Adventures and Letters HTML version
During the winter of 1907 the world rang with the reports of the atrocities in the Congo,
and Robert J. Collier, of Collier's Weekly, asked Richard to go to the Congo and make an
investigation. I do not believe that my brother was ever in much sympathy with the
commission, as he did not feel that he could afford the time that a thorough investigation
demanded. However, with his wife he sailed for Liverpool on January 5, 1907, and three
weeks later started for Africa. Regarding this trip, in addition to the letters he wrote to his
family, I also quote from a diary which he had just started and which he conscientiously
continued until his death.
From diary of January 24th, 1907. Last day in London. Margaret Frazer offered me gun
from a Captain Jenkins of Nigeria. Instead bought Winchester repeating, hoping, if need
it, get one coast. Lunched Savoy-Lynch, Mrs. Lynch, her sister--very beautiful girl. In
afternoon Sam Sothern and Margaret came in to say "Good bye." Dined at Anthony
Hope's--Barrie and Mrs. Barrie and Jim Whigham. Mrs. Barrie looking very well, Barrie
not so well. As silent as ever, only talked once during dinner when he told us about the
first of his series of cricket matches between authors and artists. Did not have eleven
authors, so going along road picked up utter strangers one a soldier in front of embracing
two girls. Said he would come if girls came too--all put in brake. Mrs. Barrie said the
Llewellen Davis' were the originals for the Darlings and their children in Peter Pan. They
played a strange game of billiards suggested by Barrie who won as no one else knew the
rules and they claimed he invented them to suit his case. Sat up until three writing and
packing. The dinner was best have had this trip in London.
Compagnie Belge Maritime Du Congo.
S. S. February 11th, 1907.
To-morrow, we will be in Banana, which is the first port in the Congo. When I remember
how far away the Congo seemed from New York and London, it is impossible to believe
we are less than a day from it. I am so very glad I came. The people who have lived here
for years agree about it in no one fact, so, it is a go-as-you-please for any one so far as
accurate information is concerned, and I am as likely to be right as any one else. It has
been a pleasant trip and for us will not be over until some days, for at Matadi, which is up
the river, we will probably live on the steamer as the shore does not sound attractive.
Then I shall probably go on up the river and after a month or six weeks come back again.
At Boma I am to see the Governor, one of the inspectors on board is to introduce me, and
I have an idea they will make me as comfortable as possible, so that I may not see
anything. Not that I would be likely to see anything hidden under a year. Yesterday was
the crossing of the Equator. The night before Neptune, one of the crew, and his wife, the
ship's butcher, and a kroo boy, as black as coal for the heir apparent came over the side
and proclaimed that those who never before had crossed the Equator must be baptized.
We had crossed but I was perfectly willing to go through it for the fun. The Belgians
went at it as seriously as children, and worked up a grand succession of events. First we