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After September , we unfortunately do not have fine copies of the journal and everything produced is a direct translation of the Helie version of his journal. However, having been able to directly compare the English and French versions of the first journal has allowed me to confirm that they are intrinsically the same account with minor amendments as detailed above and that gives me confidence that the remainder of the French account has been faithfully and correctly translated and published by Georges Helie.

Obviously, it is far from ideal that this first English version is so heavily reliant on having to translate back from French, a text which has already been translated from the original English. The reader can therefore feel comfortable that in reading this book, they are able to get a very honest picture of the adventures and scenes that George Woodberry endured in his three years of campaigning on foreign fields. The only other change made is to alter, where known with absolute certainty, the names of places and people to conform with the official spelling to aid the reader in their identification.

Where uncertain of a name I have indicated this either by a footnote or simpy by [? So, this explains why there is only one journal in the National Army Museum and why it only covers the first nine months of his campaigns.

The other obvious question is why did the full set of rough journals seemingly remained in France, when George left the country when he resigned in , and whereby Georges Helie came to publish them in Paris nearly eighty years later? During his later years, which will be fully described at the end of his journals, he actually attested in court in that he had formally converted to Catholicism whilst in France in It is not too much of a leap into the dark therefore, to suggest that George converted with the aim of marrying some French girl he had met during this period and that the journals were left with her, when the romance fell through and George left finally France, never to return.

In fact, it is virtually the only plausible explanation. The Eighteenth were basically an Irish regiment, raised in Ireland in , with the Earl of Drogheda as their colonel and many of the men ensliting from that island, but it had no official nomenclature at this time. The previous year, the Duke of Wellington had wrested — at great human cost — the major border fortresses of Ciudad Rodrigo and Badajoz and had then smashed the French Army in the field at a stunning victory just outside Salamanca. Following up this success, Madrid had been captured and the French had been forced to abandon southern Spain in its entirety.

Unfortunately, the year had not ended so happily for the allies, with Wellington failing to capture the minor fortress at Burgos and was eventually chased back out of Spain by superior French forces, a retreat made infinitely worse by the complete breakdown of the supply system, leaving the soldiers to virtually starve, living only on acorns and the occasional stolen livestock — despite the threat of hanging if caught in the act — desperate times requiring desperate measures to survive.

George and his fellow hussars therefore arrived in Portugal at the perfect time to be fully involved in this new and quite possibly, the pivotal campaign in the whole war. There are however, two further questions to answer regarding these journals. It is now time to let George tell his own story. While he was largely cleared of any blame, this did not help his career. He describes the harrowing attack in First Footsteps in East Africa In , Burton rejoined the army and traveled to the Crimea , hoping to see active service in the Crimean War. He served on the staff of Beatson's Horse , a corps of Bashi-bazouks , local fighters under the command of General Beatson, in the Dardanelles.

The corps was disbanded following a "mutiny" after they refused to obey orders, and Burton's name was mentioned to his detriment in the subsequent inquiry. In , the Royal Geographical Society funded another expedition in which Burton set off from Zanzibar to explore an " inland sea " that had been described by Arab traders and slavers. His mission was to study the area's tribes and to find out what exports might be possible from the region. It was hoped that the expedition might lead to the discovery of the source of the River Nile , although this was not an explicit aim.

Burton had been told that only a fool would say his expedition aimed to find the source of the Nile because anything short of that would then be regarded as a failure. Before leaving for Africa, Burton became secretly engaged to Isabel Arundell. Her family, particularly her mother, would not allow a marriage since Burton was not a Catholic and was not wealthy, although in time the relationship became tolerated.

John Hanning Speke again accompanied him and on 27 June , they set out from the east coast of Africa heading west in search of the lake or lakes.


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They were helped greatly by the Omani Arabs who lived and traded in the region. They followed the traditional caravan routes, hiring professional porters and guides who had been making similar treks for years. From the start, the outward journey was beset with problems such as recruiting reliable bearers and the theft of equipment and supplies by deserting expedition members. Both men were beset by a variety of tropical diseases on the journey. Speke was rendered blind by a disease for some of the journey and deaf in one ear due to an infection caused by attempts to remove a beetle.

Burton was unable to walk for some of the journey and had to be carried by the bearers. The expedition arrived at Lake Tanganyika in February Burton was awestruck by the sight of the magnificent lake, but Speke, who had been temporarily blinded, was unable to see the body of water. By this point much of their surveying equipment was lost, ruined, or stolen, and they were unable to complete surveys of the area as well as they wished.

Burton was again taken ill on the return journey, and Speke continued exploring without him, making a journey to the north and eventually locating the great Lake Victoria , or Victoria Nyanza. Lacking supplies and proper instruments, Speke was unable to survey the area properly but was privately convinced that it was the long sought source of the Nile.

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Burton's description of the journey is given in Lake Regions of Equatorial Africa Both Burton and Speke were in extremely poor health after the journey and returned home separately. As usual, Burton kept very detailed notes, not just on the geography but also on the languages, customs, and even sexual habits of the people he encountered. Although it was Burton's last great expedition, his geographical and cultural notes proved invaluable for subsequent explorations by Speke and James Augustus Grant , Samuel Baker , David Livingstone and Henry Morton Stanley.

Speke and Grant's exploration began on the east coast near Zanzibar again and went around the west side of Lake Victoria to Lake Albert and finally returned in triumph via the River Nile.

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However, crucially, they had lost track of the river's course between Lake Victoria and Albert. This left Burton, and others, unsatisfied that the source of the Nile was conclusively proven. A prolonged public quarrel followed, damaging the reputations of both Burton and Speke. Some biographers have suggested that friends of Speke particularly Laurence Oliphant had initially stirred up trouble between the two. Tim Jeal, who has accessed Speke's personal papers, suggests that it was more likely the other way around, Burton being jealous and resentful of Speke's determination and success.

Speke had earlier proven his mettle by trekking through the mountains of Tibet , but Burton regarded him as inferior as he did not speak any Arabic or African languages. Despite his fascination with non-European cultures, some have portrayed Burton as an unabashed imperialist convinced of the historical and intellectual superiority of the white race, citing his involvement in the Anthropological Society , an organization that established a doctrine of scientific racism. There were also problems with the debt associated with their expedition, for which Speke claimed Burton had sole responsibility.

But their biggest disagreement was on the source of the Nile. The two men travelled home separately.

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Speke returned to London first and presented a lecture at the Royal Geographical Society , claiming Lake Victoria as the source of the Nile. According to Burton, Speke broke an agreement they had made to give their first public speech together. Apart from Burton's word, there is no proof that such an agreement existed, and most modern researchers doubt that it did. Tim Jeal, evaluating the written evidence, says the odds are "heavily against Speke having made a pledge to his former leader". Burton arrived in London to find Speke being lionized and his own role being considered secondary.

Speke had already applied for further expeditions to the region without Burton. In subsequent months both men attempted to harm each other's reputations. Burton disparaged Speke's claims, calling his evidence inconclusive and his measurements inaccurate. Speke, in light of the issues he was having with Burton, had Grant sign a statement saying, among other things, "I renounce all my rights to publishing On 16 September , Burton and Speke were scheduled to debate the source of the Nile at a meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science.

On the day before the debate, Burton and Speke sat near each other in the lecture hall. According to Burton's wife, Speke stood up, said "I can't stand this any longer," and abruptly left the hall. That afternoon Speke went hunting on the nearby estate of a relative.

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He was discovered lying near a stone wall, felled by a fatal gunshot wound from his hunting shotgun. Burton learned of Speke's death the following day while waiting for their debate to begin. A jury ruled Speke's death an accident. An obituary surmised that Speke, while climbing over the wall, had carelessly pulled the gun after himself with the muzzle pointing at his chest and shot himself. Alexander Maitland, Speke's only biographer, concurs. On 22 January , Burton and Isabel married in a quiet Catholic ceremony although he did not adopt the Catholic faith at this time.

Shortly after this, the couple were forced to spend some time apart when he formally entered the Diplomatic Service as consul on the island of Fernando Po, now Bioko in Equatorial Guinea. This was not a prestigious appointment; because the climate was considered extremely unhealthy for Europeans, Isabel could not accompany him.


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Burton spent much of this time exploring the coast of West Africa. He described some of his experiences, including a trip up the Congo River to the Yellala Falls and beyond, in his book Two trips to gorilla land and the cataracts of the Congo. The couple were reunited in when Burton was transferred to Santos in Brazil. In and he made two visits to the war zone of the Paraguayan War , which he described in his Letters from the Battlefields of Paraguay In he was appointed as the British consul in Damascus , an ideal post for someone with Burton's knowledge of the region and customs.

He managed to antagonise much of the Jewish population of the area because of a dispute concerning money-lending. It had been the practice for the British consulate to take action against those who defaulted on loans but Burton saw no reason to continue this practice and this caused a great deal of hostility.

He and Isabel greatly enjoyed their time there, and considered it the best years of their lives.

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They befriended Jane Digby , the well-known adventurer, and Abdelkader El Djezairi , a prominent leader of the Algerian revolution then living in exile. However, the area was in some turmoil at the time with considerable tensions between the Christian, Jewish and Muslim populations.

Burton did his best to keep the peace and resolve the situation, but this sometimes led him into trouble. On one occasion, he claims to have escaped an attack by hundreds of armed horsemen and camel riders sent by Mohammed Rashid Pasha, the Governor of Syria. He wrote, "I have never been so flattered in my life than to think it would take three hundred men to kill me. In addition to these incidents, there were a number of people who disliked Burton and wished him removed from such a sensitive position.

He was recalled in , prompting a telegram to Isabel "I am superseded.

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Pay, pack, and follow at convenience", and reassigned in to the sleepy port city of Trieste in Austria-Hungary. James Hunt. In Burton's own words, the main aim of the society through the publication of the periodical Anthropologia was "to supply travelers with an organ that would rescue their observations from the outer darkness of manuscript and print their curious information on social and sexual matters".

He wrote a number of travel books in this period that were not particularly well received.