Lander's Travels eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 1,054 pages of information about Lander's Travels.
made great advances to a knowledge of that interior before unexplored.  The design of examining on land Africa, to find out the manners, habits, and institutions of its men, the state of the country, its commercial capabilities in themselves, and relative to this country, formed the African Association.  From the liberal sentiments, knowledge, and comprehensive views of that society, were the courage and enterprise of adventurers stimulated to particular undertakings of discovery.


We are now arrived at the period when England, aroused by the commercial advantages, which Portugal was deriving from her African possessions, determined, in defiance of the pope of Rome and “the Lords of Guinea,” to participate in the treasures, and to form her own settlements on the African coast, although it must be admitted, that one of the motives by which the English merchants were actuated, was not founded on humanity or patriotism.  The glorious and splendid results, which had arisen from the discovery of the East and West Indies, caused the ocean to be generally viewed as the grand theatre where wealth and glory were to be gained.  The cultivation of the West India Islands by the labour of Europeans, was found to be a task almost impracticable, and the attention was thence drawn to discover a source, from which manual labour could be obtained, adapted to the climate, and this resource was soon found in the black population of Africa.  It is not to be doubted, that many of our African settlements were formed for the purpose of procuring a supply of slaves, for the West India possessions, at the same time, the attention of others was excited by a far more innocent and brilliant prospect.  It was in the beginning of the seventeenth century, that an unbounded spirit of enterprise appears to have been excited amongst the British merchants, by vague reports of an Africa El Dorado.  The most flattering reports had reached Europe, of the magnitude of the gold trade carried on at Timbuctoo, and along the course of the Niger; despatches were even received from Morocco, representing its treasures, as surpassing those of Mexico and Peru, and in 1618, a company was formed in London, for the express purpose of penetrating to the country of gold, and to Timbuctoo.  Exaggeration stepped in to inflame the minds of the speculators, with the enormous wealth which awaited them in the interior of Africa.  The roofs of the houses were represented to be covered with plates of gold, that the bottoms of the rivers glistened with the precious metal, and the mountains had only to be excavated, to yield a profusion of the metallic treasure.  From the northern part of Africa, impediments of almost an insuperable nature presented themselves, to the attainment of these great advantages; immense deserts, as yet unexplored by human foot, and the knowledge of the existence of tribes of barbarous people on the borders of them, were in themselves sufficient to daunt the spirit of adventure in those quarters, and ultimately drew the attention to the discovery of another channel, by which the golden treasures of Timbuctoo could be reached, without encountering the appalling dangers of the deserts, or the murderous intentions of the natives.

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Lander's Travels from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.