Mr. FRANCIS GALTON said few persons present could have looked forward to the results of Lord Mayo's journey with greater interest than he (Mr. Galton) himself did, because it was his fate some thirty years ago to be travelling very near the same district, and in his exploration of Ovampoland and Odonga he reached a point about five days' journey from Humpata. During that journey, being familiar with the vast desert of Western Africa, the idea of an ever-flowing river filled his imagination, and he looked upon it as the great bourne to be reached, though lie was not fated to reach it. His interest in the country had been kept up by many facts. One was the death of his companion, Mr. Andersson, who returned to the country and travelled there on many occasions. He reached the Cundnd worn out with disease and there died. The river was also reached by -)Mr. Hugo Hahn, a missionary, to whom he (Mr. Galton) was indebted for many acts of kindness. Mr. Green, a well-known elephant hunter, travelling from the south, also got as far as the river, and so had many others, but in no case had a full description of the river been given-such a description as no doubt Lord Mayo would give in a fuller account of his journey. There were many points of extreme interest in Lord Mayo's paper. The first was the confirmation of Sir Roderick Murchison's well-known theory of Central Africa being a basin bounded by high ramparts, through which the various rivers broke. Lord Mayo found two great chains, one 2000 feet high, and the other higher. As the height of the second was only obtained by an aneroid it would be advisable to hesitate before accepting the particular height mentioned, which seemed to be excessive. Of course it was well known that aneroids were liable to play all kinds of tricks, but if Lord Mayo's instrument after being tested in England was proved to have no index error the calculation must be accepted. The existence of the ramparts to the north and the south was previously known, and Lord Mayo had supplied the missing link. The two ranges converged into one further south, and at Walvisch Bay only a single ridge could be noticed-an ascent of 4000 feet leading to the higher plateau. Allusion was made in another part of the paper to the mist on the lowlands. The peculiarity of this coast was that a south polar current, chilled by the melting of the polar ice, passed upwards and hugged the coast. It was a fact that bad long been known to navigators, and one which was brought very forcibly home to his own knowledge ; because he happened to be one of the Council of the Meteorological Office, and on one occasion it fell to his lot to superintend the discussion of a vast number of observations that traced that current distinctly upwards. The cold was so much greater on the coast than inland that when he (Mr. Galton) returned to Walvisch Bay from the interior, at a time of the year when the sun was vertical at midday, be shivered with cold during the night, and in the daytime had to be well wrapped up. The water was exceedingly cold for the latitude, and the existence of the mist which Lord Mayo had spoken of showed that the same climate extended to Mossamedes. What became of the polar current afterwards he could not say, but it disappeared by degrees. Wherever that current flowed there was an abundance of fish, and it appeared from the paper that there was a plentiful supply of fish south of Mossamedes. It was a matter of extreme interest to him to hear of the change that had come over the country since the days when he knew it by hearsay. Dutch Boers had now found their way to Humpata. They were a marvellous race, with great power of acclimatising themselves; for certainly the Dutchmen seemed to live and thrive and multiply in regions where the English race did not thrive so well. Possibly the fineness of the men met with at Humpata was partly due to the same cause that makes the Mormons such a fine-looking race. As a rule the Mormons were not recruited from the most stalwart persons in England, but they went through very great difficulties in reaching their destination, the weaker men died out, and no doubt the survivors were the strongest representatives. Probably the same sort of thing might account for a stalwart Dutch population being permanently fixed at Humpata. Another point that was new to him was the strong hold the Portuguese seemed to have in the country up to the Cundnd, their forts being scattered about the country, and the Catholic Missions seemed fairly established on the Cundnd itself. He had long looked upon this country, which was between 300 miles wide and 180 or 200 miles deep, as being one of the most interesting countries to explore, and he had no doubt that many facts of still greater interest retrained to be discovered towards the source of the Cundnd, where the land was still higher, where immense rivers flowed in all directions, and where, no doubt, there was that greater vigour of life that might be expected in mountainous districts. He wished to pay a tribute to the well-deserved success of Lord Mayo. His journey was not undertaken rashly. Before he went he obtained from the best authorities all the materials he possibly could, and the information was printed for private circulation in a small book which formed most agreeable reading. Having laid his plans thoroughly well, he had in the short space of ten months from the time of leaving England to his return thrown very important light on a most interesting geographical subject.
(Discussion on) A Journey from Mossamedes to the River Cunene by the Earl of Mayo
Proceedings of the Royal Geographical Society
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