The Albert N'Yanza, Great Basin of the Nile
Sir Samuel White Baker

Part 1 out of 9

The Albert N'Yanza, Great Basin of the Nile
And Explorations of the Nile Sources.

by Sir Samuel W. Baker, M.A., F.R.G.S.

Gold Medallist of the Royal Geographical Society.

To Her Most Gracious Majesty
I dedicate, with Her permission,
Containing the Story of the Discovery of the Great Lake
From which the NILE ultimately flows,
And which,
As connected so intimately,
I have ventured to name
In Memory of the Late Illustrious and Lamented


In the history of the Nile there was a void: its Sources were a mystery.
The Ancients devoted much attention to this problem; but in vain. The
Emperor Nero sent an expedition under the command of two centurions, as
described by Seneca. Even Roman energy failed to break the spell that
guarded these secret fountains. The expedition sent by Mehemet Ali
Pasha, the celebrated Viceroy of Egypt, closed a long term of
unsuccessful search.

The work has now been accomplished. Three English parties, and only
three, have at various periods started upon this obscure mission: each
has gained its end.

Bruce won the source of the Blue Nile; Speke and Grant won the Victoria
source of the great White Nile; and I have been permitted to succeed in
completing the Nile Sources by the discovery of the great reservoir of
the equatorial waters, the ALBERT N'YANZA, from which the river issues
as the entire White Nile.

Having thus completed the work after nearly five years passed in Africa,
there still remains a task before me. I must take the reader of this
volume by the hand, and lead him step by step along my rough path from
the beginning to the end; through scorching deserts and thirsty sands;
through swamp, and jungle, and interminable morass; through
difficulties, fatigues, and sickness, until I bring him, faint with the
wearying journey, to that high cliff where the great prize shall burst
upon his view--from which he shall look down upon the vast ALBERT LAKE,
and drink with me from the Sources of the Nile!

I have written "HE!" How can I lead the more tender sex through dangers
and fatigues, and passages of savage life? A veil shall be thrown over
many scenes of brutality that I was forced to witness, but which I will
not force upon the reader; neither will I intrude anything that is not
actually necessary in the description of scenes that unfortunately must
be passed through in the journey now before us. Should anything offend
the sensitive mind, and suggest the unfitness of the situation for a
woman's presence, I must beseech my fair readers to reflect, that the
pilgrim's wife followed him, weary and footsore, through all his
difficulties, led, not by choice, but by devotion; and that in times of
misery and sickness her tender care saved his life and prospered the

"O woman, in our hours of ease
Uncertain, coy, and hard to please,
And variable as the shade
By the light quivering aspen made;
When pain and anguish wring the brow,
A ministering angel thou!"

In the journey now before us I must request some exercise of patience
during geographical details that may be wearisome; at all events, I will
adhere to facts, and avoid theory as much as possible.

The Botanist will have ample opportunities of straying from our path to
examine plants with which I confess a limited acquaintance. The
Ethnologist shall have precisely the same experience that I enjoyed, and
he may either be enlightened or confounded. The Geologist will find
himself throughout the journey in Central Africa among primitive rocks.
The Naturalist will travel through a grass jungle that conceals much
that is difficult to obtain: both he and the Sportsman will, I trust,
accompany me on a future occasion through the "Nile tributaries from
Abyssinia," which country is prolific in all that is interesting. The
Philanthropist,--what shall I promise to induce him to accompany me? I
will exhibit a picture of savage man precisely as he is; as I saw him;
and as I judged him, free from prejudice: painting also, in true
colours, a picture of the abomination that has been the curse of the
African race, the SLAVE TRADE; trusting that not only the
philanthropist, but every civilized being, will join in the endeavour to
erase that stain from disfigured human nature, and thus open the path
now closed to civilization and missionary enterprise. To the
Missionary,--that noble, self-exiled labourer toiling too often in a
barren field,--I must add the word of caution, "Wait"! There can be no
hope of success until the slave trade shall have ceased to exist.

The journey is long, the countries savage; there are no ancient
histories to charm the present with memories of the past; all is wild
and brutal, hard and unfeeling, devoid of that holy instinct instilled
by nature into the heart of man--the belief in a Supreme Being. In that
remote wilderness in Central Equatorial Africa are the Sources of the





Programme--Start from Cairo--Arrive at Berber--Plan of Exploration--
The River Atbara--Abyssinian Affluents--Character of Rivers--Causes
of Nile Inundations--Violence of the Rains--Arrival at Khartoum--
Description of Khartoum--Egyptian Authorities--Taxes--The Soudan--
Slave-Trade of the Soudan--Slave-Trade of the White Nile--System of
Operations--Inhuman Proceedings--Negro Allies--Revelations of
Slave-Trade--Distant Slave Markets--Prospects of the Expedition--
Difficulties at the Outset--Opposition of the Egyptian Authorities--
Preparations for Sailing--Johann Schmidt--Demand for Poll-Tax--
Collision before starting--Amiable Boy!--The Departure--The Boy Osman
--Banks of White Nile--Change in Disposition of Men--Character of the
River--Misery of Scene--River Vegetation--Ambatch Wood--Johann's
Sickness--Uses of Fish-skin--Johann Dying--Johann's Death--New Year
--Shillook Villages--The Sobat River--Its Character--Bahr Giraffe--
Bahr el Gazal--Observations--Corporal Richarn--Character of Bahr el
Gazal--Peculiarity of River Sobat--Tediousness of Voyage--Bull
Buffalo--Sali Achmet killed--His Burial--Ferocity of the Buffalo--
"The Clumsy" on the Styx--Current of White Nile--First View of Natives
--Joctian and his Wife--Charming Husband--Natron--Catch a
Hippopotamus--"Perhaps it was his Uncle"--Real Turtle is Mock
Hippopotamus--Richarn reduced to the Ranks--Arrival at the Zareeba--
Fish Spearing--The Kytch Tribe--White Ant Towers--Starvation in the
Kytch Country--Destitution of the Natives--The Bull of the Herd--Men
and Beasts in a bad Temper--Aboukooka--Austrian Mission Station--Sale
of the Mission-House--Melancholy Fate of Baron Harnier--The Aliab
Tribes--Tulmuli of Ashes--The Shir Tribe--The Lotus Harvest--Arrival
at Gondokoro--Discharge Cargo



Reports of Speke and Grant--The Bari Tribe--Description of the Natives
--Effects of poisoned Arrows--Hostility of the Bari Tribe--Atrocities
of the Trading Parties--Lawlessness at Gondokoro-A Boy shot--The first
Mutiny--Decision of my Wife--The Khartoum Escort--Arrival of Speke
and Grant--Gladness at meeting them--Their Appearance--Speke and
Grant's Discoveries--Another Lake reported to exist--Speke's
Instructions--Arrange to explore the Luta N'zige--Scarcity at
Gondokoro--Speke and Grant depart to Khartoum



Gun Accident--Birds ruin the Donkeys--Arrangement with Mahommed--His
Duplicity--Plot to obstruct my Advance--The Boy Saat--History of Saat
--First Introduction to Saat--Turned out by Mistake--Saat's Character
--Something brewing--Mutiny of Escort--Preparation for the worst--
Disarm the Mutineers--Mahommed's Desertion--Arrangement with Koorshid
Aga--The last Hope gone--Expedition ruined--Resolution to advance--
Richarn faithful--Bari Chief's Report--Parley with Mutineers--
Conspiracy again--Night Visit of Fadeela--"Quid pro Quo"--"Adda," the
Latooka--Arrange to start for Latooka--Threats of Koorshid's People--
Determination to proceed--Start from Gondokoro--My own Guide.



Bivouacking--Arrival at Belignan--Attempts at Conciliation--I shame
my Men--The March--Advantages of Donkeys--Advice for Travellers--
Want of Water--A forced March--Its Difficulties--Delays on the Road--
Cleverness of the Donkeys--Party dead-beat--Improvidence of Monkey--
We obtain Water--Native Tit-Bits--Surrounded by Natives--
Cross-Examination--Recognition of the Chief--Interest of Natives--The
Monkey Wallady--We leave Tollogo--The Ellyria Pass--A Race for
Ellyria--Ellyrian Villages palisaded--Outmarched by the Turks--
Ibrahim and his Men--Attempt at Reconciliation--Diplomacy--Peace
established--Arrive at Ellyria--Legge, the Chief of Ellyria--Presents
to Ibrahim--Legge's Intemperance--Violent Storm--No Supplies--
Formation of Skulls.



We leave Ellyria--Brutality towards the Women--Order of March--
Bellaal--Drainage towards the Sobat--Game at Wakkala--Delightful
Scenery--Latooka Thieves--Stalking Antelopes--Chase after Waterbuck--
Good Service of Rifle--The Turks' Salute--Treacherous Welcome--
Mahommed Her--Quarrelling among the Traders--The Latooka Mutiny--
Settle the Ringleader--Stop the Mutiny--I pursue a Fugitive, and
interpose on his behalf--Held in some Estimation--Desertion of Men--
The Natives of Latooka--Their probable Origin--Tribes hard to
distinguish--Tarrangolle--Native Architecture--Exhumation of the Dead
--Coiffure of Natives--Hair Helmets of Latooka--Fighting Bracelets--
The Latooka Women--The Chief's Introduction--"Moy" and his Ladies--
Bokke proposes to improve Mrs. Baker--Bokke and Daughter--Extraction
of the front Teeth--The Value of Wives--Cows of more value than Women
--Destruction of Mahommed Her's People--Death of my Deserters--My
Prophecy realized--Apprehensive of an Attack--The Turks insult the
Women--Ill Conduct of the Turks--Well done, Bokke!--Results of the
Turks' Misconduct--Interview with Commoro--Awkward Position--The
Latooka War Signal--Preparations for Defence--We await the Attack--
Parley--Too "wide awake"--Camp at Tarrangolle--Scarcity in view of
Plenty--Wild Duck Shooting--The Crested Crane, &c.--Adda's Proposal--
Obtuseness of Natives--Degraded State of Natives.



A Funeral Dance--Bari Interpreters--Commoro, the Lion--Conversation
with Commoro--"Where will the Spirit live?"--"Good and bad all die"--
Failure of the religious Argument--Further Conversation--The Camel
poisoned--Habits of the Camel--Camel's peculiar Constitution--The
Hygeen, or riding Dromedary--Loss of Camel a Misfortune--Dirty Donkeys



Herds of the Latookas and Game--Storm--Effects of Rain upon Natives--
Native Blacksmiths--Their Tools--Elephants--Elephant Hunt--Tetel, my
old Hunter--Charged by a herd of Elephants--Cowardly Followers--Track
the wounded Elephant--Nearly caught--Tetel distressed--Return to Camp
--African and Indian Elephants--Height of Elephants--Food of Elephants
--African and Ceylon Elephants--Difference in Formation of Brain--
Rifles and Bullets for heavy Game--Character of Country and its Sports
--The "Baby"--Method of killing Elephants--Elephant Pitfalls--
Circling them with Fire--Native Hunting--The Bagara Hunters--Danger
of Elephant Hunting



The African Black--Comparison between Whites and Blacks--Varieties in
Creation--The Negro--Character of the Negro-Originated African Slave
System--Indisposition to Work--Negro Slave Hunters--Ibrahimawa; or,
Sinbad the Sailor--Makkarika Cannibals--My daily Employments--
Quarrels with the Latookas--Parley with Latooka Chiefs--The Latookas
seize a Gun--Helplessness in an Advance--Hope to the South--Journey
to Obbo--Uncomfortable Night--Enter the Mountains--Beautiful Scenery
--Arrive at Obbo--Natives of Obbo--Butter Nuts and Fruits--Pottery
and Utensils--Natural Features of Obbo--Katchiba, Chief of Obbo--
Entertained with a Dance--Women of Obbo--Languages of Tribes--
Katchiba's Diplomacy--Katchiba "always at Home"--Family Government--
The great Magician--Reconnaissance to the South--Mrs. Baker's Dwelling
--An Upset--Loss of Filfil--My Bivouac--Ceremony of Welcome at
Farajoke--Elevated Country at Farajoke--Stopped by the Asua--Return
to Obbo--Gallantry of Katchiba--Katchiba determines to ride--First
Attempts at Horsemanship--Recover the lost Horse--Ceremony at parting
with Katchiba--Return to Latooka--Discovery of supposed Yams--Beware
of Botanists--Baboons--The Maharif Antelope--The Giraffe--Hunting
Giraffes--Unsuccessful Hunt--Benighted--Regain the Party--
Bread-baking on the March--Sickness; Small-pox--Wani, the Interpreter
--First Clue to the Lake--Brown Men are called White



The "Pleasant Robber" killed--Division of the Spoil--Discord among the
Natives--The Life of Women spared in War--Scarcity of Salt, among the
Latookas--Another Cause of Alarm--The Turks murder a Native--Country
disturbed--Good Sport--Two Thieves--Ibrahimawa's Reminiscences of
England--Party recalled to Obbo--White Ants--Destructiveness of Birds
--Cattle Stealers at Night--A Thief shot--My Wife ill with Fever--
March to Obbo--Great Puff Adder--Poison-fangs of Snakes--Violent
Storm--Arrive again at Obbo--Hostility caused by the Turks--The M.D.
attends us--Death of "Mouse"--Marauding Expedition--Saat becomes
scientific--Saat and Gaddum Her--Will England suppress the Slave
Trade?--Filthy Customs of the Natives--The Egyptian Scarabaeus--
Bacheeta, the Unyoro Slave--Intelligence of the Lake--Its probable
Commercial Advantages--Commerce with the Interior--Obbo the Clothing
Frontier--Death of my last Camel--Excellent Species of Gourd--A
Morning Call in Obbo--Katchiba's Musical Accomplishments--Loss of
remaining Donkey--Deceived by the Turks--Fever--Symptoms--Dismal
Prospect, "Coming Events," &c.



Physician in General--Influence gained over the People--Katchiba is
applied to for Rain--"Are you a Rainmaker?"--Katchiba takes Counsel's
Opinion--Successful Case--Night-watch for Elephants--Elephant killed
--Dimensions of the Elephant--Wild Boars--Start for the South--Mrs.
Baker thrown from her Ox--The Asua River--Stalking Mehedehet Antelope
--A Prairie Fire--Tracking an Antelope--Turks' Standard-bearer killed
--Arrival at Shooa--The Neighbourhood of Shooa--Fruitfulness of Shooa
--Cultivation and Granaries--Absconding of Obbo Porters--"Wheels
within Wheels"--Difficulty in starting South--Departure from Shooa--
Fatiko Levee--Boundless Prairies--Fire the Prairies--Deceit of the
Guide--Arrive at the Victoria Nile--Arrive at Rionga's Country--Start
for Karuma--The Karuma Falls--Welcome by Kamrasi's People--Passage of
the River forbidden--To await Reply of Kamrasi--The Natives' Dread of
Kamrasi--They hold a Conference--Resolve to cross the River alone--
The Ferry of Atada--Reception by Keedja--I lull the Suspicions of the
Natives--Appellations of Speke and Grant--Freemasonry of Unyoro--
Native Curiosity--The Bark Cloth of Unyoro--Comparative Civilization
of Unyoros--Native Pottery--The Bottle Gourds used as Models--"Great
Men never in a Hurry to pay Visits"--Pronounced to be Speke's Brother--
The Escort cross the River--Neatness of the Natives in packing--Native
Manufactures--March parallel with the Victoria Nile--Severe Illness of
Mrs. Baker--March to the Capital--Kamrasi suspects Treachery--Arrive
at last at the Capital--Imprisoned on the Marsh--Expectation of an
Attack--Kamrasi makes a State Visit--Conversation with the King--His
Reception of my Presents--Another Interview with Kamrasi--Exchange
Blood and become Friends--Avarice of the King--Permitted to leave our
Fever-bed--Ibrahim and Party return North--Sulkiness of Bacheeta--
Attempt to barter for Speke's Rifle--Rapacity of the Chiefs.



Despicable Conduct of the King--Pertinacity of Kamrasi--Kamrasi's
Infamous Proposal--Resentment of the King's Insolence--The King's
Apology--Expectation of a Fight--Kamrasi's Satanic Escort--The Rout
at a Gun-shot--A disagreeable Escort--Passage of the Kafoor--Mrs.
Baker receives a Sun-stroke--Dismissal of the brutal Escort--Misery
and Distress--Return to Consciousness, but afflicted with Brain-fever



The Sugarcane indigenous--Unyoro People clean Feeders--Close to the
Lake--Discovery of the Albert N'yanza--Gratitude to Providence--
Denominate it "The Albert N'yanza"--Fishing Tackle--The Lake declared
to be the Sea--Feast in honour of the Discovery--Survey of the Lake--
Geography of the Lake--Countries bordering the Lake--The Great Basin
of the Nile--Sources of the Nile--Affluents of the Albert Lake--Our
whole party Fever-stricken--Yearning for Home--Arrange Canoes for Lake
Voyage--Start from Vacovia--Voyage upon the Lake--Shore Encampment--
Deserted by the Boatmen--No Pilot--Endeavour to civilize the Canoes--
Adapt a Scotch Plaid for a Sail--Natives volunteer as Boatmen--Storm
on the Lake--Nearly swamped--Land safely on Shore--Falls of the
Kaiigiri River--Shoot a Crocodile--Taste of Crocodile Flesh--
Discomforts of Lake Voyage--Elephants in the Lake--Inhospitable
Natives--Procure Supplies--The Lake changes its character--Arrival at
Magungo--Embouchure of the Somerset River--Fish and Fishing--The
Baggera and Lepidosiren Annecteus--Native Fishing Arrangements--Exit
of the Nile from the Lake--Nile navigable from Lake to Madi--The
Victoria Nile at Magungo--Determination to settle Nile Question--Nobly
seconded by Mrs. Baker--Leave Magungo--Voyage up the Victoria Nile--
Stricken again with Fever--Guided by Waterplants--Numerous Crocodiles
--The Murchison Falls--Hippopotamus charges the Canoe--Narrow Escape
from Crocodiles--Arrival of Oxen, but not the Guide--Loss of Oxen from
Fly-bite--Sickness on the March--The Island of Patooan--Information
about Ibrahim--Difference in the Level--Difference in Observations--



Confined in the Country--Determine to proceed--Deserted by the Natives
--Discovery of a "Tullaboon" Granary--Misery at Shooa Moru--Hard Fare
--Preparation for Death--Kamrasi's Tactics--The Bait takes--We are
carried to the King's Camp--Rejoin the Turks' Detachment--Their
Welcome--Kamrasi seeks my Alliance--Deception of Kamrasi--M'Gambi has
impersonated the King--The real Kamrasi--Prefer seeing Meat to a King
--The begging Envoy--Carried to the Camp of Kamrasi--Introduction to
the real King--Description of Kamrasi--The Native Court



System of Fattening--Native Preparations of Food--Native Manufactures
--Knavery of Native Butter-dealers--Vapour Bath for Fever--State Visit
from the King--Mendicancy again--The King in love with a Tooth-comb--
Effect of concave Mirror--Attempts at Ancient History--Kamrasi's
Request--Kamrasi affronted--Sudden Invasion of the Country--Alarm and
Cowardice of Kamrasi--The British Flag protects Unyoro--Diplomatic
Arrangement--Conference with Debono's Party--Settle authoritatively
all Objections--Retreat of the Invaders.



The pertinacious Beggar--Summary Justice for High Treason--Arrival of
Ivory for the Turks--Frightful Barbarities upon Captives--The Female
Captives--Treacherous Murder of Sali--Disputes with Kamrasi--Advice
to Kamrasi--The Turks begin to bully--Eddrees refused Admittance at
Court--Communicate with Ibrahim--Drunkenness among the Unyoros--
Native Sorcerers--Implicit Belief in Sorcerers--Invasion of the M'Was
--Consulted by the King in the Extremity--Kamrasi will not Fight--An
invigorating little Difficulty--Mock Valour by Unyoros--Kamrasi's
Retreat--We are Deserted--Prepare for Retreat--Leave Kisoona--Arrive
at Deang--No Water--Deserted again by the Porters--Richarn missing--
Richarn reported as killed--The M'Was' Drums beat--March to Foweera--
The Night Retreat--Lose the Road--At a Loss for direct Route--Capture
a Native--Recover the Route--Exhaustion of Mrs. Baker--Arrive at
Foweera--Well prepared--Refuse to assist Kamrasi--Richarn's Return--
Richarn's Story--The King in Distress--Arrival of Ibrahim with
Reinforcements--Receive Letters and Papers from Home--Kamrasi "is
himself again"--Invasion of the Langgo Country--The Whisky Distillery
--Kamrasi tries the Whisky--Butcheries by Kamrasi--Kamrasi orders the
Murder of Kalloe--Attempt to save Kalloe--Pursuit and Capture of Kalloe
--I intercede on his behalf--Death of a Headman--Shot by order of
Kamrasi--The Warning--The Bodyguard



Begging to the last--We quit Kamrasi's Territory--March to Shooa--
Arrive at Shooa--The Lira Tribe--Resemblance of Natives' and Lawyers'
Wigs--Result of the Turks' Razzias--Loss of Cattle by the Turks--The
Fight with Werdella--Courage of Werdella--Werdella defeats the Turks--
Murder of a Native--Runaway slaves recaptured--Brutality of the Turks
--Little Abbai--The Children of the Camp--Pleasant Time with the
Children--Shoot a Crocodile--The Black Rhinoceros--The Lira
Head-dress--Native Use of Donkeys



Results of the Ivory Campaign--Preparations for starting Homeward--
Part regretfully with the Children--The Traveller's Tree--View of the
Nile--Koshi and Madi--Gebel Kookoo--On Speke and Grant's Route--
Changes in the Nile--The Asua River--Suspicious Movements of the
Natives--Attacked in the Pass--Night in a hostile Country--Camp
surrounded by Natives--Poisoned Arrows shot into Camp--Sight Belignan
--Approach Gondokoro--Arrive at Gondokoro--Neither Letters nor



Intelligence from Khartoum--Retreat of the Slaves--Influence gained
over Traders' People--Sail from Gondokoro--The Nile cleared of its
Mystery--The Victoria Source--Ptolemy's Theory--Rainfall--Affluents
of the White Nile--Action of the Abyssinian Rivers--Colonization
impossible--Slavery the Curse of Africa--Impotence of European Consuls
--Impossibility of convicting a Trader--Central Africa opened to
Navigation--Tribes of Central Africa--Vestiges of a Pre-Adamite
Creation--Geological Formation--Hypothesis of Equatorial Lakes--Sir
Roderick Murchison's Theories confirmed--Sir Roderick Murchison's



Antelope shooting--Arrive at Junction of Bahr el Gazal--Arrive at the
Nile Dam--Character of the Obstruction--Passage through the Dam--The
Plague breaks out--Saat smitten by the Plague--Entertained by Osman
Bey--Saat dies--Burial of Saat--Arrival at Khartoum--Albert Lake
Reservoir of Nile--Destruction by the Plague--A Darkness that might be
felt--Horrible Slave Cargo--Meet with Mahommed Her--Mahommed Her
punished--Nearly wrecked--Stranded among Cataracts--Clear the Danger
--Start from Berber to Souakim--A Row in the Desert--Combat with the
Arabs--"Bravo, Zeneb!"--Disarm the Arabs--Cross the Mountains--First
View of the Sea--Souakim--Arrival at Suez--Farewell to Africa--
Exertions appreciated


General Map of Country, Nile Basin
Arms and Instruments of various Tribes
Nuehr Natives coming to the Boats
Joctian, Chief of the Nuehr Tribe
Chief of Kytch and Daughter
Starving boy of Kytch Tribe begging
The Boys who have begged
A Homestead of the Bari Tribe-The usual Attitudes of the Men
Legge the Chief
Commoro running to the Fight
Bokke-Wife of Moy, Chief of Latooka
Drake's Head
Crimson-headed Spur-winged Goose
The Latooka Funeral Dance
Latooka Blacksmiths
The last Charge
Head-dress of Obbo (1) and Shoggo (2)
Women of Obbo
Katchiba's eldest Son
Katchiba and his Hebe on a Journey
Overhauling the Giraffes
The Obbo War Dance
Mehedehet Antelope
Natives of Lira (1) and Madi (2) in the Camp at Shooa
My Examination by the Chiefs on entering Unyoro-Resolved,
that I am Speke's Brother
The Start from the M'rooli for the Lake with Kamrasi's Satanic
The Storm on the Albert Lake
The Baggera
Lepidosiren Annecteus
The Murchison Falls, about 120 ft. high from the Victoria Nile
or Somerset River to the Level of the Albert Lake
The Welcome on our Return to the Camp at Shooa
Head of Black Rhinoceros
The Chief of the Lira Tribe
Skirmish with the Natives


The primary object of geographical exploration is the opening to general
intercourse such portions of the earth as may become serviceable to the
human race. The explorer is the precursor of the colonist; and the
colonist is the human instrument by which the great work must be
constructed--that greatest and most difficult of all undertakings--the
civilization of the world.

The progress of civilization depends upon geographical position. The
surface of the earth presents certain facilities and obstacles to
general access; those points that are easily attainable must always
enjoy a superior civilization to those that are remote from association
with the world.

We may thus assume that the advance of civilization is dependent upon
facility of transport. Countries naturally excluded from communication
may, through the ingenuity of man, be rendered accessible; the natural
productions of those lands may be transported to the seacoast in
exchange for foreign commodities; and commerce, thus instituted, becomes
the pioneer of civilization.

England, the great chief of the commercial world, possesses a power that
enforces a grave responsibility. She has the force to civilize. She is
the natural colonizer of the world. In the short space of three
centuries, America, sprung from her loins, has become a giant offspring,
a new era in the history of the human race, a new birth whose future
must be overwhelming. Of later date, and still more rapid in
development, Australia rises, a triumphant proof of England's power to
rescue wild lands from barrenness; to wrest from utter savagedom those
mighty tracts of the earth's surface wasted from the creation of the
world,--a darkness to be enlightened by English colonization. Before the
advancing steps of civilization the savage inhabitants of dreary wastes
retreated: regions hitherto lain hidden, and counting as nothing in the
world's great total, have risen to take the lead in the world's great

Thus England's seed cast upon the earth's surface germinates upon soils
destined to reproduce her race. The energy and industry of the mother
country become the natural instincts of her descendants in localities
adapted for their development; and wherever Nature has endowed a land
with agricultural capabilities, and favourable geographical position,
slowly but surely that land will become a centre of civilization.

True Christianity cannot exist apart from civilization; thus, the spread
of Christianity must depend upon the extension of civilization; and that
extension depends upon commerce.

The philanthropist and the missionary will expend their noble energies
in vain in struggling against the obtuseness of savage hordes, until the
first steps towards their gradual enlightenment shall have been made by
commerce. The savage must learn to WANT; he must learn to be ambitious;
and to covet more than the mere animal necessities of food and drink.
This can alone be taught by a communication with civilized beings: the
sight of men well clothed will induce the naked savage to covet
clothing, and will create a WANT; the supply of this demand will be the
first step towards commerce. To obtain the supply, the savage must
produce some article in return as a medium of barter, some natural
production of his country adapted to the trader's wants. His wants will
increase as his ideas expand by communication with Europeans: thus, his
productions must increase in due proportion, and he must become
industrious; industry being the first grand stride towards civilization.

The natural energy of all countries is influenced by climate; and
civilization being dependent upon industry, or energy, must accordingly
vary in its degrees according to geographical position. The natives of
tropical countries do not progress: enervated by intense heat, they
incline rather to repose and amusement than to labour. Free from the
rigour of winters, and the excitement of changes in the seasons, the
native character assumes the monotony of their country's temperature.
They have no natural difficulties to contend with,--no struggle with
adverse storms and icy winds and frost-bound soil; but an everlasting
summer, and fertile ground producing with little tillage, excite no
enterprise; and the human mind, unexercised by difficulties, sinks into
languor and decay. There are a lack of industry, a want of intensity of
character, a love of ease and luxury, which leads to a devotion to
sensuality,--to a plurality of wives, which lowers the character and
position of woman. Woman, reduced to that false position, ceases to
exercise her proper influence upon man; she becomes the mere slave of
passion, and, instead of holding her sphere as the emblem of
civilization she becomes its barrier. The absence of real love
engendered by a plurality of wives, is an absolute bar to progress; and
so long as polygamy exists, an extension of civilization is impossible.
In all tropical countries polygamy is the prevailing evil: this is the
greatest obstacle to Christianity. The Mahommedan religion, planned
carefully for Eastern habits, allowed a plurality of wives, and
prospered. The savage can be taught the existence of a Deity, and become
a Mussulman; but to him the hateful law of fidelity to one wife is a bar
to Christianity. Thus, in tropical climates there will always be a
slower advance of civilization than in more temperate zones.

The highest civilization was originally confined to the small portion of
the globe comprised between Persia, Egypt, Greece, and Italy. In those
countries was concentrated the world's earliest history; and although
changed in special importance, they preserve their geographical
significance to the present day.

The power and intelligence of man will have their highest development
within certain latitudes, and the natural passions and characters of
races will be governed by locality and the temperature of climate.

There are certain attractions in localities that induce first
settlements of man; even as peculiar conditions of country attract both
birds and animals. The first want of man and beast is food: thus fertile
soil and abundant pasture, combined with good climate and water
communication, always ensure the settlement of man; while natural
seed-bearing grasses, forests, and prairies attract both birds and
beasts. The earth offers special advantages in various positions to both
man and beast; and such localities are, with few exceptions, naturally
inhabited. From the earliest creation there have been spots so
peculiarly favoured by nature, by geographical position, climate, and
fertility, that man has striven for their occupation, and they have
become scenes of contention for possession. Such countries have had a
powerful influence in the world's history, and such will be the great
pulses of civilization,--the sources from which in a future, however
distant, will flow the civilization of the world. Egypt is the land
whose peculiar capabilities have thus attracted the desires of conquest,
and with whom the world's earliest history is intimately connected.

Egypt has been an extraordinary instance of the actual formation of a
country by alluvial deposit; it has been CREATED by a single river. The
great Sahara, that frightful desert of interminable scorching sand,
stretching from the Red Sea to the Atlantic, is cleft by one solitary
thread of water. Ages before man could have existed in that inhospitable
land, that thread of water was at its silent work: through countless
years it flooded and fell, depositing a rich legacy of soil upon the
barren sand until the delta was created; and man, at so remote a period
that we have no clue to an approximate date, occupied the fertile soil
thus born of the river Nile, and that corner of savage Africa, rescued
from its barrenness, became Egypt, and took the first rank in the
earth's history.

For that extraordinary land the world has ever contended, and will yet

From the Persian conquest to the present day, although the scene of
continual strife, Egypt has been an example of almost uninterrupted
productiveness. Its geographical position afforded peculiar advantages
for commercial enterprise. Bounded on the east by the Red Sea, on the
north by the Mediterranean, while the fertilizing Nile afforded inland
communication, Egypt became the most prosperous and civilized country of
the earth. Egypt was not only created by the Nile, but the very
existence of its inhabitants depended upon the annual inundation of that
river: thus all that related to the Nile was of vital importance to the
people; it was the hand that fed them.

Egypt depending so entirely upon the river, it was natural that the
origin of those mysterious waters should have absorbed the attention of
thinking men. It was unlike all other rivers. In July and August, when
European streams were at their lowest in the summer heat, the Nile was
at the flood! In Egypt there was no rainfall--not even a drop of dew in
those parched deserts through which, for 860 miles of latitude, the
glorious river flowed without a tributary. Licked up by the burning sun,
and gulped by the exhausting sand of Nubian deserts, supporting all
losses by evaporation and absorption, the noble flood shed its annual
blessings upon Egypt. An anomaly among rivers; flooding in the driest
season; everlasting in sandy deserts; where was its hidden origin? where
were the sources of the Nile?

This was from the earliest period the great geographical question to be

In the advanced stage of civilization of the present era, we look with
regret at the possession by the Moslem of the fairest portions of the
world,--of countries so favoured by climate and by geographical
position, that, in the early days of the earth's history, they were the
spots most coveted; and that such favoured places should, through the
Moslem rule, be barred from the advancement that has attended lands less
adapted by nature for development. There are no countries of the earth
so valuable, or that would occupy so important a position in the family
of nations, as Turkey in Europe, Asia Minor, and Egypt, under a
civilized and Christian government.

As the great highway to India, Egypt is the most interesting country to
the English. The extraordinary fertility being due entirely to the Nile,
I trust that I may have added my mite to the treasury of scientific
knowledge by completing the discovery of the sources of that wonderful
river, and thereby to have opened a way to the heart of Africa, which,
though dark in our limited perspective, may, at some future period, be
the path to civilization.

I offer to the world my narrative of many years of hardships and
difficulties, happily not vainly spent in this great enterprise: should
some un-ambitious spirits reflect, that the results are hardly worth the
sacrifice of the best years of life thus devoted to exile and suffering,
let them remember that "we are placed on earth for a certain period, to
fulfil, according to our several conditions and degrees of mind, those
duties by which the earth's history is carried on." (E. L. Bulwer's
"Life, Literature, and Manners.")




In March, 1861, I commenced an expedition to discover the sources of the
Nile, with the hope of meeting the East African expedition of Captains
Speke and Grant, that had been sent by the English Government from the
South via Zanzibar, for that object. I had not the presumption to
publish my intention, as the sources of the Nile had hitherto defied all
explorers, but I had inwardly determined to accomplish this difficult
task or to die in the attempt. From my youth I had been inured to
hardships and endurance in wild sports in tropical climates, and when I
gazed upon the map of Africa I had a wild hope, mingled with humility,
that, even as the insignificant worm bores through the hardest oak, I
might by perseverance reach the heart of Africa.

I could not conceive that anything in this world had power to resist a
determined will, so long as health and life remained. The failure of
every former attempt to reach the Nile source did not astonish me, as
the expeditions had consisted of parties, which, when difficulties
occur, generally end in difference of opinion and retreat: I therefore
determined to proceed alone, trusting in the guidance of a Divine
Providence and the good fortune that sometimes attends a tenacity of
purpose. I weighed carefully the chances of the undertaking. Before
me--untrodden Africa; against me--the obstacles that had defeated the
world since its creation; on my side--a somewhat tough constitution,
perfect independence, a long experience in savage life, and both time
and means which I intended to devote to the object without limit.
England had never sent an expedition to the Nile sources previous to
that under the command of Speke and Grant. Bruce, ninety years ago, had
succeeded in tracing the source of the Blue or Lesser Nile: thus the
honour of that discovery belonged to Great Britain; Speke was on his
road from the South; and I felt confident that my gallant friend would
leave his bones upon the path rather than submit to failure. I trusted
that England would not be beaten; and although I hardly dared to hope
that I could succeed where others greater than I had failed, I
determined to sacrifice all in the attempt. Had I been alone it would
have been no hard lot to die upon the untrodden path before me, but
there was one who, although my greatest comfort, was also my greatest
care; one whose life yet dawned at so early an age that womanhood was
still a future. I shuddered at the prospect for her, should she be left
alone in savage lands at my death; and gladly would I have left her in
the luxuries of home instead of exposing her to the miseries of Africa.

It was in vain that I implored her to remain, and that I painted the
difficulties and perils still blacker than I supposed they really would
be: she was resolved, with woman's constancy and devotion, to share all
dangers and to follow me through each rough footstep of the wild life
before me. "And Ruth said, Entreat me not to leave thee, or to return
from following after thee: for whither thou goest I will go, and where
thou lodgest I will lodge; thy people shall be my people, and thy God my
God: where thou diest will I die; and there will I be buried: the Lord
do so to me, and more also, if aught but death part thee and me."

Thus accompanied by my wife, on the 15th April 1861, I sailed up the
Nile from Cairo. The wind blew fair and strong from the north, and we
flew towards the south against the stream, watching those mysterious
waters with a firm resolve to track them to their distant fountain.

On arrival at Korosko, in Lat. 22 degrees 44 minutes, in twenty-six days
from Cairo, we started across the Nubian desert, thus cutting off the
western bend of the Nile, and in seven days' forced camel march we again
reached the river Abou Hamed. The journey through that desert is most
fatiguing, as the march averages fifteen hours a day through a
wilderness of scorching sand and glowing basalt rocks. The simoom was in
full force at that season (May), and the thermometer, placed in the
shade by the water skins, stood at 114 degrees Fahrenheit.

No drinkable water was procurable on the route; thus our supply was
nearly expended upon reaching the welcome Nile. After eight days' march
on the margin of the river from Abou Hamed through desert, but in view
of the palm trees that bordered the river, we arrived at Berber, a
considerable town in lat. 17 degrees 58 minutes on the banks of the

Berber is eight days' camel march from Khartoum (at the junction of the
White and Blue Niles, in lat. 15 degrees 30 minutes), and is the regular
caravan route between that town and Cairo.

From the slight experience I had gained in the journey to Berber, I felt
convinced that success in my Nile expedition would be impossible without
a knowledge of Arabic. My dragoman had me completely in his power, and I
resolved to become independent of all interpreters as soon as possible.
I therefore arranged a plan of exploration for the first year, to
embrace the affluents to the Nile from the Abyssinian range of
mountains, intending to follow up the Atbara river from its junction
with the Nile in lat. 17 degrees 37 minutes (twenty miles south of
Berber), and to examine all the Nile tributaries from the southeast as
far as the Blue Nile, which river I hoped ultimately to descend to
Khartoum. I imagined that twelve months would be sufficient to complete
such an exploration, by which time I should have gained a sufficient
knowledge of Arabic to enable me to start from Khartoum for my White
Nile expedition. Accordingly I left Berber on the 11th June, 1861, and
arrived at the Atbara junction with the Nile on the 13th.

There is no portion of the Nile so great in its volume as that part
situated at the Atbara junction. The river Atbara is about 450 yards in
average width, and from twenty-five to thirty feet deep during the rainy
season. It brings down the entire drainage of Eastern Abyssinia,
receiving as affluents into its main stream the great rivers Taccazy (or
Settite), in addition to the Salaam and Angrab. The junction of the
Atbara in lat. 17 degrees 37 minutes N. is thus, in a direct line from
Alexandria, about 840 geographical miles of latitude, and, including the
westerly bend of the Nile, its bed will be about eleven hundred miles in
length from the mouth of its last tributary, the Atbara, until it meets
the sea. Thus, eleven hundred miles of absorption and evaporation
through sandy deserts and the delta must be sustained by the river
between the Atbara junction and the Mediterranean: accordingly there is
an immense loss of water; and the grandest volume of the Nile must be
just below the Atbara junction.

It is not my intention in the present work to enter into the details of
my first year's exploration on the Abyssinian frontier; that being so
extensive and so completely isolated from the grand White Nile
expedition, that an amalgamation of the two would create confusion. I
shall therefore reserve the exploration of the Abyssinian tributaries
for a future publication, and confine my present description of the
Abyssinian rivers to a general outline of the Atbara and Blue Nile,
showing the origin of their floods and their effect upon the inundations
in Lower Egypt.

I followed the banks of the Atbara to the junction of the Settite or
Taccazy river; I then followed the latter grand stream into the
Abyssinian mountains in the Base country. From thence I crossed over to
the rivers Salaam and Angrab, at the foot of the magnificent range of
mountains from which they flow direct into the Atbara. Having explored
those rivers, I passed through an extensive and beautiful tract of
country forming a portion of Abyssinia on the south bank of the river
Salaam; and again crossing the Atbara, I arrived at the frontier town of
Gellabat, known by Bruce as "Ras el Feel." Marching due west from that
point I arrived at the river Rahad, in about lat. 12 degrees 30 minutes;
descending its banks I crossed over a narrow strip of country to the
west, arriving at the river Dinder, and following these streams to their
junction with the Blue Nile, I descended that grand river to Khartoum,
having been exactly twelve months from the day I had left Berber.

The whole of the above-mentioned rivers--i.e. the Atbara, Settite,
Salaam, Angrab, Rahad, Dinder, and Blue Nile--are the great drains of
Abyssinia, all having a uniform course from southeast to northwest, and
meeting the main Nile in two mouths; by the Blue Nile at Khartoum, 15
degrees 30 minutes, and by the Atbara, in lat. 17 degrees 37 minutes.
The Blue Nile during the dry season is so reduced that there is not
sufficient water for the small vessels engaged in transporting produce
from Sennaar to Khartoum; at that time the water is beautifully clear,
and, reflecting the cloudless sky, its colour has given it the
well-known name of Bahr el Azrak, or Blue River. No water is more
delicious than that of the Blue Nile; in great contrast to that of the
White river, which is never clear, and has a disagreeable taste of
vegetation. This difference in the quality of the waters is a
distinguishing characteristic of the two rivers: the one, the Blue Nile,
is a rapid mountain stream, rising and falling with great rapidity; the
other is of lake origin, flowing through vast marshes. The course of the
Blue Nile is through fertile soil; thus there is a trifling loss by
absorption, and during the heavy rains a vast amount of earthy matter of
a red colour is contributed by its waters to the general fertilizing
deposit of the Nile in Lower Egypt.

The Atbara, although so important a river in the rainy season of
Abyssinia, is perfectly dry for several months during the year, and at
the time I first saw it, June 13, 1861, it was a mere sheet of glaring
sand; in fact a portion of the desert through which it flowed. For
upwards of one hundred and fifty miles from its junction with the Nile,
it is perfectly dry from the beginning of March to June. At intervals of
a few miles there are pools or ponds of water left in the deep holes
below the general average of the river's bed. In these pools, some of
which may be a mile in length, are congregated all the inhabitants of
the river, who as the stream disappears are forced to close quarters in
these narrow asylums; thus, crocodiles, hippopotami, fish, and large
turtle are crowded in extraordinary numbers, until the commencement of
the rains in Abyssinia once more sets them at liberty by sending down a
fresh volume to the river. The rainy season commences in Abyssinia in
the middle of May, but the country being parched by the summer heat, the
first rains are absorbed by the soil, and the torrents do not fill until
the middle of June.

From June to the middle of September the storms are terrific; every
ravine becomes a raging torrent; trees are rooted up by the mountain
streams swollen above their banks, and the Atbara becomes a vast river,
bringing down with an overwhelming current the total drainage of four
large rivers--the Settite, Royan, Salaam, and Angrab--in addition to its
own original volume. Its waters are dense with soil washed from most
fertile lands far from its point of junction with the Nile; masses of
bamboo and driftwood, together with large trees, and frequently the dead
bodies of elephants and buffaloes, are hurled along its muddy waters in
wild confusion, bringing a rich harvest to the Arabs on its banks, who
are ever on the look-out for the river's treasures of fuel and timber.

The Blue Nile and the Atbara receiving the entire drainage of Abyssinia,
at the same time pour their floods into the main Nile in the middle of
June. At that season the White Nile is at a considerable level, although
not at its HIGHEST; and the sudden rush of water descending from
Abyssinia into the main channel, already at a fair level from the White
Nile, causes the annual inundation in Lower Egypt.

During the year that I passed in the northern portion of Abyssinia and
its frontiers, the rains continued with great violence for three months,
the last shower falling on the 16th September, from which date there was
neither dew nor rain until the following May. The great rivers expended,
and the mountain torrents dried up; the Atbara disappeared, and once
more became a sheet of glaring sand. The rivers Settite, Salaam, and
Angrab, although much reduced, are nevertheless perennial streams,
flowing into the Atbara from the lofty Abyssinian mountains; but the
parched, sandy bed of the latter river absorbs the entire supply, nor
does one drop of water reach the Nile from the Atbara during the dry
season. The wonderful absorption by the sand of that river is an
illustration of the impotence of the Blue Nile to contend unaided with
the Nubian deserts, which, were it not for the steady volume of the
White Nile, would drink every drop of water before the river could pass
the twenty-fifth degree of latitude.

The principal affluents of the Blue Nile are the Rahad and Dinder,
flowing, like all others, from Abyssinia. The Rahad is entirely dry
during the dry season, and the Dinder is reduced to a succession of deep
pools, divided by sandbanks, the bed of the river being exposed. These
pools are the resort of numerous hippopotami and the natural inhabitants
of the river.

Having completed the exploration of the various affluents to the Nile
from Abyssinia, passing through the Base country and the portion of
Abyssinia occupied by Mek Nimmur, I arrived at Khartoum, the capital of
the Soudan provinces, on the 11th June, 1862.

Khartoum is situated in lat. 15 degrees 29 minutes, on a point of land
forming the angle between the White and Blue Niles at their junction. A
more miserable, filthy, and unhealthy spot can hardly be imagined. Far
as the eye can reach, upon all sides, is a sandy desert. The town,
chiefly composed of huts of unburnt brick, extends over a flat hardly
above the level of the river at high water, and is occasionally flooded.
Although containing about 30,000 inhabitants, and densely crowded, there
are neither drains nor cesspools: the streets are redolent with
inconceivable nuisances; should animals die, they remain where they
fall, to create pestilence and disgust. There are, nevertheless, a few
respectable houses, occupied by the traders of the country, a small
proportion of whom are Italians, French, and Germans, the European
population numbering about thirty. Greeks, Syrians, Copts, Armenians,
Turks, Arabs, and Egyptians, form the motley inhabitants of Khartoum.

There are consuls for France, Austria, and America, and with much
pleasure I acknowledge many kind attentions, and assistance received
from the two former, M. Thibaut and Herr Hansall.

Khartoum is the seat of government, the Soudan provinces being under the
control of a Governor-general, with despotic power. In 1861, there were
about six thousand troops quartered in the town; a portion of these were
Egyptians; other regiments were composed of blacks from Kordofan, and
from the White and Blue Niles, with one regiment of Arnouts, and a
battery of artillery. These troops are the curse of the country: as in
the case of most Turkish and Egyptian officials, the receipt of pay is
most irregular, and accordingly the soldiers are under loose discipline.
Foraging and plunder is the business of the Egyptian soldier, and the
miserable natives must submit to insult and ill-treatment at the will of
the brutes who pillage them ad libitum.

In 1862, Moosa Pasha was the Governor-general of the Soudan. This man
was a rather exaggerated specimen of Turkish authorities in general,
combining the worst of Oriental failings with the brutality of a wild
animal. During his administration the Soudan became utterly ruined;
governed by military force, the revenue was unequal to the expenditure,
and fresh taxes were levied upon the inhabitants to an extent that
paralyzed the entire country. The Turk never improves. There is an Arab
proverb that "the grass never grows in the footprint of a Turk," and
nothing can be more aptly expressive of the character of the nation than
this simple adage. Misgovernment, monopoly, extortion, and oppression,
are the certain accompaniments of Turkish administration. At a great
distance from all civilization, and separated from Lower Egypt by the
Nubian deserts, Khartoum affords a wide field for the development of
Egyptian official character. Every official plunders; the
Governor-general extorts from all sides; he fills his private pockets by
throwing every conceivable obstacle in the way of progress, and
embarrasses every commercial movement in order to extort bribes from
individuals. Following the general rule of his predecessors, a new
governor upon arrival exhibits a spasmodic energy. Attended by cavasses
and soldiers, he rides through every street of Khartoum, abusing the
underlings for past neglect, ordering the streets to be swept, and the
town to be thoroughly cleansed; he visits the marketplace, examines the
quality of the bread at the bakers' stalls, and the meat at the
butchers'. He tests the accuracy of the weights and scales; fines and
imprisons the impostors, and institutes a complete reform, concluding
his sanitary and philanthropic arrangements by the imposition of some
local taxes.

The town is comparatively sweet; the bread is of fair weight and size,
and the new governor, like a new broom, has swept all clean. A few weeks
glide away, and the nose again recalls the savory old times when streets
were never swept, and filth once more reigns paramount. The town
relapses into its former state, again the false weights usurp the place
of honest measures, and the only permanent and visible sign of the new
administration is the local tax.

From the highest to the lowest official, dishonesty and deceit are the
rule--and each robs in proportion to his grade in the Government
employ--the onus of extortion falling upon the natives; thus, exorbitant
taxes are levied upon the agriculturists, and the industry of the
inhabitants is disheartened by oppression. The taxes are collected by
the soldiery, who naturally extort by violence an excess of the actual
impost; accordingly the Arabs limit their cultivation to their bare
necessities, fearing that a productive farm would entail an extortionate
demand. The heaviest and most unjust tax is that upon the "sageer," or
water wheel, by which the farmer irrigates his otherwise barren soil.

The erection of the sageer is the first step necessary to cultivation.
On the borders of the river there is much land available for
agriculture; but from an almost total want of rain the ground must be
constantly irrigated by artificial means. No sooner does an enterprising
fellow erect a water wheel, than he is taxed, not only for his wheel,
but he brings upon himself a perfect curse, as the soldiers employed for
the collection of taxes fasten upon his garden, and insist upon a
variety of extras in the shape of butter, corn, vegetables, sheep, &c.
for themselves, which almost ruin the proprietor. Any government but
that of Egypt and Turkey would offer a bonus for the erection of
irrigating machinery that would give a stimulus to cultivation, and
multiply the produce of the country; but the only rule without an
exception is that of Turkish extortion. I have never met with any
Turkish official who would take the slightest interest in plans for the
improvement of the country, unless he discovered a means of filling his
private purse. Thus in a country where Nature has been hard in her
measure dealt to the inhabitants, they are still more reduced by
oppression. The Arabs fly from their villages on the approach of the
brutal tax-gatherers, driving their flocks and herds with them to
distant countries, and leaving their standing crops to the mercy of the
soldiery. No one can conceive the suffering of the country.

The general aspect of the Soudan is that of misery; nor is there a
single feature of attraction to recompense a European for the drawbacks
of pestilential climate and brutal associations. To a stranger it
appears a superlative folly that the Egyptian Government should have
retained a possession, the occupation of which is wholly unprofitable;
the receipts being far below the expenditure, "malgre" the increased
taxation. At so great a distance from the seacoast and hemmed in by
immense deserts, there is a difficulty of transport that must nullify
all commercial transactions on an extended scale.

The great and most important article of commerce as an export from the
Soudan, is gum arabic: this is produced by several species of mimosa,
the finest quality being a product of Kordofan; the other natural
productions exported are senna, hides, and ivory. All merchandise both
to and from the Soudan must be transported upon camels, no other animals
being adapted to the deserts. The cataracts of the Nile between Assouan
and Khartoum rendering the navigation next to impossible, the camel is
the only medium of transport, and the uncertainty of procuring them
without great delay is the trader's greatest difficulty. The entire
country is subject to droughts that occasion a total desolation, and the
want of pasture entails starvation upon both cattle and camels,
rendering it at certain seasons impossible to transport the productions
of the country, and thus stagnating all enterprise. Upon existing
conditions the Soudan is worthless, having neither natural capabilities
nor political importance; but there is, nevertheless, a reason that
first prompted its occupation by the Egyptians, and that is in force to
the present day. THE SOUDAN SUPPLIES SLAVES. Without the White Nile
trade Khartoum would almost cease to exist; and that trade is kidnapping
and murder. The character of the Khartoumers needs no further comment.
The amount of ivory brought down from the White Nile is a mere bagatelle
as an export, the annual value being about 40,000 pounds.

The people for the most part engaged in the nefarious traffic of the
White Nile are Syrians, Copts, Turks, Circassians, and some few
EUROPEANS. So closely connected with the difficulties of my expedition
is that accursed slave trade, that the so-called ivory trade of the
White Nile requires an explanation.

Throughout the Soudan money is exceedingly scarce and the rate of
interest exorbitant, varying, according to the securities, from
thirty-six to eighty percent; this fact proves general poverty and
dishonesty, and acts as a preventive to all improvement. So high and
fatal a rate deters all honest enterprise, and the country must lie in
ruin under such a system. The wild speculator borrows upon such terms,
to rise suddenly like a rocket, or to fall like its exhausted stick.
Thus, honest enterprise being impossible, dishonesty takes the lead, and
a successful expedition to the White Nile is supposed to overcome all
charges. There are two classes of White Nile traders, the one possessing
capital, the other being penniless adventurers; the same system of
operations is pursued by both, but that of the former will be evident
from the description of the latter.

A man without means forms an expedition, and borrows money for this
purpose at 100 percent after this fashion. He agrees to repay the lender
in ivory at one-half its market value. Having obtained the required sum,
he hires several vessels and engages from 100 to 300 men, composed of
Arabs and runaway villains from distant countries, who have found an
asylum from justice in the obscurity of Khartoum. He purchases guns and
large quantities of ammunition for his men, together with a few hundred
pounds of glass beads. The piratical expedition being complete, he pays
his men five months' wages in advance, at the rate of forty-five
piastres (nine shillings) per month, and he agrees to give them eighty
piastres per month for any period exceeding the five months advanced.
His men receive their advance partly in cash and partly in cotton stuffs
for clothes at an exorbitant price. Every man has a strip of paper, upon
which is written by the clerk of the expedition the amount he has
received both in goods and money, and this paper he must produce at the
final settlement.

The vessels sail about December, and on arrival at the desired locality,
the party disembark and proceed into the interior, until they arrive at
the village of some negro chief, with whom they establish an intimacy.
Charmed with his new friends, the power of whose weapons he
acknowledges, the negro chief does not neglect the opportunity of
seeking their alliance to attack a hostile neighbour. Marching
throughout the night, guided by their negro hosts, they bivouac within
an hour's march of the unsuspecting village doomed to an attack about
half an hour before break of day. The time arrives, and, quietly
surrounding the village while its occupants are still sleeping, they
fire the grass huts in all directions, and pour volleys of musketry
through the flaming thatch. Panic-stricken, the unfortunate victims rush
from their burning dwellings, and the men are shot down like pheasants
in a battue, while the women and children, bewildered in the danger and
confusion, are kidnapped and secured. The herds of cattle, still within
their kraal or "zareeba," are easily disposed of, and are driven off
with great rejoicing, as the prize of victory. The women and children
are then fastened together, the former secured in an instrument called a
sheba, made of a forked pole, the neck of the prisoner fitting into the
fork, secured by a cross piece lashed behind; while the wrists, brought
together in advance of the body, are tied to the pole. The children are
then fastened by their necks with a rope attached to the women, and thus
form a living chain, in which order they are marched to the headquarters
in company with the captured herds.

This is the commencement of business: should there be ivory in any of
the huts not destroyed by the fire, it is appropriated; a general
plunder takes place. The trader's party dig up the floors of the huts to
search for iron hoes, which are generally thus concealed, as the
greatest treasure of the negroes; the granaries are overturned and
wantonly destroyed, and the hands are cut off the bodies of the slain,
the more easily to detach the copper or iron bracelets that are usually
worn. With this booty the traders return to their negro ally: they have
thrashed and discomfited his enemy, which delights him; they present him
with thirty or forty head of cattle, which intoxicates him with joy, and
a present of a pretty little captive girl of about fourteen completes
his happiness.

But business only commenced. The negro covets cattle, and the trader has
now captured perhaps 2,000 head. They are to be had for ivory, and
shortly the tusks appear. Ivory is daily brought into camp in exchange
for cattle, a tusk for a cow, according to size--a profitable business,
as the cows have cost nothing. The trade proves brisk; but still there
remain some little customs to be observed--some slight formalities, well
understood by the White Nile trade. The slaves and two-thirds of the
captured cattle belong to the trader, but his men claim as their
perquisite one-third of the stolen animals. These having been divided,
the slaves are put up to public auction among the men, who purchase such
as they require; the amount being entered on the papers (serki) of the
purchasers, to be reckoned against their wages. To avoid the exposure,
should the document fall into the hands of the Government or European
consuls, the amount is not entered as for the purchase of a slave, but
is divided for fictitious supplies--thus, should a slave be purchased
for 1,000 piastres, that amount would appear on the document somewhat as

Soap . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 50 Piastres.
Tarboash(cap) . . . . . . . . . 100
Araki . . . . . . . . . . . . . 500
Shoes . . . . . . . . . . . . . 200
Cotton Cloth . . . . . . . . . 150
Total 1,000

The slaves sold to the men are constantly being changed and resold among
themselves; but should the relatives of the kidnapped women and children
wish to ransom them, the trader takes them from his men, cancels the
amount of purchase, and restores them to their relations for a certain
number of elephants' tusks, as may be agreed upon. Should any slave
attempt to escape, she is punished either by brutal flogging, or shot or
hanged, as a warning to others.

An attack or razzia, such as described, generally leads to a quarrel
with the negro ally, who in his turn is murdered and plundered by the
trader--his women and children naturally becoming slaves.

A good season for a party of a hundred and fifty men should produce
about two hundred cantars (20,000 lbs.) of ivory, valued at Khartoum at
4,000 pounds. The men being paid in slaves, the wages should be nil, and
there should be a surplus of four or five hundred slaves for the
trader's own profit--worth on an average five to six pounds each.

The boats are accordingly packed with a human cargo, and a portion of
the trader's men accompany them to the Soudan, while the remainder of
the party form a camp or settlement in the country they have adopted,
and industriously plunder, massacre, and enslave, until their master's
return with the boats from Khartoum in the following season, by which
time they are supposed to have a cargo of slaves and ivory ready for
shipment. The business thus thoroughly established, the slaves are
landed at various points within a few days' journey of Khartoum, at
which places are agents, or purchasers; waiting to receive them with
dollars prepared for cash payments. The purchasers and dealers are, for
the most part, Arabs. The slaves are then marched across the country to
different places; many to Sennaar, where they are sold to other dealers,
who sell them to the Arabs and to the Turks. Others are taken immense
distances to ports on the Red Sea, Souakim, and Masowa, there to be
shipped for Arabia and Persia. Many are sent to Cairo, and in fact they
are disseminated throughout the slave-dealing East, the White Nile being
the great nursery for the supply.

The amiable trader returns from the White Nile to Khartoum; hands over
to his creditor sufficient ivory to liquidate the original loan of
1,000 pounds, and, already a man of capital, he commences as an
independent trader.

Such was the White Nile trade when I prepared to start from Khartoum on
my expedition to the Nile sources. Every one in Khartoum, with the
exception of a few Europeans, was in favor of the slave trade, and
looked with jealous eyes upon a stranger venturing within the precincts
of their holy land; a land sacred to slavery and to every abomination
and villany that man can commit.

The Turkish officials pretended to discountenance slavery: at the same
time every house in Khartoum was full of slaves, and the Egyptian
officers had been in the habit of receiving a portion of their pay in
slaves, precisely as the men employed on the White Nile were paid by
their employers. The Egyptian authorities looked upon the exploration of
the White Nile by a European traveller as an infringement of their slave
territory that resulted from espionage, and every obstacle was thrown in
my way.

Foreseeing many difficulties, I had been supplied, before leaving Egypt,
with a firman from H. E. Said Pasha the Viceroy, by the request of H. B.
M. agent, Sir R. Colquhoun; but this document was ignored by the
Governor-general of the Soudan, Moosa Pasha, under the miserable
prevarication that the firman was for the Pasha's dominions and for the
Nile; whereas the White Nile was not accepted as the Nile, but was known
as the White River. I was thus refused boats, and in fact all

To organize an enterprise so difficult that it had hitherto defeated the
whole world required a careful selection of attendants, and I looked
with despair at the prospect before me. The only men procurable for
escort were the miserable cutthroats of Khartoum, accustomed to murder
and pillage. in the White Nile trade, and excited not by the love of
adventure but by the desire for plunder: to start with such men appeared
mere insanity. There was a still greater difficulty in connection with
the White Nile. For years the infernal traffic in slaves and its
attendant horrors had existed like a pestilence in the negro countries,
and had so exasperated the tribes, that people who in former times were
friendly had become hostile to all comers. An exploration to the Nile
sources was thus a march through an enemy's country, and required a
powerful force of well-armed men. For the traders there was no great
difficulty, as they took the initiative in hostilities, and had fixed
camps as "points d'appui;" but for an explorer there was no alternative
but a direct forward march without any communications with the rear. I
had but slight hope of success without assistance from the authorities
in the shape of men accustomed to discipline; I accordingly wrote to the
British consul at Alexandria, and requested him to apply for a few
soldiers and boats to aid me in so difficult an enterprise. After some
months' delay, owing to the great distance from Khartoum, I received a
reply enclosing a letter from Ishmael Pasha (the present Viceroy), the
regent during the absence of Said Pasha, REFUSING the application.

I confess to the enjoyment of a real difficulty. From the first I had
observed that the Egyptian authorities did not wish to encourage English
explorations of the slave-producing districts, as such examinations
would be detrimental to the traffic, and would lead to reports to the
European governments that would ultimately prohibit the trade; it was
perfectly clear that the utmost would be done to prevent my expedition
from starting. This opposition gave a piquancy to the undertaking, and I
resolved that nothing should thwart my plans. Accordingly I set to work
in earnest. I had taken the precaution to obtain an order upon the
Treasury at Khartoum for what money I required, and as ready cash
performs wonders in that country of credit and delay, I was within a few
weeks ready to start. I engaged three vessels, including two large
noggurs or sailing barges, and a good decked vessel with comfortable
cabins, known by all Nile tourists as a diahbiah.

The preparations for such a voyage are no trifles. I required forty-five
armed men as escort, forty men as sailors, which, with servants, &c.,
raised my party to ninety-six. The voyage to Gondokoro, the navigable
limit of the Nile, was reported to be from forty-five to fifty days from
Khartoum, but provisions were necessary for four months, as the boatmen
would return to Khartoum with the vessels, after landing me and my
party. In the hope of meeting Speke and Grant's party, I loaded the
boats with an extra quantity of corn, making a total of a hundred urdeps
(rather exceeding 400 bushels). I had arranged the boats to carry
twenty-one donkeys, four camels, and four horses; which I hoped would
render me independent of porters, the want of transport being the great
difficulty. The saddles, packs, and pads were all made under my own
superintendence; nor was the slightest trifle neglected in the necessary
arrangements for success. In all the detail, I was much assisted by a
most excellent man whom I had engaged to accompany me as my head man, a
German carpenter, Johann Schmidt. I had formerly met him hunting on the
banks of the Settite river, in the Base country, where he was
purchasing living animals from the Arabs, for a contractor to a
menagerie in Europe; he was an excellent sportsman, and an energetic and
courageous fellow; perfectly sober and honest. Alas! "the spirit was
willing, but the flesh was weak," and a hollow cough, and emaciation,
attended with hurried respiration, suggested disease of the lungs. Day
after day he faded gradually, and I endeavoured to persuade him not to
venture upon such a perilous journey as that before me: nothing would
persuade him that he was in danger, and he had an idea that the climate
of Khartoum was more injurious than the White Nile, and that the voyage
would improve his health. Full of good feeling, and a wish to please, he
persisted in working and perfecting the various arrangements, when he
should have been saving his strength for a severer trial.

Meanwhile, my preparations progressed. I had clothed my men all in
uniform, and had armed them with double-barrelled guns and rifles. I
had explained to them thoroughly the object of my journey, and that
implicit obedience would be enforced, so long as they were in my
service; that no plunder would be permitted, and that their names were
to be registered at the public Divan before they started. They promised
fidelity and devotion, but a greater set of scoundrels in physiognomy I
never encountered. Each man received five months' wages in advance, and
I gave them an entertainment, with abundance to eat and drink, to enable
them to start in good humor.

We were just ready to start; the supplies were all on board, the donkeys
and horses were shipped, when an officer arrived from the Divan, to
demand from me the poll tax that Moosa Pasha, the Governor-general, had
recently levied upon the inhabitants; and to inform me, that in the
event of my refusing to pay the said tax for each of my men, amounting
to one month's wages per head, he should detain my boats. I ordered my
captain to hoist the British flag upon each of the three boats, and sent
my compliments to the Government official, telling him that I was
neither a Turkish subject nor a trader, but an English explorer; that I
was not responsible for the tax, and that if any Turkish official should
board my boat, under the British flag, I should take the liberty of
throwing him overboard. This announcement appeared so practical, that
the official hurriedly departed, while I marched my men on board, and
ordered the boatmen to get ready to start. Just at that moment, a
Government vessel, by the merest chance, came swiftly down the river
under sail, and in the clumsiest manner crashed right into us. The oars
being lashed in their places on my boat, ready to start, were broken to
pieces by the other vessel, which, fouling another of my boats just
below, became fixed. The reis, or captain of the Government boat that
had caused the mischief, far from apologizing, commenced the foulest
abuse; and refused to give oars in exchange for those he had destroyed.
To start was impossible without oars, and an angry altercation being
carried on between my men and the Government boat, it was necessary to
come to closer quarters. The reis of the Government boat was a gigantic
black, a Tokrouri (native of Darfur), who, confident in his strength,
challenged any one to come on board, nor did any of my fellows respond
to the invitation. The insolence of Turkish Government officials is
beyond description--my oars were smashed, and this insult was the
reparation; so, stepping quickly on board, and brushing a few fellows on
one side, I was obliged to come to a physical explanation with the
captain, which terminated in a delivery of the oars. The bank of the
river was thronged with people, many were mere idlers attracted by the
bustle of the start, and others, the friends and relatives of my people,
who had come to say a last good-bye, with many women, to raise the Arab
cry of parting. Among others, was a tall, debauched-looking fellow,
excessively drunk and noisy, who, quarrelling with a woman who attempted
to restrain him, insisted upon addressing a little boy named Osman,
declaring that he should not accompany me unless he gave him a dollar to
get some drink. Osman was a sharp Arab boy of twelve years old, whom I
had engaged as one of the tent servants, and the drunken Arab was his
father, who wished to extort some cash from his son before he parted;
but the boy Osman showed his filial affection in a most touching manner,
by running into the cabin, and fetching a powerful hippopotamus whip,
with which he requested me to have his father thrashed, or "he would
never be gone." Without indulging this amiable boy's desire, we shoved
off; the three vessels rowed into the middle of the river, and hoisted
sail; a fair wind, and strong current, moved us rapidly down the stream;
the English flags fluttered gaily on the masts, and amidst the shouting
of farewells, and the rattling of musketry, we started for the sources
of the Nile. On passing the steamer belonging to the Dutch ladies,
Madame van Capellan, and her charming daughter, Mademoiselle Tinne, we
saluted them with a volley, and kept up a mutual waving of handkerchiefs
until out of view; little did we think that we should never meet those
kind faces again, and that so dreadful a fate would envelope almost the
entire party. [The entire party died of fever on the White Nile,
excepting Mademoiselle Tinne. The victims to the fatal climate of
Central Africa were Madame la Baronne van Capellan, her sister, two
Dutch maidservants, Dr. Steudner, and Signor Contarini.]

It was the 18th December, 1862, Thursday, one of the most lucky days for
a start, according to Arab superstition. In a few minutes we reached the
acute angle round which we had to turn sharply into the White Nile at
its junction with the Blue. It was blowing hard, and in tacking round
the point one of the noggurs carried away her yard, which fell upon deck
and snapped in half, fortunately without injuring either men or donkeys.
The yard being about a hundred feet in length, was a complicated affair
to splice; thus a delay took place in the act of starting which was
looked upon as a bad omen by my superstitious followers. The voyage up
the White Nile I now extract verbatim from my journal.

Friday, 19th Dec.--At daybreak took down the mast and unshipped all the
rigging; hard at work splicing the yard. The men of course wished to
visit their friends at Khartoum. Gave strict orders that no man should
leave the boats. One of the horsekeepers absconded before daybreak; sent
after him. The junction of the two Niles is a vast flat as far as the
eye can reach, the White Nile being about two miles broad some distance
above the point. Saati, my vakeel (headman), is on board one noggur as
chief; Johann on board the other, while I being on the diahbiah I trust
all the animals will be well cared for. I am very fearful of Johann's
state of health: the poor fellow is mere skin and bone, and I am afraid
his lungs are affected; he has fever again today; I have sent him
quinine and wine, &c.

20th Dec.--The whole of yesterday employed in splicing yard, repairing
mast, and re-rigging. At 8.30 A.M. we got away with a spanking breeze.
The diahbiah horridly leaky. The "tree," or rendezvous for all boats
when leaving for the White Nile voyage, consists of three large mimosas
about four miles from the point of junction. The Nile at this spot about
two miles wide--dead flat banks--mimosas on west bank. My two cabin
boys are very useful, and Osman's ringing laugh and constant
impertinence to the crew and soldiers keep the boat alive; he is a
capital boy, a perfect gamin, and being a tailor by trade he is very
useful: this accounts for his father wishing to detain him. The horses
and donkeys very snug on board. At 1 p.m. passed Gebel Ouli, a small
hill on south bank--course S.W. 1/2 S. At 8.30 p.m. reached Cetene, a
village of mixed Arabs on the east bank--anchored.

21st Dec.--All day busy clearing decks, caulking ship, and making room
for the camels on the noggurs, as this is the village to which I had
previously sent two men to select camels and to have them in readiness
for my arrival. The men have been selecting sweethearts instead; thus I
must wait here tomorrow, that being the "Soog" or market day, when I
shall purchase my camels and milch goats. The banks of the river very
uninteresting--flat, desert, and mimosa bush. The soil is not so rich
as on the banks of the Blue Nile--the dhurra (grain) is small. The Nile
is quite two miles wide up to this point, and the high-water mark is not
more than five feet above the present level. The banks shelve gradually
like the sands at low tide in England, and quite unlike the
perpendicular banks of the Blue Nile. Busy at gunsmith's work. The
nights and mornings are now cold, from 60 degrees to 62 degrees F.
Johann makes me very anxious: I much fear he cannot last long, unless
some sudden change for the better takes place.

22d Dec.--Selected two fine camels and shipped them in slings with some
difficulty. Bought four oxen at nine herias each (l5s.); the men
delighted at the work of slaughtering, and jerking the meat for the
voyage. Bought four milch goats at 9 ps. each, and laid in a large stock
of dhurra straw for the animals. Got all my men on board and sailed at
4.30 p.m., course due west; variation allowed for. I have already
reduced my men from wolves to lambs, and I should like to see the
outrageous acts of mutiny which are the scapegoats of the traders for
laying their atrocities upon the men's shoulders. I cannot agree with
some writers in believing that personal strength is unnecessary to a
traveller. In these savage countries it adds materially to the success
of an expedition, provided that it be combined with kindness of manner,
justice, and unflinching determination. Nothing impresses savages so
forcibly as the _power_ to punish and reward. I am not sure that this
theory is applicable to savages exclusively. Arrived at Wat Shely at 9
P.M. 23d Dec.--Poor Johann very ill. Bought two camels, and shipped them
all right: the market at this miserable village is as poor as that at
Getene. The river is about a mile and a half wide, fringed with mimosas;
country dead flat; soil very sandy; much cultivation near the village,
but the dhurra of poor quality. Saw many hippopotami in the river. I
much regret that I allowed Johann to accompany me from Khartoum; I feel
convinced he can never rally from his present condition.

24th Dec.--Sailed yesterday at 4.5 P.M., course south. This morning we
are off the Bagara country on the west bank. Dead flats of mimosas, many
of the trees growing in the water; the river generally shallow, and many
snags or dead stumps of trees. I have been fortunate with my men, only
one being drunk on leaving Wat Shely; him we carried forcibly on board.
Passed the island of Hassaniah at 2.20 P.M.; the usual flats covered
with mimosas. The high-water mark upon the stems of these trees is three
feet above the present level of the river; thus an immense extent of
country must be flooded during the wet season, as there are no banks to
the river. The water will retire in about two months, when the
neighbourhood of the river will be thronged with natives and their
flocks. All the natives of these parts are Arabs; the Bagara tribe on
the west bank. At Wat Shely some of the latter came on board to offer
their services as slave-hunters, this open offer confirming the general
custom of all vessels trading upon the White Nile.

25th Dec.--The Tokroori boy, Saat, is very amiable in calling all the
servants daily to eat together the residue from our table; but he being
so far civilized, is armed with a huge spoon, and having a mouth like a
crocodile, he obtains a fearful advantage over the rest of the party,
who eat the soup by dipping kisras (pancakes) into it with their
fingers. Meanwhile Saat sits among his invited guests, and works away
with his spoon like a sageer (water-wheel), and gets an unwarrantable
start, the soup disappearing like water in the desert. A dead calm the
greater portion of the day; the river fringed with mimosa forest. These
trees are the Soont (Acacia Arabica), which produce an excellent tannin:
the fruit, "garra," is used for that purpose, and produces a rich brown
dye: all my clothes and the uniforms of my men I dyed at Khartoum with
this "garra." The trees are about eighteen inches in diameter and
thirty-five feet high; being in full foliage, their appearance from a
distance is good, but on a closer approach the forest proves to be a
desolate swamp, completely overflowed; a mass of fallen dead trees
protruding from the stagnant waters, a solitary crane perched here and
there upon the rotten boughs; floating water-plants massed together, and
forming green swimming islands, hitched generally among the sunken
trunks and branches; sometimes slowly descending with the sluggish
stream, bearing, spectre-like, storks thus voyaging on nature's rafts
from lands unknown. It is a fever-stricken wilderness--the current not
exceeding a quarter of a mile per hour--the water coloured like an
English horse-pond; a heaven for mosquitoes and a damp hell for man.
Fortunately, this being the cold season, the winged plagues are absent.
The country beyond the inundated mimosa woods is of the usual sandy
character, with thorny Kittur bush. Saw a few antelopes. Stopped at a
horrible swamp to collect firewood. Anchored at night in a dead calm,
well out in the river to escape malaria from the swamped forest. This is
a precaution that the men would neglect, and my expedition might suffer
in consequence. Christmas Day!

26th Dec.--Good breeze at about 3 A.M.; made sail. I have never seen a
fog in this part of Africa; although the neighbourhood of the river is
swampy, the air is clear both in the morning and evening. Floating
islands of water-plants are now very numerous. There is a plant
something like a small cabbage (Pistia Stratiotes, L.), which floats
alone until it meets a comrade; these unite, and recruiting as they
float onward, they eventually form masses of many thousands, entangling
with other species of water-plants and floating wood, until they at
length form floating islands. Saw many hippopotami; the small hill in
the Dinka country seen from the masthead at 9.15 A.M.; breeze light, but
steady; the banks of the river, high grass and mimosas, but not forest
as formerly. Water lilies in full bloom, white, but larger than the
European variety. In the evening the crew and soldiers singing and

27th Dec.--Blowing hard all night. Passed the Dinka hill at 3.30 A.M.
Obliged to take in sail, as it buried the head of the vessel and we
shipped much water. Staggering along under bare poles at about five
miles an hour. The true banks of the river are about five hundred yards
distant from the actual stream, this space being a mass of floating
water-plants, decayed vegetable matter, and a high reedy grass much
resembling sugarcanes; the latter excellent food for my animals. Many
very interesting water-plants and large quantities of Ambatch wood
(Anemone mirabilis)--this wood, of less specific gravity than cork, is
generally used for rafts; at this season it is in full bloom, its bright
yellow blossoms enlivening the dismal swamps. Secured very fine
specimens of a variety of helix from the floating islands. In this spot
the river is from 1500 yards to a mile wide; the country, flat and
uninteresting, being the usual scattered thorn bushes and arid plains,
the only actual timber being confined to the borders of the river.
Course, always south with few turns. My sponging-bath makes a good
pinnace for going ashore from the vessel. At 4.20 P.M. one of the
noggurs carried away her yard--the same boat that met with the accident
at our departure; hove to, and closed with the bank for repairs. Here is
an affair of delay; worked with my own hands until 9 p.m.; spliced the
yard, bound it with rhinoceros thongs, and secured the whole splice with
raw bull's hide. Posted sentries--two on each boat, and two on shore.

28th Dec.--At work at break of day. Completed the repair of yard, which
is disgracefully faulty. Re-rigged the mast. Poor Johann will die, I
much fear. His constitution appears to be quite broken up; he has become
deaf, and there is every symptom of decay. I have done all I can for
him, but his voyage in this life is nearly over. Ship in order, and all
sailed together at 2:15 p.m. Strong north wind. Two vessels from
Khartoum passed us while repairing damages. I rearranged the donkeys,
dividing them into stalls containing three each, as they were such
donkeys that they crowded each other unnecessarily. Caught a curious
fish (Tetrodon physa of Geof.), that distends itself with air like a
bladder; colour black, and yellow stripes; lungs; apertures under the
fins, which open and shut by their movement, their motion being a
semi-revolution. This fish is a close link between fish and turtle; the
head is precisely that of the latter, having no teeth, but cutting jaws
of hard bone of immense power. Many minutes after the head had been
severed from the body, the jaws nipped with fury anything that was
inserted in the mouth, ripping through thin twigs and thick straw like a
pair of shears. The skin of the belly is white, and is armed with
prickles. The skin is wonderfully tough. I accordingly cut it into a
long thong, and bound up the stock of a rifle that had been split from
the recoil of heavy charges of powder. The flesh was strong of musk, and
uneatable. There is nothing so good as fish skin--or that of the
iguana, or of the crocodile--for lashing broken gun-stocks. Isinglass,
when taken fresh from the fish and bound round a broken stock like a
plaster, will become as strong as metal when dry. Country as usual--
flat and thorny bush. A heavy swell creates a curious effect in the
undulations of the green rafts upon the water. Dinka country on east
bank; Shillook on the west; course south; all Arab tribes are left
behind, and we are now thoroughly among the negroes.

29th Dec.--At midnight the river made a bend westward, which continued
for about fifteen miles. The wind being adverse, at 5 A.M. we found
ourselves fast in the grass and floating vegetation on the lee side. Two
hours' hard work at two ropes, alternately, fastened to the high grass
ahead of the boat and hauled upon from the deck, warped us round the
bend of the river, which turning due south, we again ran before a
favourable gale for two hours; all the boats well together. The east
bank of the river is not discernible--a vast expanse of high reeds
stretching as far as the eye can reach; course P.M. W.S.W. At 4 P.M. the
"Clumsy," as I have named one of our noggurs, suddenly carried away her
mast close by the board, the huge yard and rigging falling overboard
with the wreck, severely hurting two men and breaking one of their guns.
Hove to by an island on the Shillook side, towed the wreck ashore, and
assembled all the boats. Fortunately there is timber at hand; thus I cut
down a tree for a mast and got all ready for commencing repairs
tomorrow. Poor Johann is, as I had feared, dying; he bleeds from the
lungs, and is in the last stage of exhaustion. Posted six sentries.

30th Dec.--Johann is in a flying state, but sensible; all his hopes,
poor fellow, of saving money in my service and returning to Bavaria are
past. I sat by his bed for some hours; there was not a ray of hope; he
could speak with difficulty, and the flies walked across his glazed
eyeballs without his knowledge. Gently bathing his face and hands, I
asked him if I could deliver any message to his relatives. He faintly
uttered, "I am prepared to die; I have neither parents nor relations;
but there is one--she--" he faltered. He could not finish his sentence,
but his dying thoughts were with one he loved; far, far away from this
wild and miserable land, his spirit was transported to his native
village, and to the object that made life dear to him. Did not a shudder
pass over her, a chill warning at that sad moment when all was passing
away? I pressed his cold hand, and asked her name. Gathering his
remaining strength he murmured, "Krombach" [Krombach was merely the name
of his native village in Bavaria.] . . . "Es bleibt nur zu sterben."
"Ich bin sehr dankbar." These were the last words he spoke, "I am very
grateful." I gazed sorrowfully at his attenuated figure, and at the now
powerless hand that had laid low many an elephant and lion, in its day
of strength; and the cold sweat of death lay thick upon his forehead.
Although the pulse was not yet still, Johann was gone.

31st Dec.--Johann died. I made a huge cross with my own hands from the
trunk of a tamarind tree, and by moonlight we laid him in his grave in
this lonely spot.

"No useless coffin inclosed his breast,
Nor in sheet nor in shroud we wound him;
But he lay like a pilgrim taking his rest,
With his mantle drawn around him."

This is a mournful commencement of the voyage. Poor fellow, I did all I
could for him although that was but little; and hands far more tender
than mine ministered to his last necessities. This sad event closes the
year 1862. Made sail at 8.30 p.m., the repairs of ship being completed.

1863, Jan. 1st, 2 o'clock a.m.--Melancholy thoughts preventing sleep,
I have watched the arrival of the new year. Thank God for His blessings
during the past, and may He guide us through the untrodden path before
us! We arrived at the village of Mahomed Her in the Shillook country.
This man is a native of Dongola, who, having become a White Nile
adventurer, established himself among the Shillook tribe with a band of
ruffians, and is the arch-slaver of the Nile. The country, as usual, a
dead flat: many Shillook villages on west bank all deserted, owing to
Mahomed Her's plundering. This fellow now assumes a right of territory,
and offers to pay tribute to the Egyptian Government, thus throwing a
sop to Cerberus to prevent intervention. Course S.W. The river in clear
water about seven hundred yards wide, but sedge on the east bank for a
couple of miles in width.

2d Jan.--The "Clumsy" lagging, come to grief again, having once more
sprung her rotten yard. Fine breeze, but obliged to wait upon this
wretched boat--the usual flat uninteresting marshes: Shillook villages
in great numbers on the terra firma to the west. Verily it is a pleasant
voyage; disgusting naked savages, everlasting marshes teeming with
mosquitoes, and the entire country devoid of anything of either common
interest or beauty. Course west the whole day; saw giraffes and one
ostrich on the east bank. On the west bank there is a regular line of
villages throughout the day's voyage within half a mile of each other;
the country very thickly populated. The huts are of mud, thatched,
having a very small entrance--they resemble button mushrooms. The
Shillooks are wealthy, immense herds of cattle swarm throughout their
country. The natives navigate the river in two kinds of canoes-one of
which is a curious combination of raft and canoe formed of the Ambatch
wood, which is so light, that the whole affair is portable. The Ambatch
(Anemone mirabilis) is seldom larger than a man's waist, and as it
tapers naturally to a point, the canoe rafts are quickly formed by
lashing the branches parallel to each other, and tying the narrow ends

3d Jan.--The "Clumsy's" yard having been lashed with rhinoceros' hide,
fortunately holds together, although sprung. Stopped this morning on the
east bank, and gathered a supply of wood. On the west bank Shillook
villages as yesterday during the day's voyage, all within half a mile of
each other; one village situated among a thick grove of the dolape palms
close to the river. The natives, afraid of our boats, decamped, likewise
the fishermen, who were harpooning fish from small fishing stations
among the reeds.

The country, as usual, dead flat, and very marshy on the east bank, upon
which side I see no signs of habitations. Course this morning south.
Arrived at the river Sobat junction at 12.40 P.M., and anchored about
half a mile within that river at a spot where the Turks had formerly
constructed a camp. Not a tree to be seen; but dead flats of prairie and
marsh as far as the eye can reach. The Sobat is not more than a hundred
and twenty yards in breadth.

I measured the stream by a floating gourd, which travelled 130 yards in
112 seconds, equal to about two miles and a half an hour. The quality of
the water is very superior to that of the White Nile--this would suggest
that it is of mountain origin. Upward course of Sobat south, 25 degrees
east. Upward course of the White Nile west, 2 degrees north from the
Sobat junction.

4th Jan.--By observation of sun's meridian altitude, I make the latitude
of the Sobat junction 9 degrees 21 minutes 14 seconds. Busy fishing the
yard of the "Clumsy," and mending sails. The camels and donkeys all
well--plenty of fine grass--made a good stock of hay. My reis and
boatmen tell me that the Sobat, within a few days' sail of the junction,
divides into seven branches, all shallow and with a rapid current. The
banks are flat, and the river is now bank-full. Although the water is
perfectly clear, and there is no appearance of flood, yet masses of
weeds, as though torn from their beds by torrents, are constantly
floating down the stream. One of my men has been up the river to the
farthest navigable point; he declares that it is fed by many mountain
torrents, and that it runs out very rapidly at the cessation of the
rains. I sounded the river in many places, the depth varying very
slightly, from twenty-seven to twenty-eight feet. At 5 P.M. set sail
with a light breeze, and glided along the dead water of the White Nile.
Full moon--the water like a mirror; the country one vast and apparently
interminable marsh--the river about a mile wide, and more or less
covered with floating plants. The night still as death; dogs barking in
the distant villages, and herds of hippopotami snorting in all
directions, being disturbed by the boats. Course west.

5th Jan.--Fine breeze, as much as we can carry; boats running at eight
or nine miles an hour--no stream perceptible; vast marshes; the clear
water of the river not more than 150 yards wide, forming a channel
through the great extent of water grass resembling high sugarcanes,
which conceal the true extent of the river. About six miles west from
the Sobat junction on the north side of the river, is a kind of
backwater, extending north like a lake for a distance of several days'
boat journey: this is eventually lost in regions of high grass and
marshes; in the wet season this forms a large lake. A hill bearing north
20 degrees west so distant as to be hardly discernible.

The Bahr Giraffe is a small river entering the Nile on the south bank
between the Sobat and Bahr el Gazal--my reis (Diabb) tells me it is
merely a branch from the White Nile from the Aliab country, and not an
independent river. Course west, 10 degrees north, the current about one
mile per hour. Marshes and ambatch, far as the eye can reach.

At 6.40 P.M. reached the Bahr el Gazal; the junction has the appearance
of a lake about three miles in length, by one in width, varying
according to seasons. Although bank-full, there is no stream whatever
from the Bahr el Gazal, and it has the appearance of a backwater formed
by the Nile. The water being clear and perfectly dead, a stranger would
imagine it to be an overflow of the Nile, were the existence of the Bahr
el Gazal unknown. The Bahr el Gazal extends due west from this point for
a great distance, the entire river being a system of marshes, stagnant
water overgrown by rushes, and ambatch wood, through which a channel has
to be cleared to permit the passage of a boat. Little or no water can
descend to the Nile from this river, otherwise there would be some
trifling current at the embouchure. The Nile has a stream of about a
mile and a half per hour, as it sweeps suddenly round the angle,
changing its downward course from north to east. The breadth in this
spot does not exceed 130 yards; but it is impossible to determine the
actual width of the river, as its extent is concealed by reeds with
which the country is entirely covered to the horizon.

The White Nile having an upward course of west 10 degrees north,
variation of compass 10 degrees west, from the Sobat to the Bahr el
Gazal junction, now turns abruptly to south 10 degrees east. From native
accounts there is a great extent of lake country at this point. The
general appearance of the country denotes a vast flat, with slight
depressions; these form extensive lakes during the wet season, and
sodden marshes during the dry weather; thus contradictory accounts of
the country may be given by travellers according to the seasons at which
they examined it. There is nothing to denote large permanent lakes; vast
masses of water plants and vegetation, requiring both a wet and dry
season, exist throughout; but there are no great tracts of deep water.
The lake at the Bahr el Gazal entrance is from seven to nine feet deep,
by soundings in various places. Anchored the little squadron, as I wait
here for observations. Had the "Clumsy's" yard lowered and examined. Cut
a supply of grass for the animals.

Jan. 6th.--Overhauled the stores. My stock of liquor will last to
Gondokoro; after that spot "vive la misere." It is curious in African
travel to mark the degrees of luxury and misery; how, one by one, the
wine, spirits bread, sugar, tea, etc., are dropped like the feathers of
a moulting bird, and nevertheless we go ahead contented. My men busy
cutting grass, washing, fishing, etc.

Latitude, by meridian altitude of sun, 9 degrees 29 minutes. Difference
of time by observation between this point and the Sobat junction, 4 min.
26 secs., 1 degree 6 minutes 30 seconds distance. Caught some perch, but
without the red fin of the European species; also some boulti with the
net. The latter is a variety of perch growing to about four pounds'
weight, and is excellent eating.

Sailed at 3 P.M. Masses of the beautiful but gloomy Papyrus rush,
growing in dense thickets about eighteen feet above the water. I
measured the diameter of one head, or crown, four feet one inch. _ Jan.
7th.--Started at 6 A.M.; course E. 10 degrees S.; wind dead against us;
the "Clumsy" not in sight. Obliged to haul along by fastening long ropes
to the grass about a hundred yards ahead. This is frightful work; the
men must swim that distance to secure the rope, and those on board
hauling it in gradually, pull the vessel against the stream. Nothing can
exceed the labor and tediousness of this operation. From constant work
in the water many of my men are suffering from fever. The temperature is
much higher than when we left Khartoum; the country, as usual, one vast
marsh. At night the hoarse music of hippopotami snorting and playing
among the high-flooded reeds, and the singing of countless myriads of
mosquitoes--the nightingales of the White Nile. My black fellow,
Richarn, whom I had appointed corporal, will soon be reduced to the
ranks; the animal is spoiled by sheer drink. Having been drunk every day
in Khartoum, and now being separated from his liquor, he is plunged into
a black melancholy. He sits upon the luggage like a sick rook, doing
minstrelsy, playing the rababa (guitar), and smoking the whole day,
unless asleep, which is half that time: he is sighing after the merissa
(beer) pots of Egypt. This man is an illustration of missionary success.
He was brought up from boyhood at the Austrian mission, and he is a
genuine specimen of the average results. He told me a few days ago that
"he is no longer a Christian." There are two varieties of convolvolus
growing here; also a peculiar gourd, which, when dry and divested of its
shell, exposes a vegetable sponge, formed of a dense but fine network of
fibers; the seeds are contained in the center of this fiber. The bright
yellow flowers of the ambatch, and of a tree resembling a laburnum, are
in great profusion. The men completely done: I served them out a measure
of grog. The "Clumsy" not in sight.

Jan. 8th.--Waited all night for the "Clumsy." She appeared at 8 A.M.,
when the reis and several men received the whip for laziness. All three
vessels now rounded a sharp turn in the river, and the wind being then
favorable, we were soon under sail. The clear water of the river from
the Bahr el Gazal to this point, does not exceed a hundred and twenty
yards in width. The stream runs at one and three-quarter miles per hour,
bringing with it a quantity of floating vegetation. The fact of a strong
current both above and below the Bahr el Gazal junction, while the lake
at that point is dead water, proves that I was right in my surmise, that
no water flows from the Bahr el Gazal into the Nile during this season,
and that the lake and the extensive marshes at that locality are caused
as much by the surplus water of the White Nile flowing into a
depression, as they are by the Bahr el Gazal, the water of the latter
river being absorbed by the immense marshes.

Yesterday we anchored at a dry spot, on which grew many mimosas of the
red bark variety; the ground was a dead flat, and the river was up to
the roots of the trees near the margin; thus the river is quite full at
this season, but not flooded. There was no watermark upon the stems of
the trees; thus I have little doubt that the actual rise of the
water-level during the rainy season is very trifling, as the water
extends over a prodigious extent of surface, the river having no banks.
The entire country is merely a vast marsh, with a river flowing through
the midst. At this season last year I was on the Settite. That great
river and the Atbara were then excessively low.

The Blue Nile was also low at the same time. On the contrary, the White
Nile and the Sobat, although not at their highest, are bank-full, while
the former two are failing; this proves that the White Nile and the
Sobat rise far south, among mountains subject to a rainfall at different
seasons, extending over a greater portion of the year than the rainy
season of Abyssinia and the neighbouring Galla country.

It is not surprising that the ancients gave up the exploration of the
Nile when they came to the countless windings and difficulties of the
marshes; the river is like an entangled skein of thread. Wind light;
course S. 20 degrees W. The strong north wind that took us from Khartoum
has long since become a mere breath. It never blows in this latitude
regularly from the north. The wind commences at between 8 and 9 A.M.,
and sinks at sunset; thus the voyage through these frightful marshes and
windings is tedious and melancholy beyond description. Great numbers of
hippopotami this evening, greeting the boats with their loud snorting
bellow, which vibrates through the vessels.

Jan. 9th.--Two natives fishing; left their canoe and ran on the approach
of our boats. My men wished to steal it, which of course I prevented; it
was a simple dome palm hollowed. In the canoe was a harpoon, very neatly
made, with only one barb. Both sides of the river from the Bahr el Gazal
belong to the Nuehr tribe. Course S.E.; wind very light; windings of
river endless; continual hauling. At about half an hour before sunset,
as the men were hauling the boat along by dragging at the high reeds
from the deck, a man at the mast-head reported a buffalo standing on a
dry piece of ground near the river; being in want of meat, the men
begged me to shoot him. The buffalo was so concealed by the high grass,
that he could not be seen from the deck; I therefore stood upon an
angarep (bedstead) on the poop, and from this I could just discern his
head and shoulders in the high grass, about a hundred and twenty yards
off. I fired with No. 1 Reilly rifle, and he dropped apparently dead to
the shot. The men being hungry, were mad with delight, and regardless of
all but meat, they dashed into the water, and were shortly at him; one
man holding him by the tail, another dancing upon him and brandishing
his knife, and all shouting a yell of exultation. Presently up jumped
the insulted buffalo, and charging through the men, he disappeared in
the high grass, falling, as the men declared, in the deep morass. It was
dusk, and the men, being rather ashamed of their folly in dancing
instead of hamstringing the animal and securing their beef, slunk back
to their vessels.

Jan. 10th.--Early in the morning the buffalo was heard groaning in the
marsh, not far from the spot where he was supposed to have fallen. About
forty men took their guns and knives, intent upon beefsteaks, and waded
knee-deep in mud and water through the high grass of the morass in
search. About one hour passed in this way, and, seeing the reckless
manner in which the men were wandering about, I went down below to beat
the drum to call them back, which the vakeel had been vainly attempting.
Just at this moment I heard a distant yelling, and shot fired after
shot, about twenty times, in quick succession. I saw with the telescope
a crowd of men about three hundred yards distant, standing on a white
ant-hill raised above the green sea of high reeds, from which elevated
point they were keeping up a dropping fire at some object
indistinguishable in the high grass. The death-howl was soon raised, and
the men rushing down from their secure position, shortly appeared,
carrying with them my best choush, Sali Achmet, dead. He had come
suddenly upon the buffalo, who, although disabled, had caught him in the
deep mud and killed him. His gallant comrades bolted, although he called
to them for assistance, and they had kept up a distant fire from the
lofty ant-hill, instead of rushing to his rescue. The buffalo lay dead;
and a grave was immediately dug for the unfortunate Sali. My journey
begins badly with the death of my good man Johann and my best
choush--added to the constant mishaps of the "Clumsy." Fortunately I did
not start from Khartoum on a Friday, or the unlucky day would have borne
the onus of all the misfortunes.

The graves of the Arabs are an improvement upon those of Europeans. What
poor person who cannot afford a vault, has not felt a pang as the clod
fell upon the coffin of his relative? The Arabs avoid this. Although
there is no coffin, the rude earth does not rest upon the body. The hole
being dug similar in shape to a European grave, an extra trench is
formed at the bottom of the grave about a foot wide. The body is laid
upon its side within this trench, and covered by bricks made of clay
which are laid across;-thus the body is contained within a narrow vault.
Mud is then smeared over the hastily made bricks and nothing is visible;
the tomb being made level with the bottom of the large grave. This is
filled up with earth, which, resting on the brick covering of the trench
cannot press upon the body. In such a grave my best man was laid--the
Slave women raising their horrible howling and my men crying loudly, as
well explained in the words of Scripture, "and he lifted up his voice
and wept." I was glad to see so much external feeling for their comrade,
but the grave being filled, their grief, like all loud sorrow, passed
quickly away and relapsed into thoughts of buffalo meat; they were soon
busily engaged in cutting up the flesh. There are two varieties of
buffaloes in this part of Africa--the Bos Caffer, with convex horns,
and that with flat horns; this was the latter species. A horn had
entered the man's thigh, tearing the whole of the muscles from the bone;
there was also a wound from the centre of the throat to the ear, thus
completely torn open, severing the jugular vein. One rib was broken, the
breast-bone. As usual with buffaloes, he had not rested content until he
had pounded the breath out of the body, which was found embedded and
literally stamped tight into the mud, with only a portion of the head
above the marsh. Sali had not even cocked his gun, the hammer being down
on the nipples when found. I will not allow these men to come to grief
in this way; they are a reckless set of thoughtless cowards, full of
noise and bluster, fond of firing off their guns like children, and
wasting ammunition uselessly, and in time of danger they can never be
relied upon; they deserted their comrade when in need, and cried aloud
like infants at his death; they shall not again be allowed to move from
the boats.

In the evening I listened to the men conversing over the whole affair,
when I learnt the entire truth. It appears that Richarn and two other
men were with the unfortunate Sali when the brute charged him, and the
cowards all bolted without firing a shot in defense. There was a large
white ant-hill about fifty yards distant, to which they retreated; from
the top of this fort they repeatedly saw the man thrown into the air,
and heard him calling for assistance. Instead of hastening in a body to
his aid, they called to him to "keep quiet and the buffalo would leave
him." This is a sample of the courage of these Khartoumers. The buffalo
was so disabled by my shot of yesterday that he was incapable of leaving
the spot, as, with a broken shoulder, he could not get through the deep
mud. My Reilly No. 10 bullet was found under the skin of the right
shoulder, having passed in at the left shoulder rather above the lungs.
The windings of this monotonous river are extraordinary, and during dead
calms in these vast marshes the feeling of melancholy produced is beyond
description. The White Nile is a veritable "Styx." When the wind does
happen to blow hard, the navigation is most difficult, owing to the
constant windings; the sailors being utterly ignorant, and the rig of
the vessel being the usual huge "leg of mutton" sail, there is an amount
of screaming and confusion at every attempt to tack which generally ends
in our being driven on the lee marsh; this is preferable to a capsize,
which is sometimes anything but distant. This morning is one of those
days of blowing hard, with the accompaniments of screaming and shouting.
Course S.E. Waited half a day for the "Clumsy," which hove in sight just
before dark; the detentions caused by this vessel are becoming serious,
a quick voyage being indispensable for the animals. The camels are
already suffering from confinement, and I have their legs well swathed
in wet bandages.

This marsh land varies in width. In some portions of the river it
appears to extend for about two miles on either side; in other parts
farther than the eye can reach. In all cases the main country is a dead
flat; now blazing and smoking beyond the limit of marshes, as the
natives have fired the dry grass in all directions. Reeds, similar in
appearance to bamboos but distinct from them, big water-grass, like
sugarcanes, excellent fodder for the cattle, and the ever-present
ambatch, cover the morasses. Innumerable mosquitoes.

Jan. 12th--Fine breeze in the morning, but obliged to wait for the
"Clumsy", which arrived at 10 A.M. How absurd are some descriptions of
the White Nile, which state that there is no current! At some parts,
like that from just above the Sobat junction to Khartoum, there is but
little, but since we have left the Bahr el Gazal the stream runs from
one and three-quarters to two and a half miles per hour, varying in
localities. Here it is not more than a hundred yards wide in clear
water. At 11.20 A.M. got under weigh with a rattling breeze, but
scarcely had we been half an hour under sail when crack went the great
yard of the "Clumsy" once more. I had her taken in tow. It is of no use
repairing the yard again, and, were it not for the donkeys, I would
abandon her. Koorshid Aga's boats were passing us in full sail when his
diahbiah suddenly carried away her rudder, and went head first into the
morass. I serve out grog to the men when the drum beats at sunset, if
all the boats are together.

Jan. 13th.--Stopped near a village on the right bank in company with
Koorshid Aga's two diahbiahs. The natives came down to the boats--they


Back to Full Books