Travels in Africa - Park Denham, Clapperton, Lander, and Others

'At this point the authentic account of Mungo Park's second journey ends. Isaaco's engagement here terminated, and the papers given to him by the traveler, and carried back to the coast, constitute the only records of the expedition which came from Park's own pen. These papers were accompanied by several letters, the most interesting of which is one (dated Sansanding, November 17) addressed to Lord Camden. In this letter Park says - " I am sorry to say, that of forty-four Europeans who left the Gambia in perfect health, five only are at present alive; namely, three soldiers (one deranged in his mind), Lieutenant Martyn, and myself. From this account I am afraid that your lordship will be apt to consider matters as in a very hopeless state; but I assure you I am far from despairing. With the assistance of one of the soldiers, I have changed a large canoe into a tolerably good schooner, on board of which I this day hoisted the British flag, and shall set sail to the east, with a fixed resolution to discover the termination of the Niger, or perish in the attempt. I have heard nothing that I can depend on respecting the remote course of this mighty stream, but I am more and more inclined to think that it can end nowhere but in the sea. My dear friend Mr. Anderson, and likewise Mr. Scott, are both dead; but though all the Europeans who are with me should die,, and though I myself were half dead, I would still persevere, and if I could not succeed in the object of my journey, I would at last die on the Niger." '

These were the last words which Park sent to Europe; the next intelligence was a vague rumor of his death. For five years, however, no authentic information of the event was received; but from the exertions of Isaaco, Park's former guide, who was induced in 1810 to make a journey with a view to ascertain the traveler's fate, it appeared that his prophetic words had been accomplished, and that he had died on the Niger.' Isaaco obtained the particulars from Amadi Fatouma, who acted as guide to the party onward from Sansanding. They were as follows: - Passing Jeuné and Timbuctoo in safety, the little schooner, with Park and his surviving companions (eight in number) on board, reached Yaour, in the kingdom of Houssa. Not willing to delay his progress by landing, Park sent Amadi Fatouma, whose engagement as guide terminated here, on shore with presents to the king. These presents being treacherously appropriated by the inferior chief to whom Amadi delivered them, the king of Houssa, thinking his dignity insulted, sent an army after the schooner. The army came upon the schooner at a part of the river called Boussa. ' There is before Boussa a rock extending across the river, with only one opening in it, in the form of a door, for the water to pass through. The king's men took possession of the top of this rock, until Park came up to it and attempted to pass. The natives attacked him and his friends with lances, pikes, arrows, and other missiles. Park defended himself vigorously for a long time; but at last, after throwing everything in the canoe overboard, being overpowered by numbers, and seeing no chance of getting the canoe past, he took hold of one of the white men and jumped into the river; Martyn did the same; and the whole were drowned in their attempt to escape by swimming. One black remained in the canoe, the other two being killed, and he cried for mercy. The canoe fell into the hands of the natives. Amadi Fatouma, on being freed from his irons three months afterwards, ascertained these facts from the native who had survived the catastrophe.'

From 1805 to 1822, various attempts were made to penetrate after Park into the heart of Nigritia. In 1809 Roentger, a German, proceeded from Morocco with a view to cross the Great Desert, but he seems to have been murdered by his guides. Shortly after, some information was obtained from two Americans, Adams and Riley, who were wrecked off the coast of the Great Desert, and carried into the interior by the Arabs. Adams alleged that he had been carried as far as Timbuctoo, but little credit was attached to his statement. The famous Burckhardt was to attempt a journey into the interior from Egypt, but died before carrying his resolution into effect. In 1816 the British government, possessed with the idea, which we have seen that Park himself came latterly to entertain, that the Congo was the outlet of the Niger, fitted out two expeditions, one of which, under Captain Tuckey, was to ascend the Congo in vessels; the other, under Major Peddie, was to penetrate the interior by Park's route, and, embarking on the Niger, to sail down it so as to meet Captain Tuckey, which would of course happen if the Niger and Congo were identical. Both parties were brought to a halt the expedition up the Congo by cataracts, which prevented further navigation, and the land expedition by the hostility of the natives; and the only result of consequence was to explode the hypothesis that the Niger and the Congo were the same.