UGANDA AND THE EGYPTIAN SOUDAN.*
ONE cannot help regretting that Sydney Smith did not live to read and criticise this work. No man, certainly none of his con- temporaries, could, with such rapidity and ease, take the heart, and especially the humours, out of a book of travel, and serve them up with sauce piquante to the public. Nor, surely, does -even the rising and forgetful generation need to be reminded that, into no literary task did Sydney Smith throw more heart than into that of roasting a missionary who had, in his opinion, been unctuous over much, or had introduced dogmatic theology where it was neither desired nor needed. Yet here we have a most instructive and valuable book of travel, written in a style which is a happy combination of sprightliness and modesty, by two representatives of the Church Missionary Society, who were sent to Uganda, expressly because Mr, Stanley had said that the realms of King Mtesa—the singular potentate whom Spoke "discovered" in his travels—offered an admirable field for evangelisation. There is,-moreover, scarcely an allu- sion to such work in the wholi of these two volumes, nor the semblance of what Burns calls "the preaching cant." Rather singularly, indeed, the medical missionary, Mr. Felkiu, who writes the bulk of the narrative, is much more prone to ex- press the simple theology which long-continued communing with nature, and with man in a state of almost primitive barbarism, evokes, than his clerical colleague. This result may be due mainly to habitual self-repression. or, at least, to systematic "shop "-repression. It may also, however, be attributed in some measure to the tolerance which grows, like other graces, on Christians who happen alio to be men of strong sense and wide sympathies, and whom circumstances have brought into close contact with races not yet Christianised. The intense, if not narrow Presbyterianism with which Livingstone started on his missionary career in Africa, mellowed into an almost Wordsworthian catholicity before he died.
• llganda, and the Benti•in Soudan. By the Bev. C. T. Wilson. M.A., and B. W. Felkin, F.ILG.S. 2 vols. London: Sampson Low and Co. 1892.
The title of this work adequately describes its scope. It sheds a new light, in the first place, upon King Mtesa and his remarkable and promising kingdom ; and in the second, it de- scribes, as no previous book has done, the extraordinary achieve- ments in the Soudan of Gessi Pasha—the able lieutenant of Colonel Gordon—who died at Suez, worn out, and we suspect also broken-hearted, in the spring of last year. The leading geographical results of the book Mr. Felkin himself thus Burns up :—" The mystery which for so many ages has enveloped the mighty river is now solved, and lies open before me, for I have been permitted to trace the Nile through Egypt up to the Victoria Lake, and thence to its home in the Albert Nyanza ; and I claim the honour of being the first Englishman who has seen both the Victoria and Albert Lakes, and returned in safety to England." The story of the events which brought Mr. Wilson and Mr. Felkin together is itself an interesting illustration of the vicissitudes of African travel. As already noticed, Mr.
Stanley, while resting. at Uganda, in the beginning of 1875, wrote a letter to England, urging a zealous effort to evangelise this region. The idea was taken up, and large donations having been offered, the Church Missionary Society asked for volun- teers to go out to the Victoria Lake to establish two stations, one in Karagwe, the other in Uganda. In the spring of the following year, a party proceeded to Africa, under the com- mand of Lieutenant Smith, R.N. In May, 1877, four men- the Rev. C. T. Wilson, one of the authors of this work, Dr. Smith, Mr. O'Neill, and Lieutenant Smith—found them- selves on the southern shores of the Victoria Nyanza. There Dr. Smith died, at the early age of twenty-five. Mr. Wilson and Lieutenant Smith crossed the lake, and were well received by Mtesa. Subsequently, Mr. O'Neill and Lieutenant Smith were killed by the natives of Ukerewe, a large island in the lake, and Mr. Wilson was thus left alone. Finally, how- ever, there was despatched to his aid, and by the Nile route, another English party, including Mr. Felkin, the other joint- author of this work. It was February, 1879, however, before
Mr. Felkin and two of his friends joined Mr. Wilson, who had therefore been two years in Uganda. A few months later, Mr. Wilson and Mr. Felkin started for Europe, in charge of three ambassadors whom King Mtesa was sending to England on a visit to the Queen. The second portion of the book, written by Mr. Felkin, is a narrative of this journey from Uganda to Lado--
the capital of the equatorial provinces of Egypt, of whose governor, Dr. Emin Bey, the travellers speak in the highest terms—from Ledo to the Bahr-el-Ghazel province, so honourably identified with the work of Gessi Pasha, thence through the forest between Dem Suliman and the Bahr-el-Arab, by camel through Dafur and Kordofan, down the Nile to Berber, and, finally, across the desert to Suakim, on the Red Sea.
Mr. Wilson lived, as we have said, two years in Uganda, and Mr. Felkin became physician at the Court of Mtesa. Their account of this interesting potentate, who is undoubtedly one of the Great Powers of Africa ; of his kingdom ; and of his sub- jects, the Waganda, is the fullest and most trustworthy that has ever been published. Mtesa, who was first made known to the world by Captain Speke, is thus described by Mr. Wilson :—
"Mtesa, the present monarch of Uganda, is now about forty-five years of age, and when I first knew him was tall, slender, active, and graceful in his movements, but he has now aged a good deal, and become broken by long illness. He is shrewd and intelligent, having learnt to read and write Arabic, and he can also speak several African languages besides hie own. He has a keen eye for the main chance, and will never lose for want of begging. His great aim and object is. self-aggrandisement. He wishes to make Uganda the greatest country in the world, and himself the mightiest monarch, and he thinks that the presence of Europeans at his Court will add to his prestige and increase his wealth. He is always glad to welcome a traveller, because he is another pigeon to be plucked. He quite understands that Europeans are acquainted with many things of which he is ignorant, and he wishes to acquire as mach of this know- ledge as possible, and also to employ their skill in procuring arms and ammunition, believing that the secret of a nation's greatness consists in the amount of the munitions of war which it possesses ; and with this view he bullies all European travellers, to try and induce them to give, make, or procure these objects of his desire for him. It is this also that has made him wish to have Europeans settle in the country. He is a thorough man of the world, and when he pleases can be as courteous and gentlemanly as any of our own aristocracy. He takes an intelligent interest in a wide range of subjects, and will discuss for hours abstruse points in theology, political economy, or philosophy. He is intensely fickle, and never knows his own mind for two days together; and, like a spoilt child, is always wanting a new toy. This trait of Mtesa's character accounts for his changes of religions profession. He is crafty, and knows well how to swim with the stream of popular opinion. Be is very superstitious, and if he dreams of any of the gods of the country, he takes it as an omen of
ill, and immediately offers human sacrifices, sometimes to the number of several hundreds, to appease the anger of the offended deity He is, however, too shrewd and intelligent to believe in many of tbe grosser superstitions which find credit among his people His treatment of individual Europeans depends very largely on their treat- ment of him ; a firm yet courteous demeanour he always respects, and any traveller who will behave in this way to him, and who will not unnecessarily obtrude his differences of opinion, nor insist on them too strongly, and above all, who is perfectly truthful and honest with him, will obtain a great amount of influence. For my own part, during my two years' stay in 'Uganda, I never had any serious personal difference with him and the same can be slid by more than one other European who has stayed at his Court."
The physical characteristics of Uganda, which, it may be as Jaen to remind the reader, is situated on the north, north-west, and west of the Nyanza or Victoria Lake, and is bisected by the Equator, must be very fascinating. We read of ravines whose "steep sides are dotted with splendid forest trees, whose foliage is so dense as to create a perpetual twilight, even at noon, while festoons of graceful creepers and feathery ferns overhang rapidly- flowing streams, whose clear, cold waters reach to the knees, the whole scene being one of weird beauty, and an almost perfect realisation of one's childish dreams of fairy-land." The coast region of Uganda is the most fertile district, Mr. Wilson says, that he has ever seen in Africa, the banana flourishing there to an almost unprecedented extent. The climate is a remarkably mild one, and the temperature is very uniform all the year round, never rising during the whole of Mr. Wilson's residence above 90 deg. Fahr. in the shade, and rarely falling below 50 deg. at night ; while during the middle of the day there was generally a pleasant breeze. The Waganda ought to be not less interesting and attractive to Englishmen than their country. They are 5,000,000 in number, of whom only 1,400,000 are males, and their numbers would be much greater, were it not for the terrible and decimating wars in which they are almost ceaselessly engaged. With one exception, they are the only fully-clothed race in °Karel Africa. Their forms of
government, even their religious observances, exhibit the germ of civilisation. It is even possible that they may give up
polygamy, if only, as Mr. Felkin insists, with comic emphasis, the Missionary Societies send out married men to them, whom Mtesa will not insist on killing with kindness, in the shape of presents of wives. Above all, the Waganda have that positive genius for road-making which is generally found only
in races in an advanced stage of civilisation. There is no
country in Africa whose future seems so promising as Uganda. It only requires judicious European "tapping."
The whole of Mr. Felkin's narrative of the journey of Mr.
Wilson and himself from Uganda to Suakim, the stages in which we have already mentioned, is eminently readable. But the centres of interest are Gessi Pasha and the slave-owning
provinces of Egypt. The travellers met Gessi—Whose portrait suggests a thin, anxious Scotchman, rather than an Italian—
at Djour Ghattas, not far from Dem Idris, where he stood a desperate siege from Suleiman Bey, the head of the slave- owners, whom he finally captured and executed :—
"Gessi Pasha arrived on October 20th, and as soon as we beard he had come, we went to pay our respects to him. Seats were placed under the large tree before his compound, and he was surrounded by numerous officers and soldiers. He received us very kindly, and was evidently much pleased to meet Europeans again ; but in the pre- senceof the natives, we confined ourselves to an interchange of cour- tesies. Presently, after coffee and a few minutes' formal talk, he broke up the reception and returned with us to our compound, and then we were able to get some idea of this warm-hearted Italian. He was a small wiry man, very impulsive and vivacious. He had grey hair, bright, lively eyes, and highly nervous hands ; he seemed as if he could not sit still for a moment, but was always on the move, and continually occupied in making cigarettes ; of which, when made, he rarely smoked more than half, but threw away the remainder, to begin another. He expressed great joy at meeting us, and for an hour or two question and answer followed each other in such rapid succession, that to remember the conversation would be impossible. I think I never met a more entertaining companion ; he had an in- exhaustible fund of quaint humour and a large collection of anecdotes with which to enliven a conversation. We were with him until December 4th, and during the whole time his kindness and considera- tion were unfailing. His generous hospitality was of great benefit to us, for though his meals were very irregular, sometimes one a day, sometimes two, and sometimes three, yet he always insisted on our sharing them ; and we soon found that the change in food and cook- ing caused a great improvement in our health and spirits. I am sure it is false economy to be without a good cook when travelling in Africa, and Gessi Pasha was not above looking after the kitchen him- self, and be would often excuse himself for a minute, saying, 'I must see if the soup is all right,' or if that cook is roasting the meat properly.' Some of my readers who have all the comforts and luxuries of civilised life at their command may smile shrug their
shoulders, and say, 'How much he cares for his dinner !' and they
may consider it beneath the dignity of a Pasha and the commander of an army to think of such things; • but I can assure such, that to us, wearied and weakened in mind and body by months of hard marching, constant fevers, and unwholesome food, these dinners were life, and we could only admire and be grateful to the man who would throw his dignity to the winds, if it stood in the way of doing a kindness to a friend."
Of the prospects of the overthrow of the slave-trade in the equatorial provinces of Egypt, Mr. Felkin seems to us more hopeful than most other writers on the same subject, Colonel Gordon himself included. He testifies to the great respect, amounting almost to reverence, in which the Colonel's name is held. The Khedive's partiality for Sebehr Pasha, the real in- stigator of the slave-owning revolt in 1878, which was headed by Suleiman, the son of the arch-conspirator, he seems willing to attribute to ignorance. Mr. Felkin, however, insists on the necessity for having as Governors of the Equatorial provinces, Europeans of integrity and energy like Dr. Emin Bev. He further believes that the authorities in Cairo will continue to wink at the slave razzias, because by far the larger part of the Egyptian army consists of liberated slaves ; and where could these be obtained, were no slave caravans " captured " to pro- vide the raw material ? But like everybody else, Mr. Felkin holds that were it not for the dread of an Abyssinian invasion, Egypt would require only a very small army of defence, and that that fear would be removed by acceding to the perfectly reasonable demand of King Johannes for a seaport town.
Reference has been made to the chief geographical dis- covery which Mr. Felkin claims to have made, in his journey through the Nile country to Uganda. It is interesting, in con- nection with one of the most disputed questions of African geography, to note his opinion that originally the Albert (Stan- ley's lake) and Tanganyika were one, but that owing to volcanic or other causes, they have been divided. He allows, however, that conjecture on this point must be qualified, until the country between the Albert and the Tanganyika has been explored, a pro- ceeding which he thinks need not be very difficult or lengthy. At the present moment, the Victoria Nyanza must, he holds, be con- sidered the only source of the Nile. All over these two volumes are scattered interesting observations on the African tribes the travellers came across, and carefully prepared appendices supply most valuable ethnological, meteorological, and other scientific information, arranged chiefly in the form of tables. We note that Mr. Felkin says of the fine, muscular tribes of the Bans, who live in the vicinity of La,do, that he could find no trace among them of a belief in a Supreme Being or of a future State, and it is a fact that even Jesuit Missionaries have failed to make any impression on them. But does no superstitious meaning attach to the fact that the Bans invariably bury their dead in a sitting posture ?