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Narrative of a Mission to Central Africa Performed in the Years 1850-51, Volume 1 Under the Orders and at the Expense of Her Majesty's Government   By: (1806-1851)

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[Transcriber's note: This text contains characters with macrons and breve accents. For this Latin 1 version, they have been transcribed using [=x] for characters with macrons, and [)x] for breve accents, where x is the accented character.

Some inconsistencies in the dates have been corrected in chapters XV and XVI: September 29th has been changed to August 29th, October 1st to September 1st, and October 4th to September 4th.]

NARRATIVE OF A MISSION TO CENTRAL AFRICA PERFORMED IN THE YEARS 1850 51,

UNDER THE ORDERS AND AT THE EXPENSE OF HER MAJESTY'S GOVERNMENT.

BY THE LATE JAMES RICHARDSON, AUTHOR OF "TRAVELS IN THE GREAT DESERT OF SAHARA."

IN TWO VOLUMES.

VOL. I.

LONDON: CHAPMAN AND HALL, 193 PICADILLY.

MDCCCLIII.

LONDON: Printed by G. Barclay, Castle St. Leicester Sq.

PREFACE.

The task of the Editor of these volumes has been principally one of arrangement and compression. The late lamented Mr. James Richardson left behind him a copious journal, comprised in eight small but closely written volumes, besides a vast heap of despatches and scattered memoranda; and, at first sight, it seemed to me that it would be necessary to melt the whole down into a narrative in the third person. On attentively studying the materials before me, however, I perceived that Mr. Richardson had written in most places with a view to publication; and that, had he lived, he would soon have brought what, on a cursory examination, appeared a mere chaotic mass, into a shape that would have accorded with his own idea of a book of travels. Such being the case, I thought it best in order to leave the stamp of authenticity on this singular record of enterprise to do little more than the author would himself have done. In the form of a diary, therefore written sometimes with Oriental naïveté the reader will here find what may be called the domestic history of one of the most successful expeditions undertaken for the exploration of Central Africa. I believe it would have been possible to get up a work of more temporary interest from the same materials; but this could only have been done by sacrificing truthfulness of detail. In the present form, Mr. Richardson's journal will always remain as an authority on the geography and present condition of a large portion of the Saharan desert, hitherto unvisited, at any rate undescribed.

As will be seen, the Mission was accompanied by two German gentlemen, Drs. Barth and Overweg the former, of whom I had the pleasure of meeting in Egypt, after his enterprising ride along the coast of Libya. They are still in Central Africa, pushing their excursions on all sides, from Bornou into unknown tracts; and the accounts they may publish on their return will be anxiously looked for. The great traverse of the Saharan desert, however, with all its vicissitudes and dangers, the physical aspect of that wonderful region, and the manners of the various tribes that inhabit it, will, in the present volume, be found to be fully described not, it is true, with much attempt at literary ornament, but in the vivid though simple language in which a man sets down impressions which he has just received. I have endeavoured to remove all the faults which may be supposed to have arisen from haste or carelessness, and have necessarily re written several passages, and passed a correcting pen over the whole manuscript. But I think I may say with confidence, that there is no observation or statement in the following pages which cannot be justified by a reference to the original journals and scattered memoranda.

To me this simple record of daily occurrences seems highly interesting. It divides itself, naturally, into a succession of parts of unequal importance. First comes an account of the journey to Mourzuk, the capital of Fezzan, containing the traverse of the frightful Hamadah or plateau which separates that province from the regency of Tripoli. Then we have a residence at Mourzuk itself, Mr. Richardson being obliged to wait the arrival from Ghât of an escort of Tuarick chieftains, with whom he had partly made acquaintance during a former trip in the desert... Continue reading book >>




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