9 JUNE 1866, Page 17




THE second volume of this delightful book will interest the geo- grapher even more than the first, for it contains the discovery which Mr. Baker and his wife risked so much to make. After months of toil and humiliation, of desertion and opposition, of plunder and sickness, the latter borne by both with a calm forti- tude which contrasts oddly with Mr. Baker's sacred wrath at oppo- sition from human folly and greediness, our travellers reached the hills which fringe the Albert Nyanza, and looked down into the great reservoir of the Nile. Mr. Baker rises out of his usual clear colloquialism to describe at once the scene and his sensations, one of which at least was, we fancy, a little factitious :— "The sun had not risen when I was spurring my ox after the guide, who, having been promised a double handful of beads on arrival at the lake had caught the enthusiasm of the moment. The day broke beau- tifully clear, and having crossed a deep valley between the hills, we toiled up the opposite slope. I hurried to the summit. The glory of our prize burst suddenly upon me ! There, like a sea of quicksilver, lay far beneath the grand expanse of water,—a boundless sea horizon on the south and south-west, glittering in the noon-day sun ; and on the west, at fifty or sixty miles' distance, blue mountains rose from the bosom of the lake to a height of about 7,000 feet above its level. It is impossible to describe the triumph of that moment ;—here was the reward for all our labour—for the years of tenacity with which we had toiled through Africa. England had won the sources of the Nile ! Long before I reached this spot, I had arranged to give three cheers with all our men in English style in honour of the discovery, but now that I looked down upon the great inland sea lying nestled in the very heart of Africa, and thought how vainly mankind had sought these sources throughout so many ages, and reflected that I had been the humble instrument per- mitted to unravel this portion of the great mystery when so many greater than I had failed, I felt too serious to vent my feelings in vain cheers for victory, and I sincerely thanked God for having guided and supported us through all dangers to the good end. I was about 1,500 feet above the lake, and I looked down from the steep granite cliff upon those welcome waters—upon that vast reservoir which nourished Egypt and brought fertility where all was wilderness—upon that great source so long hidden from mankind ; that source of bounty and of blessings to millions of human beings; and as one of the greatest objects in nature, I determined to honour it with a great name. As an imperish- able memorial of one loved and mourned by our gracious Queen and deplored by every Englishman, I called this great lake the Albert N'yanza.' The Victoria and the Albert lakes are the two sources of the Nile."

T beach was perfectly clean sand, upon which the waves rolled like those of the sea, throwing up weeds precisely as seaweed may be seen upon the English shore. It was a grand sight to look upon thie vast reservoir of the mighty Nile, and to watch the heavy swell tumbling upon the beach, while far to the south-west the eye searched as vainly for a bound as though upon the Atlantic. It was with extreme emotion that I enjoyed this glorious scene."

The lake is full of crocodiles and hippopotami, and liable to sudden and furious squalls, but Mr. Baker, with ready faculty, built a canoe, invented a rudder, taught his followers to row, and set out on a tour along the coast, now passing great herds of elephants, and then a strange natural curiosity—a floating shore. "Continuing our voyage north, the western shore projected suddenly, and diminished the width of the lake to about twenty miles. It was no longer the great inland sea that at Vacovia had so impressed me, with the clean pebbly beach that had hitherto formed the shore, but vast banks of reeds growing upon floating vegetation prevented the canoes from landing. These banks were most peculiar, as they appeared to have been formed of decayed vegeta- tion, from which the papyrus rushes took root ;—the thickness of the floating mass was about three feet, and so tough and firm that a man could walk upon it, merely sinking above his ankles in the soft ooze. Beneath this raft of vegetation was extremely deep water, and the shore for a width of about half a mile was entirely protected by this extraordinary formation. One day a tremendous gale of wind and heavy sea broke off large portions, and the wind acting upon the rushes like sails, carried floating islands of some acres about the lake, to be deposited wherever they might chance to hitch." From the northern side Mr. Baker resolved to ascend the river to the west, to the great falls of Kartuna, and thence march overland to Gondokoro, and his wife, ill as she was with African fever, wished to accomplish even more than this, namely, to march with the men from Karuma to Gondokoro, and thus put the course of the stream beyond all question or caviL It was decided, however, that this was unneces- nary, and ascending the river through shores of papyrus theyreached • Aloert Nyanza. By S. W. Baker, M.A. London; MacmilLw. the falls named by Mr. Baker the Murchison Falls, where the river falls through a gorge of rock fifty feet wide in a leap of 120 feet clear, the water turning snow-white with the vehemence of its descent. The shore is covered with huge crocodiles, and the travellers had a narrow escape from a great bull hippopotamus, which charged the boat and nearly °versa it. The attack failed, however, and Mr. Baker and his wife commenced the land journey back, the most toilsome portion of their travels. Their oxen died of the fly-bite, while they were too weak to walk ; the natives, tempted by Ring Kamrasi, deserted, and they were compelled to remain at Patooan, feeding upon black flour found in a deserted village, which reduced them to skeletons, though it fattened their men. So intense was the depression produced by hunger and sickness, that they agreed, if Mr. Baker died, his wife should follow him, to escape falling into native hands; and he records in grim earnest that his great regret in dying was that he should miss "that one meal of English beefsteak and pale ale." At last, after two months spent in this horrible condition, King Kamrasi, as treacherous and selfish a savage as Captain Spoke described him, sent men to carry them to his capital, where once more they feasted upon milk. Kamrasi wanted their aid against an enemy, and had left them to starve till they came in to his terms—a proposal which Mr. Baker steadily refused. He had, however, an opportunity of befriending the Ring in a most striking manner. A great force, aided by a Turkish trader, having threatened his capital, Mr. Baker, with the sovereign audacity of a true Englishman, hoisted the British flag, declared the country annexed, and dared the Turk to attack a territory which belonged to Great Britain. The Turk retreated panic struck, without malice against the Englishman, and Kamrasi, at once delighted and stupefied, first begged the flag, which he re- garded as a talisman, and then Mr. Baker's favourite rifle. Mr. Baker remained with him some months, assisting in defending him and manufacturing potato toddy, a beverage which extir- pated the fever in his own constitution. We recommend the following paragraph to total abstainers :— " Hound an extraordinary change in my health from the time that I commenced drinking the potato-whisky. Every day I drank hot toddy. I became strong, and from that time to the present day my fever left me, occurring only once or twice during the first six months, and then quitting me entirely. Not having tasted either wine or spirits for nearly two years, the sudden change from total abstinence to a moderate allow- ance of stimulant produced a marvellous effect. Ibrahim and some of his men established stills, several became intoxicated, which so delighted 1FGambi, who happened to be present, that he begged a bottle of spirit from Ibrahim as a sample for Kamrasi. It appears that the King got drunk so quickly upon the potent spirit that he had an especial desire to repeat the dose—he called it the masons (cider) of our country, and pro- nounced it so far superior to his own that he determined to establish a

factory. When I explained to him that it was the produce of sweet potatoes he expressed his great regret that he had never sufficiently ap- preciated their value, and he expressed a determination to cultivate whole districts. Ibrahim was requested to leave one of his men who understood the management of a still, to establish and undertake the direction of 'King Kanussi's Central African Unyoro Potato-Whisky Company, unlimited."

At last, after six months' residence at Shooa, the main incident of which was the training of a little slave lad, charmingly described, the time arrived for the final march to Gondokoro, where they arrived under the escort of Ibrahim, the Turkish trader, whom Mr. Baker had before conciliated, with the English flag flying, mus- ketry firing, and every demonstration of joy, only to find their friends had given them up as dead, and sent no boats. A steamer, however, shortly after was heard of in the neighbourhood, and in the midst of a strangely characteristic scene Mr. Baker com- menced the descent of the Nile.

"I had gained an extraordinary influence over all these ruffianly people. Everything that I had promised them had been more than performed; all that I had foretold had been curiously realized. They now acknowledged how often I had assured them that the slave trade would be suppressed by the interference of European powers, and the present ruin of their trade was the result ; they all believed that I was the cause, by having written from Gondokoro to the Consul-General of Egypt in 1863, when the traders had threatened to drive me back. Far from retaliating upon me, they were completely cowed. The report had been spread throughout Gondokoro by Ibrahim and his people that their wonderful success in ivory hunting was chiefly due to me ; that their sick had been cured ; that good luck had attended their party ; that disaster had befallen all who had been against me ; and that no one had suffered wrong at our hands. With the resignation of Mohammedans they yielded to their destiny, apparently without any ill feeling against us. Crowds lined the cliff and the high ground by the old ruins of the mission station to see us depart. We pushed off from shore into the powerful current ; the English flag that had accompanied us through all our wanderings now fluttered proudly from the mast head unsullied by defeat, and amidst the rattle of musketry we glided rapidly down the river, and soon lost sight of Gondokoro."

We are bound to say that this influence was well deserved. Despite his disbelief in negroes, Mr. Baker was always severely just both to them and his own men, careful to prevent oppression, and

to keep his word inviolate even to his own hurt. If he killed, as he did occasionally, it was in fair fight against those who would have killed him, and if he struck, it was to maintain an absolutely essential discipline. A braver man never lived, or a more perse- vering, unless—to perpetrate a bull—we except his wife, who had less strength, and far more to fear from capture. Both fought up against the difficulties of the country, savage enemies, treacherous friends, and terrible sickness, with a quiet, though in the case of Mr. Baker, somewhat fiery constancy which reflects credit upon Englishmen. Few travellers in Africa have shown more nerve, and few also have been so completely successful.

It is impossible in reading these volumes not to speculate on the chances which exist of utilizing the glorious regions, rich with all tropical fertility, through which Mr. Baker passed. We can perceive but one, and that is conquest. If ever the British or any other European power takes possession of Egypt and disciplines the Arabs they may advance southwards step by step at least to the great lake, reducing the tribes to order, making life and pro- perty secure, and using the great river as a highway for steam. The Arabs can bear the climate, make good colonists, submit readily enough to any strong but just rule, and would in a degree civilize a people who are accustomed to obey, and who are, as we suspect, lazy only because they so seldom reap the fruit of their industry. Once organized, the coantry would speedily yield a revenue, and in Arabia a European Government would have close by its side an endless reservoir of force. For missionary enter- prise the time has not yet come, and we despair of civilization by trade so long as the profits of trade fall so exclusively into the hands of chiefs who, like Kamrasi, see no end in conquest except plunder, or in organization except the security of themselves and their despotism. With five thousand Arabs thoroughly disci- plined and commanded by Europeans, a man like Mr. Baker would ensure order from Khartoum to the lake, and that must one day be the first step toivards the utilization of these vast regions, which now yield only elephant tusks to Europe and female slavea to the harems of Egypt, Turkey, and Africa.