CHAPTER I. INTRODUCTORY.

In the present work I shall describe the history of the Khedive of Egypt's expedition, which I have had the honour to command, as the first practical step that has been taken to suppress the slave trade of Central Africa.

I shall not repeat, beyond what may be absolutely necessary, that which has already been published in my former works on Africa, "The Albert N'yanza" and "The Nile Tributaries of Abyssinia," but I shall adhere to the simple path taken by the expedition. This enterprise was the natural result of my original explorations, in which I had been an eye-witness to the horrors of the slave trade, which I determined, if possible, to suppress.

In my former journey I had traversed countries of extreme fertility in Central Africa, with a healthy climate favourable for the settlement of Europeans, at a mean altitude of 4,000 feet above the sea level. This large and almost boundless extent of country was well peopled by a race who only required the protection of a strong but paternal government to become of considerable importance, and to eventually develop the great resources of the soil.

I found lands varying in natural capabilities according to their position and altitudes - where sugar, cotton, coffee, rice, spices, and all tropical produce might be successfully cultivated; but those lands were without any civilized form of government, and "every man did what seemed right in his own eyes."

In this dislocated state of society, the slave trade prospered to the detriment of all improvement. Rich and well-populated countries were rendered desolate; the women and children were carried into captivity; villages were burnt, and crops were destroyed or pillaged; the population was driven out; a terrestrial paradise was converted into an infernal region; the natives who were originally friendly were rendered hostile to all strangers, and the general result of the slave trade could only be expressed in one word - "ruin."

The slave hunters and traders who had caused this desolation were for the most part Arabs, subjects of the Egyptian government.

These people had deserted their agricultural occupations in the Soudan and had formed companies of brigands in the pay of various merchants of Khartoum. The largest trader had about 2,500 Arabs in his pay, employed as pirates or brigands, in Central Africa. These men were organized after a rude military fashion, and armed with muskets; they were divided into companies, and were officered in many cases by soldiers who had deserted from their regiments in Egypt or the Soudan.

It is supposed that about 15,000 of the Khedive's subjects who should have been industriously working and paying their taxes in Egypt were engaged in the so-called ivory trade and slave-hunting of the White Nile.

Each trader occupied a special district, where, by a division of his forces in a chain of stations, each of which represented about 300 men, he could exercise a right of possession over a certain amount of assumed territory.

In this manner enormous tracts of country were occupied by the armed bands from Khartoum, who could make alliances with the native tribes to attack and destroy their neighbours, and to carry off their women and children, together with vast herds of sheep and cattle.

I have already fully described this system in "The Albert N'yanza," therefore it will be unnecessary to enter into minute details in the present work. It will be sufficient, to convey an idea of the extended scale of the slave-hunting operations, to explain that an individual trader named Agad assumed the right over nearly NINETY THOUSAND SQUARE MILES of territory. Thus his companies of brigands could pillage at discretion, massacre, take, burn, or destroy throughout this enormous area, or even beyond this broad limit, if they had the power.

It is impossible to know the actual number of slaves taken from Central Africa annually; but I should imagine that at least fifty thousand are positively either captured and held in the various zareebas (or camps) or are sent via the White Nile and the various routes overland by Darfur and Kordofan. The loss of life attendant upon the capture and subsequent treatment of the slaves is frightful. The result of this forced emigration, combined with the insecurity of life and property, is the withdrawal of the population from the infested districts. The natives have the option of submission to every insult, to the violation of their women and the pillage of their crops, or they must either desert their homes and seek independence in distant districts, or ally themselves with their oppressors to assist in the oppression of other tribes. Thus the seeds of anarchy are sown throughout Africa, which fall among tribes naturally prone to discord. The result is horrible confusion, - distrust on all sides, - treachery, devastation, and ruin.

This was the state of Central Africa and the White Nile when I was first honoured with the notice of Ismail Pacha, the present Khedive of Egypt.

I had received certain intimations from the Foreign Minister, Nubar Pacha, concerning the Khedive's intentions, a short time previous to an invitation with which I was honoured by his Royal Highness the Prince of Wales to accompany their Royal Highnesses the Prince and Princess during their tour in Egypt.

It is almost needless to add that, upon arrival in Egypt, the Prince of Wales, who represented at heart the principles of Great Britain, took the warmest interest in the suppression of the slave trade.

The Khedive, thus supported and encouraged in his ideas of reform, concluded his arrangements for the total abolition of the slave trade, not only throughout his dominions, but he determined to attack that moral cancer by actual cautery at the very root of the evil.

I was accordingly requested to draw up a plan for the proposed expedition to Central Africa.

After some slight modifications, I received from the Khedive the following firman: -

"We, Ismail, Khedive of Egypt, considering the savage condition of the tribes which inhabit the Nile Basin;

"Considering that neither government, nor laws, nor security exists in those countries;

"Considering that humanity enforces the suppression of the slave-hunters who occupy those countries in great numbers;

"Considering that the establishment of legitimate commerce throughout those countries will be a great stride towards future civilization, and will result in the opening to steam navigation of the great equatorial lakes of Central Africa, and in the establishing a permanent government . . . . We have decreed and now decree as follows: -

"An expedition is organized to subdue to our authority the countries situated to the south of Gondokoro;

"To suppress the slave trade; to introduce a system of regular commerce;

"To open to navigation the great lakes of the equator;

"And to establish a chain of military stations and commercial depots, distant at intervals of three days' march, throughout Central Africa, accepting Gondokoro as the base of operations.

"The supreme command of this expedition is confided to Sir Samuel White Baker, for four years, commencing from 1st April, 1869; to whom also we confer the most absolute and supreme power, even that of death, over all those who may compose the expedition.

"We confer upon him the same absolute and supreme authority over all those countries belonging to the Nile Basin south of Gondokoro."

It was thus that the Khedive determined at the risk of his popularity among his own subjects to strike a direct blow at the slave trade in its distant nest. To insure the fulfilment of this difficult enterprise, he selected an Englishman, armed with a despotic power such as had never been intrusted by a Mohammedan to a Christian.

The slave trade was to be suppressed; legitimate commerce was to be introduced, and protection was to be afforded to the natives by the establishment of a government.

The suppression of the slave trade was a compliment to the European Powers which would denote the superiority of Egypt, and would lay the first stone in the foundation of a new civilization; and a population that was rapidly disappearing would be saved to Africa.

To effect this grand reform it would be necessary to annex the Nile Basin, and to establish a government in countries that had been hitherto without protection, and a prey to the adventurers from the Soudan. To convey steel steamers from England, and to launch them upon the Albert Lake, and thus open the resources of Central Africa; to establish legitimate trade in a vast country which had hitherto been a field of rapine and of murder; to protect the weak and to punish the evil-doer, and to open the road to a great future, where the past had been all darkness and the present reckless spoliation - this was the grand object which Ismail, the Khedive of Egypt, determined to accomplish.

In this humane enterprise he was firmly supported by his two Ministers, Nubar Pacha and Cherif Pacha (an Armenian and a Circassian). The young princes his sons, who are well-educated and enlightened men, took the greatest interest in the undertaking; but beyond these and a few others, the object of the expedition was regarded with ill-concealed disgust.

Having received full powers from the Khedive, I gave orders for the following vessels to be built of steel by Messrs. Samuda Brothers: -

 No. 1.    A paddle steamer of 251 tons, 32-horse power.
No. 2. A twin screw high-pressure steamer of 20-horse power, 108 tons.
No. 3. A twin screw high-pressure steamer of 10-horse power, 38 tons.
Nos. 4, 5. Two steel lifeboats, each 30 ft. by 9 - 10 tons each.

These vessels were fitted with engines of the best construction by Messrs. Pond Co., and were to be carried across the Nubian desert in plates and sections.

In addition to the steamers were steam saw mills, with a boiler that weighed 8 cwt. in one piece - all of which would have to be transported by camels for several hundred miles across the Nubian desert, and by boats and camels alternately from Alexandria to Gondokoro, a distance of about THREE THOUSAND MILES.

In the description of this enterprise, which terminated in the suppression of the slave trade of the White Nile and the annexation of a large equatorial territory to Egypt, I shall be compelled to expose many abuses which were the result of misgovernment in the distant provinces of Upper Egypt. It must be distinctly understood that his Highness the Khedive was ignorant of such abuses, and that he took prompt and vigorous measures to reform the administration of the Soudan immediately upon receiving information of the misgovernment of that extensive territory. Throughout the expedition his Highness has exhibited a determination to succeed in the suppression of the slave trade in spite of the adverse opinion of the public; therefore, when I expose the abuses that existed, it must be accepted without hesitation that the Khedive would have been the foremost in punishing the authors and in rectifying such abuses had he been aware of their existence.

As a duty to the Khedive, and in justice to myself, I shall describe the principal incidents as they occurred throughout the expedition. The civilized world will form both judge and jury; if their verdict be favourable, I shall have my reward. I can only assure my fellow-men that I have sought earnestly the guidance of the Almighty in the use of the great power committed to me, and I trust that I have been permitted to lay a firm foundation for a good work hereafter.