Publisher Information: 1812.
[Park, Mungo (1771-1806).] Minute of a conversation with Lord Bathurst on the 23 Decr 1812—relative to Mr Park’s Journal. Manuscript document in an unidentified hand. Bifolium. 4pp. N.p., 23 December 1812. 181 x 110 mm. Remains of former mounting at the fold, but very good.
Document concerning the publication of Park’s Journal of a Mission into the Interior of Africa by Mungo Park in the Year 1805, which recorded the second and last of the famous explorer’s expeditions to Africa. Park had returned to West Africa in 1805 to test his theory that the Niger and Congo rivers were in fact parts of the same river, but drowned in early 1806 after traveling by boat along most of the Niger’s course. Park’s journal of this expedition, documenting the period between his departure from Gambia and his embarkation on the Niger, was published in 1815 by the African Institution, a British charitable organization formed to create a refuge for freed slaves in Sierra Leone.
Our document, most likely written by a member of the African Institution, records a conversation involving William Wilberforce (1759-1833), Henry Brougham (1778-1868) and Henry Bathurst (1762-1834) regarding the Institution’s reasons for undertaking the publication of Park’s journal:
"Messrs Wilberforce & Brougham on the part of the African Institution, stated that the principal object which they have in view is the fair publication of the Journal, illustrated by such information & remarks as they are possessed of, with a view to the diffusion of the journal & to the interests of the African Question. That their next object (attained however by the same means) is the benefit of Mr Park’s family, which they are quite confident will best be promoted by the extensive circulation in the power of the Institution to give the work . . ."
Wilberforce and Brougham were members of the African Institution, and Bathurst was a Member of Parliament and an expert on colonial policy. All three were politically powerful opponents of the slave trade.
The African Institution had been granted the right to publish Park’s 1805 journal; however, Sir Joseph Banks, leader of the group that had sponsored Park’s first African expedition in the 1790s, possessed an unauthorized copy. But “there seems no manner of objection to allowing Sir J. to cooperate with the Institution & to be honorably & respectfully mentioned, as a contributor of Mr P’s letters & as a coadjuta [sic] in the publication.” Park’s family likewise had no rights to the work, but “if the Government, as is to be expected, wish the profits of the publication to go to them, the Institution will undertake to see them so applied, & will not only secure to the new work the most extensive circulation & sale, but print it so as to sell also a new edition of the former volume—and will make such an arrangement that the booksellers shall charge a much lower commission than is usual in such cases.”Book Id: 46407