A few extracts from the valuable work of Dr. Schweinfurth will throw a light upon the spirit which animated the authorities, all of whom were incensed at my having presumed to understand the Khedive's orders literally respecting the suppression of the slave trade.
In page 485, vol. ii., he writes: - " The ill-feeling and smothered rage against Sir Samuel Baker's interference nurtured by the higher authorities, breaks out very strongly amongst the less reticent lower officials. In Fashoda, and even in Khartoum, I heard complaints that we (the Franks) were the prime cause of all the trouble, and if it had not been for our eternal agitation with the Viceroy, such measures would never have been enforced."
In page 477, vol. ii., he continues: - "Notwithstanding that Sir Samuel Baker was still on the upper waters of the river, the idea was quite prevalent in all the seribas, that as soon as the 'English Pacha' had turned his back upon Fashoda (the government station in the Shillook country), the mudir (governor) would relapse into his former habits, and levy a good round sum on the head of every slave, and then let the contraband stock pass without more ado. But for once the seriba people were reckoning without their host. The mudir had been so severely reprimanded by Baker for his former delinquencies, that he thought it his best policy, for this year at least, to be as energetic as he could in his exertions against the forbidden trade."
In page 470, vol. ii., Dr. Schweinfurth writes: - "I knew that Sir Samuel Baker was upon the Upper Nile, and did not doubt that his presence would have the effect of making the government take the most strenuous measures against any import of slaves."
Page 429, vol. ii.: - " Before Sir Samuel Baker's expedition put a stop to it altogether, the slave trade that was carried on down the river was quite insignificant compared to the overland traffic." "For years there has been a public prohibition against bringing slaves down the White Nile into Khartoum, and ever and again stronger repressive measures have been introduced, which, however, have only had the effect of raising the land traffic to a premium; but as a general rule, the Egyptian officials connive at the use of this comparatively unimportant channel of the trade, and pocket a quiet little revenue for themselves by demanding a sum varying from two to five dollars a head as hush-money."
In page 429, vol. ii.: - "The expedition of Sir Samuel Baker has stopped the source."
In page 410, vol. ii., Dr. Schweinfurth writes: - "Already had Sir Samuel Baker, with praiseworthy energy, commenced scouring the waters of the Upper Nile, and by capturing all slave-vessels and abolishing a large 'chasua' belonging to the mudir (governor) of Fashoda, had left no doubt as to the earnestness of his purpose,"
In page 83, vol. i.: - "Beyond the true eastern shore, the Dinka are said to be settled in extensive villages, and at that time still furnished an inexhaustible supply of slaves to the marauding expeditions of the garrison of Fashoda. In 1870 Baker succeeded in putting an end to this disorder, the knowledge of which penetrated to the most remote tribes."
The evidence of so trustworthy a traveller as Dr. Schweinfurth is exceedingly valuable, as he was in the Western Nile districts at the time that I was actively engaged; thus he had opportunities of witnessing the results of my interference, and the hostility exhibited by the authorities. He is simply in error concerning the importance of the slave trade of the river, which he much underrates, as will have already been seen by the fact of 700 slaves being stowed away upon only three vessels belonging to Abou Saood.
These vessels, that were captured by my orders at Fashoda, on their way towards Khartoum, were an example of the truth foretold by the traders with whom Dr. Schweinfurth was travelling in the west - "that as soon as the English Pacha had turned his back upon Fashoda, the governor would relapse into his former habits, and levy a good round sum on the head of every slave, and then let the contraband cargo pass without more ado."
There were always well-known slave routes through Kordofan, but these channels became of extreme importance when I rendered the slave traffic of the river impossible.
It is quite unnecessary to write more on the subject of the slave trade. The Khedive of Egypt was sincere when he gave me the orders to suppress this horrible traffic; and I trust, from the simple description of the expedition, the world will acknowledge that in this duty I exhibited the utmost leniency towards the ruffianly lessees of the Soudan government.
I am convinced that the Khedive is sincere at heart in wishing to suppress the slave trade, but he requires unusual moral courage to enter the lists single-handed against Egyptian public opinion.
My opinion has been frequently asked on this subject, and many have endeavoured to persuade me that a rapid change and improvement of the natives may be effected by such an agency. I cannot resist by argument such fervent hopes; but if good and capable men are determined to make the attempt, they may now be assured of peace and security at Gondokoro, where they will have the advantage of the good name left by the excellent but unfortunate members of the late Austrian mission.
I have not changed my opinions that have already been expressed in "The Albert N'yanza," except that, from the native testimony, I presume there must be a channel which connects either a lake or series of lakes with the Albert N'yanza.
Without a guide, it would be a work of much time and difficulty to discover the true channel among the labyrinth-like inlets that characterize the vast beds of floating water-grass.