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by William Cole
First published in 1862, William Cole's journal records his experiences in the highly challenging circumstances of a trading expedition to Africa. Cole outlines in graphic detail the dangers he had to endure, and describes how he 'surmounted the most glaring difficulties'. Often displaying a wry humour, Cole's memoir speaks directly to the reader, with a tone of immediacy. In an anecdotal style, he describes the customs and costumes of the natives, and their often hostile reactions to him, and recounts how he was regularly without food, arms or assistance. The journal tells of the barbarity and cruelty he witnessed, alongside occasional acts of kindness or amusing situations. Cole's thoughts frequently revert to England, displaying his homesickness and his longing to return. Describing his life in Africa as 'a mixture of smiles and tears', Cole paints a vivid picture of a European in Africa during the mid-nineteenth century.