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Five Weeks in a Balloon

CHAPTER FOURTH
African Explorations.--Barth, Richardson, Overweg, Werne, Brun-Rollet, Penney,
Andrea, Debono, Miani, Guillaume Lejean, Bruce, Krapf and Rebmann, Maizan,
Roscher, Burton and Speke.
The aerial line which Dr. Ferguson counted upon following had not been chosen at
random; his point of departure had been carefully studied, and it was not without good
cause that he had resolved to ascend at the island of Zanzibar. This island, lying near to
the eastern coast of Africa, is in the sixth degree of south latitude, that is to say, four
hundred and thirty geographical miles below the equator.
From this island the latest expedition, sent by way of the great lakes to explore the
sources of the Nile, had just set out.
But it would be well to indicate what explorations Dr. Ferguson hoped to link together.
The two principal ones were those of Dr. Barth in 1849, and of Lieutenants Burton and
Speke in 1858.
Dr. Barth is a Hamburger, who obtained permission for himself and for his countryman
Overweg to join the expedition of the Englishman Richardson. The latter was charged
with a mission in the Soudan.
This vast region is situated between the fifteenth and tenth degrees of north latitude; that
is to say, that, in order to approach it, the explorer must penetrate fifteen hundred miles
into the interior of Africa.
Until then, the country in question had been known only through the journeys of
Denham, of Clapperton, and of Oudney, made from 1822 to 1824. Richardson, Barth, and
Overweg, jealously anxious to push their investigations farther, arrived at Tunis and
Tripoli, like their predecessors, and got as far as Mourzouk, the capital of Fezzan.
They then abandoned the perpendicular line, and made a sharp turn westward toward
Ghat, guided, with difficulty, by the Touaregs. After a thousand scenes of pillage, of
vexation, and attacks by armed forces, their caravan arrived, in October, at the vast oasis
of Asben. Dr. Barth separated from his companions, made an excursion to the town of
Aghades, and rejoined the expedition, which resumed its march on the 12th of December.
At length it reached the province of Damerghou; there the three travellers parted, and
Barth took the road to Kano, where he arrived by dint of perseverance, and after paying
considerable tribute.
In spite of an intense fever, he quitted that place on the 7th of March, accompanied by a
single servant. The principal aim of his journey was to reconnoitre Lake Tchad, from
which he was still three hundred and fifty miles distant. He therefore advanced toward
 
 
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