Lander's Travels eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 909 pages of information about Lander's Travels.

Mr. Park had some difficulty in reaching home.  He was obliged to embark on the 15th June, in a vessel bound to America, and was afterwards driven by stress of weather, into the island of Antigua, whence he sailed on the 24th November, and on the 22nd December landed at Falmouth.  He arrived in London before dawn on the morning of Christmas day, and in the garden of the British Museum accidentally met his brother-in-law, Mr. Dickson.  Two years having elapsed since any tidings had reached England, he had been given up for lost, so that his friends and the public were equally astonished and delighted by his appearance.  The report of his unexpected return, after making such splendid discoveries, kindled throughout the nation a higher enthusiasm than had perhaps been excited by the result of any former mission of the same nature.  The Niger had been seen flowing eastward, into the interior of Africa, and hence a still deeper interest and mystery were suspended over the future course and termination of this great central stream.  Kingdoms had been discovered, more flourishing and more populous than any formerly known on that continent; but other kingdoms, still greater and wealthier, were reported to exist in regions, which Mr. Park had vainly attempted to reach.  The lustre of his achievements had diffused among the public in general an ardour for discovery, which was formerly confined to a few enlightened individuals; it was, however, evident that the efforts of no private association could penetrate the depths of this vast continent, and overcome the obstacles presented by its distance, its deserts, and its barbarism.

CHAPTER IX.

It was now thought advisable to trace, without interruption the interesting career of Mr. Park, from its commencement to its close.  The enthusiasm for discovery was, however, not confined solely to England; for the return of Park had no sooner reached Germany, than Frederick Horneman, a student of the university of Gottingen, communicated to Blumenbach, the celebrated professor of natural history, his ardent desire to explore the interior of Africa under the auspices of the British African Association.  The professor transmitted to the association a strong recommendation of Horneman, as a young man, active, athletic, temperate, knowing sickness only by name, and of respectable literary and scientific attainments.  Sir Joseph Banks immediately wrote, “If Mr. Horneman be really the character you describe, he is the very person whom we are in search of.”

On receiving this encouragement, Horneman immediately applied his mind to the study of natural history and the Arabic language, and in other respects sought to capacitate himself for supporting the character of an Arab or a Mahometan, under which he flattered himself that he should escape the effects of that ferocious bigotry, which had opposed so fatal a bar to the progress of his predecessors.

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