The Albert N’Yanza, Great Basin of the Nile by Sir Samuel White Bakerand Explorations of the Nile Sources

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 THE QUEEN I dedicate, with Her permission, THIS BOOK, Containing the Story of the Discovery of the Great Lake From which the
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  • 1866
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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,
As a NILE SOURCE, with the VICTORIA LAKE, I have ventured to name
In Memory of the Late Illustrious and Lamented PRINCE CONSORT.


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 expedition.

“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 Nile.





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– Altitudes



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 Supplies–Disappointment.



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 Address



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 Escort
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 future.

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 contend.

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 solved.

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 Nile.

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 follows:

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 assistance.

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 drumming.

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 together.

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