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Source: Gutenberg.org: Mungo Park / Africa Journal

Mungo Park - The Journal Of A Mission To The Interior Of Africa (1805)


The preparations for the expedition being now entirely completed, Park, together with Mr. Anderson and Mr. Scott, proceeded to Portsmouth, where hey were joined by four or five artificers, from the dock-yards appointed for the service; and after waiting some time for a wind, they at last set sail in the Crescent transport, on the 30th of January, 1805, and arrived at Port Praya Bay in the Cape Verd Islands about the 8th of March. The transactions of Park from the time of his embarkation in England to his departure from Kayee on the Gambia for the Interior of Africa (a period of about seven weeks) will be best described by the following letters, and extracts selected from his correspondence.

_To Mr. Dickson_

_Port Praya Bay, St. Jago, March 13, 1805._

"We have had a very tedious passage to this place, having been pestered with contrary winds, strong gales, and French privateers. We have all of us kept our health remarkably well, considering the very great change of climate. Mr. Anderson has the rheumatism in his knee, but is getting better. Mr. Scott is off this morning for the Interior of the Island, to take sketches; and as soon as I have finished this letter I am going on shore to finish my purchase of asses. I bought all the corn, &c. last night, and twenty-four asses, and I shall purchase thirty-two more to day; so you see we shall not be detained here. We shall have taken in all the water today, and the first division of the asses will come on board to-morrow. We expect to sail for Goree on Saturday or Sunday.

"I have been so much employed that I have had no time as yet to look after plants; indeed this seems a very unfavourable season of the year for natural history, the whole country being quite dry and withered. I have collected some observations on the present state of the Cape Verd Islands, which I will send home by the sloop of war.


_To Mrs. Park._

_Goree, 4th April, 1805._

"I have just now learnt that an American ship sails from this place for England in a few days; and I readily embrace the opportunity of sending a letter to my dearest wife. We have all of us kept our health very well ever since our departure from England. Alexander had a touch of the rheumatism at St. Jago, but is now quite recovered; he danced several country dances at the ball last night. George Scott is also in good health and spirits. I wrote to you from St. Jago, which letter I hope you received. We left that place on the 21st of March, and arrived here with the asses on the 28th. Almost every soldier in the Garrison, volunteered to go with me; and with the Governor's assistance I have chosen a guard of the best men in the place. So lightly do the people here think of the danger attending the undertaking, that I have been under the necessity of refusing several military and naval officers who volunteered to accompany me. We shall sail for Gambia on Friday or Saturday. I am happy to learn that Karfa, my old friend, is at present at Jonkakonda; and I am in hopes we shall be able to hire him to go with us.

"We have as yet been extremely fortunate, and have got our business both at St. Jago and this place finished with great success: and I have hopes, almost to certainty, that Providence will so dispose the tempers and passions of the inhabitants of this quarter of the world, that we shall be enabled to _slide through_ much more smoothly than you expect.


_To Edward Cooke, Esq. Under Secretary of State for the Colonial Department._

_Jillifree, River Gambia, April 9th, 1805._


"It is with great pleasure that I embrace this opportunity of sending you a general account of our proceedings since leaving England.

"We had a very tedious passage to the Cape Verd Islands, being detained by storms and contrary winds in the Bay of Biscay, so that we did not reach St. Jago till the 8th of March. I immediately set about purchasing the asses, corn, hay, &c. and succeeded so well that on the 18th I had embarked forty-four asses with plenty of corn and hay. The master of the transport declared that he could not receive any more consistently with the safety of the vessel. We sailed for Goree on the 21st. While we were getting under way, six English ships of the line, one of them a three decker, came into the Bay. They did not hail us; one of them had an Admiral's blue flag at the mizen.