Narrative of a Mission to Central Africa Performed in the Years 1850-51, Volume 1 eBook

James Richardson (explorer of the Sahara)
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 295 pages of information about Narrative of a Mission to Central Africa Performed in the Years 1850-51, Volume 1.

It must here be mentioned that, associated with me in this expedition, were two Prussian gentlemen, Drs. Barth and Overweg, who had volunteered to accompany me in my expedition in the character of scientific observers.

The political and commercial nature of my Mission by no means excluded such auxiliaries.  It was desirable that every advantage should be taken of this opportunity to explore Central Africa in every point of view; and when the proposition came to me under the sanction of Chevalier Bunsen, and received the approval of her Majesty’s Government, I could not but be delighted.  It was arranged that these gentlemen should travel at the expense and under the protection of Great Britain, and that their reports should be duly forwarded to the Foreign Office.

Drs. Barth and Overweg, with European impetuosity, eager at once to grapple with adventure and research, had pushed on whilst I waited for final instructions from Lord Palmerston.  They had arrived at Tripoli about twelve days before me, and, as I afterwards learned, had usefully and pleasantly occupied their time in excursions to the neighbouring mountains, which I had previously visited and examined on my way to Ghadamez.

We learned on landing, that a good deal of the anxiety I had felt on account of my slow progress from England had been thrown away.  Our arms, instruments, and stores, had not yet arrived from Malta.  However, they were promised for an early date, and the hospitable reception afforded us by Mr. Consul-general Crowe, as well as the knowledge that a vast number of small details of preparation could be immediately commenced, contributed to console us.

Among the things expected, and which arrived in due time, was a boat built by order of the Government in Malta dockyard.  It was sent in two sides, and I wished to carry it in that state.  But this proved impossible, and just before starting we were compelled to saw each side into two pieces, which were to be carried slung in nets upon a couple of powerful camels.  This boat was expressly intended for the navigation of Lake Tchad.[1]

  [1] It has since been launched under the British flag, and has
      proved useful in the examination of the shores of the great
      lake of Central Africa.—­Editor.

It was universally admired at Tripoli; and, as it will be useless to bring it back, will form a most acceptable present for the Sultan of Bornou.  I cannot omit to notice, in passing, the courtesy and attention of the authorities of Malta with whom I have been in communication; they have all done their best to forward the objects of the Mission.

A good deal of the delay that took place at Tripoli arose from causes over which it was impossible to exert any control, and principally from the bad weather, which cut off all communication with Malta.  We used to go about relating the anecdote of Charles V. illustrative of the inhospitable seasons of this coast.  “Which are the best ports of Barbary?” inquired the Emperor of the famous Admiral Dorea.  “The months of June, July, and August,” was the reply.

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Narrative of a Mission to Central Africa Performed in the Years 1850-51, Volume 1 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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