[London]: Customs, 15 August 1838. Bifolium manuscript letter ca 17,5x11 cm (7 x 4 ½ in), one page of text in brown ink on white wove paper, addressed and docketed on verso of the second leaf, with original black wax seal. Letter housed in a recent blue cloth custom portfolio with red gilt lettered morocco title label. The letter is in very good condition and in written in a legible hand.
An interesting letter by notable African explorer John Lander, who together with his elder brother Richard Lander became the first European to determine the course of the lower Niger River – a tantalizing question for the European scientific and trade communities since Mungo Park’s first attempts in the late 18th century. Lander is writing to the famous editor of “The Literary Gazette” William Jerdan (1782-1869) – his Scottish countryman whom Lander obviously knew closely. In August 1834, after Richard Lander’s death during his third expedition to the Niger River (he was killed in a skirmish in the Niger delta on February 6, 1834), “The Literary Gazette” wrote about a meeting of the council in the Lander’s hometown of Truro where it was decided to erect a column in the memory of the perished explorer (Tribute to the Landers// The Literary Gazette and Journal of Belles Lettres. No. 915. Saturday, August 2, 1834, p. 532). Although John Lander hoped he would return to Africa, he never did and died a year later after this letter had been written, allegedly from a illness contracted in Africa.
"My Dear Sir, I have to thank you which I do with unaffected sincerity, for the kindness you shewed my wee wife during my unfortunate absence from London. I have just returned from Cornwall, where I followed the "last of my brothers" to the grave. For my part had it not been for the sake of my better half, I should now be on my way to Timbuctoo. As it is, were the government to provide for her in case of my death, I should not hesitate a moment about taking this step. My heart is in Africa & has been for years, & until I get there such is my taste, I don't think I shall enjoy a day's happenings. With my best wishes, I am dear Sir, Yours very faithfully, John Lander."
"John Lander was the younger brother of Cornish explorer Richard Lemon Lander and accompanied him on his first expedition to western Africa. The Lander brothers were sons of a Truro innkeeper. While Richard went to sea at a young age, John learned the printing trade. In 1830 the brothers went on an expedition to determine the course of the Niger River. They landed at Badagry in present-day Nigeria, took Clapperton's route to Bussa, then ascended the river for 160 kilometres before descending to explore the Benue River and the Niger Delta. They returned to Britain in 1831. Richard returned to the Niger in 1832, but John took a job in a London customs house instead. He died some years later, of a disease he had contracted in Africa" (Wikipedia).
Price: $750.00 USD