Lot 392
  • 392

DENHAM, DIXON, AND HUGH CLAPPERTON

Estimate
600 - 900 GBP
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Description

  • Narrative of Travels and Discoveries in Northern and Central Africa, in the years 1822, 1823, and 1824, by Major Denham, Captain Clapperton, and the late Doctor Oudney. London: John Murray, 1826
  • paper
FIRST EDITION, 4to (268 x 205mm.), lxviii, 336, [iv], 269pp., large folding engraved map, 37 engraved plates [1 coloured], contemporary half calf, double dark red labels, gilt and blindstamped spine, marbled boards, endpapers and edges



An official expedition to discover the course of the Niger from the starting point of Tripoli, rather than West Africa. Clapperton and Oudney were the original members of the party, to which Denham was added, but whose "arrogance, malice, and contempt for his colleagues from the start soured relations between them" (ODNB).



"In November 1822 the three men set out southwards, travelling across the desert, along the long-established Sahara trade route to the kingdom of Bornu (later Nigeria). At the [Turkish] pasha's suggestion they wore European clothes (consular uniforms), since they were in no danger under his protection. In February, having sighted Lake Chad, they reached Kuka (later Kukawa), the capital of Bornu, where to their amazement they were welcomed by some 5000 horsemen, many of them wearing chain-mail armour, sent by Sheikh Muhammad el Kanemi, the Muslim prophet who ruled Bornu in the king's name. Though delighted to meet them, el Kanemi refused to let them leave Bornu, lest they meet some misadventure for which he would be blamed.

While Denham accompanied el Kanemi on a military expedition, Oudney and Clapperton made a reconnaissance southwards, finding the Shari and establishing that it flowed north into Lake Chad. The rains then set in and all three remained at Kuka, where Oudney and Clapperton suffered severe attacks of malaria. Denham and Clapperton quarrelled bitterly, Denham secretly sending home malicious reports accusing him of having homosexual relations with an Arab servant - reports he had later to admit he had never believed. Finally in December they set out again, Denham towards Lake Chad, Oudney and Clapperton towards Kano.

After Oudney's death on 12 January, Clapperton went on and a week later reached Kano, with its vast, elaborately organized cosmopolitan market. He stayed there for a month before going on to Sokoto, where he was warmly received by Sultan Muhammad Bello. He then rejoined Denham. They returned to Tripoli, suffering a terrible desert crossing, and reached England in June 1825." (ODNB)

Provenance

E.W. Wynne Pendarves and Bernard Gore Brett, armorial bookplates
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