Five Weeks in a Balloon
The End of a much-applauded Speech.--The Presentation of Dr. Samuel Ferguson.--
Excelsior.--Full-length Portrait of the Doctor.--A Fatalist convinced.--A Dinner at the
Travellers' Club.--Several Toasts for the Occasion.
There was a large audience assembled on the 14th of January, 1862, at the session of the
Royal Geographical Society, No. 3 Waterloo Place, London. The president, Sir Francis
M----, made an important communication to his colleagues, in an address that was
frequently interrupted by applause.
This rare specimen of eloquence terminated with the following sonorous phrases
bubbling over with patriotism:
"England has always marched at the head of nations" (for, the reader will observe, the
nations always march at the head of each other), "by the intrepidity of her explorers in the
line of geographical discovery." (General assent). "Dr. Samuel Ferguson, one of her most
glorious sons, will not reflect discredit on his origin." ("No, indeed!" from all parts of the
"This attempt, should it succeed" ("It will succeed!"), "will complete and link together
the notions, as yet disjointed, which the world entertains of African cartology" (vehement
applause); "and, should it fail, it will, at least, remain on record as one of the most daring
conceptions of human genius!" (Tremendous cheering.)
"Huzza! huzza!" shouted the immense audience, completely electrified by these inspiring
"Huzza for the intrepid Ferguson!" cried one of the most excitable of the enthusiastic
The wildest cheering resounded on all sides; the name of Ferguson was in every mouth,
and we may safely believe that it lost nothing in passing through English throats. Indeed,
the hall fairly shook with it.
And there were present, also, those fearless travellers and explorers whose energetic
temperaments had borne them through every quarter of the globe, many of them grown
old and worn out in the service of science. All had, in some degree, physically or morally,
undergone the sorest trials. They had escaped shipwreck; conflagration; Indian
tomahawks and war-clubs; the fagot and the stake; nay, even the cannibal maws of the
South Sea Islanders. But still their hearts beat high during Sir Francis M----'s address,
which certainly was the finest oratorical success that the Royal Geographical Society of
London had yet achieved.