« PreviousContinue »
after hour the twang of the sword-bayonets and the thud of the axes were almost the only sounds to be heard till the train of carts moved slowly on as the way was opened. Toward evening of the second day we followed a narrow pass along the side of a rocky river bed, stout, inflexible trunks and branches here projecting into our path. On some of these ebony bars the axes resounded as on an anvil, and they yielded only to the more patient saw. As the sun descended we began to flag, but help was at hand; for a party coming back to us from the camp ahead with food and water, we picked up strength and spirit and reached camp late in the evening.
The level plains of Ugogo, which here represent the flat, open step or terrace to which I have referred in the general description of Africa, enabled us to make a week or so of splendid and comfortable marches. Ugogo passed, there lay before us the much-dreaded wilderness, so-called, of the Magunda-Mkali, separated from Ugogo by a steep, rocky ascent, which we could only tackle one cart at a time, and we soon came to a point so rugged with broken rocks that we could proceed no further; but the sections were unlashed, the carts taken to pieces, and all handed or dragged across the difficult place and put together again beyond. Over the scrubby, rugged hill and dale of Magunda-Mkali, without inhabitants, 20 to 25 miles a day was often made; every man knew the necessity of pushing on for food and water, and the danger, from wild beasts or wandering highwaymen, of lagging in the rear.
On, on, went the novel train, through weary miles of forest, across the scorched plain, rattling over the hard sun-baked footprints of the elephant and rhinoceros; on through grassy glades where the nimble antelope bounded, scared out of our path, and the zebra and giraffe were startled by the rattling of these strange disturbers of their solitude; on still through miles of swamp, with its croaking legions; on through scenes of surpassing beauty, bright flowers and gleaming birds and butterflies ; on past the bleaching bones of other travelers waylaid or exhausted, till the sun creeps up high overhead and eager glances are cast at green spots where water once had been; on, till the pace grows slow with weariness and thirst, and still on, till it revives again as the welcome messenger from the front appears in sight with water or the camp-fires tell of food and rest.
Completing this difficult section of the journey and mounting to the beautiful forests and numerous villages of Unyamwesi, we had arrived upon the central heights of the continent, which everything around us bespoke its best part; the clearer, more healthy air, the rich land, the open forests, the numerous and industrious people, all spoke eloquently of a better and brighter state of things in the interior of Africa than on its outside.
33—NAT, GEOG. MAG., VOL. III, 1891.
At Urambo we elicited the pleasel surprise of our friend, the famous chief Mirambo. Said Mirambo, laying his hand emphatically on one of the boat sections, “ This boat and these carts are mine, and all Unyamwesi is yours." It was his way of expressing sympathy and admiration of what he considered to be a very wonderful enterprise, and we left him pondering more deeply than ever on the doings of the “white men.”
The rains were now at hand and the country rich and verdant; we hastened on with all speed possible to enable us to cross the Malagarasi river before it should be too swollen. Emerging from elevated forest land to a view of the valley of the river, it appears like a vast level expanse of harmless grass, but the swift river is Howing in the bottom. The toll required by the natives being paid, we descended to the river through the thick grass. We crossed the river in tiny duy-out or bark canoes managed by the natives. One old man, a leader among these ferrymen, we had especial cause to notice; we called him “the old admiral.” He wore a curious skull cap apparently made of bladder, and presented a most odd appearance. To him we paid a special fee of propitiation for the boatmen. As we proceeded down toward the river the first sign of it among the long grass was quiet shallow water on the path; this grew deeper and deeper as we walked on until we were immersed to the armpits, the grass rising avenue-like overhead. We emerged upon a small island or rising ground, and the river proper was before us. On this little eminence stood “the old admiral ” superintending all. The porters and their ordinary loads all crossed in the usual way, two or three at a time in the little canoes. The two large carts, with the bow and stern compartments of the boats, were floated along the watery avenue by the buoyancy of their tank-like loads; the others came, sections and carts, separately. The fare for each load was one yard of calico, but when the carts appeared there was general astonishment among the ferrymen, who showed signs of clearing off'altogether; "the old admiral” alone was unmoved; his stolid countenance showed no sign, but a deep bass growl,
Eight yards, eight yards for these!” expressed at once his nonchalance and his determination ; and eight yards we had to pay. All was safely got over in a day. Two of the bark canoes were lashed together with poles across, and one section or one cart at a time laid on top, and thus all was carried across.
Obstacles which further back would have been regarded as great hindrances were now made little of; success seemed assured to all, and the men even began to rehearse their triumphal entry into Ujiji. One more difficult river, the Lusugi, we had to cross. We reached its banks, down a rocky descent, late one night in a heavy fall of rain. We waited an hour or two next morning till the river had somewhat subsided, and then commenced work. Two or three volunteers swam across with a stout rope, which was then hauled tight across the stream. The porters, holding this
rope in one hand, slowly but surely made their way across. Then the carts and sections were attached to a block running on the rope, and so, carefully attended by two or three men, were floated over in safety.
Ujiji was now only a few marches ahead. The view of the lake was caught at last, a narrow strip of its waters gleaming in the sun in the distance, and next morning we slowly marched into Ujiji in a compact body. The boat was duly launched and has now been for years at work on Lake Tanganyika in the cause of civilization and Christianity.
The completion of this journey, however, was but the comniencement of a still larger enterprise in the region reached. Stations were established among the tribes on the lake shores; a larger vessel, with steam power, was built and launched on the lake, and a substantial mission was established and is still at work at a point which is only 400 miles from that point on the Congo river accessible to the steamers of the missions there.
All the work I have described was done at the expense of the London Missionary Society.
REPORT OF COMMITTEE ON EXPLORATION IN ALASKA,
(Accepted April 3, 1891.)
Washington, D. C., April 3, 1891. TO THE BOARD OF MANAGERS OF THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC SOCIETY,
Washington, D. (. Gentlemen : Your Committee, instructed "to consider the advisability of further Alaskan exploration by the Society this year and if deemed advisable, to consider and report upon ways and means for accomplishing it," respectfully submit the following report:
The general question of desirability has been decided affirmatively by the Board of Managers; it therefore is inferred that the question of advisability may be taken as involved in that of ways and means.
In outlining a plan of work, concerning which such inquiry is to be made, it has been found necessary, in the lack of formulated opinion by the Society, to make assumptions as to what should be its purpose and policy in undertaking exploration. It is assumed tentatively that in order best to further the object for which the Society is organized, namely, “the increase and diffusion of geographic knowlerlge,” the aim in exploration should be not so much to promote the growth of science as to diffuse a general interest in geographic work in its several departments, and, adhering to the principle of attractiveness, to increase the sum of knowledge by discovery and by the addition of general and elementary facts rather than by detailed investigation, for appreciation of which scientific training must be presupposed. It is furthermore believed that the policy of the Society should be to invite coöperation, offering opportunity at the same time for special study in related sciences; to effect the organization and devise the plan, and itself to take part directly in field work only so far as may be necessary to initiate and promote it.
Your Committee find that apparently it will be practicable,
with coöperation, for the Society to extend this year the exploration work of last year in the vicinity of Mount St. Elias. Specifically it is recommended that the plan be to determine directly, from a long base line near the coast, the height of the mountain, to ascend it, to observe systematically the unique phenomena of physical geography of the Malaspina glacier from Icy bay to the initial point of last year's exploration, and to explore the Seward glacier to its head if deemed advisable after the ascent of the peak.
In view of the fact that it is the purpose of the Coast and Geodetic Survey to carry the international boundary survey into this region within one or two years, it is considered inexpedient for the Society to undertake extended topographic work. It is, however, submitted, as a principle which this Society should emphasize in projecting exploration, that facts of physical geography have minimum value and may lead to false conclusions unless correlated through their space relations; and it is recommended that the expedition aim always to employ such means as may be practicable for making record of its course and of its observations in approximate geometric relation to surroundings.
('onditional offers of coöperation have been made by the Revenue Marine Service, the Geological Survey, the Coast and Geodetic Survey, and the Century Company of New York. Transportation from Seattle to Alaska and return, it is thought, may be secured on the steamer Corwin, and that vessel's commander, ('aptain Hooper, has expressed a desire to extend his coast-line exploration of last year by making a survey of Disenchantment bay. The Geological Survey offers to detail Mr. Russell to conduct the expedition, and to bear the expense of a number of field hands and of their equipment. The ('oast and Geodetic Survey has expressed a desire to aid, if practicable, by beginning boundary work in the same field this year, and incidentally to do other surveying with special relation to the work of the expedition. The Century ('ompany offers to send an artist experienced in Alpine work and to pay the greater portion of his expenses. The opportunity for study of the fauna and flora of the region it is thought should not be neglected.
The cost to the Society, wholly in items of field expense otherwise unprovided for, which may be considered as the cost of enabling the combination to work as one organization, is estimated at $500.