Mr. Beardsley to Mr. Fish.
Cairo , September 3, 1873. (Received September 29.)
Sir: I have the honor to inform you that Sir Samuel Baker and Lady Baker arrived at Cairo on the 24th ultimo, where they are now stopping.
I have had the pleasure of several interviews with Sir Samuel, on which occasions he graphically detailed the incidents of his expedition and expressed himself satisfied with the work he has accomplished. He claims that he has absolutely crushed the slave-trade for the time being. He admits, however, that it will assume its former proportions unless the Khedive maintains a determined officer and a sufficient force in the country.
He describes the country lying east of the Albert Nyanza, north of the Victoria Nyanza, and between the equator and latitude 4° north, as beautiful, fertile, and healthy, with a most pleasant and salubrious climate. He carried with him European garden-seeds, cottonseed, and seeds of all the cereals grown in Egypt, and wherever he formed a station he immediately planted and cultivated the surrounding country. The result proved that the soil and climate are peculiarly well adapted to the growing of all agricultural products. The soil is a dark, rich, plastic loam, from two to three feet deep, with a subsoil of gravel of equal depth, which drains the surface admirably, and conduces to the healthfulness of the region. Rains are frequent and abundant during nine months of the year, and the temperature is remarkably equable. I examined his meteorological records for two years. At Fatiko, for six months, from June to December, the thermometer at sunrise never varied more than 4 degrees from 64, and at noon never more than 7 or 8 degrees from 86. Fatiko is in latitude 3° 1′ north, longitude 32° 36′ east, and is about 4,000 feet above the sea. The general face of the country is slightly rolling, with occasional rocky eminences, and when not occupied and cultivated by the natives, it is mostly covered with a rank grass jungle from 8 to 10 feet high, and dense forests. A monopoly of the trade of this vast region was sold by the government, a few years ago, to a party of traders, who, instead of carrying on a legitimate trade, organized armed forces from deserters from the army in the Soudan, and from such of the natives as would join them, and devastated the country, plundering and burning the towns and villages, and carrying off the inhabitants as slaves. These armed bandits were, from the beginning, the mortal enemies of Sir Samuel, and left no device or expedient untried to defeat his purposes and destroy him and his little band. Nothing, however, could withstand Baker’s impetuous daring, backed by his Snider rifles; and by the end of 1872 he had completely crushed the slave-dealers and driven them from the country. He then organized the country into districts, built fortifications at the chief stations, and collected the corntax in the name of the Egyptian government. The people rejoiced at the defeat and expulsion from the country of their enemies the slave-traders, rose as one man in favor of Baker and the Egyptian government, and Sir Samuel came away leaving the country prosperous and at peace. The chief of the slave-traders was one Abou Saood, who, after, exercising all of his skill and diplomacy to defeat Baker, not hesitating to employ assassins to put him out of the way, and being [Page 1169] finally totally defeated, escaped to Khartoum, and finally reached Cairo last spring, bringing the report of Baker’s defeat and probable death which was current here several months ago. When Baker reached Khartoom he telegraphed to Cairo and had Abou Saood arrested, and he is now in prison here awaiting trial for the offenses charged against him by Sir Samuel.
Sir Samuel is Sanguine that there is a water-communication between the Albert Nyanza and the Tanganyika, notwithstanding the statement to the contrary of Livingstone and Stanley. He thinks the natives, who make the journey between Ujiji and the Albert Lake very often, cannot well be mistaken when they declare that the entire journey is made by water. Stanley is very positive in his assertion that the river at the north end of Tanganyika is an affluent and not an effluent.
Without pretending to solve this interesting geographical question, Sir Samuel suggests the probability of the Albert Nyanza’s being the reservoir of both the Nile and the Congo. On this supposition the river at the north end of the Tanganyika, described by Stanley as entering that lake from the north, flows out of the Nyanza, and the natives are correct in their statement that there is a continuous waterpassage between the two lakes. On any other supposition either the natives or Livingstone and Stanley must be mistaken.
I inclose herewith Baker’s letters, as they appeared in the London Mail. Doubtless you have already seen these letters, which so graphically describe Sir Samuel’s adventures, but it may be desirable to have them on file in the Department. I also inclose a correspondence between Earl Granville and Sir Bartle Frere in regard to the alleged carelessness of Dr. Kirk in forwarding supplies to Dr. Livingstone.
I have, &c,