Copyright
Henry M. Stanley.

How I Found Livingstone; travels, adventures, and discoveres in Central Africa, including an account of four months' residence with Dr. Livingstone, by Henry M. Stanley online

. (page 26 of 38)
Online LibraryHenry M. StanleyHow I Found Livingstone; travels, adventures, and discoveres in Central Africa, including an account of four months' residence with Dr. Livingstone, by Henry M. Stanley → online text (page 26 of 38)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


In this brief sketch of Dr. Livingstone's wonderful travels it is to be
hoped the most superficial reader, as well as the student of geography,
comprehends this grand system of lakes connected together by Webb's
River. To assist him, let him glance at the map accompanying this book.
He will then have a fair idea of what Dr. Livingstone has been doing
during these long years, and what additions he has made to the study of
African geography. That this river, distinguished under several titles,
flowing from one lake into another in a northerly direction, with all
its great crooked bends and sinuosities, is the Nile - the true Nile - the
Doctor has not the least doubt. For a long time he entertained great
scepticism, because of its deep bends and curves west, and south-west
even; but having traced it from its head waters, the Chambezi, through
7 degrees of latitude - that is, from 11 degrees S. to lat. 4 degrees
N. - he has been compelled to come to the conclusion that it can be no
other river than the Nile. He had thought it was the Congo; but has
discovered the sources of the Congo to be the Kassai and the Kwango, two
rivers which rise on the western side of the Nile watershed, in about
the latitude of Bangweolo; and he was told of another river called the
Lubilash, which rose from the north, and ran west. But the Lualaba, the
Doctor thinks, cannot be the Congo, from its great size and body,
and from its steady and continued flow northward through a broad and
extensive valley, bounded by enormous mountains westerly and easterly.
The altitude of the most northerly point to which the Doctor traced the
wonderful river was a little in excess of 2,000 feet; so that, though
Baker makes out his lake to be 2,700 feet above the sea, yet the Bahr
Ghazal, through which Petherick's branch of the White Nile issues into
the Nile, is but 2,000 feet; in which case there is a possibility that
the Lualaba may be none other than Petherick's branch.

It is well known that trading stations for ivory have been established
for about 500 miles up Petherick's branch. We must remember this fact
when told that Gondokoro, in lat. 4 degrees N., is 2,000 feet above the
sea, and lat. 4 degrees S., where the halt was made, is only a little
over 2,000 feet above the sea. That the two rivers said to be 2,000 feet
above the sea, separated from each other by 8 degrees of latitude, are
one and the same river, may among some men be regarded as a startling
statement. But we must restrain mere expressions of surprise, and take
into consideration that this mighty and broad Lualaba is a lacustrine
river broader than the Mississippi; that at intervals the body of water
forms extensive lakes; then, contracting into a broad river, it again
forms a lake, and so on, to lat. 4 degrees; and even beyond this point
the Doctor hears of a large lake again north.

We must wait also until the altitudes of the two rivers, the Lualaba,
where the Doctor halted, and the southern point on the Bahr Ghazal,
where Petherick has been, are known with perfect accuracy.

Now, for the sake of argument, suppose we give this nameless lake a
length of 6 degrees of latitude, as it may be the one discovered by
Piaggia, the Italian traveller, from which Petherick's branch of the
White Nile issues out through reedy marshes, into the Bahr Ghazal,
thence into the White Nile, south of Gondokoro. By this method we can
suppose the rivers one; for if the lake extends over so many degrees of
latitude, the necessity of explaining the differences of altitude that
must naturally exist between two points of a river 8 degrees of latitude
apart, would be obviated.

Also, Livingstone's instruments for observation and taking altitudes
may have been in error; and this is very likely to have been the case,
subjected as they have been to rough handling during nearly six years
of travel. Despite the apparent difficulty of the altitude, there is
another strong reason for believing Webb's River, or the Lualaba, to be
the Nile. The watershed of this river, 600 miles of which Livingstone
has travelled, is drained from a valley which lies north and south
between lofty eastern and western ranges.

This valley, or line of drainage, while it does not receive the Kassai
and the Kwango, receives rivers flowing from a great distance west, for
instance, the important tributaries Lufira and Lomami, and large
rivers from the east, such as the Lindi and Luamo; and, while the most
intelligent Portuguese travellers and traders state that the Kassai, the
Kwango, and Lubilash are the head waters of the Congo River, no one
has yet started the supposition that the grand river flowing north, and
known by the natives as the Lualaba, is the Congo.

This river may be the Congo, or, perhaps, the Niger. If the Lualaba is
only 2,000 feet above the sea, and the Albert N'Yanza 2,700 feet, the
Lualaba cannot enter that lake. If the Bahr Ghazal does not extend by
an arm for eight degrees above Gondokoro, then the Lualaba cannot be the
Nile. But it would be premature to dogmatise on the subject. Livingstone
will clear up the point himself; and if he finds it to be the Congo,
will be the first to admit his error.

Livingstone admits the Nile sources have not been found, though he has
traced the Lualaba through seven degrees of latitude flowing north; and,
though he has not a particle of doubt of its being the Nile, not yet can
the Nile question be said to be resolved and ended. For two reasons:

1. He has heard of the existence of four fountains, two of which gave
birth to a river flowing north, Webb's River, or the Lualaba, and to a
river flowing south, which is the Zambezi. He has repeatedly heard of
these fountains from the natives. Several times he has been within 100
and 200 miles from them, but something always interposed to prevent his
going to see them. According to those who have seen them, they rise on
either side of a mound or level, which contains no stones. Some have
called it an ant-hill. One of these fountains is said to be so large
that a man, standing on one side, cannot be seen from the other. These
fountains must be discovered, and their position taken. The Doctor does
not suppose them to be south of the feeders of Lake Bangweolo. In his
letter to the 'Herald' he says "These four full-grown gushing fountains,
rising so near each other, and giving origin to four large rivers,
answer in a certain degree to the description given of the unfathomable
fountains of the Nile, by the secretary of Minerva, in the city of Sais,
in Egypt, to the father of all travellers - Herodotus."

For the information of such readers as may not have the original at
hand, I append the following from Cary's translation of Herodotus:
(II.28)

(Jul 2001 The History of Herodotus V1 by Herodotus; Macaulay)


*** With respect to the sources of the Nile, no man of all the
Egyptians, Libyans, or Grecians, with whom I have conversed,
ever pretended to know anything, except the registrar* of Minerva's

*the secretary of the treasury of the goddess Neith, or Athena as
Herodotus calls her: ho grammatiste:s to:n hiro:n xre:mato:n te:s
Athe:naie:s>

treasury at Sais, in Egypt. He, indeed, seemed to be trifling
with me when he said he knew perfectly well; yet his account was
as follows: "That there are two mountains, rising into a sharp
peak, situated between the city of Syene, in Thebais, and
Elephantine. The names of these mountains are the one Crophi,
the other Mophi; that the sources of the Nile, which are bottomless,
flow from between these mountains and that half of the water flows
over Egypt and to the north, the other half over Ethiopia and the
south. That the fountains of the Nile are bottomless, he said,
Psammitichus, king of Egypt, proved by experiment: for, having
caused a line to be twisted many thousand fathoms in length, he
let it down, but could not find a bottom." Such, then, was the
opinion the registrar gave, if, indeed, he spoke the real truth;
proving, in my opinion, that there are strong whirlpools and an
eddy here, so that the water beating against the rocks, a
sounding-line, when let down, cannot reach the bottom. I was
unable to learn anything more from any one else. But thus much
I learnt by carrying my researches as far as possible, having gone
and made my own observations as far as Elephantine, and beyond
that obtaining information from hearsay. As one ascends the river,
above the city of Elephantine, the country is steep; here,
therefore; it is necessary to attach a rope on both sides of a boat,
as one does with an ox in a plough, and so proceed; but if
the rope should happen to break, the boat is carried away by the
force of the stream. This kind of country lasts for a four-days'
passage, and the Nile here winds as much as the Maeander. There
are twelve schoeni, which it is necessary to sail through in
this manner; and after that you will come to a level plain, where
the Nile flows round an island; its name is Tachompso. Ethiopians
inhabit the country immediately above Elephantine, and one half
of the island; the other half is inhabited by Egyptians. Near to
this island lies a vast lake, on the borders of which Ethiopian
nomades dwell. After sailing through this lake you will come to
the channel of the Nile, which flows into it: then you will have
to land and travel forty days by the side of the river, for sharp
rocks rise in the Nile, and there are many sunken ones, through
which it is not possible to navigate a boat. Having passed this
country in the forty days, you must go on board another boat, and
sail for twelve days; and then you will arrive at a large city,
called Meroe; this city is said to be the capital of all
Ethiopia. The inhabitants worship no other gods than Jupiter and
Bacchus; but these they honour with great magnificence. They
have also an oracle of Jupiter; and they make war whenever that
god bids them by an oracular warning, and against whatever
country he bids them. Sailing from this city, you will arrive at
the country of the Automoli, in a space of time equal to that
which you took in coming from Elephantine to the capital of the
Ethiopians. These Automoli are called by the name of Asmak,
which, in the language of Greece, signifies "those that stand at
the left hand of the king." These, to the number of two hundred and
forty thousand of the Egyptian war-tribe, revolted to the
Ethiopians on the following occasion. In the reign of King
Psammitichus garrisons were stationed at Elephantine against the
Ethiopians, and another at the Pelusian Daphnae against the
Arabians and Syrians, and another at Marea against Libya; and even
in my time garrisons of the Persians are stationed in the same
places as they were in the time of Psammitichus, for they
maintain guards at Elephantine and Daphnae. Now, these Egyptians,
after they had been on duty three years, were not relieved;
therefore, having consulted together and come to an unanimous
resolution, they all revolted from Psammitichus, and went to
Ethiopia. Psammitichus, hearing of this, pursued them; and when
he overtook them he entreated them by many arguments, and adjured
them not to forsake the gods of their fathers, and their
children and wives But one of them is reported to have uncovered
[ ] and to have said, that wheresoever these were there they

["which it is said that one of them pointed to his privy member and
said that wherever this was, there would they have both children and
wives" - Macaulay tr.; published edition censors]

should find both children and wives." These men, when they arrived
in Ethiopia, offered their services to the king of the Ethiopians,
who made them the following recompense. There were certain
Ethiopians disaffected towards him; these he bade them expel,
and take possession of their land. By the settlement of these men
among the Ethiopians, the Ethiopians became more civilized, and
learned the manners of the Egyptians.

Now, for a voyage and land journey of four months, the Nile is
known, in addition to the part f the stream that is in Egypt; for,
upon computation, so many months are known to be spent by a
person who travels from Elephantine to the Automoli. This river
flows from the west and the setting of the sun; but beyond this no
one is able to speak with certainty, for the rest of the country
is desert by reason of the excessive heat. But I have heard the
following account from certain Cyrenaeans, who say that they went
to the oracle of Ammon, and had a conversation with Etearchus, King
of the Ammonians, and that, among other subjects, they happened to
discourse about the Nile - that nobody knew its sources; whereupon
Etearchus said that certain Nasamonians once came to him - this
nation is Lybian, and inhabits the Syrtis, and the country for no
great distance eastward of the Syrtis - and that when these
Nasamonians arrived, and were asked if they could give any
further formation touching the deserts of Libya, they answered,
that there were some daring youths amongst them, sons of powerful
men; and that they, having reached man's estate, formed many
other extravagant plans, and, moreover, chose five of their number
by lot to explore the deserts of Libya, to see if they could make
any further discovery than those who had penetrated the farthest.
(For, as respects the parts of Libya along the Northern Sea,
beginning from Egypt to the promontory of Solois, where is the
extremity of Libya, Libyans and various nations of Libyans reach
all along it, except those parts which are occupied by Grecians
and Phoenicians; but as respects the parts above the sea, and
those nations which reach down to the sea, in the upper parts
Libya is infested by wild beasts; and all beyond that is sand,
dreadfully short of water, and utterly desolate.) They further
related, "that when the young men deputed by their companions
set out, well furnished with water and provisions, they passed
first through the inhabited country; and having traversed this,
they came to the region infested by wild beasts; and after this
they crossed the desert, making their way towards the west; and
when they had traversed much sandy ground, during a journey of
many days, they at length saw some trees growing in a plain; and
that they approached and began to gather the fruit that grew on
the trees; and while they were gathering, some diminutive men,
less than men of middle stature, came up, and having seized them
carried them away; and that the Nasamonians did not at all understand
their language, nor those who carried them off the language of
the Nasamonians. However, they conducted them through vast
morasses, and when they had passed these, they came to a city in
which all the inhabitants were of the same size as their conductors,
and black in colour: and by the city flowed a great river, running
from the west to the east, and that crocodiles were seen in it."
Thus far I have set forth the account of Etearchus the Ammonian;
to which may be added, as the Cyrenaeans assured me, "that he said
the Nasamonians all returned safe to their own country, and that
the men whom they came to were all necromancers." Etearchus also
conjectured that this river, which flows by their city, is the Nile;
and reason so evinces: for the Nile flows from Libya, and intersects
it in the middle; and (as I conjecture, inferring things unknown
from things known) it sets out from a point corresponding with the
Ister. For the Ister, beginning from the Celts, and the city of
Pyrene, divides Europe in its course; but the Celts are beyond
the pillars of Hercules, and border on the territories of the
Cynesians, who lie in the extremity of Europe to the westward;
and the Ister terminates by flowing through all Europe into the
Euxine Sea, where a Milesian colony is settled in Istria. Now
the Ister, as it flows through a well-peopled country, is generally
known; but no one is able to speak about the sources of the Nile,
because Libya, through which it flows, is uninhabited and desolate.
Respecting this stream, therefore, as far as I was able to reach by
inquiry, I have already spoken. It however discharges itself into
Egypt; and Egypt lies, as near as may be, opposite to the
mountains of Cilicia; from whence to Sinope, on the Euxine Sea,
is a five days' journey in a straight line to an active man; and
Sinope is opposite to the Ister, where it discharges itself into
the sea. So I think that the Nile, traversing the whole of Libya,
may be properly compared with the Ister. Such, then, is the
account that I am able to give respecting the Nile.
***



Online LibraryHenry M. StanleyHow I Found Livingstone; travels, adventures, and discoveres in Central Africa, including an account of four months' residence with Dr. Livingstone, by Henry M. Stanley → online text (page 26 of 38)