[Francis Galton, Letter to the Editor of The Times, 25 May 1904.]
Memorial To African Explorers
To The Editor Of The Times
Sir, -The project of a memorial to Sir H. M. Stanley gives me a long-desired opportunity for making the following suggestion. The existing obelisk in Kensington-gardens to the memory of "Speke –the Victoria Nyanza and the Nile" is comparatively meaningless owing to its isolation. I was one of the subscribers and a principal promoter of that memorial, being in those days in close connexion with African explorers, and this is my justification for offering these remarks. I have more than once suggested, when a member of the council of the Royal Geographical Society, that the same enclosure could be utilized to contain memorials of other great African travellers, especially Burton, but this was considered impracticable owing to the sharp and unhappy antagonism between Speke and Burton, the effects of which did not cease with their deaths, and have not perhaps done so even now. Be this as it may, I would now suggest through your columns that an adjacent plot be asked from Government, to contain a memorial of the greatest among the English explorers of Africa, including in recent times Livingston, Burton, (Speke), Grant, Baker, and Stanley, and in earlier times the travellers Bruce, Mungo Park, Lander, Clapperton, and Barth (who was subsidized by England). The name of other travellers of a second order of merit might also be recorded. What I desire is a modest but very artistically arranged plot to be called the "African Explorers’ Memorial" with such appropriate shrubs and flowers as will grow out of doors in our climate, and with a few seats interspersed. I would suggest that a massive bock, some two yards broad and one yard high, be placed near the Speke obelisk, and that its rounded top be a map of Africa, in bold and coloured mosaic, such as it would appear on a globe of five feet radius. The sloping sides of the block would hold the names of the explorers. Whatever plan be adopted, the effect as a whole should be both beautiful and interesting, and a real gain to the beauty of the spot.
Perhaps those who are promoting the memorial to Stanley will accept this as a collateral and not a costly undertaking, to be carried through with loving care and skill, or not at all.