162 MEMORIES OF MY LIFE
engineers who pooh-poohed its possibility at the meeting of the Royal Geographical Society, where it was the subject of a paper by Lesseps, have proved untrustworthy guides and prophets. I threw myself into the thick of the discussions and criticisms of whatever had just been done, and into the preparations for what was about to be undertaken, and was in short a very active member of the Council.
I t was not long after my marriage that the character of a piece of work that lay before me was clearly perceived. It was ready to be taken in hand and most suitable to my powers. I t was to aid others in the exploration of the then unknown parts of the world, especially of Africa, of whose total length as much had been seen by me in my two journeys as perhaps by any one else then living. Being placed one the Council of the Royal Geographical Society, I thoroughly utilised that position to fulfil my object. The ignorance of travellers in any one country of the arts of travel employed in others was great, and I tried to make a compendium of them all. Having easy access to every traveller of note in England, I read many books of travel, or rather skimmed them for the purpose. Amongst others, I turned over every page in Pinkerton's well-known series of large quarto volumes of the narratives of travellers.
The result was that sufficient material was gathered for the composition of a small book entitled the 41•t of Travel (Murray). I t soon reached a second edition, and was afterwards rewritten and much enlarged to form a third edition, which was stereotyped, and even now continues to be sold. I also took considerable part in the first edition of the