"These resources," says Walcknaer, "so vast in comparison with those furnished by the African Society, were, to our thinking, partly the cause of his loss. The rapacious demands of the African kings grew in proportion to the riches they supposed our traveller to possess; and the effort to meet the enormous drain made upon him, was in great part the cause of the catastrophe which brought the expedition to an end."
Four carpenters, one officer and thirty-five artillery-men, and a Mandingo merchant named Isaac, who was to act as guide, with the leaders of the expedition already mentioned, composed an imposing caravan. Mungo Park left Cayee upon the 27th of April, 1805, and reached Pisania the next day. From this place, ten years earlier, he had started upon his first exploration. Taking an easterly direction, he followed his former route as far as Bambaku, upon the shores of the Niger. When he arrived at this place, the number of Europeans was already reduced to six soldiers and a carpenter; the remainder had succumbed to fatigue, or the fevers incidental to the inundations. The exactions of the various petty chiefs through whose domains the expedition passed had considerably diminished the stock of merchandise.
Mungo Park was now guilty of an act of grave imprudence. Remarking that trade was very active at Sansanding, a town containing eleven thousand inhabitants, and that beads, indigo, antimony, rings, bracelets, and other articles not likely to be spoiled in the transit to England, were freely exhibited for sale, "he opened," says Walcknaer, "a large shop, which he stocked with European merchandise, for sale wholesale and retail; and probably the large profits he made excited the envy of the merchants. The natives of Djenneh, the Moors, and merchants of Sansanding, joined with those of Sego in offering, in the presence of Modibinne, to give the King of Mansong a larger and more valuable quantity of merchandise than he had received from the English traveller, if he would seize his baggage, and then kill him, or send him out of Bambarra. But in spite of his knowledge of this fact, Mungo Park still kept his shop open, and he received, as the proceeds of one single day's business, 25,756 pieces of money, or cowries."
Upon the 28th of October Anderson expired, after four months' illness, and Mungo Park found himself once more alone in the heart of Africa. The King of Mansong had accorded him permission to build a boat, which would enable him to explore the Niger. Naming his craft the Djoliba, he fixed upon the 16th of November for his departure.
Here his journal ends, with details on the riverside populations, and on the geography of the countries he was the first to discover. This journal, when it reached Europe, was published, imperfect as it was, as soon as the sad fact was realized that the writer had perished in the waters of the Djoliba. It contained in reality no new discovery, but it was recognized as useful to geographical science. Mungo Park had determined the astronomical position of the more important towns, and thereby furnished material for a map of Senegambia. The perfecting of this map was entrusted to Arrowsmith, who stated in an advertisement, that, finding wide differences between the positions of the towns as shown in the journal by each day's travel and that furnished by the astronomical observations, it was impossible to reconcile them; but that, in accordance with the latter, he had been obliged to place the route followed by Mungo Park in his first voyage farther north.
It was reserved for the Frenchman Walcknaer to discover a curious discrepancy in Mungo Park's journal. This was a singular error upon the part of the traveller, which neither the English editor nor the French translator (whose work was badly performed) had discovered. Mungo Park in his diary records events as happening upon the 31st of April. As every one knows that that month has only thirty days, it followed that during the course of his journey the traveller had made a mistake of a whole day, reckoning in his calculations from the evening instead of the morning. Hence important rectifications were necessary in Arrowsmith's map; but none the less, when once Mungo Park's error is recognized, it is evident that to him we owe the first faithful map of Senegambia.
Although the facts that reached the English Government allowed no room for doubt as to the fate of the traveller, a rumour that white men had been seen in the interior of Africa induced the Governor of Senegal to fit out an expedition. The command was entrusted to the negro merchant Isaac, Mungo Park's guide, who had faithfully delivered the traveller's journal to the English authorities. We need not linger over the account of this expedition, but merely relate that which concerns the last days of Mungo Park.
At Sansanding, Isaac encountered Amadi Fatouma, the native who was with Park on the Djoliba when he perished, and from him he obtained the following recital:—
"We embarked at Sansanding, and in two days reached Silla, the spot where Mungo Park completed his first journey.