The narrator then begins to discuss the history of the British Empire along the Thames; the details don’t specifically matter. He ends it by saying “Hunters for gold or pursuers of fame, they all had gone out on that stream, bearing the sword, and often the torch, messengers of the might within the land, bears of a spark from the sacred fire.” Who is he discussing (basically, not specifically)? What 2 things did these people go forth with, and what do those items represent? Think about the last phrase – what’s the sacred fire?
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This is referring to the European idealism, flawed that it is, about imperialism. The European pioneers head into the darkness of unknown territory bearing little flares of like light like torches or glittering swords that represent their vigor and their enlightenment. They want to bring their "light" to the savage jungle in places like the Congo.