17 FEBRUARY 1855, Page 10


The recent expedition up the Chadda has met with a success unex- ampled in the history of African explorations. The expedition arose out of a discovery made by Dr. Barth. Before that enterprising traveller set out on his perhaps fatal journey to Timbuctoo, he had made an excursion to the South of Lake Chad; and on his way he crossed a river of con- siderable magnitude, flowing Westward, which he rightly conjectured to be the Chadda, an Eastern branch of the Niger. When this intelligence reached the Foreign Office, Lord Clarendon proposed to tho Admiralty that a steamer should be sent up the Chadds from the sea, to ascertain its character and open a communication with the overland explorers, Dr. Barth and Dr. Vogel. It so happened that, in 1852, Mr. Macgregor Laird had offered to provide a steamer for the exploration of any of the African rivers; and he was called upon by the Admiralty to submit a plan of operations to them. The plan he sent in was adopted : the Go- vernment agreed to pay 5000/ as its contribution ; and Mr. Laird con- tracted to build a screw-steamer of 265 tons capable of steaming ten knots an hour, to pay all the expenses of the voyage, and to carry out as pas- sengers such officers as the Government might appoint. The natives are incapable of appreciating an expedition of a purely scientific or philan- thropic character; and it was hoped, not without reason, that the trading character of the vessel to be employed would fail to excite the jealousies of the native chiefs on the banks of the river, who readily welcome trading adventurers. Captain Becroft, so well and so long known in connexion with the Niger, volunteered for the service, and was busily engaged preparing for it, when death removed from the scene of his usefulness this remarkable man,—who, individually, perhaps has done more good during his resi- dence of twenty-two years at Fernando Po than any other European in those parts. Dr. Baikie, R.N., and Dr. Bleek, a German philologist, were the two other Government officers appointed to ascend the Chadda. Mr. Laird named his steamer the Pleiad, and she sailed from Liverpool in May last; calling at Sierra Leone for interpreters, and at the Kroo coast for Kroomon ; discharging her European crew at Sierra Leone and Fer- nando Po. She left that island for the Niger on the 8th July, with a complement of sixty-six—twelve Europeans, and the remainder Africans. Nine of the Europeans were the officers of the Pleiad ; three were Go- vernment officers—Dr. Baikie, Mr. May, who had volunteered from her Majesty's ship Crane, and an assistant to Dr. Baikie. Dr. Bleek had invalided from Fernando Po. The Reverend Mr. Crowther, of the Church Missionary Society, accompanied the expedition, on the invita- tion of Mr. Laird; and the remainder were Africans of different tribes, to serve as interpreters, and Kroomen, forming the working crew of the vessel.

After an absence of four months the Pleiad returned to Fernando Po, I without the loss of a single man; and on Monday evening this week, Dr. Baikie, in robust health, read a paper at the Geographical Society, de- tailing the results of the expedition. These may be briefly summed up : ' 1. The exploration of the river Chadda 250 miles beyond the point reached by Allen and Oldfield in 1833. 2. The unprecedented return of the whole number of ;Europeans em- ployed in the expedition, without a single casualty.

These results may be attributed to three causes. First, to the descrip- tion of vessel employed. The Pleiad is the first exploring vessel ever fitted with the screw-propeller. She is built on the model of the famous yacht America; displacement is procured by breadth, not length ; and with the propeller lifted, the Pleiad is a fast-sailing schooner, 100 feet long by 24 feet beam. The peculiarity of her build enabled her to make the voyage out to the scene of operations without the necessity of taking in fuel of green wood upon the coast, which is sure to engender fever; and her shortness rendered her more manageable in the river.

Secondly, to the free use of quinine both as a preventive of and a re- medy: for fever ; to the regular use of Burnett's disinfecting fluid ; to keeping the bildges clean ; to scraping the decks, in place of washing them - and to boiling the water used for drinking. Thirdly, to entering the river at the proper season, while its waters were rising.

We may therefore consider this expedition to mark a new tera in Afri- can exploration. As far as the banks of the river were concerned, the ele- ments of disease were as rife as in the Government expedition of 1842, which ascended the river in August, and lost forty-two men in one-half the time that the Pleiad remained in the river. It is demonstrated that a well-planned, well-officered expedition, can survey these great arteries of the African continent in safety ; that the veil can be safely lifted from the mysterious interior ; and that a few thousand pounds judiciously spread over eight or ten years will remove the blank between the Niger 1 and the Indian Ocean which now deforms our maps.

It would be unfair to the leaders of former expeditions, not to state that the successful treatment of fever by quinine, to which evidently the immunity from mortality is to be mainly attributed, was not known, or at all events not practised, when they were undertaken : but, to show the marked difference, we subjoin the mortality of four expeditions connected with the Niger.

In 1805-11ungo Park left the Gambia with thirty-eight Europeans ; seven of whom survived to reach the Niger at Sego, and the remainder perished, either from disease or with their intrepid leader on the river.

In 1816—out of Captain Tuckey's expedition to the Congo, then sup- posed to be the embouchure of the Niger, only one man escaped.

In 1832-'33---the Liverpool expedition lost forty out of forty-nine Europeans. In 1842—Buxton's expedition, under Captain Trotter, R.N., lost forty- two out of one hundred and forty-five Whites.