Report of the Expedition for Exploring Central Africa

A. Smith
1836 Journal of the Royal Geographical Society of London  
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The personal narrative of this joullley is iille(l with geographical letail on the country between Berlin and St. Petersburg, and tllence to Tobolsk, as also from 1'obolsk to the mouth of the river Obi. Though these details are sometillles vely nlinute, they are far from being divested of interest. We omit thenl, and, more eltlctantly, bis observatiolls Oll the water-communication exi.sting ill tlle interior of Russia oa] the milles of the Uralian mountaill.s, and tlle hydroglaphy of the river Wolga and its affluents. Still more we reCret that we have not sp7lce (r leisure to insert a tl ans-I;tion of the accounts he obtained at Tobolsk, respectirlg the coul-try which is known under the 1lume of tlle Steppe of the Klirghis, and through ^7hich, as it appears, there exists a regular conllllelcilll illtercourse between Tobolsk and the tO\l'Il of rl'ashlselld ill the khanat of Khokan. As tllis country is nearly unknown to ,eot,apllers, we desire to direct attention to tlle valuable inforrnation colltained ill these volumes. (2 l) 2 A1ISCF>LhANE^OUS. I.-Ryporf; of 7 the Expe(lttion fqr ewplf3riny CeezEral Afs ica 2tnder tlge superintendece of Dr. Av SmtGh. (Ablidt,ed.) It is gelielally klloxvn-that, in 1834 an associatiol1 sras fortned at tlle Cape of Good Hope fol the pulpfose of explolilog Central Afrsca; by whose direction X7as or$allsed an &xpedit1on placed ullder tlle immediate supelilatelldellce of Dr. Anirew Snlit11, we11kllowll as al1: able naturdlist: sho ras acco1npanied by several volunteers, zealous in the ?a.1lse of discove;ry. DThe expedition, whieh as on a ]arge scale, collsistint, it is said, of about Isfty persons) olle 11vlndled alld fifty llead of cattle and horsesj and, perX haps, tsventy ssatrgonsn started from:;Graaf Reir,et on the 1tth August, 1834, ald returned ill the-bebiIning of the presellt year. Ilalnlediately ollxts arrisal a repolt of its procee-dinUs gt;? laid before the Associatioll; Xallt as tlle lestilts, itl a geographical pOillt of view, are valuable, and likely to :lead thd \?;iy to et fartller clis-coseries, ^ze consider it of sLlfficient importaalce to give aIl abridg-Inent of the svllole report. Leavillg Gl aaf lleillet? the party tlaselledt by moderate stabes, till they leached tlle Alll Galiep,or Black River, the southern branch of tlle Olullge River, atld tllellce b Pllilippolist a nlissiollary StatiOIl., abotlt tsellty Iniles beyotld it: 1lele they foulld that, ostill8 to tlle excessive drollght, it would lxe difficult to procule cattle fit fol dl-auglt, or to fitld subsistellee for tllell] in cros-sillg lhe dried-up plaills tcssards Lattakoo. Dr. Smith decided, Illerefore, to proceed to the eastssslrd, aInd examined the undesclibed tribes alld coulltry towards the soulces of the Caledon Ri er. Ele proceeds: On the loth September sFe left Philippolis and four days moderate travellilg brought us to Verhuil, a lPrench missionary station, The populatiorl-here consists of 6X7()0; persons, chiefly drixen away from their native country by rars or bv ^s?ant. On the 23rd lve contillued ollr journey and reached the Caledon River. Where xve filst saxv i;., which xvas several miles above its confluence lrith the Nu Ga liep, or Black River, it was a stream of considerable size, littIe infe rior as to the quantity of sater it contained to the lJlack River itself. Our course from thence was nearly parallel XTith; it, though generally at a coIlsislerable distance either on the one si(le or the other. In proportion as ^e receded from Philippolis, inthe same proportion did vegetation improse? and by the time we artived towalds the higher parts of this rIverl every platn tas found to be covereci lvith a conti-Report of fAe E$pedition forevlortng Cenfral Africa. 395 nnous sward of most luxuriant gras3, ^hich continued to the very limit of our journey in that (lirection. Water *: as also found in much greater abundance, aIld the Ilumber of small limpid streams ^hich occurred gave an agreeable and interesting character to the country, as ^ell as a degree of comfort, which ^e had not experienced sirlce lea^irlg Graaf Reinet. " Prexious to at r;ring at the French missiotlary station, Moriah, te passed to the nolth of the Kous Mountains, 5!hich form a part of the high belt that divides CaSerland from the Bechuana countly. " On approaching the territory of the Bashootoo, the character of the countly began to change, the lolv primitive hills Xthich in the distl'iCt of Philippolis vele only in a very fer instances found to be surmounted by a capping of san(lstone, rose to a greater heigllt, and 5tere almost invariably so coveled. The surface of the flats, uthich in the former district either consisted of a film ferruginous clalr or of the l)are primitie lock, lvas here either a mixture of regetable mollld and ferruginous clay, or of a silicious or a coarse-grained sandstone. E;malltrees and brushsrood,neither of ^shich had leen seen in any quantity since leaving Glaaf Reinet, began to clothe the raxines and breal,ss in the hills; rhilst Proteas and a wariety of other dwarf trees skirtesl the bases of some of the more consillerable ones, and reminded me strongly ofthe country aboutPlatte-kloof,in the district of Swellendam. Near this spot ^ e ascende(l one of the highest llills in the (listrict, and obtaine(l a distant ie+s of the higll mountairl range already mentioned, lYhen speakin" of the Kous Belg, .Ind sshich is knoxrnto the colonist })y tlle name of 4 \Vitte Bergerl." Trasrelling, whicll to this point ha(lhbeerl attende d vith but few difficulties, as far as legarded the road, now became irksome, itl consequetlce of the rugged and l)loken nature of the sandstone over whicll e had frequentl.y to pass; we could no longer, as formerly, )roceed from point to point almost in dilect lines, precipices and broken groun(l stood betxveen us and our object nearly in e+terv direction, and rendered our patll so itltricates that neither l!y ths direction we had received from the natives, noa lJy lhe assistance of our intel)reter, ho lla(l formerly visited Moriah, could we ascertain its position, till after halting and sending out me to examine the country. By that means it xYas discovered that the site of the Mission was at no great distance, and tllat by immediately proceeding we +stould reach it before dark the same day, viz., the 12th of October. There we fouxld a large sllbstantial stone house, aIld the Rev. Mr. Cassilis, the Otl]y xvhite inhabitant of the place, ready and lelighted to receive U8. " From him sve learned tllat the abode of the principal chief of the tribe was at some considerable distance to the e;stward, but that llis son ^ as present orl the station, and that lle had despatched a mes3enger to inform his fathel of our approach, so that *^e might expect a visit from him in a few days. The sittlation of Moriah is very picturesque, arld its inhabitants, as well as those in other parts of the countrt, observe considernble caution in guarding against attacks from enemies. They had all plaved themselves in situations where they * The expedition appears to have here reached the longitllule of 28? 50t E+ ill the parallel of 25*? S.> alsut 200 miles an a llirect dl8taUCt from Delagoa B. Bo. YO L. V1. 2 E
doi:10.2307/1797576 fatcat:u4tib324ibbhnisibd7nr4pemy