Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 79.djvu/179

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.



led him through Syria, and back to England where hunting and shooting, extensive reading and digesting what he read by much thinking about it, completed what we have for convenience differentiated off as the period of training.

The only published paper of this period was a pamphlet, entitled "Telotype, a Printing Electric Telegraph." The following sixty odd years of his life were to be devoted to productive work in the most varied branches of science.

Exploration and Geographical Science

In an atlas of to-day the white areas on the map are very small in comparison with those which are meshed with the highways. The editions in 1849 were very different. "It was a time when the ideas of persons interested in geography were in a justifiable state of ferment."

The journey up the Nile and into the Soudan had been "a tour hastily performed, but sufficient to imbue or poison me with the fascination for further enterprise, which African tourists have so especially felt—a fascination which has often enough proved its power by urging the same traveler to risk his comfort, his health and his life, over and over again, and to cling with pertinacity to a country which after all seems to afford little else but hazard and hardships, ivory and fever."

It was not merely the enticement of big game, of which wonderful stories had begun to come back to England, that attracted Mr. Galton to South Africa. Every chapter of his book, "The Narrative of an Explorer in Tropical South Africa," bespeaks keenness of observation and solicitude for scientific precision. It can not be abstracted here, neither can space be spared for quotations to show its literary charm. The difficulties of the journey are summarized—and very modestly—in the last chapter.

Christmas and New Year 's day had passed, when early in January, 1852, as the morning haze cleared away, the sails of a schooner loomed large before us; in a moment I was in my pontoon and paddled out to her, jumped on board, and received my letters of a year and nine months' interval. They were not indeed unchequered by melancholy news; but for the intelligence they conveyed of my own family circle I had every reason to be grateful. Thus closed my anxieties and doubts. I had much indeed to be thankful for. I had not lost one of my many men either through violence or through sickness in the long and harassing journey I had made. It was undertaken with servants, who, at starting, were anything but qualified for their work, who grumbled, held back and even mutinied, and over whom I had none other than a moral control. I had to break in the very cattle that were to carry me, and to drill into my service a worthless set of natives, speaking an unknown tongue. The country was suffering from all the atrocities of savage war when I arrived, and this state of things I had to put an end to before I could proceed. All this being accomplished, I found myself without any food to depend upon, except the oxen that I drove with me, which might, on any evening, decamp or be swept off in a night attack