The Book of Burtoniana
Letters & Memoirs of Sir Richard Francis Burton
Volume 1: 1841-1864
Edited by Gavan Tredoux.
[DRAFT] 8/22/2016 12:44 AM
2016, Gavan Tredoux.
The Book of Burtoniana:
Volume 1: 1841-1864
Volume 2: 1865-1879
Volume 3: 1880-1924
Volume 4: Register and Bibliography
Cover Image: Richard Francis Burton and his sister Maria, Boulogne 1852, by Claude Jacquand, courtesy of the Royal Anthropological Institute, London.
This is a collection of Burtoniana: letters, reminiscences, diary entries, mentions and fugitive pieces, by or about Sir Richard Francis Burton (1821-1890). For an overview of the life and work of Burton, with complete facsimiles of all of his books and articles, see http://burtoniana.org.
Although there are many biographies of Burton, none is completely satisfactory, and primary sources are badly needed. To date there have only been two brief collections of correspondence: an unpublished M.A. thesis by Donald Young, written in 1979, and a selection of documents about the Nile controversy from the collection of Quentin Keynes, edited by Donald Young and Quentin Keynes, published in a limited edition in 1999. This is not because of a lack of material.
While Isabel Burton burned in stages—partly in Trieste, partly in London—almost all of her husband’s correspondence, along with his diaries and a number of his manuscripts, she could not burn the letters he had sent to other people. Therefore the letters we now have contain hardly any received by Burton himself, apart from scattered instances where he pasted letters he received into copies of books in his library, or collated them for use in ongoing projects, like the Book of the Sword, which survived Isabel’s moral scrutiny. From references in the letters which do survive, it is obvious that Isabel burnt a vast correspondence, of which the extant portion is just a small sample. Even so, there are still enough letters from Burton to fill multiple volumes.
The mania for collecting Burtoniana has meant that a lot of the known correspondence is now secreted away in private collections—the auction catalogues are full of examples at ransom-like prices. Occasionally this material finds its way into archives where it can be accessed, such as the Huntington Library, where the Edwards Metcalfe collection was deposited; the British Library, where the Quentin Keynes Collection of manuscripts is now available for use; the National Library of Scotland, where the Grant papers, which contain several letters to and from John Hanning Speke and C. P. Rigby, are held; Durham University, where the Wylde family papers, which contain a trove of letters from Burton to William Henry Wylde, have been deposited; and the Wiltshire and Swindon Record Office, where the Arundell papers, which contain the residue of the items that Isabel had custody of and did not burn or have burnt, reside. Private collectors who have correspondence or any manuscripts—this means you—are encouraged, or rather exhorted, to contribute copies to this project, which is ongoing.
The scope here is considerably broader than traditional collections of letters, as it includes other documents, and relevant mentions of Burton and his concerns in correspondence between third parties. In this spirit, there is an extensive selection of correspondence between John Hanning Speke, C. P. Rigby, J. A. Grant and others, as well as a large tranche of correspondence by Isabel.
Most of the material here has never been published before, or has appeared in fragmented form only, often garbled by transcription errors. Commentary is supplied where necessary to explain obscurities and identify references. A Register is also provided in Volume 4 with more details on the principal figures referred to.
The letters and documents are arranged chronologically in the first three volumes. Reminiscences which refer to an identifiable time period appear there. General reminiscences and assessments of Burton written after his death appear by their publication date.
The selection of letters is comprehensive and includes the core of the correspondence involving Burton that is known to survive and can still be located, but it does not aim to be complete—many more letters are known to exist, and this collection may grow to include them in future editions. Similarly, though the reminiscences collected here include nearly all the substantial first-hand accounts of Burton that have emerged to date, there are surely more to be discovered.
A fourth volume contains a Register of people referred to, with biographical overviews and details of their connections to Burton. There is also a detailed chronology of events to allow contexts to be anchored correctly, and a bibliography.
All volumes contain a selection of images, including colour plates, many of which have never, or seldom, been published in the form given here. These include the paintings made at Trieste by Albert Letchford, unpublished sketches by Burton himself, and many other rarities. Together with these, images long familiar to aficionados appear with much higher fidelity than they have before.
All letters reproduced here have been transcribed, wherever possible, from the original manuscripts or images of them. There are only a few cases in which the originals could not be traced. The text is given as closely as possible to the original, without unnecessary pedantry about their physical layout. Where text could not be recovered, because it is illegible or missing, the “[…]” ellipsis convention is used. Doubtful transcriptions appear inside brackets, e.g. “[Reclaimer]”. Wherever possible, translations of foreign phrases have been supplied—modern readers do not have the kind of education that Burton could assume his audience had.
Finally, caveat emptor—or reader beware. It is all too easy to make mistakes in this kind of work. Burton’s handwriting started out illegible and only got worse with age, shrinking and cramping. At times, Isabel’s writing is even worse. During the compilation of this series it became obvious early on that confidence in transcriptions required careful resolution of references and cross-comparison with other sources. While this raises confidence considerably, it cannot eliminate all transcription errors, let alone all the sundry other errors that creep into precise work of this kind. Readers must either accept this stoically, or supply their lists of errata as part payment.
Freeman was educated at a small private school at Ewell, in Surrey, where Mr. Clements Markham was one of his contemporaries. But his intellectual life dates from his election to a scholarship at Trinity College, Oxford, in 1841, when he was not yet eighteen years old. At that time the academical society of an undergraduate was limited to college walls much more narrowly than it is now; and Freeman always attributed the influences that moulded his after career to the fellows and scholars of Trinity. The president was then Ingram, the Oxford antiquary; the tutors and lecturers were Wilson (Ingram's successor in the headship, and himself an antiquary), Thomas Short (the tutor of Newman, who survived to our own days), Isaac Williams, Copeland, and Haddan (afterwards co-editor with Dr. Stubbs of Councils and Ecclesiastical Documents relating to Great Britain and Ireland). Among the scholars whom Freeman found in residence were the present Lord Lingen, Basil Jones (Bishop of St. David's), Mountague Bernard, and Sir George Bowen; among his juniors were Father Coleridge, Gregory Smith, Sir George Cox, and Gifford Palgrave. A commoner of the time was Sir Richard F. Burton, concerning whom Freeman used to say that he was regard by his fellow students as “a dangerous sort of savage”: for all that, there was something in common between the two men.
At a Meeting of the Vice Chancellor, Heads of Houses, and Proctors, in the Delegates' Room, March 5, 1842: Whereas it has been announced by public advertisement that a steeple chase is about to take place in the neighbourhood of Oxford; all persons are hereby admonished that the Penalties enacted by the Statute hereunto subjoined will be enforced against those who, after this public notice, shall be found to have taken any part in the same.
Extract from the Statute, Tit. xv. Sect. 15.
"It is also enacted, That no Scholar of the University shall be either principal or party in a horse-race, either by the act of riding himself or by engaging in any subscription for the purpose, or in any other manner; nor shall he attend any horse-race, or in any way meddle therein, under the penalty of rustication from the University during one term, for the first offence; during a whole year, for the second; and in the case of a third offence, for ever."
I had the good fortune to know some of the greatest of the authors who lived at Oxford when I was an undergraduate—Max Muller, Bishop Stubbs the historian, Edward Augustus Freeman, Lewis Carroll, Dean Kitchin, Canon Bright and W. L. Courtney. …
Bishop Stubbs and Freeman were also Trinity men, and generally at the College Gaudies, where the Scholars used to dine at the same table as the Dons and their guests. Sir Richard Burton came once to a Gaudy when I was there, and told me that he was very surprised that they had asked him, because he had been sent down.
I said, “You are in very good company. The great Lord Chatham and Walter Savage Landor were sent down from Trinity as well as you.”
Richard Francis Burton
G.O. 31st “ “
Nominated by J Lock Esq. at the recommendation of Joseph Maitland Esq. L J Horne. Son of Captain Burton H.M.S. Baptized 2 Septr. 1821.
Posted to 18 N.I. G.O. 15 Octr 42. Admitted to the service arrived at Bombay 28 Oct 42
G.O. 14 Nov 42. Leave from 1 April to 15 May to proceed to Bombay to undergo an examination in the Hindustani Language
G.O. 22 March 43 reported qualified to hold the situation of Interpreter in Hindustani
G.O. 5 May 43. Appointed to act as Interpreter to his corps
G.O. 10 Aug 43. Leave from 10 Sept to 31 Oct to proceed to Bombay for the purpose of undergoing an examination in the Guzerattee Language
G.O 22 Aug 43. Reported qualified to hold the situation of Interpreter in Guzerattee
G.O. 23 March 43. Leave extended to 10 Nov to enable him to rejoin his station
G.O. 28 Oct 43. Reported qualified as an Intr. In Mahratta
G.O. 22 Oct 44. Appd 2d Asst Surveyor in Scinde from 15 Nov East Bengal
G.O. 2 May 45. An order dated Mahomed Khan – ka Ianda, Hyderabad 8th Aug. 46 appointing him to act as Interpreter to 18th N. I. confirmed
G. O. 3rd Sept
46. Leave extended to 31st Inst to remain at the Residency on
G.O. 1st Decr 46. Evinces a zeal for the service and attention and zeal to his duties (as Lt.) highly creditable and is easily acquainted with his duties. Insp Rept of B.N.I.
6th Jany 47. Leave extended to 31 inst. to remain at the Residency on SC G.O. [?] 2 Jan 47.
Leave further extended to 28 inst. G.O. 1 Feb 47.
Leave for two years to proceed to the Neilgherry Hills on SC G.O. 12 Feb 47.
The unexpired portion cancelled from 30 ulto. the date of his return to the Res. G.O. 12 Oct 47
Appointed Assistant in the Scind Survey Dept. Calcutta G.O. 23 Oct 47.
Reported qualified as an Intr in the Persian language G.O. 12 Nov 47.
Evinces a zeal for the Service, regularity and attention to his duties highly creditable and is well acquainted as far as his experience has enabled him to progress. Insp. Report of the B.N.I. 25 Jan ‘48. Is reported to have passed in 4 native languages & has applied for a Committ. to examine him in the fifth. Govt. recommend that a donation of Rs 1000 similar to that bestowed upon Lt. Rigby be granted to him.
[Public] from Bombay 19 July 48. No. 14. Sanctioned.
[Public] to Bbay 18 June . No. 16 (5).
Reported to have passed in 2 more Native Language (Scindee and Punjabee) in addition to the four languages previously acquired.
[Public] from Bombay 28 Sept 48. No. 77.
Declared qualified to transact public business in the Scindee & Punjabee Languages Gaz. 7 Sept. G.O. 13 Dec. 48.
Evinces a zeal attention & regularity to his duties, highly creditable. Insp. Rep. of 18 N.I. 21 Feb 49 & 8 March 50. 24 March 1851, 1 & 2 of December 1851.
Leave from 12 March to 12 April 49. Gaz. 29 March 49.
Allowed a Furlo to Europe on S.C. G.O. 27 March.49 Commenced 30 March 49. Gaz 5 April 49 & Furlo list.
Submits for Court’s inspection the manuscript of a work which he is desirous of publishing on the Ethnography of Scinde M.C. 13 Nov 50.
Requests permission to dedicate it to Court M.C. 25 Feb 51.
Author of a work entitled “Goa and the blue mountains or 6 months of sick leave”. M.C. 14 May 51.
Author of a work entitled “A Work on the Topography & Ethnography of Scinde” of which Court purchases 150 copies & are willing to accept the dedication of the work.
M.C. 23 July & 27 Aug 51.
Granted by Court a donation of Rs 1000 for proficiency attained by him in 6 native languages G.O. 30 Sept 51.
My dear Scott
The General says he is sorry that he cannot appoint Burton at present to the survey, because he is under a cloud, which has not yet been cleared up.
He has been behaving rather bumptiously to his Commanding Officer, and the matter is not yet settled. Until it is it is impossible for the General to give him an appointment. It is a great pity, for he evidently would be very useful to you. Perhaps it may come right in time.
Statistic Society In Scinde.—At a meeting held in the house of Captain Preedy. on the 9th October, the following gentlemen were present:—His Excellency Sir Charles Napier, &c. &c. in the chair; Col. Douglas, Capt. J. Napier, Capt. Browne, Dr. Gibbon, Lieut. Blagrave, John Macleod, Esq., Capt. Preedy, Capt. W. Napier, Capt. Byng, Lieut. Masters, Lieut. Major, and Ens. Burton; and a series of resolutions forming the bodies of the future rules of the Association were passed.
1st. That an association be formed at Kurrachee for the purpose of collecting information concerning the natural history, antiquities, statistics, dialects, &c. &c. of Scinde and the adjacent countries; and that it be denominated the Scinde Association.
2nd. That the Scinde Association shall consist of members, and that any individual, of whatever rank or service, desirous of joining the Association, shall intimate the same to the secretary.
3rd. That his Excellency Sir Charles Napier be requested to become the patron of the Association.
4th. That Colonel Douglas be requested to become the president of the Association.
5th. That the five following gentlemen be requested to form the committee at Kurrachee:—Captain Preedy, Captain Browne, Captain J. Napier, Lieut. Blagrave, and John Macleod, Esq. Ensign Burton, acting secretary and treasurer.
6th. That for the general purposes of the Scinde Association, viz., purchasing books and coins, sending out proper persons to collect specimens of Natural History, &c. &c. a monthly subscription of five rupees be paid by each member in addition to a donation of twenty rupees on entrance.
7th. Captain Preedy having kindly offered to place at the disposal of the Association one of the rooms in the new schoolroom built by him in the neighbourhood of the town, it is proposed that his offer be accepted as a temporary measure, but that means be taken for raising funds to erect a building to be devoted solely to the purposes of the Association
8th. That with respect to the library, the books to be purchased shall consist of works relating to Sindh and the adjacent countries, especially to history and antiquities, also that scientific works, and books of reference, be provided for the use of the members.
9th. That every member be requested to favour the secretary with any information upon the proposed objects of the society. Any donations of books, specimens, &c. &c., will be most thankfully received.
10th. That the expense of transmitting all communications be defrayed, if desired, by the society.
11th. That the secretary register all the papers and donations, together with the names of the donors, and enter in a book to be kept by him, all miscellaneous and detached memoranda with which he may be favoured.
12th. That quarterly general meetings be held, and that intermediate meetings also may be called for by the committee, or at the requisition of any five members.
13th. That the committee now elected be requested to frame and submit a series of regulations to the next meeting of the Association.
A general meeting of the Scinde Association will take place on the 8th November, 1845.
R. Burton, Acting Secretary and Treasurer.—Kurrachee Advertiser.
To Lt. R. Burton 18th Regm’t Sukkur & elsewhere
13th February 1846
My dear Burton
Many thanks for yours of the 9th which I received just this day before the action so have had no time to answer it till now. I wish you could only have seen it, it was a beautiful sight, and at first just like a glorious Grand Review. We got the order at 11 on the 9th to be ready at 3 am o'clock to move against them and by sunrise we were all lined up behind the artillery who were scattered here and there along our whole front.
For the first few hours we had only to manoeuvre a little to get a nice berth under the banks of one of the [millaks] then we laid down and the Ball was at once begun by us absolutely in the right opening upon the enemies batteries, this being the first intimation they had of our approach. They did not lose much time though in turning out and for two hours or more kept up a heavy cannon but fortunately did little execution among our guns as they could not get the proper range all their guns having been apparently laid against our entrenchment in the rear for their shot passed clear over us. After a little time however they fell pretty near us. I was standing with several officers in the open when one passed within a couple of yards on left; it made me bob down fast as did the next two which pitched almost on the spot where we had orders to advance […] having put the Seikhs into confusion well out of the [Mollah] we jumped forward formed into line and got up to our guns and passed them there the whole company being [drawn] up into line we gave three cheers and rushed up to their first entrenchments which were cleared and passed. The inner entrenchments were carried in the same way and then the day was all our own. We had only to rush forward and drive the Seikhs into the river.
Corps took two guns and four standards and halted on the banks of the river when for a minute or two there was slight confusion for we had come on so fast that we had got between a large body of flying enemy and the ford, but we faced both ways and cleared the field. The carnage in the river was awful, hundreds falling every minute or else rushing the ford. Their letters state their loss at 20,000 but even—say—10,000 which I don't think beyond the mark considering the numbers that fell in their determination to escape and the number killed and drowned in crossing the river. Our loss is said to be about 4,000 but I hardly think it can be so much as I saw but few of our men on the ground. We took altogether 68 guns, I am just going down to see them. General Grey has crossed the river at [Villaree] about 15 miles below this and I believe we are to cross the day after tomorrow where the Seikhs are said to have still 36 guns and 30,000 men but Taj Sing was wounded and most of their other chiefs killed so there is no one to lead them and they will therefore not make very great opposition. I wish you could have been on the engagement it was the finest and most exciting sight I have ever seen, though at the same time there were one or two cases that made my blood curdle—fellow beings shot who had thrown down their arms. I saved one but was wrong in doing so for he afterwards escaped and no doubt picked up a musket and commenced fighting again.
Your friend Rivers White is now in my Corps. He exchanged from our 11th being disgusted with it as they are always left behind, and joined us just in time to be present at this last engagement to be called the battle of Sabroan. He bids me send his salaams and tells me to say that he has at last earned and won a medal. I too had only joined a few days before so have lost nothing by loosing my kit for it enabled me to make long marches and when I got up to the Corps I met with a […] all hands and got supplied with all necessities.
I hope we may meet at Lahore that you may see what a good one the [—]th Rgmt is. I was always proud of mine but now that I have seen them tried myself I like it still better and as for the young officers with the exception of one we could not wish to have a finer set. But I must now wish you goodbye and with best salaams to Scott when next you write and to all your corps, I remain in haste yours sincerely
T. C. Blagrave
PS: Write soon please and give me any news you may have. Excuse my sending this Bearing as the fellows at the Post Office here are most careless with pre-paid letters; they pocket the dibs and let the letters remain in their office some days before they send them away if they do. I have lost several letters that I have since heard have been sent to me.
We did not get back to camp until nearly 8 o'clock in evening all preciously tired but fortunately only had two officers wounded, Mackenzie badly and Rivers White slightly, my Subaltern badly wounded and three or four of my men were badly knocked over. The little Guerkers behaved splendidly as did our 1st European […] but every Corps that I saw behaved well and did their duty.
My dear Sir (I shall feel obliged by your sending this letter merely for Richard's perusal.)
I have received your very kind letter of the 19th April last for which I beg to return you my sincere thanks. It is much to be regretted that my beloved son has met with the disapprobation of the best General of the day and I also regret that he should have been removed from under your command, for I always valued your sound advice, and disinterested friendship so highly that I look upon his not joining your department as a real misfortune. However, Richard only acted up to the instructions I repeatedly gave him namely, "never to tolerate situations which might possibly prevent his seeing service especially until he might have made a good name for himself in the field of battle". For my part I am perfectly convinced that he never intended to disobey Sir Charles' s orders so far the reverse that he imagined nothing could raise him so high in the estimation of the General sans peure et sans lâche, as distinguishing himself in actions which I am sure Richd intended to do if an opportunity offered.
From what I can learn my son tendered his resignation in due form to General Sympson the then Commander of the Forces in Scinde which the General accepted, in consequence of which my son did not think that he was acting in disobedience of orders as Sir Charles had refused the Command of the Army to the G'l officer that permitted Richard to join the 100th. Had the army of Scinde seen service in the battles of the Sutley etc. but the officers returned some with medals, some with promotions might they not say to my son "you have remained behind surveying, & pocketing rupees whilst we were risking our lives, & gaining laurels in the field of battle".
How could he avoid these imputations but by actg as he did? Tho' his life is dearer to me than that of any other being in existence I hope he will always risk it whenever his reputation as a soldier, or his patriotism as an Englishman may be in question. I am very anxious that Richard may pass his examination in the Persian language in the course of this year as it may possibly bring him into notice in Bombay, & I think it would be advisable for him to pay visits to persons of rank to whom he has had letters of introduction; Sir Thos McMahon offered me a situation for Richd in the irregular Cavalry for which the latter ought to feel very grateful. I did not accept the General' s kind offer lest Richd should be removed from his studies. I have at length succeeded in executing your comn at Richardsons for half the price I was asked for your books in the first instance. Mr. R's demand is £5.5s. Another person asked £10 for them. The Malabar has left the Docks with your books on board—enclosed you will find your acct; the balance in your favour paid to Mr. Richardson. If the edition do not meet with your approbation I will thank you to send it to Richard as a present from me, & I shall pay the bookseller £5.5s. with orders to credit you with the same, but previous to taking that step I hope you will make what use you like of the books in question. If you will be kind enough to name your friend in Leghorn I shall make it a point to pay him any attention in my power—which I may easily do as I expect to pass the ensuing winter in Pisa or Florence. Sincerely do I hope you will, one day or other, give me an opportunity of shewing my gratitude for the essential service you have rendered to my son. Believe me to remain, my dear Sir
Yours very sincerely
Price of the Raccota, 36 francsconi at 4/7 per
Expense incurred in sending them to Leghorn
Thomsons acc't for rec'g & shipping them in London
Belidor's work, entry, shipping, insurance & policy
I paid Mr. Richardson as balance
I received a twenty pound note which closes the above account. Addio. Jos: Burton.
(I expect to arrive in Tuscany about the 15th of [October next])
On the way from Dharwar to Coimbatore, to which district I had been posted as Collector and District Magistrate, my wife and I halted at Bangalore to stay with Colonel Allen. That officer had been a brother subaltern with Sir Richard Burton, the traveller, and he supplied several stories about him which were new to me. Burton was not apparently popular with his messmates, towards whom he adopted, according to my host, an insolent and overbearing attitude. Allen had been a keen shikari …
Unlike your correspondent, Mr. Levick (of Suez), questioning Sir Richard's visit to Medinah in 1853, I merely want to say that in Sir Richard the scientific world has lost a bright star. In linguistic attainments there was not his equal in the world. He could not only speak the languages, but act so well that his most intimate friends were often deceived. I was often witness to this feat of his while at Kurrachee in 1847, as I happened to be employed under Dr. Stocks, botanist, in Sind, as his botanical draughtsman. Sir Richard (then a lieutenant) and the doctor occupied the same bungalow. I had necessarily to work in the hall, and consequently had the opportunity of seeing and admiring his ways. He was on special duty, which in his case meant to perfect himself for some political duty, by mastering the languages of the country. When I knew him he was master of half a dozen languages, which he wrote and spoke so fluently that a stranger who did not see him and heard him speaking would fancy he heard a native. His domestic servants were—a Portuguese, with whom he spoke Portuguese and Goanese, an African, a Persian, and a Sindi or Belochee. These spoke their mother tongue to Sir Richard as he was engaged in his studies with moonshees, who relieved each other every two hours, from ten to four daily. The moonshees would read an hour and converse the next, and it was a treat to hear Sir Richard talk; one would scarcely be able to distinguish the Englishman from a Persian, Arabian, or a Scindian.
His habits at home were perfectly Persian or Arabic. His hair was dressed a la Persian—long and shaved from the forehead to the top of the head; his eyes, by some means or other he employed, resembled Persian or Arabian; he used the Turkish bath and wore a cowl; and when he went out for a ride he used a wig and goggles. His complexion was also thorough Persian, so that Nature evidently intended him for the work he afterwards so successfully performed, namely, visiting the shrine of the Prophet Mohammed—a work very few would have undertaken unless he was a complete master of himself.
I was a witness to his first essay in disguising himself as a poor Persian, and taking in his friend Moonshee Ali Akbar (the father of Mirza Hossein, solicitor of this City). The moonshee was seated one evening in an open space in front of his bungalow in the town of Kurrachee, with a lot of his friends enjoying the evening breeze, and chatting away as Persians are wont to do. Sir Richard, disguised as a Persian traveller, approached them, and after the usual compliments, inquired for the rest-house, and, as a matter of course, gave a long rigmarole account of his travels and of people the moonshee knew, and thus excited his curiosity and got him into conversation; and when he thought he acted his part to perfection, bid him the time and left him, but did not go far when he called out to the moonshee in English if he did not know him. The moonshee was completely taken aback; he did not know where the voice (his friend Burton's) came from, till he was addressed again, and a recognition took place, to the great astonishment of the moonshee and his friends. Such a jovial companion Sir Richard was, that his bungalow was the resort of the learned men of the place, amongst whom I noticed Major (afterwards General) Walter Scott, Lieutenant (and now General) Alfred De Lisle, Lieutenant Edward Dansey of Mooltan notoriety, Dr. Stocks, and many others, but who, with the exception of General De Lisle, are all gone to their home above, where Sir Richard has now followed. May their souls rest in peace!
Some time or other Lady Burton may write a memoir of Sir Richard's life, and a slight incident as the one I have related may be of use to her, and if you think as I do, and consider it worth inserting in a corner of your paper, I shall be very much obliged to you if you will do so.
October 31, 1891.
Is any notice taken of offences against morality such as adultery drunkenness &c. &c. and what and by whom?
Captain Rathborne Magistrate of Hyderabad.
No notice is taken of ordinary offences against morality, as adultery, unless the husband or relative whose honour is wounded, complains; or of drunkenness unless the party is, in addition, disorderly. Public women formerly paid a tax to Government and were encouraged; they are now not molested as long as they abstain from disturbing their more respectable fellow townspeople. But the purchase of girls for purposes of prostitution has been put an end to; and the bands of Sodomites who formerly infested the country, and received, some pay from the state, and others grain at the battai, were some four years ago under a futwah to the cazee publicly whipped and expelled the district; that is such as fell into the hands of the authorities for the greater part fled, or gave up their profession, and resumed male clothing.
EXAMINATION OF OFFICERS IN THE NATIVE LANGUAGES.
Sir,—We had determined to address you upon a subject of some importance—the Examination of Officers in the native languages—but thought it better to allow a few days to pass before we commenced our task; not that we had the vanity to suppose that our humble suggestions would have had any effect upon the minds of the Committee, still we were unwilling to undertake at such a time the promulgation of a theory so unpopular as that we entertain.
It will now be our object to prove that the present system is not only useless and obsolete, but positively mischievous in its operations. After demonstrating this “great truth,” we shall proceed to consider the corollary—viz. that the sooner it is altered the better. Finally, we intend offering a few words upon the subject of remedying, most effectually, existing evils.
We will begin with the first ordeal through which the young linguist passes, viz. the Outstation Committee. This is understood to be an improvement upon the G. O. C. of the 22d October 1831, which orders regimental commanding officers to direct their interpreters to examine applicants for leave to the presidency in the language supposed to have been learned. Unlike outstation committees in Bengal and Madras, the circumstance of having passed an examination before one of those “minor courts” does not enable the individual to draw Moonshee allowance. It is therefore merely a precautionary measure, to prevent a “total want of preparation being evinced by a number of candidates.” The abuse of this part of the system is that it should always be duly understood that “after passing before an outstation committee an officer should have a right to leave for examination at the presidency unless an emergency of service intervene.” Whereas at present the contrary is occasionally the case, and such permission is looked upon as a favour, not a claim. Any commanding officer if determined to “pay off” a junior for any real or fancied offence can always prevent his obtaining leave, and keep up the obstacle for a year or so. Such things have happened, and will occur, especially when it is generally understood that reference to superior authority almost invariably ends in a stern reprimand to the unfortunate applicant—setting forth his unmilitary conduct and insubordinate spirit in the strongest light. In one case only do we recollect that a junior succeeded in his reference; but although he obtained leave, the usual wig, was not omitted. This is a serious evil. If Government intends the sum of Company’s rupees 180 (i.e. thirty rupees for a period of six months) really to cover the expenses of learning a language, Government ought either to assist officers in passing their examinations in that period, or remunerate them if prevented from so doing. The gist of our observations is, that no applicant should ever be refused leave to the presidency after passing an outstation committee, unless some sound reason for such refusal exist, and the said reason should always be communicated, if practicable, together with a hint as to the probable time when leave might be expected
To illustrate what we have said, we will quote a case which fell under our personal inspection. An officer who had given his commanding officer some reason to be personally offended with him, applied for an outstation committee preparatory to appearing for examination at the presidency. The application was forwarded, and, after as much delay as possible, the individual was ascertained to be duly prepared for his “great go.” But leave of absence on duty was next to be obtained, and now came the “tug of war.” The only answer offered to his application was, that he could not be allowed to proceed to Bombay. Thinking his case a hard one, he ventured to refer the point to the commanding officer of the station, for which be received from the latter authority a mild wig. Still feeling that justice was on his side, he had the audacity to proceed with the business, and applied once more to a higher power. Being young in such matters, a phrase had been inserted in his reference which, though perfectly unintentional, gave such offence to the authority to which it was addressed, that the latter individual not only refused the leave of absence, but added to his refusal a most unmistakeable expression of extreme displeasure. This our linguist was compelled to digest as he best could; and, finding that everyone was against him, thought the wisest plan was to suffer in silence. Sixteen months afterwards he availed himself of the first opportunity offered, and passed before the Bombay Committee. His loss was—
Moonshee allowance for sixteen months,
at sixty rupees per mensem
Loss of boat allowance going and coming,
at 100 rupees each way
Total Co.’s Rs
He succeeded at last, it is true, but, to use a classical expression, another such a triumph would fairly have ruined him. To show how imperfectly such matters are generally understood, we may quote the fact that one of the officers to whom the reference was made, when informed privately by a friend of the referring party, that the case was one of great hardship, declared he could not understand it to be such. “Why cannot Mr. A. turn off his Moonshee and get a new one when required?” Sensible remark—admirable acuteness! Like unto the wise men who went forth to rake up the moonshine, our sapient senior forgot that there is such a thing as forgetfulness, and expected others to follow his example.
Kurrachee, Feb. 6th, 1848. VIATOR.
Figure 1. Bombay Times 1848/02/19.
EXAMINATION OF OFFICERS IN THE NATIVE LANGUAGES.—No. II
SIR,—We left our candidate for the honors of language in the interim betwixt passing the station committee and obtaining leave of absence to Bombay. We will suppose that he has met with no obstructions, and that he has been favoured with the latter indulgence. He writes to be examined in Hindustanee, and turns over the pages of Jameson’s Code for some information upon the amount of reading required. He there finds that he is expected to be master of two very different characters, viz. the Arabic and the Sanscrit (Nagree); to have studied at least five books, some of them very difficult ones; and to be prepared for reading and writing translations, as well as a viva voce examination. Such is the order: the way in which it is acted up to is very different. Nagree is never given, and the easiest book is generally selected. As there is no standing committee at the presidency, it frequently so occurs that one batch of examiners will be extremely strict, and four months afterwards another set will be most unusually lenient. Our linguist, if he ever thinks it worth his while to consider the subject, will soon come to the following conclusions.
1st. That in common justice to the examiners as well to the examined, there ought to be a standing committee at Bombay, as well as at the other two presidencies.
2ndly. That an order passed in 1829 specifying the quantum of information required, is very old and useless in 1847.
Our candidate will then reflect upon the best way of improving that order, and he will justly enough remark that,
In the first place it is ridiculous to give him a tale to translate into Hindoostanee. As an officer, his duties will be to converse with, write to, and read out orders before, the men under his command. This part of the system should be done away with, and a rough draft of a letter in English should be given to each candidate to put into good legible and intelligible Hindoostanee. The hand-writing should be at least tolerable in order to enable an individual to pass: and the abominable scrawls now so often seen should never be allowed to escape unnoticed. Different tables should be provided for the several candidates, and the same letter should not be given to any two of them. Instead of a “race” for “first fiddle” as we occasionally see, when thirty or forty linguists are eagerly striving to surpass each other in the rapidity with which they can scribble a few unintelligible lines in order to get over the examination and have done with it—instead, we say, of such a scene as this, everything should be managed coolly and deliberately. If it is to be an examination, let it be a real and not a mock one.
In the second place, it is ridiculous to examine Military Officers in the Oordoo dialect of Hindostanee only. Many of our corps contain between 400 and 500 Purdesee or Bengal sepoys, whose language is the Khuree Bolee, or the dialect of the Prem Sagur. Let every candidate be duly prepared in both of these tongues, and let him take up two books, the Bagh-o-Buhar in Oordoo, and the Prem Sagur in the Khuree Bolee. Once a master of these two works, he will easily understand most others. He should be required to read and write the Arabic character well, to read the Sanscrit handwriting fluently, and to have some knowledge of the Kayusth hand. The latter is a most useful acquisition in a Purdesee regiment and the student may be certain that a month’s good study will make him an adept in reading both Nagree and Kayusth, if he only knows the language properly. The task may appear a formidable one: we can assure him that the appearance is much more tremendous than the reality.
Thirdly, the present system of parsing or construing a few sentences, to show one’s knowledge of grammar, is ridiculous. Almost all our old works upon the grammatical part of the vernacular dialects of India, are upon the Latin principle. Of late years the manifest absurdity of the attempt has been recognised, and most of our modern grammars are translations from, and modifications of, the native works. Let it then be a sine qua non that in every dialect the candidate for examination should prove that he has made some progress in oriental grammar and syntax. At present he is merely required to refresh his memory with the Eton Lat. Grammar or Lindley Murray, and adapt them as he best can to Hindostanee &c.
Lastly, our style of viva voce examination is perhaps the most ridiculous part of the system. At Madras, an orderly or any other sepoy is called in, and the candidate required to converse with him and explain orders &c. This is a sensible idea. We, on the contrary, tell our linguist to speak to a Concanee Moonshee—a man with whom he may have been in the habit of studying for months. We pass over in silence other disadvantages arising from this peculiar way of testing a man’s colloquial powers, and only can say that the sooner it is altered the better.
We will conclude this part of the subject with an assertion that any man of moderate abilities can, with careful, though not hard, study, qualify himself to pass the examination we have described in one year. We deprecate any imputation of private or personal motives in offering these suggestions. At the same time we affirm, that both in the Bengal and the Madras Presidencies our Bombay examinations are considered as mere farces, and our “passed men” a subject of derision.
Kurrachee, Feb. 6th, 1848. VIATOR.
Figure 2. Bombay Times 1848/02/23.
EXAMINATION OF OFFICERS IN THE NATIVE LANGUAGES.—No. III
Sir,—In our last we fairly caused our candidate to pass a rather difficult examination. He is, it is true, a little out of pocket, as he has studied for twelve months, and only drawn Moonshee allowance for six. En revanche, he is qualified for any acting regimental appointment,—he has got over the first and most tedious step up the ladder of Oriental literature, and he has unconsciously made much progress in the Maharatta dialect. We should advise him to commence that language instanter, and to study fairly for one year. He has already learned the Sanscrit, Nagree, Balbodb, or printed Maharatta character, and now has only to master the Moree or running hand. It will be his duty to apply himself seriously to this, the hardest part of his task, and to make himself well acquainted with the forms of petitions and native letters. As there are two forms of the Maharatta language viz. the Desh and Concanee dialects, he must not neglect to attend to the latter in some measure, instead of confining his colloquial studies, as generally happens, to the former. He will find excellent native grammars, and will read them attentively, as they are written upon the Sanscrit principle, and will somewhat aid him in attempting that interminable tongue, should his powers be equal to the task. The only books required are the Pancha-tantra,—a short translation, or rather modification, of the Sanscrit Hitopadesa,—and Aesop’s Fables. What he must chiefly attend to is the colloquial part of this copious language; and the best exercise is conversing with the common people, not lying on a sofa opposite a well-shaved Pundit, whose object is rather to learn English than to teach the Sahib Maharattas. As we have said before, twelve months’ attention to these several points of reading and writing Moree, studying grammar, and his two text books, and finally losing no opportunity of acquiring a perfect colloquial knowledge of the Desha and Concanee dialects, will so prepare him for any examination, that his anxious friends have only to accompany him to the scene of trial, clap him on the back, and tell him to go in boldly and win.
During his hour’s examination he will not fail to remark that the “general points” specified in the G. O. C. of April 1829 are even less attended to than the portion of the said order which is supposed to regulate the proceedings of the Hindostanee Committee. The proficiency contemplated in the Maharatta part is of a very high order and if strictly required would suffice to “spin” nine out of ten candidates in the present day. Our linguist, however, has no reason to fear although he may find the Moree portion rather difficult. He must not think when a squat, little Pundit placed next to him for the purpose of trying his powers of conversation, that we have called him to waste his time in learning the colloquial part of the language. To pass is one thing—to know the dialect well and usefully quite another. We must however inform him that, had we the honor of directing his examination, we would secure the services of a few hammalls or orderlies instead of those of a Pundit; and above all things, never allow the latter animal, even if permitted to be present, to open his mouth, unless desired to do so.
Our linguist has now concluded his studies in the second language, and if he has behaved prudently, his purse has not suffered much. Pundits, especially when regimental men, will usually teach for rupees ten per mensem. By the bye, it is as well to remark here, that an order forbidding quarter-masters &c. employing the regimental pundit as a private writer is imperatively required. Government pays that individual as a schoolmaster, and it is only just that young officers should be allowed the use of his services in spare hours: whereas making out abstracts and pay tables should form no part of his occupation. To return to our subject: the candidate will not be too much out of pocket in consequence of his Maharatta studies and he can well afford the sacrifice of a few rupees, as he is now fit for almost any appointment and a lukewarm friend can never put him off with the usual formula “pass in the languages.”
After Maharatta, the dialect usually studied is the Guzerattee,—a mongrel mixture of Hindostanee Maharattas, Cutchee, &c. &c. Unless however the student be stationed in Guzerat, he is not likely to learn much of it, as the Parsee style is generally taught in Bombay, Surat, &c., and would be utterly unintelligible to common native at Palanpore or Baroda. A tolerable dictionary, grammars in numbers, vocabularies, dialogues, et hoc genus omne, are to be found. The original literature of the country is seldom studied, nor can it can be said to be worth the trouble of perusing. It excels, however, in concise and witty proverbs, aphorisms, and moral sentences; these however form no part of the knowledge required of a military officer. The Panchopakhyan and Aesop’s Fables are the text books, and four months attention to the colloquial should easily enable the student to pass a good examination. As Cutchee and the sister dialect Scindee are full of Guzerattee words, with some very slight alterations of sound and pronunciation, our linguist will have laid the foundation of a sound knowledge of the two former languages. Moreover after Scindee, Punjabee is the work of a couple of months, and the rugged dialects of the Hill people, the Brahooee, Beloochee, &c., are easily acquired.
Kurrachee, 6th Feb., 1848. VIATOR
Figure 3. Bombay Times 1848/03/01.
EXAMINATION OF OFFICERS IN THE NATIVE LANGUAGES.—No. IV.
Sir,—Before commencing the study of the Persian language, our student must consider and endeavour to discover whether his abilities are equal to the task. We do not mean whether he is capable of passing the present examination, but whether he has talent and perseverance enough to toil and labour at a really difficult language. He must recollect that a considerable knowledge of Arabic is absolutely necessary; that the long and tedious grammar of that tongue must in some degree be mastered; that the dialects of Persian are innumerable, though differing little from each other; that in order to comprehend the literature of the country, the religion, ideas, manners and customs, as well as the familiar terms of science, must retained in mind. To read a Shikestch petition is the labour of years, and to converse with a Persian like a Persian, is by no means an easy task. The language abounds in colloquialisms, and the spoken dialect differs materially from the written style. The literature, again, is various and extensive: poetry, history, satire, science, theology, all these subjects have been copiously and elaborately worked out. Nothing is more strange to Europeans than the persons and metres; nothing more unintelligible to them than the Soofee odes and mystical strains in which the natives of Persia delight. Yet, we repeat, until our student has mastered a certain portion of all these several themes, he cannot consider himself a scholar. Against these difficulties and disadvantages we may set the satisfaction of having overcome a serious difficulty; the pleasure of being able to enjoy the literary works of Central Asia; the wide field opened to the student in translating, correcting, and publishing texts; and lastly, the consciousness that his labours deserve some reward.
The student’s first duty is to secure a good instructor in Persian. In these days this is no great difficulty, and the sum to be paid is the only consideration. If resident at the presidency, rupees 30 per mensem would suffice, but at outstations, these Moonshees often ask from 60 to 80 rupees a month. We will assume 60 as the average, because for that sum it is generally possible to secure the services of a well-read man, who is not ignorant of the higher branches of Arabic grammar. The period of study we will fix at eighteen months, and allow a sum of Co.’s Rs. 200 for books and other such necessaries. The expenses of passing in Persian will be as follow:—
A Moonshee for eighteen months
Total Co’s Rupees
This we believe to be the minimum in point of outlay. Government will kindly offer the candidate Rupees 180, in order to defray his expenses!—and the candidate doubtless will be grateful!
Should our linguist be determined to proceed with his studies, he may now attempt either Arabic, Sanscrit, Sindhi, or Canarese.
Arabic is studied under great disadvantages, unless the student is stationed at Aden or at the presidency. Moonshees are very expensive, and rarely of much use. It is difficult to meet with individuals that speak Arabic, and therefore the copious colloquial vocabulary of that tongue can scarcely ever be properly mastered. Moreover, till very lately, no examination could be given at Bombay, and candidates were obliged to look to Bengal.
The mechanical means of studying Sanscrit in India are easily attainable. At Poona, Sattara, Baroda, and most stations, a very tolerable Pundit may be secured for the sum of rupees 40 per mensem. Books are numerous, and not expensive.
In studying Sindhi, considerable difficulty is experienced. The only books to be had are an abrégé of grammar by Mr. Wathen, and a wretched vocabulary by Capt. Eastwick. The student is therefore reduced to rely upon his own resources, in reading the different works written in that tongue. Many of those drawbacks we hope shortly to see removed. Several useful works—as a copious grammar, a dictionary, and a chrestomathy of the language—are being prepared, and will shortly be published. As yet only two officers have passed in Sindhi, and that too before station Committees. We believe that Moonshee allowance has not been drawn by the individuals alluded to. Canarese may easily be studied in the Southern Maharatta Country and in Bombay. An immense variety of books may be procured from the different missionary printing offices in Madras, &c. Like Sindhi, the Canarese tongue is unknown to committees at the presidency. In our next we will if you permit us offer a few remarks upon the establishment of a college, upon the subject of regimental Moonshee, and the publication of original translations and other works for the assistance of the student. We can easily foresee that the present system is rapidly drawing to a close, and that Bombay is getting ashamed of the farces which have been enacted three times per annum for the last twenty or thirty years.
Kurrachee, 6th February, 1848. VIATOR
Figure 4. Bombay Times 1848/03/03.
14th November 1848
My dear cousin, I lose no time in replying to your note which conveyed to me the mournful tidings of our mutual loss. The letter took me quite by surprise. I was aware of my poor aunt's health having suffered, but never imagined that it was her last illness. You may be certain that I join with you in lamenting the event. Your mother had always been one of my best relations and kindest friends; indeed she was the only one with whom I kept up a constant correspondence during the last six years. I have every reason to regret her loss; and you, of course, much more. Your kind letter contained much matter of a consolatory nature; it was a melancholy satisfaction to hear that my excellent aunt's death-bed was such a peaceful one—a fit conclusion to so good and useful a life as hers was. You, too, must derive no small happiness from the reflection that both you and your sister have always been dutiful daughters, and as such have contributed so much towards your departed mother's felicity in this life. In my father's last letter from Italy he alludes to the sad event, but wishes me not to mention it to my mother, adding that he has fears for her mind if it be abruptly alluded to.
At the distance of some 1,500 miles all we can do is resign ourselves to calamities, and I confess to you that judging from the number of losses that our family has sustained during the last six years I fear that when able to return home I shall find no place capable of bearing that name. I hope, however, dear cousin, that you or your sister will occasionally send me a line, informing me of your plans and movements, as I shall never leave to take the greatest interest in your proceedings. You may be certain that I shall never neglect to answer your letters and shall always look forward to them with the greatest pleasure. Stisted is not yet out: his regiment is at Belgaum, but I shall do my best to see him as soon as possible. Edward is still in Ceylon and the war has ceased there. I keep this letter open for ten or twelve days longer, as that time will decide my fate. A furious affair has broken out in Mooltan and the Punjaub and I have applied to the General commanding to go up with him on his personal staff. A few days more will decide the business—and I am not a little anxious about it, for though still suffering a little from my old complaint—ophthalmia—yet these opportunities are too far between to be lost. …
25th November 1848. … I am not going up to the siege of Mooltan, as the General with whom I had expected to be sent is recalled. Pray be kind enough to send on the enclosed to my father. I was afraid to direct it to him in Italy as it contains papers of some importance. You are welcome to the perusal, if you think it worth the trouble. I have also put in a short note for Aunt Georgiana. Kindly give my best love to your sister, and believe me, my dear cousin, your most affectionate
Sir Richard Burton told a friend of mine (says a writer in an Indian paper) that on one occasion he visited a Persian Village in the disguise of a fakir. A home was assigned to him, and in order To keep up his reputation as a holy man, he scribbled some Arabic words on the outside of his door with some phosphorus. This was done ere sunset, and when darkness descended, lo! the holy man's house was decorated with a flaming text from the Koran! But the result was a rush for relics of the holy man, and the whole house was pulled down over his head! That is a good story of a similar sort, that some one tells on the most apocryphal authority, of a fakir who visited an Afghan village and was at once seized and threatened with death. “But I am a holy man,” be expostulated. “That’s just it,” was the reply. “This village never had a holy man’s tomb, and we want one badly.” So they chopped off his head at once, and hastened to build a tomb to him.
One of the earliest pictures in my memory is of a travelling carriage crossing snow-covered Alps. A carriage containing my mother and uncle, sister and self, an English maid, and a romantic but surly Asiatic, named Allahdad.
Richard Burton, then a handsome man hardly thirty, tall and broad-shouldered, was oftener outside the carriage than in it, as the noise made by his two small nieces rendered pedestrian exercise, even in the snow, an agreeable and almost necessary variety. Very good-humouredly, however, did he bear the uproar, now and then giving us bits of snow to taste which we hoped might be sugar.
He had just returned invalided from India, and we were all on our way to England for a cousin's wedding. He wished also to be near London, as he was bringing home the fruits of seven years study and travel in Sind, Goa, and the Neilgherries. Seven years of hardest work, for, joining the Indian army at twenty-one, he learnt eleven languages, did yeoman's service in the Sind Canal Survey, travelled in disguise amongst the wild tribes of the hills and plains, strained every power to such a degree, that had it not been for the nursing of surly Allahdad on board ship, he would never have come back alive. On arriving in England he was so delighted at the prospect of seeing his relations again, that he knocked up his aunt's household in London in the middle of the night, and then in a day or two travelled post-haste to Pisa to greet his parents and sister.
We spent twelve months partly at Dover, partly at Leamington; then migrated to Boulogne. There he corrected and published, ‘Sind, or the Unhappy Valley,’ ‘Goa and the Blue Mountains,’ and, ‘Falconry in the Valley of the Indus.’ We were a large party, as his father and mother, Col. and Mrs. J. Netterville Burton, lived with us most of the time. Naturally they were very proud of their clever son, and wanted to see as much of him as possible.
And here I must correct a mistake made more than once in notices of his life. These parents are frequently represented as a pair of Low Church bigots who wished to force Richard into an unsuitable profession, i.e. the Church. On the contrary, moderate, old-fashioned Church people, they desired he should become a clergyman only because he seemed too clever a lad for a soldier. Soldiers in those days were not the learned persons they are at present. Besides, Col. Burton had lost his own health campaigning, and Richard when a boy showed few signs of the marvellous physical strength of later years. As regards the established creeds, he then believed as much as most lads, and the accounts of wildness and turbulence have been absurdly exaggerated. However, it was fortunate the parents' well-meant project came to nothing; for when about three-and-twenty he became a Deist, and although, as his friend Cameron truly says, no man was ever more qualified to write a critical comparison of the religions of the world, he never altered his views again.
A-propos of health, a curious difference between him and his father may be mentioned. The latter would hardly permit a doctor to come near him, and he had such a horror of drugs that he preferred suffering all the agonies of asthma to burning a little nitre-paper. Richard, incredulous as he was on most debatable points, always kept a warm corner for the physician, and even allowed himself to be dosed with marvellous docility. Perhaps a result of a sanguine disposition. The father and mother were invalids, but Richard and his sister entered into Boulogne society.
At Boulogne he first saw his future wife, then a girl in her early teens. He was not to become a Benedict yet awhile, but twice between twenty and thirty he thought of marrying. On each occasion pecuniary difficulties arose. Until his father's death in 1857 he had only a moderate allowance besides his pay; he seemed doomed to life-long exile in India, and his prospects of advancement did not appear so bright to anxious relatives as to his sanguine Irish self. All his attachments were to pretty or handsome women, ugly ones he wouldn't look at; with him love of the beautiful almost took the place of religion.
The second marriage project having come to nought, the grand idea of a pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina gained full possession of his mind. Gradually it matured, preparations were made, and it was set on foot. Every one interested in his life knows how he left London as a Persian, and travelled to Southampton with a friend, Captain Grindlay acting as interpreter. How he lived at Cairo as a Dervish until the departure of the pilgrims; and performed the pilgrimage as a genuine Moslem.
There was terrible woe in the family circle when he went away. Unlike many clever men, he was pleasant at home, always occupied and marvellously sweet-tempered about trifles. My mother says the only time she ever saw him really angry during the years they spent together at Boulogne, was when he found one of his nieces straying near the edge of the quay, which, in common with most places of the kind abroad, lacked a railing. Then he was so brave when ill. Like Sir Walter Scott, a favourite hero of his, he allowed no amount of pain to interfere with his work. Even as a mere boy only next day was it known that he had suffered from toothache—by the swelling of his face. In fact he was too brave; for those around him, accustomed to less stoical invalids, were sometimes deceived by such extraordinary fortitude. Mumps, raging neuralgia, and an internal inflammation severally attacked him at Boulogne. During the last he did incautiously remark one day, “If this doesn't get better, before night I shall be an angel;” and at once inexpressible consternation reigned around.
Boulogne sur Mer
April 3rd 1852
I certify that I have carefully examined Lieut. Burton, 18th Regt. Bombay N.I. as to the state of his health—and I find that he is still suffering from the effects of ophthalmia, coupled with functional [d…] of the digestive organs, and further, that the chronic affliction of the testicle from which he has so long suffered is not entirely removed. I strongly advise that Lieut. B should avoid the approaching hot season, & therefore recommend, that six months extension of leave be granted to him.
Le Mesurier M.D.
late Honble E. I. Company’s Service.
The late Earl Stanhope (grandfather of the present Earl) having informed me that the Honourable Captain H. A. Murray, to whom he had given a card of recommendation, was extremely curious about crystals, and intended to visit me at Croydon, accompanied by his friend, Lieutenant R. F. Burton, who had travelled much in India, and studied occult sciences, on the 18th July 1852 I had the honour of making their acquaintance. Mr. Burton was then contemplating his pilgrimage to Medina and Mecca. At this time, at the suggestion of my spirit-guides, I was entirely changing my process of spirit-calling and my spirit-acquaintances. As Mr. Burton was desirous of taking with him a crystal and mirror, and I was on the point of using new ones, I had the pleasure of giving to him a small, oval, mounted crystal, which I had used for the previous sixteen years; and dedicating it afresh to a guide appointed for Mr. Burton, I also prepared for him a black mirror.
I certify that Lieut. Richard Burton I. A. is now under my care for a return of urethral stricture &c. accompanied with enlargement of the left testicle, and that for the perfect cure of both these afflictions and Lieut. B’s restoration to health, six months further leave will be absolutely necessary.
F. R. C. S. E. &c.
58 Rue de l’Ecu
October 18th 1852.
I do hereby certify that the above statement is correct and I entirely agree with Doctor Bennet Lucas’ opinion.
Surgeon E. I. C. […]
No 1 Rue d’[Arnaud]
Friday 22d Oct / 52
I have the honour to enclose a certificate given to me by my medical attendant Dr. Lucas & countersigned by Dr. Colquhoun as to regards that my leave may be extended for the period of six months.
the honour to be
your most obt servt
R. Burton Lt
18th Regt Bo. N. I.
James Melville Esq.
I propose to explore the area extending from Muskat to Aden, specifically Shakr & Hadramaut. I wish particularly to trace the ancient cities of Himyar and to travel as far inland as circumstances will permit.
Figure 6. Burton in the early 1850s.
Remarks upon a form of Sub-mesmerism popularly called Electro-Biology, now practised in Scinde and other Eastern Countries. By Richard F. Burton, Lieut. Bombay Army. Communicated by Dr. Elliotson.
To Dr. Elliotson.
Dear Doctor,—The last time I had the pleasure of seeing you, you remarked that readers of The Zoist feel interest in perusing the accounts of travellers who have taken pains to collect the débris of an ancient science which they still find scattered amongst barbarous and semi-civilized races. This encourages me to forward a few notes upon the subject. I have only to hope that you will consider them in any way worthy of your attention.
An old form of mesmerism, under the new name of electro-biology, has lately been introduced into England; and, by the ridiculousness rather than the utility of its phenomena, it has excited considerable attention. I call it an old form, as it has been known and practised in the East from time immemorial.
Every well-read man has perused half a dozen accounts of Shaykh Abd-el-Kadir, the Cairo Magician, whose powers of exhibiting the appearance of absent persons were first noticed in the pages of an eminent Arabic scholar. That gentleman, probably considering the Shaykh a puny descendant from the mighty men of Egypt’s olden time, began with believing that the power really existed. Other experimenters, endued with less credenciveness—to use a lately imported word—followed him; and even he, I am told, is now convinced that the magician’s chief virtue resided in an intimacy with Usman Bey, a Scotch renegade, who taught him the difference between a turban and a bonnet, petticoat and pantaloons, our “gracious Queen and an elderly gentleman.”
But even the most sceptical of the Shaykh’s examiners—Sir Gardner Wilkinson for instance—testifies unconsciously to the mesmeric nature of the process. In the first place, the experimentalist, it is observed, always chooses a boy not arrived at the age of puberty. His reason would be that such subjects are, religiously speaking, pure and without blemish. But we can supply him with a better cause—clairvoyance, everywhere rare, is more common among the young than among the old. Secondly, we are told that in many cases the boy can see nothing in the ink but his own face, and that after a time he ends by falling asleep over it. This is mere hypnotism. And, thirdly, the subjects are sometimes thrown into a state of fear, which may last for days and even weeks. The panic is probably caused by want of proper de-mesmerisation.
Au reste there is nothing scientific in the Shaykh’s prelude to his experiments—burning frankincense in a brazier, pouring ink into the boy’s palm, and committing to the flames slips of paper containing “the names of angels and demons”. Nor, I humbly opine, exists there any sovereign potency in “pressing the median nerve”—“in gazing upon the electro-magnetic coin,” or in “affecting the organ of individuality.” But at Grand Cairo, as well as in Hanover Square, professional gentlemen are keenly alive to the “doctrine of impressions.”
The most interesting point in this oriental form of submesmerism is the fact that it is practised in countries which now have little or no intercourse with one another. It is found, for instance, in Egypt and in Southern Persia—lands as distinct as Siberia and Spain—and this too, with hardly any perceptible difference in the process.
During a five years’ residence in the delectable province of Scinde, I had frequent opportunities of hearing the operation described. And, although I never saw it performed,—the superstition of the natives and the Mephistophelean fame with which their fears had invested me were my obstacles,—still the number and the character of my informants left no doubt of the accuracy of their information in the main points. Stripped of all miraculous details, their account of the process was as follows.
The branch of magic called Vinyano, or Gahno, is now devoted almost exclusively to recovering stolen goods by means of Ihzar—summoning the appearance of the thief. The magician employs a boy or a youth not arrived at the age of puberty, and begins by directing him to gaze at a spot of ink rubbed upon his thumb-nail or painted on the bottom of a bright brass pot. During this preliminary the soothsayer recites his Azimat (charm) three different times: he then addresses the boy and orders the seeing to commence. First appears in the ink a Bhangi or sweeper—the Farrash of Egypt—who cleans the floor: he, disappearing, is followed by a host of tent-pitchers, who prepare a royal pavilion. Then comes a train of servants to spread the carpets, lay down the pillows, and prepare an elevated seat for a person of dignity.
Next advances in state the king of the Jinns (genii), who, preceding his suite, enters the tent and takes his place upon the throne. The loser of the stolen goods appears before him and with raised hands prefers his complaint, upon which the potentate despatches a Chobdar or lictor to summon the thief. The latter, applied to the question in the shape of a violent bastinado, confesses all the particulars of his crime, and, after shewing the spot where the stolen goods are concealed, is dismissed from the presence.
This incantation, say the Scindians, is not of diabolical origin. It is mastered by the particular study of occult science called Taskhir, or acquiring the command of spirits. The principal part of the course is the Chillo (or forty days' fast in imitation of the great prophets), during which the scholar, living shut up in a darkened room, recites a variety of incantation-prayers, sleeps little, and meditates intensely upon subjects laid down for him by his Shaykh or spiritual teacher. The fast is a rigid one. On the first day the pupil eats his usual quantity; the next he diminishes it by half; and so on till he comes to total abstinence from meat and drink. In this state of starvation he continues as long as nature permits. When imperatively necessary, he allows himself a few mouthfuls, and gradually increases his allowance up to the fortieth day—the last of his discipline. Having personally tried this experiment for about a fortnight, I can answer for the fact that it exerts a powerful effect in clearing the brain and in concentrating its energies.
Vinyano in Scinde is practized by Hindoos as well as Moslems. This at once points out its origin—India, the fatal source of half the superstitions which have deluged the world. Thence it must have travelled through Scinde and Persia to Syria, where, as in other parts of the East, we find that a “belief in the power of calling up the dead and exhibiting the appearances of absent persons” was long current. Another step, and we trace it to ancient Greece, where instead of ink, oil, we are told, was poured into the palm of the boy. It is still practized—however imperfectly—in Egypt and the Maghrib. And the magic mirror which shewed the Lady Geraldine to her absent lover is a proof that it was not unknown in Italy, whence it was diffused throughout mediaeval Europe. Sceptical civilization rejected it as a grandam’s tale. Science has now stripped it of its fiction and laid the naked fact before our eyes.
Sir Gardner Wilkinson proposes to explain the mystery of the Cairo magician by the rational process of considering the appearances in the ink the result of leading questions addressed to the boy who is experimented upon.
I would ask those, who are not thoroughly satisfied by this or any other similar explanation, to witness the electro-biological process, and then to consider the following remarks.
The hot dry climates and the pure electric air of the East are favourable to animal magnetism. The fine nervous organization of the people and the excitability of their cerebral development render them highly susceptible of mesmeric influence. The magnetizer, too, is well constituted: his eye is piercing, his presence dignified, his nervous energy superabundant, and his natural powers of concentrativeness, increased by artificial exercises, assist him in obtaining complete mastery over himself and others. He communicates with his subject by fixing his attention upon him, and by a strong silent volition, unaided by manipulating, he throws him into the sleep-waking state, when—the cerebral organs being excited, the senses paralyzed, and the imagination powerfully affected by suggestion—arise the strange phenomena treated of by mesmerists under “dominance of the will.” The fascinator mentally orders the subject to see a distant object.
If unfit, he is simply hypnotized, or possibly he is alarmed by the mesmeric sensations he experiences. But if all the conditions of clairvoyance be present, the subject will see what he is directed to look at, passing as a picture before his eyes, and he will describe it accurately as he saw it.
I offer this explanation with less diffidence, as I have both witnessed and produced all the most improbable parts of it.
Excuse me, dear Doctor, for having trespassed so long upon your valuable space; and, with sentiments of distinguished esteem, believe me to be,
Richard F. Burton, Lt. Bombay Army.
E. I. U. Service Club, 14, St. James's Square.
The Indus is not called Sindhu by the Natives at present. It has 2 names.
1st the vulgar "Milto Daryaó", the “South sea”
2nd the poetical name Mihr'an known only to the learned.
The tulailu is only during the cold Season excepting where pools of water stand. There is no current till the inundation of the Indus commences. There is (or was in my day) a bar of silt & sand across the head of the tulailu, as usual in the branches of the Indus.
The bed of the Indus (I believe, tho' I cannot assert for certain) is in some parts above the level of the adjacent country, like the Rhine.
Consult Lt. Col. Walter Scott, Bombay Engineers (now near Poonah). /over
See a book published by me Sind & the Races that inhabit the Valley of the Indus, to be found in the East India House library.
My dear Sir
Lt. Burton, a very clever Indian Officer, has jotted down the remarks on the preceding page, which I hasten to send to you, as it bears upon your excellent lecture on India. Believe me, my dear sir, vy truly yours
My dear Shaw
I’ve got years leave. Obliged to go to Bristol tomorrow & return Monday. Have spoken to Sykes & Sir Roderick about Committee. Abandon myself to you & Providence. Hope to have the pleasure of seeing you on Tuesday & that you will excuse trouble.
Church Missionary Soc
Having obtained a year's leave to Egypt I propose to start early in April for an exploring journey to Central & Eastern Arabia. If I can in any way forward the views of your Society, or collect any knowledge which may be useful to them, I shall be most happy to do so. Only I would put you to the trouble of supplying me with a list of the questions you may wish to be answered.
Believe me, Sir
Richd. F. Burton
Lt Bombay Army.
Sat 12 Feb./53
E. I. U. S. Club
14 St James Square
14 St. James Square
Dear Sir Charles
I take advantage of the fact that I am one of your ancient subalterns to send you a little brochure of mine and only hope that it may reach the happy fate of [conducing] a laudatory view
It is the result of rather a long study, [finishing] which I have lately taken my degree as a maître d'armes in France & have obtained a Brevet to that purport.
Pray excuse the liberty & believe me my dear Sir Charles
14 St James Sq.
My dear Galton
I called at your lodging and missed you. Is there any chance of your being here before the 3rd June? What has become of Larking? Like a good man don’t forget the coupon. I left this little note with Mrs. Larking.
El Hakim el Hajee (to be)
Shayk Abdullah bin yusef el Faranji
Il Conte Birtone.
After several visits, Lieutenant Burton left London on the evening of 3d April 1853, and on arriving at Alexandria, he there appeared as an Indian doctor. He wrote:—
“It is not to be supposed that the people of Alexandria could look upon my phials and pill-boxes without a yearning for their contents. An Indian doctor, too, was a novelty to them; Franks they despised, but a man who had come so far West! Then there was something infinitely seducing in the character of a magician, doctor, and fakir, each admirable of itself, thus combined to make ‘great medicine.’ Men, women, and children besieged my door; even respectable natives, after witnessing a performance of Mandal and the Magic Mirror, opined that the stranger was a holy man, gifted with supernatural powers, and knowing everything. But the reader must not be led to suppose that I acted ‘Carabin’ or ‘Sangrado’ without any knowledge of my trade. From youth I have always been a dabbler in medical and mystical study.” [Pilgrimage Vol. 1, p. 17]
I knew Richard Francis Burton longer and more intimately, perhaps, than any living person. From me he bought in his early days the books of linguistic information which he carried with him to India, and of which he made such excellent use there. During the years he spent in England between his return from India and his departure for Arabia, much time was given to visiting my house in 16, Castle Street, Leicester Square, and many were the acquisitions which he made from my stores of philological and anthropological learning. Before he started on the famous Pilgrimage, he spent some hours with me, explaining his intended mode of action, and discussing his chances of success. It was in those days that I saw most of him, and that I learned to admire the bold and resolute character, in which I found no change down to the end. As for his physical capabilities, I remember that on the very occasion to which I have referred, taking hold of his arm and pressing the vigorous muscle with my fingers, I was moved to exclaim, “Well, you will get through it, and return safely!” The copy of Freytag's Dictionary with which I furnished him, and which I caused to be bound like a pair of Oriental MSS., as Mr. Jones has stated above, was not lost in the course of his perilous adventure. He brought it home safe and sound, but as it is unrecorded in the list of books forming his library, we must suppose that he lost or gave it away in England at some later period.
Burton was the first customer I ever had who asked for books upon the Sudan. This fact impressed itself in my memory because the name was then a shadowy one, unfamiliar to most people in England as well as to myself. I remember that at the time I was unable to suggest any other book than the French work by Cailliaud upon Meroe.
Figure 7. A Pilgrim, possibly by Burton.
Figure 8. Self-Portrait as Pilgrim with Mock Crown.
Suez 16th Octr 1854
I have the honour to inform you that on the 6th July I left this place for Yambu, arrived there the 17th July & reached Medina on the 24th July.
To my infinite disappointment there was no caravan from Mecca and for years past the Eastern Pilgrims have been obliged to visit Hijaz by sea viâ Jeddah.
The shortness of my leave did not admit of my starting as a Bedouin across the desert. No guide would accompany me before the month of September and it would have been impossible for me to have reached Mecca before June or July next.
So I accompanied the Damascus Caravan down the Derb el Sharki or Eastern Road to Mecca and reached that town on the 10th Septr. Having gone through the ceremonies of the pilgrimage I started for Jiddah & ultimately arrived at Suez.
I have made sketches of the principal places on my route and have kept detailed notes which shall be forwarded to the society as soon as I have time to write them out. I found it impossible to use anything but a pocket compass, but all my observations especially on the subject of the watershed were committed to paper upon the spot.
My health has suffered a little from the hardships I had to suffer upon the way: I cannot therefore exactly say when I shall be ready to make a second attempt.
I have to advise you that I have given to Mr. Shepheard of the British Hotel Cairo a bill upon you for £70 and to Hugh Thurburn Esq. of Alexandria a bill for £30 which you will receive in due time.
the hon to be
yr obt sert
Norton Shaw Esq.
Sec. Roy. Geog. Soc.
My dear Shaw
I hope the Society won't think badly of my not having written before. Couldn’t. I was quite a nigger at Cairo & saw no English. Besides having nothing whatever to say, I thought it best to say nothing.
You will find "Derb el Sharki" a most interesting route I believe & the watershed carefully considered.
My direction, British Hotel, Cairo.
Would the Society like me to go from Akabah to the Dead Sea?
Don't be astonished at the coin going sharp. At Cairo I lived for nothing—but the Hejaz is awfully expensive. As a pauper you can take no notes, and the better you travel the more you see & hear. A single camel from Medinah to Mecca £3! So old Wallin was right and Mansfield wrong.
By the bye, if you get Wallin's letter to me kindly send it on.
I hear that the Geographical has been speaking about an expedition to Zanzibar. Dhak'ilak, as the Arabs say—"I take refuge with you". I shall strain every nerve to command it, or rather get the command—and if you will assist me I'm a made man. I want Platte with me & a young fellow called Taylor to do the actual instrument work and self. Only plenty of time! And a few muskets in order to carry things with a high hand.
I will write to you next mail as I'm in an awful hurry. Mail starts instanter. Many kind wishes to you. Pray acknowledge my gratitude to the Soc. Adieu—if you see Murray or Parkyns kindest remembrances.
P.S. Could you get my arrival in Egypt reported to some London paper. Just to warn my friends that [travel] is safe.
Cairo Shepheards Hotel
My dear Shaw
I’ve been laid up since writing to you—the usual dysentery which welcomes one on return from a hard trip. I won’t say it was aggravated by my disgust at my failure in crossing the Peninsulas, but joking apart the “physic” of a successful man differs wildly from that of the poor devil who has failed.
At risk of disjointing my epistle I will put down each scrap of information, questions &c. &c. as it occurs to me.
Linant Bey (Léon de Laborde's compagnon de voyage) is here. He is, you know, a professional engineer and has travelled already the valley from Akabah to the Dead Sea. Linant asserts positively that the valley never has been a water course: àu contraire that it has a compound slope rising from N. & S. and forming a peak of hills about midway between the two seas. This quite puts Capt. Allen's nose out of joint. I know Linant & if you like can get a line from him upon the subject. He is an excellent traveller and in every way credible.
L'Abbé Hamilton still here & intends, I hope, remaining. He has also had dysentery (very unhealthy season, last autumn) but is all right now. Krapf just arrived from Zanzibar with discoveries about sources of White Nile, Killamanjaro & Mts of Moon which remind one of a de Lunatico. I have not seen him but don't intend to miss the spectacle, especially to pump what really has been done & what remains to be done.
D'Abbadie (Arnauld) and I are very thick. He is ill, nervous &c. His plans appear undecided but Europe seems uppermost.
So Galton is married & the world has lost a right good traveller. There is here one Capt. Coke, a friend of Parkyns, who is going up for Abyssinian sport. He will never reach the places he proposes, I humbly opine. He has all the newest finery instead of good rough & ready old arms and though a good fellow, appears uncommon mild. By the bye, I wrote to Parkyns but cannot of course expect a reply—when will the book be out? Oh when?
Plenty of small tourists in the start. No end of gents who keep journals & will doubtless commemorate their Nile boats & Dragomans in mortal prose. We've an American Missionary woman at the Hotel who proposes authorship: 'tis to be hoped she won't write as she conversationalises. As I'm still dressed in nigger fashion & called the Hadji, she funks me a few. But at dinner I catch her gimlet eyes & see the case will open and consequently Oh Shaw! wonderful are the tastes of Yemen which are conveyed to her “sensorium”. A very different character Charles Didier is now at Cairo, the poor fellow is nearly blind, but writes by a secretary.
Is Henry Murray the Capt. returned from America yet? I badly want to know.
Will you kindly send on enclosed. Is it true that poor Wallin is dead?
The Bombay Govt. a short time before this sanctioned an expedition to the Somali Coast or rather Country. But Carter (the Palinurus Doctor) (not relishing the chance of losing his cod—that misguided people are in the habit of cutting them off & hanging them as ornaments round their arms)—refused to explore the interior. Now I shall be ready next season to explore the Interior if leave can be procured. But there is bad news. Hogg they say is to be Chairman, so I shall have to manage through the Bombay Govt. Lord Elphinstone will easily consent & if the Duke of Newcastle goes out tant mieux. But my wish is to attack (scientifically) Zanzibar & if I can only get pay from Govt for a few good men to accompany me (one to survey, another for physic & botany) I doubt not of our grand success. My health will probably come round in the winter as I'm already better & stronger. The month of March must see me in India & I'm ready to start for it immediately after the hot season. Want one summer for Amharic & the vulgar tongue.
I'm working at the sketches &c. which I made at Mecca & Medinah, there are artists here who can assist but none in India. So notes go on slowly especially as writing works one's brain & brain works one's belly. I am preparing a paper for the society which they shall receive in the spring. I only hope that they understand the reason of my silence.
About Zanzibar I have plenty of sound practical reasons why a mission there is highly advisable. A scientific mission of course. It is one of the headquarters of slavery—the Americans are quietly but surely carrying off the commerce of the country—and it has v. gt resources quite undeveloped. As a native I found out a spy of old Mahomet Ali’s who let me into all kinds of secrets about the country and wanted me to accompany him. I should have done so if I had not been bound for Arabia. You will ask why I now prefer Zanzibar to Arabia. Because I have now tried both sides of Arabia and can see no practical results. Travelling is a joy there and nothing would delight me more than leave for 3 or 4 years to the Eastern Coast. But nothing except mere discovery of deserts, valleys & tribes would come of it; no horses, no spices and scant credit as Von Wrede's book—a ridiculous affair if reports here speak truly of how he collected it—will take the maidenhead of the subject. Dr. Stocks tells me that at Bombay they will not oppose me, but that no one will lend a helping hand. Consequently they will require some force from without.
Anent Stocks. I gave him a note to you and if you draw him out you will collect information about a part of Beluchistan quite unknown. The fellow writes well but is modest—shameful defect! I intended him to accompany me to Zanzibar, and I verily believe he would still do it. Above all things he's an excellent chap, but a mad bitch. Very mad.
Sir Charles O'Donnell is here looking after the Egyptian Services of which he will doubtless send home a report.
Mariette has found an entrance into the Sphinx at last. He appears to be a glorious fellow.
Egypt is a little agitated by the rumours of wars. I verily think we might march into it almost without opposition. The donkey boys declare that the Moscovites shall never enter it & that if any Frank comes in, it must be the English who patronise jackasses. A private bit of intelligence is that Ayrtoun Bey is to succeed Stefen Bey, Ex-Minister of Commerce.
Does Capt. Coke write fashionable novels? I'm living in the house with Galeazzo Visconti the revolutionist and a young fellow called Sankey a traveller in Barbary. It—the house—is a precious scene of depravity; showing what Cairo can do at a pinch & beating the Arabian Nights all to chalks! That too when the Pasha has positively forbidden fornication.
If you see Larking pray give him my best salaams & tell him my throat is all safe still. What fun we had on board the steamer!
Did you ever receive a note I wrote before leaving Alexandria? I gave it to young Thurburn who wanted badly to hear your African lecture, perhaps he sent it on. Will you let me have a copy?, it will be most useful showing what has been done.
Pray excuse garrulity and believe me
After Mr. Burton's departure we were naturally anxious to hear of his welfare, but being often assured by our spirit-guides of his safety, I did not call him into the mirror, until the 17th December 1853, when I requested that we might have a vision in the Evani glass, a curiously-shaped mirror, made from instructions given to me by a spirit for seeing visions past and present.
December 17th, 1853, 9.30 P.M.—Called R. F. Burton.
Emma my seeress (who was then fourteen years old) inspected and said:—
“Now it's light; I see some sand: all sand. Now I see some camels—one is lying down, the other two standing up; there's a black boy with a tremendously rough wig; he looks like a negro lying down. There's a tall, dark man, with a black beard and moustache, and no hair; he's quite clean-shaved; he looks so funny! He's got some sort of a white dress and trousers on, and something round his waist, loosely tied at his side, and something like a knife, but no sheath, stuck in something coming from the girdle; it hangs from the girdle; he looks quite white against the black boy; he has got a head of hair, there's no mistake about that. It's getting plain. There's sand coming behind them, and a clump of trees more like dried thyme. There are tents. They are very low, not peaked; they look as though you would be obliged to creep into the tree, if it is a tree; it looks more like a bunch of dried thyme sticking up above the tent.
Now there are two or three men dressed like the other, who are lying down flat on their faces. There's one smoking; he is standing up. None of them have any hair; the one standing up is dressed in a yellow and white striped dress, and rather a greyish-blue round the bottom; they are comical-looking little figures. Now there's one gone up to the first. I don't think he is Mr. Burton, though he has such black hair and eyes. The other is a nasty-looking old man; his beard is grey. He does show his teeth so; he is all action; he looks like a monkey going to eat him; it is Mr. Burton. The old man keeps on spitting; he looks so spiteful. Mr. Burton only smiles.
Now the boy has jumped up. I don't know hardly what shape he is. I never saw such a droll boy; he looks almost a dwarf. The one that is smoking would be good-looking if he had some hair. The black boy has gone up to him and laid hold of his pipe, and taken it out of his mouth. Now they seem quarrelling; there are two or three more round them. Now there's such a beautiful horse come up, and a man with a turban by the side of it; he is the only one with a turban on. They all seem quarrelling. The old man seems exactly as if he were going to eat the other; he has a grey beard and moustache and wide mouth, but such white teeth for an old man!
Now it's going—it is all gone. 9.50 P.M.”
Cairo 15 Decr
My dear Shaw
You’ll be astonished [to] see my direction still here. I’m just recovering from my infernal dysentery & hope before end of month to be quite well. Then I start off in Sinai direction & see what's to be done there. Notes are being written out, but this progresses slowly as I have sketching to do and a variety of work in hand. You shall have first installment in May as my journey will make a great gap in working time. Lord Elphinstone passed through Cairo [Sankey] and I went with him to Pyramid. I flatter myself that leave will not [be] withheld & if so I want only your [support] to get up something like an Expedition to Zanzibar. If time be only allowed me I will pass over to the Atlantic: all wanted to make my last trip perfect was five or six months more than they gave me. However if the Society wish I will [reapply] for leave to Arabia, as I [perceive] that I am still & [shall be] for long under their orders. But Zanzibar appears to be the field.
Krapf you will meet in England. He is, I hope, only my John the Baptist. I must be au courant of his discoveries. Thanks for managing the bill with such expedition.
By the bye, Charles Thurburn of Alexandria sadly wants your report or rather paper on African travel, delivered if I recollect right, in May or April last. Can you oblige him with a copy?
Did you ever see Platte or Petermann? If so kindly remember me to them. Am I ever to see a sight of your fist?
No news at Cairo. No rows, no “popular feeling". I’m sick of the place. Adieu
Ali the pilot deigns to talk quite favourably of the cable now as “a fantasia” or amusing trifle connected for some mysterious purpose with the ship; and, apropos of mysteries, tells a story of his once having met “a man all same as Arab on board P. & O. boat, who salaam and talk like Mussulman, dress like him too,” but whom he, Ali, “saw through the windows of saloon at breakfast; so when he come up and talk again, I say, ‘What for like Mussulman! you no Mussulman, you eat ham!’ but I never knew but for that; he just the same every way—same dress, same speech, and I with him all day good talk, and never find out before. He been to Mecca and done everything like Mussulman.” From which we gather that H.M.'s consul at Damascus, Captain Richard Burton, has been once upon a time a fellow-passenger of our pilot's, and we see in this anecdote another testimony to that famous traveller's knowledge of Mohammedan manners and customs. Ali professes to remember the name directly it is mentioned, and is never weary of expressing his wonder at his having been so completely deceived.
The weather was so beautiful and the air so fresh that one of my travelling companions and I could not deny ourselves the pleasure of walking, if only to refresh ourselves and give our donkeys the respite they had well deserved. The firmness of the road permitted us to engage in this amusement, which would have been insupportably fatiguing had we been in unstable sand. Thus we covered several miles without noticing the fact, gossiping all the while. My companion—a good walker like me, and a seasoned traveller, was an Englishman, Mr. Richard Burton, an officer in the Bombay Army, who is well known in England for several works on the Orient, one of them being on the subject of falconry in Syria.
He was returning to his regiment after several months of leave, which he had used to make a pilgrimage to Makkah, neither more nor less than a true believer. He speaks Arabic so perfectly and is so much at home with the Quran; he is so self-assured in wearing native costume which, furthermore, he never takes off; he has—in a phrase—assimilated the manners, customs and even the appearance of an Oriental so completely that not even the most penetrating gaze can detect him as a European, so he was able to enter Makkah amidst the ulamas and the imams and be taken as what he gave himself out to be, that is to say, an Indian Muslim. Thanks to so perfect a metamorphosis, he was able to undertake this risky mission with hardly any danger at all. It is well known that access to the Holy Places, Makkah and Madinah, is totally forbidden to any infidel, even today, under penalty of death or of forced abjuration of his faith.
Mr. Burton has published his account of his journey in English; I have not read it but, to judge by what he told me of it, it must be of the greatest interest, and I can guarantee its accuracy. Since that time he has visited the fanatical tribes that live around Aden, and quite recently, again, he attempted the journey from the coast near Zanzibar to the White Nile via the Equator, a project with which he was at that time very much occupied.
That evening we made camp near to Post House no. 8, after accomplishing ten leagues that day. Scenes from the evening before were recreated just as before; the Orient, as one well knows, is not noted for its variety: what you did yesterday, you will do tomorrow and the day after, and so on for all the days to come for ever and ever. The night sky had the clarity characteristic of Egypt alone; the stars glittered like diamonds set in lapis-lazuli; the ancient heraldic emblem of Byzantium before it came to be that of Istanbul, the moon's crescent rose mysteriously in the firmament. The barking of dogs in the darkness signalled a Beduin camp nearby. At one time, proximity of this sort would rightly have excited alarm; nowadays there is no danger at all; thus I dropped off to sleep in my tent without the shadow of concern, and my slumber was not in fact disturbed by any suspicious visitation.
Next day, the caravan was ready no earlier than it had been the day before, and the sun was already high in the heavens when, to my left, I saw the castle of Dair al-Baida with its flanking towers, a mediaeval feudal manor, no more and no less. This palace of solitude is yet another foundation of Abbas Pasha's, that savage, fanatical Turk who hated towns, above all those where Christians or consuls had established themselves: the latter were his nightmare. He fled from them as studiedly as his grandfather Muhammad Ali had collected them, and he never felt far enough away from them. For this reason, Alexandria was the object of a particular aversion on his part, and I do not believe he ever set foot there once throughout his reign: ‘I would see too many hats there’, he used to say, in explanation of his absence. Even Cairo itself seemed to him to be too infected by the leprosy of European presence, and it was in order to distance himself from this contagion that he had caused his residence at Abbasiyah to be built on the edge of the desert, as we have seen along our route. But even this retreat seemed to him to be still too near the scourge, and he finally took refuge in the heart of the desert. He lived there in ignorant intercourse with the closest members of his family; and what a family! He would never tire of putting off the most urgent business and would never give the consuls audience save in the last extremity, and then only when fear constrained him to do so.
Excessively prone to take offence, haunted by incessant suspicions, he trusted nobody, to such a degree that he would drink no water but that sent from Cairo by his mother, in sealed bottles. His favourite amusement was to fill his stables with animals of high value. Miserly by nature, he did not count the cost of the greatest sacrifices if they assisted in satisfying his ruling passion. Everywhere—sometimes in most remote places—he had agents entrusted with buying up for him everything that was most beautiful or most precious in the way of horses and of dromedaries; several of the latter had cost him up to 10,000 francs. But he would allow nobody to see them, from fear of the evil eye. His superstition was equalled only by his mistrust.
The site that his palace occupies was formerly known as Dair al Hamra—the Red House—a name that the Arabs bestow upon Hell, because of the flames that they believe burn there in eternity. The place owed its sinister appellation to its desolation, a circumstance admirably helpful to the malicious, and the people never omitted, through a play on words that at the same time said it all and was admirably phrased, to identify the palace with Hell, and Hell with the palace. When this gibe reached Abbas's ears, he hastened to change so ill-omened a name: at his order, Dair al-Hamra turned into Dair al-Baida, the White House. All this did was to make it more dark and diabolical still in public opinion.
Post House no. 8, situated close to Dair al-Baida, owes a certain importance to its proximity. The people who had business with the late Viceroy or his officials used to put up there and spend weeks, months even, at the place, for in the Orient the most trifling business requires time, and yet more time, and then more time still. Travellers who, like ourselves, prefer older methods of transport to the Transit vehicles, can nonetheless take advantage of these post-houses, but only if they have provided themselves in Cairo with an entrance ticket sold at a high price; without that formality, the post-houses are strictly barred to them; they could die of thirst on the threshold without anybody's opening the door.
Not far from Post House no. 8, exactly halfway between Cairo and Suez, is the Pilgrims' Tree. The Arabs hold trees in great veneration: they see so few of them in their deserts that for them they are rare, novel objects. Muhammad promised magnificent trees in the next world, and the teachers affirm, as though they had seen it, that there is one tree in paradise for each of the leaves to which the destiny of a true believer is linked: if one of these leaves should happen to fall, the mortal whose earthly existence is attached to it dies instantly. Besides this love of the Arabs for trees in general, there are trees that are sacred and the object of a special cult: such are the ones that grow near a holy man's tomb or in any other place that religion or superstition has consecrated. In order to placate evil spirits, they take care to hang upon a tree any object that has belonged to them, most commonly a shred of their raiment. Such is the tree of which I have just spoken, which owes its name to the pilgrims to Makkah, not one of whom would fail to conform to the sacramental use of the tree: thus it is hung about, as though they were flowers, fruits or even leaves, with worthless rags of all shapes and colours. Peculiar votive offerings!
As our donkeys had plodded as far ahead of the camels as they had done the day before, towards mid-day we had to stop and wait for the caravan, and we ate the same lunch as on the day before, on the sand. While we were there, shelling our hard-boiled eggs and peeling our oranges, we were joined by an old traveller on foot, followed by a companion and driving before him a donkey ridden by a woman: this traveller was an Indian, and the woman his wife. They were returning from a pilgrimage to Makkah, whence they had pushed on as far as Cairo before returning to their own country, Lord knows by what route! On sighting Mr. Burton, our Indian recognised him at a glance, as he had seen him several months before on Mount Arafat, devoutly fulfilling, like himself, the ceremonies of the last pilgrimage. He greeted him by the name of Shaikh Abdullah, the one Mr. Burton bears in the Orient. The recognition was mutual, and conversation was initiated between the two Hajjis in the purest Hindi, a language of which Mr. Burton is master to the same degree as he is of Arabic, and which he probably spoke much better than the Indian himself, as he had composed a grammar of one of the most difficult languages of India. The company of two such infidels as we were must have seemed compromising for him; nonetheless, it did not in any way shake the confidence the old Indian reposed in the good faith of his supposed compatriot, who extricated himself with high honour from this touchy situation.
A gazelle was gambolling in the distance and rapidly disappeared into the depths of the desert. It was the first that I had seen in the wild state: later I saw hundreds of them in the Sudan and in Nubia.
When evening came, the Muqattam took on a violet hue of the greatest beauty. The clarity of the air made it possible to distinguish the tiniest objects at enormous distances; but soon nothing more could be seen, because the sun had set, and in those latitudes once the sun sets night comes down all at once without any twilight. We camped near to Post House 13, on stony ground strewn with datura. There are travellers who have reported that the Pilgrims' Tree is the only one to be met with at any point along the Cairo to Suez road; this claim is so unfounded that there were a dozen mimosa growing around our tents. A German crossing the desert with a single camel and its driver halted near our encampment, in order to spend the night there; we were prepared to give him a becoming welcome by inviting him to have supper with us, but his sullen, taciturn mood repressed our instinct for hospitality. He stayed, and we left him there in his own corner, like a bear in the forests of his own country. His cameleer was more communicative, and soon got to know our own cameleers; in spite of having spent ten hours on the road, together they kept each other up until far into the night.
On the fourth day, we set out even later than we had on the preceding days; it is true that we were now only six leagues from Suez. We went several hundred paces along the road and then diverged to go over to our left, towards the well of Ajrud, walled around and protected by a dilapidated fort. The little garrison that formerly occupied it had been replaced by a beduin family entrusted with guardianship of the well who charged a fee of anybody coming to draw water there. Our donkeys drank there for the first time—you can imagine how avidly—after sixty-nine hours of privation and twenty-eight leagues' march. Notwithstanding its aridity, the place has a striking appearance: the well frequented by camels, the crumbling fortress, the beduin who inhabit it would all provide an original study for a landscape artist's pencil.
Several leagues further on is a second well, the Suez well, so called because it is so near to the town which gives it its name; the water there is brackish and useful only for animals. It is likewise surrounded by walls, and another slave caravan had stopped there at that moment. Totally naked, and crouching upon the sand higgledy-piggledy with the camels, the piccaninnies were eating their meal, a very frugal one consisting of a handful of dates and a piece of Arab bread, flat and round like a plate, soft like a sponge, unleavened, badly cooked, and in which I have everywhere found a coppery aftertaste that is extremely unappealing.
Snatched away so young from their homeland, from their families, these children appear to have no sensation of their own misfortune and, although they were under the eye and the whip of the jallabs they set up a hum as joyous as that of a swarm of bees. Moreover, servitude is much less harsh in the Orient than it is in Christian countries, and I shall have occasion to return, with further particulars, to the trade in, and the condition of, slaves among the Muslims.
Here the view changes. The Red Sea begins to be visible, and its transparent blueness startlingly gave the lie to its epithet. To the southeast are the mountains of Arabia and, over above all the others, the high granite summits of the Sinai range, rising in tiers as in an amphitheatre to the farthest depths of the horizon. Their appearance is impressive, and the majesty of the memories that sanctify them impresses on them a character more imposing still.
At noon we arrived at the gates of Suez, the fourth day to the very hour—after our departure from Cairo. But before I enter and return to places of habitation, I have to confess that the journey had not produced in me any of those strong or solemn sensations I was later to experience in the great deserts of Nubia and the Sudan. Nonetheless, it did possess a certain thrill of novelty while leaving me in a certain sense cold and indifferent. There were several reasons for this disappointment: in the first place, the Suez desert is divided along its whole length by the Muqattam range, so the view is continually confined on one side, leading the eye only to the other. Furthermore, even on that side it is often limited by changes in the terrain, which at some points merit the name of hills. So restricted a horizon inspires neither a dreamy contemplative melancholy, nor the sensation of the infinite, which the continuous viewing of limitless sands, like that of unending water, has the power to awaken in one's spirit. If space is lacking, solitude is no less to be desired. As I said at the beginning, inventions that are already quite antiquated for us, and even some of the conveniences of Western life that one does not come here to seek, have invaded this degenerate desert, and changed its natural coloration. You feel and see too much of Man there: not the Man of tents and of liberty, but the Man of banks and factories. With such a representative, civilisation has nothing attractive about it, so it is not at all surprising that this obtrusive image should have robbed my first steps in the great open spaces of Nature of all their enchantment.
The living wave rolled on, but comfortably housed in Cairo, I felt no wish to roll on with it. Christmas and the new year (1854), still found me contentedly lingering there, awaiting until spring should warn me to turn northwards. But this was not to be, for a south wind blew its note of fascination. A friend, the most pleasant of companions (on whose shoulders may now be said to rest the mantle of Burckhardt), proposed that I should accompany him to Suez, on his road to India. I accepted, provided that M. D. would accompany me, and be my traveller back to Cairo. M. D. had an unconquerable aversion to journeying twice over the same ground, which was reasonable enough; so, after much manoeuvering to meet the difficulty, we at length decided to proceed from Suez to Gebel Tor by sea, and return thence to Cairo by Cosseir and the Nile. To Mr. Burton we were indebted for the first thoughts of this journey. With a disinterested frankness, too rare among the learned, he also gave me the benefit of valuable suggestions, saving me a world of trouble, and most materially aiding our future progress. …
January 21.—The French Agent, M Costa, must be mentioned with gratitude. He procured us a sambuk, a half-decked boat of about twenty tons burthen, the master of which was recommended as a trusty man. And now we must part from the pilgrim of Mecca. Having still forty-eight hours to pass at Suez before he can depart for India, he kindly conveys us on board our stout bark Hamdiah, the "Praised be God;" and solemnly does he commend us to the charge of the captain, Halil, which act of commendation his venerable character as Sheich and Hajy enables him to perform with no small unction. And then we parted with regrets and hopes,—he to steam down the sea with all the appliances of modern science, and we to make out our navigation in a ship probably of the same construction as those which sailed from Elath (Akaba) to seek gold and Indian rarities in Ophir, with a crew speaking the same language with, and alike in race to, the sailors of Solomon.
Many years ago, in the days of Abbas Pacha, a young officer in the Indian service came mysteriously to Alexandria, secluded himself in the gardens of some English friends, and diligently studied the language and customs of the lower classes of the Arab population. Then he as suddenly and mysteriously disappeared. Months afterwards there spread a rumour throughout Egypt, that an adventurous Frank, at the hourly peril of life and limb, had actually accompanied the pilgrimage into Mecca, disguised as a Mussulman, and penetrated even to the “holy of holies” in the city of the faithful, which no European ever had done before. But the story was discredited, and was ranked among the “thousand and one” fabulous stories which are the modern “Arabian Nights' Entertainments” in modern Egypt.
Passing my summer at Cairo in 1854, in common with several of the Frank residents (very few at that time, and composed chiefly of foreign officials, civil engineers, and foreign officers in the viceroy's service), it was my custom to dine frequently at Shepheard's Hotel, for the sake of society. One evening at dinner we remarked a rather dirty-looking native, in Arab dress, sitting alone at the opposite end of the table, yet eating in Frank fashion; apparently paying no attention to what was going on around him, though we were struck by the exceeding brilliancy and intelligence of his eye, whenever he looked up. As it was not Shepheard's habit to allow natives, especially those of a lower class, to sit at his table d'hote, I carelessly questioned him concerning this person; but received only a vague answer, and dropped the subject. But when we saw the man several days in succession, in the same place, our curiosity begun to be excited; fanned as it was by Shepheard's hints, that we would “know very soon who that Arab was, and might be rather surprised!” At last, after playing this farce for several days, doubtless tired of want of companionship and enforced silence, Burton (for he it was) dropped the veil, announced his real name and character, and astonished us all not a little by the announcement, that the rumour we had heard and disbelieved was founded on truth; as he had just returned with the pilgrims from the (Haj) pilgrimage from Mecca. He proved himself a most delightful and welcome accession to our little circle in the social wilderness of the Cairo of that day, and was my guest at my Cairene house for some time after: recounting in his own inimitable style, of which his written works convey but a faint impression, his strange and startling adventures.
Night after night would we sit together on the flat roof of my house, or under the palm trees in the garden, smoking our nargilehs under the starlit heavens: while he revived his daily experiences during that terrible trial, at any moment of which detection would have been death; and when he left us to prepare his story for the public through the press, we sorely missed his ready wit and exciting conversation. For he is a most admirable raconteur; and although not averse to the sound of his own voice by any means, is an attentive listener, and ready to take as well as give in conversation—a very rare merit among clever men, whose talk is seldom “relieved by occasional flashes of silence,” as Sidney Smith remarked on one occasion of Lord Macaulay's.
A report has been received of a very interesting journey performed by Lieut. Richard F. Burton, of the Bombay Army, from Yamba, on the Red Sea, to Medina and Mecca. The details of the first portion of this exploit, the voyage from Suez and land journey of 164 miles to Medina, have been laid before our Society at its last evening meeting for the Session. They prove that the confidence of our Society has not been thrown away. Lieut. Burton travelled in the disguise of an Afghan pilgrim. His knowledge of the language and habits of his desert companions, and his boldness and sagacity, enabled him to maintain this disguise, the detection of which might have been dangerous, with complete success. A skirmish with Bedouin Arabs was fatal to 12 of the party, and no one, not inured to climate and observant of precautions, could have easily surmounted the difficulties of such a journey. We have to expect the further particulars of these travels, including the visit to Mecca. …
The exploration of the Eastern horn of Africa and the Somali coast, so long advocated by this Society, appears likely to be undertaken; and it is with pleasure I hear that an application to the Court of Directors has been sent in from Lord Elphinstone, the enlightened Governor of Bombay, to encourage the outfit of an expedition under Lieut. Burton, whose late visit to Mecca and Medina has been already mentioned. Mr. Burton has asked permission to proceed from Bombay to Aden before the setting in of the rains, so as to be prepared to start at once after the monsoon.
My dear Hay
I don't remember when I wrote to you last or even whether I told you of my trip to Thibet from the Lerai so here goes with the principal events. I got the finest Yak (bull) there ever shot and have sent it together [with] some other specimens to the French Exhibition to be finally deposited of course at my house in England. I got my three years Furlo’ and came away here prepared for a shooting trip of two years but on arrival I found a party going into the same country on Govt. account but was opposed by Old Outram here & he of course sticking to his former expressed opinion objected to my going as he said because the risk of life would not be compensated for by any discoveries that could be made; so I set too & talked with the Captain of the expedition Burton who went in disguise to Mekka, that done there was very little difficulty in getting myself put on duty to go with them. So now instead of a three years furlo’ I am on an unlimited duty drawing pay & allowances & doing what I of all other things most desired. Burton goes on the 20th to Harrur a place of curiosity as the natives say “if that place is once entered by a European it will fall into other hands” and has in consequence hitherto been hermetically sealed. Of course he goes in disguise & cannot return till March next. I go on the 15th to Bundar Gorie strike south west & make a tour of 600 miles collecting specimens of Zoology & mapping my route, whilst the other two squat on their haunches at Berbera to make notes till we join them. [Then we] all set off together for an [unlimited] period God only knows where.
yours ever sincy
J. H. Speke
My dear Grant
I was only just able to leave Calcutta on the 4th Sept & after a pleasant voyage got here on 26th. Before leaving I made the specimens over to the French Exhibition Agent to be set up at the museum at my expense and I have nothing more to say to them till they have been exhibited & then despatched free of all expense at my house—I sold my Lancaster & bought a fair Pattern Minié the day before leaving and I'm very glad I did too, for it's a first rate gun. On arrival here I at once saw the Commandant about going across & was sorry to find him so averse to my going that I thought all was up, the reason was the danger; but since I have managed to square myself with the party going on Gov't account & am now instead of being on “Furlo” appointed Asst Surveyor and Collector of Zoological Specimens and draw my full pay. God only knows how long we shall be away for we have a year’s leave to experimentalize under the understanding that if it is of use it will be protracted to any length. Tomorrow I set sail for Las Gorie go south west to the Wady Nogal and then work up to Berbera where I meet Herne who goes there on the 1st of next month, and Burton on his arrival from Hurrur whither he is bound on the 20th Inst. The distance to be done by me is 600 miles thru’ a perfectly unknown tract of country & is consequently to be all the more interesting; the people are wild to a degree. I have given the […] to my pater, & all the sundries, never intending to play again as it condemns to idleness and I have lots to employ my time for the next 10 years. Tell Wroughton Herne takes positions at all times to a certainty and says we both must be wrong. I am working well with a drawing camera and a sextant besides a few other scientific arts. Give my best salaams to all the boys & believe me
J. H. Speke
My dear Grant
You see I don't only write when I want something as this time I don’t ask favours, the full extent that friendship is generally carried to in Aden. But now old chap after thanking you for all you have done let me tell you how the world has been progressing my way & about guns the last topic we entered on. Be assured that like in fencing so in shooting you must have a thorough confidence in yourself & instrument or you will never excel. The best & simplest projectile invented for carrying out well and smartly is the Minie bullet & the best gun as long as it lasts is the elliptical Lancaster from its extreme simplicity & for a man like Ricketts, I will say, who I have seen shoot, I would strongly recommend, but not for you or myself. I've seen you shoot & I've found myself out after years of trial & to anybody but a pigheaded brute like myself who won’t give in till thoroughly sure, sickening—I've never been a good shot but I was a tolerable [one] & am now a very bad one. How is that? A man surely must improve by practice? But not so friend unless the circumstances are favourable. These are the ways I've been spoilt, firstly by having bad guns, and ones that kick from want of proportionate metal, with a straight stock that hit me on the cheek bone at every explosion & create a roar by constant firing. Tho’ I felt no actual pain from the contusion I knew it would happen again & again yet still my ardour was so great to make a day that on I went little aware of the damage I was doing to my cause. I still made good running shots that encouraged me but standing one[s] I continually missed, not dreaming why. If anyone had said I saw you shut your eye at the instant of pulling or flinch almost imperceptibly I should have called him a malicious liar, but I have proved without doubt that that was the case, & I did it by a natural impulse, curse the natural impulse. I did not care for the tap [I] got, it was almost an imperceptible jar. Then again with regard the caps I used to buy cheap ones for practicing at a mark & occasionally one cut me but I did not care about it so went on, spoiling myself unconsciously by the confidence that was leaving me imperceptibly. Another thing is by firing after the gun got afraid that the powder from the nipple stung me in the eye, but I thought it was a pity to leave off till I had completed my 20 of 30 couple of shots or whatever number I was making up to.
I judge you by your shooting with the Harkom rifle which I have proved to be dead true by trying it with light charges after heavy ones, I’ve hit the mark six times successively with it & I’ll swear my eye was open during & after each explosion for I was paying particular attention to it, but with the heavy charges if I put two in out of six I thought it good, for I knew what charge was in [&] I knew that it would not hurt me, but still the knowledge & imperceptible shock at the discharge shook my nerves & my eye would not keep open. A light charge after a heavy one feels like shooting with a popgun, hence the accuracy. The best & cheapest style of rifle for you & I won’t say myself because I’m ruined in the Minie from its simplicity & the ball spherical—the heavier the gun (but not from length) and less the bore the better. If you still don’t think this honest confession true which certainly does not appear natural since decrying oneself is contrary to the laws of nature try your sepoys with a grain of powder in a cup at a spot on the wall not an inch distant from the muzzle & see by the mark how burning flinches. I bet there is not 10 in a 1000 that does [not] if you don’t caution them beforehand from the simple fact that they sting one another in the ranks as I have been often stung by them. The general impression that “put in as much powder as you like beyond a certain limit & the bullet will not go further” is true enough but you can get all a sportsman wants that has [arms] strong [enough] by so doing as it gives greater velocity within a certain distance. The Lancaster elliptical is the best cheap barrel as there is less room for discharge than in many others which [supposedly] imparts greater distance & hence gives velocity but it does not [do for] as extra recoil is the result of that perfection. From 24 to 30 inches is the best length for ball shooting more than that is as bad as less & much depends on the passage to the powder. As Ricketts was an enquirer about these matters as well as yourself forward this to him please as I have no time to spare in writing and I shall not go to England to make further search into the matter.
Now about the creatures I've been amongst let me tell you
virgins’ Mons are still stitched across to prevent intrusion until the bridegroom
feels inclined to consummate the marriage rites; & then he snips the thread.
I never saw a pretty face amongst them and as they all wear greasy leather
coverings don't make one regret the distance they keep off on account (I fancy)
of religious prejudices. The men are bodily a very fine art but their minds
are slow and sordid. I have been in no actual danger in travelling amongst
them, but from the treacherous thieving brutes I brought with me from Aden. I
have not been able to get as far as I hoped [...]
P.S. We start together next month for the Nogal Country.
The pilgrimage over, he went to Egypt, thence to Bombay. There he organised his expedition into Somali-Land, which terminated disastrously. When we saw him again, his handsome face was scarred by the lance which had transfixed his jaw and palate. Later on he received a wound on the left cheek which was still more noticeable. These scars marred his good looks very little, and for many years, in spite of fevers by the score, and exposure to climate such as people read of, but seldom experience, he remained a strikingly handsome man, brown-haired, bright-eyed, upright, the living image of that magnificent portrait by Sir Frederick Leighton. Whoever has seen that portrait has seen Richard Burton. Another picture of him, taken with his sister, painted at Boulogne by Jacquand, a French historical painter of some eminence, hangs in our dining-room. He wears the uniform of the East India Company's Service (infantry), and although never a striking likeness, it gives some idea of him as a young man of twenty-nine.
My dear Mr. Monckton Milnes
I was rejoiced to receive your letter of the 20th & to find that you had returned safely from your peregrinations. I look forward with delight & impatience to seeing the interesting things you hint at, & I trust I shall meet you in London sometime next month. I live now so much out of the world that I have no opportunities of falling in with anything interesting or exciting, so I am sure that what you have in store will be a good read for me & rouse at least my brain from the lethargy which my present life is gradually bringing about. I am sometimes sorry that I distributed among friends, on my marriage, a collection of books & sundries which no money could purchase, nor a single life gather together. I had got them mostly from persons in the higher walks of life too happy at some period or other to get rid of them. Those I presented to Burton are lost forever, being probably in the possession of the Priests of Meccah, & he poor fellow is I fear in the regions from whence no one returns. Did you hear he had been assassinated? There was an edition of Fanny Hill which I earnestly wish had gone into your possession, as a work of art—the story itself being of course as naught. It had belonged to the Duke of York—was I think a quarto & was got up in such exquisite style as to type & paper then I think a portable printing press had been employed & perhaps only one copy struck off—but what made it priceless was original pictures & portraits done on ivory by some first rate hand on boards, these portraits likenesses of people in various walks of life whom the Duke had enjoyed, or wished to enjoy, or dreamed he had enjoyed. It was given to me in fear & trembling by his aide-de-camp & [favourite], Sir Henry Cooke, known as Kangaroo, who knew directly or indirectly all the originals of the portraits. I was very young when I got it, could not appreciate its worth & only looked to the story which soon losing the power to excite caused me to attach no value to the form. I therefore gave it to a very great man now no more, to whom it had been shown by a female Bonaparte with whom I was carrying on an intrigue. Whether it be still in existence God only knows. Kangaroo told me the Duke firmly believed the work had been destroyed according to his wishes. How I should have liked to show it to the “clergyman’s wife”. Nothing can be more agreeable than the carrying on with her. It is quite [steady]—with all the apparent innocence and simplicity of a schoolgirl, which she is in looks, she lisps out expressions which electrify. I have refrained from having her, feeling that if I did, I should soon draw off, & lose my fun, whereas I can now always approach her with pleasure—exciting & excited. This has saved mutual weariness. She has let me into all the details of the schools she was at, & where frigging was universal—solitary or deux-a-deux—she has had with her former schoolfellows & not only repeated all their curious questions as to the marriage bed, but has let me hear the conversations between them, & on several occasions put me in the way of […] practises. She is not however a tribade, & does not seem to have a leaning that way. I have had much amusement with her friends, she telling me how far I might go, & putting them up to encourage & submit.
With all this, I by no means consider her to have strong passions for the act itself. I believe she has greater delight in talking of it than performing. Her great wish is to see pictures & books of what she has heard & she has acknowledged that the subject of [gamahuche] which I had broached to her has taken possession of her fancy to a wonderful extent. Her great wish is to see it performed on one of her friends a very pretty little thing of 16—but this she has not been able as yet to bring about.
I asked her if she had bestowed her maidenhead before she married, she said no, but that she should have lost it, had some young gentleman with whom she had a girlish flirtation, known how to go about it. Her coolness & simplicity will be seen by the following. She told me a young married lady on a visit [whom we all adore] was most desirous to see, & understand the use of a cundem. She had been talking on the practicability of not having children. She informed her that a married friend having given her one, she could satisfy her curiosity.
She asked me for one, & I possessed a packet. I had no opportunity of giving it during the day, so at prayer time at night she came & knelt down by me & while repeating the Lord’s Prayer with extreme unction, put out her hand to me whispering “now” on which I conveyed the articles into it. When I returned to my room, I heard the two ladies in shouts of laughter. They must have had a poor opinion of their own lords, for these cundems sent by Hankey were large enough to encase a full grown babe. I hope I shall persevere in not having her, for as I said, that moment my amusement could vanish forever. As yet she is an interesting and exciting study.
Mrs. Collett still carries on. I had heard she had been [hounded] out of her abode. I have not seen her since I met you, as I did not go on account of the report as above.
I have been anxious for the denouement of the hermaphrodite. She or he has a toilette at several houses—sometimes that of a house maid, sometimes that of a lady in full dress. In one place she has a complete riding dress beautifully made, & of first rate materials—hat, drawers & even whip—a [Dean-Canon]; on this occasion her resistance is great. She even employs her whip, but she is eventually overcome. The two sexes are pretty equally divided, but for sexual gratification I think the female predominates. What she likes particularly is to be selected out of two or three which leads her to believe there is no suspicion as to her true state, but even then she delights in being [half] ravished & only yields by degrees, professing to have no experience & disclosing she will never forgive those who have placed her in such a position.
I think that I ought really to conclude. I therefore say when begging you to believe me most truly & faithfully yours
Have you read Melle de Maupin that the Parisian ladies rave about. It was recommended to me by quite a young woman. It is beautiful French, but a perfectly bawdy book, I cannot conceive how the censorship has allowed it to appear.
the Political Resident
I have the honour to bring to your notice that before my departure for Africa about Sep. or Oct. 1854 I was examined by Lt. Playfair in the Arabic language & my papers were sent on your information to Bombay. At the same time I addressed an official letter to the Secretary of the Examination Committee Bombay.
2. On my return from Africa, some months afterward, I find no notice of my Examination whether in general Notes or communicated to me.
3. I have therefore the honour to request that you will favour this my application to be considered as passed Interpreter in the Arabic Language & to draw moonshi allowance for the same. This was allowed to me in the Sindhi & the Multani dialects in both of which I passed examinations at an institution [in] Kurrachee.
the honour to be,
Yr most obt Svt,
Richd. F Burton Lt.
18 R. Bom. N. I.
In charge Somali Expedition
18 February 1855.
The […] Pol. Resident
I have the honor to inform you that Lt Speke B.N.I. now a member of the Somali Expedition has reported to me in the strongest terms the bad conduct of Mohammed Sumunter his Abban.
2. I have the honor to request that you will enquire into this case. Lt Speke has been plundered, threatened, detained & impeded from entering the country which he was directed to explore. If such conduct be allowed to pass unnoticed, or rather I should say if it be not visited with severe chastisement, I apprehend that it will be most prejudicial to future proceedings of the expedition.
3. I have directed Lt Speke to call at your office today & supported by his 2 witnesses, Imam & Farhan, the latter of whom has a separate charge to lay against the Abban, to proffer a special complaint.
the honor etc.
Your obed. svt.
Richd F. Burton
Company Somali Expedition
21st Feb. / 55
Aden Feb 23rd
Dear Mr. Bentley
My sister Mrs. Henry Stisted writes that my account has at last been forwarded.
I have requested her to receive whatever sum be credited to me.
You will probably hear of my last journey to Harar in Africa. Trusting that we may meet one day as publisher & author once more. I am
Aden 25 Feb [1855]
My dear Shaw
I have recd Lord Ellesmere's last address & would thank his Lordship for sundry polite expressions as regards myself.
D.V. by next mail you shall receive a paper concerning my route from Zayla to Harar (Hurrur). I entered this hitherto impossible town, stayed 10 days in the Emir's palace settled about the coffee trade & returned to Berbera safe, but rather knocked up by starvation & hard work.
I enclose a slip cut out of my post book to show that my route from Medinah to Mecca was duly posted. Has it reached you? I fear not from Lord E's address & seeing in the Times that a paper of mine upon the Somali Expedition was to be read at the Geographical.
My success at Harrar has emboldened me & I have applied for a 2d years leave. The Court of Directors will not I think refuse it, especially if it be at all backed up by the Roy. Geog. Soc. My plans (public) are now to march southward to the Webbe Shebayli and Ganana. Privately & entre nous I want to settle the question of Krapf’s “eternal snows”. There is little doubt of the White Nile being thereabouts. And you will hear with pleasure that there is an open route through Africa, to the Atlantic. I heard of it at Harar & will give the whole account.
I have received a kind letter from General Monteith& am about to reply to it. If you can see Murray the Captain pray give him my love. I missed his brother who has got with him an officer from my Regiment. Beke passed through Aden a second time & kindly left for me some Galla works, much wanted. Our difficulties will be principally amongst that penis-cutting people. Altogether the prospects of the “Somali Expedition” are bright enough; there are difficulties however. This time we march as masters with 20 guns and horse &c., so that by day we need not fear a host.
Excuse this scrawl which means I hope you have received the 2d manuscript, as I have kept no copy. Hoping that you flourish & to shake your hand one day I subscribe myself
The Pol. Resident
I have the honour to enclose a report from Lt. Herne & a statement from Lt. Speke concerning the melancholy occurrence of the 19th inst. I also forward for the information of the Rt Honbl. the Gov. in Council this account of particulars which fell under my personal observation.
2. On the 15th inst. the Berberah Fair concluded and the last vessel left the Port. Our party remained behind awaiting the mid-April mail. In their utter security, the Abbans or Protectors accompanied their families & property to the Highlands, leaving with us their sons and other representatives. Beyond the rumours of raids & forays which daily abound in the Somali country we heard of no hostile intention and, as a body, the people were decidedly friendly to us. One of the most learned Somalis, the Shaykh Jami whom I had met at Harar called repeatedly upon us, ate with us and gave us abundant good advice concerning our future movements.
3. About noon on the 18th inst. a buggalow belonging to the Port of Aynterad entered the deserted creek & brought from Aden a letter written by Mohammed the Interpreter together with 10 Somalis who desired to accompany us to Ogadayn. Not able to afford food for such a number of extra mouths we objected to take more than four of these men. It is fortunate however that I ordered our people to give dinner to the Nacoda & crew of the buggalow or it would have left that very evening.
4. About sunset on the same day (18th inst.) I heard a discharge of musketry behind the tents which were pitched about ¾ of a mile S. of Berberah and near the site of the proposed Agency. The cause proved to be the arrival of 3 horsemen, one Dublay of the Ayyal Ahmad, another Mohammed of the Eesa Musa and the 3d a youth whose name has not yet been found out. Our people mistaking them for a foraging party had fired over their heads. Through Lt. Speke I reprimanded them sharply for this folly, ordered them to reserve their fire in future, and when necessary to fire into, not above a crowd. To this they all listened attentively. Then, not particularly liking the sudden appearance of the strangers I caused “Balyuz”, the Ras Caffilah or Commander of the Caravan to enquire what their business was. Their reply was so plausible that it completely deceived even Balyuz one of the acutest of the Somal. The people of the coast had forged a report some days before that the Haj Sharmarkay of Zayla was awaiting at Siyaro (a port not 20 miles E. of Berberah) with 4 vessels a favourable opportunity of seizing Berbera and of erecting a fort there. Our visitors swore by the oath of divorce—the most solemn which a Somali knows—that seeing a buggalow visit the port at such unusual season they had come down to ascertain whether it had brought Sharmarkay’s men & material for building. They concluded by asking if we could possibly be in apprehension of them who belonged to our Abban's tribe and laughed at the idea as ridiculous. Briefly these spies not only deceived us but deceived even their own fellow countrymen. Accordingly the usual 2 sentries were posted for the night & the usual orders were issued.
5. Between 2 & 3 a.m. on the morning of the 19th inst. I was aroused by “Balyuz” who cried out that the enemy was upon us. My first impulse was to request Lt. Herne to go out with his revolver in the direction of the danger. Secondly I answered Lts. Speke & Stroyan who both asked if “any shooting were going on” that they must arm & ready, and then with no particular hurry—such incidents are but too common in the countries through which I have travelled—drew my sabre & prepared for work. Meanwhile Lt. Herne returned hurriedly from the back of the Rowtie, pistol in hand & declared that our servants had run and that the enemy was in great force. We three, Lts. Speke Herne & I defended the entrance of the Rowtie during which I saw both these officers pistol their men with revolvers. Presently their fire being exhausted, and the enemy pressing on, I perceived that our position was untenable; the Rowtie was nearly knocked down by clubs and had we been entangled in its folds, we should have been speared like rats. I then gave the word for a rush and sallied out with my sabre, closely followed by Lt. Herne with Lt. Speke in the rear. The former officer was happily allowed to pass through the enemy with no severer injury than a few stiff blows with a war club. The latter was thrown down by a stone hurled at his chest and taken prisoner—which I did not witness.
6. On our leaving the Rowtie I thought that I had perceived the form of the late Lt. Stroyan lying upon the ground, close to the camels. This officer had not joined us in the tent at first and the noise of the skirmish together with the darkness of the night prevented our discovering where he was or what he was doing. I was surrounded at the time by about a dozen Somalis and felt the blows of their clubs rattling upon me without mercy, and at the same time “Balyuz” who was energetically pushing me out of the fray, rendered the strokes of my sabre uncertain. As I was cutting my way toward the prostrate form a Somali stepped forward threw his spear so as to traverse my face and split the palate and then retired before he could be punished. Upon this I fell back for assistance. Many of our Somalis and servants were lurking in the darkness about 100 yards from the fray: but nothing could persuade them to advance. Presently “Balyuz” appeared and told me that he would take me to a place where I should find Lts. Herne & Speke. I followed him sending one of the bravest of the Somalis “Golab” of the Yusuf tribe to run in search of the buggalow & if she had not started to bring her back from the Ras or Spit into the centre of the harbour.
7. I spent the time from the hour of our separation sometimes wandering about in search of the other officers & sometimes lying down when overpowered by the faintness & pain of my wound. As dawn approached, I could distinguish the form of the buggalow making sail, as it appeared, out of the harbour. With my little remaining strength I reached the Spit at the head of the creek was carried into the vessel and persuaded the crew to arm themselves & repair to the scene of our disasters. Presently Lt. Herne appeared & closely following him Lt. Speke was supported in badly wounded. Lastly the body of Lt. Stroyan I.N. was brought on board speared through the heart with the mark of a lance through the epigastrium & a frightful gash apparent in the top of the forehead. The lamented officer had ceased to exist, his body was stark & cold: we preserved it till the morning of the 20th inst. when we were compelled to sew it up & cast it loaded into the sea, Lt. Herne reading the funeral service over it. This is the severest blow of all that occurred to us: we had lived together like brothers, Lt. Stroyan was a universal favourite & truly melancholy was the contrast between the hour when he lay down to rest full of life & spirits & the ensuing morning when we saw him a livid corpse. As regards the circumstance of his decease—I am personally ignorant of everything never having been able to see him that fatal night, but I should suggest that his servant “Mohammed” & the other attendants who have accompanied us to Aden be examined at the Asst. Pol. Resident’s office & that the result should be communicated to Govt. Bombay.
8. Yusuf, the Nacoda or Capt. of the buggalow having at my request armed his men proceeded to our camp. I was unable to accompany them. Presently, they returned, reporting that the enemy had fled carrying off all our cloth, tobacco swords & other weapons. The rice, part of the dates, our books & broken boxes together with injured instruments and other articles remained on the ground. I spent that day at Berberah bringing off our property & firing guns to recall our 6 servants who had run away. In the evening unable to bring off any more kit I ordered the remainder to be set on fire.
9. I trust it may not be considered superfluous for me to remark that the officers under my charge fought well, & with energy. But of our 12 men armed with swords & muskets 1 only, Saad a black slave is severely wounded—there are also 3 slightly hurt, Abdul Rahman an Egyptian, Abdullah & Farhan, two other negroes. The others behaved with the vilest cowardice, the effect of the coast being open to them—they threw down their weapons & ran, after firing only 3 shots high up in the air. A party of 6 men left us at the very first & made their way safely to Kurrum & Aynterad. It is also a significant fact, that of the many Somali who formed our party, not a single man as far as I can learn was hurt. Moreover they all deserted to the enemy and the son of one of our Abbans, Boorhali Nuh, was seen carrying off plundered cloth.
[10.] The melancholy occurrence above detailed was the act of a troop of Bedouin brigands & it will be reprobated as severely in Africa as in Europe. It is in every way opposed to the custom of the country and a flagrant infraction of the people’s code of honour. True, the brigands did not appear at the first blush of the affair to be determined upon bloodshed; this is proved by the fact that they used bludgeons at the beginning. But the passions of the Somal are easily aroused and when they saw their kinsmen—4 or 5 in number it is stated by Lt. Speke—laid out wasted & unable to eat the plundered dates, they proceeded to the cold-blooded & dastardly act detailed in the accompanying statement. As a proof that their primary object was plunder they even carried off the camels & a little merchandise belonging to some Ogadayn travellers who had stayed behind to accompany us.
11. The people chiefly implicated in this outrage are the “Mikahil” the Ayyal Ahmad & the Eesa Musa—all 3 sub-tribes of the great clan, Habr Awal. The 2 former however are but little concerned, the Eesa Musa is the principal actor. This tribe is celebrated even among the Somal & on 2 or 3 petty occasions had shown us ill will. They had vainly opposed in Febr. ult. my visit to Biyu Gora near Berberah; they had a dispute with Lts. Stroyan & Herne about pay for their services during a trip to the hills, & even after my 2d landing in Africa I had to resist an extortionate demand as regards our camels.
12. The easiest & most effectual way of punishing these ruffians in my humble opinion is this. In the first place all the Eesa Musa, the Ayyal Ahmad & the Mikaheel Somal should at once be expelled from Aden with orders never to return until compensation be made & the murderers delivered. Secondly that the merchants of Cutch Bombay & Aden be warned of our intention to blockade the Somali Coast from Aynterad to Zayla (not included). Thus the ports of Siyaro, Berberah & Bulhar will remain deserted & our supplies would be drawn exclusively from Zayla, Aynterad, Kurrum & Mocha in Arabia. The rest of the Habr Awal will arise furious at their losses and the Eesa Musa will receive at the hands of their kinsmen the severest punishment. By means of a small steamer armed with a single quarter-deck gun, this could be done efficiently, and the same vessel might be rendered most useful in crushing slavery & in building if such measure be deemed necessary an agency at Berberah. And before raising the blockade we should propose the sum of Cos R.s 13,800 indemnity according to the following scale.
Loss of Govt. in cloth, provisions, camels, C’s. R’s. horses, mules & commensurate stores
Loss of Lt. Speke’s private property
Loss of Lt. Herne’s
Loss of Lt. Stroyan’s
Loss of Lt. Burton’s
Which does not include the claims of Arab & Somali servants who should register their losses at the Police Office, Aden.
Nothing will be easier than to identify the man who murdered Lt. Stroyan & the ruffians who attempted in cold blood to spear Lt. Speke. They will wear the ostrich feather in their hair, boast of their exploits throughout the tribe & call every one to witness their heroic deeds. These men should be peremptorily demanded: the witnesses would be the other members of the plundering party allowed to come forward as “Queen’s Evidence”. I would urge with due modesty the advisability of hanging these men upon the very spot where the outrage took place & after burning their bodies that the ashes should be thrown into the sea, otherwise, the felons will become mere martyrs. It is about 25 years since the last outrage of the kind took place in the Somali country: if the above detailed project be carried out with energy, at least a generation will fall before the murder of strangers & guests is repeated.
13. I would venture to request that Lt. Herne be detained at Aden for the purpose of contributing his experience of the Somali coast & by being present at any conferences & sessions which may take place in Africa, of giving a personal interest to the proceedings. He would be assisted in his enquiries about the still unknown details of the late outrage by our Ras Caffilah, a Mijjarthayn Somali named Mahmud but popularly known as the “Balyuz”; during his short service we had every reason to be contented with him. They could arrange together the derivation of our supplies from Zayla, Kurrum & Aynterad.
14. As we are under obligations to the following individuals it might be wise to give them small presents together with a public acknowledgement of their services. Yusuf the Nacoda of the buggalow assisted us to the utmost of his power & another Somali—Farih Debani—showed us much kindness. We brought over with us to Aden the Somali Golab, an escaped convict, and we venture to hope that in consequence of his brave conduct, his past offences may be pardoned. And finally we have sent to hospital Saad the old Negro whose arm was cut through in fighting for us, & we will take care to reward him.
15. In conclusion I cannot refrain from remarking that as I took upon myself the responsibility of the expedition, so I have discharged it to the utmost of my ability. Our arrangements were hurriedly made. We could not draw from Aden the number of well-trained Somali policemen upon which I originally calculated & had to depend upon raw recruits who fled at the first charge. But we had been ever led by all to believe that the coast about Berberah was as safe as Bombay itself and calculated that by the time of our reaching the interior, the new party would have fallen into good order. Political events at Aden also prevented our detaining the H.E.I.C.’s Schooner Mahi whose presence would have rendered the start safe and once in the interior we were secure from the Bedouins who have a horror of fire arms. Had our letters sent from Aden arrived within a moderate time we should have been enabled to leave Berberah with the Ogadayn caravan. Such & a multitude of similar little combinations have given rise to our late disaster. Yet my opinion of the Somal is unchanged, nor would I assume the act of a band of brigands to be the expression of a people’s animus. My wound will for the present compel me to return for a while home. But the officers whom I have had the honour to command, profess themselves willing to accompany me once more on the task of African exploration & the next time we could start from Kurrum a safe though a less interesting road. Should we be deterred by the loss of a single life however valuable from prosecuting plans now made public we shall not rise in the estimation of the races around us. On the contrary should we after duly chastising them carry out our original projects we shall win the respect of the people & prevent the recurrence of these fatal scenes. The sum of money which will be recovered from the Eesa Musa will enable us to start once more, and should the Court of Directors grant us a year’s additional leave, as already applied for, that time would be ample for us to reach the Southern Webbes. In fact permission to carry out our original plans is the sole recompense we hope for the sufferings we are now enduring.
Trusting that my present state of hurry & confusion may be admitted as an excuse for the various deficiencies of this hasty report
Richd F. Burton Lt.
Aden 23d April
18th Regt. Commg Somali Exped.
Agreeably to your request I have the honour to report that on the morning of the 19th between the hours of 2 & 3 we were attacked by a body of men about 200 said to belong to the Eesa Mossa & Aial Ahmed portions of the Habr Awal. The first notice I had of the attack was from you who awoke me & told me that we were about to be attacked. I immediately got up seizing my revolver and went to the rear & left side of the encampment from whence the attack first appeared to be made, I had just time to get to the front where I joined some of our men when I heard a rush of men & fired two shots. Finding myself left alone I fell back upon the tent, in so doing I was upset either by the ropes or some other thing which caused the revolver to go off. Upon rising I saw a man in the act of striking me with a club, at whom I fired and he fell back wounded. Arriving at the tent where I met you & Lt. Speke, I again shot a man who was in the act of entering the tent, he also fell back. After this, I endeavoured to find my powder horn, but not being successful endeavoured to find some spears that used always to be tied to the pole of the Rowtie whilst you & Lt. Speke were defending the entrance but these had been taken away. I again made another attempt to find my powder horn when I observed men entering in rear of the Rowtie. I levelled my revolver, it snapped. When I again came to the front of the Rowtie which was evidently being let down upon us you requested us to make a dash through them, which I did as you well know. When we reached the sand below I saw you attacking a man who gave you a wound in the mouth. Upon your falling back I having nothing but what I thought at the time an unloaded pistol & as they did not attempt to renew the attack I fell back. In so doing I came upon a body of 10 or 12 men who made way for me & allowed me to pass. I then went & took up a position some 30 yards from the attack & seeing no one I again retreated to the rear where I and Emam with whom I retreated to the empty huts of the town hoping to fall in with you & Lt. Speke, but not doing so I took up a position on a sand mound where I remained till nearly dawn & upon Balyuz the Ras Kafilah calling out, I went to him & he took me where he said we had left you. There I remained till morning when seeing the only Buggalow in the harbour as I thought about to leave I first sent the Seedy Farhan to stay it & quietly followed having sent Balyuz to gain information of what had become of the others belonging to our party.
With regard to the death of Lt. Stroyan I did not see anything of that officer till he was brought on board the Buggalow, dead. It was my intention to have brought his body to Aden, but on the 20th it having become offensive & the men of the Buggalow complaining I had him sewn up & buried him at sea having read the service over his body.
In conclusion, I beg to remark that the attack which occurred was an accident, not to be avoided by any of the ordinary methods of prudence. Two sentries had been duly placed, one in front, the other in rear & the men had been especially ordered not to fire over the heads of their enemies. Had any of the Guard or Somalis stood we should have resisted the attack but under such overpowering numbers we had no chance. I beg leave to remark that I have sustained a loss of some 400 or 500 Rs. I sincerely hope that this accident may not interfere with our hopes of African travel & profess my willingness to form one of the party as before.
Statement of Lt. Speke of the 46th Regt Beng. N. I. on special duty under the orders of Lt. Burton, 18th Regt N. I.
I retired to rest in my tent, which was situated on the extreme left of our encampment & distant from the tent in which Lts. Burton & Herne were about 10 paces. I was awoken about 3 a.m. on the morning of the 19th inst. by hearing Lt. Burton crying out to Lt. Stroyan “get up, old fellow” almost at the same instant I heard the report of 3 discharges from fire-arms, as if fired in a volley, the sound proceeded from the rear of my tent. Conceiving it to be nothing but firing to keep off persons supposed to be prowling about the camp, or in other words, a false alarm, I remained in my tent. Immediately after I heard as it were, a beating of clubs on my tent (a Sepoy’s No. 1 Rowtie) & a shuffling of feet outside. On this I ran across to Lt. Burton’s tent & asked him if there was “any shooting,” meaning were we attacked? He replied, “I should rather think that there is.” I then took my revolver & went outside the tent receiving a smart blow on the knee from a stone but could see nothing. I put myself in position to watch whoever might approach & soon saw 2 heads peeping over our ammunition boxes about 7 or 8 yards to my left but I did not fire at them not being certain of my shot. Shortly after I saw other 2 Somalis bent down or crouching along, advancing with their shields before their bodies & their spears ready poised in their hands either to throw or strike. I fired my pistol and apparently wounded a man as he staggered back. These men were about 7 paces from me, they were followed by other men behind them. I fired twice at these men, but am unable to state with what effect, they fell back but not as the first party at whom I had fired, being more regular. I then rushed amongst them & found that the pistol, a “Dean & Adams” would no longer revolve. Whilst holding it within 2 yards of a man’s breast, I recd a wound on my shoulder from either a spear or knife & a smart blow on my lungs from a club which took away my breath & felled me to the earth & whilst down 2 or 3 men pounced on me & pinioned my hands behind my back & then led me away as Prisoner toward my tent which was almost down, & seeing a number of people were there they led me away to the rear of Lt. Burton’s tent.
I should have said that, whilst I was being pinioned they felt my private parts as if searching if I had any arms concealed about me. Then, we being stationary in rear of the camp, the Somali who was leading me said, “none of the party had been killed & that they would not kill me.” I then felt faint from the effect of the blow of the cudgel which caused me great pain & prevented my breathing without difficulty. I therefore asked them in the Somali tongue to unloose my hands from behind & to tie them in front instead as I could not breathe & was in great pain, they complied with my request & made me kneel down, & a number of Somalis came around & threatened to drive their spears through me, but the person who held me bound would not allow them to do so. They then tried to compel me to lie down, but I was unable to do so from the pain of the wound I had received. They then brought a coverlet for me to lie on, on which I cast myself down & at my request they immediately brought me water to drink. I remained thus till daylight. About this time a Somali who spoke Hindustani came up & asked me what business I had coming into his country. I replied that I was going to Zanzibar, he then asked me whether I was a Musselman or a Christian, that if I was a Mus. he would spare my life, but if a Chr. he would kill me. I replied that I was a Chr. & that he had better kill me; on this he laughed & went away. Shortly after my first custodian left me to join in the general plunder of our late encampment which at this time commenced. I was then left bound by myself. About 5’ after my captor had left me I saw the whole body of the Somalis move off to some little distance as if in apprehension of an attack upon them, but they shortly after returned & commenced fighting & wrangling about division of our property. Another party made a rush on our cattle & drove them away before them to encampment; thus to add the cattle with our property, ’til all was nearly cleared off. During this time, a Somali approached me & whirling a sword round him, pretended to strike me, as if with the intention of killing me, but refrained from actually striking me. He acted thus twice & then left me to join in the plunder. He was succeeded by a man with a spear who commenced spearing me. Once I caught his spear but he pulled a club out of his girdle & gave me a such a violent blow that it quite paralysed my arm & caused me to drop the spear. He tried to spear my heart, but I caught it with my hand which was severely cut on the back, he speared me also in the right shoulder & in my left thigh & then paused a little & came round to my right side & passed his spear sharply through my right thigh. Seeing that he was determined to kill me I jumped up with a menacing look at the man which caused him to fall back a little. I seized the opportunity of his being thrown off his guard & ran toward the sea & looking round I saw that he had cast his spear at me which I managed to avoid & picking my way amongst the Somalis who flung a shower of 12 to 15 spears at me which I avoided & ran on till I found out that I was not pursued & then lay down under a sand hill exhausted from loss of blood, but after I had recovered a little, I hobbled on to Berberah where some old women directed me to go on. I did so & met some of our party coming to meet me. These were the first of ours that I had seen since I was knocked down. By the assistance of these people I managed to hobble down to the vessel about 3 miles away at the head of the reef, the entrance to the harbour.
During the whole affair I did not see Lt. Stroyan once & can therefore give no information concerning his fate. The Somalis plundered me of about 4100 Rs. worth of personal property. I am perfectly willing to start again as soon as my wounds are healed & I sincerely hope that the Govt. will not think of putting an end to the expedition.
(Sd.) J. H. Speke.
14 St James
My dear Shaw
Wolley wants a ticket for the Geographical on Monday eveng. Will you be good enough to let him have it. I will bring over my sketch map of the Harar route as soon as possible. Tout à vous
P.S. I send the map and spear & dagger for illustration. Kindly get Mr. Saunders to keep the map as I shall want it back. Au revoir.
Camp Dardanelles Aug 18
I thought my Dear Shaw that possibly you might like a line from these very foreign parts.
So here goes!
After running like a demented to the Crimea I found that nothing was to be done. Steele was very civil & sent me to the old lady commanding the British boys. Lord Raglan died the very day I entered Balaklava and left a long list of wounded men to be served first. You know what this means, so did I, so cutting the Crimea I went off to Vivian. He gave me a company when a friend wrote that Genl. Beatson wished me to join him. After being somewhat delayed by Lord Stratford at Therapia and a trip to Malta to buy necessaries I returned to Beatson's Horse. The Genl has recommended me for a Lt Colonelcy, made me his Military Secretary and requested me temporarily as his Dep Adjt General. So me voici bien placé. Thanks to the RGS to you and to sundry other friends. Only entre nous my name has not yet been gazetted and perhaps Col. Mundy or some other stiff necked individual might forwd an objection upon the score of certain assertions political in El Medinah. However, every word of them I am still convinced is what ought to have been written. You could easily ascertain whether such is the case and perhaps I might claim your support on an occasion when we offended—if it is an offence—in partnership.
And now enough of that charming subject oneself. What I want to write to you now is private.
You cannot conceive of the miserable apathy, the ne'er do wellness of the Crimea. Some curse seems hovering over the army. Our poor fellows are sensibly dispirited by the 18th when they all turned out & cheered Lord Raglan expecting that a general assault was to be made. With energy & without any officer higher than a Captain Sebastopol might be taken in a week. But putting out other reports & rumours, what General and C in C who respects knighthood or a peerage with pension would dare to put in orders an attack which might cost 50,000 lives? He would rather lose them by degrees & sprinkle the blame upon many shoulders. And then the evils of divided command. Pelissier's temper makes him deaf & blind and the French now cry for Canrobert once more. The Sardinians are out of place besides being deeply piqued by our claiming command. Who the devil pays them? Omar Pasha has had a furious row with Pelissier and his army of Turks openly declares that the French have taken Europe, the English Asia and that they have been sent up to the Crimea to be annihilated. It looks like it. The English stand watches well & only grumble at the prospects of next winter. The French look thunder when the word is mentioned and although they are fortifying a position near Kamiesh it is to be doubted whether the men will stand it. Rumours afloat that part of the Cavalry will fall back on Scutari and that after one more desperate attack upon the Malakhoff—the very spot which ought not to be attacked—the army retires into winter quarters breezy huts and battered tents. But it is almost impossible to believe a word of what is said by some 10,000 gentlemen who have no earthly purpose (moral) in life but to seek solace in grumbling fretting and reporting. A notable case in point is the body which I have now joined. The fellows are wild men from Syria & Albania, fierce enough & caring little for life. We have already nearly 1700 of them encamped within a mile of the Dardanelles village. Now had these coves been in Egypt, the Hijaz or any other part of the Turkish world they would have committed a dozen murders a day. Out of a few trifling set-tos amongst themselves, and an occasional bullying up of the townspeople, the talkers of Constantinople have done wonders, they have ravished women, destroyed towns, found out “outrages” & “abominable cruelties” and ended by murdering General Beatson. Not an English Lady of the half dozen or so in the place has ever been obliged to leave it! So much for newspaper reports. Then the General is abused for leniency. When the Sultan has refused the firman for death, Lord Stratford will not apply for it, & so a C. in Chief for so Beatson is cannot convince a Court Martial to punish a murderer. Faith it’s a pretty way of managing Albanians & Arabs. The Contingent is just as bad. Amongst the officers there is an intolerable swagger, among the men a hatred of and contempt for Europeans truly edifying. The original idea of levying Turks & drilling a contingent is gone to the limbo of all ideas. They have applied to the Sultan for his regular corps & he has granted them what he can. The native Officers find themselves curtailed in the power of flogging & of course hate the intruders. The men despise them because not one Officer can speak Turkish. Then the Regulars hate the Contingent because it is better paid & has one step of rank. The Continent hates the Cavalry (Ottoman) because it is a nobbier style of thing. They mutually do their best to destroy each other. As for the Officers, no selection seems to have been made—in fact the Contingent may be called a kind of refuge for the destitués. It was supposed that the B. Indian Company was to be allowed the chance of distinguishing itself. Yet the first thing done is to fill up almost all staff appointments except the Adj. General’s with Queens men. And every boy Captain may be transferred from the Line into the Contingent with an advance of step thereby becoming Major over the head of a Captain with 15 years standing.
There seems to be no sign of work. The Contingent cannot serve in the Crimea on account of rank and as for affairs at Kars they are too desperate to be retrieved by the efforts of 10,000 or 12000 Turks. The whole country between Kars and Erzeroum might rise in a moment against us, this would be followed by a Russian movement in Persia and then the tide of war would set full force eastward. Eh bien tout […] pour nous! Have you had any more grilled bones? Excuse the dryness of this epistle—it comes from the Bosphorus—& believe me ever
R. F. Burton
Dardanelles, September 21th, 1855.
My Lord,—I have the honour to report to your Excellency that the measures for the prevention of carrying arms in town, announced in my joint dispatch with her Majesty’s Consul, on the 25th instant, were carried out yesterday. The civil and military Pashas were on the ground at an early hour with 500 infantry, 250 cavalry, 250 artillery, and 8 field-pieces. They formed a line round the town with advanced picket, and H.M.S. Oberon moored on their left, with her guns run out so as to command the road. Great excitement was perceived in the camp, officers and orderlies galloping about for some time, and then two squadrons of the Irregular Cavalry formed, and effected a reconnaissance, as if they expected to be attacked, although Major-General Beatson was in possession of the Pasha’s declaration, that his motive was merely to prevent the irregular troopers from entering the town with their arms, the Major-General having refused to give that order.
This demonstration, to prove that the Pasha was in earnest, had the effect of deterring any of the Irregular Cavalry from attempting to enter the town until a few hours later, when several armed troopers presented themselves before the picket. They were informed that if they wished to enter the town they must come without arms. Many more troopers followed in this manner, and there were soon at least 200 of them walking about the streets perfectly quiet. The Pashas had explained to them personally their intention, and in reply the troopers stated that they had no sort of objection to coming into the town unarmed, and that their General had told them the Pashas wished to disarm them altogether, and bade them not give up their arms; but that they had objected to fighting against the regulars, in whose ranks they had brothers and cousins, and had added that, if the General wished them to do so, they would all leave him and return to their homes.
Whether these statements of the troopers be correct or not—and, if they are correct, there can be but one opinion of Major-General Beatson’s conduct—it is certain that the Pasha’s object was attained with perfect facility, and without the most distant appearance of that opposition which the previous correspondence of the Major-General led one to expect.
Seeing this favourable result, the Pasha sent a Major, with an interpreter, to inform General Beatson, that if he might infer, from the arrival of so many troopers without arms, that the desired order had been given, he would at once withdraw his troops. General Beatson refused to receive the Turkish Major, and stated, through the medium of a staff officer, that he would not communicate to the Pasha the nature of any orders which he might have given. The staff officer then inquired if it was the intention of the Pasha to fire on troopers of the Irregular Cavalry who might attempt to enter the town with their arms, and the Turkish Major answered in the affirmative.
Next followed a scene entailing ridicule and disgrace on the Queen’s commission, which is borne by some of those who took a part in it. There is in the Irregular Cavalry a certain Lieutenant-Colonel Giraud, a native of Smyrna, and formerly connected with a boarding-house kept by his mother in that town. This person, who speaks Turkish, had been the bearer of General Beatson’s refusal to order his men not to carry their arms in the streets, and on that occasion a discussion took place on military customs between him and the Turkish authorities. Lieutenant-Colonel Giraud said to Colonel Muhieddin Bey, who had given his opinion, that he did not talk like a military man; and the Bey replied that he had been five-and-twenty years in the regular service, while the Lieutenant-Colonel was merely a tradesman. The latter left the room, and reported that the word tradesman had been applied to General Beatson, who immediately called on the Pasha to place Muhieddin Bey under arrest. The Pasha answered that he himself, besides four other witnesses, could attest that the obnoxious expression was not meant for the General, and that he would, therefore, not put the Bey under arrest.
After this correspondence—which partakes so much of the character of idle gossip that I should feel almost ashamed to insert it in a despatch, were it not in explanation of the subsequent incident—five officers of the Irregular Cavalry rode up to the lines of the regulars, and were received by the Military Pasha and Muhieddin Bey. They were Lieutenant-Colonel Giraud, a Smyrniote of antecedents already specified; Colonel Fardella a Sicilian, whose principal duties are said to be teaching Italian to General Beatson’s children; Major Kirali, a Hungarian, who was a guitar-master, and, I regret to say, two British officers, Major Berkeley and Captain Burton, who so far forgot the respect due to the British name and military character as to associate themselves with such foreign adventurers in this most questionable transaction. They first complained collectively of the insult offered to their general; Muhieddin Bey explained that no insult had been offered to him. They would not listen to reason; each and all of them then challenged him to meet them in single combat, and commencing with Lieutenant-Colonel Giraud, flung their five gloves on the ground, mounted their charges, and rode off, leaving the Turkish officers in a state of amazement at this apparent aberration of intellect, as they charitably concluded from what had passed. The gloves were picked up by a servant and shown to Mr. Calvert and myself with a request that we should throw some light on the matter. We tried to explain it, and recommended that no notice should be taken of it.
In the evening the Pasha addressed a letter to Major-General Beatson, stating that the object he had in view being realized he would withdraw his troops, but keep them in readiness to oppose any attempts to renew the practice of carrying arms in the town, which had produced so many deplorable consequences. The troops then returned to their barracks, and the affair has thus passed off without accident or other evil than the painful result that a corps in her Majesty’s service has, through the unqualifiable conduct of its commanding officer, been subjected to the indignity of coercion on the part of a foreign force.
(Signed) J. H. Skene.
Viscount Stratford de Redcliffe.
Some time before that of which I now write, Captain B_____, the author of “Trip to Medina and Mecca,” had joined the force, and being constituted chief of the General's staff, held an important post in the deliberations and councils which were daily held at the General's house. There can be no doubt he was and is an officer of considerable talent, but somehow or other he did not exercise it to good advantage in his connection with “Beatson's Horse.” He rather (as I believed at the time, and find confirmed by a letter he published in the Times last December) excited the General to regard with a magnified aspect what he considered the wrongs he had suffered instead of leading him to conciliate the powers above, and urging him to substitute for the severity of his remarks to constituted authorities stricter discipline with his soldiers, which doubtless was the necessary change required.
At the same time I certainly think that sending General Neill to the Dardanelles was a great mistake: either General Beatson was fit to command the force or he was not; if the former, he required near him no military officer in the very anomalous position which at the command of his superiors General Neill held; if the latter, it were better to have suspended our Chief at once than subject him to the indignity the act entailed, and which I consider nothing could justify, leaving out the fact that a man of General Beatson's peculiar temperament was sure, as the events shortly proved, to be driven to greater excesses thereby.
[…] In an affray between the Turkish police and some Bashi-Bazouks, a pistol was fired by a native officer of our Irregulars, which wounded one of the former. The Pasha addressed General Beatson on the subject, saying that as he (the General) had declined issuing orders to the effect that the soldiers should, when entering the town, do so unarmed, he (the Pasha) was determined to resort to coercive measures, unless he received an intimation that day that the order previously asked for had been given.
General Beatson declined taking any steps in the matter, on the ground that doing so would be opposed to the habits of the tribes he commanded.
The Pasha then invited the consuls of all nations at the Dardanelles to confer with him, and at a meeting held the Pasha determined to resort to force to bring about what he conceived to be his just demands. Mr. Skene entreated that twenty-four hours' delay or grace might be given to General Beatson, in hopes that he would avail himself of the interval to carry out the much-desired order. As, however, at the expiration of that period things were as before, the troops were ordered out; H.M. Steamer Oberon was directed to lie off the town to command the approaches, and the steamer Redpole despatched with all speed to Constantinople to advise our Ambassador of the extraordinary position of affairs at the Dardanelles.
I may state here that the very extensive demonstration was in consequence of the Pasha's anxiety that no collision should take place, and he wisely judged the best way to avoid the chance thereof was to show how useless any such attempt would prove.
There was a great commotion in camp. The native officers and men thought themselves insulted, and more than one regiment debated how far they could, and would, oppose force to force, and drive back the Pasha's troops. Things began to look very serious, and I anticipated a great row, which, however, was happily avoided; for whatever share General Beatson may have had in bringing about this state of things by not listening to the suggestions offered to him by the Pasha, General Neill, and Mr. Skene, the evil once present he behaved very well, and did all in his power to prevent any outbreak, by giving orders to commanding officers directing them to allow no men to go armed into the town. These orders were followed out, and the quiet way in which the men submitted in many cases, which I myself saw, to leave their arms behind them, is the strongest proof what a mistake was made by our leader in not having given such an order some time before.
It was all over by evening. No opposition having been attempted, and upwards of one hundred Bashi-Bazouks who entered the town doing so unarmed, the troops were withdrawn.
Some absurdities were, however, committed by certain officers of our force; for while the troops were in position that day, and the excitement ran high, they, five in number, rode down to the opposing pickets, and complained, in no measured terms, to the Turkish General, "Muherdeen Bey," of the insult implied by the armed demonstration. The assurance that no insult was intended did not appease these Irregular champions, for they successively challenged the astonished Turk to single combat, and while he stood with open mouth endeavouring to take in the magnitude of the absurdity, they increased his astonishment by flinging down five gloves in token of defiance, and rode off!
A DEFENCE OF THE BASHI-BAZOUKS.
Sir,—Your able and fearless correspondent, in his letter from Constantinople dated the 19th of November, has at length ventured to let in the light of fact upon the case of General Beatson and the Bashi-Bazouks. Truth begins to prevail; tardy justice will now be done to a good soldier smarting under undeserved official censure.
You will not, perhaps, consider the following remarks unworthy of a place in your columns. I am answerable for these statements, and only desire your publicity:—Already upwards of 250,000£ has been expended upon the Bashi-Bazouks. A body of nearly 4,000 men and horses, admirable light troops and the best of Oriental Cossacks, is not at the present conjuncture, when the want of cavalry is severely felt in Eastern Crimea, to be despised, and ought not to be marched over the Balkan snows without a General to command them in the month of November for the purpose of lying idle through the winter, should they ever reach Shumla.
Regard for the “tacenda,” political as well as military, prevents my entering fully into General Beatson’s case; but even a sketch of his career with the Bashi-Bazouks will contain matter which may possibly surprise your readers.
General Beatson, an officer well-known in India,—he was mentioned six times in orders and despatches for successful actions in which he commanded,—volunteered in the beginning of 1853 for service at the seat of war upon the Danube. There he commanded the Bashi-Bazouks of Omar Pasha’s army, and, in spite of their delinquencies and shortcomings, of their bad antecedents, and their worse name, although the Generalissimo nor General Yusuf, the organizer of the “Indigènes,” could discipline or conduct them, he conceived the happy idea that English energy and justice would draw out all the really valuable qualities of these wild troops, and render them serviceable to the nation in its present struggle.
At first all was obstacle. Lord Raglan could not endure the idea of commanding men who kidnapped Bulgarians and roasted Russians. General Yusuf’s failure had impressed our Government with the impossibility of success. Monetary arrangements were made with even unusual dilatoriness; officers were sent out by the slowest degrees, and the incapables were not, as your correspondent has heard, selected by the General, but by the War-office. Briefly, nine months elapsed before the future commander could repair to the town of Dardanelles, his head-quarters, and begin the work of organization.
The first detachment was marched into camp on the 9th of June, 1855, one-third of the campaigning season having been wasted in the merest preliminaries.
Work began earnestly and well. Presently the aspect of circumstances changed. Party animosities burst into a flame. The French supplied the press with tales of horror. The Turkish authorities, civil and military, joyfully pitted Christian against Christian in their fanatic resolve that Moslems should not be commanded by Infidels. The wily Greeks, the Jews, and the other sects followed the example of their rulers. Had the English held together, all might have been well; but in an evil hour Her Britannic Majesty’s Ambassador, whose powerful arm had upheld the establishment, was induced to assemble at the Dardanelles a court of inquiry, consisting of a Brigadier-General from the Turkish Contingent, two Consuls, and three Turkish officials. This “mixed commission,” by a series of measures most injudicious and uncalled for, succeeded in strengthening the party opposed to General Beatson, introduced divisions among his officers, kept his men in a state of perpetual excitement, embroiled him with the Porte, and finally carried away his best and strongest support—the Ambassador. An angry correspondence ensued; no allowance was made for the plain speaking and the warm words of a man beset by petty annoyances and irritated by groundless calumnies. Briefly, from that time General Beatson’s resignation became necessary.
The ex parte reports of a clique and the clamours of the local press prevailed against truth and justice. Every stranger who visited the Dardanelles, indeed (and many will give testimony to this), departed, wondering at the difference between what he saw and what he had heard. Yet the worst view was taken by the authorities.
In September, 1855, the Minister-at-War attached Beatson’s Horse to the Turkish Contingent, thus degrading it from an independent to a secondary command. General Beatson resigned, professing, however, his willingness to conduct the men to head-quarters. A rumour arose that the force was to be ordered on service—the schemers saw that “now or never” was the time. Seizing the first opportunity of a quarrel between an Albanian and the police, they persuaded the Military Pasha of the Dardanelles to draw out all his forces, and under pretence of defending a town which was not attacked, to offer us battle. Without delay they despatched the steamer Redpole to Constantinople, reported the frightful state of affairs (in common courtesy General Beatson’s letters should have been allowed to accompany their statements), begged for a strong reinforcement, and urged the necessity of instantly removing the cause and front of these disorders. The result was the triumph of diplomacy. With all speed a strong body of Turkish regulars was sent down to the Dardanelles, three war steamers were placed to command the road from camp to town, 300 French soldiers were landed at the Nagara Hospital, to take us in rear, and General Smith appeared to assume command.
Meanwhile the Bashi-Bazouks had, by the personal exertions of their General and officers, been kept quietly in their camp. At 4 p.m. on the day of the demonstration the Military Pasha, ashamed of the farce, marched back his men to barracks, and the Civil Governor sent a conciliatory message, stating that he had been urged on by others to the absurd and insulting measure. But the coup had succeeded. General Beatson was ordered by General Vivian to make over his command and to repair to Bujukdéré without delay. Though suffering from a severe accident, he at once obeyed the latter part of the order. Fearing, however, that the men might resent his too sudden removal, and compromise themselves and him by some act of violence, he placed as temporary second in command an officer of his own force, and on the 1st of October proceeded to head-quarters.
I cannot enter into the history of what occurred at Bujukdéré without giving vent to an indignation which as a soldier it is my duty to suppress. However, General Beatson’s resignation was accepted by the War-office. On the 12th of September he had again reported officially that his men were ready for service, that drill and discipline were progressing, that the different branches of the force, the artillery and transport, wanted nothing but the aid of the authorities, and that with permission from home he would take upon himself the responsibility of immediately contracting with transport and steam tugs at Smyrna and Constantinople for Eupatoria, Yenikale, Batoum, or Balaklava, as ordered. The only answer was a telegraphic message, “Tell General Beatson to make no contracts” ... . To return to the Bashi-Bazouks. General Smith is too good a soldier and too honourable a man to appropriate the eulogy which belongs to another. Shortly after assuming command he reported, it is said, favourably of the drill and efficiency of a force that was universally asserted and believed to be in a state of brigandage. Public opinion began to waver; the clique, now all-powerful, changed its tactics; General Beatson, the evil spirit, had been removed; in a few days the devils had repented, and became angelic Bashi-Bazouks.
In July, 1855, I first joined General Beatson’s force, and can speak of these events with authority. After considerable experience of Bashi-Bazouks in Egypt and Arabia, my wonder was excited by the orderly conduct of our men. I attribute it to their affection for their General, and still believe that the hope of his return even now holds them together. I saw none of the scenes which struck the spectators with horror at Varna and Gallipoli in 1853. No such émeute ever occurred as that between the French occupants of Constantinople and the hapless Tunisians. On no occasion did the Bashi-Bazouks disgrace themselves as has the Turkish Contingent—men trained to military discipline, amply officered, and in presence of the enemy—by their late plundering, grave-snatching, and mutiny at Kertch. This body, but 8000 strong, had, when I left Turkey, lost 1,000 by desertion; of our 3,000 at most 300 left us. Not a citizen of the Dardanelles was ever murdered by the Bashi-Bazouks. Not an English officer was ever struck or insulted by them. So small was the amount of crime that only one rape was ever alleged against them. These, Sir, are facts which I defy any man to contradict.
With General Beatson’s departure all, I have said, changed. He had established a riding school, a school of arms, and a guard of the gallant and docile Arabian negroes, to act as reserve in times of urgent danger. These, I hear, have been done away with. The English Horse Artillery, without whose support Bashi-Bazouks could not be depended upon in severe actions, lies prostrated by cholera at Scutari; and nearly 4,000 men, many of them mounted upon the valuable blood of Arabia and Syria are being marched, in the midst of winter, up and down the inclement Balkan Hills!
The old and tried General who would see service, who was resolved at all hazards not to be shelved at Shumla or Magnesia, has lost his command. After the deadly campaign on the Danube; after the bloody fields of Inkermann and Balaklava; after the weary labour of organizing and disciplining a force which Ibrahim Pasha, Omar Pasha, and General Yusuf found intractable, General Beatson has returned home unnoticed and unknown; and but for the candour of your correspondent his laurels would have been placed upon another’s head; the public would have believed, with the War-office, that the order and discipline of the Bashi-Bazouks are attributable solely to General Smith’s command of a single fortnight.
Such, Sir, are the blighting effects of the present military system. Upheld by a hundred interests, bolstered up by influential names, the Turkish Contingent still thrives, per fas et nefas, and is to thrive. “Beatson’s Horse” is numbered with the things that were.
Excuse, Sir, this trespass upon your valuable space, and allow me to subscribe myself,
RICHARD F. BURTON,
Late Chief of the Staff, Bashi-Bazouks.
Club, 14, St. James’s-square, Dec. 3.
I saw much of Richard, afterwards Sir Richard, Burton and of Laurence Oliphant in those days. There were exceedingly pleasant social gatherings held after each meeting of the Geographical Society of geographers and others, who were invited by Admiral Murray to his rooms in the Albany. He was an excellent host, and justly popular among a great variety of men whom he had the tact to bring harmoniously together in his chambers. Bishop Wilberforce, who prided himself on worldly savoir faire, was occasionally a guest; Burton was habitually there, but his usual conversation in those days was not exactly of a stamp suitable to Episcopal society. I was present at the first introduction of these two men, whose behaviour was most comic, each trying to act the part appropriate to the other, and, I must add, doing it most successfully, and to all appearance quite naturally. Burton was a great reader, generally to be seen at the Athenaeum with a folio volume before him, and he was a prodigious note-taker during his travels. He lent me his notebook on Zanzibar, of which I shall shortly speak again, and I was astonished at the variety and amount of information he had written in it, in his small, clear handwriting. …
The travels of the successive explorers of Eastern Africa who started from the Zanzibar Coast were watched by geographers with the keenest interest. I was in one way or another somewhat closely connected with the principal actors, and may therefore speak about them with propriety. The information that first drew general attention to this part of Africa was the startling announcement that a snow-topped mountain, Kilimandjaro, had been seen from a distance by the missionaries Krapf and Rebmann on their journeys from Mombas, where they were stationed. Their information was fiercely criticised. It was disbelieved wholly by some, and only partially credited by many others. In addition to this, the missionaries had transmitted reports of a vast Central African lake, based on the collated testimonies of many native travellers. Mr. Erhardt communicated a memoir on this lake to the Royal Geographical Society, and I, who had most to do with their then newly established Proceedings, had it with its accompanying map inserted in one of its early numbers. The map was an amazing production and very hypothetical, but the data from which it was constructed made it clear that an exploration of those regions would be a highly promising undertaking. I myself had been strongly urged to investigate the neighbourhood of Kilimandjaro, but felt insufficiently restored to health to undertake the task. An expedition was at length set on foot in 1856 under the command of Captain Burton (1821-1890), with J. H. Speke (1827-1864) as second, for which I myself drafted the instructions.
(Confidential.) Head-Quarters, Kertch, 5th March, 1856.
Sir,—In consequence of the recent inspection of the Irregular Cavalry, circumstances have been reported to me as having taken place at the Dardanelles, involving a very serious charge against Major-General Beatson. I consider it quite necessary, both for that officer’s character and the public interests, that the report which has reached me should be thoroughly investigated. It is as follows:—
“When General Smith arrived at the Dardanelles, General Beatson assembled the commanding officers of regiments, and actually endeavoured to persuade them to make a mutiny in their regiments against General Smith, and against the authority of General Vivian. Two of these commanding officers then left the room, saying they were soldiers, and could not listen to language which they thought most improper and mutinous”. These two were Lieut.-Colonels O’Reilly and Shelley.
“General Beatson subsequently had a sort of round robin prepared by the chief interpreter, and sent round to the native officers and men, in the hope that they would sign it, refusing to serve under any general but himself.” This attempt, however, appears to have signally failed.
“Both of these mutinous attempts are said to have emanated from Mr. Burton; who it also appears kept the Order from Lord Panmure, placing the Irregular Horse under Lieut.-Gen. Vivian, for three whole weeks locked up and unknown to any one but General Beatson; and the order was not promulgated till after General Smith arrived at the Dardanelles. This is authentic, and can be fully proved and substantiated.”
(Signed) R. G. H. Vivian, Lieut.-General.
Shumla, March 28, 1856.
Sir,—In obedience to your request to furnish you with a statement of what I can recollect of certain circumstances which occurred the day of your arrival at the Dardanelles, I present what follows, being, to the best of my belief, all of importance that occurred.
Being in the camp of the 4th Regiment, I was called aside by Captain Burton, at that time chief of staff to Major-General Beatson. He told me that you had been sent to replace General Beatson, and that the presence of all officers commanding regiments was required at head-quarters. I said that I would be down immediately. When riding away he said, “Of course you know what to do.”
Upon arriving at General Beatson’s house, I met Brigadier Brett in the ante-room. I asked him whether he had seen General Beatson. He said, “Yes, poor fellow; they have sent General Smith to replace him. It is a great shame. I have given in my resignation.” He then went out of the house.
When I entered General Beatson’s room, he called all the officers present round his bed. He said, “That he had called us together to let us know that the Ambassador had cause General Vivian to send General Smith to replace him, which he conceived he had no right to do, as he was under the orders of no one but Lord Panmure”.
Captain Burton then read the letter ordering General Beatson to give over the command to you.
Captain Burton and Captain Berkeley both spoke for a long time, about intriguing on the part of the Embassy to depose General Beatson of his position, which had produced the illegal order from General Vivian which had just been read.
I asked whether we had not some time previously been placed under General Vivian’s orders. General Beatson said that he had been ordered to correspond through the officer commanding the Contingent. Captain Burton said that that order had been virtually cancelled by Lord Panmure himself, who corresponded directly with General Beatson. He then produced an envelope addressed, “To the Officer Commanding Her Majesty’s Forces, Dardanelles,” and argued upon that, that General Beatson was recognised as a commander-in-chief. I then insisted on seeing all the letters from Lord Panmure, relating to the connexion of the Irregular Horse and Contingent. While Captain Burton was looking for them, the officers present, with the exception of Major Copely, of the Osmanli Horse Artillery, and myself entered into conversation at the other end of the room. Captain Burton having produced a letter, I called Major Shelley to hear it read. The letter placed us directly under the command of General Vivian, and made the Irregular Horse part of the Contingent. Captain Burton said that Lord Panmure had broken faith with us and the Bashi-Bazouks; that we had joined, and they had enlisted into the force as Beatson’s Horse, and no one had a right to give the command to any one else. Captain Burton said, “That it was our duty to inform General Smith that it was impossible for him to take command at present, that we should wait upon him in a body, and tell him that we could not answer for the fidelity of our regiment, and that if he persisted in taking the command, we should resign.” I argued against the [preceding] reasons which he was then giving for our required resignations but perceiving that General Beatson (who was suffering from a recent fall from his horse) did not appear to notice what was going on, nor say anything to terminate the discussion, Major Shelley and myself left the room.
(Signed) Eugene O’Reilly.
Lieut-Colonel Osmanli Irregular Cavalry
Major-General Smith, &c., &c., &c.
Shumla, 28th March 1856.
My dear General,—To the best of my remembrance, shortly after your arrival at the Dardanelles, I found myself with the other commanding officers, at the quarters of General Beatson, when some conversation ensued, in the course of which a letter was produced, through which it appeared that the force was attached to the Turkish Contingent. Immediately upon hearing which both Lieut.-Colonel O’Reilly and myself proceeded to report and place ourselves under your command.
Beyond this, I really cannot make any distinct statement.
(Signed) Edward Shelley.
Major-General Smith, &c., &.c, &c.
Norton Shaw Esq. Sec. Roy. Geog. Soc.
I venture to request through you that the Roy. Geog. Soc. of Great Brit. will afford me their powerful aid in carrying out my original project of penetrating into Eastern Africa. But lately Col. Sykes Dep. Chairman of the Honble E. I. C. informed me that the plan might be revived by a recommendation from the Roy. Geo. Soc. I doubt not that my humble efforts to advance the cause of East. Geog. will, in the estimation of that learned body be admitted as a reason for permitting me to extend my researches into (now) perhaps the most interesting region in the world.
I am prepared to start alone & if [proofed] necessary disguised as an Arab merchant.
Should however the R. Geog. Soc. incline towards an expedit. with the idea that a virgin country of such extent as the line proposed could scarcely be investigated satisfactorily by a single traveller, I shall be happy to place before them a detailed scheme for operations in the interior combined with a survey of the imperfectly charted coast from Ras Hafun to the Mozambique—the latter object being made subservient to the main plan.
Hoping to receive from you a line in reply I have the honor to subscribe myself &c. &c.
April (?) [1856].
Head-Quarters, Shumla, 6th April, 1856.
My Lord,—I have received a confidential letter from Lieut.-General Vivian, dated 5th March, 1856, requesting me to examine into certain circumstances which occurred upon my first taking over the command of this force from General Beatson, at the Dardanelles.
I am informed that a copy of this letter has been forwarded to your lordship, and I am directed to transmit to you the result of the inquiry, as soon as possible.
The first point upon which inquiry is called for, is as follows.
That upon my arrival at the Dardanelles, General Beatson assembled the commanding officers of regiments, and actually endeavoured to persuade them to make a mutiny in their regiments. Two of these commanding officers, Lieut.-Colonel O’Reilly and Major Shelley, left the room, saying they were soldiers, and could not listen to language which they thought most improper and mutinous.
With regard to this point, I have to state that the above mentioned officers came to me at the Dardanelles, and said that although they believed other officers of the force were about to resign upon my taking the command, they were quite willing to serve under me. I enclose letters on this subject from Lieut.-Colonel O’Reilly and Major Shelley.
The next subject of inquiry is as follows:—
That General Beatson subsequently had a sort of round robin prepared by the chief interpreter, and sent round to the native officers and men, in the hope that they would sign it, refusing to serve under any other general but himself.
With regard to this point, M. Giraud, chief interpreter, states that no paper was prepared by him of the kind mentioned, but he has some recollection that a paper was sent round by an officer to the native officers and men, at the time alluded to. He does not know who was the officer who conveyed the paper.
Mr. Mallouf, interpreter, has shown me a paper, which he states was signed by the native officers of the force, and of which a copy is enclosed, marked C.
Mr. Mallouf states, he does not think that the above paper was the spontaneous act of the men, but believes that they were induced to sign it.
Having translated the above paper, he heard Captain Burton tell Colonel Morgan to get the men of his regiment to sign a copy of it, which he, Mr. Mallouf, had made by desire of Captain Burton.
The paper was written by interpreter Abidullah Tabid, who is no longer in the force.
This is all the information I have at present been able to obtain on the subject referred to in General Vivian’s letter.
(Signed) M. W. Smith, Major-General,
Commanding Osmanli Irregular Cavalry.
The Right Hon. Lord Panmure, &c., &c., &c.
P. S.—I have since seen the interpreter, Abidullah Tabid, who has just returned from leave. He states that he is aware a paper of the description mentioned was signed by some of the native officers; but states that the paper was not prepared by him, and that he does not know by whom it was originally written.
(signed) M. W. S.
Royal Geog. Soc.
I have the honour to return thanks for the communication forwarded to me through you by the Council of the Royal G. S. informing me that my offer of services shall be duly considered.
As further information upon the subject of my present project may soon at this stage of the proceedings be deemed necessary, I have the honour to propose the following outline which shall be filled up when required.
The want of precise information concerning Zanzibar & the East Coast of Afr. has been noticed in a paper published by Col. Sykes (June '52) in the Jr. of the Roy. G. S. The scientific author remarks that a country mentioned in the Periplus & by Pliny, subjugated by the Portuguese, visited successively by English, French & Americans, & still having diplomatic relations with those powers is almost geographically blank.
The RGS desire I believe to form an Expedition, primarily for the purpose of ascertaining the limits of the Umi Lake, secondarily to determine the exportable produce of the interior & the ethnography of its tribes.
I have had the honour to volunteer my services, with permission of the (Honble) Court of Dir. of the H. E. I. C. & now entail for the better judgment of the Council the steps which appear likely to forward the aims of the Expedition.
Proceeding to India, at the close of next Sept. I would there make preparations for the journey. An order from Govt would enable me to collect from the vessels in Bo. Harbour a sufficient number (from 10-12) of the Sawahili blacks used in our steamers as Lascars (coal-trimmers) and coal-hands. Having prepared my outfit & instruments & armed the men with muskets my next step would be to repair with the first of the NE Monsoon to the Island of Zanzibar.
Strong letters from the House or the Indian or other Govts having Consuls having consuls would ensure the cooperation of the several officials and through them of H.H. the Iman of M. who claims the mainland. At Zanz. the party would be augmented to the number of 20 Swahili porters as advised by the Revd Mr. Erhardt. There to final arrangements could be made for the caravan, the beads, always a desirable article of traffic, should be purchased, a few beasts of burden asses or mules provided for riding in case of sickness or accident & the wages of the porters (fr. 4 to 6 pence per diem) be made payable on return.
The unhealthy season at Zanzibar was supposed as in India to follow the Monsoon. It is now believed that the best time for travelling would be in July A. or Sept. the worst months being M. & June. I have however little fear of the climate being convinced from the appearance of the natives that the interior is healthy & would prefer setting out at a time when water the great want in these regions is abundant.
As regards outfit, I may observe that the caravan commerce of Zanz. exactly resembles that of the Som. country, namely [Wilayati] or American sheeting (Domestics), Sauda or Indigo-dyed cotton, & beads of sorts.
I have already had the honour to record my willingness to proceed alone to E. Africa. Yet it would scarcely be wise to stake success upon a single life when 2 or 3 travellers would at all times be safer & in case of accident more likely to preserve the results of their labours. I should therefore propose as my companion, Lt. Speke of the B.A. if aided with a sergeant or noncommissioned officer for the purpose of [armistry] as in observation & surveys we should be enabled to perform a more perfect work.
The RGS would doubtless not be contented with a mere exploration of the U. Lakes. It is gen. believed by that the sources of the White R. are to be found among the mass of mountains lying between 1° S. & 1 °N. lat. & 32° & 36° E Long. Moreover the routes of Arab caravans who in 18 mths have traversed Africa returning from Benguela to Mozambique force upon us the feasibility of exterior exploration. These two are separate & distinct objects. They would however be greatly facilitated by a preparatory exped. to the U. Lakes as the information there procured by an intelligent eyewitness would serve for the better guidance of his successors.
The increased attention now paid by Europe to E. Africa renders in my humble opinion another exertion on our part necessary.
The surveys of the late Lt. Carless I.N. did not extend beyond Ras Hafun about 90 m. S. of Guard From that point to the Mozambique the coast is till known by Capt. Owen’s "Voy. to survey the En C. of Afr.". The greater part of this work from Ras H. through the Mozambique Channel was merely a running survey which to the present day has not been completed. Indeed in a return [made] to the House of Commons from the Hydrographic Dept. of the Admiralty in 1848 Ay. stated that “many researches might profitably be made from Delagoa Bay to the Red Sea.” The prospects of [Eastern intercommerce] moreover warrant our believing that a line of steamers will soon be established from the Cape of S. Africa to Aden, passing by the Mauritius & Zanz. the key of the E. Coast. An accurate hydrography & geography of the African seaboard would as in the case of Red Sea be the fittest preface to a new navigation.
At Bo. there are several vessels convertible to this use, the surveying Brig Euphrates & 3 small schooners the Tigris Mahi & Centaur which at a trifling expense could be made available. One of these commanded by an experienced naval surveyor as for instance Lt. [Grieve], Lt. Taylor or Lt. Constable with a full complement of competent officers, after conveying the personnel & the materiel of the expedition to Zanz., could commence operations from Ras Hafun southward. It would serve as a stow ship for presents and provisions, keep open the communication & as the rate of naval surveying in those latitudes is mostly uniform (2m. per d. being a fair average on a difficult coast) it would be easy to find if forced to fall back upon it for support. At the same time the commander & crew would be employed upon the eminently useful task of surveying the coast whose reefs & islands are still perilous to navigate & the invaluable effect of Brit. cruizers in these seas establish amicable intercourse with the tribes & secure to us advantages political as well as commercial.
With apology for the haste in which this paper has been run up, I have the honour to subscribe myself
yr mst obt serv.
RFB Bo. A.
14 St J. Sqr
19th April [1856]
14 St James Square
My dear Sir George
I have deferred the ceremony of leaving cards intending a visitation for the purpose of thanking you for your kind expressions regarding myself. An indispensable visit takes me to the country tomorrow and I shall not be able to return before the day of your anniversary dinner. Will you take charge of excusing me to Lady Back? In hopes of seeing you as soon as I return allow me to subscribe myself.
Richd F. Burton
14, St James’s Square
May 28, 1856.
Sir,—I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your official letter, transmitting copies of papers from the War Department. The cause of my delay in replying was an unavoidable absence from London.
Before proceeding to comment upon these documents, permit me to express my extreme surprise at the nature of the whole proceeding. During my military experience I have never heard that an officer’s character was at the disposal of a secret inquiry, convened ‘confidentially’ and without his knowledge. It is equally novel to be accused of mutiny—a crime punishable by death and dishonor—upon the strength of an ‘it is said.’
This, however, is not the first evidence of an attempt to injure me in public estimation. Though extremely unwilling to impute personal motives to a superior officer, it is due to myself to state the origin of the adverse feeling, which, carefully carried out, has not stopped short of an attempt to make the Secretary of State for War the instrument of private malignity.
About the end of June 1855, I entered the Turkish Contingent, under Lieut.-General Vivian. After a few days, becoming profoundly impressed that the force would be a failure, and receiving from you an offer of service, I waited personally upon Lieut.-General Vivian and tendered my resignation. It was received with some displeasure. Detained at Buyukdere by a desire to see Her Britannic Majesty’s Ambassador, I frequently met Lieut.-General Vivian, whose manner towards me was so marked, that more than once—in the presence of a friend, Captain Ryan, I sought an opportunity for explanation; the opportunity, however, never came, and presently I quitted Buyukdere, convinced that I had made an enemy where I had hoped to have left a friend.
I proceed to the official documents before me.
On the 5th March, 1856—five months after our departure from Turkey—Lieut.-General Vivian transmits to Lord Panmure extracts of a ‘confidential’ and anonymous letter, accusing you as principal, and myself as accessary, in two distinct attempts at mutiny, and of withholding an order issued by Lord Panmure. Without alluding to the style of a document, evidently not the production of an officer or a gentleman, I will answer in detail the absurd charges fathered by Lieutenant-General Vivian. And first, of withholding the order. Whilst I had the honour to serve under you, you well know that I was not in the habit of dictating to my superior officer, but of carrying out his commands to the best of my ability. You will, therefore, if you see fit, explain the circumstances under which the order, though known to the officers of the force, was not promulgated to the men. I may remind you that on the occasion of Lieutenant-General Vivian forwarding a requisition for a large amount of official documents, I showed the paper to all those officers to whom it concerned, and warned them to prepare themselves for replying. But when the Turkish garrison of the Dardanelles was drawn up to offer us battle, the French troops from Gallipoli were landed to attack us in the rear, and soldiers from the Contingent were sent to coerce men with whom their officers, who knew them best, found no fault, when the English and French Consuls (Messrs. Calvert and Battees), the present Commissioner to the Irregular Cavalry (Mr. Skene), and the Turkish Pachas, civil and military, kept us by their intrigues in perpetual excitement, we had other and weightier work than the preparation of official documents.
I proceed to examine the charge of mutiny.
On the 28th of March, 1856, the secret inquiry, it appears, was instituted at Shumla, by Major-General Smith who, as is proved by Brigadier-General Brett’s letter, addressed to you at Therapia, made immediately after your departure in October 1855, a searching investigation into all matters connected with Beatson’s Horse, and reported favourably to Head-Quarters. The evidence supporting the charge of mutiny, forwarded by Major-General Smith in his letter of the 5th of April, 1856, is that of Abdullah Tabid, M. Mallouf and Lieutenant-Colonel Eugene O’Reilly. Permit me to consider the value of their testimony.
Interpreter Abdullah Tabid is asserted positively, and without qualification, by Major-General Smith, to have written a ‘round-robin,’ inducing the native officers and men to refuse service under any General but yourself. The interpreter was then no longer with the force; yet, immediately upon this assertion, of whose perfect accuracy no doubt is entertained, follows this postscript: ‘I have seen the interpreter, Abdullah Tabid, who has just returned from leave. He states that he is aware a paper of the description mentioned was signed by some of the native officers, but states that it was not prepared by him, and that he does not know by whom it was originally written.’ It is evident that but for the fortunate, and possibly the unexpected return of Abdullah Tabid, the senseless assertion originally made, would have remained on the Minutes of the Inquiry.
M. Mallouf, a half-witted Syrian, educated at some Jesuit college, strong at languages, uncommonly weak in intellect, and provided with a mouth open for anything which may be put into it, is permitted to state that he does not think the preparation of the paper (marked C) to be the spontaneous act of the men, but believe that they were induced to sign it. M. Mallouf, not understanding at that time a word of English, heard me tell Lieutenant-Colonel Morgan, in English, I presume, ‘to get the men of his regiment to sign a copy of the paper,’ Why, may I ask, was Lieutenant-Colonel Morgan not examined? Why was this Mallouf taken as a sole authority? Why do our accusers report that the round-robin was prepared after Major-General Smith’s arrival at the Dardanelles, and forward as a proof an irrelevant document (letter C) a respectful petition, dated fifteen days before his arrival? With a sincere expression of regret, I feel it my duty to observe, that Generals Vivian and Smith, knowing, as from their long service in India they must have known, how prone are Orientals to frame statements in accordance with the bias of the requiring authority; I repeat that, fully aware of this, the blind and partial adoption on the part of these officers, of the assertion made by the abject creature under consideration, has painfully impressed me with this conviction:— Generals Vivian and Smith have either allowed private feeling to influence them, or, if that be not the case, they have failed in justice, by not subjecting their informant to an examination, which would have prevented the false and ridiculous statements appearing in a grave official form, palpably believed by and endorsed with the weighty names of two British General Officers. I need scarcely remind you that you received from M. Mallouf a letter dated Shumla, 5th February, 1856, in which he states that the men regret you much, and often ask when they are again to see their old General. The miserable answer ‘soon, if Allah pleases!’ Such is the character of the principal witness of the round-robin. The Chief Interpreter, M. Giraud, asserted broadly to have prepared the paper, denies that he did it; so does M. Mallouf; so does Abdullah Tabid. The round-robin, I need scarcely say, is purely a vision; but it is on this sort of evidence that our informant asserts of a charge of mutiny—‘This is authentic, and can be fully proved and substantiated.’
It is strange that while Lieut.-Colonel Eugene O’Reilly, an individual, still, I believe, holding local and temporary rank as an officer and gentleman in Turkey, furnishes minute details of occurrences, or (what comes to the same thing for the object in view), of what he imagines to have occurred, Major Shelley, when applied to, cannot really make any distinct statement. The Lieutenant-Colonel asserts that he called the Major to hear me read a letter, attaching us to the Contingent; and again, that he and Major Shelley left the room together. They acted then in union throughout the affair. The dates of their communication prove that both wrote on the same day, and from the same place, Shumla. I can state that they were intimate, had lived together for some time, and I have no reason to suppose that the same peculiar tie does not continue to bind them. How comes, then, this glaring inconsistency of Lieutenant-Colonel Eugene O’Reilly recollecting every minute detail, and of Major Shelley, with full opportunity of refreshing his memory from his intimate’s ample, I may say unlimited, store of information, forgetting every detail? Above all things, how does it happen that this glaring, and for one of these officers, this highly discreditable excess or deficiency of information did not strike Generals Vivian and Smith, and caused the latter to institute such inquiries as would have elicited the truth? Again, I am impressed with the conviction, and have deeply to regret that Generals Vivian and Smith have either allowed private feeling to influence them, or they have failed in justice by not subjecting their informants to an examination which would have prevented the false and ridiculous statement appearing in a grave official form, endorsed with the weighty name of two British General Officers.
My answer to Lieutenant-Colonel Eugene O’Reilly, the sole evidence of the second attempt to mutiny emanating, it is said, from me, is simply this:—He falsely states that he and Major Shelley left the room, saying they were soldiers, and could not listen to language which they thought most improper and mutinous. Neither you, nor Major Berkeley, nor I, are in the habit of allowing such expressions to pass unchastised; and had words so pregnant with meaning been really used, could Major Shelley, in whose honour I have the fullest confidence, have failed to remember them? Lieutenant-Colonel Eugene O’Reilly will understand that, when saying ‘of course you know what to do,’ I meant nothing beyond our advising Major-General Smith to withhold publication of the order placing him in command of Beatson’s Horse, a proceeding which the Major-General thought proper to adopt. I distinctly deny our questioning the fidelity of your regiments. And, briefly to dispose of the mass of falsehood and inconsistencies of which Lieutenant-Colonel O’Reilly has made himself the mouthpiece, I assert that the matter discussed around your bedside was this,—Did Major-General Smith bring an authority sufficient to warrant your resigning command on the spot, considering the danger attending so sudden and violent a change. I do not hesitate to own that, whilst you confined yourself to producing the orders of which Major-General Smith was bearer, I at once tendered my resignation. Brigadier-General Brett did the same. Colonel Crofton, your Commandant of Artillery, wrote from Scutari on the 27th of September, 1855, offering, in case of an amalgamation with the Turkish Contingent, to do the same. But I affirm upon my Honour that both Major Berkeley and I did all in our power to prevent a mutiny. You doubtless remember our advising you not to visit the camp after your suspension, for fear of exciting the men; and, on your leaving Turkey for this country, not to quit the steamer at the Dardanelles for fear of exciting the men. We all preferred a considerable pecuniary loss to the chance of a misrepresentation, a handle for the too ready grasp of calumny. You suffered in the sale of your effects; and I to the present day have not received a farthing for equipments left behind. All I have received for the faithful and conscientious discharge of my duty is the expression of official displeasure, tidings of complaint, and allegations of misconduct.
To me these things mean but little. They will pass over, and the truth will remain. In the history of the past year it will be told that after the labour of three months Beatson’s Horse was ready to cross swords with the enemy; that we volunteered for service, and that you dispatched me to report the fact to Lord Stratford de Redcliffe. It will also appear that, with all their advantages, the Turkish Contingent could not at the same time move a brigade. I can, then, afford to regard the vague allegations of my ill-wishers with contempt. On this occasion, however, when they assume the form of a calumny on my commanding officer and myself, I cannot comply with your requisition to speak out without repelling the charges, and expressing the indignation roused by the unworthy persecutions to which you have been subjected.
As you, Sir, will probably consider other evidence but a secret inquiry—a Shumla Star Chamber—necessary to clear your character from the felon charge of mutiny, I have the honour to request that, as far as in you lies, the opportunity may also be afforded to me. Should, however, the Secretary of State for War judge such a step inexpedient, I venture to suggest that I may be permitted to join you in any civil proceedings to obtain redress for defamation of character which you may think proper to institute.
Military law is, in such cases as these, an inadequate defender. The calumny is fathered, forwarded to head-quarters, refuted, but not forgotten. Some trace of the stain too often remains upon the noblest part of the soldier’s character—his honour.
(Signed) Richd F. Burton.
Late Chief of Staff, Beatson’s Horse.
To Lieut.-General Beatson, late Commandant
My dear Shaw
I’ve been speaking to some knowing coves who all advise no reference to the Governor General. It will delay us for months, if not knock the thing on the head.
Richd F. Burton
My dear Shaw
All right. Yesterday I heard privately that it is settled. So after a little run through Baden Baden etc. I return to get all ready. Pray see Church when you come back and request him to join the party. If he cannot be with us I leave you to find a good honest John Bull who does not fear niggers. Excuse haste & believe me ever.
Richd F Burton
P.S. I’ve ordered a metallic boat from America, revolvers & other necessary articles.
14 St James Sq.
My dear Shaw
I arrived yesterday & called at the Rooms today. On Monday I must meet Sykes but I will run down to see you any other day you please.
R. F. Burton
Hamburg 7th Sept.
My dear Shaw
Yours recd yesterday. I shall be in England on or about 21st inst. Enclosed is the rough copy of the E. A. Exped. Plan. Col. Sykes did not give or lend me the other plan, he showed it to me & placed it in a drawer on the right side of his desk. Pray have the letters ready for my return. Hamerton is they say coming home in which case an official addressed to H. B. M.’s Consul Zanzibar would be best. I am determined to see you before starting.
Of course you know that the Society have consented to my going. Are you able to do anything about the books whose names I left with Mr. Pryce. Believe me ev
yrs most truly
P.S. When you have had the plan copied kindly send it to 14 St James Square
39 Alpha road
My dear Captain,
I can of course not expect you to undertake another journey to St. John’s Wood before you start on your great expedition, although if you had an hour to spare I would have liked very much to see you & your companion Cpt. Speke. Should I not have the pleasure of seeing you again I beg you to remember Ngombo, a commercial place, the E. shore of the southern part of lake Nyassa, where I am sure, there is or at least was at the time considerable traffic going on and canoes in considerable quantity the lake being here as it seems about fifty miles across. Opposite on the W. shore but not as close to the lake as it seems is the residence of a chief, who is styled “king of Nyassa”. The place is called Rongwe. Whatever be the nature of the Northern part of the lake, I am sure you will find signs of Commercial activity in this Southern part.
With the most ardent wishes for your success
Captain Burton has just come to bother me about his expedition to the interior of Africa.
The Mil. Sec.
E. I. House
Aden 14 Novr
I have the honour to acknowledge your official letter of the 24th Oct. conveying to me the commands of the Ct. of Dirs. to return instantly to London by the steamer direct fr. Alex, to South.
The Steamer in question left Alex on Novr. the 6th at about 10 a.m. I recvd. & acknowledged from the Brit. Consulate your official letter on the same day at Cairo about noon. No steamer leaves Alex, before the 20th Inst. It is therefore evident that I could not possibly obey the order within the limits specified.
No mention was made about my returning to England by the next steamer probably however the Ct. Martial now pending upon Col. A. Shirley will before that time have come to a close. I need scarcely say that should I on arrival at Bombay find an order to that effect it shall be instantly & implicitly obeyed.
Considering however that I have already stated all that I know upon the subject of the Ct. Ml in question, that I was not subpoenaed in England that I am under directions of the R. G. Soc. and employed with an Exped. under the patronage of the Fn. Office that without my proceeding to Bombay valuable Govt, property would most probably have been lost & the preparations for the Expedition have suffered from serious delay, & lastly that by the loss of a few weeks a whole year's exploration must be allowed to pass by, I venture respectfully to hope that I have taken the proper course that should I on my arrival in India find an express & positive order for an immediate return to Europe I may be permitted to proceed forthwith to Africa.
As a servant of the Honble E. I. C. In whose interests I have conscientiously and energetically exerted myself for the space of 14 years I cannot but request the CL of Dirs. to use their powerful influence in my behalf. Private interests cannot be weighed against public duty. At the same time I have already embarked a considerable sum in the material of the Expedition, paid passage money & devoted time which might otherwise have been profitably employed to the subject of Eastern Africa. I remained long enough in London to enable the War Office to call for my presence as a witness & I ascertained personally from Lt. Gen. Beatson that he had not placed me upon his list.
And finally I venture to observe that by returning to Europe now I should be compromising the interests of the R. G. Soc. under which I am in fact virtually serving.
The Secretary R. G. Soc.
I have the honor to forward for the information of the Pres. & Members of the Exped. Committee a copy of a communication to my address from the Mil. Sec. to the Honble the Ct. of Ds. together with my reply thereto. On perusal of these documents you will perceive that my presence is urgently demanded in England to give evidence on a Ct. Ml. & that the letter ordering me to proceed forthwith to England arrived too late to Egypt to admit of my obeying that order.
Were I now to proceed directly from Bombay to England it is in doubt that the Exped. which I am undertaking under your direction must be deferred to a future & uncertain date. With a view to obviate this uncalled for delay I have the honor to request that you will urge your interest to the effect that as an officer virtually to your service I may be permitted to carry out the views of yr Soc. & that my evidence which can be of no importance to either prosecutor or defendant in the Ct. Ml. in justice may be dispensed with.
I start this evening tor Bombay & will report departure from that place.
I have &c.
R. F. B.
My dear Balfour
I arrived here a week ago. Invasions just ahead and war impending. Season bad for our entrance into the country so Jack Speke & I are going in a pattimar to the coast—Mombas, Pangani & other places to Quiloa. We shall be away about a couple of months and probably shall have some grand hippopotamus sport. Then we return & prepare for our start into the interior. Sayyid Majid the Governor of Zanzibar has got bad smallpox and is not yet well. I want to see him before our preparatory trip. We shall probably have Steinhauser down before our final departure. People here tell frightful stories about the dangers and difficulties of the journey & I don’t believe a word of it.
Hamerton has been very kind to us; he sends his Salaam. He has been very ill, but is recovering. Rebman is still at Mombas. We are in excellent health and spirits; so adieu and with Speke’s compliments
15 Whitehall Place,
2nd February 1857
My dear Sir,
I beg to acknowledge the receipt of
your letter, dated Bombay, Decr 1st 1856, informing me of
your departure on that day for Zanzibar, and
log to express my regret
that you are not able to procure the officer of the Indian Navy and the
Sergeant from the Bombay Observatory, whose assistance you required in making
the necessary astronomical observations.
Let me hope that Captain Speke will be able to join and assist you. The Instructions which were duly forwarded for you to Lord Elphinston, through Colonel Sykes, will be your guidance, and the Council are glad to be informed by you that you have obtained the necessary supply of Instruments from the Bombay Government. This supply, in addition to the Chronometer from the Hydrographic Office, and the Barometer from Dr. Buist, will probably suffice; but should more be necessary, they can be transmitted at once from this, upon application from you. I trust the Francis Metallic Life Boat and other necessaries, mentioned by you for the Expedition have arrived, with you, safely at Zanzibar.
Should the 750 £ cash received by you, not prove sufficient, you are aware that you will be empowered to draw on the Society for a further sum of 250 £ next year.
In conclusion let me wish you every possible success, and hoping often to hear good news from you, I remain, in haste, my dear Sir, very truly yours
Present my compliments
Zanzibar 5 Jan. 1857
I have the honour to report for the information of the Expeditionary Committee of the Royal Geographical Society that we arrived at Zanzibar on the 19th Decr that I forwarded to your address on the 27th Decr an account of our proceedings and that today we leave the island for the East African coast.
The excessive dryness of the season in the interior and the unsettled state of affairs consequent upon the decease of H. H. the late Imam of Muskat have rendered a preparatory visit to the mainland advisable. I propose therefore to touch at the different harbours and especially to ascertain from Mr. Rebmann the cause which has prevented his acknowledging in any way, either by letter or message, the communication of his employers, the Missionary Society.
I have hired a Badan or Arab craft at an expense of 32 dollars per mensem. Our expenses at Zanzibar including provisions for two months and hire of vessel for one month, amount to Dollars … = £
A detailed account of outlay shall be forwarded to you as soon as we return from the coast.
I propose submitting to the Society at the close of our preparatory excursion, a detailed report concerning the island of Zanzibar and an account of our proceedings while visiting the harbours of the mainland. In conclusion we have to acknowledge the kindest & most hospitable reception by H. B. M.’s Consul Col. Hamerton & expressions of goodwill forwarded by H. H. Sayyid Said’s son & successor, the Sayyid Majid. This Prince is confined to the house by the consequences of small pox, he has however sent with us a confidential person to facilitate our enquiries and has provided us with an official letter to his employés on the E. coast of Africa.
Roy. Geog. Soc.
M. M. Milnes Esq. M. P.
16. Upper-Brook St.
Dear Mr. Milnes
Ever since I had the pleasure of receiving your last letter I have had one of my Italian Opera friends from London staying with me here which has taken me out every night without interruption to theatres & so entirely taken up my time that I have actually not had a moment to myself to answer it.
That however does not excuse my not writing before but I was waiting in hopes of some opportunity to redeem myself with you for having made so bad a shot in sending you without first consulting you a book you already possessed in a better form instead of having secured for you one [of] the many things I know you want. This however will come soon now as my friend has enfin left for London this morning which leaves me some spare time for my book mania & I will look out doubly for you as well as for myself. But in the first instance I must beg you will with respect to the Dutch volume whenever you come to Paris just put it into your malle & return it me as I shall easily be able to find someone to place it with. My amateur friend who wanted it I have lost site of as he has a short time ago sold his printing establishment. As for the gouaches you so very kindly offer me I will not deprive you of them uselessly as I should not wish to have them singly and the Book as I said is not exactly my sort. There is however a thing I am sure you will not refuse me the next time you come to Paris & which I should very much prize particularly coming through yourself & that is your own poetical works. I would have great pleasure in giving them the very first place in my little Bibliotheque which I am now just about to organize in my new appartment on a more extended scale. And would you enclose me in your next letter a list of all the French works you can think of which you are in search of with notes as to editions & the material conditions you expect to find them in severally …
As to a very handsome Faublas it will turn up soon I have no doubt. Have you the good edition of the “Liaisons”? Do you still want for your friend a handsome copy of the “Aretin du Carrache”? There is an extraordinarily fine one in private hands to be had & if your friend still wants it I will ask to see it & ascertain particulars. Have you got the “Bibliotheque de l'Arétin” in very fine state? I have not yet been able to come to terms about the famous “Contes” but I think que cela ne tardera pas. I had made up my mind to have the pleasure of seeing you for Easter & I am sorry your visit should be delayed but it gives me a chance of having my appartments terminated before your arrival here & thus be able to give you The dansante with the erotic China you ask for or something in that way at all events which I was so little able to do in the position you last saw me in. I must then give you an account which I should not be able to do justice to in writing of the excessively pretty & artistique Tableaux vivants sans aucune espèce de gaze I attended quite lately on two occasions at my friend Monr Guillaume. I must introduce you to him when you are here. The Poses were confined to women of course & were plus ou moins saphique.
I am quite ignorant as to what is going on in point of elections so must trust to you to inform me as to what regards yourself. Our friend Burton will appear again I hope dans les parages when Hippopotami are out of season at Zanzibar where he might be more useful to the enlightened world as I might get his book published here dans des conditions merveilleuses. I hope you can make all this out and forgive my retard in writing. I have not yet got “Julie” but have not forgotten it.
Jeudi soir 2 avril
2. rue Laffitte.
April 9th / 1857
My dear Sir George
Do you remember asking me to let you hear with a private ear some of my proceedings? If not, you see I have a better memory.
My companion Speke and I are just returned from the African coast with the usual touch of “bilious remittent”: we went over to collect information and have collected a satchel full. Both being now convalescent, we propose to start for the interior as soon as the rains abate.
This is for your private ear. The Imam's death has been a blow to us. His sons are young inexperienced and apparently unable to hold their own. Today there is a report that Lamoo has been taken and the Arabs driven out by the Sewys. If matters go on so, three years will see the break up of this once flourishing little kingdom. It is the history of the East all over.
These grand crashes, however, will not interfere with humble travellers like ourselves. We shall get a party of 14 or 15 Beloch musketeers from the Prince and that number with our good-selves ought to cut its way through all difficulties. I am resolved not to take Mr. Rebmann, he would never stand the climate suffers from spleen and appears to have a kind of longing for martyrdom which you know would not suit the R.G. Soc.
I was astonished and grieved at seeing in the papers the death of Admiral Beechey. Had he been taking any liberties with his health? He always appeared one of those wiry little men who are born to longevity. Peace be to him!
We have been most fortunate in finding Col. Hamerton at Zanzibar. He is a slandered man. Instead of being averse to collecting information, no man is more active and few have been so successful. He is a mine of information upon the subject of the coast and we consult him upon all points. Speke and I have been his guests ever since we touched at Zanzibar.
Between ourselves the difficulty here is caused upon the island. The Germans & Americans besides national jealousy have a fear of Englishmen seeing the interior lest their commerce should suffer by it. The Arabs & Sawahilis have had this policy since the days of da Gama. It is easily aroused by a few hints & innuendos, such as “now we must all learn to speak English”. This I am certain caused Maizan's murder which the [J…] threw upon the good old Imam. I dare not allude to it publicly yet.
Will you remember me most kindly to Lady Back. I hope that you are both in the best of health. Don't let the Geographicals imagine that I am growing over cautious in my age, and believe me ever, my dear Sir George
Richd F. Burton
To / The Secretary
Royal Geographical Society.
I have the honor to forward for the information of the Expeditionary Committee of the Royal Geographical Society of Gt. Britain a field book containing our route survey from Pangani to Fuga our remarks upon the coast and an account of our expenditure.
On the 5th Janry 1857 I intimated to you our
intention of visiting the E. African mainland. The death of H. H. Sayyid Said,
the undecided succession and the troubled state of the interior, then suffering
from famine war and drought rendered a preparatory expedition advisable. We
could obtain no useful information from the European merchants of Zanzibar who
are mostly ignorant of everything beyond the Island. The Arabs and Sawahilis
ever averse to, and fearful of, white travellers did give us information but it
was worse than none. We had not heard from the Revd Mr. Rebmann who
still remained at the Mission house near Mombas. And finally, it was judged
expedient to be seasoned by fever on the Coast before attempting the far
Arrived at Mombas, we visited Mr. Rebmann who had not received the communication of the Church Missionary Society. The Revd Gentleman is now at Zanzibar. I have been strongly advised by Colonel Atkins Hamerton H. B. M.’s Consul, by whose long experiences and friendly council I have been and shall be guided in all points, on no account to associate this Missionary with the expedition. He suffers from enlarged spleen he is unfit for walking and hard work he has never used a gun and he is ignorant of the language and localities beyond Mombas. Finally, though I have personally the highest respect for Mr. Rebmann, his presence would give a Missionary semblance to the Expedition and prove a real calamity. Certain unwarrantable political interferences on the part of the Revd Dr. Krapf have rendered the estimable body to which he belongs particularly unpopular at Zanzibar.
Returning to Pangany, I received from Mr. Henry L. Anderson the Political Secretary to Govt. Bombay copy of a letter from the Medical Board Bombay recommending that Asst. Surgeon Steinhaeuser B. A. for whose services I had applied should be furnished with such medicines & surgical instruments as he may consider necessary. Further that to assist in the advancement of scientific research these Meteorological instruments may be obtained from the Medical Stores Bombay, and placed at his disposal.
B. P. Do—1.
Max. & min. self-registering Thermometers—2 Sets.
Under the same enclosure was transmitted for my information copies of a letter from Dr. George Buist Secretary Bombay Geographical Society dated 8th Dec. 1856, conveying certain useful suggestions with regard to the expedition. I am about to supply the Bombay Geo. Soc. with a few geological specimens and an account of copal digging in these regions, in consequence of Mr. Secretary Anderson’s letter & hope that the Royal Geo. Society will approve of the step.
I am most grateful for this supply of extra instruments. We have at present the following articles some of which as will be seen are unsound. Dr. Buist (Manual of Physical Research) feelingly complains of the “unskilfullness not to say gross negligence with which instruments exported to India, are put up.” I have frequently had occasion to lament the carelessness not to say the dishonesty with which those supplied to Govt. in India are constructed. Cheapness appears the sole desideratum. A showy article is turned out and after a week of hard work becomes useless. The following remarks will I believe testify my assertion.
1 Barometer by Adie supplied from the Bo. Geographical Society. It was left at Zanzibar during our first excursion to be compared with another barometer under charge of Mr. Frost Medical Officer to the Consulate. We are keeping it for the Lake.
2 Boiling Point Thermometers by Newman 122 Regent Street one of these we took to the coast and used at Fuja and elsewhere. The upper air bulb being too close to the boiling point level was filled with mercury and the detached portions would not write. Instrument makers in England neither graduate their thermometers properly nor do they thoroughly expel the air: this expanding in these hot regions renders the article unserviceable. We shall be obliged to open the article and as a blow pipe is not procurable at Zanzibar, I will not answer for the result.
2 Prismatic compasses by Henry Barrow & Co. 26 Oxenden Street. Both these instruments are made with lamentable carelessness. In one (no. 300) the mirror is attached so crookedly to the right vane that it cannot be used for variations by azimuth. As usual both have the needles attached to the cards. It has been recommended in high latitudes where [drift] is great and the magnet in consequence of its small horizontal force becomes exceedingly sluggish, to [relieve] it by attaching the graduated circle or dial to the bottom of the box. Pasteboard in tropical lands subject to extremes of heat moisture and comparative cold warps and renders the instrument useless. I should suggest that even in India the needle might be attached to the highest graduated ring of silver or [platina]. We have adjusted these compasses in all points but the sight vane.
2 Extra compasses one on gimbals for boat work, the other an excellent old pocket compass given to me by Major Gnl. Monteith. It contrasts well with the showy trashy articles now supplied by the trade.
1 Pocket sextant.
2 Sextants and artificial horizons by Henry Barrow & Co. instruments without error, strong and serviceable. They much want however an improved eye glass for night reading.
2 Pocket chronometers, one from Observatory Bombay (Barrand London 2/537) the other from the observatory Greenwich (Parkinson & Frodsham London 2955). After some variations these instruments which are daily compared and for which notes are regularly taken now keep a tolerably regular time. We have been obliged to return a third chronometer from Bombay Observatory (Edward Baker London 863) as it has the habit of stopping.
1 Patent Pocket Pedometer by Payne & Co. New Bond Street. It has already proved serviceable compared with a watch while making a route survey from Pangani to Fuga.
I am endeavouring to secure a Telescope large eno’ for observing the Satellites and occultations to 6 May. This, the most correct would be for us the easiest way of observing for Longitude: savages always leave the traveller in complete liberty at night.
Returning to Pangani on the 21st Febry. we lost no time in catching fever. Capt. Speke my Portuguese servant and I were attacked by the disorder—a severe bilious remittent—on the same day. My companions were comparatively fortunate: the fever clung to me for a week and left me in the condition of a bed-ridden old woman. Under the circumstances it was judged advisable to postpone the remainder of our coasting voyage and to seek medical aid at Zanzibar without delay. We arrived here on the 6th March and were received with his usual kindness and hospitality by Col. Hamerton. We are both recovering by degrees from the consequences of fever and hope soon to be duly seasoned for travel into the interior. The rainy season and S. W. Monsoon have finally set in: we shall therefore be confined to the Island for some time. We are now engaged in providing ourselves with an outfit, which for economy’s sake must be purchased before the season opens, in applying to the Prince for an escort and in making ready the hundred impediments which belong to African travel.
It appears that during the present year Southern and Eastern Africa will be penetrated in various directions. At Zanzibar I lately met M. Gabriello de Rivalta, a Capucin of the Lyons Mission who is proceeding to his head quarters—the hitherto inaccessible Kaffa. Monsignor Guglielmo Massaja the Vicario Apostolico du Gallas has made that province his residence and the other priests are living at Gudru and Enaera. Father Gabriel has lately been informed from Rome that four or five other Missionaries are sent to aid in the unparalleled labours reported by the Vicar General. Nearly 400,000 Gallas have it is said embraced Christianity and conversions by thousands still take place. Unable to penetrate Africa via Masawwah on account of the Abyssinian heretics the Revd gentleman has resolved to travel alone & unarmed via Makdishu (Magado) and Gananah thro’ the Gallas. The experiment will be most interesting. The successes which have crowned the year’s efforts of the Catholic Missionaries among the wildest savages that Africa rears reflects the highest honor upon their system and casts a deep and lasting shade upon the history of Protestant Missions in this part of the world.
At the Cape an Expedition has been proposed on a plan recommended by the lamented naturalist Professor Wahlberg. Several waggons starting simultaneously after penetrating to a certain point northwards will separate and explore Eastward and Westward. At a time and place previously agreed upon they meet and confer upon the proprieties of continuing their journey. I have heard only the report of this expedition. Nothing appears more feasible than such a project and indeed it is becoming evident that Africa can be penetrated with less fatigue and risk of disease from the Cape than from any other point.
An American expedition is also
expected at Zanzibar. Some years ago Major Cotheal of New York visited this
coast in his own vessel with the intention of exploring the interior. Like all
others who attempted the discovery he failed to find the embouchure of the Juba
or Govind River; but he also
discovered observed a discoloration of the
sea which has given rise in America to the hope of finding the mysterious
outlet. Some mystery hangs over the proposed exploration. It is said however
that the party will be composed of men accustomed to endure fatigue and to face
danger accompanied by free blacks from America with natives of the country as
guides & porters; and that no scientific researches will be attempted from
a fear of rendering the undertaking feeble. This manner of exploration which
now finds little favour in English eyes, is evidently fitted to pave a way for
philosophic geographers thro’ dangerous regions.
I have the honor to request the attention of the Royal Geogl. Society to the remarks upon the subject of maps contained in the accompanying report. Nothing can be more erroneous in commission & omission than Capt. Owen’s chart of the coast (no. X) from Chala Point to the Pangany River. That officer himself declared that the sickness on board his ship interfered with the surveying north of Mombas: he seems not to have landed at Makdishu or to have sought the mouth of the Juba River. Even southward many important places are unnoticed. The curious inlet called Tanchi situated about 90 55 S a little above the embouchure of the Lindy does not appear upon his chart. This some years ago was a nest of slavers who shared their secret it is said with certain Zanzibar merchants: they frequented the place till unpleasantly disturbed by H. M. ship Grecian. In making these remarks I would by no means detract from the merit of an officer whose name has ever been maintained with honor. But in those days a survey had but few facilities, pilots caused perpetual complaints, there had been no preparatory exploration and interpreters would deceive as they pleased. Captain Owen was accompanied by one Khamisi bin Tani—he calls himself I believe bin Osman—a Sawahili of the lowest character: the native names in the charts are full of blunders. Equally full of extraordinary mistakes is the maritime part of M. Petermann’s “Skizze &c. &.c”—in fact the only tolerable delineation of the coast from Mombas to Pangany is the Revd Mr. Erhardt’s rude sketch map, lithographed in 1850.
A Mr. Oswald merchant of Zanzibar has written to his father the Russian Consul General at Hamburg for permission to supply the expedition with further funds in case of it falling short. The Expeditionary Committee is duly warned that in case of any reference from Mr. Oswald Sen. either to H. B. M.’s Govt. or to the Royal Geographical Society, the whole affair arose from the mistaken kindness of M. Oswald of Zanzibar who fancied as foreigners are wont to do that we are at liberty to draw for any sums required. I have explained to him that such is not the case. The accounts promulgated in Europe about the facility of penetrating inland from Kiloa (Quiloa) and the economy of travel in that region are fabulous. The Southern Sawahili are most hostile to explorers than the inhabitants of the Northern Maritime towns, and their distance from the seat of Govt. renders them daring by impunity. But last year, they persuaded the Wagindo tribe of the interior to murder a peaceful Arab merchant so that strangers might be deterred from interfering with their commerce. Messrs. Krapf & Erhardt of the Mombas Mission spent a few hours at Kiloa: they were civilly received by the Governor and citizens, but they sadly deceived themselves in imagining that they could make that post their starting point. Lieut. Christopher I. N. who visited the coast about 1843 in the H. E. I. C.’s Brig Tigris, more wisely advises the neighbourhood of Kiloa to be avoided.
We shall probably land at Bagamoyo; as yet however this point cannot be determined. I scarcely anticipate being able to set out before the middle of June prox. as the Moslem feast month intervenes. This is a loss of time but I will endeavour to utilise my residence upon the Island by drawing up a description of it and an ethnographical account of the slave races on the neighbouring mainland.
On the 24th March / 57 I received from the Secretary to Govt. Bombay an official letter transmitting copy of a communication from the Secretary to Govt. Bengal (No. 170 of 5 Janry / 57) according permission to Capt. Speke B. A. and Asst. Surgeon Steinhaeuser Civil Surgeon Aden to accompany the expedition on the pay and allowances of their rank. I cannot but express the warmest gratitude to H. E. Lord Elphinstone to the Honble. Mr. Lumsden and to other members of the local Govt. who added to a long list of former favours by providing me with these staunch & valued companions. The Virgin ground of E. Africa is a field far too extensive for a single observer: the coast climate does not yield in fatality to that of the Western coast, and the jealousy of Arab & Sawahili traders may assume a more virulent form in the interior. Under these circumstances the presence of an able Surgeon and two tried men is by no means to be despised. Dr. Steinhaeuser has not joined us yet, but we still indulge hopes that he may be on his way. Before leaving Zanzibar I shall not fail to send for Mr. Francis Galton a list of what articles we take with us and on our return—should it happen—an account of what we bring back. Trusting that the Expeditionary Committee of the Royal Geo. Society will approve of our past proceedings and of our future plans I have the honour to subscribe myself
R. F. Burton
H. B. M.’s Consulate
22d April 1857
My dear Milnes
The blighting memory of sundry broken promises drives me to this kind of thing. I ought to have copied out a certain Chapter for you, I ought to have—done what has been left undone. But this is the position of penitence (as per margin) and doubtless "pardon is of the magnanimous".
Zanzibar is a peculiar place, an admirable training ground for damnation. There is no society but German merchants and the ladies of the land besides shaving their heads project their "kissers" after this fashion. Horrible to relate their passions are exceedingly violent whilst the males owing to the damp hot climate are passé & infrequent worshippers of the God. We hope to leave this hole in June when the rains are over. One of the tribes through which we pass I am delighted to say are real bonâ fide cannibals. It is one of my pet ambitions to see a man eaten: next to that a tribe of bonâ fide naked humans. The eating we may see the nakedness I fear not. Curse American loincloth!
We went over to the mainland & caught the fever which they most impudently here call a "seasoning". Jack Speke and I look like ghosts enjaundiced—if English has such a word and ghosts such a disease. This is the normal tint, so we are abhorrent only to ourselves. Add hogged heads and long beard cheek bones like sword pommels and razor noses—and then calculate how much you of the Expeditionary Committee have to answer for. There will be a bill somewhat after this style
freckled skin £ s d
To loss of noses &c. &c. &c.
Enfin, I must bid you adieu. Does the Cosmopolitan exist? If so will you remember me kindly to such members as may retain any remembrance of their visiting member particularly M. Mansfield Harcourt Vernon and Cholmondley—and accept my best wishes together with all the prayers of a pilgrim for your worldly prosperity and length of grey hairs and an eventual reception among the faithful who are fated to love Houris.
Figure 11. Monckton Milnes.
[…] willingly therefore as I would win that highest of rewards, the gratitude of my fellow-countrymen by reducing the price of carriage varnish I must fairly confess it to be beyond my powers. The sole remedy for the manifold diseases of this Bona terra with its mala gens is “Time”:—perhaps an occasional East African expedition might be administered to advantage.
We have, I am happy to say, shaken off the miasmatic fever of the coast & are ready to set out again when the Rains show any sign of abating. Dr. Steinhaeuser has not joined us, but we are in hourly hopes of the welcome event: his presence will be no small comfort in a sickly climate and where we must expect to suffer from the hardships exposure and various incidents of African exploration.
the honour &c.
Richd F. Burton
H. B. M.’s Consulate
[...] preaches to me in the evening what I say to the Colonel in the morning, it is truly laughable to watch the progress of this circular communication. I have now had ample analogous proof that B. never went to Mecca & Harar in the common acceptation of that word but got artful natives to take him to those places, & I would swear he did many a trick at their instigation that would [...]
harm. We received a truly kind & warm reception when we visited the Mission house. Wishing I could find something more amusing to communicate than such rot about a rotten person and with best love to Father & the three Graces [comple] believe me to be
J. H. Speke
N.B. Thank God we have at last fixed on the 10th June as the day for starting, and such luck for Burton, the Colonel has agreed to furnish some money so now we ought to be able to move as he intended, but with the means instead of without.
20th May 1857
My dear Shaw
Some days since, I took the opportunity of a vessels sailing to hurry off a few lines informing you that the Barometer ordered from [Dixy] had not come to hand, nor ever here heard of, and also requesting you to secure it if possible. Nothing has been heard of it yet, so the matter then expressed still applies with the same force.
Burton tells me it is requisite for everyone wishing to become a member of your admirable institution—the R. G. Society—to pay a donation of 30 £s. If this sum be the limit, and there be no further annual or other subscriptions required, I should feel extremely obliged by your proposing me to the committee in the usual form.
Led on from shooting, collecting, mapping and tramping the world generally, I feel myself gradually wedded with, and instinctively impelled on to the prosecution of Geographical research, the same way as formerly the attainment of sport was the culminating point of my ambition.
This note is forwarded by my mother who she no doubt will communicate with you about the proposal above, and settle the matter during my absence. Burton painted in and despatched the map along with his report many days ago, probably you have received them, but in case any accident should befal their transmission & they not reach their destination I have, as precautionary measure, enclosed a duplicate of the map in the same package that contains this, which will be forwarded to you if requisite, otherwise for my own satisfaction—I being its sole constructor—it will remain at home
Burton tells me he sent from Aden in 1855 my sketch route of the Somali country to the R.G. Society, but no notes having accompanied it to my knowledge, I fear you have laid it aside as useless lumber. The coast range of the Somal has after been visited & described by Govt. officers, but the plateau beyond has never been trodden by any other white foot than mine. The portion I traversed is termed by the natives Nogal, a whitish limestone country in contradistinction to the dark and low soil district lying further to the West than it was my fortune to go, and called [Haud].
The plateau may be termed a desert & is perfectly useless to any other class of people than those who inhabit it, a set of naked herdsmen. It is not even good as a place of pasturage in consequence of the very limited supply of water that falls there, the only few springs they have afford but little water during the dry 10 months of the year.
The watercourses show the general slope of the country, between which are irregularly disposed numberless hillocks of round form—sometimes in chains, sometimes detached—and of very pure lime construction.
J. H. Speke
Figure 12. Pages from Burton's Sketchbook.
My address is changed to (42 Rutland Gate, Knightsbridge)
My dear Burton,
I must write a scrap to say how delighted I was to hear of your successful trip to Fuga, and how sincerely I hope that you will be equally so in your great expedition from Mboa-maji, or from whatever point you determine to start.
I travelled down from Paris yesterday with Jomard (the President of the French Geograph. Society & who began his career under Napoleon, with the Savans in Egypt) he assures me that there is a yearly caravan of red people from the neighbourhood of Mombas carrying beads to buy ivory at the Nile, at about the 3d degree of N. Lat. It would be well worth enquiring about. He mentioned the reported length of the journey—I think it was 2 certainly not exceeding 3 months. I need not say how great an interest everybody takes in your progress.
I ought to say a word about the reflecting circle that I gave a promise to send you. Those never to be sufficiently execrated instrument makers who are always behind time, kept the circle for 4 whole months—I being on the continent—& when I returned found you gone & the circle just sent for you. It was packed up & addressed to you but Shaw was ill & somehow it has miscarried & where in the world it is now, I have not the remotest conception. It was a pretty little thing, very trustworthy & very light & would probably have been convenient to you if it had arrived. Adieu, my heartiest wishes for your success & health & pleasure & believe me ever faithfully yours, Francis Galton.
Inengay Sund. 6th Sept. 10 Marches from Ugogo
I have the h. to report for the info. of the Exp. Com. of the Royal G. S. that on the 22d July finding a good opportunity I forwarded from Duthumy a general acct of our finances.
On the 7th Augst. I sent by means of a slave—a dangerous trial 4 papers drawn up by Capt. Speke viz.
2 Sheets of map
1 Appendix. to map 1 official letter.
I also transmitted a list of outfit for F. Galton Esq. & a box of geolog. & botan. specimens directed to the Sec. G. Soc. Bombay. This step was taken to give the collection a chance of reaching its destination before being reduced to a pulpy mass.
We left Zung. on the 7th Augst still weak. The first march led us after passing through a long alluvial track with dry rocky & uninhabited hills, in my humble opinion the 1st gradient to the Highland of Ugogo. With considerable trouble on acct. of our asses we ascended the Goma Pass—about 2200 ft. by B. P. Therm. above the sealine.
We are now within 10 marches of Ug. and hope to reach it in due time. Both of us still suffer from the fatal air of the Kingany Valley, but the cool nights and dry days are gradually working improvement.
Our party has hitherto behaved tolerably well. I humbly suggest that H.B.M. Capt. S. forwards with this letter the following documents
2 Sheets of map
Our party has hitherto behaved tolerably well. I humbly suggest that H. B. M.’s Con. Zanz. should receive directives to reward them liberally in case of good conduct. This will greatly facilitate the ingress of future travellers.
I have &c.
(Under Cover to the Sec. of State Foreign Office)
Inengay 6th Sept. 10 marches from Ugogo
My dear Balyuz
S. wrote to you from Duthumy & Zungomero and I from Duthumy. A scoundrel Salim bin Sayf (said to have been engaged in M. Maizan’s murder) spread all manner of reports about you to turn us back. He also interfered with our engaging porters. If a Govt. letter were sent ordering his return from Duthumy to Zanzibar & some punishment awaited him there, it would be a useful lesson to the Arab.
We have recd the greatest civility from Isa bin Hijji & Thamy bin Said and Sayf bin Masud the leaders of the caravan which carries this letter.
By Jemadar Yaruk, I wrote to you for some more quinine (we sadly require it), chiretta roots, Warburg’s drops, pickles, &c. Our tea has also been destroyed & we want 10 lbs. tea each soldered in its tin case. ½ Fr. coffee & ½ Frazil sugar.
Ladha has some $ of ours & Messrs. Forbes & Co. will always refund this expense, recovering the money from my uncle & executor, Robt Bagshaw Esq. of Dover Court Essex.
We are still suffering from consequences of fever, and look with horror upon our diminishing medicine.
In case of yr having left Zanzibar dear Balyuz I have directed this also to Mr. Cochet the only person that can & will befriend us.
S. joins with me in best love. It is too late to write much as evening draws on & the caravan starts tomorrow. Adieu, portez vous bien.
To Lt. Col. Hamerton
or (in case of his departure)
To M. M. Ladislas Cochet
Consul de France
I have taken the liberty to address you without even knowing your name. Our necessities may excuse this proceeding.
Since the death of our lamented friend Col. Ham. we have been entirely neglected by those who promised fairest. Not a letter or paper has reached us, altho’ Arabs & others have repeatedly received theirs from the coast.
Worse still! Before leaving Zanz. we paid for a full supply
of goods to be carried by 22 porters. We are in actual want of them. Ladh. D.
Coll. of Cus. Zanzibar
promised to start them in a few days after us. It is now nearly 5 months and
not even a
word line of tidings about the caravan has reached us. If
the Banyan’s excuse himself by saying is that porters were not
procurable we can only reply that at least a dozen caravans have caught us up
from the coast. Moreover by paying a little more than the Arabs he could
always secure porterage. He has not been limited as to expenditures & he
has a small sum ready at his hand to meet emergencies.
I wrote on the 28 Sept. ult., for a second supply of $100, giving a draft upon Messrs. Forbes & Co. of Bombay. Unless some exertion on the part of Govt. be made, we shall never have this order executed.
As early as
Aug July last my companion Capt Speke
I wrote for some medicines & supplies of which a list is enclosed. Like
our other affairs the request has been wholly neglected. We are ever suffering
from fever, and our supply of Quinine is so low, that we must reserve it
In conclusion Sir I have the honour to express
my conviction that you will not allow 2 officers esp. employed under the
patronage of H.B.M.’s Foreign Office, to suffer any longer from such undeserved
& disgraceful neglect.
Before leaving Zanzibar I entrusted 2 manuscripts to Mr. Frost the Consular Apothecary & should much like to hear whether he has forwarded them according to my direction to London.
January 14th 1858
To [Sheth] Ramji
The full term of engagement for which we took the slaves Kidogo, Jako, Mbaruk, Waledi, Mboni, Muhinna, Buyuni, and Hayja having now expired, we give them their discharge.
From the commencement their
impudence of manner & action has been so troublesome to us & disastrous
to our progress we now feel no compunction in
giving them their thus
summarily dismissing them.
Captains Burton Speke & Co.
24th June 1858
I have the honour to transmit for the information of the Expeditionary Committee of the Royal Geographical Society, copy of a Field book & a map by Captn Speke. The details contained in the Map render all remarks upon the country superfluous till such time as we may be able to communicate them in person. Neither of these documents are intended for publication which we venture to request may be deferred until our return. They are forwarded in case of accidents.
We left the Lake of Ujiji about a month ago & are now halted at this main depot of Arab trade. Captn Speke has volunteered when he & the rest of the party are sufficiently recovered from their present state of universal sickness, to visit the Ukerewe Lake of which the Arabs give grand accounts. It lies nearly due north of Unyanyembe at a distance of from 12 to 15 marches. Thus we shall be enabled to bring home authentic details of the four great waters which drain Eastern & Central Africa, viz. the Nyassa, the Chawa, the Ujiji Lake and the Ukerewe. On Captn Speke’s return we shall lose no time in repairing to the coast which if we pass safely through perilous Ugogo we may hope DV to reach about December of this year.
We have both suffered severely from sickness. We were compelled to travel from Unyanyembe to Ujiji during the wet monsoon & in the same season to embark in open canoes exposed to wind & rain sun & dew and when on shore sleeping in mud to explore the Lake—a labour of about a month. During this time we endured great hardship and ran not a few risks. Our limits on the Lake were laid down by the savagery of the tribes—as it was a man was unfortunately shot by my Portuguese servant during an attack.
Captn Speke has suffered from the sequela of fever having lost his sight so as to be unable to read write or observe for some time. In addition to which during his first voyage, some voracious insect crept into his ear, producing violent pain glandular swellings suppuration & finally deafness. Both I & my Portuguese servant have been subject to the distressing blindness. Besides this I have had a kind of numbness in the arms hands & lower extremities & am still unable to walk or ride except in a hammock carried by Wanyamwezy porters. Still we are slowly improving & the thought of finishing our labours with what we hope will be considered most valuable results has much diminished the terrible wear & tear of mind caused by events during the journey westward. Our asses 30 in number all died our porters ran away our goods were left behind our black escort became so unmanageable as to require dismissal, the weakness of our party invited attacks & our wretched Belochis deserted us once in the Jungle & throughout have occasioned an infinity of trouble.
We deeply regret that the arrangements for the expedition were not upon a more liberal scale. With £5000 we might I believe without difficulty have spanned Africa from East to West. However the similarity of the two coasts & the accounts of travellers who have penetrated the Western regions lead to the conclusion that the other half of the great continent just reflects the portions of which we hope to lay before you exact details.
On the 20th Novr 1857. Capt. Speke addressed to you a letter urging the necessity of arrangements for rewarding our guide & attendants. The late Lt. Col. Hamerton H. B. M.'s Consul & H. E. I. C.'s Agent at Zanzibar advanced out of the public money no less a sum than $500 to our guide & promised him an ample reward & a gold watch in case he brought us home alive an event then considered highly improbable. To the Jemadar of Belochis he gave $25 and to each soldier $20. These are sums which we could not afford nor can we on our return pay the high salaries promised in our presence to these men. By Said bin Salim the guide $1000 would be expected, by each Beloch, 13 in number, $100 and by each slave, in all 15, about $60. We have already expended at least £500 out of our private resources. Expecting that a six months march would take us to the Lake of Ujiji & back, ignoring also the Ukerewe Lake we thought to come within the limits of the meagre sum allotted to us. But our exploration delayed by sickness, accidents & the non arrival of supplies cannot be concluded under 18 months. I venture to urge the subject most forcibly upon the Expeditionary Committee of the Royal Geographical Society as, unless Lt Col. Hamerton's promises be fulfilled by his successor we shall be placed in a most disagreeable position at Zanzibar.
H. H. the Prince Majid & his native & Indian officials have taken the greatest interest in our progress—we have reason to be truly grateful to them. They were however urged on by the Consul de France M. Ladislas Cochet who after Lt. Col. Hamerton's unfortunate decease has proved himself an active & energetic friend.
I regret to inform you that I have received an official expression of disapprobation from the Rt. Honbl. the Governor in Council Bombay “for want of discretion & due respect for the authorities to whom I am subordinate” in consequence of some remarks addressed to you upon the subject of political affairs in the Red Sea. The document in question was forwarded, not for publication, but as expressly stated for the information of the Foreign Office or the Honbl. the Court of Directors. I have expressed my regrets for having offended a Government to which I am much indebted and that at the same time I am at a loss to understand how I have offended.
In conclusion I have the honour to request that all accounts of our ill health may be kept from our families & friends & subscribe myself
yr. most obedt. servt.
Richd F. Burton
Commg. E. A. Expedition
Roy. Geogr. Soc. of Gt Britain
2nd July 1858.
I have the honour to request you will lay the accompanying map & Field Book before the President & Members of the Expeditionary Committee of the Royal Geographical Society. I send a plan of the whole route as far as we have gone on a diminished scale as it is a safer means of conveying our entire work to you than by sending portions at a time as I have hitherto been obliged to do. My office copy of course is kept on the original scale or the same size as the four sheets I sent you from this 20th November 1857.
Whilst at Ujiji I paid a visit to Kasenjay Island in the hopes of procuring an Arab boat & had then the opportunity of seeing those two points south of it Ukunjway and Thembway E. & W. shores; I was informed that the sea broadened a good deal to the south of these points & finally turned off with a tail to the west. The distance from Kabogo to Kasenjay I have set off from the compass bearings in conjunction with the Latitudes, it makes a distance of about 25 miles, the time occupied in rowing was the same either way 11 hours incessant.
To diminish the disappointment caused by the short coming of our cloth in not seeing the whole of the sea Ujiji I have proposed to take a flying trip to the Ukerewey whilst Captain Burton prepares for our journey homewards, this business must be done speedily else the ponds & puddles drying up will render our progress seawards difficult. The only instruments I shall take with me will be one sextant & horizon for latitudes, one compass & one thermometer (boiling). Altho’ I can take a Lunar observation in 5 minutes with anyone simply noting the time & observations yet without that assistance & having only 2 sextants & no stand I find I can do nothing.
the honor to be
your obedient servant
J. H. Speke Captain
Royal Geographical Society
Royal Geographical Society
2nd July 1858
My dear Shaw
I am off to the Ukerewey Lake to
see if the accounts of it are true by what we have heard I should expect to see
something like a Lake, a piece of water almost boundless, for in such a strain
report goes. Altho’ the distance to it from this is far short of Ujiji strange
to say very few Arabs have ever visited it, & of those at present here,
none. Burton in the meanwhile stays here to get things in order for our
journey seawards, a good arrangement for rest seems to do him a power of good;
luckily we got porters at Ujiji who carried him here & that mode of
travelling together with a few luxuries that we fortunately received from
Zanzibar have had the effect of taking him off the sick bed, only fancy what a
time he has had of it, just eleven months in a bed ridden state & being
obliged to travel the whole time, more or less. We have both suffered from
strange diseases & a great complication of them, but from having strong
bowels I have always shaken mine off nearly as soon as contracted; blindness is
my worst complaint which I hope to God won't bully me after I once get clear of
this accursed climate, but at present it flits from one eye to the other &
back again, sometimes stopping in both by which all amusements reading or writing
at once at an end. What torments me most in this journey is the inability to
take Lunars & fix the Longitude, I am really beginning to despair of ever
getting any. Up to the present time I have failed being able to take them
simply from want of an assistant to take the time, for Burton has always been
ill; he won’t sit out in the dew & has a decided objection to the sun,
moreover when there happens to be a good opportunity for taking a Lunar his
eyes become bad & so I always get disappointed. I took only one at Ujiji
& then my eyesight was very bad so that I have much doubts concerning it, I
send its elements for you to work out as I have not got the moon’s Semi Diam:
for that month. We have no lantern, so are now dependant on a still
night for Lunars. The year appears evenly divided into two seasons, wet &
dry, each lasting six full months, we have fairly gone through 6 of wet &
now know nothing but sun & wind, both elements are very strong. This is a
shocking country for sport there appears to be literally nothing but Elephants,
and they from constant hunting are driven clean away from the highways; all I
have ever succeeded in shooting have been a few Antelopes & Guineafowls
besides Hippopotamus near the coast. The only way in which I can get an answer
to the enclosed letter is by cheating the Post Office, sending it with this;
will you do me the favour to Post it? There is literally nothing to write
about in this uninteresting country nothing could surpass these tracks,
jungles, plains etc. for dull sameness, the people are the same everywhere in
fact the country is one vast senseless mass of sameness. Many thanks for
appointing me a member to the Society—I have just received a communication from
home about it.
J. H. Speke
Ugogo, Eastern Africa
7th Decr / 58
I have the honor to rep. for the inf. of H.E. the Rt Honl the G. in Council that Capt. Speke 46th Bengal N.I. and I are returning to Zanzibar which we hope D.V. to reach before the coming hot season.
By a letter from the E. I. C. bearing date the 13th Sept/56 I am permitted to explore Africa on the pay & allowances of my rank for a period not exceeding two years calculated from the date of my departure from Bombay which took place on the 2d Dec. 1856. Also by a letter No.170 from Mr. Sec Edmonston addressed to me and dated Fort William 9th Jan. 1857 leave was accorded to Captain Speke to accompany the expedition into equatorial Africa under my command, with the pay & allowances of his rank, from the date of his departure to join me. This officer was like myself provided with a passage on board the H.E.I.C's sloop of war Elph. which made sail from Bombay on the 2d Decr / 56.
Delayed by the usual casualties of African travel we now find it impossible to return within the period prescribed therefore I venture to request that you will submit to the Rt. H. the G. in C. this application for an extension of leave for 6 months, viz. from the 2d Dec / 58 to the 2d July / 59, to the conditions originally granted to Captain Speke and myself when we commenced our present exploration.
At the first opportunity after our reaching Zanzibar I shall have the honour to report arrival.
I have &c.
To H. L. Anderson Esq.
Sec. to the Govr
Khutu Eastern Africa
1st Jan 1859
I have the honour to acknowledge receipt of your letter dated 2d Feb. 1857, since which no instructions have come to hand.
By the last down caravan which left Unyanyembe in Central Africa on or about the 24th June 1858 I forwarded copy of a Field Book & a map by Capt. Speke, & I take this the earliest opportunity of transmitting his road-map & field book to the Nyanza or Ukerewe Lake—which he was successful in discovering—his general map of our exploration similar to those formerly supplied but including our return route through Usagara by another & a Southern line, and his corrections of the Masai & Northern roads. These however demand further enquiry & he particularly requests that all documents now forwarded be not submitted to the public until they shall have received due revision at Zanzibar.
I have the honour to report, for the information of the Exped. Comm. that in the total absence of all instructions and in the want of the supplies necessary to open up another path or to pursue our researches our caravan has returned by the Eastern road to Khutu distant about 13 marches from the coast. Here it is halted for a time. Our refractory porters refuse to march upon any port but Kaole. I refuse to provision them for any port but Kilwa which we would expect to visit for the purpose of inspecting the lower course of the Ruaha or Rufiji River. The most obstinate will win the day, but I cannot at the moment exactly decide which party is in that predicament.
R. F. B.
Comm. E. A. Exp
In conclusion I have the honour to inform the Exp. Committee that on the 7th of Dec. I applied officially to the Gov. in C. Bombay for 6 mths additional leave in behalf of my companion & myself after the conclusion of the 2 yrs granted by the Ct of Dirs. & that I hope the Society will lend me their powerful aid in obtaining the extensions necessary to complete operations upon the base of exploration.
To be forwarded
M. M. Milnes Esq. M. P.
16. Upper Brook Street
My dear Milnes
As my cousin Arthur left yesterday for London I gave to his valet to convey to you in his pocket sealed & I hope this time safely packed the remaining 5 “epreuves Daguereotypées” with orders to deliver them to you in person should he find you in Upper Brook St.
I have done better for you than 400 f. for the deux Sèvres Biscuits en Pâte tendre of the “Maitre & Maitress d'École” & have got them for 350 f. which I think an excellent bargain not withstanding the slight imperfections I pointed out to you. These deux groupes are exceedingly rare & esteemed when in Sèvres Pâte tendre of the time of Louis XV and should they at any future time turn up again more perfect I should let you know as it would be easy to make an exchange by paying more. As to their going to London or even to London and back again in the event of an exchange they will be quite safe as I am going as you suggest to have them put into two écrins en maroquin lined with satin, like my tea service, by the gainier of the Sèvres Manufactory. Besides which the écrins must each have an outside case for them to travel in quite safe which I shall get made by the famous Emballeur d'objets d'art here Cotel who got the medaille at the Exposition. They are worth this trouble & I think you will be much pleased with them. They represent very well the subject they treat though not quite as decoltés as I should wish. As soon as I have got the écrins & the exterior Boîtes made which I shall set about immediately, I will no doubt have a safe person to entrust them to take them over to you.
I am sorry that in the lot of Books I got for you there should have been two that you have already. I shall in future not buy any book for you here that you want unless I can get it singly.
I will endeavour soon to get for you a good exemplaire of the 8vo. edition of the “Liaisons dangereuses” (with the fine Plates which are very loose), by Chloderlos de Laclos.
As for the verses you want printed I think I could manage it
for you dans des bonnes conditions
& without going through the hands of a libraire and I have an
English friend here who could correct the épreuves
& who is both capable & discreet. The friend who would print it for me
is an amateur in my way & is one of the principal persons in
a well known printing establishment here & had offered to get me done
Burton's book telling me how he could avoid it being seen provided it
was only a very few copies.
I have a book which I shall bring over to London for you to read. It is the “Memoires de Lauzun” lately published which have just been saisie a la requête de M. Jerôme Pichon in consequence of an annotation by de M. Lacour which precedes them in which he accuses M. Pichon of immoralité as having consacré plusieurs milliers de francs à devenir l’heureux possesseur du fameux recueil de la Popelinierè, de ces gouaches de Carême tellement impudiques qu'elles eussent étonne I'Arétin en fin en se signalant par l’acquisition “du merle blanc de la fantasie [sic] erotique” after which follows a long & very detailed account of my Book which he estimates at vingt mille écus, supposing it of course still to be in the possession of poor M. Pichon adding he had just refused a large sum for it. All this as Potier says will only tend to give a very great renommé to my “Tableaux des Mours” particularly as a great procès is coming off between the parties. I have made some new acquisitions.
Konduchi on the coast
5th Feb. 1859
In continuation to a letter addressed to you from Khutu (Jan 1st/59) I have the honour for the information of the Exped. Committee of the R.G.S. to report that as we would not follow the porters & the porters would not accompany us that we parted suddenly. The savages went to Koale district and after some days delay we employed men in a down caravan to carry our goods to this place.
Having thus been disappointed in striking the upper course of the Rufiji Riv. by land we have written to Zanzibar for a native craft and intend visiting the Coast as far South as Kilwa with the express purpose of exploring the Delta of the great & almost unknown Rufiji. We expect, if not hindered by accidents to reach Zanzibar at some time before the Monsoon.
I have also the honour to transmit Capt. Speke's route survey from the coast to the Makutano or junction of the several lines of road tending westwards to the Unyamwezi country—Konduchi and its islands, which do not appear in previous maps, have been laid down by observation of the stars & compass bearings.
On arrival at Zanzibar I shall again report proceedings for the information of the Committee and I have the honour to be
Royal Geograph. Soc.
Zanzibar Saturd. 19th
I have the honour to acknowledge receipt of your letter of the 24 Feb. 1857 (the only communication recd during the last two years).
I have therefore the honour to request that the sum of £250 be paid by you to my agents Mssrs Forbes & Co. Bombay in part liquidation of the expenses of my return march. The residue has been defrayed by me.
I do not forward my account hoping to reach England as soon as this letter and have the honour to remain
Royal Geog. Soc.
Zanzibar, March 21 /59
My dear Captain Burton,
I received your kind note of to day & felt quite pleased at the prospect of meeting you again at some future time in East Africa. I can however not let you go away without communicating to you a few points which now & then occupy my mind.
1. I am a little afraid, as you are rather a facetious writer, that you might misrepresent my views about the cause of colour, as indeed you have already done, though only in a joking way, when I was in conversation with you. Allow me, therefore, to state that I never thought the heat of the sun alone as sufficient to explain the cause, but only in connection with the particular clime, especially as to dryness or humidity & the whole manner & habits of life of the people in question. The fact also of the so called different races of human beings gliding into each other, must weaken the argument considerably which is taken from them against the doctrine of the Bible of all mankind being the descendants of one pair.
2. You will remember, two years ago, when we sometimes spoke about Dr. Krapf, that I found fault with him in many things especially about his linguistic labours, & you will, I hope, appreciate my anxiety to see nothing published about it. What I said was in confidence to you. You will understand that my feelings in this respect are very tender, from the fact of his having been my fellow labourer for seven years. Of course, I have nothing to do with what you may say about him from your own resources.
3. I hope you will excuse me & take it kindly when I communicate to you what has been my prayer to God for both of you all the time you have been on your enterprising journey into the Interior of Africa, namely: that by so long witnessing the misery & darkness of heathenism you might be led to learn the truth & infinite value of Christianity, i.e. Christianity in its purity, as it stands in the Bible, unmixed with human traditions—& I have not yet given up the prayer. You have done a great service to science, & I have no doubt it will also turn out a service for the moral & spiritual welfare of poor Africa, be your religious views what they may. But if your heart was moved with Christian compassion for benighted Africa & if you felt convinced that there is no other remedy for [that] but the Gospel of Christ in connection with Christian civilisation, don't you think that then the benefit of your service would still be much greater & of a higher nature? But whatever you may think about this question, I am rejoiced at the fair prospect of East Africa being at last thrown open to European enterprise, the more so as I have learnt to see that this alone will also give a sure footing to the Christian Missionary.
Wishing you a pleasant voyage homewards.
me to remain
P.S. Mrs. Rebmann wishes me to
say thank you for your
kind offer & also begs to say that should you ever make your way up to our
station again she will make you more comfortable than she was able to do
Speke is a right good, jolly, resolute fellow. Burton is not fit to hold a candle to him and has done nothing in comparison with what Speke has, but Speke is a modest, unassuming man, not very ready with his pen. Burton will blow his trumpet very loud and get all the credit of the discoveries. Speke works. Burton lies on his back all day and picks other people’s brains. ... Dr. Roscher returned two days ago from the interior of Africa. ... Burton was very jealous of him.
I am writing to you at this early stage of the journey to try and rid myself of a lurking depression and stinging of heart for Ramjee’s sake. I have constant visions of his deploring, desponding look when I asked him if he considered he had received his proper dues in relation to those men—slaves of certain deewans—who adopting his name were sent as an escort to us whilst in Inner Africa. And the almost desponding reply “No, but it is no matter, the English Government is our Ma Bass, whatever they deem proper must be so.” What is positively due to Ramjee by promise on engagement, without any conditions whatever, is dollars per mensem per man, for the time these slaves were actually with us, and they are by that promise now virtually entitled to pay at that rate for four months, for during that time they were positively doing our work. I consider it positively iniquitous that Ramjee should be cheated, and told Burton so more than once when talking over affairs inland, when he was for ever calculating the amount of deductions and cuttings he could make in consequence of the bad behaviour of the slaves, etc. The pay proper of these men was five dollars a month, of which one half was to be retained by them and the other half by Ramjee to cover the loss of their services to him, or rather the Deewan, their proper master. Nobody could be so done out of his proper rights in any part of the world where I have been engaged in service, and I don’t believe it could happen in any part of the British Dominions, where there is no fear of appeal. You heard yourself how Burton disposed of the subject at your breakfast table one day, and I think now that you are fully aware of the whole matter you are in duty bound to see justice done to this unfortunate man. Excuse my saying so, for I thought you did not properly understand me at Zanzibar when telling you of the circumstance, or that you must have considered you had no right to interfere because Ramjee had not from fear, unknown to you, come forward and remonstrated.
Aden 18 April
I have the honor to transmit my book of observations made during my sojourn in Arica. A plan of the sea coast from Konduchi to Kilwa and a Field Book containing several routes.
Be good enough to put these articles by for me until my arrival in England which in all probability will be very soon.
I send them by Post as I consider a Government bag safer than a private one for the conduct of such matter.
the honor to be
Your odbt. servant
J. H. Speke Captain
E. A. Expedition.
19 April, 1859
On the 5th of Febry., 1859, I had the honour to address you from Konduchi (coast of E. Africa), stating for the information of the Expeditionary Committee of the Royal Geographical Society, that I had written to Zanzibar for a native craft and proposed visiting the coast as far South as Kilwa, with the express purpose of exploring the Delta of the great & almost unknown Rufiji.
We left Konduchi on the 10th of February 1859, and proceeding down the coast to Kilwa Kisiwani or the Island of Ancient Kilwa, made observations at the several settlements which have hitherto been incorrectly laid down. We had hoped to enter the upper mouth of the Rufiji River and to obtain correct notices of the course & capabilities of the stream. Our project was defeated by the state of Kilwa, which was nearly depopulated by the cholera, and we were crippled by the loss of our crew. 5 out of the 7 died in the first 6 days. The season for ascending the River was ended by the inundation, consequently, we were compelled, most unwillingly, to return to Zanzibar, where we arrived on the 4th March.
When the alarm arising from the threatened invasion of H. H. Sayyid Suwayni of Muskat had subsided, we took leave of the Sultan of Zanzibar, & the Sawahil Sayyid Majid, a prince who, in addition to the greatest personal courtesy, has shown his regard for the recommendations with which we were honoured by forwarding all our views, and by munificently rewarding our Belochi escort—the means placed at our disposal rendering such an expense unadvisable. We left Zanzibar on the 22nd March, and on the 16th instant we arrived at Aden.
A fresh attack of fever & general debility will delay me for a short time on the route to England, where both Capt. Speke & I are about to proceed on medical certificate, given by the Civil Surgeon of Aden. Capt. Speke, however, will lay before you his maps & observations & two papers, one a diary of his passage of the Tanganyika between Ujiji & Kasenge, and the other, his exploration of the Nyanza, Ukerewe or Northern Lake. To which I would respectfully direct the serious attention of the Committee, as there are grave reasons for believing it to be the source of the principal feeder of the White Nile. The position has hitherto been placed by almost universal consent in the region Northwards of Mt. Kenia. But as the S. W. Monsoon & the S. E. Trades both exhaust their stores of humidity upon the Southern slopes of that great line, the Lunar Mountains of the ancient geographers, of which Kenia is, as far as can now be ascertained, the Northern limit, we are entitled to believe that the Northern or leeward slopes of these mountains would not be so copiously watered as to send forth a surplus considerable enough to form the “White River.”
I have the honour
I wrote a letter to you on board the Dragon lest I might not have had time on my arrival here to do so, considering attention to those deluded natives a matter of such moment, nay great necessity. I should be afraid to attempt a journey in from Zanzibar unless both men, viz. the Sheikh (Kafila Bashi) and Ramjee got what I proposed to Burton on arrival at the Coast, viz. that the former should have five hundred dollars, and that the latter was perfectly entitled to his 2½ dollars a man per mensem, as long as they were actually engaged in our service. Only think yourself what we are obliged for from all the men who accompanied us in a country where their desertion would have been our certain destruction, and by their fidelity what we have gained.
Is it to be a Council or a Committee on Monday? If the former is it a General Council and will Henry Murray be there.
Excuse many questions—but is it not on Tuesday that we dine with Lyons Macleod at 1/2 past 6.
Richd F. Burton
8th [May 1859]
Many thanks for your kind note. I will answer you tomorrow, verbally, if you will arrange a time in the morning when I could see you, and talk over old times, & sundry matters which I should like to be acquainted with prior to my attending any Geographical meetings. My particular business in Africa was Geography as I may have told you before. I believe most firmly that the Nyanza is one source of the Nile if not the principal one. I wish Cooley had been the man who is to give the morrow’s discourse. I have read some papers of his which show great foresight & ability much more so than any others of which I have read.
I hope my observations & maps reached you. I posted them at Aden not being aware at the time of my future movements & because I placed more confidence in Govt. dispatches carefully screwed down in a mail box than in private papers in a passengers box, for their security in transport. What I have not sent is now with me. I will bring them over tomorrow at any time that will be convenient to you. I should like the answer to reach me by 9 a.m. or before it. If I could see you at so early an hour a cabman could bring the letter.
J. H. Speke.
Capt. J. H. Speke
Rec: May 9th
11 Marine Parade
My dear Milnes
Your letter was refreshing in this wilderness of bathers. I was driven out of town by an intense longing for cool air and a weight upon the mind—something like what conscience must be—upon the subject of writing a book. I have sent a line to [Urquhart] thanking him for his kindness and hoping to avail myself of it when my spirits are unburdened. Have you looked at "[…]"? Many thanks for the Baffo who will serve as a recreation between fits of study. Adieu pour le moment give my love to Hankey when you see him and believe me ever
yrs most sincerely
Richd F Burton
3 Park Street Grosv.
19 May 1859
Secretary Royal Geographical Society
I saw Mr. Findlay this afternoon and arranged with him that my map should occupy the place appointed by you the other day. On the left hand of the President.
A few days since you mentioned
something about my preparing a paper for the 13th Proxo. If a
Geographical paper is required to illustrate my map I shall be very happy
indeed to write
a short essay one. At the same time I think it would be
unfair to Captain Burton Commandant of the Expedition if I touched upon
anything not entirely relating to that branch. Especially as I know that
Burton has been very industrious in observing and obtaining great masses of
matter appertaining to the manners, customs & productive resources of all
the country traversed by the Expedition.
Before applying myself to writing an essay on the Geography of Africa I wish to be made acquainted with the requisitions of the Society on that matter, both as regards the physical features & extent of area it may be deemed necessary for me to describe.
An early answer will oblige
J. H. Speke
Capt. J.H. Speke
Rec: May 20.
Mind you don’t show this to anybody
3 Park Street
My dear Shaw
Here is the document you asked for. I hope there will be no difficulty found in the refundment of our monies. Because I left private exploratory party to join Burton at his invitation “free of all expenses”. He at that time thought he had sufficient money coming from the Government. Expecting, according to Col. Sykes’s statement, that the Indian Govt. would have furnished him with 1000 £s. This you know proved otherwise and as the Govt. funds did not hold out I told Burton that I would hold myself responsible for the half of any advances that he might make for carrying out the objects of the R. G. Society. Whatever happens I shall stand by him.
I further trust that these monies will be refunded me as his title, of Commandant over me, precluded my making private use of the countries resources, or my time. My three papers for Monday are now written, they fill about 13 or 14 pages. I cannot make them shorter. The first one describes the physical Geography, and the means I employed to construct the map, of the country; I like it the best, and think it likely to create much discussion if all arguments are not annihilated by it. Next in order comes a narrative of my Journey across the Tanganyika to Kasinge, and the group of Islands lying on the Western shore. Ladies who have read it think it more interesting than I do. The third explains my Northern trip to the Nyanza. I think it a better paper than the last. If I have to explain the map the first thing at the meeting, in the order in which I think it ought to come: it would then be better for Burton to do his Vive Voce part and give me breathing time. Do you not think this systematic way of clearing up the ground the best to be adopted?
J. H. Speke
Capt. J. H Speke
Rec: June 10.
1 Bottle of Insects
5 ½ […] shells
7 […] shells
1 […] mould
1 Somali chart
J. H. Speke
The above specimen articles were taken by Capt. Speke for exhibition at the Zoological Society at its meeting on the 28th inst. and to be returned to the Society.
Capt. J. H. Speke
Recd June 27th
31 Mount Street.
My dear Burton
I have just received your letter, dated Wednesday. Stating that you look to me alone, according to our agreement, for any refundment of the monies spent by you in excess of the Govt. advance of £’s 1000, and that “the sooner this affair is settled the better.”
In reply, I must again say that I am fully aware of my liabilities to you. The agreement between us was this. I said to you “as soon as the Govt. money was all expended that, rather than allow anyone’s interest to be sacrificed by short comings, and rather than allow the whole weight of any further expenditure to fall entirely upon you, I would be answerable for the half of any sums that might be legitimately expended in prosecution of the travels before us, and would pay it provided that the Govt. should refuse to admit our advancement.” At present the Govt. has had no opportunity of refusing any refundment. You have not put it so before them. As soon as you have fulfilled your part of the engagement, if they (the Govt.) then decline to pay us, I shall consider it my duty-in-honour to pay you the half agreed to. Hitherto I have not seen the bills, and, do not know positively what items contained in your bill constitute my portion of the total-of-monies for which I may be considered liable.
Taking this affair in a £.s.d point of view, I must say that
your importunate demand has
taken me rather surprised me, especially
when I reflect to former relations between us. I mean the Somali affair. Then
I spent everything—ready money—,and, received nothing in return. You,
in virtue of your position as Commandant, took my diaries from me, published
them, and never offered me even ½ returns for your book in which they were
contained. My specimens also which I had industriously collected, together with
my notices of their habits, &c. &c., you took from me, and, presented
them to the Bengal Museum, recording the appended “remarks” as originating from
yourself, when, very well knowing that I alone had collected everything, and,
that nobody but myself could possibly have known anything about them.
With your permission I advanced large sums of money on account, to carry out my journey there on Govt. behalf, &, not one Farthing of this have you ever offered to refund me. Had I been aware at that time, that it was never your intention so to do, I most certainly would have resisted your appropriation of my papers and collections. I am sorry to bring any allusions to this bye-gone matter before you, but, as I have said before, it is now a £.s.d. affair.
I must beg you, now, to be more moderate, until at least I get my pay from the Govt. for the time which I have been serving with you. As yet I have not been able to draw one Penny.
J. H. Speke
31 Mount Street
My dear Burton
Your letter, June 18th, has come to hand. Since you did not intend to be importunate, I am sorry that I should have so considered the two letters you sent, in such rapid succession, as indicative on your part of immediate hastiness.
Your former letter led me to suppose that you had only sent in accounts up to date of the expiration of the Govt. Funds.
I will now look at them.
If you have sent in all the accounts of expenditure and have required refundment for at least half of it, you will have done your best. I have sent in my separate accounts & have asked for a refundment not only of it but of everything else. I could do no more, not being aware of my full liabilities to you.
About the bye gones I will fully enlighten you with my views, since you think it odd that I should not have mentioned it before and then for God sake let the matter drop.
In the first place, you would never have heard a word about it from me unless I had not, unfortunately, misunderstood the cause of the rapid succession of your two notes. But should have as is my wont, tried to make all easy. I never wanted “half returns”, but only thought it odd, that you did not offer me anything, when, on the last expedition I understood you to say that you had made some 2 or 3 hundreds by your work. I put the question to you purposely, and, thought it singular that so much matter could be produced, returning only, so insignificant a sum, & felt wonderfully astonished in considering how scribblers made a livelihood. I should have published, had you not done so, as my parents were desirous of it. But, considering your position as Commander, I did not demur, nor said a word even at your appropriation of my despatches to Playfair. Neither did I resist your sending off my specimens, procured (as it afterwards turned out) with my private coin, and sent with your remarks. Notwithstanding, you knew me to be possessed of a private museum, on which up to that period, I had spent much time, and many expenses; and, had left India on Furlough to carry on my collection, & enlist Africa with my completed India ones. I thought this all the harder when on our trip to Fuga, at which time I brought your attention to what I thought an unfair appropriation of my remarks appearing in print as your remarks. You then added Gall to it by saying, that you considered such appropriation legitimate & that anybody similarly circumstanced would do the same. After that confession, I felt to make any more collections & especially remarks about them labour in vain.
When I bought my outfit to journey (for the Govt.) alone in the Somali Country, I refused to take your Govt. money (then offered by yourself), for fear of hampering your (immediate) means. But obtaining your sanction to spend my own money on Govt. account, expected after the second year’s adventures, when you hoped to get a second thousand, that you would refund me the money. This was the verbal agreement as you must remember. You know, for I remember telling you, that I had been in the habit of writing remarks on specimens of Nat. His. to Blyth, & should have done so then, much more satisfactorily for science than it was done, so “readably”, second hand, by yourself. You did not ask my permission but hotly plunged into it, as I have always thought premeditatedly.
J. H. Speke.
I send you my first and least
important journal for your inspection, and shall feel obliged for any
suggestions you have may regarding them. As the matter is about a "terra
incognita" I suppose it ought to be interesting. You will see that I have
omitted to mention Captain Burton's name as far as possible. This is because I
have not communicated with him about it, and also because, I was at the time of
keeping these journals nominally under his command & therefore
reflections about him by myself would be out of place. I call this journal the
least important for several reasons, the principal of which was that the line I
was travelling on then, was much easier than the other, and, the
second route took me to the source of the Nile, the very first point of
Geographical interest, and, into an extraordinarily fertile, and prosperous
region; & which was much more amusing than any of the other tracks we
travelled on, in consequence of that line having been so much less travelled on
by Arabs or anybody having white faces.
I have never written to any journals and don’t know
whether the form which I have adopted will suit your magn. What I send
is about 1/3 of the whole. An early answer will oblige.
J. H. Speke
P.S. Would you give me Burton's address—I shall be at Edinburgh about the 12th inst.
11 Marine Parade
My dear Galton
I want to make a quotation from your book—let me have the old copy please. How are you getting on in health? Have you any projects for the [actives] in the line of discovery? I hope you won’t leave England before the autumn of 1860 and then we shall have some chance of going together. In the meantime I'm writing hard at Dover where there is nothing else, as you will know, to attract my attention. I had thought of running on to Vichy, but not being able to afford the time have taken to drenches of the water which appears to have worked muchly.
I hope that Mrs. Galton is well. Remember me kindly to her and believe me ever yrs
R. F. Burton
It is wonderful to me that you did not speak to Abdullah after my telling you what he said about the navigators, for I saw you were conscious stricken about the report by the quick manner in which you asked me what my opinion of it was. The more especially do I wonder as I then told you that it was a common report of all the Arabs but (from ignorance of the history of the Egyptian Expedition) I did not believe in it.
J. H. S.
11 Marine Parade
My dear Milnes
I am very much obliged to you for taking so much trouble and will do my best to be with you during the last week in August. At any rate I will send you a line before the 23rd instant. The prospect of a book which can produce horripilation is refreshing but I cannot believe in it till the operation really takes place. Adieu pour le moment.
Writing from his summer quarters in Fife to George Eliot, Blackwood alludes to the African traveller Captain Speke, who had been visiting him for the first time. He had taken the strongest possible liking to the manly soldier, who, with the simplicity of a child in all worldly matters, possessed the determination and courage which were to carry him triumphantly through all difficulties, leaving him hero of the exploit with which his name was ever afterwards associated as discoverer of the source of the Nile. He started from Gibleston with the good wishes of all the party, whose sympathies were warmly enlisted in his enterprise. This was the expedition undertaken with Captain Grant for his companion.
John Blackwood to George Eliot.
Gibleston, Fife, August 15, 1859.
We have had a very interesting visitor, Captain Speke, lately from the Mountains of the Moon, and what he believes to be, I think with good grounds, the fountains of the Nile. He is a fine, manly, unaffected specimen of an Englishman. He is very innocent of literature, having since he went to India at 17 been devoted to wild sports and geographical discovery. He has gone through dangers and suffering enough to disgust any ordinary man with the mere thoughts of Africa, but he is determined to go back and carry out his discovery, and has got a grant for the purpose. His reply to my remonstrance against his going again was unanswerable—“Fancy my disgust if any vapouring, boasting Frenchman went and got the credit of this discovery for France.”
My dear Blackwood,
and letter have just this moment reached. I have not yet looked into
the Magn., but I received the proof of the map some days since and intend to
alter it a little as there are several omissions as well as inaccuracies though
none of any material consequence. I am very glad you like my diaries, I think
I will give them a little further interest by describing some of my Hippo.
adventures for they were curious. Would you send me those Magns. which contain
Burtons "Fuja" I should be able to enter dates &c. from them. I
wrote to Burton and told him that I hoped my journals would be of use to him
and his writings. He wrote a nice reply, and asked for information about the
Animal Kingdom, as regards Africa, this I have furnished him with.
Tell Uncle Jim that I have fallen in love with Honey-dew and have made some large investments, also tell Willy that though I approve of Ruxton I do not, like him, feel so much pleasure in solitude. My only [m’vation] for having travelled so much alone was for the better prosecution of my end in view—otherwise I like to share enjoyment being not quite so selfishly constituted. I have written to Grant, and, if he is inclined, shall visit him on my way south from Aberdeen, after the R.G.S. meeting there (on the 14th inst.)—I shall not stay long there, being anxious to comply with Mrs. Blackwood's kindly invite. I have many engagements on hand so cannot fix dates exactly. I had a glorious time of it at Poltallock killing all sorts of game, and then coming up the Caledonian Canal had some fun with Lion Cumming. He has his museum at Fort Augustus and takes a shilling from all his patrons. The passengers say they were disappointed at not getting a lecture from him and attribute it to my presence saying that I spoiled his roar. Be that as it may he has a good lot of heads but [not] so various as in my Jordans collection, but then he has only Africa to show whilst I have Thibet, the Himmalayas, India and in part Africa also.
The first day after arrival here the largest stag that has
been killed, save one, in this
Park Forest fell a victim to my rifle. With
kind remembrances to Gibleston.
J. H. Speke
My dear Rigby
I transmit by post through Aden the proceedings of the R. G. Society, to show you what interest my discoveries have created in this land. Since I came home I have had a rest, being giddily hauled about from right to left and back again. The Gaiety is such as I never dreamed or ever thought of. Though I have headed this letter to show you my address I am now in the highlands shooting everybody’s stags and game for them. I am under negotiations with the Govt. to allow my going to the Nyanza again and Lord Elgin has just written telling me that I may expect [preferment] before very long so now Rigby I can reasonably hope to be back with you sometime during next May or June. I have told Blackwood my publisher to send you my journals. Burton is writing for he has just requested me to furnish him with an account of the fauna of E. Africa. I have now a constant correspondence with Dr. Petermann but cannot find out anything of Dr. Roscher’s instructions. I rather suspect he is a jealous man and keeps everything in the dark. I hope he may succeed wherever he may go but shall think him a great miff if he follows up our heading where he could only do a bit of patchwork whereas by going to Kilimanjaro and North Westward to the Nile he would be doing a new and far grander as well as profitable scheme for the furtherance of Geography. On proposing to go to the Lakes again I mentioned the circumstance to Burton that he might have a fair chance with me which I am happy to say he took advantage of by sending in the following day his papers also proposing himself for my scheme. Well, I say I am glad because in the Elections by the council the preference was given to me in consequence of my having done the scientific part of the last one, although he Burton had many powerful friends contesting his rights for him Sir R Murchison is my patron this time. I hope you have made Ramji complain and will assist him in getting his rightful dues. If he is not paid by any other means I must do it on return to Zanzibar. Tell Bombay I was swelling him all over the world and have created so much interest here about his hire, that the next time I must bring him home with me. You will see by the map in Blackwood that I have christened the Nyanza after the Queen and a little island on it after the Majid. My proposal to the Govt is that I should go to 1st Unyanyembe then to follow the Arab route to Kibuga the capital of the Kingdom of Uganda, & then my difficulties only will commence. From that position to Gondokoro the German mission station on the Nile there must be some difficulty, or the people in those regions would know more about the interlying country. I feel I never shall be robbed of the discovery of the Nile though some men may possibly step in an spoil my work by connecting the Nyanza with the Nile. I shall come down the Nile if ever I get there with a waiting deposit as our Vice Consul Mr. Petherick of Khartoum has offered to assist me to his utmost. With kind regards to old friends I am yours very sincerely J. H. Speke.
My dear Shaw
I return corrections. As regards "the long promised abstract" you told me that October would be soon enough therefore I have put it off to October. If you want it for printing before that time, let me know. I would willingly accompany the Association but at present I am in the midst of the Water Cure and have neither time nor inclination to run about. I have heard of Lord Elphinstone’s intention and as my opinion has been asked I have said all that I could in favour of sending as many explorers as they please. I expect to be in town about the middle of October.
R. F. Burton
Upper Norwood, Surrey
My dear Galton.
Yours of the 30th August went first to Dover then to Harwich and lastly came here. Shaw lately wrote to me about the Abstract. I had understood him to say that he did not touch it till October and I intended to have it ready by that time. You know these things cannot be done at a moment’s notice. I do not wish to send a paper which would be merely a copy of what I am about to publish. Would it be better for me to wait till next Proceedings? As according to your note you will be this time have left town I direct to Shaw in case of your absence. I shall be in London D.V. about the latter part of October.
R. F. Burton
My dear Shaw
I recd yours of the 7th after sending mine of yesterday. Will the enclosed do? Let me correct proofs. The water here has been hitherto done me all manner of good.
Zanzibar Septr 10th
My dear Burton
I have received your letter & copy of account. Luddah has gone over your Acct carefully & says it is perfectly correct. I cannot tell what you think has been paid twice over & have no accounts here now. I made over every Document to you, including Forbes’ letter stating the sum they had paid. Luddah brings a huge Duften with about 10 yards of Accounts, shewing all payments & receipts on your Account from the time you arrived here. I have no time to copy all this & nothing less than the whole would be of any use, I‘ll send you a copy of the original Guzerathi if you wish, but have no time to make up your accounts for the whole period. You have every account yourself. The Dragon has been wrecked. The Clive saved the cargo & has got 700£ salvage. The Assaye returned here on the 5th. The Clive goes to Bombay on Monday. Another Exploring Expedition is coming here in Novr, a Dr. Sylvestre and Mr. Kenelly I. N. They go to Ujiji first. All quiet here now, the Arthi chiefs are in prison. Roscher has gone to the Nyassa. Oswald, 2 Horns,  Mansfield have left. Rebmann is at Mombasa. The country there is all quiet. I have not seen Cochet for 4 months, not a single person here speaks to him except that old slave dealer Mass. I am laid up with a bad foot, & have no end of writing, so excuse this short note. Ramjee & Said were very angry at not being paid, so I have written to Govt about it. Roscher could not get one single person to go with him from here because they said your men got nothing for their trouble. The French have been up to all sorts of tricks, but are regularly check-mated.
C. P. Rigby.
Beulah Spa 7th October
My dear Shaw I’m too seedy to dine with you today & have written to Mr. Westendorp.
On looking over my MSS. I think it will be much better to hand it over bodily to the R.G. S. Some energetic man—Galton for instance—will I dare say take the trouble to strike out what is not worth printing & I will correct proofs. Entre nous I have received an offer of coin for it, but it is too geographical for a general book. I will bring it up next week when Mr. Wheeler is ready and then he can explain better. It will answer for many a paper and may be curtailed ad libitum
R. F. Burton
I have the honour to submit through you to the Council of the Royal Geographical Society, a detailed Ms. and itinerary of my late Exploration. The Ms. is ready for printing, requiring only the insertion of a few references & distances which can be supplied during the course of publication and Mr. Finlay F.R.G.S has most kindly offered to assist me in the references. I have forwarded the Ms. in extensor, as it would be difficult and scarcely, I venture to think, to abridge it or extract from it. A detailed account is the more necessary as of late some erroneous opinions concerning the country have found their way into print.
yr most Obedt Servt
R. F. Burton
Norton Shaw Esq.
Sec. R. G. Society
13 Oct / 59
Having submitted my accounts early in June of 1859 to the Council of the R.G. Society I have been informed that they were referred to the expedition committee by whom the consideration was referred in order to have the accounts, which were roughly given in the Field Book, carefully arranged and copied out. This has now been completed and the accounts forwarded by my agents Messrs. Forbes & Co of Bombay have been sent in as vouchers.
As regards the pay of our escort, the Ras Kafilah Said bin Salim besides $50 reward for accompanying us to Mombasah, received from Lt. Col. Hamerton an advance of $500 (=£100) before departure to Ujiji with a promise of an additional reward after return in case of good conduct—he did not deserve more. H.H. the Sayyid Majid of Zanzibar sent with us an escort of his irregulars, to each of whom Lt. Col. Hamerton advanced $20 (to the Jamadar or Commandant $25) with prospects of a remuneration on return, but no regular pay, as they were servants of the prince. I had written home for their reward but their desertion and their acts of misconduct—they left Captain Speke and myself to navigate the Tanganyika Lake for whole month in the hands of the Wajiji barbarians—rendered it extremely inadvisable to show any liberality. They therefore received nothing more from me, although H.H. thought proper to give them $2,300 (£460) on their return. Ramji a Hindoo merchant sent with me 10 men who received upon departure the extravagant sum of $300 which would have purchased the whole gang in the bazaar.
the honour to be,
Yr mst obt servt,
R. F. Burton
Late Commanding E. A. Expedition
17th Octr 1859
My dear Rigby,
I am sincerely obliged to you for the very long and highly amusing letter that you have sent to me. It has gone the rounds of the family circle and has been much chuckled over, especially that part descriptive of great Burton and his big boots. The boots were worn day and night until he arrived at Aden when Sharam alone induced his dropping them & then he took to quiet slippers—an article much better adapted to the miserable condition of his weak legs and rotten gut. Poor devil, what will not vanity inflict on a weak mind devoted to flattery and popular rot. He must have been in agonies of pain all the time that he was wearing them but would not own it out of sheer conceit. B. is now engaged in washing his hair out at the hydropathic institution of Norwood. I hope those cleansing waters may wash him clean. He tried to cripple my chance of going out again by sending in a counter application to the Gov’t. When I volunteered to revisit the V. Nyanza and connect it with the Nile at Gondokoro travelling up the blue line (see map in Blackwood) from Kazeh to Kibuga and thence on to Gondokoro on the Nile, but he did not succeed for the matter came before the Geographical council at the same time and I was selected in consequence of my having done all the work last time. The R. G. Society and the Bt Association have both been working at the Gov’t to let me go again in the most urgent manner but as yet I have had no reply. Confound these slow home-coaches, during the time that they have been debating about the trifling matter of a few hundred pounds the Bombay Govt I hear have completely organised a party of explorers from that quarter. I hope they (the ducks) may go if they do not interfere with me and my line. The most advantageous route for them to take and the one which would enhance our geographical knowledge most is that which the Arabs take encircling Kilimandjaro & Mnt Kenia for its all new and peculiarly interesting ground and they might walk around the north end of the Nyanza and meet me at Gondokoro. What a glorious termination that would be after 2 or 3 years struggling to strike down the Nile with pipe and stem smoking with all the dignity of a Jolly old Pasha. I saw Playfair at Aden but he was too cautious to say anything about wishing to succeed you even if he has a decision that way. What wonders will not happen now that the French have once begun to see the news of disquietude at Zanzibar. I never heard of such a rascally business as you described as having taken place them. But what strikes me as more absurd than anything is that they should ever commence a row when they must have known that they could never have carried it through: it looks like a shallow business as if done from private pique and not at the instigation of their Govt. It must be great news to you defeating them [so] signally as you appear to have done. I hope the seeds and things I sent for you long long ago have reached you safely and that the binocular glasses suit Rebmann’s eyes.
If Burton has behaved sincerely with the Negro
What would you say of our Govt conduct to us. By the living Jingo they are far worse. They not only refused every member last time white or black man to give them any compensation for their losses after the Somali expedition although all could not have been culpable even if some or any were, but this time although all have brought home so much more than they could have ever expected from us, and which success was solely attributable to our having advanced sums on our own account confiding in their generosity to refund it afterwards yet they have refused to countenance our bills at all. But I’m not done with them yet, as soon as ever I can get the money I want for my present work I shall begin fighting my own battles with them in trying to get some, at least, of my money back, and won’t let them off until I have achieved a fair and decent answer about everything.
But returning to Burton and the negros he certainly had made up his mind to give the Shayk 500 $ only a week or two before he dismissed him: this was at my suggestion, but, the crowning stroke to the Shayk’s interest was on account of his having written clandestinely to the Sultan hoping to obtain release from the Burton persecution, for, as I told you in a former letter that, from the day on which Burton discovered that the Shayk was not of that Royal blood and true Arab descent which he had gulled Burton that he sprung from, he and B. were forever at variance. That B. did not give him a sixpence or a salaam you know as well as I do and I was surprised at it. I am sorry that you have not seen the Shayk or have had him at the consulate for it was only fair to give him a hearing.
The Belochis I told him repeatedly ought to be paid something but I voted that as we were sent on Public Business and as they could be paid as well out of the public treasury as out of our private purses that he had better ask a certain sum for them from the government. I do not know what the slaves got, they received occasional cloth on the road but whether that amounted to the equivalent of their pay or not I cannot say, at any rate Ramji that poor deluded devil was clean robbed of everything & I told Burton so repeatedly that he was entitled to every shilling that had been promised him, that I cannot comprehend on what grounds of fairness he could have (if he ever did) conceived he had a right to deprive him of those dues. That was really a blackguard business and the most destructive to English credit and interest of any thing that was done. For Ramji did his work admirably without a fault of any kind and instead of being cut was worthy of great reward. I hope I shall be able to make things a little square when I visit Zanzibar again which will be I hope in May next. England is too jolly by half and nothing short of the Nile would induce me to leave it one half day before compelled to do so.
If there is anything that I can bring out for anybody at Zanzibar from the Sultan to Bombay don’t hesitate to mention it. Poor Roscher he little thinks that when he boards the first canoe on the Niassa that Livingstone will have done the trick before him. With a multitude of salaams to all old friends & ever wishing power to your elbow, believe me yours ever sincerely
J. H. Speke
P.S. I will give you the first letter about my going out agn.
I have given Major Kullu Hay a letter of introduction to you and hope that you may meet. His is a first class individual, highly amusing and full of information. He has brought home a large collection of maps and pictures that would amuse you immensely. Have you heard anything about my going out again from the Govt. I am getting quite anxious about it as the time, and the right time too, is now slipping away. I ought to be at work at once, indeed it was only to secure myself against the proverbial dilatoriness of the Govts. Actions that induced me to apply to them so early as I did, and even that was not early enough it appears. If I had been in India I might have got up the expedition and have done half the work by this time. Do you think of I come to Town that I could do any good by acting in person? I am going to Lyppiatt near Stroud on Wednesday so if you can give any intelligence from the Govt. I wish you would let me know directing your letter there. I have just received a letter from Burton and am much amused to hear that he differs from me in his accounts of Africa, that part relating to the north end of the Nyanza. I thought he would for he used to snub me so unpleasantly when talking about anything that I often kept my own council. Burton is one of those men who never can be wrong, and will never acknowledge an error so that when only two are together talking becomes more of bore than a pleasure. He tells me he that has written a very long report for the Society’s Journals which rather surprises me for if you remember I offered the Society, through you, all the MS. which I had written in Africa for the benefit of the Society, when you told me not to be so liberal but to profit myself by publishing a book the same as everybody else does. I see that Krapf has made me the author, coupled with Burton, of that rot which I was in hopes you would have omitted in Burton's paper on Fuga, and which I corrected, by Admiral G. Back's advising when you gave me over Burton's proofs to correct before his return to England. Our Shaykh must have funked Burton into supposing that the road to Kilimandjaro was shut up & would be for years to come, as he used to do about the perils of Ugogo. It’s all bosh the road is open now & will never be shut up.
My dear Burton
I have just recd yours of the 31st ultimo with its insinuations. I have given all my knowledge of African matters in the three numbers of Blackwood which I have desired him to send you. I have given my authorities about the Bari, the Kivira and all the other matters in them. You used to read and extract from my MSS., and there is nothing in them than what I believe you have read. You are at liberty to scratch any names you like out of my map. What Abdullah meant I am best judge of.
You can contradict anything that you do not think truthful in my diaries.
I don’t want to be bothered any more with writing now that I have told my tale and published it for everybody to criticise as they may please.
J. H. Speke.
My dear Shaw
I have just polished off the Map of Tibet. I find that I can only correct Strachey & Cunningham in some of their hypothetical devices. It’s wonderful to observe how near to the truth they have made their map where it was done from simply taking the testimony of natives. But there is one obviously disgraceful error in one of the lines they travelled over which any mapper ought to have pulled them up about. What shall I do with the maps now that I have done with them. Mr. Walker Hydrographer I. House gave me one to copy from, & one other blank map to fill in, which I have done; and then George let me have the one I gave to the Society to copy from. All three ought to go to the department that intends to make immediate use of them to remain together until one complete map has been produced from the three combined. If you want a paper to be written on it I had better keep them with me until the paper is completely finished. As I protracted the route when on a shooting tour my paper would be more on sport than geographical matters. If you can worm anything out of Lord Ripon, Sir Rod. or any other swell tomorrow night about my going again I wish you would let me know. It will be a great sacrifice of good time and hardly bought experience if they (the Govt.) delay any longer in their decision.
I cannot help thinking what a green thing it was of Burton not remarking that when at Kazeh we were due South of Gondokoro with a sea according to everybodies account stretching clean up to it. It’s a devil of a bore having to go all over the same stale ground again & I would not attempt doing it on any account if I did not feel quite certain of being able to connect my Lake with the Nile. For there is no shooting in the country or any other inducement save & except the connection of the Nile & the Lake.
We ought never to have gone Westward from Kazeh & the distance that took us to Ujiji & back would have landed us to Gondokoro.
J. H. Speke
They want me to lecture at the Taunton Museum tomorrow night but I shall dodge them.
My dear Burton
I enclose one of the late Zoological Societies proceedings to show you what additions I have given to that establishment concerning the Somali collection. Blyth is sending me a set paper of all the collection when I intend to improve the whole at once or as many as I can from my collection. I have told Mr. Findlay that I do not wish to have my name attached to the map I made on the last expedition, if he makes use of your considerative distances in connection with my well-timed estimates, as it could certainly do no good, and most likely would be productive of much harm by falsification. I have given the public all the matter which I know about Africa and desire nothing else either for myself or Geography. As you were so busy in objecting to my Bari people, I have given Shaw an account of the way in which I obtained the information & desired at the same time that he would show it to any body who might feel inclined to question me as you have done. All I can say is that for the sake of Geography, it’s a shocking pity you did not tell me of the Egyptian Expeditionists when on the journey or this ridiculous exposé could never have happened, nor would Geography have suffered.
J. H. Speke
25th Nov / 59
My dear Rigby
I have just left the hunting & shooting Gulls to look after my affairs for going out again which unfortunately have not gone quite straight. The fact is that the application which I made though the R.G.S. was sent by its secretary to Lord Palmerston instead of to Lord J. Russell & was sent on […] by Lord P’s secretary instead of being returned. By this accident everybody was left wondering why I got no answer, instead the other day when Sir Rod. Murchison called Lord John’s attention to the [paper] the R.G.S. Secretary had sent in [...] & was surprised to hear Lord John say he was quite ignorant of the paper at […] Sir Rod. has now sent in another application which has passed Lord John’s favourably considered but is now held in check by Sir C. Wood who says that there is no money to spend as so much has been expended out of the public treasury by fortifying ourselves against the French & so I hear, but no answer has been returned. Your report of Burtons defalcations has been [looked into] by Sir C. Wood and has been explained by Burton in a report such as you may suppose without my telling you. The only pity is that we did not bring the matter to open reception whilst we were all present & when I first told you that I did not consider his treatment of [Ramji] fair, for he naturally thinks it taking a dirty advantage of him. But its better later than never & I hope the men at least will get paid. Burton will probably call for my letters if so I hope you will scratch out everything that’s not relating to the subject of the expedition.
Burton and I met at the R.G. Society today but he did not speak to me for we have had a little difference of opinion after which he desired that all private correspondence should cease. I read the communications between him and the Gov't at the Geographical room where they are left for further enquiry. That story about the Wanyamwezi porters which you must have heard of from the Shaykh is, I believe, quite true; I believe they ought to have been paid, & I wanted to do so but Burton would not agree. He may say that he did not let them [go] out of a spirit of economy and may be proved by his having and paid the men who only travelled from Khutu to the coast as much money as he had agreed to pay the original porters from Unyamwezi but the fact is he could not get the men for less and moreover the men after taking such a long time for so short a distance wanted to go with us, fearful that we should trick them also. In all Burton's answers I see the same avoidance of the naked truth; it is that sort of thing that has always made me feel incensed against him, and although I felt obliged to travel with him I entertained a loathing for him. I know that I ought to have hauled him up long before I did but felt compunctions about doing it as he is my senior. I hear the Natives that came from [Unyamwezi] to Khutu took their departures. He said that it would be the saving of so much money and he naturally said the same thing whenever any […] or been parted with. I was almost afraid to say such things of him as I know that he is likely to decry me judging from the way that he has sometimes decried me to my own face, as well as from other sources and there is no evidence to prove my assertions. My private letters home might help me through for they all told the same story & were never meant (being private) to act in any way against him. But never mind, if the men get paid I shall be satisfied.
Yours ever very sincerely
J. H. Speke
I called upon Mrs. [La…ch] yesterday immediately on arrival in Town & was delighted to see her looking very bright & gay for by your letter I had expected to have found her quite an invalid. She is wonderfully like you & when in conversation made me feel almost at Zanzibar again. She tells me she often sends you out some […] & other pretty things so that I now laugh at thinking you have been saying here about the way I grease my teeth in the fat of the blessed land that you do not fare so badly. I am delighted to find you are promoted. My last letter dubbed you as Captain though it ought to have tagged you then Major as you said you expected to [rise to] Colonel. I never think of Bombay without wishing that I had been present at the time that he was blushing. Tell him that I have spoken to all the English ladies about it & though they laugh at the transaction they are shocked at the very little price that [marriage] fetches. I expect that the Govt will give my leave to go again. If I do not go I expect nobody will, as I hear that my application is to take precedence of the Bombay one. If Burton had not behaved so badly the chances would be greater. Longing for another of your highly amusing letters believe me ever yrs sincerely J. H. Speke.
PS. Your letters go all round the family and they are voted to be such fun, or, they are read out loud after dinner by the fireside for the amusement of all alike. The last one I showed to Sir Rod. Murchison after scratching out the allusion to Burton. He said he was glad to see it & puffed me to Lord John Russell in consequence of it.
5th Decr / 59
My dear Rigby
Of all the painful things that I have ever had to undertake the severest and most painful as to my feelings I concluded yesterday. This was, by Sir C. Wood’s orders, I had to write my opinions versus Burton’s and now the matter is lying before the Govt. I think your letter admirably worded and that you have now acted very judiciously, for the true welfare of our aims and expectations, in those remote regions. As I said in my first letter to you it was a great misfortune that you did not consider the matter sufficiently of importance at the time I first spoke about it to you at Zanzibar for the whole differences would have been settled on the spot. On leaving Zanzibar & perceiving Ramji’s despairing looks as he said good bye, for he had told me of his fears to complain before, I had resolved on bringing the matter to a final reception in England but changed the intention when on the voyage homewards & finally resolved on informing you to do the best you could after describing the whole case by letter. My vacillation in not knowing which was the better way to proceed has been very injurious and I feel very sorry for it though still maintain that its better late than never & I hope the men may yet get their dues. I have advised the Govt to have all settlements decided in the Bt Consulate for the engagements with the men were made there. I have stated what my agreements with Burton were just before emerging from the interior of Africa when he and I concurred together about the obligations we were under to the men. Then it was settled that the Shayk should receive 500 $ and each sepoy save Khuda Bakhsh, who being the worst of the lot was to be made an example of, was to receive 100 $ whilst Ramji, even if his slaves received no pay was to receive his 2 ½ $ per man per mensem as long as they did service for us. My men behaved worse than the Portuguese did and yet Burton paid his men in full knowing that if he had not done so, the servants would have complained. I paid Bombay, Mabrouk & Burton’s boy in your house with Burton’s money & these were the only men who were properly paid. I was determined they should not be losers any way. Burton I believe will require my letters to you, if this be the case grant him a sight of them, after erasing all matter which does not relate to the subject at issue—but give up those only which induced you to act against him.
P.S. I was not at all surprised to hear you say that Dr. Roscher found much difficulty in dealing with the Zanzibar merchants after the rough treatment they received at Burton’s hands.
1st December, 1859
The Under-Secretary of State for India.
I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your letter, together with the communications of Captain Rigby and Captain Burton enclosed, dated India Office, 30th of November, 1859, requiring by orders of the Secretary of State for India in Council a full statement of my views as to the validity or otherwise of certain claims proffered by Captain Rigby, H. B. M.’s Consul of Zanzibar in behalf of certain men who afforded their services to the late East African Expedition commanded by Captain Burton, Bombay Army.
In the first place I would mention the fact that the funds which were granted by the Government for the conduct of the Expedition failed us before we had penetrated 100 miles into the interior of Africa. At that time Captain Burton and myself, anticipating the wishes of Government that the objects for which we started should be fulfilled, agreed that all future expenses should be shared between us. But this was only in case it so happened that, after our work was completed, the Government should not feel itself obliged to us for what we had done for them. In the meantime Captain Burton was to find the present means through his own private resources, whilst I remained answerable in the end for the half of all excess, provided the Government should refuse to requite us.
The passage-money alluded to in the 2nd paragraph of Captain Rigby’s was a reserve fund of the Government money intended only for defraying the expenses of our journey homeward from Zanzibar. On the road from the interior of Africa to the coast, I often discussed the subject of our obligations to the men who assisted us with Captain Burton, or rather of the Kafila Bashi, Ramjee, the Belooch soldiers and the ten men supplied by Ramjee; and to all these men I explained that we were more or less indebted. Of the other two men who brought us after supplies, I know nothing further than what Captain Burton told me, which was that they had helped themselves very abundantly out of our cloths. I do not know how they were supposed to have provided themselves on the road whilst coming to meet us, or even to pay their passport fees to the Chiefs that line the road like tax-gatherers, or rather Customs Officers; and everything would depend upon that before their claims should be listened to.
Returning to para. 3 of Captain Rigby’s I do not know exactly under what conditions the Belooch soldiers were induced to serve us, but this I can answer for, as I objected to the terms of engagement that were made with them, which was that they should only be required to serve six months; therefore I maintain at the expiration of those six months they would assuredly have left us, had they not confided in our honour to requite their services.
It is true these men did not always behave agreeably to us, for they disliked the restraint they were under. As far as my knowledge is concerned, these men did not mutiny at the time of Colonel Hamerton’s death, though they did make a feint at desertion when they thought they were unjustly suspected by Captain Burton implying that they had made away with some of the cloth of the Expedition. I told Captain Burton that I thought he acted wrongly in the way in which he endeavoured to find out if his convictions were well grounded, when he told me that I was as bad as the men were. When journeying alone with the Beloochees to discover the Victoria Nyanza they did everything they could to please, and I was highly satisfied with their general conduct. The Beloochees would not go to the Nyanza with me until they were first paid, as they said it was completely an extra undertaking, being off the Ujiji line, the only one they had agreed to travel on, and as their time had so long expired. In this matter I think they showed their good sense; for it is the only service for which they received any proper pay. At the same time that these Beloochees were striking for their pay I begged Captain Burton to order the Kafila Bashi to go with me on the same journey as the country was but little frequented and it was, as he knew, much infested with war-parties, but he would not do so, and in consequence the Kafila Bashi, not considering me his Chief, did not feel bound to serve me when Captain Burton was present and might require his services. At least such was his answer when I asked him after my return.
Before we parted with our men, on arriving near the sea-coast, I believed Captain Burton was satisfied with my decision as to our obligations to the various men, and that he would have paid the Kafila Bashi 500 dollars each (saving one man Khuda Bakhsh who showed much unreasonable insubordination) and Ramjee all that was due to him for the loss of the services of the ten slaves with which he furnished us.
Before the second engagement of Ramjee’s ten men, I told Captain Burton, if we took them again to service, we were bound to pay them on the same conditions as before, but I was averse to having them with us at all, for the more men one has in those wild regions where provisions are often scarce and everybody clamors for food, the more trouble one must expect to have with them. However Captain Burton spoke of the perils of the Ugogo and Uyoramo countries and decided on taking them. They were therefore considered by him to be essential to the safety of the Caravan, and I consider Ramjee’s claim quite reasonable.
I must say I was very much surprised on arriving at Zanzibar to find Captain Burton not only intent upon not paying any one of these men, but even forbade their approaching him, although I told him they wished to speak to him, if only to say good-bye.
The only men of the Caravan who were paid in full were the Portuguese servants who accompanied us to Aden, and three Negro servants whom I paid in full myself with money advanced by Captain Burton. One of these three black servants and the two Portuguese behaved as badly as any of the Caravan; still I think it was simple justice giving them their pay, for they came through with us to the end and did services for us to the last, and for this we were under obligations to them. The same reasoning is applicable to every man who came through the journey with us.
I told Captain Rigby all these disagreements at Zanzibar, and regret exceedingly that he did not bring the matter to a crisis at the time, but, as he has since written to me, he did not know how far he was justified in informing against Captain Burton’s decision.
As Ramjee was afraid to appeal, yet thought he had been treated unjustly, and as I felt after reflection that I was a debtor to him, provided the Government might never refund Captain Burton the money he had spent on my account or would not consider the debt to this man competent in them to settle, I wrote the full facts to Captain Rigby after arrival at Aden, adding that I was sorry he did not seem to consider the matter in the same important light as I did, and urged him to use his able ingenuity in bringing the case to a proper conclusion, reflecting as little as possible on Captain Burton and sparing me the pain of appearing as an informer against him, but to let justice run its course.
I also told him to acquaint Ramjee, that if the Government did not settle with him I should consider myself his debtor to one half of the engagements; but as yet I had received no pay myself; and consequently could not satisfy him.
Colonel Hamerton, late Consul of Zanzibar, paid the Kafila Bashi 500 dollars at the time of engaging him and said in my presence that the money was a mere trifle as an earnest of what he would give, if he succeeded in bringing us through the journey successfully, and further said he would reward him by a present of a gold watch.
Colonel Hamerton was under the impression that he had the power of giving grants of money to any man who might assist any Government project, and accordingly promised much. Indeed, on hearing the limited extent of our means, he promised to advance us several thousand dollars, as he was sure the Government never undertook anything that it was not bent on carrying through. I believe all the men had great expectations, until the unhappy event of the Consul’s death.
As I never understood the manner in which Captain Burton spoke to the Kafila Bashi, from ignorance of the language (Arabic) which they conversed in, I cannot say how far that man was justified in behaving as he did sometimes. I contend he did not deserve a gold watch, from the fact of his not going with me to the Nyanza, for gratuities should only be given for gratuitous or extraordinary services; but I do think, as I said before, that he ought to receive pay.
The Kafila Bashi and the Beloochees were provided us by the Sultan of Zanzibar, and were admitted into the British Consulate to make arrangements for going with us. If they started without making any agreement about their pay, they evidently trusted to the protection of the Consulate and to British generosity, and for this reason, in my opinion, they should not have been the less rewarded.
Captain Burton induced Colonel Hamerton to see and speak to the Beloochees to make their engagements with him more secure. The men were paid some money and promised more, but how much I cannot exactly remember. I am more particularly sorry for Ramjee, as he did everything he could to afford us assistance. He left his home in Zanzibar before we started, and prepared every necessary on the coast for us, men, animals, bag and baggage and after we had departed he forwarded things on to us.
When Captain Burton (on the return journey) was considering whose pay he should cut down, I emphatically explained, and moreover obtained his assent to, our obligations to Ramjee for his loss of ;the services of the ten men he supplied us with. Captain Burton first said that their value in the Bazaar was not so great as their pay amounted to. When I said the bargain for their services was 2 ½ dollars per man per mensem, and in strict justice it must be paid. Even if he thought of cutting the men for their occasional misbehaviour, that in no way ought to affect Ramjee.
This of course alluded only to those men who received no pay whatever. Finally I proposed to Captain Burton that instead of his paying these men at Zanzibar he should ask the Consul to do so, or else report the state of our obligations to the Government direct for them to settle.
With regard to that very regrettable circumstance of the 70 native porters who were engaged at Kazeh in the far interior and brought our baggage to Kootoo near the coast, Captain Burton and I differed at the time, though I could never arrive at the rights of the story; for Captain Burton told me one story, whilst the men, through my Interpreter, told me another. When Captain Burton first wished to let them go without any return for their hard services over a long and tedious journey, I inquired of my Interpreter whether on engaging themselves at Kazeh they had stipulated on going to any port in particular, when he assured me that the Kafila Bashi (the man who arranges the component members of a caravan) had first tried getting men who would go back with us to Kilwa, but as he could only secure a few men agreeable to doing that journey he said no more about that place, and the porters then, supposing we had abandoned our purpose of going to Kilwa, engaged themselves to travel with us to the coast, conjecturing we then intended pursuing the ordinary route. Arrived at Kootoo, we wished to diverge from the normal line that caravans travel on to inspect the Rufiji river, and this would have taken us five or six days’ journey out of the direct way, but the porters would on no condition go with us, although we offered them large presents to do so.
They said it was a new country, and was out of the way, and had they known we were bent on going out of the ordinary line of march, they would never have left Kazeh with us. I told this to Captain Burton, when he told me it was false, for they were warned of it by the Kafila Bashi.
Next the porters, finding us obstinately determined on going by the Rufiji, asked for their discharge, as they considered our wishing to force them to do a thing they had never agreed to very unjust, but to balance the matter they wished half pay might be allowed them, although they had done three-fourths of the whole journey.
I was solicitous with Captain Burton that they should receive at least the half of their pay, because of their saying they felt themselves tricked at the time of engagement at Kazeh. But Captain Burton would not consent, as he said it would only insure their going. However, he gave the leader the whole of his pay, as this man said he would go anywhere we liked to take him; when the whole marched off together.
Even then I scarcely believed these men were in earnest, as the sacrifice of so much pay must have told so severely on them, and thought they were probably making a feint to deceive us. But after they had disappeared some time and I felt uneasy at the injury to future travellers such an unseemly rupture would occasion, I obtained Captain Burton’s consent to try and recall them, but, alas, without effect.
The Kafila Bashi was offended because he was not consulted at the onset, and would not start to recall them as quickly as wished. On seeing this, I ordered Ramjee’s slaves to try and overtake them, which they did, but moved slowly, and without effect.
The Caravan was long delayed at Kootoo before any relief came, when a caravan from the interior arriving with spare hands, we engaged as many as we wanted, and travelled altogether by the ordinary route to the coast. These men whom we engaged at Kootoo demanded for the short distance to the coast as much cloth as we had engaged to give the former men from Kazeh for the whole journey thence to the coast, and even with this they were very suspicious of going with us, for after receiving their hire they repeatedly brought it back again saying they were afraid we should trick them as we had done the former ones, lest, when once in motion, we should insist on their going off the normal track.
I hope whatever decision the Government may come to in granting the Kafila Bashi and the Beloochees any money, or otherwise, that it may be done publicly in the Consulate, the place they were engaged in, or else, in my opinion, much suspicion will be entertained towards travellers in future.
Although Captain Burton does not appear to be satisfied with either Luddah Damhoo or Ramjee, I must say that I have ever felt we were under the greatest obligations to them, for they did everything in their power to assist us.
It may appear that I, being subordinate to Captain Burton, was acting in an unjustifiably officious manner when interfering for the natives, but it must be understood that Captain Burton was often ill, and in consequence desired me to act for him.
Captain Burton in concluding his letter remarks his surprise to find that I still differ in opinion with him, at the same time that I write friendly notes to him. I can only say that I never allow enmity to be rankling in my breast, yet am ever ready to refer to anything discordant with my views, especially if that be on any question of equity. It is the greatest pain to my feelings that I have been compelled to write my views in the present letter, although they only contain what I have ever expressed to Captain Burton in person, and I am sure he cannot accuse me of inconsistency in the way in which I have expressed my opinions, for they have ever been the same.
J. H. Speke, Captain.
46th Regt. Bengal N.I.
My dear Speke.
In consequence of a letter recd
from Captn Rigby
& forwarded to me by Sir Chas Wood
& of my reply thereto & bearing in mind the many
misunderstandings wh. have lately occurred between us, I beg feel
that any direct corres. between us could can not profitably be
productive of any good & might lead to unseemly dispute wh. in the cause of
Geogl science it was is most desirable to avoid. I have
therefore begged asked Dr. S.
to communicate to you the existence of the letter above alluded to. Your note a
letter since recd from you dated only tends to confirm me
in my opinion that direct correspondence shd cease between us &
I trust this letter of mine will close it. It is competent to you to send any
remarks or information to the RGS which you may raise. It is competent to me
to do the same & that body will of course decide upon the use they will
make of the information so afforded. Your impression of occurrences &
conversations that took place is so often totally opposed to my convictions on
those points that no profitable good can come from the discussion of them &
as the only effect can be an unseemly dispute, I had hope that you will
agree with me that all future points of disagreement difference
should be simply communicated to the RGS to be used by them as they shall think
He paid us a flying visit before his expedition into Equatorial Africa—1856-9, when he discovered Lake Tanganyika; and again before setting out for the United States in 1860, to visit Great Salt Lake City, and collect materials for his book on the Mormons, ‘The City of the Saints.’ His longest sojourn with us was during the summer of 1859, when he joined us at Dover. His father and mother were dead, but his brother-in-law, the late Lieut. General Sir Henry Stisted, had just returned to England to recruit after the Mutiny; and we all spent several months together at that war-like little watering-place.
We did our best to cheer him up, for all that summer he seemed ailing and despondent. In his family the expression, “an unlucky Burton,” is proverbial, and certainly at times his ill-luck was almost inveterate enough to terminate his career. Even a good thing would come to him like a scorpion, with a sting in its tail. He had just discovered Lake Tanganyika, but then ensued all the trouble and disappointment about Speke: and he was too affectionate and sensitive a man not to take such a grievous annoyance to heart. Later on, evil fate dealt him a worse blow.
In conclusion I must say, if what I have written in any part of this journal may appear harsh to one with whom I have travelled I trust it will be understood that I have done so not in any consideration for myself but merely to vindicate the honour of those who befriended me in carrying to a successful issue our late explorations. For to every member, no matter what grade, on whom our fate was entrusted, all alike are worthy of some meed of praise so long as he did his duty.
[The Burton Expedition] accomplished great things, namely, the discovery of the two lakes, Tanganyika and Victoria Nyanza, but at the painful cost of a serious breach of friendship between its leaders. Burton was a man of eccentric genius and tastes, orientalised in character and thoroughly Bohemian. He was a born linguist, and ever busy in collecting minute information as to manners and habits. Speke, on the other hand, was a thorough Briton, conventional, solid, and resolute. Two such characters were naturally unsympathetic. On reaching Tanganyika, Burton became seriously ill and temporarily unfitted for travel; his eyes, too, were badly inflamed and gave him great trouble. Principally owing to Burton's restless spirit of inquiry, the existence and position of the lake now known as the Victoria Nyanza had been ascertained. Burton was unable to go to it; therefore Speke went as his deputy, and so came upon what was suspected by him, and has proved afterwards to be a headwater of the Nile. Of course Speke got the credit, for without him the lake would not have then been reached; but the disappointment to Burton at being superseded in solving the problem of ages by discovering the source of the Nile was very bitter and very natural.
Burton brought back, as purely his own work, a most elaborate account of all the tribes he had met by the way, the close accuracy of which has been testified to by succeeding travellers. Only one of his numerous notebooks came under my own careful examination, as already mentioned, and I was astonished at its minuteness. I may mention the occasion, which was this.
The Society for the Propagation of the Gospel were considering the propriety of establishing a mission station at Zanzibar, and desired fuller information about the island than they possessed. In the end they invited me to give a lecture, to which I consented, after talking with Burton, who had been asked and refused, but who very kindly offered me the full use of his original notebook written when in Zanzibar. An elaborate account which he had based on it for publication had been lost. I had no firsthand information about the place, but had known Erhardt and others who knew it well, so was able to compile a respectable description, which was published in the Mission Field, June 1, 1861. The notes made by Burton were written in a fine clear hand and most elaborate in detail. He told me that he often used a board with parallel wires, such as are made for the use of the blind, to write notes, unseen, in the night-time.
The next expedition was under Captain Speke, with whom Captain Grant (1827-1892) was associated. They were to take up the quest at the point on the Victoria Nyanza where Speke had reached it, and to travel onwards. This was done, and I may say that the attachment of Grant to Speke was most remarkable for its loyalty and intensity. They were fine manly fellows, and I can see them now in my mind's eye, as they came to take a final leave, when I knocked two nails into the side of a cupboard as they stood side by side with their backs to it, to mark their respective heights and as a memento of them when away. As is well known, they followed the Nile, not however without a break, from the Lake into Egypt. This break, and the hypothetical placement of the "Mountains of the Moon," whose position Speke saw reason to modify in a second map, gave an opening to criticism of which bitter use was made. Coming down the Nile, Speke and Grant met Captain, afterwards Sir Samuel, Baker (1821-1893) and his large party going up it, and were able to give him timely and valuable information. I do not speak more of Sir Samuel's magnificent work, because it did not fall closely within my own ken, but will conclude what has to be said about Burton and Speke.
My dear Shaw
Petherick is coming here on Wednesday when he shall run over his paper on the Nile, and concoct measures for meeting in the direction of the Nyanza at some future date. On Friday we journey together to Town when I hope to see you and Sir Roderick to determine on the best mode of applying to the Indian Govt. for obtaining my services, unless as I hope is the case the Geographical Society have already made application in the same way as they asked the English Govt. for the advance of the money. It surely would be a more secure mode of proceeding that the G. Society should ask for my services to be made over to them, than that I should apply myself. In consequence of my having asked Rigby to try and induce the Govt. to give those poor men who did so much for us on the last occasion when Ct Burton cut them off without a shilling—doubts may be entertained by the I. Govt. as to my motives for having done so; for this reason alone I think it of importance the R. G. Society should make application for my services. It must be obvious to the Geoghl Society and to every thinking man that unless man were paid for their services extending over two years of unremitting hardships that no men would do a like service again. I shall have to pay them if the Govt. do no. Excuse the groggy appearance of the writing as it comes from the late Chairman of the Ilminster Agricultural Society where gin & pipes with incessant toasts ruled the night.
J. H. Speke
14 St. James Square
Sir,—I have been indebted to the kindness and consideration of my friend Dr. Shaw, for a sight of your letter addressed to him the 10th of October last from Zanzibar. I shall not attempt to characterize it in the terms that best befit it. To do so, indeed, I should be compelled to resort to language ‘vile’ and unseemly as your own. Nor can there be any necessity for this. A person who could act as you have acted must be held by everyone to be beneath the notice of any honourable man. You have addressed a virulent attack on me to a quarter in which you had hoped it would prove deeply injurious to me; and this not in the discharge of any public duty, but for the gratification of a long-standing private pique. You sent me no copy of this attack, you gave me no opportunity of meeting it; the slander was propagated, as slanders generally are, in secret and behind my back. You took a method of disseminating it which made the ordinary mode of dealing with such libels impossible, while your distance from England puts you in a position to be perfectly secure from any consequence of a nature personal to yourself. Such being the case, there remains to me but one manner of treating your letter, and that is with the contempt it merits. My qualifications as a traveller are, I hope, sufficiently established to render your criticisms innocuous, and the medals of the English and French Geographical Societies may console me for the non-appreciation of my labours by so eminent an authority as yourself. As regards my method of dealing with the natives, the complete success of all my explorations, except that which started under the auspices of Brigadier Coghlan, will perhaps be accepted as a better criterion of its correctness than the carpings of the wretched sycophants whom you make to pander to your malignity at Zanzibar. Where the question between us is one of personal veracity, I can hardly think that your statements will have much weight with those who are aware of the cognomen acquired by you at Addiscombe, and which, to judge from your letter now under notice, I think you most entirely, richly deserve. I have only to add, in conclusion, that I shall forward a copy of this letter to Dr. Shaw, as well as to my publishers, and to Government—you mention your intention of writing to them—and that I shall at all times, in all companies, even in print if it suits me, use the same freedom in discussing your character and conduct that you have presumed to exercise in discussing mine.
I am, Sir,
your obedient servant,
Richd F. Burton.
My dear Shaw
Good bye for I am off to Jordans. Touch the electric wire the moment anything turns up and I shall be back in a jiffy. How very elegantly both Beatson and Burton have come out in court!! Won’t B give [R] a good hyding the next time he catches him? What all. The very idea of one man saying [shan’t] to another without some [return] “consequences” ensuing—impossible!
till I return
J. H. Speke
J. H. Speke
Recd Jany 16th.
My dear Shaw to keep you conversant with how matters go and that you shall be able to meet any questions from doubting inquisitive minds, I will tell you the issue of my conversation with Sir C. Wood on Saturday, and how I wish the 2500£ to be disposed of.
Firstly Sir Charles seemed well disposed to my going, he read an extract from Lord Elphinstone’s letter to him which said that Lord E was very sorry the Gd medal was not given to me instead of to Burton, smiled and promised to give me his support. He did not seem very conversant with the rules and etiquette of our service and could not answer me whether or not some reference would have to be made to India for the confirmation of my leave. I believe this will have to be done but only as a matter of form. The India House ought and I’ve no doubt will grant me leave in anticipation of my reply from India and that will be sufficient for me to commence work upon. For the rest is a common sequence. The council meet at the India House on Wednesdays or Thursday when the application you sent in for my services will be debated upon. I am now writing to Sir James Hog to arrange matters as quickly as its possible to be done. I saw Sir Roderick in the street yesterday when he seemed anxious I should commence operations at once, but that is simply not feasible. I could not write and ask Rigby to engage men for me as long as there is any sort of doubt in the matter.
About the money I must tell you no-one in Zanzibar has any transactions with England or English banks, but they all have with Bombay. I shall have to draw dollars on the Banyans of Zanzibar giving bills on Bombay which is the only plan they have any knowledge of and will negotiate bills with. In consequence of this I would propose the money which the Foreign Office intend granting to the Geographical Society should be remitted to the Govt treasury at Bombay whence I would draw it as required. This I think the most secure as well as the most profitable way of doing the business. At least, without having worked with the exchange of of the day, I should think considering the state of the Indian finance transmission of money there would be highly favourable.
I shall want 500£ in England all the rest will be required abroad. As soon as I hear from you or the India House I shall bid Jordans a lasting farewell.
J. H. Speke
19th Jany. 1860
My dear Rigby
I have driven the fox to earth at last, and now only require a little drawing to get him in the bag. I send you a notice of our late G. S. meeting, which will show you what is now afloat there. Now I have in conjunction with Mr. Petherick undertaken to go to the Nyanza again and to connect it with the Nile—I going up the west side of the Lake from Unyanyembe whilst he goes down south-wards from Gondokoro. We shall I hope meet in two months about and return together by the Valley of the Nile to Egypt. The only thing left for me to obtain before commencing to get up the expedition is the transfer of my services by the India House to the R.G. Society’s purposes. This as I’ve hinted in the beginning of the letter is now quite certain. Indeed I expect to get a final answer about it tomorrow or next day.
Lord Elphinstone in a letter to Sir C. Wood expresses his regret that the gold medal was not given to me instead of to Burton. I have spoken at the India House my opinion about our moral obligations to all those unfortunate men of whom you sent home word, and am delighted to tell you that its justice has been recognized. Sir C. Grey (Under Secy. of State) is the best man in the India House, and he enters warmly into my views, so I trust before long that something will be done for the men. Burton has got the dumps, and is cutting himself at every turn. He first applied to the R.G. Society for a refundment of his expenses, then the letter of complaint against him from Zanzibar arrived and he told the India House that he had paid all the money for which he was requiring restitution at the hands of the R.G. Society out of his own private resources and that he was willing (had there been any need of it) to have paid as much more money—keeping dark his transactions with the R.G. Society. Now however the R.G.S. won’t do anything for him, but require he should apply himself to the India House, which Burton of course is afraid to do for fear of exposing himself.
By the bye this matter must be an enigma to you, for I said in my last letter that the Govt, had promised to pay Burton and myself our dues, which is a mistake. I was told so, but without proper authority.
I called on Mrs. Serrell when I was in Town, but very unfortunately did not find her at home. I was longing to have seen some of your private accounts of the late Burghash affair. How much more comfortable and secure the Sultan must feel now. It seems to have been a sharp and spirited affair as long as it lasted. I have told the people here that what you have now done is the best thing that could have happened for my prospects. They listen at India House with great pride when I tell them the way in which you govern at Zanzibar—defeating the French Consul and carrying everything before you—that you are the father of Zanzibar and the Sultan your eldest son. I shall write again as soon as ever I hear definitely of the transfer of my services, and will then ask you for your assistance in getting up the preliminary part of my expedition for me.—To arrange with some Shaykh [an Arab] who will undertake to travel with me for two or more years keeping 40 of his slaves constantly in work for me on a liberal salary payable at Zanzibar on representation of a life certificate which I shall send back from time to time by return caravans from the interior. Also to get Ludha to send on some advance supplies to an agent at Kazeh and in Karagwah that I may not be detained on the road after once setting out.
I shall make all arrangements for the payment of services, etc., in the most concise manner before starting that no one shall have such doubts of being remunerated by me as they always entertained of Burton. I want to go the whole round from Zanzibar up the west side of the Nyanza and down the Nile. This would be a glorious tour! One that even the Shaykh who goes with me might well be proud of. The men who go with me could wind up by making the pilgrimage of Mecca, and then return by Buggaloes to Zanzibar. For this I would make arrangements with our Consul at Cairo.
The Bari people I’ve no doubt will be tough fellows to deal with, but with Petherick diverting their attention one way whilst I do the other, we ought to find no difficulty in pushing our way through them.
With profound salaam to all old friends, believe me yours ever very sincerely
J. H. Speke
Hotel de Paris
Boulogne sur Mer
22d Jan 1860
My dear Milnes,
Eccomi qua in the “home of the stranger” not however so much for the usual reason as for the conviction that here I can work, but not so in London & Paris. There is a fatal necessity for coming out with something more popular than a geographical report and upon this I am engaged.
Since we met I saw Hankey. The 'sisters' were a humbug—Swiss women, cold as frogs and thorough mountaineers a breed as unfit for debauchery as exists in this world. I told Hankey so and he remarked philosophically enough that they were quite sufficiently good for the public of postcards. He showed me also a little poem entitled the Betuliad. I liked much every part except the name—you are writing for a very very small section who combine the enjoyment of verse with the practice of flagellation and the remembrance that betula is a birch. Why not call it the Birchiad? If you want it corrected here I can do so. Hankey and I looked over the copy made at Paris and corrected the several errors.
After leaving Hankey I returned to Boulogne and began to write, but I was interrupted by Beatson's confounded suit. One could not refuse to assist him he really has been ill-treated after a fashion; so I showed up in the witness box. My evidence has not been printed quite correctly, n'importe. You will hear of Beatson's affair during the next session, when it will appear as a lively contrast to such heavy matters as the Italian question and China.
I suppose you will be in town the day after tomorrow. There is little hope of my escaping from this place before the middle of February. By the bye did you remember showing me a little book upon 'Western Africa' by some missionary (Smith?) with a nigger's view of religion? Could you lend it me for a few days, or tell me the name of the publisher so that I could write for it?
I will tell you when we make any visit to David Urquhart. There is an odour of sanctity & omniscience about the house that raised my stomach—even the lady seemed to have caught a complaint of knowing everything. As I did not see it, the little creature shook its fist in my face, called me a "hateful and abominable Frank" and otherwise disported himself after the fashion of the milder kind of idiot. It was a most instructive study, but defend me from another day's work like that. You are quite right I think in your estimate of character, he may become the Creator the Saviour or the King of Jerusalem any day. Yet they say that madmen are respected only in the East! Very wrong, you should have seen the phizes of his "disciples" and "delegates".
14 St James’
1st Febry 1860.
Since you appear desirous of shunning me—
I write to inform you that I have this day received intelligence from the Indian Govt. of their intention to admit me the whole of my Indian Pay & allowances from the 2nd Decr 1856 to the 14th May 1859.
In consequence of this announcement, I shall be prepared to pay you the half of the excess of expenditure which accrued on the Expedition since the date when the Govt. allowance of 1000 £s ceased until the expedition expired—But this will only be the case when your agreement to ask the Govt. (the Indian one which we both belong to) for refundment shall on your part have been fulfilled: and, as it’s possible may be the case they shall have refused to requite you. I remain dear Sir
J. H. Speke.
P.S. The passage money which I have
paid had to pay
for going out to India since my return home and the other expenses which I
advanced on account of the Expedition will of course have to be considered in
the account: as it was never my intention to have left England with you in the
first instance had I known it would have afterwards befallen to myself
to pay that money.
J. H. Speke.
I am not “desirous of shunning you.” As regards money—to
any actions between us, the subject is distasteful to me in the extreme but you
press it upon me. The debt was contracted unconditionally by you in Africa.
Since your return home you have remembered an “agreement” which never existed,
and you propose conditions which allow me to say are not exactly your affair.
It is for me to decide if I choose to “ask the government for refundment.” Had
I known you then as well as I do now, I should have required receipts for what
was left a debt of honour. I must be contented to pay the penalty of
Richd. F. Burton.
14 St. James’ Square.
6th Febry. 1860
My dear Shaw
I have just received a letter from Capt. Burton in which he says it’s “distasteful” to him having any correspondence with me in regard to money matters.
I am most anxious to come to some settlement with him in liquidation of the late E. A. Expedition’s debt, but cannot arrange it.
It was a voluntary action on my part offering to
assist him in defraying the expenses of that expedition, provided the Govt.
would not refund him any money at the expiration of the journey. I am prepared
to swear by the honor
of a gentleman I made that provision with him, expecting him of course to ask
our Govt. for it, and, as he concluded by accepting my proposal in this manner,
I considered it an agreement between us. Now, however, he denies there was any
agreement between us, but
expects seems to expect I shall pay him my
quota of the expenditure, without his trying to save me by any exertion on his
part. This is virtually throwing me over, as the Govt. could not recognise any
claims I might make upon them unless it came through him.
I accepted Captain Burton’s invitation to go to Africa with him under the proviso I should not be called upon to pay any money whatever, not even my passage out, or, I said I would not go with him.
He is fully aware of this fact. All arrangements I made after that were done with a view to saving him, voluntary on my part and without any formality in writing.
Excuse my troubling you with this affair but I don’t know how to act and wish you would favour me with your advice on the subject.
If Captain Burton has no private reason for not writing to the India House there certainly could be no harm in his petitioning them and out of justice to my feelings I think he ought to do so.
J. H. Speke
Feb 7th 1860
My dear Burton
The printers have just sent your note to them together with the first portion of revise up to p. 128, which shall be sent at once to 14 St. James’s Sq. and the remainder forwarded as soon as it arrives. These things cannot proceed as speedily as you think, other papers having been directed to be printed in our Journal also.
Is it by your permission that Speke has published in Petermann’s Journal a very full map of the proceedings of the Expedition under your command, containing, as it appears more information than any yet given to Mr. Findlay, who must now have time to revise his map? On the next page you will find an extract from the Expedition Committee Report respecting your application for additional funds from the Foreign Office, and Speke has since informed me that he has received from the Indian Government his pay during his absence in Africa with you. He desires to take Capt. Grant with him.
A card to Earl de Grey’s soirées for Wednesday 8th, 15th & 29th has been delivered at your Club by direction of
my dear Burton,
P.S. Upon second thoughts I will write to the printers to do as you wished, & send the revise at once to you. I shall therefore not send them to St James’s Sq.
“Dr. Shaw was requested to inform Capt. Burton that, in the opinion of the Committee, the Society has no claim on the Foreign Office for any sum beyond the £1,000 already advanced towards defraying the expenses of the East Africa Expedition but that the Committee will be gratified to learn that Capt. Burton had been reimbursed the extra sum laid out by him.”
Livingston goes out to the Zambese shortly.
Hotel de Paris
Frid. 7th Feb. 60
My dear Shaw
I have received the 1st portion of revise and will return it as soon as the printers will vouchsafe to send me a duplicate copy.
Captn Speke has published nothing with my permission in Peterman's Journal. I know nothing of his proceedings except as regards myself and I have thought it my duty to express to him my candid opinion concerning these. With respect to the map I object to any alteration. Mr. Findlay has seen Captn Speke's journals & my own. Any revise will be de trop.
I am much obliged to you for the card to the President’s soireés.
As regards the extract I am indebted to the Committee for their good wishes—only, good wishes generally end where they began.
I expect to be in London about the 20th instant and in the meantime send you Salaams. Ever yrs my dear Shaw,
R. F. Burton
Have you found the meteorological tables—I want them much?
Without offering any comments whatever on your last note dated from Paris, 2nd Febry I would inform you that I have adopted the plan you advised yourself on a previous occasion of conducting for the future all differences between us through the medium of the Royal Geogl Society for their arbitration. Consequently on this decision I have written a facsimile of the enclosed letter to Dr. Shaw their Secretary.
Hotel de Paris
Very many thanks, first for the extract secondly for the fraternal admonition "be very careful how you use this"—to which I reply pace tuâ that I intend capping it.
Fred Hankey wrote to me today "I have just written de nouveau (sic) to the person who is to get the Betuliad printed at Bruxelles (sic etiam) saying I must have a rendezvous immediately to settle the whole thing without loss of time and will let you know when I have seen him all I shall have done." The italics are the author's own—you recognize […] style margins.
I am rather tempted to stay through the carnival end in France even at Boulogne. These small Saturnalia bring with them pleasant memories, they are as it were fricassees versus London life—beefsteaks.
Besides which this is a good place to work in. I am staying at the Chateau d'Outreau with an old friend the veriest Olla Podrida of humanity’s Harrow boy, Capt. of the Greys, first class at Oxford, Holy Orders & divorced, great in metaphysics tall in mathematics and a very stiff drinker. Adieu pour le moment.
PS: What does that thing mean in the Cornhill magazine? You began with the idea of a "sandwich" (mother, man, daughter) as Hankey would call it. You recollected yourself in the holy presence of the British printer publisher and public and you have ended in producing what the millions may admire but what I ('umble individual) look upon as the bathos of the painter who made a pretty woman terminate in a damned red herring.
14 St James'
10th Febry / 60
My dear Shaw
As you were good enough to keep the note I wrote you the other day relative to my late correspondence with Captain Burton, would you now object to my sending him a copy of it, which I have by me; to show him what steps I have taken in my endeavour to bring the whole matter to a speedy conclusion. It must, as you have yourself said, be obvious to everybody from the fact of Captain Burton having applied to the R. G. Society for refundment of his expenditures that he had always intended to recover his money from the Govt. if possible.
It is also obvious that I must have expected him to apply to the Govt. from the fact of my having told Capt. Burton on the line of march, which he cannot deny, that he ought to report our obligations to the Arab and men who travelled with us to them—and as he did not do so, that I told Captain Rigby of it—who concluding with myself in the inadvisability of leaving debts of honour unsettled, without any trial or debate at the Consulate, where the men were engaged, reported the state of the circumstances to the Indian Govt. for adjustment.
I was induced to advise Captain Burton to report our obligations to the men, to the Indian Govt., because our funds were out, and at Zanzibar they (the Govt.) would be as well able to pay the men as Captain Burton was—and the Expedition was a Govt. affair. Pray excuse this further trouble, it’s painful to me to have to ask you, but I feel it is the only recourse left me.
yours very sincly
J. H. Speke
Hotel de Paris
My dear Shaw
The fact is I am bothered—that old woman at the head of the India House has been writing rot to me & has secured in consequence in reply a severe blowing up. You shall see the papers when I return.
Tonight D. V. I shall be in Paris for the end of the Carnival, after that to London about the last of next week.
As regards the maps I must have returned them and have forgotten all about them—the only paper belonging to the Society now in possession is a sheet of observations taken at Zanzibar.
I have not yet recd the duplicate copy of proofs, the corrections are finished, but I have lent them to a friend for inspection.
That's a considerable bother about the meteorologicals, but I suppose they will turn up some day.
R. F. Burton
My dear Milnes
I will be with you today at 5 P.M. exactly. What is the toilette, flaps or tails.
Richd F. Burton
The Geographical Society is shut up and I cannot get at the exact amount for which I am liable to you, whatever it is I shall be happy to pay, as I’ve said before, and have now asked my brother, the Revd Ben Speke to arrange for me whilst I am away. This is surmising that the Govt. refuse to pay you, of which I have not yet been fully made acquainted.
I am sorry it is not in my power to pay you the money directly in England but will either do so to Grindlay’s branch agency in India or if more advantageous to you would make over my pay as it was deposited in Govt. security in India bearing interest at 5½ percent since the time when the Govt. paid me my pay and I bought shares of them.
As I expect to leave England at the end of this week I wish you would tell me which way would be most agreeable to you, by return of post. My pay having been paid in India is the cause of this inconvenience.
remain, Dear Sir,
J. H. Speke
Mr. Wheeler the Librarian of the R.G.S. has shown me yr letter and I have authorised him to inform you that your request respecting various items shall meet with no opposition on my part.
As regards yr comm. of the 10th April—which I have just received—I shall place it in the hands of the Messrs. Grindlay as I also am on the point of leaving England, and shall direct them to receive the money at your earliest convenience.
I am Sir
yr obt svt
My dear Burton
I cannot leave England addressing you so coldly as you have hitherto been corresponding the more especially as you have condescended to make an amicable arrangement with me about the debt I owe to you. I have heard from a branch of the Indian Government that no decision has yet been passed on your bill to them, therefore cannot settle with you at once, as I otherwise should have wished to do.
I am happy to say I have succeeded in accumulating money sufficient to meet my debt to you and have, therefore authorised my brother (Revd Ben Speke) to pay you the money into Messrs. Grindlay’s hand as you first proposed, immediately after the refusal has been received to refund you from the Govt. Treasury. Hoping this will meet your wishes, as I anticipate it might do.
J. H. Speke.
I have written to Grindlay about this final determination.
J. H. S.
I have received your note of the 16th April. With regard to the question of debts I have no objection to make.
I cannot however accept your offer concerning our corresponding less coldly—any other tone would be extremely distasteful to me.
14 S. James’s Square
“Canada” off Cork
22d April / 60
My dear Shaw
Will you kindly direct 5 of my private copies to be thus forwarded
1. Dr. Hooker Kew Gardens Kew.
2. Dr. Gray British Museum
3. Dr. [Günsau] British Museum
4. Adam White Esq. […]
5. Sir Roderick Murchison
I called upon the latter who was not in town and enclosed a P.P.C. card to [Milards]. This change is very jolly, Stiggins is drinking fresh and we look forward to great fun. The better to realize the death of the heroic Wolf, I am going to shoot him with a pop gun when he will fall breathless into the arms of the guide and ask with his best accidents if I’ve forgotten the cognac.
R. F. Burton
My dear Rigby
Here we are again—going ahead, but dropping our kit as occasion requires it, for the Sultan’s men slip away and leave us in the lurch. I have told the Sheikh to indite a letter to the Sultan complaining of them, and asking that severe penalties may be instituted for such demeanour to deter any others from following their example. By bolting with my present, they virtually are thieves, made worse because they swore allegiance to me, and I wish them to be so served. If you would kindly follow this up for me no doubt we shall get on better. One thing rather amused me this morning: it was this. At starting, I found that one of Laddah’s Pagazis had run away, but as those honest fellows always do he left all his pay upon the ground and on summing its value up with the little Sheikh I found it only amounted to [blank] dollars although Laddah had charged me 9 dollars & two annas. What made me suspect some trick had been played on my credulity was that Laddah said he had been obliged to pay the Pagazis so much more than the ordinary hire to obtain them quickly by outbidding the Arabs, and I thought if that had been the case the men never would forsake me to go to the Arabs who pay less, but that hope is now frustrated. Leit—Luddah’s agent at Kaolé—came to see me off from Ngéni and as I wanted one more man—Pagazi—I asked how much money would procure one and he said 8 dollars. I gave him that much money and it did the trick instanter. So you see any man could at once have been procured for 1¼ dollars less than Laddah has charged me. In closing my letters yesterday I omitted to put in two along with the geographicals, and now send them to you. There is also a small box which is too heavy to carry, so I send it back to you that it may go along with my other traps to England. The Tolls are generally speaking better and the little Sheikh is in high strike, so all is well; for as long as we have life and health we will do the trick without a doubt & the kit may go to the devil. One of the Beloochees takes this in. I have told the Sheikh about Burton’s book and our intentions to oppose him which as tickled him amazingly and has worked him up to say that [we] will show the world now that Burton must be wrong. We go to Nzasa tomorrow in the Wazaramos country. Good bye again and with our united grateful recollections of your ceaseless favours believe me
J. H. Speke
To try and secure the allegiance of the remaining 17 slaves of the Sultan I am going this evening to free two of the best of them and shall promise them the same pay at the end of the journey as all the rest, and further I intend to harangue all the others telling them that if they show me any signs of their [aversion] to serve, that I shall treat them likewise: this of course is anticipating the Sultan’s desire to serve me as I wish, and it should be told him that I have done this on that presumption. Bombay thinks that the men who have left little know what fate awaits them. He imagines they will fall into the hands of the Wazaramos, who will work them or else sell them again. He does not think that one will reach the sea. I send a list of the 17 men who have bolted so that you can do as you think best. With our united best wishes and kind remembrances.
Yours ever […]
J. H. Speke
P. S. on second thoughts perhaps 1000 cigars will be enough—cheroots better.
Figure 13. Western Sketches by Burton.
Figure 14. Mormon Endowment House and Tabernacle, from Burton's Sketchbook.
My dear Rigby
Here we are in the Shamba, all right. The trots are not right yet and make me woozy and sick but still it does not seem surprising that they have appeared since Bombay, Baraka and many of the other blacks have had the fever. I found it impossible to carry on all the chemicals so sent back four boxes which you may give to Mr. Frost with my compliments but at the same time tell him I shall expect him to send to my Fathers for me a large number of good pictures of the Sultan, the various native tribes that visit the island, and any view of the town or island as he thinks best suited for illustrating the manners and customs, characters &c. of the place. Give my salaam to the Colonel and tell him I wish he had come over to see us off, further tell the old Badger I would like to send a map and scratch his back but my hands are not long enough. Tell Burton's friends that his grievance was all brought on by himself for had he not feared to settle his dispute in the Consulate but instead forbid anybody coming there this unfortunate expose would never have taken place. I asked him to settle the question about the Sheikh’s not going with me to Ukerewe in the consulate but he feared to do so because he knew himself to be the author of the refusals being given. Also tell them that all the men were engaged in the Consulate and should have been discharged there. The Beloches only volunteered to go with us for six months and after the six months were up they begged him repeatedly for their discharge. They were not ordered to go where-ever we chose to take them by the Sultan, for the Sultan expressly said he would not force anybody but, that those might go who volunteered and the Beloches would not go with us until the Colonel sent a second time to the Sultan, when they seeing the Colonel made a Gov't business of our expedition and he gave them his security to being well rewarded […] further they did not like Burton and therefore showed it. Is Burton that lamb that he thinks no one can dislike? I can only say that I did not desert him, only out of consideration for the Expedition, as all my letters to my friends confidentially written can testify. Burton only became angry with the Sheik when his work was done that he might save himself from paying him. With ten thousand thanks for all you've done and love yours sincly Speke and Grant
The [Hock] last night was very good. We will both write soon again.
Excuse the pencil my ink pot’s dry—Grant sends a note for Frost.
My dear Rigby
Little expected your very welcome news as arrived when we were working the stars. I have written one letter already but must now send another to thank you for your kindship in sending all this […] but also to seek another favour. I find I have not got half enough quinine and if Mr. Frost could give me a pint bottle full (in powder form) or more according to his stock I shall be thankful. I do not believe that Frost prized B’s book—which of course was "very interesting”—if he lost it, but I can well imagine his suspicious turn of mind turning on anybody when his book wanted another object of invective in it. It was too bad his pitching into you for not coming off to say goodbye for we all waved our salaams to your struggling endeavours to come up to us. I suppose he gave Coghlan a rap on account of the Somali business having turned out so unsatisfactorily to himself so that he was glad of an opportunity to lay the fault on other shoulders than his own. But people will smell him out when my third No. in Blackwood appears and then also Coghlan will be justified in opposition to him. Tell old Badger he must send me B's book before he leaves for I am dying to see it. Not one extract is made from it in the papers. If you send the medicine at once I shall have it before I reach Ukhŭtŭ otherwise it must follow on to [K…] I intend to travel quickly as soon as the trots get better; just now there are seven of them down. I physic constantly but mildly. We go to Bomani tomorrow. I can't tell you how thankful I shall be for any justification of my deeds with Burton which you may write to the R. G. Society for God knows how I wavered between what I considered my duty as a man to set those poor men to rights whom he deceived & the fears I apprehended from peaching on the actions of one senior to one in the service. However l made up my mind at last that whatever happened, even if it stopped my very employment out here, still I shall be happy with the conviction on my mind that I had done the noble part so I did it. He talks of my having written friendly letters to him afterwards. Which I admit, and would do so now rather than be cut with any man; but on writing the letter I did not know what would be the upshot and as I gave you time, after investigating the matter, to send it on I thought I had done enough. As yet I have let Burton off in all my writing but for the future and on returning to England again I shall give the whole tale without reserve of any sort. I am glad the [Punjabi] is stopping with you for it will help you through the time until you retire from those enervating regions. The little Shayk seems every inch the Gentleman just as he did the last time when I gave him the watch. I told him today how it was he got his 500 $ from the Govt & the reason why he did not get the 500 more bakhshish which the Colonel offered for good work and he then said to me that Burton told him at Usenye whilst returning from Ujiji that he did not wish him to accept my advances for going to the Ukerewe. By this fear to speak out then he lost his money and I’ve told him so. Now once more with kind regards to all especially to Coghlan for his kind remembrances of me. Believe me every yrs sincly
J. H. Speke
My dear Rigby
Your letter of extracts with the medicine and all have given us great delight. A thousand thanks to Mr. Frost. Old Grant and I have roared again over the letter. It’s quite a sauce to our dry living. I am sure everybody at Zanzibar knows it, that I was the leader and Burton the second of the Expedition. Had I not been with him he never could have undergone the journey, and so confident was old Col. H. of this that at one time when I had reason to ask him confidentially if I could leave Burton with propriety ... he said, no for God’s sake do not, or you will hazard the success of the Expedition. I wished indeed then to forsake Burton and go to the Nyassa, and the old Colonel was the only man who prevented me from doing it. The last words the poor old Colonel said to Burton, and he cannot deny it, for he told me so himself, was, that he, the Colonel, was sorry he was going, although he had been accessory to it, for he felt certain from what he had already seen that he, Burton, would fail, but at the same time he said, ‘I must say you are lucky in having Speke with you, and I hope you will get on well together.’ At the time that he said this to Burton, he said to me ‘Speke, I am sorry to part with you, for I fear this Expedition will fail. Do you know I would not myself go with that man Burton on any condition.’ ...
Burton thought I never would write because I had been soft enough to give him up my Somali diaries, or he never would have asked me to go with him. Mind, I started to explore the Somali country, defraying the present expenses myself on his promises to refund me afterwards, and for this reason I gave him every collection, observations and my original diary, and afterwards—although he never offered me the money back again that I had spent—he sent away my specimens and printed my diaries to swell his own book with, and this too without ever asking my consent. And again I know he never would have asked me to go with him on this last Expedition if he had thought me capable of writing, from the jealousy which he displayed concerning Lieutenant Hardy at that time. Hardy, you must know, knew the Somali lingo and applied to be placed on the Expedition, but the Government referring him to Burton, B. said the Somalis had a great dislike to that officer, and he thought it would be detrimental to the interests of the Expedition if he accompanied it. But whilst Burton wrote this humbug to the Govt., he said to me in the presence of Stiggins that he was not going to have a man with him who knew a language of which he was ignorant. ... It is true Burton touched up some of my diaries on return from the Nyanza as they stood in the original, but not one word of that stood in the same language when Blackwood printed it, but by practice in writing I improved my style of expression and consequently all the wording with it. If you remember in B.’s Mecca he expresses his want of a ‘silent friend,’ and ever since then he has invariably said he would never travel by himself again. He damns himself by saying I am no observer, for at the time the Gold Medal was given to him, and reflections were made about the quality of the observations, he then said, truthfully for a wonder, that all those observations were made by myself. And on our both applying for the Lakes again, the Geographical Council told me I was selected for the best part, viz. the sources of the Nile, because I alone had brought back all the geographical results of that expedition, and Burton had not shown himself capable of doing anything but making ethnological remarks. ... On coming out of the country when he was ashamed of his not having done anything but write notes at the dictation of the Arabs he asked me to teach him the way to observe, which I did do, and now he says he did not ask me to go with him because he did not want my services. After coming home from the Crimea at Burton’s invite, and although I had thrown up a private expedition to do so, I told him I would not go again with him if I should be led into such expenses as I was at Berbera, so little did I care about acting second fiddle to him whom I have always thought I could show the way to better than he to me. But he pressed me to do so and even gave a money order for my passage out to Bombay rather than lose my services. Oh what humbug!!! I would had I known, or rather had I not been misled by Burton’s invitation, have carried on by myself in the Caucasus, but that broken up I did not care very much how it was as long as I had no expenses. About signing myself Surveyor, he signed me Second-in-command, which I objected to as I only undertook to do that work, surveying, when it was agreed between us, finally that I should pay half the expenses of the Expedition. He did not pay for my […] with [Zawadi]; he only lent me money until my pay was issued, and now I have repaid him for that as well as all of the half expenses of the Expedition; and had the Govt, not paid the men at Zanzibar, I should have paid my share to them likewise. The Sheikh, Halima, [Zawadi] and Bombay are all now chuckling over Burton’s letter: but enough of this rot: you know only too well how things have been done. ...
It is getting very late, so good night. I will write again from Kidunda, whence I send all the Beloochs back. I cannot tell you how much obliged I shall be to you for writing to my Mother. She will love you for it. With Grant’s love and my own
J. H. Speke
My dear Rigby
Khamis, one of Ramji's sons, is going in to Zanzibar so I take the opportunity of sending back some heads of antelopes, pigs, skins, hoofs & one monkey. The monkey is sent to show how Burton prigs and misrepresents things. It is the Thumbiri and the commonest monkey in this part of Africa. When Burton and I were travelling together he used to ask me all sorts of questions for the purpose of gaining knowledge enough to write familiarly of them in his book, to astonish people with his wide-world knowledge and experience. Well I remember his questioning me about the Thumbiri when I said it represented in my opinion the same position in the family of monkeys in this country as the Langur did amongst the monkey tribes in India, but it was nevertheless perfectly distinct from the Langur in colour and in size; the only things common to both are shape, and the fact of their both having a black face. Yet Burton who never saw, or until I told him heard of the Langur, says in his Geographical Journal "it appears to be the Langur of India." In this way he stultifies Zoology by writing of things concerning which he knows nothing and only hears or understands imperfectly. But why say stultifies Zoology as if that was the only thing he stultified: his whole book teems with the results of conversations which we had together, on all kinds of subjects, and he has stultified many of them with the same miscomprehension which he has displayed in our conversation about the monkeys. I wrote a letter to the R. G. Society from Madeira setting some of his false representations to rights, and might, if I took the trouble, show him up in a hundred other places, but I must leave that for my return to England. Burton on quitting England at the appointment of the R. G. Society used to boast aloud, that he made everybody tools to serve his own private ends, and by force of writing and the press he could exact anything no matter from what quarter, by frightening them into compliance, which he chose. He did not come out here to open up the country but to make a book and astonish the world with his prowess. He never learnt observing till we returned to the coast when finally ashamed of his ignorance he asked me to teach him, and I did so. He never protracted a bit of a map on the whole journey and had he not had mine to draw inferences from together with my explanations, of the reason why I put this and that in such positions, he could not have written his geographical journal. If the Society only knew him as I know him and could see what dupes they had been made to his insane vanity, his journal never would have been accepted from him. I feel very glad I have written my Somali diaries in Blackwood for he will never dare say he had a hand in correcting them, although he corrected as much of them as he did the Tanganyika cruise—which means none at all. He would never have touched the Tanganyika cruise had he not desired to learn what was in them, to gain more matter for filling up his own book. You are right in calling him a mean & malignant wretch and I long to return to England to have a counter out against him. He printed my Somali diaries without asking my leave to swell his "First Footsteps"—promising to repay me for the expenses I was put to on going into the Somali country alone. I was induced to give him all my collections and instead of myself had the credit and satisfaction of being the transmitter of them. Had he not thought he could have made me as easy a prey to his avariciousness this last time as he did the former one he never would have asked me to go with him. It was not to give me a return for any losses that he asked me to go with him, or he would first, if so considerate, have thought of paying me back, according to his promise, what I spent on the Somali expedition. Selfishness alone was the root of all his evils, it led to Vanity, the deceit, and every other abomination of which he was, is, and ever, I am afraid, will be master of. I think it is very fortunate that his report on the commerce & capabilities of Zanzibar was lost or it would have only have heaped more rubbish on his dung-hill literature. Burton’s saying I acted in a “subordinate capacity” only shows how he stings under the impression that people have arrived at the right conclusion that I and not he conducted all the work of the late Expedition. Never was there a row in camp but Burton called on me to settle it as he felt himself incapable. What was the use of saying I knew neither Arabic or French, and that my want of knowledge in manners and customs was a good reason for sending me away from Kazeh. All foreigners in this country whether Arabs or not talk a mongrel lingo and none have manners at all, for the highest Arab will play with the lowest negro, and all sit on a level, for the Arab levels himself to the Negro wherever he goes. Moreover he did not send me to Nyanza, it was just the reverse. At Ujiji when we returned from the North end of the Lake Sheikh Said proposed returning to Kazeh to get more cloth to enable us to explore the Southern end of the Lake, but Burton who had had enough of Africa said, “I will be damned if I go any more on the Lake. I always like leaving the work half done that I may have something left to return to”. I then at once proposed that we should return to Kazeh and visit the Nyanza, to which he objected saying it had better be left for another time. When I said as we have not completed our work on this Lake and the Geographers will expect it from us, if you on arrival at Kazeh are not well enough to go, pray wait there and allow of my going. He at first objected to this second plan; when evidently the thought striking him, that he would have a long rest, with every comfort about him, and that he would have the opportunity of making a book out of the knowledge he could gain from the Arabs there, whilst I was away; and moreover, that he might take the credit to himself of having sent me, and also the gleanings of any diaries which I kept when travelling there, he finally acceded to my proposition. I was not sent, nor would I have gone anywhere by his sending in the capacity of a sub, as I told him plainly before Colonel Hamerton at Zanzibar. For I had funds enough of my own then to have gone on my own hook, and further I should not have joined his expedition at all only that by doing so I thought I should have saved my pay—which now, and a great deal more, has been spent on his Expedition.
I feel very sorry that I did not tell the whole story in Blackwood, but I did not simply because I knew it would do Burton harm. On return to England again I shall not disguise anything and I think the world will be astonished that such an enormous Blackguard could be found in the service of H. Majesty. If you think anything which I have written here will be of use in clearing up any doubts that may be haunting the minds of my relatives and friends pray send it to the Times, or any widely circulated Journal and you will be doing me the greatest service that any man could do another.
Very early on August 7, 1860, Captain Richard F. Burton set out from Saint Jo on the Missouri by the Overland Stage. He was going among the Mormons to see what Latter Day Saints were like and to write a book about them, and because adventure in the Wild West attracted him. The party in the stage included my great-aunt, Thesta Dana, her husband, Lieutenant James Jackson Dana, U.S.A., and their daughter May, two years old.
On the Overland Stage one had twenty-five pounds of luggage free, and the excess charge was a dollar a pound. But that could not prevent Burton from equipping himself with the equipment which a true-born Englishman should have ever at hand. “As you value your nationality,” said he in his own book, speaking pointedly about it all to the “home reader,” “let no false shame cause you to forget your hat box and your umbrella.” And when the “Life” of Burton by his wife caused the writing of the “True Life” by his angry niece, one learned further that “his chimney pot, frock coat, etc., even his silk umbrella, were carefully stowed away in his portmanteau ready for sporting on state visits to Mormon dignitaries.”
“After traversing some dusty streets the van [sic] was transported bodily by steam ferry over the Big Muddy or Missouri River.... The first stage ended at about 1 A.M. at Lockman's Station, a few log and timber huts near a creek well feathered with white oak and American elm, hickory and black walnut, where the sadly stricken travelers found beds and snatched a few hours’ sleep.”
The first noteworthy incident was an experience with the Indians at Platte Bridge. Burton records in his notebook that he was “sitting after dinner outside the station house with his fellow travelers. Two Arapahoe Indians squatted on some stones close by. He happened to mention the dislike among African savages to anything like a sketch of their physiognomies: and his hearers expressing a doubt whether the Reds were equally sensitive he immediately proceeded in proof ... . When the sketch was passed around it excited some merriment, whereupon the original arose from his seat and made a sign that he also wished to see it. At the sight he screwed up his features with a grimace of intense disgust. He stalked away with an ejaculation which expressed his outraged feelings.” Such is the account published by the niece, Miss Stisted, from the notebook. I wish I knew how the unpublished notebook goes on. At this point she changes the subject. Burton's account dismisses the Indians by saying that “when the station people went to supper they were shut out.” What Mr. Lytton Strachey's footnotes call “private information” takes up the tale.
“At Julesburg at the crossing of the South Platte Burton drew a charcoal sketch of a Kiowa buck which engendered a row right off. J. L. Slade, the baddest bad man the west ever produced, was a Division Superintendent on the Overland Stage, and he rode from Julesburg to Windriver Summit two hundred and eighty miles, ‘Jes to see no didos happened to that baby gal’. Slade, Wild Bill Hickoc, the Express Messenger, Lieutenant Beverley Robinson, afterwards a General in the U.S. Army, Joe Cuming, Burton, Lieutenant Dana, and the stock tenders and other hangers on at a Stage Station stood off an attack by the enraged Kiowas.”
From Julesburgh the route lay over the Rocky Ridge Road, “the most Indian Infested and Bandit Frequented on the whole Trail across the Country.” Over this Slade took my Aunt Thesta and my cousin May in his own buckboard with an outriding escort which my grateful Uncle James later described as sixteen of the most villainous cut throats on the Plains.
They were twenty-two days and nights on the journey to Salt Lake City. On the last night, the driver-and presumably Burton went without whiskey because the Mormon country was dry. On arrival he and the driver made haste to the hotel, where Burton “looked vainly for a bar on the ground floor,” but “temperance in public at least being the order of the day the usual tempting array of bottles and decanters was not forthcoming.” Nevertheless before night fell “we ended with a bottle of Heidseck.” His niece, Miss Stisted, tells us that “Burton could take his bottle after dinner with any man, but nip he could not, and I never heard of his indulging in the vile habit except during this stay in America.” But as Victoria was reigning it may be that uncle didn't tell everything about drink, as we know for certain that he did not about women. His published accounts show a brave willingness to experiment with Mexican hard liquor “Mezcal brandy” and an evening on the Panama Isthmus “made highly agreeable by a certain muscatel cognac.” Niece explains that in Salt Lake dinner at 1 P.M. ended with a glass of whiskey, served in the bedroom, and that there was such a thing nearly every day as “a stroll about the town enlivened by an occasional liquoring up with a new acquaintance” (italics are mine!), and that “this nipping by the way disagreed frightfully with Burton.” Perhaps!?
“Private information” both agrees and differs with Miss Stisted, saying:
“In Salt Lake the nipping habit was redundantly unrestrained. Burton when soused was a great brawler. His friends were kept busy hunting up influence with Bishop John Lee, Orson Pratt, Tom Kane and others of the Avenging Angels. It took Bishop John Lee, thrice grand illustrious watch dog of the outer portals of the Latter Day Saints and Seraphim plenipotentiary and Cherubim extra-ordinary of the Avenging Angels to keep Burton out of the calaboose.”
Burton also told my “private information,” to account for the brawling, that when he was in Africa he was wounded by a javelin thrust through the jaw which caused him intense agony and pains, and that “that made him irascible at times.”
While in Salt Lake City Burton went to call upon Brigham Young, an interview upon which our information from all sources overwhelms us with sartorial detail. Burton's ordinary dress upon this journey—Miss Stisted cannot have had any habits of over-exaggeration—”sacrificed smartness to comfort ... in dark flannel shirt, his nether garments strengthened with buckskin, the lower ends tucked in his boots, a good English tweed shooting jacket made with pockets like a poacher's and his head snugly but ungracefully ensconced in a large brown felt hat which by means of a ribbon was converted into a nightcap.” Burton tells us where the nether garments were strengthened, and says he wore “no braces.”
When he took his silk umbrella to call upon Brigham Young he wore the top hat, a double breasted waistcoat, a frock coat, and a starched collar. Brigham wore a gray homespun of antique cut and baggy, with a necktie of dark silk, and a starchless collar over a black satin waistcoat, single breasted, with a plain gold chain passed into “the pocket.” The prophetical boots were Wellingtons. It was apparent to Burton's cognoscent eye that they were of American make. Burton, speaking of another time, says his own preference was to tuck his “nether garments” into his boots. “Private information” says he did the same with his best trousers in Salt Lake City at the photographer's, and wore the top hat and frock coat too, and had two pearl-handled Army Colt .45 revolvers strapped on outside of all.
The thing about Brigham Young which seems to have struck Burton as most noteworthy was a false quantity and that in a word derived directly from the Latin! This prophet in gray homespun pronounced the middle syllable of “impetus” long. Impeetus!
Somewhere in these years came Sir Richard Burton then Captain Burton—who was the first European to penetrate the Holy of Holies at Mecca. He had learned the Koran by heart and could quote verses of it in strange-sounding words. With the British Consul, George Lane Booker, who was a pillar of society in San Francisco for thirty years or more, he dined at our home and told tales of his adventuring.
Like Sir Edward Shelley, he was burned brown by alien suns, but Burton’s eyes were dark and piercing, and with his sunburn, gave him a deceivingly Oriental appearance which he fostered for disguises assumed in his travels. Once, starting on a railway journey, he had found it expedient to depart as a corpulent Arab. Beneath his robes he tied an air pillow, well inflated, and the effect was gained. Well out of the railway station, disguise was no longer necessary, so when the train entered a tunnel, Burton quietly removed the stopper from the cushion and allowed his corpulence to deflate. When the train emerged into daylight again, his collapsed appearance naturally astonished fellow travelers who stared at him in bewilderment and apprehension for the rest of the journey.
A London physician who had known and doctored Leigh Hunt, fenced with Captain Burton (before he was Sir Richard), and outlived younger friends like William Black and Grant Allen, might for their sakes ask to be remembered. But Dr. George Bird deserved, if ever man did, to be known for his own sake. Lady Burton, who was married from his house, called him "an unbaptized angel," and another acquaintance, considering medicine perhaps a kind of divinity, "the angelic doctor." But if he was an angel, he was a very human one, and loved the earth and loved London none the less because he spent his life in fighting the ailments that flourish under London smoke.
The author of the farthing epic, Orion, Hengist Home, was in his later days a familiar guest in this doctor's circle. On his return from Australia, Home, settling in poor quarters in Marylebone, appears to have found himself ill at ease in London after his active life abroad. Ill-health seized on him, and one of his symptoms was a melancholy increase of weight. Indeed, he had been reduced to the necessity—like Balzac, if we can trust Paris gossip—of having V's (or V-shaped insertions) put in his bracchae. And then he consulted Dr. Bird, with such results that in a term or more the V's had all to be taken out again. This suggests that Home had not come back from Australia with a fortune; and it is clear he could not afford clothes for his double. But now, thanks to the physician, the veteran renewed his youth. One day two ladies, on entering the house in Welbeck Street where Dr. Bird practised, were startled to see an old gentleman sliding, head first, down the banisters. This was Mr. Home celebrating his return to health. It must have been about the same time that he was prompted, by some casual reference to his health, to ask a lady after dinner in the drawing-room the question: "I hope you do not think I wear a wig?" The lady was disclaiming, when, to the sensation of the beholders, Hengist Home snatched a wig indeed from his head, and waved it triumphantly in air. From Orion came one of the doctor's favourite lines—a line engraved afterward on the Chain Pier at Brighton:
’Tis always morning somewhere in the world.
It must have been before his acquaintance with Home, that Leigh Hunt first found the way to his door. Loyal to Hunt's memory, he constituted himself his unswerving champion, and asseverated the popular view of the man as a "Skimpole," an airy sybarite, a professional prodigal, to be monstrously unjust. He would have rejoiced in his friend Mr. Swinburne's recent clinching testimony on Hunt's behalf, pointing out that "indolence was the essential quality of the character and conduct and philosophy of Skimpole," while Leigh Hunt was "one of the hardest and steadiest workers on record, throughout a long, chequered life, at the toilsome trade of letters." [Quarterly Review, July 1902] When it was near the end of his own history, Dr. Bird drew up a signed testimony, drawn out of the knowledge he had gained as friend and friendly physician of the poet and his house; which throws a startling new light on Leigh Hunt's predicament, and painfully explains “the persistent calumnies that pursue his reputation.” “I believe,” said Dr. Bird, “I am the only contemporary of Leigh Hunt's who could testify to these facts, ... and I put it on record before I pass away.”
In deference to the Hunt family, it may be well still to withhold the complete document, but in the end it is bound to be published. At other times its writer declared how scrupulous a man, how honourable a gentleman, he had found Leigh Hunt: bearing the troubles which were the harder to bear as they came of his own house, without a murmur. Because Hunt was brave in this, and hid his secret, he passed for careless with careless observers, but a physician who was more than so might read the symptoms differently. In the Hunt correspondence will be found the letter which Leigh Hunt wrote to “My dear George Bird, Vincent's friend and mine,” on the death of poor Vincent, and which shows on what affectionate terms they stood.
One of his last reminiscences of Leigh Hunt was of a sombre winter's morning, at the season of Christmas parties, when a group of young people—his grandchildren, I suppose—had begun dancing by candlelight, reviving the gaieties of the night before; and the poet came in to remonstrate mildly with them. He appeared then in the familiar black dressing-gown which imaginative visitors converted in their gossip afterwards into a theatrical robe of velvet with lace frills. No such fripperies belonged to the real Hunt of Doctor Bird, who could be just as grave as he was gay: a most authentic, unaffected man, as he was the best of hosts, the most delightful of talkers.
The Doctor might have claimed an inherited liking for poets, for his father wrote several plays and books of verse, which won some fame in their day. One of them, “Dunwich: a Tale of the Splendid City,” recalls that the boy George, when he began to study medicine under a country practitioner at Yoxford, had queer experiences of the sea-doomed city—then become "a city of smugglers." The Yoxford doctor used to send him to Dunwich in a dogcart, to visit mysterious patients from under whose beds there invariably emerged smuggled kegs of brandy. The humour of this appears when we know that the Yoxford doctor was famous for his gout-cure, and was called to treat George IV. For celchicum digested in old cognac is said to have been the secret of this marvellous gout-cure; and so we have the delightful spectacle of George IV. being treated for gout with the brandy smuggled through his own customs. When young Doctor Bird had learnt all that "silly Suffolk" could teach of this order, he set his face for London.
It must have been a full half-century later when I first had the good fortune to come to know him. He had retired then from practice, and from Welbeck Street, but he could not retire from his own temperament. The physician was born in him, and must out; and he must prescribe foils and parallel bars, mountains and the Nile (for he had faith in the healing powers of the sun where it is hottest, in the Orient), seafaring and cycling, or whatever else might meet the case. He had always believed (unlike the late Sir James Paget, who had no faith in tonic athletics) in treating people through their muscles as well as their alimentary ducts. At Welbeck Street he had a gymnasium, into which he often took his patients, and made them try the foils or the parallel bars—much to their amazement. His doctoring was a kind of humouring, full of unexpected resources; and this may have been why his patients, or those who had the wit to appreciate him, so often stepped on, and became his friends.
The Burtons' friendship dated from the earlier days when he was still comparatively obscure and living in Osnaburgh Street; and it was from his house there that they were married. And many a symposium, in the intervals of Italy and the East, and in still earlier days, found Dr. Bird among Captain Burton's guests. On such a night it was, when Burton had been telling of an Arab attack which ended fatally for his assailant, that the doctor provoked from him one of the most perfect retorts ever made at a doctor's expense.
"How do you feel, Captain, when you kill a man?"
"I don't know, Doctor. How do you?"
These Burton evenings were devoted sometimes to all the philosophy and poetry of the Orient; but they had their sequels. One night the doctor was called away to a patient, leaving his host at the mercy of some famous guests—well-seasoned travellers, and a wit or two. Next morning the doctor called to inquire for Burton, who was on the point of going abroad again. James the factotum said his master was still abed.
"Please, sir," he explained, "last gent went at six a.m."
"Who was he, James?"
"Please, sir, he said he was the Lord Almighty."
"What next, James?"
"Please, sir, he tumbled downstairs."
One result of his close acquaintance with Sir Richard Burton was that Dr. Bird became more and more infected with a perennial longing for the East. His frequent escapes from town to Egypt led to the myth that he went there secretly to treat the Khedive. Instead, he treated the beggars on the Nile for their eternal ophthalmia. "The last thing I saw in Cairo," said a lady who knew him, "was a crowd of ragged Arabs tumbling over each other and scrambling, as the train moved off, for the ophthalmic discs the English doctor had spilt in the haste of departure."
In telling the humours that fell to his share, one runs some risk of losing the sense of the real spirit and temper of the man. He was an optimist, a knight-errant in his degree, a rebel against fashion and against the tyrannies of the London that he loved. He was the first doctor in London to drive a private hansom; he was one of the first to urge cremation. He was an inveterate athlete. The temptation to sprint on foot along a level road in the parks was so strong that he could not resist it. Once, when he was being driven home in a friend's carriage after a dinner-party, he quietly leapt out, ran home in the dark, and was in bed when the mystified coachman arrived to explain. He bicycled vigorously till a fortnight before his death, on May 4th, 1900. He had lived to be an octogenarian, without tasting the pains of age; and the end came as easily as if he had himself chosen the manner of his going.
I have not yet recounted half his friends: Sir William Crookes, Mr. Justin MacCarthy, Mr. Holyoake, Miss Ellen Terry, Sir Squire and Lady Bancroft, Mr. Clodd, Mr. Watts-Dunton and Mr. Swinburne among them: but here his story must pause. Those who knew him, and who survive him, will not soon forget him, and his intrepid good humour, and passion for health and liberty. These were the qualities that aided him to show that old age could be finer than youth itself, in keeping with his faith that (to requote Hengist Horne’s “Orion“)—
always morning somewhere in the world,
And Eos ever rises, circling
The various regions of mankind.
Figure 15. Dr. George Bird.
Not that Alice Bird was at all squeamish. She could not have remained the mistress of the ceremonies at her brother's house if she had been. When Captain, afterward Sir Richard, Burton, who was an old friend of Dr. Bird, was presented to her he inquired with a characteristic smile, if she was a Moslem. Then, when she laughed and shook her head, he said, “Strictly impious I believe?”
It was from the Birds' house in Welbeck Street that Burton was married to his wife Lady Isabel. This point of departure for the newly wedded pair was chosen because of the religious and social complications which at one time threatened the engagement. Lady Burton had had very little experience of household matters, and was anxious to learn something at least of elementary cookery. Now, Miss Bird rather prided herself upon her culinary art and offered to give Lady Isabel a lesson. “I would love above all things,” said her guest one evening, when a very handsome apple-pie appeared on the table, “to be able to make a tart like that.” So it was arranged that next morning she should be taken down to the kitchen to see how this wonderful pasty ought to be prepared. Dr. Bird, who was fond of new devices, had lately invested in a marvelous patent cooker, which cooked by gas and had a long oven open at both ends.
“I was very proud of that new-fangled oven,” said Alice Bird, “and I showed Isabel how the apples were to be cored and cut up and put in the pie-dish. Then with a dexterous flourish I cut off a piece of the pastry, and by good luck it alighted on top of the pie-dish. The next business was the oven, and with the same impetuosity I flung the precious pie into the top shelf of the oven forgetting that I had not closed the other end. The result was it shot out onto the kitchen floor with apples, pastry and broken egg-cup scattered in one ghastly gallimawfry.”
Every time that Sir Richard Burton returned to London after one of his eastern journeys, Dr. Bird made a custom of inviting a circle of their friends to meet the traveler. After his famous visit to Mecca and Medina, a special feast had been arranged. Now you may remember the story of Burton's having penetrated the sacred mosque at Mecca, which in those days was strictly prohibited to anyone not a Moslem. Burton, who was almost as dark-skinned as any Arab, had put on an Arab disguise as a protection. But half-way through the solemn function, he found he was being watched, and on trying to escape he was followed by a man who tried to stab him. But Burton was prepared, turned on the man and killed the assailant making his escape good.
Whether this story is exactly true or not, it was believed at the time, and so it was that in the course of the dinner Dr. Bird said to his famous guest:
“Well, now, Burton, tell us how you feel when you kill a man?”
“I don't know, doctor. How do you?”
January 7th, 1861.—Having been instructed to use every exertion to explore the Cameroons Mountains, I arrived at Arobas Bay (the foot of the range), on a reconnoitering expedition, hoping to ascend if possible, hut chiefly with the view of making arrangements for ascending at an earlier period during the following season. February 10th, ascended the mountains to the highest villages, Makunda and Bando; elevation about 2500 ft.; but being under orders to repair to the Bagroo River, to report on its timbers for the Admiralty, before the wet season set in, I was obliged to descend, having arranged to revisit the mountain in the ensuing season.
… the fertile sources from which John Blackwood was deriving, or about to derive, literary materials. One line which he had latterly encouraged was that of narratives of sport and travel, both in short magazine articles and also in book form, and it is interesting to find Captain Burton (Sir Richard Burton) writing to him on this subject. He says :—
Jan. 9, 1861.
My Dear Blackwood,—After the long silence I take up my pen and point it to you once more. On Jan. 1st I landed at the town of Knut the Dane, after a long trip through America, all the States, Brigham Young and the Mormons, the silver diggings and the gold diggings. . . . My object is for some months to rest, and eat my beef in the old country. I am preparing an account of Mormonism, which, however, is an indelicate subject requiring to simmer in the mind. Its flavour would evaporate in a decoction. I must keep my hand in as regards Africa.
Then follows a list of various books on Africa which he proposes to boil down for magazine articles. He then goes on to speak some words in favour of “Harper's Magazine,” particularly that part of it which “never fails to contain a paper devoted to voyages and travels,” and finishes the letter with the following: “If something of the kind be not done here, we shall soon require a ‘Travellers’ Magazine.” His suggestion may have prompted the idea of some such undertaking to my father, who went so far as to write to Mr. William Smith, the author of “Thorndale” and “Gravenhurst,” asking him if he could edit a sort of Cyclopaedia of Travel to appear in monthly parts at a popular price—the design being to make the public acquainted with the expeditions and discoveries that were being carried forward every day, and which were usually published in volumes too expensive ever to become generally known until they had become old history. When he wrote the idea was in the air, and he told his correspondent to keep it strictly to himself, as it “would be eagerly snapped up by some of those manufacturers of books who would not do a right thing at all.” Though this scheme was never carried out, he had a considerable number of well-known men writing whose voyages and accounts of foreign lands formed a very large portion of their contribution to literature. Laurence Oliphant, Admiral Sherard Osborn, Captain Charles Hope, &c., all distinguished themselves in this way.
Burton first met Swinburne in 1861 at Lord Houghton's house, who, having given him The Queen Mother, said: “I bring you this book because the author is coming here this evening, so that you may not quote him as an absurdity to himself.”
My dear Milnes
By all means let your tenure be until I have married the parsoness & settled in the country—I only hope that you may live till then.
Your Priapics were not described in the letter—merely a slight allusion to your cultivated tastes for high art.
Yours very truly,
Kazeh—in the Land of
ensconced in Musa's house
"All right & ready to fight"
Febry 1st 1861
My dear Blackwood
I could stand it no longer so I have let fly at Burton's eye, and I think he has got it, as richly as he deserves. I should only like now to see your phiz when you read the defence. Old Grant says the man ought to be hung, an opinion I must say I long ago arrived at. What a vile, dastardly wretch it is not to have had it out with me at home, when we were there so many months together, but as he has now taken up the pen instead of a pistol, we will have it out so. He has brought it on himself. Rigby tells me an amusing story about Burton's first entrée in Yankee land, when, at Salem, he met with an editor whose writing Burton had abused in his book and no sooner did he land than the said Editor called him out and B vanished the same night—how like him!!!
Well Blackwood about the book, for I must not write to you on any matters of the present or the Geographers will be jealous, as they want to be the first to tell the world all about my doings, and doubtless through them you will know all as fast as posts can carry news.
In the first place I hope you won’t object to publish or rather republish all my former papers in your magn. in the form of a book, and moreover that you will preface it with the defence which I am sending you for I think it will have the most beneficial effect in enlightening the world on the various matters it effects to represent—I am sorry I cannot correct the whole story of the last expedition, I mean the country leading from Zanzibar to the Tanganyika, but as I have gone over that ground twice now and under very different vicissitudes of circumstances I shall have much more of interest to tell when we come to the second edition, particularly about sport for I have had several close shaves with the Rhinoceros (Bicornis) and Buffaloes (Bos Cafir) so that the hippopotamus lift was a mere joke to them. Then again you may imagine how many animals we (that is Grant and myself) must have killed when I tell you that we have kept a caravan of 200 men alive in a desert forest for 18 days by our guns alone, for there was nothing to be found there save occasionally a few wild bulbs, roots, and herbs. Concerning your proposition about profits, I certainly would much sooner go half profits with you than sell my work for any fixed sum. For in the first place I write more for the pleasure of [making] myself an author of some good end than for profits, and in the second I have a pride in knowing what ones skill in penmanship is worth. So publish away as soon as you can please and let me have something to gaze upon as soon as soon as I come down the Nile.
I have noted on the cover of “My Second Expedition” how I should like to [have] the book got up. My mother has all my former diaries, books, and maps, and will supply you with them at any moment by your just tipping her a line.
This country is all full of fights and famines just now especially on the line leading to the coast. I fully expect to be on the Nile or Kibira sooner—for there is no doubt of their being the same stream—long before you get these papers—but how long it will take on them to get down on the navigable Nile, God only knows.
I will write to my eldest brother, an idle country squire, to assist you in getting up the book, for I think it would save any chance of mistakes if he went over the proof sheets in my stead, and perhaps it would save trouble, and be more agreeable to yourself.
kind regards to Mrs. Blackwood & yr family
Yours very truly
J. H. Speke
P.S. I don’t know what Longman will think of having his pet cut up, but a strange circumstance that almost the last man that I shook hands with in London was Longman himself.
Lord J. Russell has offered me the Consulship of Fernando Po—a kind of Juan Fernandez affair off the Bight of Benin touching which the British Sailor sings
"[Vun] King [hout] ven 100 goes in”
Needless to say that I have gratefully accepted it. The dog that refuses the Governmental crumb shall never be allowed by a retributive destiny to pound with his molars the Governmental loaf. There is one point however which I have brought to his L's notice. After 19 years’ service one doesn't like to leave without pension or selling out, so I want to be retained upon the cadre of the Corps. This is the case with Captain Rigby H.M.'s Consul at Zanzibar—and was the case with Mr. Cole V. Consul at Jeddah—to quote no other names. They may quote against me the obsolete rule that the meridians of the Cape and Egypt are the furthest westward points (from India) where an Indian Officer can accept detached employment and yet remain in his regiment—but the objection would be ridiculous in this our day. Only, you see, there is nothing obsolete in official matters, our camp orders still resemble those of Moses.
The book progresses apace—a month will see it among the alumnae of Pat. Row. Every day brings with it a sensible relief & a little load of matter lifted off my brain. I shall remember your advice. All the wickedness shall issue from Mormon mouths and be by me received with a philosophical calmness and stoical serenity.
Adieu à bientôt
portez-vous bien and believe me ever
Tout a vous,
Nineteen years' service in the Indian army was swept away in 1861 on his accepting the Consulate of Fernando Po. Perhaps he had not made sufficient enquiries as to the rules of the Staff Corps at that particular date, perhaps he was intentionally misinformed, for he had many enemies, fearfully bitter ones they were too; anyhow, on accepting the consulate he heard that all chance of rising in the army was gone for ever. And with his health threatening to break up, the prospect of Fernando Po, and only Fernando Po, was not exactly exhilarating.
In January, 1861, he married handsome, fascinating Isabel Arundell. A great surprise to us, as he had become such an inveterate traveller that we began to think of him as a confirmed bachelor. It is generally known there were some difficulties in the way of this marriage. Mrs. Arundell, a very strict Romanist, objected to a Protestant son-in-law; there was no superabundance of ways and means, for though he made large sums by his writings later, at that time he seldom received more than three hundred pounds for a book; and the ghastly African consulate was not a suitable residence for an Englishwoman. But Isabel very wisely allowed none of these obstacles to prevent her from marrying the man of her choice, and she never had reason to regret it, a better husband never lived. They both stayed with us at Dovercourt in Essex almost immediately after their marriage, spending the rest of the winter and spring between that place and London. Their time together was short, as he was soon obliged to leave for Africa, and he knew the vile climate too well to take his wife with him. However, there were occasional meetings at Madeira and Tenerife: once he came for a few months to London on leave … .
My dear Rigby
Galton’s letter will show you where
we are, and what we are doing. I am sending back two life certificates signed
[as] Grant seems to think the last two enclosed [to you] were not signed.
All’s well so far though we do wish we could make more progress. Whatever you
do don’t forget to write me a good long letter addressed to the Consul in
Cairo. I shall love to read it and know what you have to say on all points the
same. On the state of the country, the public affairs, […] the Wanyambiri
fights and what explorations are going on & what number of photos
Frost has made for me, especially with regard to the number of different tribes
as well as anything else you can suggest. In case there are any [discussions]
with Burton about the Belochis I wish to tell you that it was especially
authorized by Colonel Hamerton. We could not expect the Sultan to pay the
wages of those men whilst they were serving with us and therefore anything the
Sultan may have given them should not have been considered as pay from us. The
Sultan you know would not pay any of the Belochis which Baron von der Decken wanted from
him. This was also the case when Colonel Hamerton first applied to the Sultan
for Belochis for us, but those men would not go with us until the Colonel
seeing a hitch applied a second time to the Sultan and then I fancy—but do not
know certainly—the Sultan must have bribed them to go to please the Consul. We
had before this tried to induce the Belochis by the offer of 5 dollars a month
to volunteer to go with us and that proved just as ineffectual as the money
which the Baron offered them. The Belochis of course are all mercenary, what
black man is not? and they would never have left their quarters in Zanzibar in
my opinion unless they had […] expected to receive something from the Sultan
equal to [Arabian] money and [not] the 5 dollars a month we had proposed to
give them. They certainly could not have expected to lose one by the [receipt
of] the other especially when whatever the Sultan did [pay] them was kept
secret from us. Burton [said] they, as a matter of right, [got] 10 dollars a
month [service] pay from the Sultan […] he could not have, in fact did not know
that the Sultan’s soldiers got any [promised] pay when going on service […]
I not until I accidentally found it out through […] and told him. This is
how he got information and now you can see what [a] blackguard use he has
turned it to. With so many good wishes
J. H Speke
12th May, 1861
My dear Rigby,
As the Unyamuezi Royal Mail has broken down I leave this with my other dispatches in the hands of Said bin Salem to convey to you as soon as his health will permit of his travelling. The poor little Sheikh is very disappointed at his not being able to travel with me to the journey’s end, but as I foresaw at Zanzibar a once screwed horse is a very poor animal to trust to and therefore is much better out of the way. I have given him a chit to you which will show you what I think of him, and I trust he may be appointed to the Wali-ship of Kilwa. I am sending the last of the Tots back with him, but although they are my only cooks I thank God to be rid of them—however do you look after them when they arrive and send them off as contented as their discontented dispositions will permit of back to the Cape.
All my letters are open for your use. You may read them all, both public and private, only separate them well so that no miscarriages may arise. The one to Blackwood I wish you and all the good folks of Zanzibar to read, and if you would all sign it, so much the better. I hope its publication may have the effect of reforming Burton: at any rate it will check his scribbling mania, and save his soul the burthen of many lies.
This place is a regular Botany Bay; all the blackguards of Zanzibar are flocking to it. I hear the road is thronged with them, flying because they can get no nishmat from their Prince. The losses of the merchants have been something frightful, and things have risen to such a price that one Frassala of coffee brought $50 at auction. Slaves sold for S100, and all things also alike.
[Banaku] and Bombay are in their prime, they do things turn and turn about, and certainly do them very well. I could not get on without those men, and shall ever thank you for them.
One of Burton’s unpaid orders has just been presented to me, but I have written across it referring the matter to you that Burton may be prosecuted to teach him better. This difficulty has arisen from the sharp practice of Burton not allowing the Sheikh to see him after his arrival at Zanzibar. Lest there should be any discussion with Ludha about the payment of my porters I wish to inform you that notwithstanding all the pay it is said that Ludha gave them, they, the porters, said after I had been on the road a few days’ journey that Ludha had induced them to go with me saying that I, instead of rations, would give them each two fundos of beads daily. This I put down as all nonsense, for Ludha had never said a word either to myself, the Sheikh or anybody else about it, and it was contrary to all custom, but what was customary I gave the Kinangozi, and all went on well for a time; but at the next rumpus they struck work because they said they had been promised a present of two fundos each by the Banyan, and I only got them on by stopping posho. The third and last time they struck for 10 fundos each, but I gave no answer, for their different demands in my mind proved that there was no truth in their assertions. Still [Banaku] has often given as his opinion that the Banyans must have said something about it, and that they have both deceived myself and the porters by using sweet words to get rid of us. One thing however is quite certain. Unyamyembe has gone untimely to the dogs through the bad example of the traders and of such as Burton is, and it never will recover again. Slaves must do the office of porterage.
I have lost three carbines by deserters, and have told the Sheikh to keep a good sharp lookout for them and to make them over to you until I arrive at Cairo when I will dispose of them to those of my [Wangwanos] who do my service best.
Would you ask Frost to have all my specimens opened and fresh packed in proper tins before he sends them to England.
I shall expect no end of a letter from you as soon as I arrive in Cairo, and I have told the Sheikh to inform me by letter how he has succeeded in the proposed appointment.
You will not be sorry to hear that I have effected the freedom of the four men the Sheikh bought with my money by giving the Sheikh $10 a piece for them. I have now nothing but [Wangwanos] with me.
I have since taken the two notes away from the Sheikh for $100 and $10 respectively, and have given him instead one note for $240, of which 100 goes to good conduct, 100 for taking the Tots and Specimens down to the Coast and the remaining $40 for the freedom of his slaves. I have told him to give the Tots one goat every week, as much grain as they can eat, and to give them each one donkey for riding. Will you kindly enquire from the Tots how they have fared, and see if the 100 dollars has been enough, otherwise the Sheikh must be paid more.
And now dear Rigby as I think there is nothing left to tell you I will conclude by asking you to give my best Salaam to the Sultan and the residents generally of Zanzibar.
me to be
Your ever sincere friend,
(signed) J. H. Speke
14 St James
Allow me to return my best thanks for the “bricks from Babel” which when inspected proved true bricks. I begin to believe that the only safe belief is a thorough disbelief in what ones neighbours believe and with these views the future admirably suits my present. Hoping that we shall meet at the next séance and to thank you in person. I remain
Richd F. Burton.
It was in Southampton Street that the Burtons first came to see us. I can see Mrs. Burton now, a stylishly dressed woman—my childish ideal of a princess—talking, talking, talking to a beautiful, but silent companion, while a small girl, nursing a large wax doll, stares with solemn dark eyes at the picture they make.
I was so delicate in those days that I was almost always at home from school, and my mother scarcely let me out of her sight. It seemed to me that this beautiful woman came and talked for whole days at a time, and it was all about “Dear Richard and the Government.” Mrs. (afterwards Lady) Burton was of medium height, dark haired, bright complexioned, and very animated in her manner. My mother was a good listener; she was repose personified; only now and then she smiled or put in a word; but Mrs. Burton's stream of eloquence never seemed to be exhausted. I was intensely interested, at times worked up into an excited state. Once I crept out of my corner, and, with my doll clasped in my arms, came and stood in front of the lady and stared in her face. Mrs. Burton never saw me, but my mother told me to leave the room, and I silently obeyed, and toiled up the stairs to my grandmother's bedroom, where I myself slept; and sitting on my own little bed, I sat the doll up in front of me (she was a beautiful wax creature with long, curly hair, and wax arms and legs) and went over most of the argument about Richard and the Government, imitating Mrs. Burton's animated manner; but Richard was a fairy prince and Government an ogre.
Dear Mr. Friswell
A thousand thanks. Will you say something kind about the loyalty of the Catholics page 201-3. You perhaps will some day be able to fix me a review, […] & his wife are very old friends of mine. May I now [send] your card to Mrs. Dumphy? & where does he live?
I am grieved to hear about your health but recollect the weather is at present awfully trying. Even I strong as I am often feel as if the jeu was not worth the chandelle.
We shall get down to lunch with you soon after next Monday. Today we lunch with Sheridans & D. of [Somerset] & I daresay we shall talk about you.
With best regards from both yrs sincerely
Love to Mrs. Friswell
36 Manchester St
H. W. Peek, M. P.
I did not see Captain Burton again until he called upon me on the 5th July 1861, when I prepared and consecrated another crystal, or, properly speaking, a glass receptacle, for his use, and then showed him the entry as above, in my MS minutes, which he read through, and on the opposite page gave his attestation as follows:—
“quite recognise the correctness of this vision—the old grey man, the boy, and the quarrel about the pipe. This is easily ascertained by a reference to the ‘Pilgrimage.’ ”—RICHARD F. BURTON.
The following is the statement in Captain Burton's work:—
“September 4, 1853.—At 6 P.M., before the light of day had faded, we traversed a rough and troublesome ridge. At 8 P.M. the camels began to stumble over the dwarf dykes of the wheat and barley fields, and presently we arrived at our halting-place, a large village called El Sufayna. The plain was already dotted with tents and lights. We found the Baghdad caravan, which consists of Persians and Kurds, and collects the people of north-eastern Arabia, Wahhabis, and others, escorted by the Agayl tribe and the fierce mountaineers of Jebel Shamac—though not more than 2000 in number—men, women, and children, they had been proving to the Damascus caravan, that being perfectly ready to fight, they were not going to yield any point of precedence. From that time the two bodies encamped in different places.
I never saw a more pugnacious assembly; a look sufficed for a quarrel. Once a Wahhabi stood in front of us, and by pointing with his finger, and other insulting gestures, showed his hatred to the chibouque in which I was peaceably indulging. It was impossible to refrain from chastising his insolence—by a polite and smiling offer of the offending pipe. This made him draw his dagger without a thought; but it was sheathed again, for we all cocked our pistols, and these gentry greatly prefer steel to lead.” [Pilgrimage to El-Medinah and Mecca, vol. iii. p. 108. Published 1856.]
THE ETHNOLOGICAL SOCIETY.
Sir,—My attention has been called to a letter in your issue of Friday, the 5th inst., signed by Mr. Malone, and bringing my name somewhat prominently forward.
The document in question is replete with inaccuracies. It asserts, for instance, that Captain Burton in “endeavouring to support M. Du Chaillu,” further added that he could confirm that traveller as to another instrument described in his book, consisting of pieces of wood placed over gourds, &.
I said nothing of the kind. Mr. Malone, like most Englishmen, has probably read Dr. Livingstone, and has made over the South African explorer’s description of such an instrument to me.
The inaccuracies put forth by Mr. Malone with respect to M. du Chaillu are far graver than the little specimen above alluded to. Mr. Malone began by interrupting the proceedings with ironical cheering, a practice not rare, I believe, in the House of Commons, but hardly admissible into an ethnological society. He then rose, and, after a preamble touching the fierceness of his disposition, adopted a tone and style of address which would have caused the coolest temper to boil over. My wonder is that M. du Chaillu restrained himself so long.
M. du Chaillu is a foreigner—one reason for courtesy; he was our guest—another reason; he has been subjected for the last two months to unusual annoyances—a third reason. I venture to hope that the person excluded from the future meetings of the Ethnological Society will be, not M. du Chaillu but the gentleman who, after taking undue advantage of our protection, insulted a foreigner and a guest, and received (and quietly pocketed) his punishment.
Sir, your obedient servant,
RICHARD F. BURTON, M. Ethno. Soc.
14, St. James’s-square, July 6.
My dear Milnes
Excuse my not having written before—your note has just reached.
Mrs. Burton will be delighted to come down on the 12th and begs that you will mention it to Mrs. Milnes. We shall be with you about 4 pm.
When we meet you shall hear about F. Po. They have run me to grass—I shall shake the Indian dust off my feet. It is impossible to continue in a Service which writes such wonderfully & fearfully bad English.
I shall not forget the crystals and [will] call at Upper B. S. for yours, mine, they tell me, contain a "good spirit" which is not interesting.
Present my kind regards and au revoirs, yours in the haste of correcting proofs
R. F. Burton
Adelphi Hotel L’pool
23d Aug 61
Mon cher Milnes
I am off tomorrow and feel decidedly stupid—so this shall not be a long document. The proofs of the "Saints" have been corrected and my wife will take them up to town the day after tomorrow. She will tell Longmans that you have been good enough to offer your assistance touching debated passages. Cut out as much as you please. Amputation I feel is wanting. Jardine kindly took rooms for us here, without which we should hardly have found lodging. He called today and he talked over things of Fryston. My wife is fretting herself into a fever, which as you may imagine greatly adds to the pleasure of departure. I have spent the day calling upon the Commercial Princes and 'faith I put no trust in them: each and every received me according to the measure of what he wanted me to do—except only Horsfall. I see that my chums will be Bubies and my friends Fans for some years to come. Du Chaillu showed no end of gratitude, came up from Scotland P. D. A. and accompanied me to the R.R. and en partant thrust into my hand something from which he told me to drink to his health—when opened it showed up a neat silver mug! This morning a West Afr. merchant called upon me with a claim for £8000 upon an individual whom he declared to have raised from the mud and to have placed on the pinnacle of fortune. "And what, else, in the Devil's name, Sir," quoth I enquiringly, "did you expect of him?" He looked puzzled.
I left Cameron drunk and Bellamy half sober. To keep up my spirits I transcribe the last stanza now added to the Other Side of Jordan.
twenty fourth of May
'Twas her Majesty's birthday
And she gave us all a drawing-room accordin'
Then just at 2 o'clock
Sir J—S—showed his——
To the ladies on the other side of Jordan.
Addio […] bene and
believe me ev
Figure 16. Freetown, Sierra Leone, 1861, from Burton's Sketchbook.
My dear Wylde
I am going to trouble you with a long stave—long almost as my last voyage—conveying my impressions. After Madeira & Tenerife we arrived at Gambia a wretched hole, quite [holed] out. The Frenchmen in Senegal 4000 (white) infantry 8000 well drilled Mandingos (Mussulmans & fine fellows) and 13 steamers on the coast. They have carried off all trade. The best thing (men lag) would be to [leave] to the French the coast of Africa north of Sierra Leone and to take all south of that place to the Portuguese limits. They say the French are going to bone Benin in return for Lagos. Sierra Leone is a dreadful failure. Nothing but every [hatred] & [malice] between white & nigger, faults on both sides and all in […]. The “liberated” ought to be apprenticed to some work, especially farming, for 7 years, not turned out to sit on juries and to live upon 3d a day. By wise management we might have had a flowering Colony extending far into the interior. Now it is the abomination of desolation. Ground to be had for miles gratis, a perfect paradise. No one will take the trouble to raise anything but a few head of [manioc]. The next place, Cape Palmas, was a great contrast. The civilized American nigger has done no end of good there and keeps the Krumen in splendid order. By the bye I heard that the Ceres Spanish gunboat from Fo Po has fired into the “Lively Quail” of Liberia and has sunk her, seeing not one shot. This may be some canard. If true it will cause a row. Still the Liberians have no right to the Gallinhas waters (you remember our old engagement?) and the Krumen complain that they admitted the American negros out of kindness and that the latter have boned half their land. See Parliamentary Reports W. Coast of Africa 1842 about our proposing block-houses on the Gallinhas. Next places of observation were Cape Coast & Castle and Accra. My dear Wylde how shall I explain to you my wonder at the state to which […] and liquor have degraded the Englishman? In both those places gold may be washed [from] the castle walls, the rocks are gold, the walls gold, gold sells for £3 12sh an ounce & yet the people are paupers, the Europeans live as miserably. I for one won’t stand it & shall write home to get up a company at once. A few simple puddling machines worked by convict labour would make a fortune in a few years.
Then to Lagos—poor contrast in point of ambient grandeur with one old settlement Bedingfield is charmed with his conquest. There is one good in it. You can crush Dahomey without difficulty. An advance along the lagoon to Wydah, with some [units] of Abeokutans from the East and a movement from Ashanti on the West will soon do it. They talk of an approaching “custom”—1500 souls. Ashanti will assist us, but will require a mission, & a mission of some splendour, Cape Coast artillery and presents. If you send informal proposals the King’s reply will be “you poor man talkee me?”
I need hardly tell you that I shall be happy to take any part in the affair. What soldiers do you propose to levy for Lagos? Some advise East Indians, others sepoys. I should say a few good Moslems from [Ivorian] or any other Moslem & neighbouring country.
At Lagos I met a Shayk, an Arab, who offered me his company through Africa to the Nile. I refused with a terrible tightening of the heart. Do not trust me too far. Some day the [fohi] seizes me, I throw Europeans to the dogs, cry La ilaha ill’allah and return to my coreligionists.
Bedingfield could not give me a gunboat for a week. The Commodore is going to Ascension. The Bights were not visited once between February and September. All I have to do is to wait till you allow me a gunboat and let the tigers howl. At Fernando Po there is not even a boat in which I can call upon an officer. I shall apply for one.
In the Bonny River King Pepple still lies. He is progressing but slowly, faute de courage: had he landed at once he might have now been king. He has 20 Europeans with him (2 women!) and his ship the […] “Bewley” is a fearful hell of drunkenness & obscenity. Of course I did not call upon him. There are 17 English ships in Bonny river (= £250,000), but little danger to Europeans. By the bye I saw there a neat little steamer the Eyo strongly built by Laird, belonging to […] and for sale (£5000). She would suit me admirably wants 1 master 2 engines 1 gunner & 25 Kruboys. With her I would undertake to open up the whole Delta of the Niger and manage the Gaboon & the Congo.
The oil river trade is on the verge of great changes. The steamers are slowly undermining the old monopoly, which is doomed within the next 20 years. The “tin-pot toady” as the supercargoes call the small fry are coming in with their 3 to 10 [purchasers] and will render the enormous outlay required for work in the old style, a complete loss. There are few better investments than the A.S.S.
Never believe a word that comes from the rivers. The “palm oil [singles]” as they are called are now [fierè canaille]. One reported “murder & piracy” in the [Benson] river. On enquiring I found that 1 Kruman had been killed about 4 months before! I hear of all kinds of troubles in Calabar & Cameroons and don’t believe one word of them. The worst is that when they do occur there is no means of dealing with them directly—and from the style of man, I am certain that they may recur.
I arrived at Fo Po on the 21st Sept. (today) and did not land, wanting to go on to Calabar and Cameroons, and having been informed that my exequation has not reached. Please ask about it. A bad murder has been committed here, a Mr. Lee, Englishman and clerk to Daddy Jim (Mr. Lynslager) has disappeared, a body was found or rather part of it, and clothes (they say) pierced by a spear. The Bubes are suspected and the Governor is supposed to be lukewarm. When my exequation arrives I will stir him up with the longest pole.
I think it will be necessary for me to see Bedingfield again next month about getting a cruizer in the [Brass]. Good night I’ll keep this open for you till my return to F. Po.
Cameroons 1st Oct.
We return to F. Po tomorrow and the steamer returns to the Bonny River, so I hasten to finish. On the 28th we went to Calabar river. King Archibong owes a large sum to a certain house (you know it) Messrs. Stuart & Douglas. Commodore Edmonstone Capt. Bedingfield & D. Dolben have endorsed the debt as lawful, therefore it must be paid. I propose (when a gunboat appears) to demand from King Archibong—who promises everything and performs nothing—hostages for the performance of his promise and to take them to F. Po to be kept by the supercargoes according to their taste till the debts are settled. King Archibong is a “poor cuss” a weak & violent man. They say he will “cave in”: if not I shall have to use strong measures.
At Cameroons there has been a pretty row between 2 men [Brown] and Lilly. Bedingfield settled that palaver so that I have nothing to do with it and it is so complicated that Edwin James & Hawkins not Bedingfield and I are the proper persons to settle it. Mr. Saker Baptist missionary called upon me today, he appears a long hearted man, not unlike a petit Townsend. At Sierra Leone the Bishop spoke to me about the impropriety of expelling the Missions from F. Po and I quite agree with him—surely the Spaniards will not be so far behind the world as to refuse all toleration. I hear that “Amrose Bay” is a humbug, that a swell sets in which beats old [Nick]. However I shall reserve my opinion till December next when in company with Herr Gustav Mann I propose to ascend the Cameroons Mountain.
These rivers (Calabar & Cameroons) are splendid places for shooting. 450 tusks coming in, in less than a month, Elephants everywhere, deer of all kinds, leopards & wild bulls. Yet men take the trouble to go to the Cape for game. Tell Mitford that I shall start without delay and describe my shooting in Fraser with hints for new comers. No news about the “gorilla” yet. People are as divided as in England. Some declare him to be a humbug. Others believe every word. When I have time I shall [run on] to the Gaboon—where a palaver […] me—and shoot a 4-handed brother, and find out all the truth.
No fever as yet, but it will of course come. The consulate at F. Po is an iron house: an iron house at Lagos kills all the consuls. I shall apply for permission to alter and if refused shall build a clay hut outside.
And now I wish you adieu with many excuses for the villainy of this handwriting. Accept all my good wishes for yourself and believe me
ev yr sincly
R. F. B.
P. S. I shall not for the future [indent] so extensively upon your kindness. Can you afford me a line?
Figure 17. Cape Palmas, 1861, from Burton's Sketchbook.
Figure 18. Cape Coast Castle, 1861, from Burton's Sketchbook.
Lagos 25th Oct. 61
My dear Wylde
After returning to Fernando Po Commodore Edmonstone offered me a passage to this place, I came here to get a gunboat which will be forthcoming and in the meantime I am going with or without Bedingfield to Abeokuta. The fools are still fighting with the people of Ijaye and trade suffers, it will be my work to compose matters.
I nothing doubt the possibility of controlling Dahomey which when approached appears to be a bully & a humbug. The Brazilian & Portuguese slaves at Wydah & Dahomey spread dreadful reports, only to frighten us. It is commonly said that the King wants an English officer to hold his horse, I don’t believe a word of it. M’Coskry (a very good fellow by the bye) would find it easy to visit Abomey and I should be perfectly willing to accompany him. The shelling of Porto Novo has done this much good, that the other small quasi-Dahomian ports are wishing to make treaties with us. There ought to be little difficulty in attacking Wydah by the lagoon, but a preparatory survey in canoes is wanted. With ships on the coast, an attack from Abeokuta and a movement from Ashanti we should easily smash [the] Dahomey and lead to the downfall of Ashanti which is quite as bad (though less known) as his neighbours.
Now that Lagos is an English colony I hope to see things started upon the right system, economical & official. A Governor & a Secretary to act for him when necessary and a doctor. Some Police Magistrates (for heaven’s sakes no civil courts) and 2 custom house officers. A force of 200 men with 2 officers and surgeon: of these 200 take 50 [week to week] about as police whilst the others are employed in building fortifications and making wars (no useless drones merely intended to fight). Abolish the foolish export duty of the natives, have no poll tax, a thing quite ignored out here although a favourite in London, and establish an import tax which will support the Colony. I would stake my life that in 10 years Lagos would bid fair to be the great emporium of all Gambia. It contains about 2000-2500 Moslems who have found me out and trust me with every distinction. It’s a terrible temptation—they offer to escort me through the continent to Egypt, I resist manfully, but the fit may prove too strong for me. £200 would take me all through the dangerous Waday where (glorious thought!) every European head has been cut off.
Should my strength of mind save me I hope D. V. to return to F. Po in November to visit the rivers and to ascend the Peak & explore the Cameroons. The latter is a wonderful place, on a clear day at Fern. Po it looks like half a dozen Vesuviuses piled one upon the other. I believe it to be still a volcano and in December expect to find snow upon it. Mr. Mann attempted an ascent but failed. There is a bad tribe (the Bakwiri) at the fort, they are said to muster many hundred muskets, but you know I am accustomed to that kind of thing. At Calabar I hear of some good lead mines and have seen some fine specimens of galena—it will be better to buy the land as soon as possible. So my contingent [bill] I intend to charge occasionally for steamage to the rivers when a gunboat is not forthcoming. There is really nothing to do at Fernando Po and an immensity upon the coast. I expected to find cotton at Abeokuta a mere humbug but am slowly changing my opinion: the stuff is good can easily be had for 3d per lb. and is capable of considerable [extension]. However I shall be able to tell you more about that after my return.
As regards the Gorilla the nearer I approach his haunts, the more contradictory are opinions, every man differs from his neighbour. No opinion from me therefore till I have actually explored the country. At the same time I believe that the animal is very widely diffused, extending in fact from the Volta to the Congo.
You will be tired of this long stave, so I say Salaam. Remember me kindly to the inmates of your rooms, how do you like the new shelter and when does Palladianization begin? Adios partez vous bien and believe me ever
Richd F. Burton
Figure 19. The Church in Ake, Abeokuta, from Burton's Sketchbook.
Figure 20. Mission Compound, Ake, Abeokuta, from Burton's Sketchbook.
Figure 21. The Rock Ulumo, 3rd November 1861, from Burton's Sketchbook.
Figure 22. Ogboni Lodge in Abeokuta, from Burton's Sketchbook.
Figure 23. An Open hut at Ogboni, Abeokuta, from Burton's Sketchbook.
Figure 24. ‘Peculiar Fruit Flourishing at Abeokuta’, from Burton's Sketchbook.
Figure 25. The Rock in Ake, November 3rd 1861, from Burton's Sketchbook.
Figure 26. ‘Bits of Coral in Noses’, from Burton's Sketchbook.
Figure 27. West African Port—Lagos?—from Burton's Sketchbook.
I enclose you some papers that have been sent here by friends of my husband & very grateful I am for such warm kind friends—perhaps you are one of them & I am sure you are. Read A—it is a very hard case & true, but we are dependent on Govt & at the present moment it wd be injudicious to vex it & bad taste in me to wish it. Throw aside A & read B. All therein is true & no more praise than is due to him & no offence to Govt. Look at the Reviewers they are making a complete Aunt Sally of the poor fellow & he is in Africa & can’t stand up for himself. You will say he deserves it for his Polygamy opinions. Here is a man who has married one wife, is a domestic man when at home & a home-sick man when away. I wrote something & it is this. The Times is a noble paper, it appreciates the brave & clever, it defends the absent & upholds those who are oppressed. Govt. robs us of 300 a yr & 5000 £. The reviewers of a moral reputation. Take Memorandum A & B to Mr. Lucas of the Times. Ask him to put A in the fire but to let B head his review of my husband's book in the Times & it will amply compensate for all I suffer on his account. Mr. Lucas can then pitch into the book as much as he likes but let him give him due praise first. I am certain Mr. Lucas would do this if he knew us—ask him yourself for me.
yours sincerely & obliged
Don't be too late with this
In 1861 my father first became acquainted with Captain and Mrs. Burton, who very much admired “Sham.” In a letter to my father Mrs. Burton says:—
“I am deep in it, and I am sure it will do good, one sees such pretentiousness nowadays in all classes, high, middle, and low. I think it shows wonderful observation, for you have given us something of all classes. I like the book more and more as it goes on, and parts are most touching and most true, but, indeed, all are the latter. It is rather presumptuous of me to give an opinion after the many flattering opinions of the press.”
From this time Captain and Mrs. Burton became familiar figures in our house. I can remember her, a tall, beautiful woman, my childish ideal of a princess. In fact, she and one other lady (Mrs. Edmunds, the wife of Dr. Edmunds) figured in all the fairy tales I read, as beautiful queens or princesses. But I was rather alarmed at Captain Burton: to my childish fancy he was fierce of aspect; with that sabre cut across his face, he looked to me like a bold buccaneer; but he was away, and so I did not see much of him. That my princess was not happy was as it should be; and that there was a prince somewhere called “dear Richard,” about whom she continually talked to my father and mother, and who was persecuted and oppressed, was in the natural course of things. But I was puzzled to identify him, and I was worked up into a silent rage with “government,” not that I understood in the least what “government” had done. That my father tried to help my princess in her troubles is evident from her letters, of which the following is a specimen:—
“I enclose you some papers that have been sent here by friends of my husband, and very grateful I am for such warm friends; perhaps you are one of them, I am sure you are. Read A. It is a very bad case and true, but we are dependent on the government, and at the present moment it would be injudicious to vex it, and bad taste in me to wish it. Throw aside A., and read B. All therein is true, and no more praise than he deserves, and no offence to government. Look at the reviewers. They are making a complete ‘Aunt Sally’ of the poor fellow, and he is in Africa, and can't stand up for himself; you will say he deserves it for his polygamy opinions. There is a man who has married one wife, who is a domestic man at home and a homesick man when away. I want you to do something; it is this. The Times is a noble paper; it appreciates the brave and clever, it defends the absent, it upholds the oppressed. Government robs us of £300 a year and £5000. The reviewers of a moral reputation. Take the memorandums A. and B. to Mr. Lucas. Ask him to put A. in the fire, but to let B. hear his own review of my husband's book in The Times; it will amply compensate me for all I have suffered on his account. Mr. Lucas can then pitch into the book as he likes, but let him give him due praise first. I am certain Mr. Lucas would do this if he knew us. Please ask him yourself for me.—I am, yours sincerely and obliged,
I am sorry I have not the papers mentioned as A. and B.; no doubt they were returned to Mrs. Burton. The book was “Salt Lake City,” and though I am sure my father would not have agreed in any polygamous opinions, he was evidently prevailed upon to do what he could, for there is an entry in his diary to this effect: “Sat up and wrote defence of Captain Burton.” [My father sympathised strongly with Captain Burton].
In another long letter Mrs. Burton says: “I enclose my wrongs in nine separate papers.” In another she speaks of her husband having served his country “for twenty-nine years without pension, and it refuses to pay £15,000 owing to him.”
1st Dec., '61
Did you ever hear of the Brass R? I am almost ashamed to write to you from such a place, for the pleasure of correspondence decreases—methinks—according to the ratio of the distance of the two correspondents. However, I must thank you for the trouble you have taken with my Mormons, and at the same time insinuate a regret that you have traduced me to Henry Stanley who reproaches me with having assimulated Mormonism to El Islam. Which you know is absurd.
At Lagos I met with a few fellow religionists and we refreshed ourselves greatly with edifying conversation and humble looking forwards to the day of annihilating all Kafirs in W. Africa. I met there a Sherif (soi disant) from Mekkah, a man who had visited El Medinah, a Hausa Imam and some 2000 Moslems who all call me Alufa i.e. one of the Olema.
From Lagos Capt. Bedingfield (the man who outparsoned Livingstone in prayer & Sabbath keeping and Lent […]) and this Fakir proceeded to Abeokuta. I found what was my sorrow to observe the abominable idolatry of that accursed race which is being deepened and darkened by Xtian polytheism! The amount of humbug (missionary) concerning Abeokuta is monstrous. The fact is, there is no salvation for Africa but El Islam. At the chiefs palace—a shed wall invested with horse dung and indigo leaf—I met a young Arab from Burnu, and asked him in his own tongue why he had neglected the duty of El Jihad—of the Holy War? Wallah, replied that excellent youth—whose face may Allah whiten in the next world!—wait a while, have patience and then, Inshallah!
To which I replied Inshallah!
Abeokuta however is no humbug regarding cotton. The whole of Yoruba (in its largest sense from the Niger to the Volta) is well adapted to the growth, the people are mostly slaves (as you know a great requisite for industry in Africa) and the chiefs are greedy. At present however there is a dirty little war which leaves the farms untilled. The people of Ibadan attacked the people of Ijaga and the latter claimed the aid of Abeokuta. Abeokuta responded nobly, sent 10,000 to 15,000 troops to the field in feudal style and fought several battles in which the dead and wounded amounted to at least 10. But Abeokuta (being feudal) had no commissariat, il faut vivre, the consequence is that their warriors sold off about 20,000 of the Ijagans, their allies. I have related the thing at some length, it is characteristically African. We left Abeokuta with a written promise from the chiefs that they would abolish human sacrifice. They kept it till we reached Lagos when they informed us in writing that they had been compelled by a desire for peace to knock another fellow on the head.
After that I visited the Niger and saw that Mr. Crowther whom the British Public wished to make a bishop. Episkopos is anon agathos and a dead hand at begging and driving bargains. Don't let the Niger want an expedition, it is the true road, the main gut (so to speak) that traverses the African interior.
From the Nun or Niger I came here and am doing some little details in the way of exploration. From this to the other Oil Rivers. I have by this mail volunteered to visit Idahame (Dahomey) and to bring the King to a sense of his duty.
As regards Du Chaillu the nearer one approaches the Gaboon, the more contradictory become reports. I know far less about the matter than I did when in England, and this will last till a 3 months leisure enables me to visit the place personally. Therefore reserve judgement. As yet I see no reason whatever to disbelieve him. Mr. Bruce Walker has only contradicted himself.
I will follow your advice and be “very efficient". Remember me most kindly to Mrs. Milnes and with many hopes of seeing you again believe me ever yours Hadji Abdullah
P.S. Have you truly [not] Islamized yet? When do you expect the Northern states to sue for peace?
December 13th, 1861, I left Victoria, the Baptist Missionary station, in Ambas Bay, and reached Bassumba, alt. 1119 ft. On the 15th arrived at Mapanya, alt. 2748 ft.; on the 17th camped at a spring at the base of the Peaks, above the forest, at 7376 ft. On the 18th ascended to the summit of one of the highest peaks (Mount Helen), alt. 9290 ft., and returned to Mapanya, where I was met on the following day by Mr. Saker, Signor Calvo, and Consul Burton, who, having followed me up the mountain, now joined my expedition. December 24th, again visited Mount Helen. January 3rd, 1862, reached the summit of the Cameroons Mountains—Mount Albert, alt. 13,100 ft., which had never before been visited by a European; was taken ill on the descent, and had to be carried down to Victoria. January 24th, again left Victoria for the mountains, and reached the top of Mount Victoria, alt. 12,861 ft., on the 29th, Mount Albert (my second visit), and Mount Hooker. On January 31st, Consul Burton descended, leaving me: I continued my explorations till February 18th.
16 Dec / 61
To resume my tale. But first when are you going to give me magisterial powers that I may control these fellows? And when will that Gunboat come out? And when will Gambia be exchanged with the French for Gabon?
Since writing to you I have visited the Niger Delta and find the river everything one could desire. The salt import and oil export trade can be trebled—quadrupled—but let me have a surveying ship. I want to open up 2 perfectly unknown streams. The 1st is the Kom Toro, a bay nameless in the best charts, & placed a little East of the Andony Creek, and 2d the Rio del Rey which has a fine name & nothing else. Both are in my jurisdiction and will repay a little work. I was going there in the Bloodhound, but 20 days in the rivers gave a full sick list, Captain, Chief Engineer and 13 men out of 55 down with fever. So I was obliged to leave the work undone and even the Old Calabar unvisited.
Touching the Old Calabar & the Cameroons, both are in the very worst state. They are trust rivers both, and of course without courts of Equity, every man is for himself & there is no combination. Of course they expect me get in their [debts] which I will not. With common honour & honesty they might deal easily with the natives, now they are at the mercy of the people. The other day I was obliged to send for a file of [marines] when their [majesties] [Negua] & [Peso Bill] were in the cabin. I can hardly explain to you the horrid state of things in a place where Europeans have been living for the last 30 years. At Old Calabar human sacrifices of slaves & others are perpetually occurring. At Cameroons every man is a “boy” till he distinguishes himself by a barbarous murder. I have forced them to sign a paper putting a stop to this odious practice, but without other force I can not enforce it. My plan will be to seize and carry on to Fernando Po any chief who allows such murder to take place in his dominions. In the name of humanity we can not allow these things to go on under our very eyes.
But why not assume at once the Protectorate of the Bight of Biafra? It will entail no additional expense and may be found negligible. I am cordially informed that when in England King Pepple of Bonny sent a Mr. Gardner one of his “secretaries” to Paris, for the purpose of negotiating a transfer of the River, for a consideration, to the Emperor. And there is about half a million of British property there. Already several chiefs in New Calabar have petitioned me to be taken under British protection, I promised to forward any appeal but informed them that the [measure] was beyond me.
As I have no Earthly prospect of getting a ship I shall (D.V.) proceed tomorrow to Cameroons Mountain and explore the summit in company with Mr. Mann & the Spanish Judge Senor Calvo. I have already visited Ambas Bay and find it a fine place for a settlement with water plenty of provisions few natives. The harbour is perfectly safe, we ran in with Allen’s chart & without [piles], and I believe that the evil reports circulated about it all originate from parties interested in Fernando Po. One memo I can set down here. Never believe a word that comes out of the mouth of a West African Gentleman, black or white. If the Cameroons equal my anticipation, the Canadian refugees will find far better land and a finer climate here than at Akeokuta where as I told you all the land is occupied & the people are opposed to them. Govt. might perhaps think of sending me out 200 or 300 of them, farmers and merchants. However I will say more of this next time. Mean while adieu, a Merry Xmas & happy new year to you & yrs & believe me
Richd F. Burton
This missed last mail. I have been working on since at the Mountain. Unfortunately my foot has been severely cut and I have been laid up for the last 3 weeks. I hope to get done before February.
There will be a [trot] Wylde [amgst] the others. I enclose a small souvenir from the Mts—picked at 7000 ft. above sea level, a real English-African forget-me-not.
What lovely climate we have here. Birds singing as in Europe, 45o at night and a sun which we can bask in.
more next time.
ev yrs sincly
Richd F. Burton
Halfway House (Camaroons)
14th Jan 62.
P. S. Save me from a row about improper dockets I have left the form at Fernando Po.
Figure 28. Mapanye, 21st December 1861, from Burton's Sketchbook.
Dear Mr. Friswell
In consequence of Prince Alberts death there are no receptions, but I wait quietly till there are. The Emperor has received & accepted through the Duc de Bassano all my presents save the 2 principal the Duke also has received me & I am sure that they cannot deny me an audience. Do kindly send me back [Dupre's] bill & tell me on paper how far a lady may "rap out" at him. I'd give anything but I decline being fleeced. I hope & trust to hear better accounts of Mrs. F. What can it be. She seemed so well the other day. Of course you have the best advice so I will not as is usual recommend you a Doctor.
I am so woefully disappointed about the Times. I enclose
you a note which inclose as from yourself to Mr. Lucas & one of
our last Memorandum & beg him to work it up into it. Put yr pen across
"the most interesting figure of the 19th century” & put "the
Paladin of the age" which on referring to the newspaper of days gone by I
find was the expression. I want
a dozen 20 more copies of yours
& 50 of mine with that correction in it. I am writing to Sir
Charles Wood to ask for pension on retirement as Major—who would I get to take
my case up in Parliament if refused. I thank you. My own relations not
as they must alter their manners before I can ask a kindness. I quite forgive
yr conscientious scruples. Of course you go in as an incipient British
Paterfamilias & are quite right, 5 years of marriage will tone down my
husband's writings. He will write from his own clear understanding & not
from defiance & contempt of rules. Can you work the last mess up into yr
work. As soon as I come back I shall work doubly hard about Magic leaves. I
wrote to Africa about it & shall have answer on 10th March.
There is another subject I am most anxious to speak to you
upon. Mrs. Stisted (my husband's sister) wore a gold massive scaly serpent
ring with a large diamond & flat head. 1853 at the house of Colonel Pryce
& Miss Burton (1st cousin) Irelydon nr. Welshpool Wales (Montgomerysh).
Mrs. Stisted took her rings off to wash her hands for dinner & the bell
ringing in the middle of
dinner washing, she hurried down leaving this
ring & a common one with an emerald in it on the table. On return from
dinner they were gone. There was a grand fuss—servants suspected & the
police & clairvoyants were proposed to which Miss B. strongly objected
& accused Mrs. Stisted's faithful maid & companion of 16 years
standing. Now the ring in question belonged to my husband. He had gone to
Mecca leaving it to Mrs. Stisted as a keepsake. There was a historiette about
it & it was envied by all members of the family. Miss B. was in love with
my husband, is not a very nice person & is a concealed enemy & mischief
maker in the family & it was the first time the ring has been off my
sister's finger. Years passed away & though not forgotten it was never
alluded to, when I came into the family & the Story was told me & I saw
her. She impressed me so strongly with the idea she had got it that I can’t
shake it off. If I but knew this I wd not disgrace her but I wd
stop her evil doings in the family but I dare not advertise nor work openly
to find it, nor could I let anyone else, it wd be the way to lose
it. I once offered Field the detective 10£ to find it but it wasn't worth his
while. Now I must tell you the other day I saw a magnificent ring on her hand
a band of gold like my blue but handsomer with 2 emeralds & 5 diamonds in
it (She came to London in April 54 & Tessier was her jeweller). I said to
her what a beautiful ring & she said quietly Oh yes that was formerly 2
rings an Indian & another. I had them melted together and the stones set.
She wd not dare wear the Serpent ring as it was. Do you think you
could in any way pretend to Tessier that you forget whether it is in Hunt &
Roskill's books or his & get him to tell you whether that is on his since
1853. I wd give anything for the information. She is however
just passing through town & it wd be better to let her start
first. It wd never do for Tessier to let her know there had been
inquiries. It wd be simply whether a serpent ring answering the
description had ever been given to him by Miss Burton to alter or change in any
way. But if you do it you must never let him know who you want the information
for. There is always some horrid member in every family. I tell you all this
quite in confidence. When you write again tell me abt Mrs. Friswell to whom
say everything kind. Yrs very sincerely
Figure 29. Isabel Burton in the 1860s.
11th Jan 1862
Dear Dr Shaw
Just received a letter from Dick. The news is that he is well, had a stormy passage, that Fernando Po is a shocking hole at present but that he hopes to make something better of it soon. That there will soon be this work in the rivers & that his work is not to be done without a gunboat at his orders & there is a nice little craft in the Bonny River that wd just suit him.
The Consulate is a shocking hole at present, it appears to me like a respectable Dog Kennel from his description, & as I am going out soon he is repairing it. He says there is no furniture only the bare walls. Her Majesty’s Consuls are not kept in luxury there. However, there is lots of good to be done there to the place, which he is setting about at once, & I believe I am to find my share amongst the female population.
Everyone knows that FP is the forlorn hope of the Foreign Office. Yet perhaps it is the place of all others where he will find the most to do.
In case Longman has not sent the book I send one but you must not have both as they are all bespoken so if you have one send another back.
Figure 30. View from Mt. Helen, from Burton's Sketchbook.
Figure 31. In the Cameroons Mountains, from Burton's Sketchbook.
Figure 32. Volcanic Crater in the Cameroons Mountains, from Burton's Sketchbook.
Figure 33. Another view of the Crater, from Burton's Sketchbook.
Figure 34. Victoria Mountain, from Burton's Sketchbook.
Figure 35. Mount Isabel and Mount Hooker, from Burton's Sketchbook.
Figure 36. The Dyke, from Burton's Sketchbook.
Figure 37. Albert Crater, from Burton's Sketchbook.
10 Rue Paquet de
11th Janry 62
Dear Dr. Shaw
I had a long letter from clever Richard today & he says he sends a long report to the R.G. S. Will you kindly send a line to my mother Mrs. ArundelI 13 Oxford Terrace, W the night you read it at Burlington House as some of my family will like to attend.
He hopes you will send the Surveying book. The mail goes on 24th February & the book shd be sent for him to Care of Messrs. Laird & Fletcher 23 Castle St, Liverpool about 21st.
I have written to Sir Ch. Wood begging for pension & to retire as Major for Richd. Do back it up at the RGS. Say something nice about him when you read the report. Lord Ashburton or Sir Roderick ought to stick up for him. I wish we could get that gunboat sent, the African merchants are working hard for it—so am I. If we can get no one to take our part we are going to try & get some friends to bring the case before Parliament. I will fight for the next ten years if necessary, because it is unjust. I simply wish to avoid anything that wd be bad taste such as publishing the abusive memorandum.
Paris is very gay but I am here on his affairs & refuse all invitations as I do not care to go out without him. I am sorry not to be at the RGS on Monday or whatever day you may read his report.
I am yrs
Dear Friend … You will have read my “Tocqueville” in the Quarterly, and can now read my “Burton” in the Edinburgh, which is amusing enough. I think the book itself delightful. I have a letter from the Hadji from the “Brass River,” setting forth the admiration he has excited among the faithful, who look on him as a Ulema, expressing his conviction that the conversion of Africa to Islam and the uprooting of the Kaffir missionaries is the only hope of the future. He has asked for time to go and settle the King of Dahomey, which I fear will not be granted him. I wish I could have inserted all Burton's Mormon anecdotes; for example, one person saying to another, “Sir, if you were Mr. Jesus Christ, or Mr. Joseph Smith himself sitting there, with your halo hanging above your head, I would pull your nose at any rate.” But this, alas! the respectability of the Edinburgh Review would not allow. …
The Consul, Captain Burton el Meccawi, was unfortunately at the Camaroons when we arrived, but his representative and locum tenens, Frank Wilson, who came on board the steamer, offered us hospitality, so we landed and put up at the Consulate. Here everything in the house bore evidence as to the peculiar tastes of the owner; and a glance round the place would have impressed me with the conviction that he was a deep scholar and practical traveller, even had I not known him to be the most indomitable explorer of modern days, and an author whose writings, unbiased by prejudice, are stamped with truth. I amused myself for several hours by looking over his library, which consisted of several hundred of the best works of the day in all tongues—for the Hadji is a polyglot—and I often found myself roaring at the quaint notes and criticisms in the margin, in “the Prophet's” peculiar fist, which much resembles the trail a spider would leave on paper after he had crawled through a pool of ink. …
Feb. 19, 1862.
Excuse my not answering your note. The fact is I have just returned from an exploring ascent of the Cameroon Mountains.
I send you a peculiar pipe of Ashantee make; I should judge it to be steatite, and hope that you will keep it as a small souvenir. Accept my best thanks for all your kindness.—Yours truly,
Richard F. Burton.
Dear Dr. Shaw
What is your news? Mine for you is as follows “I propose to write a paper for the Geographical and you will have to correct proofs”. He sends me a box which I have not yet received and he bids me ask you to ask Sir R. Murchison to let him have the Geological names for the several lavas which are all numbered. I will bring you all this as soon as it arrives & if Sir R. Murchison wd write a note upon them he will publish it in appendix. He also says—“I send by this mail a long paper for the Geographical and you must correct the writing”—I have not got it, have you?
The box hasn’t arrived yet, will you keep this note till I see you & let me know if there will be an African night tonight.
16 Edgware Road
1st March 1862
My dear Wylde
Thanks for yours of the 23d January. I shall put out next autumn a little vol. touching Abeokuta with its cotton and Camaroons Mt the proper appendage to our colony of Lagos. The war between Abeokuta and the Ibadans still rages, worse than ever. As I told you the fight is about the want of the inland people of a free passage to the coast. The Abeokutans of course aspire to transit dues, to becoming a city of middlemen. This will last until we have a good force at Lagos, we can then act as arbiters and compel peace by holding one party against another. I’m sorry to hear that the 2d West has furnished detachment for Lagos. It is I think the worst corps in the world. Sobriety unknown. The corps for Lagos should be Fantis from near Accra, commanded by steady sepoy officers. The new governor is a lucky man & people speak well of him. If he can keep civil courts and lawyers out, he will have fine opportunities. You give me bad news about Wilmot, I had hoped to go on that errand to Dahomey. Very sorry that the Northern states have given up their prisoners—this is the very time for a war. But even this bit of a row will do good by drawing attention to other W. African rivers. I may now get a gunboat to myself and do some work. At present I am wholly crippled by having to work through another department. Commodore Edmonstone is all one could wish. Bedingfield has been some time on the coast, knows nothing, & thinks he knows everything. Whatever one proposes he pooh poohs. Thank Heavens he goes home soon & Beamish becomes Sen. Office of the Bights.
Yesterday I returned as you will see from a little [Erebus]-boat expedition. Don’t be afraid of my getting into a row with natives unless it is completely necessary. Thanks goodness they already say that I am worse (i.e. stricter) than Beecroft he was the only man that ever managed them. The little shindig will do a power of good—I shall not expect trouble in […] for years. We fired rockets & howitzers before King William. You should h