Lander's Travels eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 1,054 pages of information about Lander's Travels.
for vessels to descend.  When Park arrived, he found the passage thus obstructed, but attempted nevertheless to push his way through.  The people began to attack him, throwing lances, pikes, arrows, and stones.  He defended himself for a long time, when two of his slaves at the stern of the canoe were killed.  The crew threw every thing they had into the river, and kept firing; but being overpowered by numbers and fatigue, unable to keep up the canoe against the current, and seeing no probability of escaping, Mr. Park took hold of one of the white men, and jumped into the water.  Martyn did the same, and they were all drowned in the stream in attempting to escape.  The only slave that remained in the boat, seeing the natives persist in throwing weapons into it without ceasing, stood up and said to them, “Stop throwing now; you see nothing in the canoe, and nobody but myself; therefore cease.  Take me and the canoe; but don’t kill me.”  They took possession of both, and carried them to the king.

These sad tidings, conveyed in course to England, were not for a long time received with general belief.  The statement, being sifted with care, was thought to contain inconsistencies, as well as such a degree of improbability as left some room for hope; but year after year elapsed, and this hope died away.  Denham and Clapperton received accounts from various quarters, which very nearly coincided with those of Amadi Fatouma.  Clapperton, in his last journey, even saw the spot where he perished, which, allowing for some exaggeration, did not ill correspond with the description just given; and further, he received notice that Park’s manuscripts were in the possession of the king of Yaour, or Youri, who offered to deliver them up, on condition that the captain would pay him a visit, which he, unfortunately, was never able to perform.


The fate of Park, notwithstanding the deep regret which it excited in England and in Europe, presented nothing which could destroy the hope of future success.  The chief cause of failure could be easily traced to the precipitation into which he had been betrayed by a too ardent enthusiasm.  Nothing had ever been discovered adverse to the hypothesis that identified the Niger with the Congo, which still retained a strong hold on the public mind.  The views of government and of the nation on this subject were entirely in unison.  It was therefore determined, that an expedition on a grand scale should be fitted out, divided into two portions; one to descend the Niger, and the other to ascend the Congo; which two parties, it was fondly hoped, would effect a triumphant meeting in the middle of the great stream that they were sent to explore.  The public loudly applauded this resolution; and never perhaps did an armament, expected to achieve the most splendid victories, excite deeper interest than this, which seemed destined to triumph over the darkness that had so long enveloped the vast interior of Africa.

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Lander's Travels from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.