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victims of the climate, or in contests with the natives; [Footnote: The
persons who had been sent out prior to this period, were Mr. Ledyard,
Mr. Lucas, Major Houghton, and Mr. Horneman: subsequently to which,
several others have been employed; viz. Mr. Nichols, Mr. Bourcard, &c.]
and intelligence had lately been received of the death of Major
Houghton, who had been sent out to explore the course of the Niger, and
to penetrate, if possible, to Tombuctoo and Houssa. The Association
appear to have found considerable difficulty in supplying Major
Houghton's place; and had made known their readiness to give a liberal
compensation to any person, competently qualified, who might be willing
to proceed on this important and arduous mission.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* * * * *

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Footnote: The passage here particularly alluded to, is so
extraordinary, and affords such an illustration of the influence under

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