Part 1 out of 7
This etext was produced by Judy Boss.
FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON;
JOURNEYS AND DISCOVERIES IN AFRICA
BY THREE ENGLISHMEN.
COMPILED IN FRENCH
BY JULES VERNE,
FROM THE ORIGINAL NOTES OF DR. FERGUSON.
AND DONE INTO ENGLISH BY
"Five Weeks in a Balloon" is, in a measure, a satire on
modern books of African travel. So far as the geography,
the inhabitants, the animals, and the features of the countries
the travellers pass over are described, it is entirely
accurate. It gives, in some particulars, a survey of nearly
the whole field of African discovery, and in this way will
often serve to refresh the memory of the reader. The mode
of locomotion is, of course, purely imaginary, and the incidents
and adventures fictitious. The latter are abundantly
amusing, and, in view of the wonderful "travellers' tales"
with which we have been entertained by African explorers,
they can scarcely be considered extravagant; while the ingenuity
and invention of the author will be sure to excite the
surprise and the admiration of the reader, who will find
M. VERNE as much at home in voyaging through the air as in
journeying "Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Seas."
The End of a much-applauded Speech.--The Presentation of Dr. Samuel Ferguson.
--Excelsior.--Full-length Portrait of the Doctor.--A Fatalist convinced.
--A Dinner at the Travellers' Club.--Several Toasts for the Occasion
The Article in the Daily Telegraph.--War between the Scientific Journals.--
Mr. Petermann backs his Friend Dr. Ferguson.--Reply of the Savant Koner.
--Bets made.--Sundry Propositions offered to the Doctor
The Doctor's Friend.--The Origin of their Friendship.--Dick Kennedy at London.
--An unexpected but not very consoling Proposal.--A Proverb by no
means cheering.--A few Names from the African Martyrology.--The Advantages
of a Balloon.--Dr. Ferguson's Secret
African Explorations.--Barth, Richardson, Overweg, Werne, Brun-Rollet, Penney,
Andrea, Debono, Miani, Guillaume Lejean, Brace, Krapf and Rebmann,
Maizan, Roscher, Burton and Speke
Kennedy's Dreams.--Articles and Pronouns in the Plural.--Dick's Insinuations.
--A Promenade over the Map of Africa.--What is contained between two
Points of the Compass.--Expeditions now on foot.--Speke and Grant.--Krapf,
De Decken, and De Heuglin
A Servant--match him!--He can see the Satellites of Jupiter.--Dick and Joe
hard at it.--Doubt and Faith.--The Weighing Ceremony.--Joe and Wellington.
--He gets a Half-crown
Geometrical Details.--Calculation of the Capacity of the Balloon.--The Double
Receptacle.--The Covering.--The Car.--The Mysterious Apparatus.--The
Provisions and Stores.--The Final Summing up
Joe's Importance.--The Commander of the Resolute.--Kennedy's Arsenal.
--Mutual Amenities.--The Farewell Dinner.--Departure on the 21st of February.--
The Doctor's Scientific Sessions.--Duveyrier.--Livingstone.--Details of the
Aerial Voyage.--Kennedy silenced
They double the Cape.--The Forecastle.--A Course of Cosmography by Professor
Joe.--Concerning the Method of guiding Balloons.--How to seek out
Former Experiments.--The Doctor's Five Receptacles.--The Gas Cylinder.--
The Calorifere.--The System of Manoeuvring.--Success certain
The Arrival at Zanzibar.--The English Consul.--Ill-will of the Inhabitants.--The
Island of Koumbeni.--The Rain-Makers.--Inflation of the Balloon.--Departure
on the 18th of April.--The last Good-by.--The Victoria
Crossing the Strait.--The Mrima.--Dick's Remark and Joe's Proposition.--A
Recipe for Coffee-making.--The Uzaramo.--The Unfortunate Maizan.--
Mount Duthumi.--The Doctor's Cards.--Night under a Nopal
Change of Weather.--Kennedy has the Fever.--The Doctor's Medicine.--Travels
on Land.--The Basin of Imenge.--Mount Rubeho.--Six Thousand Feet
Elevation.--A Halt in the Daytime
The Forest of Gum-Trees.--The Blue Antelope.--The Rallying-Signal.--An
Unexpected Attack.--The Kanyeme.--A Night in the Open Air.--The
Mabunguru.--Jihoue-la-Mkoa.--A Supply of Water.--Arrival at Kazeh
Kazeh.--The Noisy Market-place.--The Appearance of the Balloon.--The Wangaga.
--The Sons of the Moon.--The Doctor's Walk.--The Population of the
Place.--The Royal Tembe.--The Sultan's Wives.--A Royal Drunken-Bout.--
Joe an Object of Worship.--How they Dance in the Moon.--A Reaction.--
Two Moons in one Sky.--The Instability of Divine Honors
Symptoms of a Storm.--The Country of the Moon.--The Future of the African
Continent.--The Last Machine of all.--A View of the Country at Sunset.--
Flora and Fauna.--The Tempest.--The Zone of Fire.--The Starry Heavens.
The Mountains of the Moon.--An Ocean of Venture.--They cast Anchor.--The
Towing Elephant.--A Running Fire.--Death of the Monster.--The Field
Oven.--A Meal on the Grass.--A Night on the Ground
The Karagwah.--Lake Ukereoue.--A Night on an Island.--The Equator.
--Crossing the Lake.--The Cascades.--A View of the Country.--The Sources
of the Nile.--The Island of Benga.--The Signature of Andrea Debono.--The
Flag with the Arms of England
The Nile.--The Trembling Mountain.--A Remembrance of the Country.--The
Narratives of the Arabs.--The Nyam-Nyams.--Joe's Shrewd Cogitations.--
The Balloon runs the Gantlet.--Aerostatic Ascensions.--Madame Blanchard.
The Celestial Bottle.--The Fig-Palms.--The Mammoth Trees.--The Tree of War.
--The Winged Team.--Two Native Tribes in Battle.--A Massacre.--An
Intervention from above
Strange Sounds.--A Night Attack.--Kennedy and Joe in the Tree.--Two Shots.
--"Help! help!"--Reply in French.--The Morning.--The Missionary.--The
Plan of Rescue
The Jet of Light.--The Missionary.--The Rescue in a Ray of Electricity.--A
Lazarist Priest.--But little Hope.--The Doctor's Care.--A Life of Self-Denial.
--Passing a Volcano
Joe in a Fit of Rage.--The Death of a Good Man.--The Night of watching by the
Body.--Barrenness and Drought.--The Burial.--The Quartz Rocks.--Joe's
Hallucinations.--A Precious Ballast.--A Survey of the Gold-bearing Mountains.
--The Beginning of Joe's Despair
The Wind dies away.--The Vicinity of the Desert.--The Mistake in the
WaterSupply.--The Nights of the Equator.--Dr. Ferguson's Anxieties.
--The Situation flatly stated.--Energetic Replies of Kennedy and Joe.
--One Night more
A Little Philosophy.--A Cloud on the Horizon.--In the Midst of a Fog.--The
Strange Balloon.--An Exact View of the Victoria.--The Palm-Trees.--Traces
of a Caravan.--The Well in the Midst of the Desert
One Hundred and Thirteen Degrees.--The Doctor's Reflections.--A Desperate
Search.--The Cylinder goes out.--One Hundred and Twenty-two Degrees.--
Contemplation of the Desert.--A Night Walk.--Solitude.--Debility.--Joe's
Prospects.--He gives himself One Day more
Terrific Heat.--Hallucinations.--The Last Drops of Water.--Nights of Despair.
--An Attempt at Suicide.--The Simoom.--The Oasis.--The Lion and Lioness.
An Evening of Delight.--Joe's Culinary Performances.--A Dissertation on Raw
Meat.--The Narrative of James Bruce.--Camping out.--Joe's Dreams.--The
Barometer begins to fall.--The Barometer rises again.--Preparations for
Signs of Vegetation.--The Fantastic Notion of a French Author.--A Magnificent
Country.--The Kingdom of Adamova.--The Explorations of Speke and Burton
connected with those of Dr. Barth.--The Atlantika Mountains.--The
River Benoue.--The City of Yola.--The Bagele.--Mount Mendif
Mosfeia.--The Sheik.--Denham, Clapperton, and Oudney.--Vogel.--The Capital
of Loggoum.--Toole.--Becalmed above Kernak.--The Governor and his Court.
--The Attack.--The Incendiary Pigeons
Departure in the Night-time.--All Three.--Kennedy's Instincts.--Precautions.--
The Course of the Shari River.--Lake Tchad.--The Water of the Lake.--The
Hippopotamus.--One Bullet thrown away
The Capital of Bornou.--The Islands of the Biddiomahs.--The Condors.--The
Doctor's Anxieties.--His Precautions.--An Attack in Mid-air.--The Balloon
Covering torn.--The Fall.--Sublime Self-Sacrifice.--The Northern Coast of
Conjectures.--Reestablishment of the Victoria's Equilibrium.--Dr.
Ferguson's New Calculations.--Kennedy's Hunt.--A Complete Exploration
of Lake Tchad.--Tangalia.--The Return.--Lari
The Hurricane.--A Forced Departure.--Loss of an Anchor.--Melancholy
Reflections.--The Resolution adopted.--The Sand-Storm.--The Buried Caravan.--
A Contrary yet Favorable Wind.--The Return southward.--Kennedy at his Post
What happened to Joe.--The Island of the Biddiomahs.--The Adoration shown
him.--The Island that sank.--The Shores of the Lake.--The Tree of the
Serpents.--The Foot-Tramp.--Terrible Suffering.--Mosquitoes and Ants.--
Hunger.--The Victoria seen.--She disappears.--The Swamp.--One Last
A Throng of People on the Horizon.--A Troop of Arabs.--The Pursuit.--It is
He.--Fall from Horseback.--The Strangled Arab.--A Ball from Kennedy.--
Adroit Manoeuvres.--Caught up flying.--Joe saved at last
The Western Route.--Joe wakes up.--His Obstinacy.--End of Joe's Narrative.
--Tagelei.--Kennedy's Anxieties.--The Route to the North.--A Night near
A Rapid Passage.--Prudent Resolves.--Caravans in Sight.--Incessant Rains.--
Goa.--The Niger.--Golberry, Geoffroy, and Gray.--Mungo Park.--Laing.--
Rene Caillie.--Clapperton.--John and Richard Lander
The Country in the Elbow of the Niger.--A Fantastic View of the Hombori
Mountains.--Kabra.--Timbuctoo.--The Chart of Dr. Barth.--A Decaying City.--
Whither Heaven wills
Dr. Ferguson's Anxieties.--Persistent Movement southward.--A Cloud of
Grasshoppers.--A View of Jenne.--A View of Sego.--Change of the Wind.--
The Approaches to Senegal.--The Balloon sinks lower and lower.--They
keep throwing out, throwing out.--The Marabout Al-Hadji.--Messrs. Pascal,
Vincent, and Lambert.--A Rival of Mohammed.--The Difficult Mountains.
--Kennedy's Weapons.--One of Joe's Manoeuvres.--A Halt over a Forest
A Struggle of Generosity.--The Last Sacrifice.--The Dilating Apparatus.--Joe's
Adroitness.--Midnight.--The Doctor's Watch.--Kennedy's Watch.--The Latter
falls asleep at his Post.--The Fire.--The Howlings of the Natives.--Out
The Talabas.--The Pursuit.--A Devastated Country.--The Wind begins to
fall.--The Victoria sinks.--The last of the Provisions.--The Leaps of
the Balloon.--A Defence with Fire-arms.--The Wind freshens.--The Senegal
River.--The Cataracts of Gouina.--The Hot Air.--The Passage of the River
Conclusion.--The Certificate.--The French Settlements.--The Post of Medina.--
The Battle.--Saint Louis.--The English Frigate.--The Return to London.
FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
The End of a much-applauded Speech.--The Presentation of Dr. Samuel
Ferguson.--Excelsior.--Full-length Portrait of the Doctor.--A Fatalist
convinced.--A Dinner at the Travellers' Club.--Several Toasts for the
There was a large audience assembled on the 14th of
January, 1862, at the session of the Royal Geographical
Society, No. 3 Waterloo Place, London. The president,
Sir Francis M----, made an important communication to
his colleagues, in an address that was frequently
interrupted by applause.
This rare specimen of eloquence terminated with the
following sonorous phrases bubbling over with patriotism:
"England has always marched at the head of nations"
(for, the reader will observe, the nations always march
at the head of each other), "by the intrepidity of her
explorers in the line of geographical discovery." (General
assent). "Dr. Samuel Ferguson, one of her most glorious
sons, will not reflect discredit on his origin." ("No,
indeed!" from all parts of the hall.)
"This attempt, should it succeed" ("It will succeed!"),
"will complete and link together the notions, as yet
disjointed, which the world entertains of African cartology"
(vehement applause); "and, should it fail, it will,
at least, remain on record as one of the most daring
conceptions of human genius!" (Tremendous cheering.)
"Huzza! huzza!" shouted the immense audience,
completely electrified by these inspiring words.
"Huzza for the intrepid Ferguson!" cried one of the
most excitable of the enthusiastic crowd.
The wildest cheering resounded on all sides; the name
of Ferguson was in every mouth, and we may safely believe
that it lost nothing in passing through English
throats. Indeed, the hall fairly shook with it.
And there were present, also, those fearless travellers
and explorers whose energetic temperaments had borne
them through every quarter of the globe, many of them
grown old and worn out in the service of science. All
had, in some degree, physically or morally, undergone the
sorest trials. They had escaped shipwreck; conflagration;
Indian tomahawks and war-clubs; the fagot and the
stake; nay, even the cannibal maws of the South Sea
Islanders. But still their hearts beat high during Sir
Francis M----'s address, which certainly was the finest
oratorical success that the Royal Geographical Society of
London had yet achieved.
But, in England, enthusiasm does not stop short with
mere words. It strikes off money faster than the dies of
the Royal Mint itself. So a subscription to encourage Dr.
Ferguson was voted there and then, and it at once attained
the handsome amount of two thousand five hundred
pounds. The sum was made commensurate with the
importance of the enterprise.
A member of the Society then inquired of the president
whether Dr. Ferguson was not to be officially introduced.
"The doctor is at the disposition of the meeting,"
replied Sir Francis.
"Let him come in, then! Bring him in!" shouted the
audience. "We'd like to see a man of such extraordinary
daring, face to face!"
"Perhaps this incredible proposition of his is only
intended to mystify us," growled an apoplectic old
"Suppose that there should turn out to be no such
person as Dr. Ferguson?" exclaimed another voice, with
a malicious twang.
"Why, then, we'd have to invent one!" replied a
facetious member of this grave Society.
"Ask Dr. Ferguson to come in," was the quiet remark
of Sir Francis M----.
And come in the doctor did, and stood there, quite
unmoved by the thunders of applause that greeted his
He was a man of about forty years of age, of medium
height and physique. His sanguine temperament was
disclosed in the deep color of his cheeks. His countenance
was coldly expressive, with regular features, and a large
nose--one of those noses that resemble the prow of a ship,
and stamp the faces of men predestined to accomplish
great discoveries. His eyes, which were gentle and
intelligent, rather than bold, lent a peculiar charm to
his physiognomy. His arms were long, and his feet were
planted with that solidity which indicates a great pedestrian.
A calm gravity seemed to surround the doctor's entire
person, and no one would dream that he could become the
agent of any mystification, however harmless.
Hence, the applause that greeted him at the outset
continued until he, with a friendly gesture, claimed silence
on his own behalf. He stepped toward the seat that had
been prepared for him on his presentation, and then,
standing erect and motionless, he, with a determined
glance, pointed his right forefinger upward, and
pronounced aloud the single word--
Never had one of Bright's or Cobden's sudden onslaughts,
never had one of Palmerston's abrupt demands
for funds to plate the rocks of the English coast with iron,
made such a sensation. Sir Francis M----'s address was
completely overshadowed. The doctor had shown himself
moderate, sublime, and self-contained, in one; he had
uttered the word of the situation--
The gouty old admiral who had been finding fault, was
completely won over by the singular man before him, and
immediately moved the insertion of Dr. Ferguson's speech
in "The Proceedings of the Royal Geographical Society
Who, then, was this person, and what was the enterprise
that he proposed?
Ferguson's father, a brave and worthy captain in the
English Navy, had associated his son with him, from the
young man's earliest years, in the perils and adventures of
his profession. The fine little fellow, who seemed to have
never known the meaning of fear, early revealed a keen
and active mind, an investigating intelligence, and a
remarkable turn for scientific study; moreover, he disclosed
uncommon address in extricating himself from difficulty;
he was never perplexed, not even in handling his fork for
the first time--an exercise in which children generally
have so little success.
His fancy kindled early at the recitals he read of daring
enterprise and maritime adventure, and he followed
with enthusiasm the discoveries that signalized the first part
of the nineteenth century. He mused over the glory of the
Mungo Parks, the Bruces, the Caillies, the Levaillants,
and to some extent, I verily believe, of Selkirk (Robinson
Crusoe), whom he considered in no wise inferior to the
rest. How many a well-employed hour he passed with
that hero on his isle of Juan Fernandez! Often he criticised
the ideas of the shipwrecked sailor, and sometimes
discussed his plans and projects. He would have done
differently, in such and such a case, or quite as well at
least--of that he felt assured. But of one thing he was
satisfied, that he never should have left that pleasant island,
where he was as happy as a king without subjects--
no, not if the inducement held out had been promotion to
the first lordship in the admiralty!
It may readily be conjectured whether these tendencies
were developed during a youth of adventure, spent in
every nook and corner of the Globe. Moreover, his father,
who was a man of thorough instruction, omitted no opportunity
to consolidate this keen intelligence by serious
studies in hydrography, physics, and mechanics, along
with a slight tincture of botany, medicine, and astronomy.
Upon the death of the estimable captain, Samuel Ferguson,
then twenty-two years of age, had already made
his voyage around the world. He had enlisted in the
Bengalese Corps of Engineers, and distinguished himself
in several affairs; but this soldier's life had not exactly
suited him; caring but little for command, he had not been
fond of obeying. He, therefore, sent in his resignation,
and half botanizing, half playing the hunter, he made his
way toward the north of the Indian Peninsula, and crossed
it from Calcutta to Surat--a mere amateur trip for him.
From Surat we see him going over to Australia, and
in 1845 participating in Captain Sturt's expedition, which
had been sent out to explore the new Caspian Sea, supposed
to exist in the centre of New Holland.
Samuel Ferguson returned to England about 1850,
and, more than ever possessed by the demon of discovery,
he spent the intervening time, until 1853, in accompanying
Captain McClure on the expedition that went around
the American Continent from Behring's Straits to Cape
Notwithstanding fatigues of every description, and in
all climates, Ferguson's constitution continued marvellously
sound. He felt at ease in the midst of the most complete
privations; in fine, he was the very type of the
thoroughly accomplished explorer whose stomach expands
or contracts at will; whose limbs grow longer or shorter
according to the resting-place that each stage of a journey
may bring; who can fall asleep at any hour of the day or
awake at any hour of the night.
Nothing, then, was less surprising, after that, than to
find our traveller, in the period from 1855 to 1857, visiting
the whole region west of the Thibet, in company with the
brothers Schlagintweit, and bringing back some curious
ethnographic observations from that expedition.
During these different journeys, Ferguson had been
the most active and interesting correspondent of the
Daily Telegraph, the penny newspaper whose circulation
amounts to 140,000 copies, and yet scarcely suffices for its
many legions of readers. Thus, the doctor had become
well known to the public, although he could not claim
membership in either of the Royal Geographical Societies
of London, Paris, Berlin, Vienna, or St. Petersburg, or
yet with the Travellers' Club, or even the Royal Polytechnic
Institute, where his friend the statistician Cockburn
ruled in state.
The latter savant had, one day, gone so far as to propose
to him the following problem: Given the number of
miles travelled by the doctor in making the circuit of the
Globe, how many more had his head described than his
feet, by reason of the different lengths of the radii?--or,
the number of miles traversed by the doctor's head and
feet respectively being given, required the exact height
of that gentleman?
This was done with the idea of complimenting him,
but the doctor had held himself aloof from all the learned
bodies--belonging, as he did, to the church militant and
not to the church polemical. He found his time better
employed in seeking than in discussing, in discovering
rather than discoursing.
There is a story told of an Englishman who came one
day to Geneva, intending to visit the lake. He was placed
in one of those odd vehicles in which the passengers sit
side by side, as they do in an omnibus. Well, it so happened
that the Englishman got a seat that left him with
his back turned toward the lake. The vehicle completed
its circular trip without his thinking to turn around once,
and he went back to London delighted with the Lake of Geneva.
Doctor Ferguson, however, had turned around to look
about him on his journeyings, and turned to such good
purpose that he had seen a great deal. In doing so, he
had simply obeyed the laws of his nature, and we have
good reason to believe that he was, to some extent, a fatalist,
but of an orthodox school of fatalism withal, that led
him to rely upon himself and even upon Providence. He
claimed that he was impelled, rather than drawn by his
own volition, to journey as he did, and that he traversed
the world like the locomotive, which does not direct itself,
but is guided and directed by the track it runs on.
"I do not follow my route;" he often said, "it is my
route that follows me."
The reader will not be surprised, then, at the calmness
with which the doctor received the applause that welcomed
him in the Royal Society. He was above all such
trifles, having no pride, and less vanity. He looked upon
the proposition addressed to him by Sir Francis M---- as
the simplest thing in the world, and scarcely noticed the
immense effect that it produced.
When the session closed, the doctor was escorted to
the rooms of the Travellers' Club, in Pall Mall. A superb
entertainment had been prepared there in his honor. The
dimensions of the dishes served were made to correspond
with the importance of the personage entertained, and the
boiled sturgeon that figured at this magnificent repast was
not an inch shorter than Dr. Ferguson himself.
Numerous toasts were offered and quaffed, in the wines
of France, to the celebrated travellers who had made their
names illustrious by their explorations of African territory.
The guests drank to their health or to their memory,
in alphabetical order, a good old English way of doing the
thing. Among those remembered thus, were: Abbadie,
Adams, Adamson, Anderson, Arnaud, Baikie, Baldwin,
Barth, Batouda, Beke, Beltram, Du Berba, Bimbachi,
Bolognesi, Bolwik, Belzoni, Bonnemain, Brisson, Browne,
Bruce, Brun-Rollet, Burchell, Burckhardt, Burton, Cailland,
Caillie, Campbell, Chapman, Clapperton, Clot-Bey,
Colomieu, Courval, Cumming, Cuny, Debono, Decken,
Denham, Desavanchers, Dicksen, Dickson, Dochard, Du
Chaillu, Duncan, Durand, Duroule, Duveyrier, D'Escayrac,
De Lauture, Erhardt, Ferret, Fresnel, Galinier, Galton,
Geoffroy, Golberry, Hahn, Halm, Harnier, Hecquart,
Heuglin, Hornemann, Houghton, Imbert, Kauffmann,
Knoblecher, Krapf, Kummer, Lafargue, Laing, Lafaille,
Lambert, Lamiral, Lampriere, John Lander, Richard
Lander, Lefebvre, Lejean, Levaillant, Livingstone, MacCarthy,
Maggiar, Maizan, Malzac, Moffat, Mollien, Monteiro, Morrison,
Mungo Park, Neimans, Overweg, Panet, Partarrieau,
Pascal, Pearse, Peddie, Penney, Petherick, Poncet, Prax,
Raffenel, Rabh, Rebmann, Richardson, Riley, Ritchey,
Rochet d'Hericourt, Rongawi, Roscher, Ruppel, Saugnier,
Speke, Steidner, Thibaud, Thompson, Thornton, Toole,
Tousny, Trotter, Tuckey, Tyrwhitt, Vaudey, Veyssiere,
Vincent, Vinco, Vogel, Wahlberg, Warrington, Washington,
Werne, Wild, and last, but not least, Dr. Ferguson,
who, by his incredible attempt, was to link together the
achievements of all these explorers, and complete the series
of African discovery.
The Article in the Daily Telegraph.--War between the Scientific Journals.--
Mr. Petermann backs his Friend Dr. Ferguson.--Reply of the Savant Koner.
--Bets made.--Sundry Propositions offered to the Doctor.
On the next day, in its number of January 15th, the Daily
Telegraph published an article couched in the following terms:
"Africa is, at length, about to surrender the secret
of her vast solitudes; a modern OEdipus is to give us the
key to that enigma which the learned men of sixty centuries
have not been able to decipher. In other days, to seek the
sources of the Nile--fontes Nili quoerere--was regarded as
a mad endeavor, a chimera that could not be realized.
"Dr. Barth, in following out to Soudan the track traced
by Denham and Clapperton; Dr. Livingstone, in multiplying
his fearless explorations from the Cape of Good Hope
to the basin of the Zambesi; Captains Burton and Speke,
in the discovery of the great interior lakes, have opened
three highways to modern civilization. THEIR POINT OF
INTERSECTION, which no traveller has yet been able to
reach, is the very heart of Africa, and it is thither
that all efforts should now be directed.
"The labors of these hardy pioneers of science are now
about to be knit together by the daring project of Dr.
Samuel Ferguson, whose fine explorations our readers
have frequently had the opportunity of appreciating.
"This intrepid discoverer proposes to traverse all
Africa from east to west IN A BALLOON. If we are well
informed, the point of departure for this surprising journey
is to be the island of Zanzibar, upon the eastern coast.
As for the point of arrival, it is reserved for Providence
alone to designate.
"The proposal for this scientific undertaking was officially
made, yesterday, at the rooms of the Royal Geographical
Society, and the sum of twenty-five hundred pounds was
voted to defray the expenses of the enterprise.
"We shall keep our readers informed as to the progress
of this enterprise, which has no precedent in the annals
As may be supposed, the foregoing article had an
enormous echo among scientific people. At first, it stirred
up a storm of incredulity; Dr. Ferguson passed for a
purely chimerical personage of the Barnum stamp, who,
after having gone through the United States, proposed to
"do" the British Isles.
A humorous reply appeared in the February number
of the Bulletins de la Societe Geographique of Geneva,
which very wittily showed up the Royal Society of London
and their phenomenal sturgeon.
But Herr Petermann, in his Mittheilungen, published
at Gotha, reduced the Geneva journal to the most absolute
silence. Herr Petermann knew Dr. Ferguson personally,
and guaranteed the intrepidity of his dauntless friend.
Besides, all manner of doubt was quickly put out of
the question: preparations for the trip were set on foot at
London; the factories of Lyons received a heavy order for
the silk required for the body of the balloon; and, finally,
the British Government placed the transport-ship Resolute,
Captain Bennett, at the disposal of the expedition.
At once, upon word of all this, a thousand encouragements
were offered, and felicitations came pouring in from
all quarters. The details of the undertaking were published
in full in the bulletins of the Geographical Society
of Paris; a remarkable article appeared in the Nouvelles
Annales des Voyages, de la Geographie, de l'Histoire, et
de l'Archaeologie de M. V. A. Malte-Brun ("New Annals
of Travels, Geography, History, and Archaeology, by
M. V. A. Malte-Brun"); and a searching essay in the Zeitschrift
fur Allgemeine Erdkunde, by Dr. W. Koner, triumphantly
demonstrated the feasibility of the journey, its
chances of success, the nature of the obstacles existing,
the immense advantages of the aerial mode of locomotion,
and found fault with nothing but the selected point of
departure, which it contended should be Massowah, a small
port in Abyssinia, whence James Bruce, in 1768, started
upon his explorations in search of the sources of the Nile.
Apart from that, it mentioned, in terms of unreserved
admiration, the energetic character of Dr. Ferguson, and the
heart, thrice panoplied in bronze, that could conceive and
undertake such an enterprise.
The North American Review could not, without some
displeasure, contemplate so much glory monopolized by
England. It therefore rather ridiculed the doctor's scheme,
and urged him, by all means, to push his explorations as
far as America, while he was about it.
In a word, without going over all the journals in the
world, there was not a scientific publication, from the
Journal of Evangelical Missions to the Revue Algerienne
et Coloniale, from the Annales de la Propagation de la
Foi to the Church Missionary Intelligencer, that had not
something to say about the affair in all its phases.
Many large bets were made at London and throughout
England generally, first, as to the real or supposititious
existence of Dr. Ferguson; secondly, as to the trip itself,
which, some contended, would not be undertaken at all,
and which was really contemplated, according to others;
thirdly, upon the success or failure of the enterprise; and
fourthly, upon the probabilities of Dr. Ferguson's return.
The betting-books were covered with entries of immense
sums, as though the Epsom races were at stake.
Thus, believers and unbelievers, the learned and the
ignorant, alike had their eyes fixed on the doctor, and he
became the lion of the day, without knowing that he carried
such a mane. On his part, he willingly gave the
most accurate information touching his project. He was
very easily approached, being naturally the most affable
man in the world. More than one bold adventurer presented
himself, offering to share the dangers as well as the
glory of the undertaking; but he refused them all, without
giving his reasons for rejecting them.
Numerous inventors of mechanism applicable to the
guidance of balloons came to propose their systems, but
he would accept none; and, when he was asked whether
he had discovered something of his own for that purpose,
he constantly refused to give any explanation, and merely
busied himself more actively than ever with the preparations
for his journey.
The Doctor's Friend.--The Origin of their Friendship.--Dick Kennedy
at London.--An unexpected but not very consoling Proposal.--A Proverb
by no means cheering.--A few Names from the African Martyrology.--The
Advantages of a Balloon.--Dr. Ferguson's Secret.
Dr. Ferguson had a friend--not another self, indeed,
an alter ego, for friendship could not exist between two
beings exactly alike.
But, if they possessed different qualities, aptitudes, and
temperaments, Dick Kennedy and Samuel Ferguson lived
with one and the same heart, and that gave them no great
trouble. In fact, quite the reverse.
Dick Kennedy was a Scotchman, in the full acceptation
of the word--open, resolute, and headstrong. He lived
in the town of Leith, which is near Edinburgh, and, in
truth, is a mere suburb of Auld Reekie. Sometimes he
was a fisherman, but he was always and everywhere a
determined hunter, and that was nothing remarkable for a
son of Caledonia, who had known some little climbing
among the Highland mountains. He was cited as a wonderful
shot with the rifle, since not only could he split a
bullet on a knife-blade, but he could divide it into two
such equal parts that, upon weighing them, scarcely any
difference would be perceptible.
Kennedy's countenance strikingly recalled that of Herbert
Glendinning, as Sir Walter Scott has depicted it in
"The Monastery"; his stature was above six feet; full of
grace and easy movement, he yet seemed gifted with herculean
strength; a face embrowned by the sun; eyes keen
and black; a natural air of daring courage; in fine,
something sound, solid, and reliable in his entire person,
spoke, at first glance, in favor of the bonny Scot.
The acquaintanceship of these two friends had been
formed in India, when they belonged to the same regiment.
While Dick would be out in pursuit of the tiger
and the elephant, Samuel would be in search of plants and
insects. Each could call himself expert in his own province,
and more than one rare botanical specimen, that to
science was as great a victory won as the conquest of a
pair of ivory tusks, became the doctor's booty.
These two young men, moreover, never had occasion
to save each other's lives, or to render any reciprocal
service. Hence, an unalterable friendship. Destiny
sometimes bore them apart, but sympathy always united
Since their return to England they had been frequently
separated by the doctor's distant expeditions; but, on
his return, the latter never failed to go, not to ASK for
hospitality, but to bestow some weeks of his presence at
the home of his crony Dick.
The Scot talked of the past; the doctor busily prepared
for the future. The one looked back, the other forward.
Hence, a restless spirit personified in Ferguson; perfect
calmness typified in Kennedy--such was the contrast.
After his journey to the Thibet, the doctor had remained
nearly two years without hinting at new explorations; and
Dick, supposing that his friend's instinct for travel and
thirst for adventure had at length died out, was perfectly
enchanted. They would have ended badly, some day or other,
he thought to himself; no matter what experience one has
with men, one does not travel always with impunity among
cannibals and wild beasts. So, Kennedy besought the doctor
to tie up his bark for life, having done enough for science,
and too much for the gratitude of men.
The doctor contented himself with making no reply to
this. He remained absorbed in his own reflections, giving
himself up to secret calculations, passing his nights among
heaps of figures, and making experiments with the
strangest-looking machinery, inexplicable to everybody but
himself. It could readily be guessed, though, that some great
thought was fermenting in his brain.
"What can he have been planning?" wondered Kennedy, when, in
the month of January, his friend quitted him to return to London.
He found out one morning when he looked into the Daily Telegraph.
"Merciful Heaven!" he exclaimed, "the lunatic! the
madman! Cross Africa in a balloon! Nothing but that
was wanted to cap the climax! That's what he's been
bothering his wits about these two years past!"
Now, reader, substitute for all these exclamation points,
as many ringing thumps with a brawny fist upon the table,
and you have some idea of the manual exercise that Dick
went through while he thus spoke.
When his confidential maid-of-all-work, the aged Elspeth,
tried to insinuate that the whole thing might be a hoax--
"Not a bit of it!" said he. "Don't I know my man? Isn't it
just like him? Travel through the air! There, now, he's
jealous of the eagles, next! No! I warrant you, he'll not
do it! I'll find a way to stop him! He! why if they'd let
him alone, he'd start some day for the moon!"
On that very evening Kennedy, half alarmed, and half
exasperated, took the train for London, where he arrived
Three-quarters of an hour later a cab deposited him at
the door of the doctor's modest dwelling, in Soho Square,
Greek Street. Forthwith he bounded up the steps and
announced his arrival with five good, hearty, sounding
raps at the door.
Ferguson opened, in person.
"Dick! you here?" he exclaimed, but with no great
expression of surprise, after all.
"Dick himself!" was the response.
"What, my dear boy, you at London, and this the
mid-season of the winter shooting?"
"Yes! here I am, at London!"
"And what have you come to town for?"
"To prevent the greatest piece of folly that ever was
"Folly!" said the doctor.
"Is what this paper says, the truth?" rejoined Kennedy,
holding out the copy of the Daily Telegraph, mentioned above.
"Ah! that's what you mean, is it? These newspapers
are great tattlers! But, sit down, my dear Dick."
"No, I won't sit down!--Then, you really intend to
attempt this journey?"
"Most certainly! all my preparations are getting along
finely, and I--"
"Where are your traps? Let me have a chance at
them! I'll make them fly! I'll put your preparations in
fine order." And so saying, the gallant Scot gave way to
a genuine explosion of wrath.
"Come, be calm, my dear Dick!" resumed the doctor.
"You're angry at me because I did not acquaint you with
my new project."
"He calls this his new project!"
"I have been very busy," the doctor went on, without
heeding the interruption; "I have had so much to look
after! But rest assured that I should not have started
without writing to you."
"Oh, indeed! I'm highly honored."
"Because it is my intention to take you with me."
Upon this, the Scotchman gave a leap that a wild goat
would not have been ashamed of among his native crags.
"Ah! really, then, you want them to send us both to
"I have counted positively upon you, my dear Dick,
and I have picked you out from all the rest."
Kennedy stood speechless with amazement.
"After listening to me for ten minutes," said the doctor,
"you will thank me!"
"Are you speaking seriously?"
"And suppose that I refuse to go with you?"
"But you won't refuse."
"But, suppose that I were to refuse?"
"Well, I'd go alone."
"Let us sit down," said Kennedy, "and talk without
excitement. The moment you give up jesting about it,
we can discuss the thing."
"Let us discuss it, then, at breakfast, if you have no
objections, my dear Dick."
The two friends took their seats opposite to each other,
at a little table with a plate of toast and a huge tea-urn
"My dear Samuel," said the sportsman, "your project
is insane! it is impossible! it has no resemblance to
anything reasonable or practicable!"
"That's for us to find out when we shall have tried it!"
"But trying it is exactly what you ought not to attempt."
"Why so, if you please?"
"Well, the risks, the difficulty of the thing."
"As for difficulties," replied Ferguson, in a serious
tone, "they were made to be overcome; as for risks and
dangers, who can flatter himself that he is to escape them?
Every thing in life involves danger; it may even be
dangerous to sit down at one's own table, or to
put one's hat on one's own head. Moreover, we must
look upon what is to occur as having already occurred,
and see nothing but the present in the future, for the
future is but the present a little farther on."
"There it is!" exclaimed Kennedy, with a shrug.
"As great a fatalist as ever!"
"Yes! but in the good sense of the word. Let us not
trouble ourselves, then, about what fate has in store for us,
and let us not forget our good old English proverb: 'The
man who was born to be hung will never be drowned!'"
There was no reply to make, but that did not prevent
Kennedy from resuming a series of arguments which may
be readily conjectured, but which were too long for us to
"Well, then," he said, after an hour's discussion, "if
you are absolutely determined to make this trip across the
African continent--if it is necessary for your happiness,
why not pursue the ordinary routes?"
"Why?" ejaculated the doctor, growing animated.
"Because, all attempts to do so, up to this time, have
utterly failed. Because, from Mungo Park, assassinated
on the Niger, to Vogel, who disappeared in the Wadai
country; from Oudney, who died at Murmur, and Clapperton,
lost at Sackatou, to the Frenchman Maizan, who was cut to
pieces; from Major Laing, killed by the Touaregs, to Roscher,
from Hamburg, massacred in the beginning of 1860, the names
of victim after victim have been inscribed on the lists of
African martyrdom! Because, to contend successfully against
the elements; against hunger, and thirst, and fever; against
savage beasts, and still more savage men, is impossible!
Because, what cannot be done in one way, should be tried
in another. In fine, because what one cannot pass through
directly in the middle, must be passed by going to one side
"If passing over it were the only question!" interposed Kennedy;
"but passing high up in the air, doctor, there's the rub!"
"Come, then," said the doctor, "what have I to fear?
You will admit that I have taken my precautions in such
manner as to be certain that my balloon will not fall; but,
should it disappoint me, I should find myself on the ground
in the normal conditions imposed upon other explorers.
But, my balloon will not deceive me, and we need make
no such calculations."
"Yes, but you must take them into view."
"No, Dick. I intend not to be separated from
the balloon until I reach the western coast of Africa.
With it, every thing is possible; without it, I fall back
into the dangers and difficulties as well as the natural
obstacles that ordinarily attend such an expedition: with it,
neither heat, nor torrents, nor tempests, nor the simoom,
nor unhealthy climates, nor wild animals, nor savage men,
are to be feared! If I feel too hot, I can ascend; if too
cold, I can come down. Should there be a mountain, I can
pass over it; a precipice, I can sweep across it; a river, I can
sail beyond it; a storm, I can rise away above it; a torrent,
I can skim it like a bird! I can advance without fatigue,
I can halt without need of repose! I can soar above the
nascent cities! I can speed onward with the rapidity of a
tornado, sometimes at the loftiest heights, sometimes only a
hundred feet above the soil, while the map of Africa unrolls
itself beneath my gaze in the great atlas of the world."
Even the stubborn Kennedy began to feel moved, and
yet the spectacle thus conjured up before him gave him the
vertigo. He riveted his eyes upon the doctor with wonder
and admiration, and yet with fear, for he already felt
himself swinging aloft in space.
"Come, come," said he, at last. "Let us see, Samuel.
Then you have discovered the means of guiding a balloon?"
"Not by any means. That is a Utopian idea."
"Then, you will go--"
"Whithersoever Providence wills; but, at all events,
from east to west."
"Because I expect to avail myself of the trade-winds,
the direction of which is always the same."
"Ah! yes, indeed!" said Kennedy, reflecting; "the
trade-winds--yes--truly--one might--there's something
"Something in it--yes, my excellent friend--there's
EVERY THING in it. The English Government has placed a
transport at my disposal, and three or four vessels are to
cruise off the western coast of Africa, about the presumed
period of my arrival. In three months, at most, I shall be
at Zanzibar, where I will inflate my balloon, and from that
point we shall launch ourselves."
"We!" said Dick.
"Have you still a shadow of an objection to offer?
Speak, friend Kennedy."
"An objection! I have a thousand; but among other
things, tell me, if you expect to see the country. If you
expect to mount and descend at pleasure, you cannot do
so, without losing your gas. Up to this time no other
means have been devised, and it is this that has always
prevented long journeys in the air."
"My dear Dick, I have only one word to answer--I
shall not lose one particle of gas."
"And yet you can descend when you please?"
"I shall descend when I please."
"And how will you do that?"
"Ah, ha! therein lies my secret, friend Dick. Have
faith, and let my device be yours--'Excelsior!'"
"'Excelsior' be it then," said the sportsman, who did
not understand a word of Latin.
But he made up his mind to oppose his friend's departure
by all means in his power, and so pretended to give
in, at the same time keeping on the watch. As for the
doctor, he went on diligently with his preparations.
African Explorations.--Barth, Richardson, Overweg, Werne, Brun-Rollet,
Penney, Andrea, Debono, Miani, Guillaume Lejean, Bruce, Krapf and Rebmann,
Maizan, Roscher, Burton and Speke.
The aerial line which Dr. Ferguson counted upon following
had not been chosen at random; his point of departure had
been carefully studied, and it was not without
good cause that he had resolved to ascend at the island
of Zanzibar. This island, lying near to the eastern coast
of Africa, is in the sixth degree of south latitude, that is
to say, four hundred and thirty geographical miles below
From this island the latest expedition, sent by way of
the great lakes to explore the sources of the Nile, had just
But it would be well to indicate what explorations
Dr. Ferguson hoped to link together. The two principal
ones were those of Dr. Barth in 1849, and of Lieutenants
Burton and Speke in 1858.
Dr. Barth is a Hamburger, who obtained permission
for himself and for his countryman Overweg to join the
expedition of the Englishman Richardson. The latter was
charged with a mission in the Soudan.
This vast region is situated between the fifteenth and
tenth degrees of north latitude; that is to say, that, in
order to approach it, the explorer must penetrate fifteen
hundred miles into the interior of Africa.
Until then, the country in question had been known
only through the journeys of Denham, of Clapperton, and
of Oudney, made from 1822 to 1824. Richardson, Barth,
and Overweg, jealously anxious to push their investigations
farther, arrived at Tunis and Tripoli, like their predecessors,
and got as far as Mourzouk, the capital of Fezzan.
They then abandoned the perpendicular line, and made
a sharp turn westward toward Ghat, guided, with difficulty,
by the Touaregs. After a thousand scenes of pillage, of
vexation, and attacks by armed forces, their caravan
arrived, in October, at the vast oasis of Asben. Dr. Barth
separated from his companions, made an excursion to the
town of Aghades, and rejoined the expedition, which
resumed its march on the 12th of December. At length it
reached the province of Damerghou; there the three travellers
parted, and Barth took the road to Kano, where he
arrived by dint of perseverance, and after paying
In spite of an intense fever, he quitted that place on
the 7th of March, accompanied by a single servant. The
principal aim of his journey was to reconnoitre Lake Tchad,
from which he was still three hundred and fifty miles distant.
He therefore advanced toward the east, and reached
the town of Zouricolo, in the Bornou country, which is the
core of the great central empire of Africa. There he heard
of the death of Richardson, who had succumbed to fatigue
and privation. He next arrived at Kouka, the capital of
Bornou, on the borders of the lake. Finally, at the end
of three weeks, on the 14th of April, twelve months after
having quitted Tripoli, he reached the town of Ngornou.
We find him again setting forth on the 29th of March,
1851, with Overweg, to visit the kingdom of Adamaoua,
to the south of the lake, and from there he pushed on as
far as the town of Yola, a little below nine degrees north
latitude. This was the extreme southern limit reached by
that daring traveller.
He returned in the month of August to Kouka; from
there he successively traversed the Mandara, Barghimi,
and Klanem countries, and reached his extreme limit in
the east, the town of Masena, situated at seventeen
degrees twenty minutes west longitude.
On the 25th of November, 1852, after the death of
Overweg, his last companion, he plunged into the west,
visited Sockoto, crossed the Niger, and finally reached
Timbuctoo, where he had to languish, during eight long
months, under vexations inflicted upon him by the sheik,
and all kinds of ill-treatment and wretchedness. But the
presence of a Christian in the city could not long be
tolerated, and the Foullans threatened to besiege it. The
doctor, therefore, left it on the 17th of March, 1854, and
fled to the frontier, where he remained for thirty-three
days in the most abject destitution. He then managed to
get back to Kano in November, thence to Kouka, where
he resumed Denham's route after four months' delay. He
regained Tripoli toward the close of August, 1855, and
arrived in London on the 6th of September, the only
survivor of his party.
Such was the venturesome journey of Dr. Barth.
Dr. Ferguson carefully noted the fact, that he had
stopped at four degrees north latitude and seventeen
degrees west longitude.
Now let us see what Lieutenants Burton and Speke
accomplished in Eastern Africa.
The various expeditions that had ascended the Nile
could never manage to reach the mysterious source of that
river. According to the narrative of the German doctor,
Ferdinand Werne, the expedition attempted in 1840, under
the auspices of Mehemet Ali, stopped at Gondokoro,
between the fourth and fifth parallels of north latitude.
In 1855, Brun-Rollet, a native of Savoy, appointed
consul for Sardinia in Eastern Soudan, to take the place
of Vaudey, who had just died, set out from Karthoum,
and, under the name of Yacoub the merchant, trading in
gums and ivory, got as far as Belenia, beyond the fourth
degree, but had to return in ill-health to Karthoum, where
he died in 1857.
Neither Dr. Penney--the head of the Egyptian medical
service, who, in a small steamer, penetrated one degree
beyond Gondokoro, and then came back to die of exhaustion
at Karthoum--nor Miani, the Venetian, who, turning the
cataracts below Gondokoro, reached the second parallel--
nor the Maltese trader, Andrea Debono, who pushed his
journey up the Nile still farther--could work their way
beyond the apparently impassable limit.
In 1859, M. Guillaume Lejean, intrusted with a mission
by the French Government, reached Karthoum by
way of the Red Sea, and embarked upon the Nile with a
retinue of twenty-one hired men and twenty soldiers, but
he could not get past Gondokoro, and ran extreme risk of
his life among the negro tribes, who were in full revolt.
The expedition directed by M. d'Escayrac de Lauture
made an equally unsuccessful attempt to reach the famous
sources of the Nile.
This fatal limit invariably brought every traveller to a
halt. In ancient times, the ambassadors of Nero reached
the ninth degree of latitude, but in eighteen centuries only
from five to six degrees, or from three hundred to three
hundred and sixty geographical miles, were gained.
Many travellers endeavored to reach the sources of the
Nile by taking their point of departure on the eastern
coast of Africa.
Between 1768 and 1772 the Scotch traveller, Bruce,
set out from Massowah, a port of Abyssinia, traversed the
Tigre, visited the ruins of Axum, saw the sources of the
Nile where they did not exist, and obtained no serious result.
In 1844, Dr. Krapf, an Anglican missionary, founded
an establishment at Monbaz, on the coast of Zanguebar,
and, in company with the Rev. Dr. Rebmann, discovered
two mountain-ranges three hundred miles from the coast.
These were the mountains of Kilimandjaro and Kenia,
which Messrs. de Heuglin and Thornton have partly scaled
In 1845, Maizan, the French explorer, disembarked,
alone, at Bagamayo, directly opposite to Zanzibar, and
got as far as Deje-la-Mhora, where the chief caused him
to be put to death in the most cruel torment.
In 1859, in the month of August, the young traveller,
Roscher, from Hamburg, set out with a caravan of Arab
merchants, reached Lake Nyassa, and was there assassinated
while he slept.
Finally, in 1857, Lieutenants Burton and Speke, both
officers in the Bengal army, were sent by the London
Geographical Society to explore the great African lakes,
and on the 17th of June they quitted Zanzibar, and
plunged directly into the west.
After four months of incredible suffering, their baggage
having been pillaged, and their attendants beaten
and slain, they arrived at Kazeh, a sort of central
rendezvous for traders and caravans. They were in the
midst of the country of the Moon, and there they collected
some precious documents concerning the manners, government,
religion, fauna, and flora of the region. They next
made for the first of the great lakes, the one named
Tanganayika, situated between the third and eighth degrees
of south latitude. They reached it on the 14th of February,
1858, and visited the various tribes residing on its
banks, the most of whom are cannibals.
They departed again on the 26th of May, and reentered
Kazeh on the 20th of June. There Burton, who
was completely worn out, lay ill for several months,
during which time Speke made a push to the northward
of more than three hundred miles, going as far as Lake
Okeracua, which he came in sight of on the 3d of August;
but he could descry only the opening of it at latitude
two degrees thirty minutes.
He reached Kazeh, on his return, on the 25th of August,
and, in company with Burton, again took up the
route to Zanzibar, where they arrived in the month of
March in the following year. These two daring explorers
then reembarked for England; and the Geographical
Society of Paris decreed them its annual prize medal.
Dr. Ferguson carefully remarked that they had not
gone beyond the second degree of south latitude, nor the
twenty-ninth of east longitude.
The problem, therefore, was how to link the explorations
of Burton and Speke with those of Dr. Barth, since
to do so was to undertake to traverse an extent of more
than twelve degrees of territory.
Kennedy's Dreams.--Articles and Pronouns in the Plural.--Dick's Insinuations.
--A Promenade over the Map of Africa.--What is contained between two
Points of the Compass.--Expeditions now on foot.--Speke and Grant.--Krapf,
De Decken, and De Heuglin.
Dr. Ferguson energetically pushed the preparations
for his departure, and in person superintended the
construction of his balloon, with certain modifications; in
regard to which he observed the most absolute silence.
For a long time past he had been applying himself to the
study of the Arab language and the various Mandingoe
idioms, and, thanks to his talents as a polyglot, he had
made rapid progress.
In the mean while his friend, the sportsman, never let
him out of his sight--afraid, no doubt, that the doctor
might take his departure, without saying a word to anybody.
On this subject, he regaled him with the most
persuasive arguments, which, however, did NOT persuade
Samuel Ferguson, and wasted his breath in pathetic
entreaties, by which the latter seemed to be but slightly
moved. In fine, Dick felt that the doctor was slipping
through his fingers.
The poor Scot was really to be pitied. He could not look
upon the azure vault without a sombre terror: when asleep,
he felt oscillations that made his head reel; and every
night he had visions of being swung aloft at immeasurable heights.
We must add that, during these fearful nightmares,
he once or twice fell out of bed. His first care then was
to show Ferguson a severe contusion that he had received
on the cranium. "And yet," he would add, with
warmth, "that was at the height of only three feet--not
an inch more--and such a bump as this! Only think, then!"
This insinuation, full of sad meaning as it was, did not
seem to touch the doctor's heart.
"We'll not fall," was his invariable reply.
"But, still, suppose that we WERE to fall!"
"We will NOT fall!"
This was decisive, and Kennedy had nothing more to say.
What particularly exasperated Dick was, that the doctor
seemed completely to lose sight of his personality--
of his--Kennedy's--and to look upon him as irrevocably
destined to become his aerial companion. Not even the
shadow of a doubt was ever suggested; and Samuel made
an intolerable misuse of the first person plural:
"'We' are getting along; 'we' shall be ready on
the ----; 'we' shall start on the ----," etc., etc.
And then there was the singular possessive adjective:
"'Our' balloon; 'our' car; 'our' expedition."
And the same in the plural, too:
"'Our' preparations; 'our' discoveries; 'our' ascensions."
Dick shuddered at them, although he was determined
not to go; but he did not want to annoy his friend. Let
us also disclose the fact that, without knowing exactly
why himself, he had sent to Edinburgh for a certain
selection of heavy clothing, and his best hunting-gear and
One day, after having admitted that, with an overwhelming
run of good-luck, there MIGHT be one chance of
success in a thousand, he pretended to yield entirely to
the doctor's wishes; but, in order to still put off the
journey, he opened the most varied series of subterfuges. He
threw himself back upon questioning the utility of the
expedition--its opportuneness, etc. This discovery of the
sources of the Nile, was it likely to be of any use?--Would
one have really labored for the welfare of humanity?--
When, after all, the African tribes should have been civilized,
would they be any happier?--Were folks certain
that civilization had not its chosen abode there rather
than in Europe?--Perhaps!--And then, couldn't one wait
a little longer?--The trip across Africa would certainly
be accomplished some day, and in a less hazardous manner.--
In another month, or in six months before the year
was over, some explorer would undoubtedly come in--etc., etc.
These hints produced an effect exactly opposite to
what was desired or intended, and the doctor trembled
"Are you willing, then, wretched Dick--are you willing,
false friend--that this glory should belong to another?
Must I then be untrue to my past history; recoil before
obstacles that are not serious; requite with cowardly
hesitation what both the English Government and the
Royal Society of London have done for me?"
"But," resumed Kennedy, who made great use of that
"But," said the doctor, "are you not aware that my
journey is to compete with the success of the expeditions
now on foot? Don't you know that fresh explorers are
advancing toward the centre of Africa?"
"Listen to me, Dick," and cast your eyes over that map."
Dick glanced over it, with resignation.
"Now, ascend the course of the Nile."
"I have ascended it," replied the Scotchman, with
"Stop at Gondokoro."
"I am there."
And Kennedy thought to himself how easy such a trip
was--on the map!
"Now, take one of the points of these dividers and let it rest
upon that place beyond which the most daring explorers have
"I have done so."
"And now look along the coast for the island of Zanzibar,
in latitude six degrees south."
"I have it."
"Now, follow the same parallel and arrive at Kazeh."
"I have done so."
"Run up again along the thirty-third degree of longitude
to the opening of Lake Oukereoue, at the point where
Lieutenant Speke had to halt."
"I am there; a little more, and I should have tumbled
into the lake."
"Very good! Now, do you know what we have the
right to suppose, according to the information given by
the tribes that live along its shores?"
"I haven't the least idea."
"Why, that this lake, the lower extremity of which is
in two degrees and thirty minutes, must extend also two
degrees and a half above the equator."
"Well from this northern extremity there flows a
stream which must necessarily join the Nile, if it be not
the Nile itself."
"That is, indeed, curious."
"Then, let the other point of your dividers rest upon
that extremity of Lake Oukereoue."
"It is done, friend Ferguson."
"Now, how many degrees can you count between the
"And do you know what that means, Dick?"
"Not the least in the world."
"Why, that makes scarcely one hundred and twenty
miles--in other words, a nothing."
"Almost nothing, Samuel."
"Well, do you know what is taking place at this moment?"
"No, upon my honor, I do not."
"Very well, then, I'll tell you. The Geographical Society
regard as very important the exploration of this lake
of which Speke caught a glimpse. Under their auspices,
Lieutenant (now Captain) Speke has associated with him
Captain Grant, of the army in India; they have put themselves
at the head of a numerous and well-equipped expedition;
their mission is to ascend the lake and return to
Gondokoro; they have received a subsidy of more than
five thousand pounds, and the Governor of the Cape of
Good Hope has placed Hottentot soldiers at their disposal;
they set out from Zanzibar at the close of October, 1860.
In the mean while John Petherick, the English consul at
the city of Karthoum, has received about seven hundred
pounds from the foreign office; he is to equip a steamer at
Karthoum, stock it with sufficient provisions, and make his
way to Gondokoro; there, he will await Captain Speke's
caravan, and be able to replenish its supplies to some extent."
"Well planned," said Kennedy.
"You can easily see, then, that time presses if we are
to take part in these exploring labors. And that is not
all, since, while some are thus advancing with sure steps
to the discovery of the sources of the Nile, others are
penetrating to the very heart of Africa."
"On foot?" said Kennedy.
"Yes, on foot," rejoined the doctor, without noticing
the insinuation. "Doctor Krapf proposes to push forward,
in the west, by way of the Djob, a river lying under the
equator. Baron de Decken has already set out from
Monbaz, has reconnoitred the mountains of Kenaia and
Kilimandjaro, and is now plunging in toward the centre."
"But all this time on foot?"
"On foot or on mules."
"Exactly the same, so far as I am concerned," ejaculated Kennedy.
"Lastly," resumed the doctor, "M. de Heuglin, the
Austrian vice-consul at Karthoum, has just organized a
very important expedition, the first aim of which is to
search for the traveller Vogel, who, in 1853, was sent into
the Soudan to associate himself with the labors of Dr.
Barth. In 1856, he quitted Bornou, and determined to
explore the unknown country that lies between Lake Tchad
and Darfur. Nothing has been seen of him since that
time. Letters that were received in Alexandria, in 1860,
said that he was killed at the order of the King of Wadai;
but other letters, addressed by Dr. Hartmann to the traveller's
father, relate that, according to the recital of a felatah
of Bornou, Vogel was merely held as a prisoner at
Wara. All hope is not then lost. Hence, a committee
has been organized under the presidency of the Regent of
Saxe-Cogurg-Gotha; my friend Petermann is its secretary;
a national subscription has provided for the expense
of the expedition, whose strength has been increased
by the voluntary accession of several learned men, and
M. de Heuglin set out from Massowah, in the month of
June. While engaged in looking for Vogel, he is also to
explore all the country between the Nile and Lake Tchad,
that is to say, to knit together the operations of Captain
Speke and those of Dr. Barth, and then Africa will have
been traversed from east to west."*
* After the departure of Dr. Ferguson, it was ascertained that
M. de Heuglin, owing to some disagreement, took a route different
from the one assigned to his expedition, the command of the latter
having been transferred to Mr. Muntzinger.
"Well," said the canny Scot, "since every thing is
getting on so well, what's the use of our going down there?"
Dr. Ferguson made no reply, but contented himself
with a significant shrug of the shoulders.
A Servant--match him!--He can see the Satellites of Jupiter.--Dick
and Joe hard at it.--Doubt and Faith.--The Weighing Ceremony.--Joe
and Wellington.--He gets a Half-crown.
Dr. Ferguson had a servant who answered with alacrity to
the name of Joe. He was an excellent fellow, who testified
the most absolute confidence in his master, and the most
unlimited devotion to his interests, even anticipating
his wishes and orders, which were always intelligently
executed. In fine, he was a Caleb without the
growling, and a perfect pattern of constant good-humor.
Had he been made on purpose for the place, it could not
have been better done. Ferguson put himself entirely in
his hands, so far as the ordinary details of existence were
concerned, and he did well. Incomparable, whole-souled
Joe! a servant who orders your dinner; who likes what
you like; who packs your trunk, without forgetting your
socks or your linen; who has charge of your keys and your
secrets, and takes no advantage of all this!
But then, what a man the doctor was in the eyes of
this worthy Joe! With what respect and what confidence
the latter received all his decisions! When Ferguson had
spoken, he would be a fool who should attempt to question
the matter. Every thing he thought was exactly right;
every thing he said, the perfection of wisdom; every thing
he ordered to be done, quite feasible; all that he undertook,
practicable; all that he accomplished, admirable.
You might have cut Joe to pieces--not an agreeable
operation, to be sure--and yet he would not have altered
his opinion of his master.
So, when the doctor conceived the project of crossing
Africa through the air, for Joe the thing was already
done; obstacles no longer existed; from the moment when
the doctor had made up his mind to start, he had arrived
--along with his faithful attendant, too, for the noble
fellow knew, without a word uttered about it, that he would
be one of the party.
Moreover, he was just the man to render the greatest
service by his intelligence and his wonderful agility. Had
the occasion arisen to name a professor of gymnastics for
the monkeys in the Zoological Garden (who are smart
enough, by-the-way!), Joe would certainly have received
the appointment. Leaping, climbing, almost flying--
these were all sport to him.
If Ferguson was the head and Kennedy the arm, Joe
was to be the right hand of the expedition. He had,
already, accompanied his master on several journeys, and
had a smattering of science appropriate to his condition
and style of mind, but he was especially remarkable for a
sort of mild philosophy, a charming turn of optimism. In
his sight every thing was easy, logical, natural, and,
consequently, he could see no use in complaining or grumbling.
Among other gifts, he possessed a strength and range
of vision that were perfectly surprising. He enjoyed, in
common with Moestlin, Kepler's professor, the rare faculty
of distinguishing the satellites of Jupiter with the naked
eye, and of counting fourteen of the stars in the group of
Pleiades, the remotest of them being only of the ninth
magnitude. He presumed none the more for that; on the
contrary, he made his bow to you, at a distance, and when
occasion arose he bravely knew how to use his eyes.
With such profound faith as Joe felt in the doctor, it
is not to be wondered at that incessant discussions sprang
up between him and Kennedy, without any lack of respect
to the latter, however.
One doubted, the other believed; one had a prudent foresight,
the other blind confidence. The doctor, however, vibrated
between doubt and confidence; that is to say, he troubled
his head with neither one nor the other.
"Well, Mr. Kennedy," Joe would say.
"Well, my boy?"
"The moment's at hand. It seems that we are to sail
for the moon."
"You mean the Mountains of the Moon, which are not
quite so far off. But, never mind, one trip is just as
dangerous as the other!"
"Dangerous! What! with a man like Dr. Ferguson?"
"I don't want to spoil your illusions, my good Joe;
but this undertaking of his is nothing more nor less than
the act of a madman. He won't go, though!"
"He won't go, eh? Then you haven't seen his balloon
at Mitchell's factory in the Borough?"
"I'll take precious good care to keep away from it!"
"Well, you'll lose a fine sight, sir. What a splendid
thing it is! What a pretty shape! What a nice car!
How snug we'll feel in it!"
"Then you really think of going with your master?"
"I?" answered Joe, with an accent of profound conviction.
"Why, I'd go with him wherever he pleases!
Who ever heard of such a thing? Leave him to go off
alone, after we've been all over the world together! Who
would help him, when he was tired? Who would give
him a hand in climbing over the rocks? Who would
attend him when he was sick? No, Mr. Kennedy, Joe will
always stick to the doctor!"
"You're a fine fellow, Joe!"
"But, then, you're coming with us!"
"Oh! certainly," said Kennedy; "that is to say, I
will go with you up to the last moment, to prevent Samuel
even then from being guilty of such an act of folly! I
will follow him as far as Zanzibar, so as to stop him there,
"You'll stop nothing at all, Mr. Kennedy, with all respect
to you, sir. My master is no hare-brained person;
he takes a long time to think over what he means to do,
and then, when he once gets started, the Evil One himself
couldn't make him give it up."
"Well, we'll see about that."
"Don't flatter yourself, sir--but then, the main thing
is, to have you with us. For a hunter like you, sir,
Africa's a great country. So, either way, you won't be
sorry for the trip."
"No, that's a fact, I shan't be sorry for it, if I can get
this crazy man to give up his scheme."
"By-the-way," said Joe, "you know that the weighing
comes off to-day."
"The weighing--what weighing?"
"Why, my master, and you, and I, are all to be
"What! like horse-jockeys?"
"Yes, like jockeys. Only, never fear, you won't be
expected to make yourself lean, if you're found to be
heavy. You'll go as you are."
"Well, I can tell you, I am not going to let myself be
weighed," said Kennedy, firmly.
"But, sir, it seems that the doctor's machine requires it."
"Well, his machine will have to do without it."
"Humph! and suppose that it couldn't go up, then?"
"Egad! that's all I want!"
"Come! come, Mr. Kennedy! My master will be sending
for us directly."
"I shan't go."
"Oh! now, you won't vex the doctor in that way!"
"Aye! that I will."
"Well!" said Joe with a laugh, "you say that because
he's not here; but when he says to your face, 'Dick!'
(with all respect to you, sir,) 'Dick, I want to know
exactly how much you weigh,' you'll go, I warrant it."
"No, I will NOT go!"
At this moment the doctor entered his study, where
this discussion had been taking place; and, as he came
in, cast a glance at Kennedy, who did not feel altogether
at his ease.
"Dick," said the doctor, "come with Joe; I want to
know how much you both weigh."
"You may keep your hat on. Come!" And Kennedy went.
They repaired in company to the workshop of the
Messrs. Mitchell, where one of those so-called "Roman"
scales was in readiness. It was necessary, by the way,
for the doctor to know the weight of his companions, so
as to fix the equilibrium of his balloon; so he made Dick
get up on the platform of the scales. The latter, without
making any resistance, said, in an undertone:
"Oh! well, that doesn't bind me to any thing."
"One hundred and fifty-three pounds," said the doctor,
noting it down on his tablets.
"Am I too heavy?"
"Why, no, Mr. Kennedy!" said Joe; "and then, you
know, I am light to make up for it."
So saying, Joe, with enthusiasm, took his place on the
scales, and very nearly upset them in his ready haste.
He struck the attitude of Wellington where he is made to
ape Achilles, at Hyde-Park entrance, and was superb in
it, without the shield.
"One hundred and twenty pounds," wrote the doctor.
"Ah! ha!" said Joe, with a smile of satisfaction
And why did he smile? He never could tell himself.
"It's my turn now," said Ferguson--and he put down
one hundred and thirty-five pounds to his own account.
"All three of us," said he, "do not weigh much more
than four hundred pounds."
"But, sir," said Joe, "if it was necessary for your
expedition, I could make myself thinner by twenty pounds,
by not eating so much."
"Useless, my boy!" replied the doctor. "You may
eat as much as you like, and here's half-a-crown to buy
you the ballast."
Geometrical Details.--Calculation of the Capacity of the Balloon.--The
Double Receptacle.--The Covering.--The Car.--The Mysterious Apparatus.
--The Provisions and Stores.--The Final Summing up.
Dr. Ferguson had long been engaged upon the details
of his expedition. It is easy to comprehend that the balloon
--that marvellous vehicle which was to convey him
through the air--was the constant object of his solicitude.
At the outset, in order not to give the balloon too
ponderous dimensions, he had decided to fill it with
hydrogen gas, which is fourteen and a half times lighter
than common air. The production of this gas is easy,
and it has given the greatest satisfaction hitherto in
The doctor, according to very accurate calculations,
found that, including the articles indispensable to his
journey and his apparatus, he should have to carry a weight
of 4,000 pounds; therefore he had to find out what would
be the ascensional force of a balloon capable of raising such
a weight, and, consequently, what would be its capacity.
A weight of four thousand pounds is represented by
a displacement of the air amounting to forty-four thousand
eight hundred and forty-seven cubic feet; or, in other
words, forty-four thousand eight hundred and forty-seven
cubic feet of air weigh about four thousand pounds.
By giving the balloon these cubic dimensions, and filling
it with hydrogen gas, instead of common air--the former
being fourteen and a half times lighter and weighing
therefore only two hundred and seventy-six pounds--a
difference of three thousand seven hundred and twenty-four
pounds in equilibrium is produced; and it is this
difference between the weight of the gas contained in the
balloon and the weight of the surrounding atmosphere
that constitutes the ascensional force of the former.
However, were the forty-four thousand eight hundred
and forty-seven cubic feet of gas of which we speak, all
introduced into the balloon, it would be entirely filled;
but that would not do, because, as the balloon continued
to mount into the more rarefied layers of the atmosphere,
the gas within would dilate, and soon burst the cover
containing it. Balloons, then, are usually only two-thirds
But the doctor, in carrying out a project known only
to himself, resolved to fill his balloon only one-half; and,
since he had to carry forty-four thousand eight hundred
and forty-seven cubic feet of gas, to give his balloon
nearly double capacity he arranged it in that elongated,
oval shape which has come to be preferred. The horizontal
diameter was fifty feet, and the vertical diameter
seventy-five feet. He thus obtained a spheroid, the
capacity of which amounted, in round numbers, to ninety
thousand cubic feet.
Could Dr. Ferguson have used two balloons, his chances
of success would have been increased; for, should one
burst in the air, he could, by throwing out ballast, keep
himself up with the other. But the management of two
balloons would, necessarily, be very difficult, in view of
the problem how to keep them both at an equal ascensional force.
After having pondered the matter carefully, Dr. Ferguson,
by an ingenious arrangement, combined the advantages of
two balloons, without incurring their inconveniences. He
constructed two of different sizes, and inclosed the
smaller in the larger one. His external balloon, which
had the dimensions given above, contained a less one of
the same shape, which was only forty-five feet in
horizontal, and sixty-eight feet in vertical diameter. The
capacity of this interior balloon was only sixty-seven
thousand cubic feet: it was to float in the fluid surrounding
it. A valve opened from one balloon into the other,
and thus enabled the aeronaut to communicate with both.
This arrangement offered the advantage, that if gas
had to be let off, so as to descend, that which was in the
outer balloon would go first; and, were it completely
emptied, the smaller one would still remain intact. The
outer envelope might then be cast off as a useless encumbrance;
and the second balloon, left free to itself, would not offer
the same hold to the currents of air as a half-inflated one
must needs present.
Moreover, in case of an accident happening to the outside
balloon, such as getting torn, for instance, the other
would remain intact.
The balloons were made of a strong but light Lyons silk,
coated with gutta percha. This gummy, resinous substance
is absolutely water-proof, and also resists acids and gas
perfectly. The silk was doubled, at the upper extremity of
the oval, where most of the strain would come.
Such an envelope as this could retain the inflating
fluid for any length of time. It weighed half a pound per
nine square feet. Hence the surface of the outside balloon
being about eleven thousand six hundred square feet, its
envelope weighed six hundred and fifty pounds. The envelope
of the second or inner balloon, having nine thousand two
hundred square feet of surface, weighed only about five
hundred and ten pounds, or say eleven hundred and sixty
pounds for both.
The network that supported the car was made of very
strong hempen cord, and the two valves were the object
of the most minute and careful attention, as the rudder of
a ship would be.