Part 8 out of 8

formidable opponents as the elephant and black rhinoceros; they
are so much more numerous than the latter, that they are more
frequently encountered: hence the casualties.

A buffalo can always be killed with a No. 10 rifle and six
drachms of powder when charging, if the hunter will only wait
coolly until it is so close that he cannot miss the forehead; but
the same rifle will fail against an African elephant, or a black
rhinoceros, as the horns of the latter animal effectually protect
the brain from a front shot. I have killed some hundreds of
buffaloes, and, although in many cases they have been
unpleasantly near, the rifle has always won the day. There cannot
be a more convenient size than No. 10 for a double rifle, for
large game. This will throw a conical projectile of three ounces,
with seven drachms of powder. Although a breechloader is a
luxury, I would not have more than a pair of such rifles in an
expedition in a wild country, as they would require more care in
a damp climate than the servants would be likely to bestow upon
them, and the ammunition would be a great drawback. This should
be divided into packets of ten cartridges each, which should be
rolled up in flannel and hermetically sealed in separate tin
canisters. Thus arranged, they would be impervious to damp, and
might be carried conveniently. But I should decidedly provide
myself with four double-barrelled muzzle-loading No. 10's as my
regular battery; that, if first class, would never get out of
order. Nothing gives such confidence to the gun-bearers as the
fact of their rifles being good slayers, and they quickly learn
to take a pride in their weapons, and to strive in the race to
hand the spare rifles. Dust storms, such as I have constantly
witnessed in Africa, would be terrible enemies to breech-loaders,
as the hard sand, by grating in the joints, would wear away the
metal, and destroy the exactness of the fittings.

A small handy double rifle, such as my little Fletcher 24, not
exceeding eight pounds and a half, is very necessary, as it
should seldom be out of the hand. Such a rifle should be a
breech-loader, as the advantage of loading quickly while on
horseback is incalculable. Hunting-knives should be of soft
steel, similar to butchers' knives; but one principal knife to be
worn daily should be of harder steel, with the back of the blade
roughed and case-hardened like a butcher's steel, for sharpening
other knives when required.

All boxes for rough travelling should be made of strong metal,
japanned. These are a great comfort, as they are proof both
against insects and weather, and can be towed with their contents
across a river.

Travelling is now so generally understood, that it is hardly
necessary to give any instructions for the exploration of wild
countries; but a few hints may be acceptable upon points that,
although not absolutely essential, tend much to the comfort of
the traveller. A couple of large carriage umbrellas with double
lining, with small rings fixed to the extremities of the ribs,
and a spike similar to that of a fishing-rod to screw into the
handle, will form an instantaneous shelter from sun or rain
during a halt on the march, as a few strings from the rings will
secure it from the wind, if pegged to the ground. Waterproof
calico sheeting should be taken in large quantities, and a
tarpaulin to protect the baggage during the night's bivouac. No
vulcanised India-rubber should be employed in tropical climates;
it rots, and becomes useless. A quart syringe for injecting brine
into fresh meat is very necessary. In hot climates, the centre of
the joint will decompose before the salt can penetrate to the
interior, but an injecting syringe will thoroughly preserve the
meat in a few minutes. A few powerful fox-traps are useful for
catching night-game in countries where there is no large game for
the rifle: also wire is useful for making springs.

Several sticks of Indian-ink are convenient, as sufficient can be
rubbed up in a few moments to write up the note-book during the
march. All journals and note-books should be of tinted paper,
green, as the glare of white paper in the intense sunlight of the
open sky is most trying to the eyes. Burning glasses and flint
and steels are very necessary. Lucifer matches are dangerous, as
they may ignite and destroy your baggage in dry weather, and
become utterly useless in the damp.

A large supply of quicksilver should be taken for the admixture
with lead for hardening bullets, in addition to that required for
the artificial horizon; the effect of this metal is far greater
than a mixture of tin, as the specific gravity of the bullet is

Throughout a long experience in wild sports, although I admire
the velocity of conical projectiles, I always have retained my
opinion that, in jungle countries, where in the absence of dogs
you require either to disable your game on the spot, or to
produce a distinct blood-track that is easily followed, the
old-fashioned two-groove belted ball will bag more game than
modern bullets; but, on the other hand, the facility of loading
a conical bullet already formed into a cartridge is a great
advantage. The shock produced by a pointed projectile is nothing
compared to that of the old belted ball, unless it is on the
principle of Purday's high velocity expanding bullet, which,
although perfection for deer-shooting, would be useless against
thick-skinned animals, such as buffalo and rhinoceros. In Africa,
the variety of game is such, that it is impossible to tell, when
loading, at what animal the bullet will be fired; therefore, it
is necessary to be armed with a rifle suitable for all comers. My
little Fletcher was the Enfield bore, No. 24, and, although a
most trusty weapon, the bullets generally failed to penetrate the
skull of hippopotami, except in places where the bone was thin,
such as behind the ear, and beneath the eyes. Although I killed
great numbers of animals with the Enfield bullet, the success was
due to tolerably correct shooting, as I generally lost the larger
antelopes if wounded by that projectile in any place but the
neck, head, or shoulder; the wound did not bleed freely,
therefore it was next to impossible to follow up the blood-track;
thus a large proportion of wounded animals escaped.

I saw, and shot, thirteen varieties of antelopes while in Africa.
Upon arrival at Khartoum, I met Herr von Heuglin, who commanded
the expedition in search of Dr. Vogel; he was an industrious
naturalist, who had been many years in the Soudan and in
Abyssinia. We compared notes of all we had seen and done, and he
very kindly supplied me with a list of all the antelopes that he
had been able to trace as existing in Abyssinia and the Soudan;
he now included my maarif, which he had never met with, and which
he agreed was a new species. In the following list, which is an
exact copy of that which he had arranged, those marked with an
asterisk are species that I have myself shot:--

Catalogue des especes du genre "ANTILOPE," observees en Egypte,
dans la Nubie, au Soudan orientale et en Abissinie.

A.--GAZELLA, Blains.

1.--Spec. G. Dorcas.* Arab. Ghasal.

2.--G. Arabica,* Ehr. A la cote de la Mer rouge.

3.--G. Loevipes, Sund. Arab. Abou Horabet? Nubie, Taka, Sennaar,

4.--G. spec. (?) en Tigreh Choquen (Bogos).

5.--G. Dama,* Licht. Arab. Adra, Ledra. Riel, Bajouda, Berber,
Sennaar, Kordofan.

6.--G. Soemmeringii, Rupp. Arab. Om Oreba. Tigreh, Arab. Taka,
Massowa, Gedaref, Berber, Sennaar.

7.--G. Leptoceros. Arab. Abou Harab. Gazelle a longues cornes,
minces et paralleles. Bajouda, Berber, Taka, Sennaar, Kordofan.


8.--C. montanus,* Rupp. Arab. Otrab and El Mor. Amhar, Fiego,
Sennaar, Abissinie, Taka, Galabat.

9.--C. Saltatrix, Forst. Amhar. Sasa. Abissinie.


10.--N. Hemprichianus, Ehr. Arab. Om dig dig. Abissinie orientale
et occidentale, Taka, Kordofan.


11.--C. Madaqua. Amhar. Midakoua. Galabat, Barka, Abissinie.

12, 13.--Deux especes inconnues du Fleuve blanc, nominees par les
Djenkes, "Amok."


14.--R. Eleotragus, Schrb. Djenke, Bor. Bahr el Abiad.

15.--R. Behor, Rupp. Amhar. Behor. Abissinie centrale, Kordofan.

16.--R. Kull, nov. spec. Djenke, Koul. Bahr el Abiad.

17.--R. leucotis, Peters et Licht. Djenke, Adjel. Bahr el Abiad,

18.--R. Wuil, nov. spec. Djenke, Ouil. Bahr el Abiad, Saubat.

19.--R. Lechee,* Gray. Bahr el Abiad.

20.--R. megcerosa,* Heuglin. Kobus Maria, Gray. Djenke, Abok,
Saubat, Bahr el Abiad et Bahr Ghazal.

21.--R. Defassa,* Rupp. Arab. Om Hetehet. Amhar. Dofasa. Djenke,
Bor. Bahr el Salame, Galabat, Kordofan, Bahr el Abiad, Dender,
Abissinie occidentale et centrale.

22.--R. ellipsiprymna, Ogilby. Djenke, Bor. Bahr el Abiad.


23.--H. niger, Harris. Arab. Abou Maarif. Kordofan meridionale,
fleuve Blanc (Chilouk).

24.--H. nov. spec. Arab. Abou Maarif.*--Bakerii.* Bahr el Salaam,
Galabat Dender, fleuve BIeu, Sennaar meridionale.

25.--H. Beisa, Rupp. Arab. Beisa et Damma. Souakim, Massowa,
Danakil, Somauli, Kordofan.

26.--H. ensicornis, Ehr. Arab. Ouahoh el bagr. Nubie, Berber,

27.--H. Addax, Licht. Arab. Akach. Bajouda, Egypte occidentale
(Oasis de Siouah).


28.--T. Orcas, Pall. (Antilope Canna). Djenke, Goualgonal. Bahr
el Abiad.

29.--T. gigas, nov. spec. Chez les pleuplades Atoats, au Bahr el


30.--Tr. strepsiceros (Pallas). Arab. Nellet, Miremreh. Tigreh,
Garona. Ambar. Agazen. Abissinie, Sennaar, Homran, Galabat,

31.--Tr. sylvaticus, Spaerm. Bahr el Abiad.

32.--Tr. Dekula, Rupp. Amhar. Dekoula. Arab. Houch. Djenke, Ber.
Taka, Abissinie, Bahr el Abiad.


33.--B. Mauritanica, Sund. (Antilope Bubalis, Cuvier). Arab.
Tetel; Tigreh, Tori. Taka, Homran, Barka, Galabat, Kordofan, Bahr
el Abiad.

34.--B. Caama, Cuv. Arab. Tetel. Djenke, Awalwon. Bahr el Abiad,
Kordofan meridionale.

35.--B. Senegalensis, H. Smith. Bahr el Abiad.

36.--B. Tiang, nov. spec. Djenke, Tian. Bahr el Abiad, Bahr

37.--B. Tian-riel, nov. spec. Bahr el Abiad.


"Soada," au Oualkait et Mareb (Taurotragus?).

"Uorobo," au Godjam, Agow (Hippotragus).

"Ouoadembi." March, Oualkait (Hippotragus).

"El Mor." Sennaar, Fazogle (Nanotragus?).

"El Khondieh." Kordofan (Redunca?).

"Om Khat." Kordofan (Gazella?).

"El Hamra." Kordofan, Bajouda (Gazella?).



FOR some days we continued our journey along the banks of the
Dinder, and as the monotonous river turned towards the junction
with the Blue Nile, a few miles distant, we made a direct cut
across the flat country, to cross the Rahad and arrive at Abou
Harraz on the Blue Nile. We passed numerous villages and
extensive plantations of dhurra that were deserted by the Arabs,
as the soldiers had arrived to collect the taxes. I measured the
depths of the wells, seventy-five feet and a half, from the
surface to the bottom; the alluvial soil appeared to continue the
whole distance, until the water was discovered resting upon hard
sand, full of small particles of mica. During the march over a
portion of the country that had been cleared by burning, we met
a remarkably curious hunting-party. A number of the common black
and white stork were hunting for grasshoppers and other insects,
but mounted upon the back of each stork was a large
copper-coloured flycatcher, which, perched like a rider on his
horse, kept a bright look-out for insects, which from its
elevated position it could easily discover upon the ground. I
watched them for some time: whenever the storks perceived a
grasshopper or other winged insect, they chased it on foot, but
if they missed their game, the flycatchers darted from their
backs and flew after the insects like falcons, catching them in
their beaks, and then returning to their steeds to look out for
another opportunity.

On the evening of the 23d May we arrived at the Rahad close to
its junction with the Blue Nile: it was still dry, although the
Dinder was rising. I accounted for this, from the fact of the
extreme length of the Rahad's bed, which, from its extraordinary
tortuous course, must absorb a vast amount of water in the dry
sand, before the advancing stream can reach the Nile. Both the
Rahad and Dinder rise in the mountains of Abyssinia, at no great
distance from each other, and during the rains they convey a
large volume of water to the Blue Nile. Upon arrival at Abou
Harraz, four miles to the north of the Rahad junction, we had
marched, by careful dead reckoning, two hundred and eighty miles
from Gallabat. We were now about a hundred and fifteen miles from
Khartoum, and we stood upon the banks of the magnificent Blue
Nile, the last of the Abyssinian affluents.

About six miles above this spot, on the south bank of the river,
is the large town of Wat Medene, which is the principal
trading-place upon the river. Abou Harraz was a miserable spot,
and was only important as the turning point upon the road to
Katariff from Khartoum. The entire country upon both sides of the
river is one vast unbroken level of rich soil, wlich on the north
and east sides is bounded by the Atbara. The entire surface of
this fertile country might be cultivated with cotton. All that is
required to insure productiveness, is a regular supply of water,
which might be artificially arranged without much difficulty. The
character of all the Abyssinian rivers is to rise and fall
suddenly; thus at one season there is an abundance of water, to
be followed by a scarcity: but in all the fertile provinces
adjacent to the Settite and the upper portion of the Atbara, the
periodical rains can be absolutely depended upon, from June to
the middle of September; thus, they are peculiarly adapted for
cotton, as a dry season is insured for gathering the crop. As we
advance to the north, and reach Abou Harraz, we leave the rainy
zone. When we had left Gallabat, the grass had sprung several
inches, owing to the recent showers; but as we had proceeded
rapidly towards the north, we had entered upon vast dusty plains
devoid of a green blade; the rainy season between Abou Harraz and
Khartoum consisted of mere occasional storms, that, descending
with great violence, quickly passed away. Nothing would be more
simple than to form a succession of weirs across the Rahad and
Dinder, that would enable the entire country to be irrigated at
any season of the year, but there is not an engineering work of
any description throughout Upper Egypt, beyond the sageer or
water-wheel of the Nile. Opposite Abou Harraz, the Blue Nile was
a grand river, about five hundred yards in width; the banks upon
the north side were the usual perpendicular cliffs of alluvial
soil, but perfectly bare of trees; while, on the south, the banks
were ornamented with nabbuk bushes and beautiful palms. The
latter are a peculiar species known by the Arabs as "dolape"
(Borassus AEthiopicus): the stem is long, and of considerable
thickness, but in about the centre of its length it swells to
nearly half its diameter in excess, and after a few feet of extra
thickness it continues its original size to the summit, which is
crowned by a handsome crest of leaves shaped like those of the
palmyra. The fruit of this palm is about the size of a cocoa-nut,
and when ripe it is of a bright yellow, with an exceedingly rich
perfume of apricots; it is very stringy, and, although eaten by
the natives, it is beyond the teeth of a European. The Arabs cut
it into slices, and boil it with water until they obtain a strong
syrup. Subsequently I found this palm in great quantities near
the equator.

At Abou Harraz I discharged my camels, and endeavoured to engage
a boat to convey us to Khartoum, thus to avoid the dusty and
uninteresting ride of upwards of a hundred miles along its flat
and melancholy banks; but there was not a vessel of any kind to
be seen upon the river, except one miserable, dirty affair, for
which the owner demanded fourteen hundred piastres for a passage.
We accordingly procured camels, and started, intending to march
as rapidly as possible.

"June 2, 1862.--We packed the camels in the morning and started
them off to Rufaar. We followed at 2.30 P.M. as the natives
declared it was half a day's journey; but we did not arrive until
8.30 P.M. having marched about twenty-one miles. The town is
considerable, and is the head-quarters of our old friend, the
great Sheik Achmet Abou Sinn; he is now absent, but his son Ali
is at home. He received us very kindly, and lodged us in his own
house within a large inclosed court, with a well of good water in
the centre. Having read my firman, be paid us the usual
compliments, but he lacked the calm dignity and ease of manner of
his grand old father. He sat stiffly upon the divan, occasionally
relieving the monotony of his position by lifting up the cover of
the cushions, and spitting beneath it. Not having a handkerchief,
but only the limited natural advantages of a finger and thumb, a
cold in the head gave him much trouble, and unpleasant marks upon
the wall exhibited hieroglyphics of recent date, that were ill
adapted to the reception-room of an Arab chieftain. In about an
hour he departed, and shortly after, a dinner of four dishes was
brought. No. 1 was an Arab Irish stew, but alas! MINUS the
potatoes; it was very good, nevertheless, as the mutton was fat.
No. 2 was an Arab stew, with no Irish element; it was very hot
with red pepper, and rather dry. No. 3 was a good quick fry of
small pieces of mutton in butter and garlic (very good); and No.
4 was an excellent dish of the usual melach, already described.

The wind had within the last few days changed to south, and we
had been subjected to dust storms and sudden whirlwinds similar
to those we had experienced at this season in the preceding year,
when about to start from Berber. We left Rufaar, and continued
our march along the banks of the Blue Nile, towards Khartoum. It
was intensely hot; whenever we felt a breeze it was accompanied
with a suffocating dust, but the sight of the broad river was
cool and refreshing. During the dry season the water of the Blue
Nile is clear, as its broad surface reflects the colour of the
blue sky; hence the appellation, but at that time it was
extremely shallow, and in many places it is fordable at a depth
of about three feet, which renders it unnavigable for large
boats, which, laden with corn, supply Khartoum from the fertile
provinces of the south. The river had now begun to rise, although
it was still low, and the water was muddy, as the swelling
torrents of Abyssinia brought impurities into the main channel.
It was at this same time last year, when at Berber, that we had
noticed the sudden increase and equally sudden fall of the Nile,
that was influenced by the fluctuations of the Blue Nile, at a
time when the Atbara was dry.

From Abou Harraz throughout the route to Khartoum there is no
object of interest; it is the same vast flat, decreasing rapidly
in fertility until it mingles with the desert; and once more, as
we journey to the north, we leave the fertile lands behind, and
enter upon sterility. The glare of barren plains and the heat of
the summer's sun were fearful. Bacheet had a slight coup de
soleil; my Tokrooris, whose woolly heads were shaved, and simply
covered with a thin skull-cap, suffered severely, as we marched
throughout the burning hours of the day. The Arabs were generally
very inhospitable, as this was the route frequented by all native
merchants, where strangers were of daily occurrence; but towards
evening we arrived at a village inhabited by a large body of
Fakeers, or priests. As we entered, we were met by the principal
Faky, who received us with marked attention, and with a charming
courtesy of manner that quite won our hearts; he expressed
himself as delighted at our arrival, hoped we were not fatigued
by the heat, and trusted that we would rest for a few minutes
before we departed to the enchanting village "just beyond those
trees," as he pointed to a clump of green nabbuk on the yellow
plain, about a mile distant; there, he assured us, we could
obtain all kinds of supplies, together with shade, and a lovely
view of the river. We were delighted with this very gentlemanly
Faky, and, saying adieu with regret, we hurried on to the
promised village "just beyond those trees."

For fourteen miles we travelled, hungry and tired, beyond the
alluring clump of trees, along the wild desert of hot sand
without a habitation; the only portion of truth in the Faky's
description was the "lovely view of the river," that certainly
accompanied us throughout our journey. We were regularly "sold"
by the cunning Faky, who, not wishing to be incommoded by our
party, had got rid of us in a most gentlemanly manner. At length
we arrived at a village, where we had much difficulty in
procuring provisions for ourselves and people.

On the 11th June, having slept at the village of Abou Dome, we
started at sunrise, and at 9 A.M. we reached the bank of the
river, opposite to Khartoum. We were delighted with the view, as
the morning sun shone upon the capital of the Soudan provinces;
the grove of date trees shaded the numerous buildings, their dark
green foliage contrasting exquisitely with the many coloured
houses on the extreme margin of the beautiful river; long lines
of vessels and masts gave life to the scene, and we felt that
once more, after twelve months of utterly wild life, we had
arrived in civilization. We had outridden our camels, therefore
we rode through a shallow arm of the river, and arrived upon an
extensive sandbank that had been converted into a garden of
melons; from this point a large ferry-boat plied regularly to the
town on the south bank. In a few minutes we found ourselves on
board, with our sole remaining horse, Tetel, also the donkeys
that we had purchased in Berber before our expedition, and our
attendants. As we gained the centre of the river, that was about
800 yards broad, we were greeted by the snort of three of our old
friends, the hippopotami, who had been attracted to the
neighbourhood by the garden of water-melons. We landed at
Khartoum, and, having climbed up the steep bank, we inquired the
way to the British Consulate.

The difference between the view of Khartoum at the distance of a
mile, with the sun shining upon the bright river Nile in the
foreground, to the appearance of the town upon close inspection,
was about equal to the scenery of a theatre as regarded from the
boxes or from the stage; even that painful exposure of an optical
illusion would be trifling compared with the imposture of
Khartoum; the sense of sight had been deceived by distance, but
the sense of smell was outraged by innumerable nuisances, when we
set foot within the filthy and miserable town. After winding
through some narrow dusty lanes, hemmed in by high walls of
sun-baked bricks, that had fallen in gaps in several places,
exposing gardens of prickly pears and date palms, we at length
arrived at a large open place, that, if possible, smelt more
strongly than the landing spot. Around this square, which was
full of holes where the mud had been excavated for brickmaking,
were the better class of houses; this was the Belgravia of
Khartoum. In the centre of a long mud wall, ventilated by certain
attempts at frameless windows, guarded by rough wooden bars, we
perceived a large archway with closed doors; above this entrance
was a shield, with a device that gladdened my English eyes: there
was the British lion and the unicorn! Not such a lion as I had
been accustomed to meet in his native jungles, a yellow cowardly
fellow, that had often slunk away from the very prey from which
I had driven him, but a real red British lion, that, although
thin and ragged in the unhealthy climate of Khartoum, looked as
though he was pluck to the backbone.

This was the English Consulate. I regarded our lion and unicorn
for a few moments with feelings of veneration; and as Mr.
Petherick, the consul, who was then absent on the White Nile in
search of Speke and Grant, had very kindly begged me to occupy
some rooms in the Consulate, we entered a large courtyard, and
were immediately received by two ostriches that came to meet us;
these birds entertained us by an impromptu race as hard as they
could go round the courtyard, as though performing in a circus.
When this little divertissement was finished, we turned to the
right, and were shown by a servant up a flight of steps into a
large airy room that was to be our residence, which, being well
protected from the sun, was cool and agreeable. Mr. Petherick had
started from Khartoum in the preceding March, and had expected to
meet Speke and Grant in the upper portion of the Nile regions, on
their road from Zanzibar; but there are insurmountable
difficulties in those wild countries, and his expedition met with
unforeseen accidents, that, in spite of the exertions of both
himself, his very devoted wife, Dr. Murie, and two or three
Europeans, drove them from their intended path. Shortly after our
arrival at the Consulate, a vessel returned from his party with
unfavourable accounts; they had started too late in the season,
owing to some difficulties in procuring boats, and the change of
wind to the south, with violent rain, had caused great suffering,
and had retarded their progress. This same boat had brought two
leopards that were to be sent to England: these animals were led
into the courtyard, and, having been secured by chains, they
formed a valuable addition to the menagerie, which consisted of
two wild boars, two leopards, one hyaena, two ostriches, and a
cynocephalus or dog-faced baboon, who won my heart by taking an
especial fancy to me, because I had a beard like his master.

Although I take a great interest in wild animals, I confess to
have an objection to sleep in the Zoological Gardens should all
the wild beasts be turned loose. I do not believe that even the
Secretary of that learned Society would volunteer to sleep with
the lions; but as the leopards at the Khartoum Consulate
constantly broke their chains, and attacked the dogs and a cow,
and as the hyaena occasionally got loose, and the wild boars
destroyed their mud wall, and nearly killed one of my Tokrooris
during the night, by carving him like a scored leg of pork with
their tusks, the fact of sleeping in the open air in the
verandah, with the simple protection of a mosquito-netting, was
full of pleasant excitement, and was a piquante entertainment
that prevented a reaction of ennui after twelve months passed in
constant watchfulness. The shield over the Consulate door, with
the lion and the unicorn, was but a sign of the life within; as
the grand picture outside the showman's wagon may exemplify the
nature of his exhibition. I enjoyed myself extremely with these
creatures, especially when the ostriches invited themselves to
tea, and swallowed our slices of water-melons and the greater
portion of the bread from the table a few moments before we were
seated. These birds appeared to enjoy life amazingly; one kind of
food was as sweet as another; they attacked a basket of white
porcelain beads that had been returned by Mr. Petherick's men,
and swallowed them in great numbers in mistake for dhurra, until
they were driven off; they were the scavengers of the courtyard,
that consumed the dung of the camels and horses, together with
all other impurities.

For some months we resided at Khartoum, as it was necessary to
make extensive preparations for the White Nile expedition, and to
await the arrival of the north wind, which would enable us to
start early in December. Although the north and south winds blow
alternately for six months, and the former commences in October,
it does not extend many degrees southward until the beginning of
December. This is a great drawback to White Nile exploration, as
when near the north side of the equator, the dry season commences
in November, and closes in February; thus, the departure from
Khartoum should take place by a steamer in the latter part of
September; that would enable the traveller to leave Gondokoro,
lat. N. 4 degrees 54 minutes, shortly before November; he would
then secure three months of favourable weather for an advance

Having promised Mek Nimmur that I would lay his proposals for
peace before the Governor-General of the Soudan, I called upon
Moosa Pasha at the public divan, and delivered the message; but
he would not listen to any intercession, as he assured me that
Mek Nimmur was incorrigible, and there would be no real peace
until his death, which would be very speedy should he chance to
fall into his hands. He expressed great surprise at our having
escaped from his territory, and he declared his intention of
attacking him after he should have given the Abyssinians a
lesson, for whom he was preparing an expedition in reply to an
insolent letter that he had received from King Theodore. The King
of Abyssinia had written to him upon a question of frontier. The
substance of the document was a declaration that the Egyptians
had no right to Khartoum, and that the natural boundary of
Abyssinia was the junction of the Blue and White Niles as far
north as Shendy (Mek Nimmur's original country); and from that
point, in a direct line, to the Atbara; but that, as the desert
afforded no landmark, he should send his people to dig a ditch
from the Nile to the Atbara, and he requested that the Egyptians
would keep upon the north border. Moosa Pasha declared that the
king was mad, and that, were it not for the protection given to
Abyssinia by the English, the Egyptians would have eaten it up
long ago, but that the Christian powers would certainly interfere
should they attempt to annex the country.

The Egyptians seldom had less than twenty thousand troops in the
Soudan provinces; the principal stations were Khartoum, Cassala,
and Dongola. Cassala was close to the Abyssinian frontier, and
within from fifteen to twenty days' march of Souakim, on the Red
Sea, to which reinforcements could be despatched in five days
from Cairo. Khartoum had the advantage of the Blue Nile, that was
navigable for steamers and sailing vessels as far south as
Fazogle, from which spot, as well as from Gallabat, Abyssinia
could be invaded; while swarms of Arabs, including the celebrated
Hamrans, the Beni Amer, Hallongas, Hadendowas, Shookeriahs, and
Dabainas, could be slipped like greyhounds across the frontier.
Abyssinia is entirely at the mercy of Egypt.

Moosa Pasha subsequently started with several thousand men to
drive the Abyssinians from Gallabat, which position they had
occupied in force with the avowed intention of marching upon
Khartoum; but upon the approach of the Egyptians they fell back
rapidly across the mountains, without a sign of showing fight.
The Egyptians would not follow them, as they feared the
intervention of the European powers.

Upon our first arrival in Khartoum, from 11th June until early in
October, the heat was very oppressive, the thermometer seldom
below 95 degrees Fahr. in the shade, and frequently 100 degrees,
while the nights were 82 degrees Fahr. In the winter, the
temperature was agreeable, the shade 80 degrees, the night 62
degrees Fahr. But the chilliness of the north wind was
exceedingly dangerous, as the sudden gusts checked the
perspiration, and produced various maladies, more especially
fever. I had been extremely fortunate, as, although exposed to
hard work for more than a year in the burning sun, I had
remarkably good health, as had my wife likewise, with the
exception of one severe attack while at Sofi. Throughout the
countries we had visited, the temperature was high, averaging
about 90 degrees in the shade from May until the end of
September; but the nights were generally about 70 degrees, with
the exception of the winter months, from November until February,
when the thermometer generally fell to 85 degrees Fahr. in the
day, and sometimes as low as 58 degrees at between 2 and 5 A.M.

I shall not repeat a minute description of Khartoum that has
already been given in the "Albert N'yanza;" it is a wretchedly
unhealthy town, containing about thirty thousand inhabitants,
exclusive of troops. In spite of its unhealthiness and low
situation, on a level with the river at the junction of the Blue
and White Niles, it is the general emporium for the trade of the
Soudan, from which the productions of the country are transported
to Lower Egypt, i.e. ivory, hides, senna, gum arabic, and
bees'-wax. During my experience of Khartoum it was the hotbed of
the slave-trade. It will be remarked that the exports from the
Soudan are all natural productions. There is nothing to exhibit
the industry or capacity of the natives; the ivory is the produce
of violence and robbery; the hides are the simple sun-dried skins
of oxen; the senna grows wild upon the desert; the gum arabic
exudes spontaneously from the bushes of the jungle; and the
bees'-wax is the produce of the only industrious creatures in
that detestable country.

When we regard the general aspect of the Soudan, it is extreme
wretchedness; the rainfall is uncertain and scanty, thus the
country is a desert, dependent entirely upon irrigation. Although
cultivation is simply impossible without a supply of water, one
of the most onerous taxes is that upon the sageer or water-wheel,
with which the fields are irrigated on the borders of the Nile.
It would appear natural that, instead of a tax, a premium should
be offered for the erection of such means of irrigation, which
would increase the revenue by extending cultivation, the produce
of which might bear an impost. With all the talent and industry
of the native Egyptians, who must naturally depend upon the
waters of the Nile for their existence, it is extraordinary that
for thousands of years they have adhered to their original simple
form of mechanical irrigation, without improvement.

If any one will take the trouble to watch the action of the
sageer or water-wheel, it must strike him as a most puny effort
to obtain a great result, that would at once suggest an extension
of the principle. The sageer is merely a wheel of about twenty
feet diameter, which is furnished with numerous earthenware jars
upon its exterior circumference, that upon revolving perform the
action of a dredger, but draw to the surface water instead of
mud. The wheel, being turned by oxen, delivers the water into a
trough which passes into a reservoir, roughly fashioned with
clay, from which, small channels of about ten inches in width
radiate through the plantation. The fields, divided into squares
like a chess-board, are thus irrigated by a succession of minute
aqueducts. The root of this principle is the reservoir. A certain
steady volume of water is required, from which the arteries shall
flow throughout a large area of dry ground; thus, the reservoir
insures a regular supply to each separate channel.

In any civilized country, the existence of which depended upon
the artificial supply of water in the absence of rain, the first
engineering principle would suggest a saving of labour in
irrigation: that, instead of raising the water in small
quantities into reservoirs, the river should raise its own waters
to the required level.

Having visited every tributary of the Nile during the
explorations of nearly five years, I have been struck with the
extraordinary fact that, although an enormous amount of wealth is
conveyed to Egypt by the annual inundations of the river, the
force of the stream is entirely uncontrolled. From time
immemorial, the rise of the Nile has been watched with intense
interest at the usual season, but no attempt has been made to
insure a supply of water to Egypt during all seasons.

The mystery of the Nile has been dispelled; we have proved that
the equatorial lakes supply the main stream, but that the
inundations are caused by the sudden rush of waters from the
torrents of Abyssinia in July, August, and September; and that
the soil washed down by the floods of the Atbara is at the
present moment silting up the mouths of the Nile, and thus
slowly, but steadily, forming a delta beneath the waters of the
Mediterranean, on the same principle that created the fertile
Delta of Egypt. Both the water and the mud of the Nile have
duties to perform,--the water to irrigate; the deposit to
fertilize; but these duties are not regularly performed:
sometimes the rush of the inundation is overwhelming, at others
it is insufficient; while at all times an immense proportion of
the fertilizing mud is not only wasted by a deposit beneath the
sea, but navigation is impeded by the silt. The Nile is a
powerful horse without harness, but, with a bridle in its mouth,
the fertility of Egypt might be increased to a vast extent.

As the supply of water raised by the sageer is received in a
reservoir, from which the irrigating channels radiate through the
plantations, so should great reservoirs be formed throughout the
varying levels of Egypt, from Khartoum to the Mediterranean,
comprising a distance of sixteen degrees of latitude, with a fall
of fifteen hundred feet. The advantage of this great difference
in altitude between the Nile in latitude 15 degrees 30 minutes
and the sea, would enable any amount of irrigation, by the
establishment of a series of dams or weirs across the Nile, that
would raise its level to the required degree, at certain points,
from which the water would be led by canals into natural
depressions; these would form reservoirs, from which the water
might be led upon a vast scale, in a similar manner to the
insignificant mud basins that at the present day form the
reservoirs for the feeble water-wheels. The increase of the
river's level would depend upon the height of the dams; but, as
stone is plentiful throughout the Nile, the engineering
difficulties would be trifling.

Mehemet Ali Pasha acknowledged the principle, by the erection of
the barrage between Cairo and Alexandria, which, by simply
raising the level of the river, enabled the people to extend
their channels for irrigation; but this was the crude idea, that
has not been carried out upon a scale commensurate with the
requirements of Egypt. The ancient Egyptians made use of the lake
Mareotis as a reservoir for the Nile waters for the irrigation of
a large extent of Lower Egypt, by taking advantage of a high Nile
to secure a supply for the remainder of the year; but, great as
were the works of those industrious people, they appear to have
ignored the first principle of irrigation, by neglecting to raise
the level of the river.

Egypt remains in the same position that Nature originally
allotted to her; the life-giving stream that flows through a
thousand miles of burning sands suddenly rises in July, and
floods the Delta which it has formed by a deposit, during perhaps
hundreds of thousands of inundations; and it wastes a
superabundance of fertilizing mud in the waters of the
Mediterranean. As Nature has thus formed, and is still forming a
delta, why should not Science create a delta, with the powerful
means at our disposal? Why should not the mud of the Nile that
now silts up the Mediterranean be directed to the barren but vast
area of deserts, that by such a deposit would become a fertile
portion of Egypt? This work might be accomplished by simple
means: the waters of the Nile, that now rush impetuously at
certain seasons with overwhelming violence, while at other
seasons they are exhausted, might be so controlled that they
should never be in excess, neither would they be reduced to a
minimum in the dry season; but the enormous volume of water
heavily charged with soil, that now rushes uselessly into the
sea, might be led throughout the deserts of Nubia and Libya, to
transform them into cotton fields that would render England
independent of America. There is no fiction in this idea; it is
merely the simple and commonplace fact, that with a fall of
fifteen hundred feet in a thousand miles, with a river that
supplies an unlimited quantity of water and mud at a particular
season, a supply could be afforded to a prodigious area, that
would be fertilized not only by irrigation, but by the annual
deposit of soil from the water, allowed to remain upon the
surface. This suggestion might be carried out by gradations; the
great work might be commenced by a single dam above the first
cataract at Assouan, at a spot where the river is walled in by
granite hills; at that place, the water could be raised to an
exceedingly high level, that would command an immense tract of
country. As the system became developed, similar dams might be
constructed at convenient intervals that would not only bring
into cultivation the neighbouring deserts, but would facilitate
the navigation of the river, that is now impeded, and frequently
closed, by the numerous cataracts. By raising the level of the
Nile sixty feet at every dam, the cataracts would no longer
exist, as the rocks which at present form the obstructions would
be buried in the depths of the river. At the positions of the
several dams, sluice gates and canals would conduct the shipping
either up or down the stream. Were this principle carried out as
far as the last cataracts, near Khartoum, the Soudan would no
longer remain a desert; the Nile would become not only the
cultivator of those immense tracts that are now utterly
worthless, but it would be the navigable channel of Egypt for the
extraordinary distance of twenty-seven degrees of
latitude--direct from the Mediterranean to Gondokoro, N. lat. 4
degrees 54 minutes.

The benefits, not only to Egypt, but to civilization, would be
incalculable; those remote countries in the interior of Africa
are so difficult of access, that, although we cling to the hope
that at some future time the inhabitants may become enlightened,
it will be simply impossible to alter their present condition,
unless we change the natural conditions under which they exist.
From a combination of adverse circumstances, they are excluded
from the civilized world: the geographical position of those
desert-locked and remote countries shuts them out from personal
communication with strangers: the hardy explorer and the
missionary creep through the difficulties of distance in their
onward paths, but seldom return: the European merchant is rarely
seen, and trade resolves itself into robbery and piracy upon the
White Nile, and other countries, where distance and difficulty of
access have excluded all laws and political surveillance.
Nevertheless, throughout that desert, and neglected wilderness,
the Nile has flowed for ages, and the people upon its banks are
as wild and uncivilized at the present day as they were when the
Pyramids were raised in Lower Egypt. The Nile is a blessing only
half appreciated; the time will arrive when people will look in
amazement upon a mighty Egypt, whose waving crops shall extend,
far beyond the horizon, upon those sandy and thirsty deserts
where only the camel can contend with exhausted nature. Men will
look down from some lofty point upon a network of canals and
reservoirs, spreading throughout a land teeming with fertility,
and wonder how it was that, for so many ages, the majesty of the
Nile had been concealed. Not only the sources of that wonderful
river had been a mystery from the earliest history of the world,
but the resources and the power of the mighty Nile are still
mysterious and misunderstood.

In all rainless countries, artificial irrigation is the first law
of nature, it is self-preservation; but, even in countries where
the rainfall can be depended upon with tolerable certainty,
irrigation should never be neglected; one dry season in a
tropical country may produce a famine, the results of which may
be terrible, as instanced lately by the unfortunate calamity in
Orissa. The remains of the beautiful system of artificial
irrigation that was employed by the ancients in Ceylon, attest
the degree of civilization to which they had attained; in that
island the waters of various rivers were conducted into valleys
that were converted into lakes, by dams of solid masonry that
closed the extremity, from which the water was conducted by
artificial channels throughout the land. In those days, Ceylon
was the most fertile country of the East; her power equalled her
prosperity; vast cities teeming with a dense population stood
upon the borders of the great reservoirs, and the people revelled
in wealth and plenty. The dams were destroyed in civil warfare;
the wonderful works of irrigation shared in the destruction; the
country dried up; famine swallowed up the population; and the
grandeur and prosperity of that extraordinary country collapsed
and withered in the scorching sun, when the supply of water was

At the present moment, ten thousand square miles lie desolate in
thorny jungles, where formerly a sea of waving rice-crops floated
on the surface; the people are dead, the glory is departed. This
glory had been the fruit of irrigation. All this prosperity might
be restored: but in Egypt there has been no annihilation of a
people, and the Nile invites a renewal of the system formerly
adopted in Ceylon; there is an industrious population crowded
upon a limited space of fertile soil, and yearning for an
increase of surface. At the commencement of this work, we saw the
Egyptians boating the earth from the crumbling ruins, and
transporting it with arduous labour to spread upon the barren
sandbanks of the Nile, left by the retreating river; they were
striving for every foot of land thus offered by the exhausted
waters, and turning into gardens what in other countries would
have been unworthy of cultivation. Were a system of irrigation
established upon the principle that I have proposed, the
advantages would be enormous. The silt deposited in the
Mediterranean, that now chokes the mouths of the Nile, and blocks
up harbours, would be precipitated upon the broad area of
newly-irrigated lands, and by the time that the water arrived at
the sea, it would have been filtered in its passage, and have
become incapable of forming a fresh deposit. The great difficulty
of the Suez canal will be the silting up of the entrance by the
Nile; this would be prevented were the mud deposited in the upper

During the civil war in America, Egypt proved her capabilities by
producing a large amount of cotton of most excellent quality,
that assisted us materially in the great dearth of that article;
but, although large fortunes were realized by the extension of
this branch of agriculture, the Egyptians suffered considerably
in consequence. The area of fertile soil was too limited, and, as
an unusual surface was devoted to the growth of cotton, there was
a deficiency in the production of corn; and Egypt, instead of
exporting as heretofore, was forced to import large quantities of
grain. Were the area of Egypt increased to a vast extent by the
proposed system of irrigation, there would be space sufficient
for both grain and cotton to any amount required. The desert
soil, that is now utterly worthless, would become of great value;
and the taxes upon the increased produce would not only cover the
first outlay of the irrigation works, but would increase the
revenue in the ratio proportionate to the increased surface of
fertility. A dam across the Atbara would irrigate the entire
country from Gozerajup to Berber, a distance of upwards of 200
miles; and the same system upon the Nile would carry the waters
throughout the deserts between Khartoum and Dongola, and from
thence to Lower Egypt. The Nubian desert, from Korosko to Abou
Hamed, would become a garden, the whole of that sterile country
inclosed within the great western bend of the Nile towards
Dongola would be embraced in the system of irrigation, and the
barren sands that now give birth to the bitter melon of the
desert (Cucumis colocynthis), would bring forth the water-melon,
and heavy crops of grain.* The great Sahara is desert, simply
because it receives no rainfall: give it only water, and the sand
will combine with the richer soil beneath, and become productive.
England would become a desert, could it be deprived of rain for
three or four years; the vegetation would wither and be carried
away by the wind, together with the lighter and more friable
portions of the soil, which, reduced to dust, would leave the
coarser and more sandy particles exposed upon the surface; but
the renewal of rain would revivify the country. The deserts of
Egypt have never known rain, except in the form of an unexpected
shower, that has passed away as suddenly as it arrived; even that
slight blessing awakens ever-ready Nature, and green things
appear upon the yellow surface of the ground, that cause the
traveller to wonder how their seeds could germinate after the
exposure for so many months in the burning sand. Give water to
these thirsty deserts, and they will reply with gratitude.

* The great deserts of Northern Africa, to about
the 170 N. lat., are supposed to have formed the
bottom of the Mediterranean, but to have been
upheaved to their present level. The volcanic bombs
discovered in the Nubian Desert suggest, by their
spherical form, that the molten lava ejected by
active volcanoes had fallen from a great height
into water, that had rapidly cooled them, in the
same manner that lead shot is manufactured at the
present day. It is therefore highly probable that
the extinct craters now in existence in the Nubian
Desert were active at a period when they formed
volcanic islands in a sea--similar to Stromboli,
&c. &c.

This is the way to civilize a country: the engineer will alter
the hard conditions of nature, that have rendered man as barren
of good works as the sterile soil upon which he lives. Let man
have hope; improve the present, that his mind may look forward to
a future; give him a horse that will answer to the spur, if he is
to run in the race of life; give him a soil that will yield and
tempt him to industry; give him the means of communication with
his fellow-men, that he may see his own inferiority by
comparison; provide channels for the transport of his produce,
and for the receipt of foreign manufactures, that will engender
commerce: and then, when he has advanced so far in the scale of
humanity, you may endeavour to teach him the principles of
Christianity. Then, and not till then, can we hope for moral
progress. We must begin with the development of the physical
capabilities of a country before we can expect from its
inhabitants sufficient mental vigour to receive and understand
the truths of our religion. I have met with many Christian
missionaries, of various and conflicting creeds, who have
fruitlessly sown the seed of Christianity upon the barren soil of
Africa; but their labours were ill-timed, they were too early in
the field, the soil is unprepared; the missionary, however
earnest, must wait until there be some foundation for a
superstructure. Raise the level of the waters, and change the
character of the surrounding deserts: this will also raise the
intellectual condition of the inhabitants by an improvement in
the natural conditions of their country. . . . . . .

The first portion of our task was completed. We had visited all
the Nile tributaries of Abyssinia, including the great Blue Nile
that had been traced to its source by Bruce. The difficult task
still lay before us--to penetrate the unknown regions in the
distant south, to discover the White Nile source.* Speke and
Grant were on their road from Zanzibar, cutting their way upon
untrodden ground towards Gondokoro. Petherick's expedition to
assist them had met with misfortune, and we trusted to be able to
reach the equator, and perhaps to meet our Zanzibar explorers
somewhere about the sources of the Nile. Although we had worked
hard throughout all seasons, over an immense extent of country,
we were both strong and well, and the rest of some months at
Khartoum had only served to inspire us with new vigour for the
commencement of the work before us. By the 17th December, 1862,
our preparations were completed; three vessels were laden with
large quantities of stores--400 bushels of corn, twenty-nine
transport animals, including camels, donkeys, and horses (among
the latter was my old hunter Tetel). Ninety-six souls formed my
whole party, including forty well-armed men, with Johann Schmidt
and Richarn. On the 18th December we sailed from Khartoum upon
the White Nile towards its unknown sources, and bade farewell to
the last vestige of law, government, and civilization. I find in
my journal, the last words written at our departure upon this
uncertain task, "God grant us success; if He guides, I have no

* The account of the White Nile voyage, with the happy
meeting of captains Speke and Grant, and the subsequent
discovery of the "Albert N'yanza," has been already
given in the work of that title.


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