astronomical instruments,
and in the study of the Arabic language, in which he became a tolerable

Early in September he received a letter from the Under Secretary of
State for the Colonial department, desiring him to set off without delay
for London, and to present himself on his arrival at the Colonial
Office. He accordingly lost no time in settling his affairs; and taking
an affectionate leave of his family, wife, and children, quitted
Fowlshiels, and arrived in London towards the latter end of September,

In the course of Park's communications with the Colonial Office, Lord
Camden had intimated a desire to be furnished with a written statement
of Park's opinions, both as to the plan of the expedition, and the
particular objects towards which he conceived that his attention ought
to be chiefly directed during the intended journey. In compliance with
this request, he had, during his leisure in the country, drawn up a
Memoir upon these subjects, which he presented at the Colonial Office
within a few days after his arrival in London. As this paper formed the
ground work of the official instructions which were afterwards given to
Park, and is in other respects interesting and important, it is here
inserted at length.

Memoir _delivered by_ Mungo Park, _Esq. to Lord_ CAMDEN, _on the 4th of
October_, 1804.

"A particular account--1st. of the objects to which Mr. Park's attention
will be chiefly directed in his journey to the Interior of Africa: 2dly.
of the means necessary for accomplishing that journey; and 3dly. of the
manner in which he proposes to carry the plans of Government into

"The objects which Mr. Park would constantly keep in view are, _the
extension of British Commerce, and the enlargement of our Geographical

"In directing his enquiries with respect to commerce, he would propose
to himself the following subjects as worthy of particular investigation.

"1st. The route by which merchandize could be most easily transported to
the Niger. This would be accomplished by attending to the nature of the
country, whether wooded or open; having water or not, being abundant in
provisions, or otherwise, and whether capable of furnishing the
necessary beasts of burden.

"2dly. The safety or danger of that route. This, by considering the
general character of the natives, their government, &c.; the jealousies
that European merchants would be likely to excite, and the guard that
would be necessary for the protection of the caravan.

"3dly. The return of merchandize. This by making out lists of such
articles as are produced in each district, and of such as are imported
from the neighbouring kingdoms.

"4thly. The value of merchandize. This could only be done by comparing
the articles with each other; with gold as a standard, and with European
articles in exchange.

"5thly. Profits of trade. This could be ascertained by bartering one
African article for another; an European article for an African, or an
African or European article for gold.

"6thly. The extent to which such a commerce might be carried. This, by a
careful and cautious comparison of the above, connected with habits of
industry in the natives.

"Mr. Park would likewise turn his attention to the general fertility of
the country, whether any part of it might be useful to Britain for
colonization, and whether any objects of Natural History, with which the
natives are at present unacquainted, might be useful to Britain as a
commercial nation.

"Mr. Park would propose to himself the following subjects in conducting
his geographical researches.

"1st. To ascertain the correct latitude and longitude of the different
places he visits in going to the Niger.

"2dly. To ascertain, if possible, the termination of that river.

"3dly. To make as accurate a survey of the river as his situation and
circumstances will admit of.

"4thly. To give a description of the different kingdoms on or near the
hanks of the river, with an account of the manners and customs of the

"Means necessary for accomplishing the journey.
30 European soldiers.
6 European carpenters.
15 or 20 Goree Negroes, most of them artificers.
50 Asses, to be purchased at St. Jago
6 Horses or mules, to be purchased at St. Jago.

"Articles of dress, &c. for the soldiers and Negros, exclusive of their
common clothing.

"Each Man,
1 Musquito veil.
1 Hat with a broad brim.
2 Flannel under vests with sleeves.
2 Pair of Mosquito trowsers.
1 Pair of long leather gaiters.
1 Additional pair of shoes.
1 Great coat for sleeping, similar to what is worn by the cavalry.
Knapsack and canteen for travelling.

"Arms and Ammunition.
6 Rifle pieces.
8 or ten blunderbusses.

"Each Man,
1 Gun and bayonet.
1 Pair of pistols, and belt.
1 Cartridge box and belt.
Ball cartridges.
Pistol ditto.
Small shot of different sizes.

"Articles necessary for equipping the asses.

"100 Strong sacking bags.
50 Canvass saddles.
Girths, buckles, halters.
6 Saddles and bridles for horses.

"Articles necessary for building and rigging two boats on the Niger of
the following dimensions, viz.

"40 Feet keel--8 feet beam, to draw 2-1/2 feet water.
Carpenters tools, including hatchets and long saws.
Iron work and nails.
Pitch and oakum.
Cordage rigging, and sails.
2 Boat compasses.
2 Spying-glasses for day or night.
2 Small union flags.
6 Dark lanterns.
2 Tons of Carolina rice.
Cooking utensils.
Medicines and instruments.

"List of Merchandize for purchasing provisions and making the necessary
presents to the Kings of Woolli, Bondou, Kajaaga, Fooladoo, Bambarra,
and the Kings of the Interior.

"Best blue India bafts, 150 yards
White ditto, 50 yards
Scarlet cloth, 200 yards
Blue ditto, 30 yards
Green ditto, 20 yards
Yellow ditto, 10 yards
Scarlet Salisbury flannel, red night caps, &c.
Amber, L150
Coral, L50
Mock coral, L50
White garnets, L50
Red garnets
Red beads
Black points, L50
Gold beads
Small black beads, L50
White ditto
Yellow ditto
5 Double-barrelled guns.
5 Pairs of ditto pistols.
5 Swords with belts.
Small mirrors.

"_A brief account of the manner in which Mr. Park proposes to carry the
plans of Government into execution._

"Mr. Park would touch at St. Jago, in order to purchase the asses and
mules, and a sufficient quantity of corn to maintain them during the
voyage to Goree and up the Gambia. At Goree he proposes receiving on
board the soldiers and Negroes formerly mentioned, and would then
proceed to Fattatenda, five hundred miles up the Gambia; where, having
first obtained permission from the King of Woolli, he would disembark
with the troops, asses, &c. After having allowed time for refreshment,
and the necessary arrangements being made, he would then proceed on his
journey to the Niger. The route he intends pursuing would lead him
through the kingdoms of Bondou, Kajaaga, Fooladoo, and Bambarra.

"In conducting an expedition of this nature through such an extent of
country, Mr. Park is sensible that difficulties will unavoidably occur;
but he will be careful to use conciliatory measures on every occasion.
He will state to the native princes the good understanding that has
always subsisted between them and the English, and will invariably
declare that his present journey is undertaken solely for the extension
of commerce and promotion of their mutual interests.

"On his arrival at the Niger his attention will be first directed to
gain the friendship of the King of Bambarra. For this purpose he will
send one of the Bambarra Dooties forward to Sego with a small present.
This man will inform Mansong of our arrival in his kingdom, and that it
is our intention to come down to Sego with presents to him, as soon as
he has given us permission, and we have provided the necessary means of
conveying ourselves thither.

"In the mean time we must use every possible exertion to construct the
two boats before mentioned with the utmost possible despatch. When the
boats are completed, and every thing is ready for embarking, Mr. Park
would dispose of the beasts of burthen; giving some away in presents,
and with the others purchasing provisions. If the King of Bambarra's
answer is favourable, he would proceed immediately to Sego, and having
delivered the presents, solicit Mansong's protection as far as _Jinnie_.
Here Mr. Park's personal knowledge of the course of the Niger ends.

"Proceeding farther, Mr. Park proposes to survey the lake Dibbie,
coasting along its southern shore. He would then proceed down the river
by Jimbala and Kabra (the port of Tombuctoo), through the kingdoms of
Houssa, Nyffe, and Kashna, &c. to the kingdom of _Wangara_, being a
direct distance of about one thousand four hundred miles from the place
of embarkation.

"If the river should unfortunately end here, Mr. Park would feel his
situation extremely critical; he would however be guided by his distance
from the coast, by the character of the surrounding nations, and by the
existing circumstances of his situation.

"To return by the Niger to the westward he apprehends would be
impossible; to proceed to the northward equally so; and to travel
through Abyssinia extremely dangerous. The only remaining route that
holds out any hopes of success, is that towards the _Bight of Guinea_.
If the river should take a southerly direction, Mr. Park would consider
it as his duty to follow it to its termination; and if it should happily
prove to be the river Congo, would there embark with the troops and
Negroes on board a slave vessel, and return to England from St. Helena,
or by way of the West Indies.

"The following considerations have induced Mr. Park to think that the
Congo will be found to be the termination of the Niger.

"1st. The total ignorance of all the inhabitants of North Africa
respecting the termination of that river. If the Niger ended any where
in North Africa, it is difficult to conceive how the inhabitants should
be so totally ignorant of it; and why they should so generally describe
it as running to the Nile, to the end of the world, and in fact to a
country with which they are unacquainted.

"2dly. In Mr. Horneman's Journal the Niger is described as flowing
eastwards into Bornou, where it takes the name of _Zad_. The breadth of
the Zad was given him for one mile, and he was told that it flowed
towards the Egyptian Nile, through the land of the _Heathens_.
[Footnote: Proceedings of African Association. Vol. II. p. 201.] The
course here given is directly towards the Congo. _Zad_ is the name of
the Congo at its mouth, and it is the name of the Congo for at least six
hundred and fifty miles inland.

"3dly. The river of _Dar Kulla_ mentioned by Mr. Browne [Footnote:
Browne's Travels. 2d edit. 4to. p. 354.] is generally supposed to be the
Niger; or at least to have a communication with that river. Now this is
exactly the course the Niger ought to take in order to join the Congo.

"4thly. The quantity of water discharged into the Atlantic by the Congo
cannot be accounted for on any other known principle, but that it is the
termination of the Niger. If the Congo derived its waters entirely from
the south side of the mountains which are supposed to form the Belt of
Africa, one would naturally suppose that when the rains were confined to
the north side of the mountains, the Congo, like the other rivers of
Africa, would be greatly diminished in size; and that its waters would
become _pure_. On the contrary, the waters of the Congo are at all
seasons thick and muddy. The breadth of the river when at its _lowest_
is _one mile_, its depth is _fifty fathoms_, and its velocity _six miles
per hour_.

"5thly. The annual flood of the Congo commences before any rains have
fallen south of the equator, and agree correctly with the floods of the
Niger, calculating the water to have flowed from Bambarra at the rate of
three miles per hour.

"Mr. Park is of opinion, that when your Lordship shall have duly weighed
the above reasons, you will be induced to conclude that his hopes of
returning by the Congo are not altogether fanciful; and that his
expedition, though attended with extreme danger, promises to be
productive of the utmost advantage to Great Britain.

"Considered in a commercial point of view, it is second only to the
discovery of the Cape of Good Hope; and in a geographical point of view,
it is certainly the greatest discovery that remains to be made in this

"(Signed) MUNGO PARK."

The circumstance most deserving of attention in this Memoir, is the
opinion expressed respecting the course and termination of the Niger; a
geographical question of great difficulty and importance. In a treatise
written by Major Rennell expressly on the discoveries of Park, that
distinguished geographer, on comparing the various accounts of the
progress of the Niger beyond Houssa, had given a distinct opinion that
its waters had no communication either with the river Nile or the Sea;
but were spread out into a great lake in Wangara and Ghana, and were
evaporated by the heat of the sun. [Footnote: Proceedings of African
Association, vol. i. p. 533.] Park's attention had of course been much
directed to the same subject; and he had omitted no opportunity of
collecting information which might throw light on this obscure and
difficult question. During his residence in Scotland he had become
acquainted with a Mr. George Maxwell, formerly an African trader, who
had a great knowledge of the whole western coast of Africa, especially
south of the equator, and had published a chart of the river Congo.
Before Mr. Maxwell had heard any particulars of the Niger, many
circumstances had induced him to conjecture that the source of the Congo
lay considerably inland, and very far to the north. The publication of
Park's Travels confirmed him in his opinion, and led him to conclude
that the Congo and the Niger were one and the same stream. Mr. Maxwell's
reasonings appear to have produced a great impression upon Park, who
adopted his sentiments relative to the termination of the Niger in their
utmost extent, and persevered in that opinion to the end of his life.

The _sources_ of great rivers have often been the object of popular and
even of scientific curiosity; but it is peculiar to the Niger to be
interesting on account of its _termination_. Those who recollect the
emotions which Park describes himself to have experienced during his
former journey, on the first view of that mighty river, [Footnote:
"While we were riding together, and I was anxiously looking around for
the river, one of the Negroes called out, _Geo affilli_ (see the water);
and looking forwards, I saw with infinite pleasure, the great object of
my mission, the long sought for, majestic Niger, glittering to the
morning sun, as broad as the Thames at Westminster, and flowing slowly
_to the eastward_. I hastened to the brink and having drank of the
water, lifted up my fervent thanks in prayer to the great Ruler of all
things for having thus far crowned my endeavours with success." Park's
Travels, p. 194.] will be enabled to form some idea of the enthusiasm on
this subject which he intimates at the close of the foregoing Memoir,
and which was now become his ruling passion. Nor can we be surprised
that the question, respecting the termination of the Niger, associated
as it was, with so many personal feelings, had such entire possession of
Park's mind; since the subject itself, considered as a matter of
geographical enquiry, is one of the most interesting that can easily be
conceived. The idea of a great river, rising in the western mountains of
Africa and flowing towards the centre of that vast continent; whose
course in that direction is ascertained for a considerable distance,
beyond which information is silent, and speculation is left at large to
indulge in the wildest conjectures--has something of the _unbounded_ and
_mysterious_, which powerfully attracts curiosity and takes a strong
hold of the imagination. [Footnote: See Appendix, No. IV.]

* * * * *

A short time after Park had delivered his Memoir at the Colonial Office,
he had an audience of Lord Camden, who expressed his general approbation
of its contents and acquainted him with the plan of the expedition, so
far as it was then determined upon. The amount of the compensation which
he was to receive for this service, was likewise agreed upon and settled
about the same time, with a commendable liberality on the part of
Government, and entirely to Park's satisfaction; and it was also very
properly stipulated that, in the event either of his dying before the
completion of the service, or of his not being heard of within a given
period after his setting out on the journey, a certain sum should be
paid by Government as a provision for his wife and family.

But before all the details of the plan were finally determined upon,
Park was desired by Lord Camden, to consult Major Rennell, and obtain
his opinion both with regard to the scheme and objects of the
expedition, and Park's own sentiments relative to the Niger, as stated
in his Memoir. For this purpose he went to Brighthelmston, where Major
Rennell then was, and remained with him several days; during which time,
the subjects proposed by Lord Camden were repeatedly discussed between
them. With respect to the supposition relative to the termination of the
Niger, Major Rennell was unconvinced by Park's reasonings, and declared
his adherence to the opinion he had formerly expressed with regard to
the course of that river. As to the plan of the intended expedition, he
was so much struck with the difficulties and dangers likely to attend
its execution, that he earnestly dissuaded Park from engaging in so
hazardous an enterprize. His arguments, urged with all the warmth and
sincerity of friendship, appear to have made a great impression upon
Park; and he took leave of Major Rennell with an apparent determination
to relinquish the undertaking. But this conviction was little more than
momentary, and ceased almost as soon as the influence and authority from
which it proceeded were withdrawn. On Park's return to London, his
enthusiasm revived; and all doubts and difficulties were at an end.

The doubts expressed by Major Rennell were of course, communicated by
Park to the Secretary of State; but, as he accompanied the communication
with his own answers and remarks, the objections were not deemed of
sufficient weight to produce any material change in the intended

It must be observed however with regard to the opinions both of Major
Rennell and other intelligent persons among Park's friends, who
disapproved of the expedition, that their objections appear for the most
part to have been too general and indiscriminate; proceeding perhaps too
much upon vague and indefinite ideas of the dangers which experience had
shewn to be incidental to such a journey, and being therefore equally
conclusive against _any_ new attempt to explore the interior of Africa.
To these objections it may be sufficient to oppose the authority of Sir
Joseph Banks, who was of course much consulted by Park, and also by the
Secretary of State; and whose opinion on this subject appears to have
been equally temperate and judicious. Without in the least extenuating
the dangers of the intended expedition, which he regarded as one of the
most hazardous ever undertaken, he still thought that the dangers were
not greater than might reasonably be encountered for the sake of very
important objects; justly observing that it was only from similar risks
of human life that great geographical discoveries were in general to be
expected. The correctness of his opinion was sufficiently shewn by the
event; since it will hereafter appear that the failure of the
undertaking was owing rather to accidental circumstances than to any
defect in the original plan of the expedition itself.

After due consideration, it was at length finally determined that the
expedition should consist of Park himself, his brother in law Mr.
Alexander Anderson, who was to be next to Park in authority, and Mr.
George Scott, who was to act as a draftsman; together with a few boat
builders and artificers. They were not to be accompanied by any troops
from England; but were to be joined at Goree by a certain number of
soldiers of the African corps stationed in that garrison, who might be
disposed to volunteer for the service.

Mr. Anderson and Mr. Scott, the associates of Park in this expedition,
were intelligent and excellent young men; the former a surgeon of
several years' experience, the latter an artist of very promising
talents. They were both of them friends and fellow countrymen of Park
(being natives of the county of Selkirk), and inspired by him with a
great ardour for the undertaking in which they were about to engage.

The expedition being thus limited as to its nature and objects, and
nothing more being necessary than to procure a proper assortment of
stores and commercial articles, and provide the means of conveying the
party with their small cargo to the coast of Africa; it was to be
expected that the mission might be sent out immediately, or with very
little delay. This indeed was an object of great importance, considering
the advanced time of the year; it being obvious that if the expedition
should be detained for any considerable time, it might have the effect
of postponing the journey into the interior to the period of the rainy
season, and thus perhaps, of rendering the whole plan abortive. Fully
aware of this danger, Park was anxious and earnest in his endeavours to
obtain the necessary orders from the several public departments. But,
partly from unforeseen circumstances, and partly from official forms and
the pressure of business deemed of greater importance, he was destined
to experience a long succession of delays; which, though certainly
unintentional, and perhaps in some degree unavoidable, were ultimately
productive of very unfortunate results. Nor was it till after waiting
two months, (a period of great uneasiness and mortification) that he
received his official instructions: after which nearly another month
elapsed before he could set sail from England.

The instructions given to Park were communicated to him in a Letter
addressed to him by the Secretary of State, in the following terms.

_Downing-street, 2d January, 1805._


"It being judged expedient that a small expedition should be sent into
the interior of Africa, with a view to discover and ascertain whether
any, and what commercial intercourse can be opened therein for the
mutual benefit of the natives and of His Majesty's subjects, I am
commanded by the King to acquaint you, that on account of the knowledge
you have acquired of the nations of Africa, and from the indefatigable
exertions and perseverance you displayed in your travels among them, His
Majesty has selected you for conducting this undertaking.

"For better enabling you to execute this service His Majesty has granted
you the brevet commission of a captain in Africa, and has also granted a
similar commission of lieutenant to Mr. Alexander Anderson, whom you
have recommended as a proper person to accompany you. Mr. Scott has also
been selected to attend you as draftsman. You are hereby empowered to
enlist with you for this expedition any number you think proper of the
garrison at Goree, not exceeding forty-five, which the commandant of
that Island will be ordered to place under your command, giving them
such bounties or encouragement, as may be necessary to induce them
cheerfully to join with you on the expedition.

"And you are hereby authorised to engage by purchase or otherwise, such
a number of black artificers at Goree as you shall judge necessary for
the objects you have in view.

"You are to be conveyed to Goree in a transport convoyed by His
Majesty's sloop Eugenie, which will be directed to proceed with you in
the first instance to St. Jago, in order that you may there purchase
fifty asses for carrying your baggage.

"When you shall have prepared whatever may be necessary for securing the
objects of the expedition at Goree, you are to proceed up the river
Gambia; and thence crossing over to the Senegal to march by such route
as you shall find most eligible, to the banks of the Niger.

"The great object of your journey will be to pursue the course of this
river to the utmost possible distance to which it can be traced; to
establish communication and intercourse with the different nations on
the banks; to obtain all the local knowledge in your power respecting
them; and to ascertain the various points stated in the Memoir which you
delivered to me on the 4th of October last.

"And you will be then at liberty to pursue your route homewards by any
line you shall think most secure, either by taking a new direction
through the Interior towards the Atlantic, or by marching upon Cairo by
taking the route leading to Tripoli.

"You are hereby empowered to draw for any sum that you may be in want
of, not exceeding L5000. upon the Lords of His Majesty's Treasury, or
upon such mercantile banking-house in London as you may fix upon.

"I am, &c.


"_To Mungo Park, Esq.
&c. &c. &c._"

The preparations for the expedition being now entirely completed, Park,
together with Mr. Anderson and Mr. Scott, proceeded to Portsmouth, where
they were joined by four or five artificers, from the dock-yards
appointed for the service; and after waiting some time for a wind, they
at last set sail in the Crescent transport, on the 30th of January,
1805, and arrived at Port Praya Bay in the Cape Verd Islands about the
8th of March. The transactions of Park from the time of his embarkation
in England to his departure from Kayee on the Gambia for the Interior of
Africa (a period of about seven weeks) will be best described by the
following letters, and extracts selected from his correspondence.

_To Mr. Dickson_

_Port Praya Bay, St. Jago, March 13, 1805._

"We have had a very tedious passage to this place, having been pestered
with contrary winds, strong gales, and French privateers. We have all of
us kept our health remarkably well, considering the very great change of
climate. Mr. Anderson has the rheumatism in his knee, but is getting
better. Mr. Scott is off this morning for the Interior of the Island, to
take sketches; and as soon as I have finished this letter I am going on
shore to finish my purchase of asses. I bought all the corn, &c. last
night, and twenty-four asses, and I shall purchase thirty-two more to
day; so you see we shall not be detained here. We shall have taken in
all the water today, and the first division of the asses will come on
board to-morrow. We expect to sail for Goree on Saturday or Sunday.

"I have been so much employed that I have had no time as yet to look
after plants; indeed this seems a very unfavourable season of the year
for natural history, the whole country being quite dry and withered. I
have collected some observations on the present state of the Cape Verd
Islands, which I will send home by the sloop of war.

"If Sir Joseph enquires after me, tell him that I am going on as well as
I could wish; and if I have as little trouble at Goree as I am likely to
have here, I hope to be able to date a letter from the Niger by the 4th
of June."

_To Mrs. Park._

_Goree, 4th April, 1805._

"I have just now learnt that an American ship sails from this place for
England in a few days; and I readily embrace the opportunity of sending
a letter to my dearest wife. We have all of us kept our health very well
ever since our departure from England. Alexander had a touch of the
rheumatism at St. Jago, but is now quite recovered; he danced several
country dances at the ball last night. George Scott is also in good
health and spirits. I wrote to you from St. Jago, which letter I hope
you received. We left that place on the 21st of March, and arrived here
with the asses on the 28th. Almost every soldier in the Garrison,
volunteered to go with me; and with the Governor's assistance I have
chosen a guard of the best men in the place. So lightly do the people
here think of the danger attending the undertaking, that I have been
under the necessity of refusing several military and naval officers who
volunteered to accompany me. We shall sail for Gambia on Friday or
Saturday. I am happy to learn that Karfa, my old friend, is at present
at Jonkakonda; and I am in hopes we shall be able to hire him to go with

"We have as yet been extremely fortunate, and have got our business both
at St. Jago and this place finished with great success: and I have
hopes, almost to certainty, that Providence will so dispose the tempers
and passions of the inhabitants of this quarter of the world, that we
shall be enabled to _slide through_ much more smoothly than you expect.

"I need not tell you how often I think about you; your own feelings will
enable you to judge of that. The hopes of spending the remainder of my
life with my wife and children will make every thing seem easy; and you
may be sure I will not rashly risk my life, when I know that your
happiness, and the welfare of my young ones depend so much upon it. I
hope my Mother does not torment herself with unnecessary fears about me.
I sometimes fancy how you and she will be meeting misfortune half way,
and placing me in many distressing situations. I have as yet experienced
nothing but success, and I hope that six months more will end the whole
as I wish."

"P.S. We have taken a ride this morning about twelve miles into the
country. Alexander is much pleased with it; the heat is moderate, and
the country healthy at present."

_To Edward Cooke, Esq. Under Secretary of State for the Colonial

_Jillifree, River Gambia,
April 9th, 1805._


"It is with great pleasure that I embrace this opportunity of sending
you a general account of our proceedings since leaving England.

"We had a very tedious passage to the Cape Verd Islands, being detained
by storms and contrary winds in the Bay of Biscay, so that we did not
reach St. Jago till the 8th of March. I immediately set about purchasing
the asses, corn, hay, &c. and succeeded so well that on the 18th I had
embarked forty-four asses with plenty of corn and hay. The master of the
transport declared that he could not receive any more consistently with
the safety of the vessel. We sailed for Goree on the 21st. While we were
getting under way, six English ships of the line, one of them a three
decker, came into the Bay. They did not hail us; one of them had an
Admiral's blue flag at the mizen.

"We made the coast of Africa on the 25th, and anchored in Goree roads on
the morning of the 28th. I immediately went on shore, and having
delivered the dispatches to Major Lloyd, consulted with him respecting
the proper encouragement to be offered to the troops. We agreed that
nothing would be so great an inducement as double pay during the
journey, and a discharge on their return. A Garrison order to this
effect was accordingly made out; and in the course of a few days almost
every soldier in the Garrison had volunteered his services. Lieutenant
Martyn of the Royal Artillery Corps having likewise volunteered, I
thought it would be of consequence to have an officer who was acquainted
with the men, and who could assist me in choosing such as were best able
to stand fatigue. I therefore accepted his services on the conditions
mentioned in Lord Camden's letter. Captain Shortland, of the Squirrel
Frigate, has allowed two of his best seamen to go with me as volunteers
in order to assist in rigging and navigating our _Nigritian Men of War_.
I have given them the same encouragement as the soldiers, and have had
the four carpenters whom I brought from England attested, in order to
put the whole under the same discipline and regulations.

"On the morning of the 6th of April we embarked the soldiers, in number
thirty-five men. They jumped into the boats in the highest spirits, and
bade adieu to Goree with repeated huzzas. I believe that every man in
the Garrison would have embarked with great cheerfulness; but no
inducement could prevail on a single Negro to accompany me. I must
therefore trust to the Gambia for interpreters, and I expect to be able
to hire or purchase three or four in going up the river. I will send a
particular account of all money matters by the return of the Transport."


_To Sir Joseph Banks._

_Kayee, River Gambia,
April 26th, 1805._

"My Dear Friend,

"I know that you will be pleased to hear that I am in good health, and
going forwards with as much success as I could reasonably expect. In my
letter to Lord Camden, I have given a short statement of my transactions
since I left England, which I have requested his Lordship to shew to
you. By that you will see that I have had but little time to attend to
objects of natural history; but lest you should think that I have
neglected this pursuit entirely, I have sent a few specimens in a trunk,
which I hope will come safe; the most remarkable are,

"1st. The _Fang jani_, or self-burning tree of Gambia. This grows
plentifully on the banks of the Gambia betwixt Yanimaroo and Kayee, and
no where else. It is certainly burnt by some internal process, of which
I am ignorant. Few of the natives have seen it actually burning; but
every person who has sailed up the Gambia will allow that these bushes
are burnt in places where no human being could set them on fire, and
where the grass around them was not burnt. I have sent you a burnt
stump, two tops, and a fruit.

"2d. The _Kino_, (so called by the natives), a branch and fruit of the
original gum kino tree and a paper of the real gum; none of this gum is
at present exported from Gambia, though it might be collected in some

"3d. The _Tribo_, a root with which the natives dye their leather of a
yellow colour. It is not in flower at this season. [Footnote: See
Appendix, No. V.]

"The wars which at present prevail in Bondou and Kasson, have prevented
the merchants from bringing down the _Shea_ butter; otherwise I would
have sent you a pot of it. I have sent you as a specimen of African
manufactures, a Mandingo cloth dyed from the _leaves_ of the indigo,
half a dozen small pots, and some Lefa's or calabash covers. I regret
that I have not been able to procure any Bondou _Frankincense_.--Give my
compliments to Major Rennell, and tell him that I hope to be able to
correct my former errors. The course of the Gambia is certainly not so
long as is laid down in the charts. The watch goes so correctly that I
will measure Africa by feet and inches.

"In case any unfavourable reports should be raised respecting the
termination of our journey, I request that you will endeavour as much as
you can to prevent them from finding their way into the newspapers, or
by any other manner reaching the ears of my dear wife and mother."

_To Mrs. Park._

_Kayee, River Gambia, April 26, 1805._

"I have been busy these three days in making preparations for our
journey, and I feel rather uneasy when I think that I can receive no
letters from you till I return to England; but you may depend on this,
that I will avail myself of every opportunity of writing to you, though
from the very nature of the undertaking these opportunities will be but
few. We set off for the Interior tomorrow morning; and I assure you,
that whatever the issue of the present journey may be, every thing looks
favourable. We have been successful thus far, beyond my highest

"The natives instead of being frightened at us, look on us as their best
friends, and the kings have not only granted us protection, but sent
people to go before us. The soldiers are in the highest spirits; and as
many of them (like me) have left a wife and family in England, they are
happy to embrace this opportunity of returning. They never think about
difficulties; and I am confident, if there was occasion for it, that
they would defeat any number of Negroes that might come against us; but
of this we have not the most distant expectation. The King of Kataba
(the most powerful King in Gambia) visited us on board the Crescent on
the 20th and 21st; he has furnished us with a messenger to conduct us
safely to the King of Woolli.

"I expect to have an opportunity of writing to you from Konkodoo or
Bammakoo, by some of the slave traders; but as they travel very slowly,
I may probably have returned to the coast before any of my letters have
reached Goree; at any rate, you need not be surprised if you should not
hear from me for some months; nay, so uncertain is the communication
between Africa and England, that perhaps the next news you may hear, may
be my arrival in the latter, which I still think will be in the month of
December. If we have to go round by the West Indies, it will take us two
months more; but as Government has given me an unlimited credit, if a
vessel is coming direct, I shall of course take a passage in her. I have
enjoyed excellent health, and have great hopes to bring this expedition
to a happy conclusion. In five weeks from the date of this letter the
worst part of the journey will be over. Kiss all my dear children for
me, and let them know that their father loves them."

In a letter to Mr. Dickson dated Kayee, April 26th, 1805, the day before
his embarkation, Park writes as follows;

"Every thing, at present, looks as favourable as I could wish, and if
all things go well, this day six weeks I expect to drink all your
healths in the water of the Niger. The soldiers are in good health and
spirits. They are the most _dashing_ men I ever saw; and if they
preserve their health, we may keep ourselves perfectly secure from any
hostile attempt on the part of the natives. I have little doubt but that
I shall be able with presents and fair words to pass through the country
to the Niger; and if once we are fairly afloat, _the day is won_.--Give
my kind regards to Sir Joseph and Mr. Greville; and if they should think
that I have paid too little attention to natural objects, you may
mention that I had forty men and forty-two asses to look after, besides
the constant trouble of packing and weighing bundles, palavering with
the Negroes, and laying plans for our future success. I never was so
busy in my life."

On reading this correspondence it is impossible not to be struck with
the satisfaction expressed by Park, and the confidence with which he
appears to have looked forward to a favourable termination of his
journey. Yet in reality nothing could be much less promising than his
actual situation and prospects at the time of writing these letters.

The detachment of the Royal African Corps, which was to escort the
expedition, consisted of a Lieutenant and thirty-five privates. It was
not to be expected that troops of a very superior quality could be
furnished from a regiment which had been serving for any considerable

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