Discovered Lake Tanganyika with
Burton, and Lake Victoria independently. Was, with Grant,
the first European to cross equatorial africa. Died 1864.
John Hanning Speke was a man of thirty-six, when his Nile Journal
appeared. He had entered the army in 1844, and completed ten
years of service in India, serving through the Punjab Campaign.
Already he had conceived the idea of exploring Africa, before his
ten years were up, and on their conclusion he was appointed a
member of the expedition preparing to start under Sir Richard
(then Lieutenant Burton) for the Somali country. He was wounded
by the Somalis, and returned to England on sick leave; the
Crimean War then breaking out, be served through it, and later,
December 1856, joined another expedition under Burton. Then it
was that the possibility of the source of the Nile being traced
to one of the inland lakes seems to have struck him.
Burton's illness prevented him accompanying Speke on the latter's
visit to the lake now known as Victoria Nyanza. During this
expedition Speke reached the most southerly point of the lake,
and gave it its present name. Speke arrived back in England in
the spring of 1859, Burton being left behind on account of his
illness. The relations between the two had become strained, and
this was accentuated by Speke's hast to publish the account of
his explorations. He was given the command of another expedition
which left England in April 1860, in company with Captain James
Augustus Grant, to ascertain still further if the Victoria Nyanza
were indeed the source of the Nile. He met Sir Samuel Baker, to
whom he gave valuable assistance, and who with his clue
discovered the third lake, Albert Nyanza.
Speke telegraphed early in 1863, that the Nile source was traced.
Returning to England that year he met with an ovation, and
addressed a special meeting of the Geographical Society, and the
same year, 1863, published his "Journal of the Discovery of the
Nile." Opposed in his statements by Burton and M'Queen (The Nile
Basin, 1864"), it was arranged that he and Burton should meet for
a debate, when on the very day fixed, Speke accidentally shot
himself while out partridge-shooting.
Sir R. Murchison, addressing the Royal Geographical Society that
year, speaks of Speke's discovery of the source of the Nile as
solving the "problem of all ages."
Only two books were published by Speke - the "Journal" of 1863,
which follows, and its sequel - "What Led to the Discovery of the
Source of the Nile," which appeared in the year of his death,
In the following pages I have endeavoured to describe all that
appeared to me most important and interesting among the events
and the scenes that came under my notice during my sojourn in the
interior of Africa.