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

Part 2 out of 5

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time at a tropical station, such as Goree. But there is too much reason
to believe that the men selected on the present occasion,
notwithstanding the favourable opinion of them expressed by Park, and
although they were the best that the Garrison could supply, were below
the ordinary standard even of troops of this description; and that they
were extremely deficient both in constitutional strength and vigour, and
in those habits of sobriety, steadiness and good discipline which such a
service peculiarly required.

But besides the indifferent quality of the troops, there was another and
more serious cause of alarm, from the unfavourable period at which,
owing to a series of unforeseen delays, Park found himself obliged to
enter on this expedition. This he was about to do, not actually during
the rainy season; but with a great probability of being overtaken by it
in the course of his journey; and with a positive certainty of
encountering in the mean time, not only the great tropical heats, but
also the _tornadoes_, or hurricanes, which always precede and follow the
rainy season. These hurricanes, of which no idea can be formed from the
experience of our temperate climates, occur more frequently, and with
greater violence as the rainy period approaches; and are attended with
considerable inconvenience, and occasionally with danger, to caravans
travelling at that season.

Whatever might be the opinion of Park as to the quality of his troops,
of which he appears to have formed a very erroneous estimate, he must at
least have been fully aware of the disadvantage arising from the near
approach of the great tropical rains. But his situation was critical;
and he had only a choice of difficulties. He might either attempt (what
he might perhaps consider as being just _possible_) to reach the Niger
before the rainy season should be completely set in; or he might
postpone his journey till the return of the proper season for
travelling, which would be in November or December following. The event
has shewn that he would have acted more wisely in deferring the
expedition. But the motives which might lead him to a contrary
determination, were obvious and powerful; and will be found, on the
whole, sufficient for the justification of his conduct. He must
naturally have considered that the postponement of the expedition _for
seven months_, besides being in the greatest degree irksome both to
himself and the companions of his journey, would occasion a great
additional expense, and disappoint the expectations of Government; and
he might perhaps entertain doubts, since the case was not provided for
by his official instructions, whether he should altogether escape
censure, if he should postpone his journey for so long a period, under
any circumstances much short of a positive and undoubted necessity.

In this difficult situation, he adopted that alternative which was most
congenial to his character and feelings; and having once formed this
resolution, he adhered to it with tranquillity and firmness; dismissing
from his own mind all doubts and apprehensions, or at least effectually
concealing them, from the companions of his journey, and from his
friends and correspondents in England.

* * * * *

For the particulars of this second expedition, the reader must be
referred to the Journal now published, which commences from this period.
But in order to give a general view of the extent of Park's labours, it
may be useful on this, as on the former occasion, to note the more
important dates, and some of the principal circumstances of the journey.

The persons composing the expedition, being assembled at Kayee, a small
town on the Gambia a little below Pisania, Park engaged a Mandingo
priest, named Isaaco, who was also a travelling merchant and much
accustomed to long inland journies, to serve as the guide to his
caravan. On the 27th of April 1805, he took his departure from Kayee,
and arrived in two days at Pisania, from whence he had set out for the
interior of Africa nearly ten years before. Some of the practical
difficulties of the march were apparent during this short journey: and
he found it necessary to stop at Pisania six days (a delay which must
have been highly inconvenient), to purchase additional beasts of burden,
and make other arrangements for the expedition.

He quitted Kayee on the 4th of May, and arrived on the 11th at Madina,
the capital of the kingdom of Woolli. The effects of the season had
already become apparent; two of the soldiers having fallen ill of the
dysentery on the 8th. On the 15th he arrived on the banks of the Gambia;
and about this time lost one of his soldiers, by an epilepsy.

On the 26th, the caravan experienced a singular accident (almost
unintelligible to an European) from the attack of a large swarm of bees;
in consequence of which, besides that many of the people were most
severely stung, seven of their beasts of burden perished or were lost;
and owing to an accidental fire which was kindled in the confusion, the
whole baggage was near being burnt. For half an hour it seemed as if the
bees had put an end to the expedition. [Footnote: A similar accident
from an attack of bees, though much less serious than the present, was
witnessed by Park in his journey with the caravan of slaves from Kamalia
to the Gambia, and is described in his Travels, p. 331.]

On the 28th of May, Park arrived at Badoo, where he mentions having had
an opportunity of sending two letters to England by way of the Gambia.
These letters were addressed to Sir Joseph Banks and Mrs. Park; and are
as follows.

_To Sir Joseph Banks._

_Badoo, near Tambacunda, May 28th, 1805._

"A Slatee is going from this place in a few hours for the Gambia, and I
have hired him to stop his asses till I write a few lines. We have had
as prosperous an expedition thus far, as I could have expected; a short
abridgement of our journey will serve to shew where we are.

[Here follow the names of the places where the caravan rested each
night; the particulars of which are fully detailed in the Journal.]

"We are going this evening to Tambacunda. You must not imagine, my dear
friend, from this hasty sketch that I have neglected astronomical
observations; I have observed the latitude every two or three days, and
have observed three eclipses of Jupiter's Satellites, which settle the
longitude, by the help of the watch, to the nearest mile. I saw plenty
of Shea trees yesterday for the first time since my return to Africa,
the fruit being not yet ripe. The course of the Gambia is laid down on
my chart too much to the south; I have ascertained nearly its whole
course. I find that my former journeys on foot were underrated; some of
them surprise myself, when I trace the same road on horseback.
Sibikillin is 36' East of where it is laid down on the chart. I propose
sending an abridged account of my day's transactions from Baniserile, to
Lord Camden; but I request that nothing may be published till I return
to England. A short time will decide the matter.

"I expect to reach the Niger on the 27th of June. You must excuse this
hasty scrawl, as it is only meant to let you know that I am still alive
and going forward in my journey. Please to let Mrs. Dickson know that I
am well."

_To Mrs. Park,_

_Badoo, 29th May, 1805._

"I am happy to inform you that we are half through our journey without
the smallest accident or unpleasant circumstance. We all of us keep our
health, and are on the most friendly terms with the natives. I have seen
many of my old acquaintances, and am every where well received. By the
27th of June we expect to have finished all our travels by land; and
when we have once got afloat on the river, we shall conclude that we are
embarking for England. I have never had the smallest sickness; and
Alexander is quite free from all his stomach complaints.

"The bearer of this to the Gambia is waiting with his asses for a few
minutes only; you will therefore inform all friends that we are well and
going on prosperously. I see no reason to think that our stay in the
Interior will be longer than I first mentioned.

"We carry our own victuals with us, and live very well; in fact we have
only had a pleasant journey, and yet this is what we thought would be
the worst part of it.

"I will indulge the hope that my wife, children, and all friends are
well. I am in great hopes of finishing this journey with credit in a few
months; and then with what joy shall I turn my face towards home! The
Slatee is impatient for the letter; and I have only time to subscribe
myself, &c."

Notwithstanding these letters, it is evident from Park's Journal that
his situation was now very critical. The tornadoes had begun to be
frequent; and a few days afterwards it became quite apparent that the
rainy season was seriously setting in, before the journey to the Niger
was more than half completed. The effect produced on the health of the
soldiers by a violent rain on the 10th of June, was almost
instantaneous; twelve of them at once were dangerously ill, and from
this time the great mortality commenced, which was ultimately fatal to
the expedition.

At Shrondo, in the kingdom of Dentila, where the caravan shortly
afterwards arrived, there are considerable gold mines; and the journal
contains a minute and interesting description both of the manner of
collecting the metal, and of the country in which it is found.

After quitting Shrondo, Park mentions that on the 12th of June, in
consequence of a very sudden tornado, they were forced to carry their
bundles into the huts of the natives, being the first time that the
caravan had entered a town since leaving the Gambia. Considering the
_climate_ and season, this slight circumstance is alone a sufficient
proof of the hardships which must have been sustained by Europeans
during such a journey.

At Dindikoo beyond Shrondo, Park was much struck with the beauty and
magnificence of that mountainous tract of country, as well as with the
degree in which it was cultivated and the comparatively happy condition
of the inhabitants. Proceeding a little farther, he quitted the track he
had hitherto followed, by which he had formerly returned from Kamalia to
the Gambia; and directed his course towards the north-east, with a view
probably of avoiding the Jallonka Wilderness. But the difficulties of
travelling were now become extreme; partly from the nature of the
country, but principally from the increasing prevalence of the disease
produced by the continued rains.

On the 4th of July he was near losing Isaaco, his guide; who in crossing
a river was twice attacked by a crocodile, and saved himself by
extraordinary presence of mind, though not without some very severe
wounds. This accident detained the caravan several days, and added to
the numerous delays which had so unfortunately impeded the expedition.

Several of the soldiers had died during the course of the journey; and
on the 6th of July the whole number of persons composing the caravan
(except one) were either actually sick, or in a state of great debility.
Yet he still had considerable difficulties to encounter, in traversing a
country, where he was obliged to be constantly on the watch against the
depredations of the inhabitants, and occasionally, the attacks of wild
beasts. Under such circumstances it is not wonderful that the few
soldiers, not disabled by sickness, fell back; and it was with great
difficulty that any of them could be prevailed on to continue their
march. After a series of dangers and sufferings, such as have been
experienced by few travellers, he at length reached the Niger (at
Bambakoo, where the river begins to be navigable) on the 19th of August

This was more than seven weeks beyond the time, upon which he had
calculated when he quitted the Gambia; and the effects of this
protracted march, which had carried him far into the rainy season, were
unfortunately but too apparent. Of the Europeans who composed the
expedition, consisting of about forty at the time of quitting the
Gambia, there were now only eleven survivors. Of these the principal
persons, besides Park, namely Mr. Anderson, Mr. Scott, and Lieutenant
Martyn, were all more or less affected by the disease; the two former
very seriously, and Mr. Scott, in particular, to so great a degree that
he had been obliged to remain behind, and died shortly afterwards
without reaching the Niger.

It was fortunate that Park's health had hitherto been very slightly
affected, since the whole burden of the expedition evidently rested upon
him. He not only directed all the great movements of the caravan, but
superintended its minutest details, and was foremost on all occasions
requiring physical strength and great personal exertions. In these
arduous services both of body and mind, Mr. Anderson and his other
associates, who might have been expected to share in his labours, were
incapable of rendering him any useful assistance; and by their continued
ill health, contributed in no small degree to the anxiety and
embarrassments attending the expedition.

Being thus arrived at the Niger, he embarked upon that river on the 21st
of August, and the following day reached Marraboo; from whence he
shortly afterwards dispatched Isaaco to Sego, the capital of Bambarra,
to negociate with Mansong the sovereign, for a free passage through his
dominions and for such other facilities as might enable him to prosecute
his journey into the interior. He remained at Marraboo, waiting Isaaco's
return; and in the mean time was seized with the dysentery, which had
been fatal to so many of his followers; but saved himself by a bold and
vigorous course of medicine, which, aided by the great strength of his
constitution, restored him to health very speedily.

After much negociation and many difficulties with Mansong's ministers,
he was at first permitted to go to Samee in the neighbourhood of Sego,
and afterwards to Sansanding; in order to build a vessel and make
preparations for his voyage down the Niger. In this negociation, which
is fully detailed in the Journal, Park appears to much advantage. His
speech to Mansong's messengers, explaining the purpose and objects of
his expedition into Africa, is distinguished by great propriety and good
sense; and affords a very favourable specimen of his talents for such
transactions. [Footnote: Journal, p. 151.]

It may be recollected that when Park arrived at Sego during his former
journey, Mansong sent him a present of five thousand cowries, but
refused to admit him into his presence, and gave directions that he
should immediately depart from that city. [Footnote: Park's Travels, p.
199.] This conduct in a sovereign apparently tolerant and liberal, was
very reasonably attributed by Park to an apprehension on the part of
Mansong, that he should be unable to protect him against the inveterate
malice of his Moorish subjects. There is every reason to think that
Mansong, on the present occasion, was actuated by similar feelings;
since he neither saw Park, nor expressed any desire to see him; and his
whole conduct, both during the negociation and afterwards, indicated
great coldness and reserve. It appears also that many rumours
unfavourable to the mission were industriously circulated; and that
great jealousies, stimulated both by religious bigotry and the
apprehension of commercial rivalship, were excited against Park among
the Moorish inhabitants of Sego and Sansanding.

The anxiety and suspense produced in Park's mind by these rumours, were
in some degree removed by the arrival of Bookari, the singing man or
_bard_ of Mansong, with six canoes, being commissioned to attend him to
the neighbourhood of Sego. Under this escort, he embarked at Marraboo on
the 13th of September; and notwithstanding the unsatisfactory state of
his affairs, his mind was sufficiently at ease to receive great delight
from this short voyage down the Niger. "Nothing," he says, "can be more
beautiful than the views of this immense river; sometimes as smooth as a
mirror; at other times ruffled by a gentle breeze; but at all times
wafting us along at the rate of six or seven miles an hour." [Footnote:
Journal, p. 148] After the indifference shewn towards him by Mansong, he
thought it not prudent to visit Sego; but went on to Sansanding, a place
a little eastwards of Sego on the banks of the Niger, containing about
ten thousand inhabitants. Here Park remained the greater part of two
months, and traded to a considerable extent; and as this was the first
African town distant from the coast, at which he had an opportunity of
residing, he had the means of obtaining much information; which if it
could be communicated to the public, would probably form an important
addition to our knowledge of the internal state of Africa.

Fortunately the information thus acquired has not been entirely lost to
the world; a few particulars, the fruit of his active and intelligent
curiosity, still remain. The view which Park has given of the trade and
population of Sansanding, must be considered as the most original and
valuable part of his Journal. The information which he has collected
concerning _prices_, is new in its kind, and in several points of view,
highly curious and important. But there are other circumstances, which
must strike every intelligent reader as being more peculiarly
interesting and instructive; the existence of regular markets; the
division of labour, appearing from the establishment of distinct
branches of trade; the variety of articles exposed to sale; and the
great extent of commercial transactions. These facts imply that industry
is protected, and property in a certain degree secure; and fully confirm
Park's former statements with regard to the comparative civilization and
improvement of the _interior_ of Africa.

One of Park's principal objects at Sansanding was to provide a proper
vessel for his farther navigation down the Niger; and it was with great
difficulty that he procured two indifferent and decayed canoes; from
which _by the labour of his own hands_, with some assistance from one of
the surviving soldiers, he constructed a flat-bottomed vessel, to which
he gave the magnificent title of His Majesty's schooner the Joliba.

Previously to this time, Park had received intelligence of the death of
Mr. Scott, whom he had been obliged to leave at Koomikoomi, on his march
towards the Niger; and now whilst he was employed in building his
vessel, he had to lament the loss of his friend Mr. Anderson, who died
on the 28th of October, after a lingering illness of four months. He
speaks of this severe blow in his Journal very shortly, but in a strain
of natural eloquence, flowing evidently from the heart, "No event," he
says, "during the journey, ever threw the smallest gloom over his mind
till he laid Mr. Anderson in the grave; he then felt himself as if left
a second time lonely and friendless amidst the wilds of Africa."
[Footnote: Journal, p. 163.]

Fancy can hardly picture a situation more perilous than that of Park at
this time, nor an enterprise more utterly hopeless than that which he
was now to undertake. Of the Europeans who had accompanied him from the
Gambia, Lieutenant Martyn and three soldiers (one of them in a state of
mental derangement) were all who now survived. He was about to embark on
a vast and unknown river, which might possibly terminate in some great
lake or inland sea, at an immense distance from the coast; but which he
hoped and believed would conduct him to the shores of the Atlantic,
after a course of considerably more than three thousand miles, through
the midst of savage nations, and probably also after a long succession
of rapids, lakes, and cataracts. This voyage, one of the most formidable
ever attempted, was to be undertaken in a crazy and ill appointed
vessel, manned by a few Negroes and four Europeans!

On the 16th of November the schooner being completed, and every
preparation made for the voyage, Park put the finishing hand to his
Journal; and in the course of the succeeding days previous to the
embarkation, which appears to have taken place on the 19th, he wrote
letters to his father-in-law, Mr. Anderson, Sir Joseph Banks, Lord
Camden, and Mrs. Park. Those addressed to the three latter, being the
most interesting, are here inserted at length, and cannot be read
without considerable interest. They all of them bear strong traces of
that deliberate courage without effort or ostentation, which
distinguished his whole conduct; and his letter to Lord Camden breathes
a generous spirit of self-devotion, highly expressive of the character
and feelings of the writer.

_To Sir Joseph Banks._

_Sansanding, November 16, 1805._


"I should be wanting in gratitude, if I did not avail myself of every
opportunity of informing you how I have succeeded in this enterprise. I
have sent an account of each day's proceeding to Lord Camden, and have
requested his Lordship to send it to you for your perusal.

"With respect to my future views, it is my intention to keep the middle
of the river, and make the best use I can of winds and currents till I
reach the termination of this mysterious stream. I have hired a guide to
go with me to _Kashna_; he is a native of Kasson, but one of the
greatest travellers in this part of Africa, having visited _Miniana,
Kong, Baedoo, Gotto, and Cape Corse Castle_ to the South, and
_Tombuctoo, Houssa, Nyffe, Kashna, and Bornou_ towards the East. He says
that the Niger, after it passes Kashna, runs directly to the right hand,
or the South; he never heard of any person who had seen its termination;
and is certain that it does not end any where in the vicinity of Kashna
or Bornou, having resided some time in both these kingdoms.

"He says our voyage to Kashna will occupy two months; that we touch on
the Moors no where but at Tombuctoo; the north bank of the river in all
other places being inhabited by a race of people resembling the Moors in
colour, called _Surka, Mahinga, and Tuarick_, according to the different
kingdoms they inhabit. I have as yet had only two conversations with my
guide, and they were chiefly occupied in adjusting money matters; but I
have no doubt that I shall find him a very useful fellow traveller.

"I have purchased some fresh _Shea nuts_, which I intend taking with me
to the West Indies, as we shall probably have to go there on our way
home. I expect that we shall reach the sea in three months from this;
and if we are lucky enough to find a vessel, we shall lose no time on
the coast. But at all events you will probably hear from me; as I mean
to write from Kashna by my guide, and endeavour to hire some of the
merchants to carry a letter to the north from that place. With best
wishes for your health and prosperity I am, &c."

"P. S. Have the goodness to remember me most kindly to my friend Major

_To the Earl Camden, One of His Majesty's Principal Secretaries of
State, &c. &c. &c._

_On board of H. M. Schooner Joliba,
at anchor off Sansanding,
November 17, 1805._


"I have herewith sent you an account of each day's proceedings since we
left _Kayee_. Many of the incidents related are in themselves extremely
trifling; but are intended to recall to my recollection (if it pleases
God to restore me again to my dear native land) other particulars
illustrative of the manners and customs of the natives, which would have
swelled this bulky communication to a most unreasonable size.

"Your Lordship will recollect that I always spoke of the rainy season
with horror, as being extremely fatal to Europeans; and our journey from
the Gambia to the Niger will furnish a melancholy proof of it.

"We had no contest whatever with the natives, nor was any one of us
killed by wild animals or any other accidents; and yet I am sorry to say
that of forty-four Europeans who left the Gambia in perfect health, five
only are at present alive, viz. three soldiers (one deranged in his
mind) Lieutenant Martyn, and myself.

"From this account I am afraid that your Lordship will be apt to
consider matters as in a very hopeless state; but I assure you I am far
from desponding. With the assistance of one of the soldiers I have
changed a large canoe into a tolerably good schooner, on board of which
I this day hoisted the British flag, and shall set sail to the east with
the fixed resolution to discover the termination of the Niger or perish
in the attempt. I have heard nothing that I can depend on respecting the
remote course of this mighty stream; but I am more and more inclined to
think that it can end no where but in the sea.

"My dear friend Mr. Anderson and likewise Mr. Scott are both dead; but
though all the Europeans who are with me should die, and though I were
myself half dead, I would still persevere; and if I could not succeed in
the object of my journey, I would at last die on the Niger.

"If I succeed in the object of my journey, I expect to be in England in
the month of May or June by way of the West Indies.

"I request that your Lordship will have the goodness to permit my friend
Sir Joseph Banks to peruse the abridged account of my proceedings, and
that it may be preserved, in case I should lose my papers.

"I have the honour to be, &c."

_To Mrs. Park._

_Sansanding, 19th November, 1805._

"It grieves me to the heart to write any thing that may give you
uneasiness; but such is the will of him who _doeth all things well_!
Your brother Alexander, my dear friend, is no more! He died of the fever
at Sansanding, on the morning of the 28th of October; for particulars I
must refer you to your father.

"I am afraid that, impressed with a woman's fears and the anxieties of a
wife, you may be led to consider my situation as a great deal worse than
it really is. It is true, my dear friends, Mr. Anderson and George
Scott, have both bid adieu to the things of this world; and the greater
part of the soldiers have died on the march during the rainy season; but
you may believe me, I am in good health. The rains are completely over,
and the healthy season has commenced, so that there is no danger of
sickness; and I have still a sufficient force to protect me from any
insult in sailing down the river, to the sea.

"We have already embarked all our things, and shall sail the moment I
have finished this letter. I do not intend to stop or land any where,
till we reach the coast: which I suppose will be some time in the end of
January. We shall then embark in the first vessel for England. If we
have to go round by the West Indies, the voyage will occupy three months
longer; so that we expect to be in England on the first of May. The
reason of our delay since we left the coast was the rainy season, which
came on us during the journey; and almost all the soldiers became
affected with the fever.

"I think it not unlikely but I shall be in England before you receive
this--You may be sure that I feel happy at turning my face towards home.
We this morning have done with all intercourse with the natives; and the
sails are now hoisting for our departure for the coast."

* * * * *

Here all authentic information concerning Park unfortunately terminates.
His letters and Journal were brought by Isaaco to the Gambia, and
transmitted from thence to England. For some time nothing farther was
heard of the expedition; but in the course of the year 1806 unfavourable
accounts were brought by the native traders from the interior of Africa
to the British settlements on the coast; and it was currently reported,
but upon no distinct authority, that Park and his companions were
killed. These rumours increasing, and no intelligence of Park being
received, Lieutenant Colonel Maxwell, then Governor of Senegal (at
present Governor of Sierra Leone), obtained permission from Government
to send a proper person to ascertain the truth of the reports; and he
was fortunate enough to engage Isaaco, Park's guide, to go upon this

Isaaco left Senegal in January 1810, and was absent about twenty months.
He returned on the 1st of September 1811, with a full confirmation of
the reports concerning Park's death. As the result of his enquiries into
this subject, he delivered to the Governor a Journal of his whole
proceedings kept by himself in the Arabic language, including another
Journal which he had received from Amadi Fatouma, the guide who had
accompanied Park from Sansanding down the Niger. A translation of this
singular document was made at Senegal by the directions of Colonel
Maxwell, and transmitted by him to the Secretary of State for the
Colonial Department.

On the subject of this Journal, so far as it immediately relates to
Park's death, very few remarks will be necessary. Being originally
written by a native African, and translated by some person who probably
had but a moderate knowledge of the Arabian dialect in which it is
composed, it is far from being always clear or even intelligible; and in
the state in which it now appears, it is open to much observation.
Neither indeed can it be considered in itself as a document of a very
authentic or satisfactory description. But the account which it gives of
Park's death appears on the whole to be probable and consistent; and is
so far corroborated by other circumstances as to leave no reasonable
doubt with regard to the fact. [Footnote: The genuine travelling Journal
of a native African Merchant may in some respects be considered as
interesting, simply from the circumstance of its singularity. But it
must be acknowledged that for the mere purpose of gratifying curiosity
very few specimens of Isaaco would have been sufficient. The sole reason
for publishing such a document at full length, is the circumstance of
its containing the only direct evidence of Park's death. In every other
point of view it is wholly destitute of interest, and cannot even be
read through, without a strong effort; being inconceivably tedious, and
having all the dry minuteness of a log book, without its valuable
precision. There is great confusion as to places and times; and it is
possible only in a very few cases, to identify the former by reference
to the names of places given by Park. Incidents the most trifling are
related exactly in the same tone and manner as those of the greatest
importance. The account of Park's death is given with more details, and
the story is not ill told. But some of the facts are very questionable;
and the circumstance of Park and Lieutenant Martyn leaping hand in hand
with the soldiers into the river, is much too _theatrical_ to be
literally true.--What is most incredible, is the description of the
place where the event happened, which is stated to be an opening in a
rock "in the form of a door," forming the only passage for the water; a
fact so strange, that (if it were worth while to conjecture) one might
suspect an error in the translation.]

It is true that the proof of Park's death according to this Journal,
depends entirely upon the statement of Amadi Fatouma; but the nature of
the case admits of no other direct evidence; and some regard must be had
to the opinion of Isaaco, considered by Colonel Maxwell as a person
entitled to a certain degree of credit, who, after full investigation,
was satisfied as to the truth of Amadi's account. It may be observed
also, as a circumstance which gives additional weight to Isaaco's
judgment, that being well acquainted with the anxiety of his employers
respecting Park's safety, he must naturally have been desirous of
discovering reasons for believing that he was still in existence; and
was therefore unlikely to admit the fact of his death upon any ground,
short of his own positive conviction.

But the principal and decisive circumstance in this case, is the length
of time which has elapsed without any intelligence being heard of Park,
since his departure from Sansanding in November 1805. This can only be
accounted for, by supposing either that he is actually dead or detained
in Africa as a captive; and when we consider the nature of the
enterprise in which he was engaged, his personal character, and the
resistance he was likely to make in case of any hostile attack, we must
acknowledge that of the two suppositions, the former is by far the most

To this it may be added, that since the time of the original reports
respecting Park's death in 1806, no circumstance has occurred to bring
that fact into doubt; if we except a few transient rumours relative to
_white men_ stated to be in remote parts of the interior of Africa,
which have led some persons to suppose that Park may be still in
existence. Several surmises of this kind (for they are entitled to no
higher appellation) have from time to time been circulated, and have
found their way into newspapers and public journals; although the
slightest enquiry would have shewn that they were entitled to no credit
or attention. They would commonly be found to originate from loose and
indistinct communications received from some of the settlements on the
African coast, to which very slight and insignificant circumstances
might originally have given occasion. A Moor or an Asiatic, the colour
of whose skin differs by a few shades from that of the native Africans,
would be described by them as a stranger or white man. The _hearsay_
accounts of the appearance of such a person in the interior of Africa
would afford ample materials for credulity and exaggeration; and might
easily give rise to reports and assertions the most unfounded and

Upon the whole there seems to be no reasonable ground of doubt with
regard to the fact either of Park's death or of its having happened in
the manner described in Isaaco's Journal. The first of these may be
considered as morally certain, the latter as highly probable. But the
exact time when this event took place and the circumstances attending
it, are left in great obscurity; partly from a general want of
distinctness and precision in the narrative; but principally because the
particulars related, depend altogether upon the unsupported testimony of
a slave, (represented as the only survivor of those who were with Park
at the time of his death,) from whom the information was obtained at an
interval of three months after the transaction. It is obvious that no
reliance can be placed on a narrative resting upon such authority; and
we must be content to remain in ignorance of the precise circumstances
of Park's melancholy fate. But that he was attacked by the natives on
his voyage from Sansanding eastwards, that he was overpowered by
numbers, and that he perished on his passage down the Niger, cannot
reasonably be doubted.

* * * * *

The leading parts of Mungo Park's character must have been anticipated
by the reader in the principal events and transactions of his life. Of
his enterprising spirit, his indefatigable vigilance and activity, his
calm fortitude and unshaken perseverance, he has left permanent
memorials in the narrative of his former travels and in the Journal and
Correspondence now published. In these respects few travellers have
equalled, none certainly ever surpassed him. Nor were the qualities of
his understanding less valuable or conspicuous. He was distinguished by
a correctness of judgment, seldom found united with an ardent and
adventurous turn of mind, and generally deemed incompatible with it. His
talents certainly were not brilliant, but solid and useful, such as were
peculiarly suited to a traveller and geographical discoverer. Hence, in
his accounts of new and unknown countries, he is consistent and
rational; he is betrayed into no exaggeration, nor does he exhibit any
traces of credulity or enthusiasm. His attention was directed
exclusively to facts; and except in his opinion relative to the
termination of the Niger (which he supported by very plausible
arguments) he rarely indulged in conjecture, much less in hypothesis or

Among the characteristic qualities of Park which were so apparent in his
former travels, none certainly were more valuable or contributed more to
his success than his admirable prudence, calmness and temper; but it has
been doubted whether these merits were equally conspicuous during his
second expedition. The parts of his conduct which have given occasion to
this remark, are, his setting out from the Gambia almost at the eve of
the rainy season, and his voyage down the Niger under circumstances so
apparently desperate. On the motives by which he may have been
influenced as to the former of these measures, something has been said
in the course of the foregoing narrative. [Footnote: See p. lxvi.] With
regard to his determination in the latter instance, justice must allow
that his situation was one of extreme difficulty, and admitted probably
of no alternative. In both cases our knowledge of the facts is much too
imperfect to enable us to form a correct opinion as to the propriety of
his conduct, much less to justify us in condemning him _unheard_.

In all the relations of private life, he appears to have been highly
exemplary; and his conduct as a son, a husband, and a father merited
every praise. To the more gentle and amiable parts of his character the
most certain of all testimonies may be found in the warm attachment of
his friends, and in the fond and affectionate recollections of every
branch of his family.

There are some moral defects very difficult to be avoided by those
persons, who from a situation comparatively obscure, rise to sudden
distinction and celebrity. From these failings Park was happily exempt.
He was a stranger to all vanity and affectation; and notwithstanding his
great popularity and success, appears to have lost no portion of the
genuine simplicity of his character and manners. This simplicity
originated perhaps in a considerable degree from a certain coldness and
reserve, which, as was before remarked, rendered him very indifferent,
and perhaps somewhat averse, to mixed or general society. It was
probably owing to the same cause that his conversation, for a man who
had seen so much, had nothing remarkable, and was rarely striking or
animated. Hence, although his appearance was interesting and
prepossessing, he was apt to disappoint the expectations of strangers;
and those persons who estimated his general talents from his powers of
conversation, formed an erroneous and inadequate opinion of his merits.

In his person he was tall, being about six feet high, and perfectly well
proportioned. His countenance and whole appearance were highly
interesting; and his frame active and robust, fitted for great exertions
and the endurance of great hardships. His constitution had suffered
considerably from the effects of his first journey into Africa, but
seems afterwards to have been restored to its original vigour, of which
his last expedition afforded the most ample proofs.

Park's family consisted of three sons and one daughter, all of whom,
together with Mrs. Park their mother, are now living. He also left a
mother, four brothers (of whom one is lately dead), and three sisters.

* * * * *

In the death of Mungo Park we have to lament not only the loss of the
most distinguished traveller of modern times, but the failure of an
expedition, honourable to Great Britain and highly interesting to
humanity and science. For a time this unfortunate event has had the
effect of damping the ardour of geographical enquiry, and of
discouraging all ideas of farther endeavours to explore the interior of
Africa. But we may hope that the publication of Park's Journal will
revive the attention of enlightened men to this subject; and that the
prospect of future discoveries in that quarter of the globe will not be
hastily abandoned.

It has been seen that Park's failure was entirely owing to the improper
season at which his journey was undertaken, and that this circumstance
was occasioned by a series of unforeseen delays arising from a great
variety of causes. A slight difference in some of those accidents which
retarded his progress to the Niger, might obviously have had a most
material influence on the ultimate success of the expedition. Thus, for
example, if he could have sailed for Africa immediately after receiving
his official instructions, if his passage had been quicker, if fewer
causes of delay had occurred on the coast and afterwards during the
journey, and finally, if the rainy season, which is subject to some
slight variations, had commenced a little later;--he might perhaps have
been able to reach the banks of the Niger in good order, and with a loss
comparatively small; and in that case might have proceeded on his
journey eastwards at the conclusion of the rainy season with some
prospect of success. But the safe arrival of Park's expedition at the
Niger, which was only just possible in the actual circumstances of the
case, would have been morally certain provided he had sailed from
England (as he ought to have done) before the month of October, and had
been ready to take his departure from the Gambia towards the interior at
the end of November; from which time there is always an uninterrupted
continuance of fine and healthy weather during a period of five months.

Hence we may safely conclude that, supposing all reasonable precautions
to be taken, an expedition similar to that of Park, may penetrate to the
Niger and along the banks of that river as far as the eastern frontier
of Bambarra, in good order and with very little loss; and this most
important fact is justly considered by Park himself as being fully
established by his own disastrous expedition. [Footnote: Journal, p.

In what degree it is practicable to penetrate _beyond Bambarra_ yet
remains to be ascertained; since it cannot be said that this question is
determined, or even materially affected, by what took place in Park's
expedition. No general inference upon this subject can be fairly deduced
from an extreme case, such as Park's evidently was; nor does it follow,
because a small party consisting of four Europeans and a few Negroes,
was attacked and overpowered, that an expedition well appointed and
properly organized, would experience a similar fate. It may be observed
also that, ill provided as Park was with the means of defence, he was
able to proceed in safety beyond Tombuctoo, where the Moors are most
numerous, and would in a short time have reached a country beyond the
Moorish territory, where the danger would probably have been much
diminished. [Footnote: See letter to Sir Joseph Banks (ante p. lxxviii)
in which Park says "that, according to the information of the guide,
they should touch on the Moors no where but at Tombuctoo."] Neither is
it altogether certain that his death was not one of those _accidents_,
to which such enterprises are peculiarly liable, but from which no
general conclusion can be drawn. [Footnote: Such, for example, as
Captain Cooke's death, which certainly affords no argument against
voyages of discovery. It may be observed that the statement in the note
annexed to Amadi Fatouma's Journal (see p. 213) gives some countenance
to the supposition mentioned in the text. From this note it appears that
certain presents which Amadi had delivered from Park to one of the
chiefs of Haoussa for the use of the king, were with-held from the
latter in consequence of the chief's being informed that Park would not
return; and that the king's resentment, occasioned by his receiving no
presents, was the cause of Park's death.--It may be proper on this
occasion to apprize the reader that the notes to Isaaco's Journal
(except in one instance, p. 181) are all of them printed from the
manuscript of the translation, and appear to be parts of the original
document transmitted from Africa. They seem to have been inserted by the
translator; and in several cases, apparently, were added from
information which he received from Isaaco.]

It will appear, upon a due consideration of these circumstances, that
reasonable and sufficient inducements still exist for attempting farther
discoveries in Africa; and that nothing really unfavourable to such
undertakings can with propriety be inferred from Park's late failure;
but on the contrary, that the events of that mission furnish additional
grounds of encouragement and new prospects of success. The proper _mode_
also of conducting such discoveries in future, may now be considered as
ascertained. Before Park's late Journey, the important question whether
an expedition of this kind should be accompanied by a military escort,
was involved in some difficulty. Apprehensions might then be entertained
lest the appearance of an armed force passing through the country might
alarm the jealousy of the natives, and produce hostile combinations, by
which any small body of European troops would sooner or later be
overpowered. It might also have been doubted, and with great appearance
of reason, whether it would be practicable on such a march to obtain
proper supplies of provisions. The history of Park's expedition appears
to furnish a clear and satisfactory solution of both these difficulties;
and experience having shewn that large tracts of the African continent
may be traversed in safety by the aid even of a small and ill organized
force under circumstances the most unfavourable, the question as to the
expediency of a military escort may now be said to be determined.

The sufferings of Park during his former journey, and the melancholy
fate of Major Houghton, Mr. Horneman, and other travellers distinguished
by their enterprise and ability, demonstrate the utter hopelessness of
such undertakings, when attempted by solitary and unprotected
individuals. Even if the two schemes of discovery were equally
practicable, the military plan (supposing always that the force employed
is strictly limited to the purposes of security and protection) would on
several accounts be entitled to a decided preference; inasmuch as it
affords more ample means of observation and enquiry, as it is calculated
to inspire the Africans with a greater respect for the European
character, and as it may be rendered far more efficacious for the
purposes of friendly and commercial intercourse. [Footnote: If the
practice of sending out single individuals on journies of discovery into
Africa is still to be continued, it would be better perhaps to employ
_Mahometan_ travellers, who might accompany some of the great caravans.
The dangers, to which European adventurers are always exposed, from the
ferocity and intolerance of the Moors, would thus in a considerable
degree be avoided. There is reason to believe that individuals
sufficiently intelligent for an expedition of this kind, and whose
constitutions would also be well suited to the climate of Africa, might
be found without much difficulty among the Mahometan inhabitants of
Hindostan. If a fair judgment can be formed of this class of the British
subjects from the _Travels of Abu Taleb_ (the genuine and highly
interesting production of a native Mahometan of the East Indies), a very
favourable opinion must be entertained of their intelligence and general

The scheme of an expedition into the interior of Africa, formed upon
these principles, has lately been proposed from high authority, which
holds out a considerable prospect of success. From the quarter in which
the suggestion has originated, a reasonable hope may be entertained that
this plan, of which the following is a short outline, will ultimately be
carried into effect. [Footnote: The particulars of the projected
expedition here alluded to, which are given in the text, are extracted
from a very interesting communication lately made to the African
Institution by Major General Gordon, Quarter Master General of the
British Forces.]

In the Royal African corps now serving at Sierra Leone there are three
companies of black men, enlisted from the slaves obtained from the
numerous slave trading vessels which have at different times been
condemned as prize upon that coast. Among these there are several
natives of Tombuctoo, Haoussa, Bornou and other countries even more
distant; some of them having been brought from parts of Africa so remote
as to have been _two, three_ and _four_ moons upon their journey to the
coast. Most of them have acquired sufficient knowledge of the English
language to express themselves so as to be understood, although they
retain their native languages, which they still speak with fluency.

These men, having been trained and disciplined with great care, are
become excellent soldiers, and are spoken of by the Governor of Sierra
Leone in the highest terms of approbation for their obedience,
steadiness and general good conduct. They are of course inured to the
climate, are accustomed to hardships and fatigues, and capable of the
greatest exertions. They are at the same time courageous and high
spirited, feeling a pride and elevation from the advantages which they
enjoy, and the comparative _rank_ to which they have attained; and they
are warmly attached to the British Government.

It is proposed that a proper and well selected detachment of these
troops should form the basis of the intended expedition; and that,
besides the person having the immediate command, one or two other
leading persons should be appointed, each properly qualified to assist
in the direction and management of the principal concerns, and (in case
of emergency) to undertake the sole charge of the expedition. The number
of the troops employed would of course be regulated by a due regard to
the probable means of subsistence; but it is proposed that they should
be sufficiently numerous to enable the leaders, in cases where it might
be expedient, to separate with small detachments, taking distinct lines
of march as local circumstances and other occasions might require.
[Footnote: The writer is well aware that, in some of the opinions which
he has expressed with regard to the black troops of Sierra Leone, he can
hardly expect the concurrence of several excellent individuals, among
the best friends of the African cause, who are known to be averse to the
employment of Negroes in the military service; and he is ready to admit
that the practice which has prevailed of enlisting captured Africans is
liable to some abuse. Let such abuses be anxiously guarded against by
all the means which legislative wisdom can devise; let every charge of
misconduct in this respect be rigorously investigated; and if it should
appear to be well founded, let it be pursued with the utmost strictness
and severity. But let not occasional abuses be urged as valid arguments
against the practice itself, if it should be ascertained to be, on the
whole, beneficial to the Africans. It has been stated by enlightened and
benevolent persons, who have witnessed the state of slavery in the West
Indies (and the assertion has every appearance of probability) that the
embodying and employment of black troops has had the happiest effect in
elevating and improving the Negro character, and in giving a greater
degree of importance to that oppressed race. In the instance of Sierra
Leone, to which these observations more immediately relate, compare the
situation of a captured Negro, when rescued from the horrors of a slave
vessel with that of the same man a short time afterwards, when serving
as a British soldier! The ordinary condition of human life has nothing
similar to this change; it is a transition from the most abject misery
to ease, comfort, and comparative dignity.--Add to this, the extreme
difficulty (which every unprejudiced enquirer must admit) attending the
management and disposal of great numbers of these captured Negroes in a
small colony like Sierra Leone; and the utter impossibility, considering
their savage ignorance and total want of habits of industry, of
providing all of them, or even any tolerable number, with agricultural

The principal objects of this expedition would be similar in all
respects to those of Park's last journey--to ascertain the course and
termination of the Niger, to acquire a geographical knowledge of the
countries through which it flows; and to procure all possible
information relative to the condition of the inhabitants, their
commercial relations and their general state of improvement. With a view
to the attainment of these objects of practical and scientific enquiry,
the leader of the expedition would be enjoined in the most strict and
positive terms by his official instructions, to avoid all acts of
aggression towards the natives, and (except in cases of absolute
self-defence) to abstain from every species of violence. He would be
farther directed to use his utmost endeavours to establish a friendly
intercourse and communication with the inhabitants; and for this purpose
to employ the most intelligent of the black troops, in all cases in
which it might be practicable, as interpreters of the expedition and
messengers of peace and conciliation.

By the plan which has thus shortly been described, every disadvantage
which attended Park's mission, would be avoided, and all its defects
supplied; and there seems to be every reasonable assurance that an
expedition, formed and conducted upon such principles (with a due
attention to the proper season for travelling), would be attended with
ultimate success.

It would be difficult to anticipate the full extent of those beneficial
consequences which may ultimately be expected from the successful result
of such an expedition. We may perhaps be justified in expecting that the
intercourse, thus formed with the interior of Africa, will eventually
open new communications of trade, and possibly create new markets; that
a certain portion of that vast commerce, which is now carried on with
Tombuctoo from Morocco and the shores of the Mediterranean, may be
diverted to the western coast; and that great quantities of European
goods, now conveyed through other channels, may be transported into the
centre of Africa through the new route of the Niger.

But without speculating too confidently upon commercial revolutions of
the nature here alluded to, which are for the most part very slow and
gradual, and seldom effected without much difficulty; we may safely
conclude that any rational and well concerted expedition to the interior
of Africa must be of great efficacy in promoting and extending the
legitimate and beneficial commerce with different parts of that vast
continent, which has been rapidly advancing since the Abolition of the
slave trade. [Footnote: See Appendix, No. VI.] We may also reasonably
expect that such enterprises, judiciously conducted, will have important
effects upon the civilization and general improvement of Africa, by
exciting industry and diffusing useful knowledge among the natives; and
that some portion of these advantages may, in due time, be extended to
those remote and sequestered countries, which are at present excluded
from all intercourse with Europe, and abandoned to hopeless ignorance
and barbarism. Let us hope that the honour of passing those barriers,
which have hitherto separated Africa from the civilized world, is
reserved for the courage and perseverance of that nation, by whose
enlightened and disinterested exertions so much has been effected in
modern times, for the advancement of geographical knowledge. The voyages
of discovery which have been undertaken by the command of His present
Majesty, unstained by the guilt of conquest, and directed exclusively
towards objects of humanity and science, have conferred a lasting
distinction on the British name and character. The attempt to explore
the interior of Africa, dictated by the same generous views, is in no
respect less interesting, nor does it promise less important results,
even than those great undertakings; and it will be peculiarly worthy of
an age and nation, rendered for ever memorable in the annals of mankind
by the Abolition of the African slave trade.

* * * * *


* * * * *


Page viii.

There is no part of Europe, in which education has been a subject of
more general attention or produced more important effects than in
Scotland. During little more than a century, a system of public
instruction established in that country, has not only had the most
beneficial influence upon industry and private morals, but has been the
principal cause of one of the most remarkable changes of national
character that has ever yet taken place during so short a period. At a
time when the public attention in this country is so laudably directed
towards providing means of instruction for the poor, a few remarks on
the effects of a system of general education in Scotland may not be
thought unseasonable. The following facts and observations relative to
this important subject are principally extracted from the interesting
Life of Burns, the poet, written by the late amiable and excellent
Doctor Currie.

The system of education in Scotland, though closely connected with its
ecclesiastical establishment, owes its first legal existence to a
statute passed in the year 1646 by the Parliament of that Kingdom for
establishing schools in every parish, at the expense of the landholders,
for the express purpose of teaching the poor. On the Restoration in 1660
this excellent statute was repealed; and nothing further was done or
attempted for the instruction of the people during the reigns of Charles
and James, which were chiefly occupied in religious persecution. But in
the year 1696, some years after the Revolution, the statute of 1646 was
re-enacted nearly in the same terms, and continues to be the law of
Scotland at the present time. Connected with this legislative provision
are many acts passed by the General Assemblies of the church of
Scotland, which are binding as to matters of ecclesiastical
jurisdiction; and the whole together forms a code of regulations, which
is eminently distinguished for the reasonableness and practical good
sense of its particular provisions, and which experience has shewn to be
perfectly effectual for the important purpose intended. So much
convinced indeed are the lower classes in Scotland of the benefits
attending this system, that, where the parishes are large, they often
form subscriptions and establish private schools of their own, in
addition to the parochial seminaries.

In the year 1698, about the time when this system was established,
Fletcher of Saltoun, in one of his _Discourses concerning the affairs of
Scotland_, describes the lower classes of that kingdom as being in a
state of the most abject poverty and savage ignorance; and subsisting
partly by mere beggary, but chiefly by violence and rapine, "without any
regard or subjection either to the laws of the land or to those of God
and nature." Some of the instances given by this writer of the disorder
and violence of that period may remind us of the effects produced by a
similar state of things during our own times, upon the _Irish peasantry_
in the disturbed parts of that unhappy country. "In years of plenty,"
says Fletcher, "many thousands of them meet together in the mountains,
where they feast and riot for many days, and at country weddings,
markets, _burials_, and other public occasions, they are to be seen,
both men and women, perpetually drunk, cursing, blaspheming, and
fighting together." [Footnote: Political Works of Andrew Fletcher, 8vo:
London 1737, p. 144.] Such was the state of Scotland at the time when
the present system of education was established.

It is justly stated by Dr. Currie that, at the present day, there is
perhaps no country in Europe, in which, in proportion to its population,
so small a number of crimes fall under the chastisement of the criminal
law, as in Scotland; and he adds, upon undoubted authority, that on an
average of thirty years preceding the year, 1797, the executions in that
division of the Island did not amount to six annually, and that more
felons have been convicted and sentenced to transportation at one
quarter sessions for the town of Manchester only, than the average
number of persons sentenced to a similar punishment during a whole year
by all the Judges of Scotland. [Footnote: Works of Robert Burns,
Liverpool 1800. vol. 1. p. 353, 8vo.]

But the influence of education in Scotland has not been merely negative
or confined to the diminution of criminal offences; it has produced in a
very eminent degree those habits of industry and frugality, upon which
all civilization and improvement ultimately depend. In no age or country
have these excellent qualities, the cardinal virtues of the lower orders
of society, been more prevalent than among the peasantry and common
people of Scotland during modern times: in none have the instances been
more frequent of individuals who, by a course of meritorious exertions,
have raised themselves from an inferior condition of life to ease and
competence, and sometimes to riches and distinction.

It is impossible to conceive any situation more happy and respectable
than that of the parent of a well educated family (such as was the
father of the subject of this memoir, and such as there are now many
others among the farmers and peasantry of Scotland) enjoying the just
reward of his paternal cares in the prosperity and success of his
children; each of whom he sees engaged in some beneficial pursuit, each
bettering his condition in life, and each advanced somewhat in the scale
of society above the situation in which he was born. It is this visible
_progress_ and continual _improvement_ in the circumstances and
condition of families, so frequent in the class here particularly
alluded to, which produces the greatest portion of happiness of which
any community is capable; which stimulates to intelligent activity, and
useful, persevering exertions; and which keeps alive and invigorates
that orderly, quiet ambition, which is the foundation of all private and
public prosperity, and the great civilizing principle of individuals and

It is true that there are several other circumstances, besides the
system of public education in Scotland, which have assisted in producing
that extraordinary change of national character which has given occasion
to the present remarks. But of the various causes which have contributed
to this change, education is by far the most important, and that,
without which indeed all the rest would have been comparatively of no
avail. It is to early instruction, most unquestionably, that we must
attribute that general intelligence, and those habits of thoughtfulness,
deliberation, and foresight, which usually distinguish the common people
of Scotland, where-ever they may be found, and whatever may be their
employments and situations; which ensure their success in life under
favourable circumstances; and in adverse fortune serve as a protection
against absolute indigence, and secure to them a certain station above
the lowest condition of life.

The truth of this remark will be apparent from a few practical
instances, drawn from the experience of common life, of that general
superiority which is here attributed to the lower classes of the Scotch,
as the effect of their superior industry and intelligence--1. Every one
has remarked the great number of professional gardeners from that
country, many of whom have been common labourers, and who if they had
been no better educated than most English labourers, must always have
remained in that situation. Of this numerous class Mr. Dickson, Park's
brother-in law, is a remarkable and most distinguished example.--2.
Scotland supplies a considerable number of stewards, confidential
clerks, book-keepers, &c. from a class of society, which in most other
countries furnishes only domestic servants. The British Colonies, and
especially the West Indies, are chiefly provided with clerks, overseers
of plantations, &c. from this source.--3. The prodigious number of
non-commissioned officers in the army, who are natives of Scotland,
having been raised from the ranks in consequence of their knowledge of
reading and writing, and general good conduct, is also very
remarkable.--The recollection of most readers will probably supply them
with other examples; but there are two instances, somewhat out of the
course of ordinary experience, which deserve to be particularly

In the year 1803, Mr. Matthew Martin, a gentleman distinguished for his
active benevolence, having been for some time engaged, under the
sanction of Government, in a laborious enquiry concerning the "State of
Mendicity in the Metropolis," was desired to make a Report upon that
subject for the information of Government. From the statement which Mr.
Martin prepared on that occasion and laid before the Secretary of State,
it appeared that the number of Scotch beggars in London was remarkably
small, especially in proportion to the Irish beggars, with whom it was
most natural to compare them. Of 2000 beggars, whose cases were
investigated by Mr. Martin, the following is a summary.

Belonging to parishes home 570
distant parishes 336
Irish 679
Scotch 65
Foreign 30

The second of the two cases is of a still more uncommon nature.--In the
course of the expedition against Egypt in 1807, the advanced guard of
Major General Fraser's army having taken possession of Rosetta and
occupied a position at El Hamed a few miles from that town, was
surprised by a strong corps of Turkish troops, and after an obstinate
conflict and the loss of many lives, compelled to surrender. According
to the Turkish custom, the prisoners taken were sold as slaves, and
dispersed over the whole country; some of them being sent as far as
Upper Egypt. Great exertions were naturally made by the British
government to redeem those unfortunate persons from captivity; and this
was happily effected as to all the prisoners, except a few who could not
be traced, by the assistance of Signor Petrucci, the Swedish consul at

From the authentic documents relating to this transaction, it appears
that the ransoms paid for the redemption of the captives differed very
considerably; the prices varying from between twenty and thirty pounds
to more than one hundred pounds sterling for each man. But it is
observable, on comparing the different rates, that the highest ransoms
were paid for those, who must be considered, from their names, to have
been natives of Scotland; and who, it may be presumed, were more
_valuable_ than the rest from being more orderly and intelligent. It
could not have been easily anticipated that a soldier, brought up in a
Scotch parish school, was likely, when enslaved by the Turks and a
captive in Egypt, to derive much advantage from his _education_. Yet it
is probable from this circumstance that the intelligence and habits of
good conduct, which he acquired from early instruction, might recommend
him to his master, and as domestic slavery admits of many mitigations,
might procure him kinder and better treatment.


Page xix.

Major Rennell, in his Geographical Illustrations of Park's travels, has
done ample justice to the knowledge and judgment, so eminently displayed
by D'Anville in the investigation of several important points relative
to the geography of North Africa, which have been elucidated by this
writer from very imperfect materials with extraordinary sagacity and
success. In the 26th volume of the Memoirs of the Academy of
Inscriptions, there are two very important Dissertations by this
distinguished Geographer; the first, On the sources of the Nile; and the
second, Concerning the rivers of the interior of Africa, with reference
to the opinions of the ancient and modern writers who have treated on
that subject. The latter is the most immediately connected with the
particular questions alluded to in the text; and it is remarkable that
the principal opinions, or rather conjectures, of D'Anville (of which
the opinion relating to the course of the Niger is the most important),
although deduced from very uncertain and discordant sources of
information, have been confirmed in a great degree by the discoveries of
modern travellers, especially by those of Park. It appears that
D'Anville was well acquainted with the existence of Tombuctoo, and had
even ascertained the situation of that city, as well as the general
course of the Niger with a considerable degree of precision. He had also
formed a plan for sending a person, properly qualified, on an expedition
from the French settlement of St. Joseph on the river Senegal, to
Tombuctoo; but owing to some circumstance which he does not explain, the
scheme did not take effect. As the Dissertation here alluded to may not
be in the hands of every reader, the passage relating to this subject
may be worth transcribing.--After mentioning Ghana as the principal
Mahometan city of Nigritia, spoken of by Edrisi, he says that many of
the Fatimites, who escaped from the power of the Califs, took refuge in
the interior of Africa, where they formed various states. He then
proceeds as follows:

"Tombut ou Tombouctou, est actuellement entre les villes de la Nigritie,
celle dont on parle davantage. On ne doit point etre surpris qu'Edrisi
n'en fasse pas mention. Outre qu'elle se peut juger hors des limites de
ce qui lui a ete connu, Leon d'Afrique nous apprend que la fondation de
Tombut par un prince de Barbarie, appelle Mensa-Suleiman, est de l'an
610 de l'Hegire, qui repond a l'an 1213 de l'ere Chretienne, ce qui est
posterieur a la geographie d'Edrisi, composee vers le milieu du douzieme
siecle. La situation de cette ville n'est pas precisement sur le Niger;
mais elle y a son port, nomme Cabra, a quelques milles de distance.
Comme aucune des nations commercantes de l'Europe n'a penetre aussi
avant dans les terres, en cette partie d'Afrique, que la nation
Francoise, par ses etablissemens sur le Senega, elle est plus a portee
qu'une autre d'acquerir quelque connoissance de cet interieur. J'ai
appris, d'une personne qui avoit commande plusieurs annees au fort
Saint-Joseph en Galam, lequel se peut estimer distant en droite ligne de
l'entree du Senega d'environ cent trent lieues francoises; que les
Bambaras, qui du fond du pays amenent des esclaves noirs, comptent
quarante huit journees depuis Tombut jusqu'au fort Saint-Joseph, et que
la mesure commune de la journee s'evalue a environ cinq lieues, d'ou il
resulte autour de deux cens quarante lieues. Le moyen d'en savoir
davantage seroit, que quelque personne habituee au climat, comme il y en
a dans le haut du Senega, accompagnee d'interpretes, et qu'une
instruction prealable auroit mise au fait d'une partie des choses dont
il seroit a propos de s'informer, fit le voyage de Tombut. Un evenement
a empeche l'execution d'un projet, auquel j'avois tres-volontiers pris
part dans cette vue."

_Mem. de l'Acad. des Inscriptions_, Tom. xxvi. p. 72.

The above passage was written by D'Anville about the year 1754; and it
is not a little extraordinary that during the sixty years that have
since elapsed, a period so much distinguished for geographical
discovery, Tombuctoo should never have been visited by any European
traveller: and that one of the greatest marts of African commerce, which
is annually resorted to by caravans from various parts of that
continent, should remain at this time entirely unknown to the civilized

In speaking of Tombuctoo as being still entirely unknown, the writer is
aware that a particular description of that city has been given in an
_Account of the Empire of Morocco_ published in the year 1809 by Mr.
James Grey Jackson, who resided in that part of Africa during many
years. But Mr. Jackson derived his whole knowledge of Tombuctoo from the
accounts of native traders; upon whose unsupported testimony very little
reliance can be placed; especially as to matters of detail, or such
facts as require to be stated with any degree of exactness. Considering
that Mr. Jackson's information was obtained from this source, the very
minuteness and apparent precision of his account, are circumstances
highly unfavourable to its authenticity.

With reference to the internal geography of Africa, the writer may take
this opportunity of observing, that next to the African Association, to
whom we are indebted for almost all the authentic information which we
possess upon this subject, [Footnote: The valuable discoveries of the
late Mr. Browne (whose death must be lamented as a public loss) form an
exception to this general remark; but perhaps the only exception.]
considerable praise is due to the Sierra Leone Company; under whose
auspices, during the time they were in possession of that colony,
several important journies into the interior were judiciously undertaken
and successfully executed. Among these may be mentioned an expedition in
1794 by Mr. Watt and Mr. Winterbottom (being a land journey of near five
hundred miles, in going and returning by different routes) to Laby and
Teembo, both of them considerable towns, and the latter the capital of
the Foulah country. Tombuctoo appeared, from the enquiries made by the
travellers, to be well known at both those places; and the communication
with that city from Laby, though it was spoken of as a journey of four
moons, was represented to be open, and they were furnished with many
particulars of the route. Shortly afterwards, in consequence perhaps of
this information, a project was formed at Sierra Leone of sending out a
mission to Tombuctoo; but Mr. Watt, who was to have undertaken the
journey, died; and the invasion of the colony by the French in September
1794, together with the destruction which followed, seems to have put a
stop to expeditions of this nature.

The editor has been favoured by Mr. Macaulay, late Secretary of the
Sierra Leone Company and formerly Governor of the Colony, with a sight
of the Journals of the expedition to Teembo as well as of some other
missions from Sierra Leone of inferior importance. They do great credit
to the writers (especially the Journal to Teembo) and contain many
valuable and interesting particulars; several of which have been given
to the public in the Reports of the Sierra Leone Company, and in Dr.
Winterbottom's judicious account of the native Africans in the
neighbourhood of that colony. But there is still room for a compilation
or selection from these Journals, which, if well executed, would be an
instructive and interesting publication.


Page xxix.

Soon after Mr. Edwards's death several letters passed between Park and
Sir William Young, now Governor of Tobago, upon a subject immediately
connected with the question, considered in the memoir, relative to the
assistance afforded by Mr. Edwards in preparing Park's travels for the
press. Copies of these letters having been transmitted to the editor by
Park's family, he thinks it right on the present occasion to lay them
before the public; remarking at the same time that, after due
consideration of their contents, he continues to be of the opinion which
he has expressed in the text.

The occasion of this correspondence appears to have been as follows. Mr.
Edwards was engaged, at the time of his death, in preparing for the
press an enlarged and corrected edition of his _History of the West
Indies_; but as he did not live to complete it, his friend Sir William
Young superintended the publication of the work, and added a short
preface; in which, speaking of Mr. Edwards's literary merits, he
mentioned "the judicious compilation and elegant recital of the travels
of Mungo Park". This produced a letter of expostulation from Park to Sir
William Young, of which either no copy was kept, or it has been since
lost or mislaid; but the nature of its contents will be seen from the
sequel of the correspondence.

_Sir William Young to Mr. Park._

_59 Harley-street, November 9th, 1803._

"The day before yesterday I received your letter dated so far back as
August 25th. It appears to have been put into the London post, addressed
to my clerk's lodgings, only last week, and reached me in the country
November the 7th. I am thus particular as to dates, as I could not bear
the imputation of having so long neglected the due acknowledgment of a
letter from one whom I so highly esteem and respect. In regard to the
question you state, I understood from the late Mr. Edwards, that he
assisted in the general arrangement of the materials you supplied, as
Dr. Hawkesworth did, in the case of a voyage by the great navigator
Captain Cooke; and that the previous Account or Summary of your Travels
delivered into the African Association was written by him; to which your
fuller Account of your Travels in detail was subsequent. The word
"author," I believe, does not occur in the passage you refer to; and if
the words "compilation and recital" seem to bear any application beyond
the prospectus before adverted to, or in any way to trench on your just
pretensions as a writer, I truly lament the inaccuracy, and will take
the most immediate means of rectifying the error, which circumstances
may place within my reach; either by present correction or on a new
edition of the work. My situation as Secretary of the African
Association furnishes me with documents from which I have learned so
highly to appreciate your character and to entertain so grateful a sense
of your public services, that it would be painful in me, in the smallest
degree to have stated any thing that might be so construed as to affect
your just literary pretensions; although it is difficult to add to the
just and high reputation you held independently, from the fortitude,
discretion, and resource so eminently shewn in your distinguished and
successful enterprise."

_Mr. Park to Sir William Young._

_Fowlshiels, 14th May, 1804._

"I perceive by your letter, that you meant the words 'compilation' and
'recital,' to refer entirely to the Abridgment of my Travels, which was
written for the perusal of the gentlemen of the African Association, by
Mr. Edwards, their Secretary.

"A printed copy of this Abridgment was delivered to each of the
gentlemen at their annual meeting, but I believe it was never publicly
sold. The greater number of readers are therefore but slightly
acquainted with it; and to such, the words above-mentioned will naturally
convey a very different meaning. Having thus explained myself to you, I
hope you will see the propriety of correcting the passage
above-mentioned as soon as possible. I must therefore request you will
permit me to insert your letter in any of the periodical publications,
or favour me with a correction of the passage, as you may think proper."

_Extract from a letter of Sir William Young to Mr. Park_

_May 25, 1804._

"The letter which I wrote on the subject of the publication of your
travels in Africa, is perfectly at your service to make any use of,
which you may think proper. No measure can be more satisfactory and
agreeable to myself, than that which may most fully render justice to
your high and well earned reputation in every point of view."


The question regarding the termination of the Niger is one of the most
doubtful and obscure in modern geography, and in the present defective
state of our information with regard to the interior of Africa, seems
hardly to admit of a clear and satisfactory solution. Of the difficulties
with which the subject is attended, some judgment may be formed from the
various and even opposite opinions which have been maintained relative to
the course of the Niger, since Park's discoveries have ascertained that
it flows from west to east. As the enquiry is somewhat curious, a summary
view of these different opinions, and of the principal arguments by which
they are supported, may not be uninteresting to the readers of Park's
life. To investigate the question with the accuracy and minuteness which
it deserves, would not only very far exceed the limits of a note, but
would require much more information upon this subject than the editor
possesses, united with some previous habits of geographical disquisition.

I. According to the oldest of these opinions, and that which is supported
by the greatest authorities (being the opinion not only of some of the
principal Geographers of antiquity, but of D'Anville and Rennell among
the moderns), it is supposed, that the Niger has an inland termination
somewhere in the eastern part of Africa, probably in Wangara or Ghana:
and that it is partly discharged into inland lakes, which have no
communication with the sea, and partly spread over a wide extent of level
country, and lost in sands or evaporated by the heat of the sun.

[Footnote: Proceedings of the African Association, vol. i. p. 535.]

The principal ground of this supposition is, the opinion of some of the
best informed writers of antiquity on the geography of Africa, and a sort
of general persuasion prevalent among the ancients to the same effect;
circumstances, it must be acknowledged, of considerable weight in
determining this question: since there is good reason to believe, that
the knowledge of the ancients concerning the interior of Africa was much
more extensive and accurate than that of the moderns. It is justly
observed by Dr. Robertson, that the geographical discoveries of the
ancients were made chiefly by land, those of the moderns by sea; the
progress of conquest having led to the former, that of commerce to the
latter. (Hist. Of America, vol. ii. p. 3l6, 8vo.) Besides which, there
are several distinct and peculiar causes which have essentially
contributed to our present ignorance respecting the interior of Africa;
namely, the great prevalence of the slave trade, which has confined the
attention of European adventurers exclusively to the coast; the small
temptation which the continent of Africa held out, during the continuance
of that trade, to internal commerce; and the almost impenetrable barrier
raised up against Europeans in modern times, by the savage intolerance of
the Moors.

The ancient opinion, respecting the termination of the Niger which has
just been alluded to, receives a certain degree of confirmation from the
best and most authentic accounts concerning that part of Africa, in which
the Niger is supposed to disappear. This is represented by various
concurrent testimonies to be a great tract of alluvial country, having
several permanent lakes, and being annually overflowed for three months
during the rainy season.

Against the hypothesis of an inland termination of the Niger, several
objections have been urged, which are well deserving of attention. They
are principally founded on a consideration of the vast magnitude which
the Niger must have attained after a course of more than 1600
geographical miles, and the difficulty of conceiving so prodigious a
stream to be discharged into lakes, and evaporated even by an African
sun. To account for such a phenomenon, a great inland sea, bearing some
resemblance to the Caspian or the Aral, appears to be necessary. But,
besides that the existence of so vast a body of water without any outlet
into the ocean, is in itself an improbable circumstance, and not to be
lightly admitted; such a sea, if it really existed, could hardly have
remained a secret to the ancients, and entirely unknown at the present

It may just be observed, that D'Anville, following Ptolemy and other
writers whom he considers as the best informed on the internal geography
of Africa, is satisfied that there are _two_ considerable rivers,
the Niger and the _Gir_; both of which are said to terminate in the
same quarter of Africa, and precisely in the same manner. The Gir,
totally unknown at the present day, is familiarly mentioned by Claudian,
who, however, it may be recollected, was a native of Africa:--

'_Gir_, ditissimus amnis
'Aethiopum, simili mentitus gurgite Nilum.'
Carm. 21. v. 252.

In some MSS. it is _notissimus_ amnis; but the other reading is more

'Domitorque ferarum
'Girrhaeus, qui vasta colit sub rupibus antra,
'Qui ramos ebeni, qui dentes vellit eburnos.'
Carm. 47. v. 20.

II. The second opinion respecting the Niger is, that it terminates in the
Nile. In other words, this hypothesis identifies the Niger with the great
western branch of the Nile, called the _White River_, which
D'Anville traces from a source very far SS.W. to its junction with the
Nile near Sennaar. He likewise accurately distinguishes this stream from
the eastern branch, which is much shorter and of inferior magnitude, and
which takes its rise in the mountains of Abyssinia. This opinion is
maintained by Mr. Horneman, Mr. Grey Jackson, and several other modern
travellers; and it is slightly sanctioned by Strabo and Pliny, who speak
of the sources of the Nile as being reported by some to be in the farther
parts of Mauritania. But it may be affirmed with great confidence, that
of all the hypotheses respecting the termination of the Niger, that which
supposes it to be a branch of the Nile, is the most unfounded, and the
least consistent with acknowledged facts. It is indeed rather a loose
popular conjecture, than an opinion deduced from probable reasoning;
since nothing appears to be alleged in its support, except the mere
circumstance of the course of the river being in a direction towards the
Nile; and a few vague notions of some of the African natives with regard
to this subject, which are unworthy of the smallest attention.

Mr. Jackson, indeed, in his Travels (p. 310), states it to be a fact
universally known among the rich African traders, that the Niger and the
Nile are one and the same river, by means of which there is a practicable
communication between Tombuctoo and Grand Cairo. Between these two cities
caravans are continually passing, and a large trade is carried on; but
Mr. Jackson observes, that the expense of land-carriage by means of
camels is more moderate than that by water, and that the journey also is
more agreeable! He gives an account of the voyage to Cairo down the
Niger, having actually been performed in the year 1780 by a party of
seventeen negroes, the particulars of which expedition, he says that he
received from 'a very intelligent man who has an establishment at
Tombuctoo.' These negroes proceeded down the Niger from Jinnie, on a
commercial speculation, and reached Cairo after a voyage of fourteen
months. They returned by the caravan, and arrived at Jinnie, after an
absence of more than three years. Some of the facts which they reported
are not a little extraordinary:--_viz_. that in several places they
found the Nile so shallow, in consequence of channels cut for irrigating
the lands, that they could not proceed in their boat, and were obliged to
transport it some distance over-land; that they saw between Tombuctoo and
Cairo _twelve hundred_ cities and towns, adorned with mosques and
towers, &c. It is needless to comment upon such _hearsay_
statements, received from an African traveller or merchant more than
twenty years after the transaction is said to have happened; nor would
any allusion have been made to them in this place, if Mr. Jackson's book
had not been much commended by distinguished critics, and quoted as an
authority respecting the interior of Africa by several geographical

[Footnote: Edinburgh Review, vol. xiv. p. 306.]

The principal, and apparently decisive, objection against this supposed
junction of the Niger and the Nile, is grounded upon a comparison of the
great _difference of level_ between the beds of the two rivers. From
the authentic information we possess by means of Mr. Browne, respecting
the countries west of the Nile, it is now clear, that if this junction
takes place at all, it must be in the upper part of the Nile, before that
river has quitted the higher regions of Africa, from whence it has still
1000 geographical miles to run before it reaches the sea, passing in its
way through several cataracts. But it is utterly incredible that the
Niger, which, in order to reach this part of the Nile, must have run at
the least 2300 miles, should not in so long a course have descended to a
level considerably lower than that which is here described. This
objection is urged with great force by Major Rennell, who justly
considers it as being entirely decisive of the question; but he has added
several other arguments, which those who take an interest in this
question, will do well to consult.

[Footnote: Proceedings of the African Association, vol. i. p. 537; and
vol. ii. p. 268, 280.]

III. The supposition, mentioned in the text (p. lxviii), that the Niger
terminates in the River Congo, or, as it is sometimes called, the Zaire,
is entirely a recent conjecture, adopted by Park in consequence of the
information and suggestions of Mr. Maxwell, an experienced African
trader, who appears from his letters to have been a man of observation
and intelligence. The principal arguments in support of the opinion are
shortly and clearly given in the memoir addressed by Park to Lord Camden;
but the subject will receive additional elucidation from Mr. Maxwell's
own statement, and especially from his striking description of the river
Congo, the vast magnitude of which is little known, and has not
sufficiently attracted the attention of geographical writers. The
following passage is extracted from a letter, dated Prior's Lynn, near
Longtown, July 20, 1804, addressed by Mr. Maxwell to William Keir, of
Milnholm, Esq., a friend of Park, to whom the letter was communicated by
Mr. Maxwell's desire.

"Before ever the Niger came to be the topic of conversation, it struck
me, that the Congo drew its source far to the northward, from the floods
commencing long before any rains take place south of the equator; since
it begins to swell perceptibly about the latter end of October, and no
heavy rains set in before December: and about the end of January the
river must be supposed at its highest. At no time, however, can the rains
to the southward of the Line be compared with those in the Bight of
Guinea, where ships are obliged to have a house erected over them during
these months.

"But, whether the Congo be the outlet of the Niger or not, it certainly
offers the best opening for exploring the interior of Africa of any
scheme that has ever yet been attempted; and the ease and safety with
which it might be conducted, needs no comment. However, if the Niger
_has_ a sensible outlet, I have no doubt of its proving the Congo,
knowing all the rivers between Cape Palmas and Cape Lopes to be
inadequate to the purpose; nor need the immense course of such a river
surprise us, when we know that the river St. Lawrence, contemptible in
size when compared with the Congo, encompasses the whole of North
America, issuing through a chain of lakes. But instead of seven or eight
lakes, the Congo may be supposed to pass through seventeen or eighteen;
which will solve any difficulty as to the floods of the Niger not
immediately affecting the Congo. I believe that our information of the
Niger losing itself in the Desert rests wholly upon the authority of the
Romans, a people whose pursuits never led them to trace the course of
rivers with a view to traffic or civilization. If we may credit the
accounts of travellers in crossing the deserts, we find that, where-ever
they get water for refreshment, there are invariably verdure and palm
trees; and these spots in the desert of Lybia were termed by the ancients
Oases, or Islands. Now, if such small springs could produce such
permanent effects, we may reasonably suppose, that the immense stream of
the Niger increased to three times the size from where Mr. Park left it,
would long before this have made the desert as green as any water meadow
and found its way gradually to the ocean, or inundated the whole

"I can with much truth say this of the river Congo, that by comparing it
with other rivers, according to the best writers, it must rank as the
third or fourth in magnitude. Considering the force of the current it
produces in the sea, carrying out floating islands sixty or seventy
leagues from the coast, the Amazon or Plata only can cope with it. Many
traders, whom I met with at Embomma, (a settlement on the banks of the
Congo distant thirty leagues from its mouth,) had come one month's
journey down the river, which, reckoned at twenty miles each day (and
they count them by the moon, _Gonda_), would make six hundred miles;
and they spoke of it as equally large where they came from, and that it
went by the name of _Enzaddi_, as it does among all the natives upon
the coast. Should the shallow water, as laid down opposite Saenda,
detract from the assumed size of the Congo, let it be remembered, that
the river there is spread out ten miles in width, the middle channel of
which has never been accurately sounded. It has long been my opinion that
Leyland's or Molyneux Island at Embomma (either of which might be
rendered as impregnable as Gibraltar at a very small expense) would be a
choice station for establishing an extensive commerce with the interior
of Africa. Indeed, if the idea of the Congo being the outlet of the Niger
prove so upon trial, we may consider it as an opening designed by
providence for exploring those vast regions, and civilizing the rude

[Footnote: A chart of the Congo by Mr. Maxwell was published many years
since by Laurie and Whittle, Fleet street.]

Besides this account given by Mr. Maxwell, there are other testimonies to
the magnitude of the Congo, shewing it to be a river of the first class,
and larger probably than the Nile. In a journal (which the editor has
seen) of an intelligent and respectable naval officer, Captain Scobell,
who visited the coast of Africa in the year 1813, in H.M. sloop of war
the Thais, the Congo is described as "an immense river from which issues
a continued stream at the rate of four or five knots in the dry, and six
or seven in the rainy season." In a subsequent passage he says, "In
crossing this stream, I met several floating islands, or broken masses
from the banks of that noble river, which, with the trees still erect,
and the whole wafting to the motion of the sea, rushed far into the
ocean, and formed a novel prospect even to persons accustomed to the
phenomena of the waters." He adds, that there are soundings to the
distance of from thirty or forty miles from the coast, arising probably
from the vast quantity of alluvial matter brought down by the force of
the stream.

Other accounts state, that the waters of the Congo may be distinguished
at sea more than thirty leagues from the coast, and that the water is
fresh at the distance of thirty miles.

[Footnote: Lopez, Merulla, and Dapper, referred to in Phillips's Voyages,
vol. iii. p. 236.]

These, perhaps, are exaggerations; but they may be received, in
confirmation of the preceding testimonies, as sufficient proofs of a
general opinion among navigators with regard to the size and force of
this prodigious river. It is mentioned by Major Rennell in his very
interesting account of the Ganges, that the sea in the bay of Bengal
ceases to be affected by the waters of that river, and recovers its
transparency, only at the distance of about twenty leagues from the
coast. (Phil. Transactions, vol. lxxi.) But the Ganges being obstructed
by its Delta, and passing through eight channels into the sea, is
probably much less rapid and impetuous than the Congo.

To this it must be added, that all the accounts concur in representing,
that the stream of the Congo is of a more uniform height, and subject to
much less variation from the dry and rainy seasons, than any tropical
river which is known; and that on a comparison with such rivers, it may
be considered to be _in a perpetual state of flood_. The average
rising of the Ganges in the rainy season is stated by Major Rennell to be
31 feet, being about the same with that of the Nile; whereas, the
difference between the highest point of the Congo about February, and the
lowest in September, is only about nine feet; and the river, at the
latter period, has all the appearance to a stranger of being in full

[Footnote: MS. Letter of Mr. Maxwell to Mr. Park, Oct. 12, 1804.]

It is this remarkable peculiarity, which distinguishes the Congo from
other great rivers of a similar description, and which leads to important
conclusions with regard to its origin and course.

In support, then, of the hypothesis which identifies the Congo with the
Niger, the following arguments, deduced from the preceding facts and
observations, may be alleged:--1. The great magnitude of the Congo. 2.
The probability that this river is derived from very remote sources,
perhaps considerably north of the equator. 3. The fact, that there exists
a great river north of the equator, (the Niger,) of which the termination
is unknown, and which may, perhaps, form the principal branch of the
Congo. These, in truth, are the only grounds upon which the present
supposition can be fairly said to rest. Arguments founded upon
etymological conjectures, supposed resemblances of names, or affinity of
languages, &c. &c., are, for the most part, too arbitrary and fanciful,
and liable to too much uncertainty to be entitled to any place in
disquisitions of this nature. The same remark is applicable to the
narratives and descriptions given by native travellers and merchants,
and, in general, to all _African evidence_ whatever, except when
supported by collateral proof from other less exceptionable sources.

Such being the evidence in favour of the hypothesis respecting the Congo,
the objections against this theory must be admitted to be weighty and
formidable. The principal of these are, 1. That it supposes the course of
the Niger to lie through the vast chain of the _Kong_ Mountains
(anciently _Montes Lunae_), the great central belt of Africa. Of the
existence of these mountains there appears to be no doubt; and from their
situation in the midst of a great continent, they may reasonably be
supposed to be of vast size and extent; in which case it is difficult to
understand, how the Niger could penetrate this barrier, and force a
passage southwards. 2. The course of the Niger, estimated from its source
in the mountains of Senegal (supposing it to be the same river with the
Congo, and to flow by Wangara and Cashna through the centre of Africa
into the Atlantic), would be considerably more than 4000 miles. But the
course of the Amazon, the greatest river in the old or new world with
which we are acquainted, is only about 3500 miles; and, although the
existence of a river considerably greater than any yet known, may be
within the limits of physical possibility; yet, so improbable a
supposition ought not to be adopted upon slight or conjectural reasoning,
or upon any thing much short of distinct and positive proof. To give such
a vast extension to the Congo upon the grounds stated by Mr. Maxwell,
might justly be considered as one of those exaggerations, to which,
according to a remark of D'Anville, geographical writers upon Africa have
always been remarkably prone, 'en abusant, pour ainsi dire, du vaste
carriere que l'interieur de l'Afrique y laissoit prendre.' (Mem. de
l'Academie des Inscriptions, Tom. xxvi p. 61.)

[Footnote: The following scale (taken from Major Rennell's Memoir of a
Map of Hindostan, p. 337,) shewing the _proportional length_ of some
of the most considerable rivers already known, may be useful to the
reader on the present occasion.

Thames 1
Rhine 5-1/4
Danube 7
Wolga 9-1/2

Indus 6-3/4
Euphrates 8-1/2
Ganges 9-1/2
Burrampooter 9-1/2
Ava 9-1/2
Jennisca 10

Oby 10-1/2
Amoor 11
Lena 11-1/2
Hoanho (China) 13-1/2
Kian Keu 15-1/2

Nile l2-1/2

Mississipi 8
Amazon 15-3/4

It must be observed, however, that the _magnitude_ of a river
depends much less upon the length of its course than upon the number of
auxiliary streams which fall into it. It is this latter circumstance,
which occasions the vast size of the Ganges, compared, for example, with
the Nile; although the course of the latter is so much longer. Rivers not
fed by auxiliary streams, may even become _smaller_ in consequence
of the length of their course. The editor is indebted for these
observations to Major Rennell.]

Before the editor finally dismisses the subject of the Congo, he may be
allowed to express a hope that this distinguished river, which hitherto
has been only known as one of the greatest marts of the Slave Trade, may
at length be rendered conducive to objects of civilization and science;
and that some use will now be made of this great inlet into Africa, for
the purpose of exploring a part of that continent which as yet is
entirely unknown; or, at least, of obtaining more complete and authentic
information relative to the Congo itself, which must unquestionably be
considered as a very curious and interesting subject of enquiry. Such an
enterprise, according to the opinion of Mr. Maxwell, would not be
attended with much difficulty. In a letter to Mr. Park, dated Oct. 12,
1804, alluding to the subject of the Congo, he speaks of an intention
which he had formed some time prior to Park's discoveries, of exploring
that river. His scheme was to carry out with him from England six
supernumerary boats, well adapted for rowing and sailing; each being of
such a size as to be easily carried by thirty people, and transported
across several cataracts, with which the course of the river is known to
be impeded. On his arrival at the coast, he meant to hire about thirty or
forty black rowers, and to sail up the Congo with proper arms,
provisions, and merchandize, in the month of May (the dry season south of
the equator) calculating upon an absence from the coast of about ten
weeks. Mr. Maxwell considered this scheme as perfectly practicable, and
likely to be attended with no very great expense; but he was prevented
from executing his intention by the war of 1793, which made it
inconvenient and unsafe for him to encumber the deck of his vessel with
supernumerary boats.

IV. The fourth and last opinion respecting the termination of the Niger,
is that of a German geographer, M. Reichard, which was published in the
'Ephemerides Geographiques,' at Weimar, in August, 1808, and is referred
to in a respectable French work, entitled, 'Precis de la Geographie
Universelle, par M. Malte-brun.' The fourth volume of this work, which
appeared at Paris in the year 1813, (p. 635) represents M. Reichard's
hypothesis to be, that the Niger, after reaching Wangara, takes a
direction towards the south, and being joined by other rivers from that
part of Africa, makes a great turn from thence towards the south-west,
and pursues its course till it approaches the north eastern extremity of
the gulph of Guinea, when it divides and discharges itself by different
channels into the Atlantic; after having formed a great Delta, of which
the Rio del Rey constitutes the eastern, and the Rio Formoso, or Benin
River, the western branch.

Without entering into the details of M. Reichard's reasoning in support
of this hypothesis, which is often somewhat hazardous and uncertain, it
may be sufficient for the present purpose to observe, that his principal
argument is founded on a consideration of the peculiar character
belonging to the tract of country situated between the two rivers, which
consists of a vast tract of low, level land, projecting considerably into
the sea, and intersected by an infinity of small branches from the
principal rivers. In these and other respects, it appears to bear a
considerable resemblance, according to the best descriptions of that
coast which we possess, to the Deltas at the mouths of the Nile, the
Ganges, and such other great rivers, as by depositing large quantities of
alluvial matter previous to their discharge into the sea, form gradual
additions to the coast. For it may be proper in this place to remark,
that the formation of Deltas, even by rivers of the first magnitude, is
by no means universal; some of the greatest that are known being without
them. Of this the Amazon, Plata, and Oronoko are mentioned by Major
Rennell as distinguished instances; to which may now be added, the Congo.
The difference appears to be owing to the depth of the sea at the mouth
of the rivers, and perhaps to other circumstances, which are not quite

[Footnote: See Reunell's Geogr. System of Herodotus, 4to. p. 483.]

Both of the two rivers, enclosing the great alluvial tract which has been
described (the Rio del Rey and the Formoso), are stated to be of
considerable size, being each of them seven or eight miles broad at the
mouth; and the supposed Delta, estimated by the line of coast, is much
larger than that of the Ganges: consequently, the two streams, if united,
must form a river of prodigious magnitude. But neither of the rivers has
ever yet been explored; nor has the interior of the country, to any
distance from the coast, been accurately described by any European
traveller. Hence, the question whether the two rivers are ever really
united, and whether the tract in question is a complete Delta or not,
still remains to be ascertained. With regard also to the course, or even
the existence, of the great river to which this Delta is said to belong,
and which M. Reichard supposes to come from the northeast of Africa,
there is no tradition nor any vestige among travellers or geographical
writers; the whole is purely conjectural. But the supposition, so far at
least as relates to the alluvial origin of the tract in question and the
junction of the two rivers, has great appearance of probability.

On comparing Mr. Maxwell's hypothesis respecting the Niger with that of
M. Reichard, which we are now considering, the latter may be said to have
gained something in point of probability, by diminishing the distance
which the Niger has to flow in order to reach the Atlantic. But the
length of its course, even when thus reduced, is still a considerable
difficulty, and a great incumbrance on the hypothesis. The objection
arising from the Niger's being conceived to penetrate the Kong Mountains,
seems to be nearly of equal weight in both cases, on the supposition that
this vast chain of mountains is of the extent generally imagined; which
there appears to be no reason to doubt.

It may be mentioned as an objection to both of these hypotheses, that no
traces whatever of the Mahometan doctrines or institutions are now to be
found on either of the coasts where the Niger is supposed to terminate.
In no part of the world has the spirit of enterprise and proselytism,
which properly belongs to the Mahometan character, been more strikingly
displayed than in the extensive regions of North Africa. Its effects are
every where conspicuous, not only in the religious belief of the greater
part of the inhabitants; but even where Mahometism is not actually
established, in their manners, and customs, and in the predominance of
the Arabic language, which is almost every where grafted upon the native
African dialects. These circumstances, however, are peculiar to North
Africa; nothing of a similar kind having been remarked on the coast of
Guinea, and still less on that of Congo and Angola. Mr. Maxwell also
states in a letter to Mr. Park, that he had made enquiries of a great
number of negroes who had come down the Congo from great distances; but
that he could never hear of any Mahometan priests having visited the
countries on the banks of that river. Supposing the Niger really to flow
through the centre of Africa, and to discharge itself any where into the
Atlantic, it is reasonable to believe that some of the Mahometan
colonists must long since have established themselves on the banks of
that river, and penetrated to the shores of the ocean.


The botanical specimens, mentioned in Park's letter, arrived safe in
England, and were received by Sir Joseph Banks, by whose kind information
the editor is enabled to add the following particulars concerning them.

1. _Fang Jani,_ or self-burning tree. The specimens received under
this name, were branches of a species of _Pandanus,_ which, for want
of the parts of fructification, could not be ascertained. The shoots and
bases of the leaves were black and withered, resembling in appearance
leaves and branches that had been subjected to the action of fire. The
leaves, however, above their bases, were green, although dry. On a closer
examination, those parts which appeared like charcoal, were found to
differ entirely from that substance, as they would not give a black
colour to paper when rubbed upon it. Besides, it was wholly incredible
that the young shoots and bases of the leaves should break out into a
blaze, while the tops of the leaves, far less succulent than the young
shoots, remained quite free from fire, not being even singed in the
smallest degree.

On a more careful examination, the black colour appeared to be occasioned
by a disease in the plant, of the nature of the mildew or rust of corn,
arising from a parasitic fungus, probably of the nature of the
_Puccinia_ of Europe; the species of which could not be ascertained
on account of the advanced state of growth of the specimen. This
explanation accords very ill with the declarations of the negroes, who
affirm, that they have often seen fires in the woods, occasioned by the
spontaneous burning of these shrubs; but it is mentioned in Mr. Park's
letter, 'that _few_ of the natives had seen it actually burning.'

2. _Kino._ The origin of this drug, long ago admitted into the
Pharmacopoeias of Europe, was unknown, till Mr. Park sent a specimen of
the plant from which the negroes collect it, which proves to be a species
of _Pterocarpus_ not yet described by any botanical writer.

3. _Tribo_. As no part of the plant was sent except the root,
nothing can be said concerning its species. It appeared to be a
moderately good dye, but had no marked superiority over those already
known, sufficient to induce Sir Joseph Banks to cause experiments to be
made with it. Indeed, the quantity was not sufficient for any
experiments, except on a very confined scale.


The following particulars, tending to shew the increase which has taken
place in the commerce between Great Britain and Africa since the
Abolition of the Slave Trade, have been communicated to the editor by an
intelligent friend, who has great knowledge and experience in the African
trade, and upon whose accuracy and means of information he has the most
perfect reliance.

It appeared from Custom-house returns, officially laid before Parliament,
that the average annual value of all imports from Africa into Great
Britain for twenty years prior to 1787, fell short of L72,000; and even
this small sum included the imports, not only from the whole Western
coast of Africa between Cape Negro in latitude 16 deg South and the
straits of Gibraltar, but also from some parts bordering on the
Mediterranean. The average annual value of these imports, during the last
five years of that period, viz. 1783, 4, 5, 6 and 7, appears, from the
same official returns, to have been about L90,500. If from this amount be
deducted the value of the articles appearing to have been imported from
Morocco and other adjoining countries, there will be left somewhat less
than L70,000 for the value of all our imports from the Western Coast of
Africa; that is, from the country lying between Cape Blanco, latitude 21
deg north, and Cape Negro, latitude 16 deg south, being an extent of 4500
miles of coast. The average annual exports from Great Britain to the
Western coast of Africa during the same period (exclusive of the exports
connected with the Slave Trade) may be estimated at a sum not materially
exceeding L50,000.

The compiler of the present statement possesses no documents or means of
information, which enable him to shew what was the extent of the commerce
of Great Britain with Africa (unconnected with the Slave Trade) during
the period from 1788 to 1807, the year in which the Slave Trade was
abolished; but there is good reason to believe that it had not materially
increased within that time.

It might be impracticable at present, from the loss of the Custom-house
books, to obtain any authentic account of exports and imports during the
last seven years. But this defect of official information is in some
degree supplied by an authentic statement, made out on a particular
occasion by a Committee of the African Company, from accounts with which
they were furnished from the Custom-house, through the intervention of
Government. The object of the Company in obtaining these accounts was to
procure authentic data relative to some public measure which was in
agitation, connected with the African trade. The following statement was
extracted from the books of the Company.

Imports from Africa into Great Britain.

1808. L374,306
1809. 383,926
1810. 535,577

[Sidenote: exclusive of gold dust, which is not subject to any
custom-house entry]

Exports from Great Britain to Africa.

1808. L820,194
1809. 976,872
1810. 693,911

The great difference between the value of the exports and imports in this
case was accounted for by an experienced officer of the African Company
by supposing that a large proportion (from one third to a half) of the
goods exported, was captured by the enemy. If this be the true
explanation, the account must have been balanced by the exports of gold
dust, and the bills of exchange drawn from the British settlements on the
African coast. Another supposition (and perhaps a more probable one) is
that a considerable part of the exports found their way into the hands of
the contraband slave traders, and was employed in carrying on their
illegal speculations.

But, even if we consider the imports alone, the increase in the commerce
of Africa during the before mentioned period is altogether astonishing;
so much so, as almost to induce a suspicion that there is some fallacy in
the statement, although there does not appear to be any specific ground
for questioning its correctness. For if to the amount of the imports as
above stated, we add the value of the gold dust imported, we shall find
that this additional commerce nearly fills up the chasm occasioned by the
Abolition of the slave trade, extensively as that trade was carried on by
this country.

But considering this statement only as a general proof of a great
increase of the African trade, (without attempting to assign the
proportion of increase) let us take another view of the same subject.

The Gold Coast is about 250 miles in extent, little more than a twentieth
part of the whole coast extending from Cape Blanco to Cape Negro.
Previously to the Abolition of the slave trade, the imports into Great
Britain from this space of coast used to consist of

about 20 tons of ivory valued at --- L7500
and about 1000 ounces of gold dust --- 4000
--- L11500

Since the Abolition of the slave trade the imports from this tract of
coast have greatly increased; and it may be stated upon the undoubted
authority of intelligent persons, perfectly acquainted with the facts,
that the importations have amounted, during the last five or six years,
to the annual value of from L120,000. to L180,000. The annual import of
gold alone is stated to be about 30,000 ounces.

Thus it appears that the importation from the Gold Coast alone, (a space

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