1818 Narrative of an Expediiton to Explore the River Zaire Usually Called the Congo
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An Important Work, Colour Plates, Illustrated, Leather Binding
This account of the journey is decorated by a folding map frontispiece of the coast from Cape Lopez, and thirteen plates, with one hand-coloured. With John Kirk's inscription to the title page 'John Kirk, Zambesi Exped 1858'. Kirk brought this book with him on the expedition to explore the Zambesi river's mouths and tributaries in order to navigate the waterway to the interior. In addition to this, Livingstone was continuing his mission to introduce the people of Africa to Christianity and freeing them from slavery. This was Livingstone's second Zambesi expedition. It was here Kirk went as a botanist and chief assistant. The expedition was difficult, and many expedition members including Kirk noted that Livingstone was an inept leader. In 1862 Kirk wrote that Livingstone was an unsafe leader and 'out of his mind'. These criticisms of Livingstone were given weight by Livingstone's disappearance on his next expedition, later being famously 'found' by Stanley. Livingstone's expedition became the first to reach Lake Malawi which they explored in a four-oared gig. By 1864 the journey was halted due to the increasing cost and the failure to find a navigable route. Part of their difficulties came with navigating the Ruvuma River due to the number of bodies thrown into the river by slave traders. Many newspapers branded the expedition a failure, despite the valuable collections of botanical, ecological and ethnographic material collected over this time. John Kirk was also a key player in ending the slave trade in Zanzibar during his time as a British administrator there. He remained in Zanzibar when Livingstone set about his final expedition to find the source of the Nile. It was here he was appointed to the British Consul and was physician to Henry Adrian Churchill, an advocate for the abolition of the slave trade. Churchill had to leave for England due to his health and Kirk continued his work. In addition to this, following Livingstone's death, Kirk pledged to continue Livingstone's mission to end the East African slave trade. An important work on African exploration with this copy having a wonderful history of its own. Collated, complete. In a very smart contemporary tree calf binding. This narrative follows James Hingston/Kingston Tuckey on his journey to explore the River Congo in the first stem-powered warship built for the Royal Navy, the HMS Congo. He was also accompanied by the ship 'Dorothy' for the journey. Tuckey's mission was to see if there was a connection between the Congo and the Niger basins. Many of the officers and crew, including Tuckey himself, died of fever during this expedition. Despite the failure of the mission, this account of the journey inspired more Europeans and piqued interest in travelling Africa. Joseph Conrad found inspiration in this ill-fated mission for his novella 'Heart of Darkness'. This work forms of officer's reports, Tuckey's own journals and other first-hand accounts to paint a picture of the expedition. The journal of Christen Smith, the naturalist of this journey, is printed to the rear of this work, which provides 'some general observations on the country and its inhabitants'. There is also an appendix regarding the natural history of the Congo and the botanic material gathered on the expedition. Tuckey ensured that Smith's diary and plant specimens were shipped to London before he succumbed to the deadly fever himself. A smart copy of this important work, with an association that is extremely important in the context of African Travel and discovery in the nineteenth century.
In a full tree-calf binding. Rebacked with the original boards preserved, and a nineteenth century spine laid on in period. Externally, smart with just a few marks to boards and a few light patches of rubbing to the joints. Several closed tears to the centre of title page, neatly from a blade. Contemporary inscription to the title page 'John Kirk Zambesi Exped 1858'. John Kirk's signature is also lightly written to the bottom of the rear endpaper. Internally, firmly bound. Pages are bright. Light tidemarks to the bottom margin of pages. Affecting the margin only, no text. Offsetting to the map as is usual. Text leaves have just the odd spot, with the plates rather spotted as is usual. The coloured plate is very clean.
Very Good Indeed
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