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October_, 1804.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Articles necessary for equipping the asses.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"(Signed) MUNGO PARK."

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

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

* * * * *

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

_Downing-street, 2d January, 1805._


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"You are hereby empowered to draw for any sum that you may be in want
of, not exceeding £5000. upon the Lords of His Majesty's Treasury, or
upon such mercantile banking-house in London as you may fix upon.

"I am, &c.


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

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

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Online LibraryMungo ParkThe Journal of a Mission to the Interior of Africa, in the Year 1805 → online text (page 4 of 21)