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The Journal of a Mission to the Interior of Africa, in the Year 1805   By: (1771-1806)

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Together with Other Documents, Official And Private,

Relating To The Same Mission, to Which Is Prefixed

an Account of the Life off Mr. Park.



Edited and Commentary by John Whishaw

The original documents relating to Mr. Mungo Park's last mission into Africa having been entrusted to the Directors of the African Institution by the Secretary of State for the Colonial Department, with liberty to publish them, in case they should deem it expedient; the Directors now avail themselves of this permission, by publishing the papers for the benefit of Mr. Park's family.

These documents, together with other papers furnished by Mr. Park's connections and friends, which also form a part of the present publication, consist of the following particulars:

1. The original Journal of the expedition, officially transmitted by Mr. Park to the Secretary of State; containing several of Mr. Park's drawings and sketches, illustrative of particular descriptions, which are copied in this publication.

2. The Journal, as translated from the Arabic language, in which it was originally composed, of Isaaco, a native African, commissioned in the year 1810, by the Governor of Senegal, to go in search of Mr. Park and ascertain his fate; which Journal was likewise officially transmitted to the Secretary of State.

3. A Memoir delivered by Mr. Park at the Colonial Office in the year 1804, relative to the plan and objects of the intended expedition into Africa; together with the Official Instructions which he received for his guidance; and two letters addressed by him to the Secretary of State, one, written shortly after his arrival at the Coast of Africa, and the other, at the time of transmitting his Journal, previously to his final embarkation on the Niger.

4. Several private letters of Mr. Park, principally written during the time he was engaged in this mission; which, together with the documents included under the last mentioned head, have been incorporated into the Account of Mr. Park's Life, which is prefixed to the Journal.

It has before been stated, that the official papers are published under the authority of the Directors of the African Institution. It may be proper to add, that the individual, who has undertaken to prepare this work for the press, is alone responsible for the publication of the private letters, and for whatever else is contained in this volume, besides the official documents.

Of the papers before enumerated, the most important, and the only one which calls for any particular observation, is Mr. Park's own Journal; respecting which, it may be necessary to apprize the reader that it was written without the slightest view to publication, being intended only (as he informed the Secretary of State, by his letter of the 17th of November, 1805) "to recall to his own recollection other particulars illustrative of the manners and customs of the natives, which would have swelled the communication to a most unreasonable size." The work, therefore, which is now submitted to the public, can be considered in no other light than as the mere outline of a much more extended and detailed narrative, which it was the author's intention to prepare for the press after his return to England.

A work, thus imperfect, and which the unfortunate fate of its author has prevented from being brought to a completion, is entitled to peculiar indulgence; and if those allowances are made, which candour and justice require, the editor confidently hopes, that Mr. Park's Journal will not disappoint the public expectation. It will be found to contain several interesting particulars concerning Africa, not hitherto known, and to illustrate and confirm, in various material respects, some of the most important discoveries communicated in Mr. Park's former Travels. It bears strong internal marks of truth and fidelity; and, perhaps, the very nakedness and simplicity of its descriptions and its minute details of petty circumstances, may be thought by some readers to convey a more accurate and distinct conception of the process of an African journey, and of the difficulties with which such expeditions are attended, than a more elaborate and polished narrative... Continue reading book >>

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