New York: J. Tiebout, 1800. First American edition. Hardcover. Octavo (8 x 5"). vii, , 10-354, , 86pp.Modern spotted calf, with gold tooling and ruling to spine retaining the original title label. Folded and partly colored frontispiece map.
Originally published in 1799, "Travels in the Interior of Africa" is Scottish explorer Mungo Park’s account of his journey through Senegal and Mali to the central portion of the Niger River, the first time a Westerner is known to have reached such central regions. With the backing of Sir Joseph Banks, Park was employed to journey solo through unknown lands to seek out the legendary city of “Tambuctoo” and try to ascertain the course of, and if possible, termination point of the river Niger.
Park’s kit which greeted him upon arrival on the Gold coast was basic to say the least: two shotguns, two compasses, a sextant, a thermometer, a small medicine chest, a wide-brimmed hat, an umbrella and, bizarrely, a blue dress coat with brass buttons (four of which he’d later give as a gift to a native woman for her kindness to him) and a silver-topped cane. 100 miles up the Gambia river, at an English outpost, Park spent 5 months preparing for the journey – which included learning the local language of Mandingo, and succumbing to a month-long bout of malarial fever (which probably ended up saving him later on).
On December 2nd, 1795, when the time came to eventually set out on his journey proper, he refused to travel with a local slave caravan – a decision thought to be symbolic – instead, setting out with just two servants and mule. The journey took him two years in total, including a four month stint imprisoned at the hands of a Moorish chief, and seven months in living in the simple hut of a man who’d taken him in when he’d fallen ill.
Park eventually returned to Scotland by way of Antigua on December 22, 1797. He had been thought dead, and his return home with news of the discovery of the Niger River evoked great public enthusiasm. An account of his journey was drawn up for the African Association by Bryan Edwards, and his own remarkably detailed, honest and compelling narrative appeared in 1799, instantly becoming a best-seller.
Ours is the first American edition published in 1800 in New York, by J. Tiebout. Some foxing and offsetting throughout, otherwise, a very nice copy. It is complete with its folded and partly colored frontispiece map.
Binding in overall very good, interior in good to good+ condition. g to vg. Item #46141