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A Journal of a Tour in the Congo Free State   By:

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Author of A History of the British Empire in the Nineteenth Century. The Mind of the Nation , A Study of Political Thought in the Nineteenth Century; Ignorance , a Study of the Causes and Effects of Popular Thought; and From Matter to Mind .

Originally published in 1905 by J. Lebègue and Co., Brussels and Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner & Co., Ltd., London

Dedicated by Permission to His Majesty Leopold II, King of Belgium and Sovereign of the Congo Free State.


This journal is practically my Diary reproduced with the minimum of editing in order that the impressions gained on the spot should be described without modification. It was never intended for publication, and was written only as an aid to memory. Consequently it is little more than a collection of rough notes.

Having left England with a prejudice against the Government of the Congo Free State and returned with a very strong feeling in its favour, I feel however that it is my duty to publish an account of what I did see for the benefit of those whose opinions are not already formed beyond recall.

As in all controversies where feelings subordinate reason and people judge more by their emotions than by evidence, many are too quick to day to attribute interested motives to those whose opinions are not similar to their own. Since a great number of people in the Congo and at home are curious to know whether I was sent out by the Congo Government, the British Government or the Times , I will state here once for all that I went to the Congo entirely to please myself and with the hope of shooting big game. In order indeed to satisfy curiosity, I will go further and state that not only was I not paid for telling the truth, but that the trip cost me a great deal of money.

It is however delightful to remember that wherever I went I was treated with the greatest kindness and courtesy by all whether they approved of the system of the Congo Government or not and it gives me great pleasure to thank here the State officials, Missionaries of all denominations and Traders of various nationalities for their hospitality, friendship and valuable assistance.


London 1905.


[Illustration: THE STEAMER FLORIDA .]


London to Banana.

There was no time to spare. The ship sailed from Southampton in forty eight hours and I had only just arranged to accompany Lord Mountmorres on a tour in the Congo Free Stale. He was going out for the purpose of discovering the true condition of affairs in that country and of writing articles thereupon for the Globe but incidentally hoped to have some big game shooting. After one has read much about a country it is always interesting to visit it and as the prospect of good sport was added in this case, I at once decided to brave the cannibals, wild beasts, and most dangerous of all the climate, and to seize the opportunity to visit the Congo.

It was necessary to purchase a complete camp outfit, suitable clothes and much food stuff and to arrange certain affairs at home. The first part was however rendered easy for it was only necessary to duplicate the order already given by Lord Mountmorres, and with a rapidity which could not be equalled anywhere else, the Army and Navy Stores and Messrs. Silvers packed and despatched tent, furniture and cases in a few hours.

As there are many and varied discomforts which cannot be avoided when travelling in the Congo, or any other tropical and half civilised country, it is just as well not to add to their number by omitting to benefit by the experience of others. A few hints may therefore be inserted here without apology for the benefit of other travellers. The first articles to be considered are a tent, bed, and mosquito net. Now when the usual oblong tent with a penthouse roof is pitched and the bed made, surmounted by the mosquito net, the only place in which there is room for it, is in the middle of the tent between the two poles... Continue reading book >>

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