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OUTLINES OF THE WEEK. —.*—

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DEATH OF CAPTAIN SPEKE, THE…

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DEATH OF CAPTAIN SPEKE, THE AFRICAN EXPLORER. Captain Speke, the celebrated African explorer, while shooting on Thursday last in the neighbourhood of Corsham, Wilts, with his relative, G. Fuller, Esq., of Neston Park, on getting over a stone wall, acci- dentlly shot himself. His relative, seeing the captain fall, ran up to him, and found that the charge had passed through his chest close to the heart. He was only sensible for a few minutes, and feebly said to Mr. Fuller, Don't move me." He died in about ten minutes. A surgeon was quickly on the spot, but life was extinct. The captain was thirty-eight years of age, and unmarried. An inquest was held on the body on Friday by Mr. Kemm, coroner for the Liberty of Corsham, at the residence of his brother, W. Speke, Esq., Monk's Park, near Corsham, to which place the body had been removed. The first witness examined was Mr. George Fuller, son of Mr. Fuller, of Neston Park, who deposed: About half-past two on Thursday I left my father's house with deceased for the purpose of shooting partridges. Deceased had fired off both barrels before the accident occurred. About four o'clock I got over a low part of a loose stone wall, and was about sixty yards from the place, when I heard the report of a gun, and looking round saw the deceased standing on the wall. Shortly after he fell into the field, and on going to his assistance I found him on the ground with a wound in his chest, and bleeding, which I endeavoured to stop. He was then sensible and spoke to me, but did not long remain so. I stayed with him about five minutes, and then left him in charge of the keeper, Daniel Davis, aid went for assistance. I observed the gun lying by the side of the wall. One barrel, the right, was then at half-cock; the other was discharged. I heard very little report, and should suppose that the muzzle of the gun was very near the body of the deceased when it went off. Daniel Davis corroborated the above statement. He did not see the gun explode, but seeing his master running towards the deceased he went too, and found him with a wound in his side, and Mr. Fuller endea- vouring to stop the blood with his hand. Heard the deceased groan once or twice, but could not say whether he was actually sensible or not. Stayed with him till he died, which was about a quarter of an hour after the discharge of the gun. The gun was a Lar- caster breech-loader without a safety-guard, but should think it was safe. Mr. Snow, surgeon, of Box, was called in to th deceased. Found him dead on his arrival. There was a wound on the left side, such as would be made by a cartridge if the muzzle of the gun was close to the body. There was no other wound. It led in a direc- tion upwards, and towards the spine, passing through the lungs and dividing all the large bloodvessels near the heart, but not touching the heart itself. Such a wound would cause death. The Coroner having briefly addressed the jury on their melancholy duty, and pointed out to them what he considered was the verdict they should return, The Jury unanimously recorded their verdict that the deceased died from the accidental discharge of his own gun, after living a quarter of an hour. They also appended an expression of sympathy for the family of the deceased in their bereavement, which was a loss both to his family and to the whole country. It need not be said that this melancholy end of the enter- prising traveller will be regretted not only in scientific circles.. but among all Englishmen who sympathise with the daring spirit of adventure which is characteristic of the Anglo-Saxon race. John Haiming Speke, the second son of Mr. William Speke, of Jordans, in Somersetshire, was born in 1827, and was educated in one of the county grammar schools. His adventures as a mighty hunter and a scientific explorer in Somali land and other parts of Africa (1854-5), in company with Captain Burton, are familiar to the readers of Blackwood." From Africa he went to the Crimea as a volunteer in the Turkish contingent. He had a desire to explore the fauna of the Caucasus, but abandoned the idea on receiving an invitation to rejoin Captain Burton in another African expedition. When Captain Burton presented himself to receive the gold medal of the Royal Geographical Society from the hands of the president, Sir R. Murchison, he said-"You have alluded, sir, to the success of the last expedition. Justice compels me to state the circumstances under which it attained that success. To Captain Speke are due those geographical results which you have alluded to in such flattering terms. while I undertook the history and ethno- graphy, the languages, and the peculiarity of the people, to Captain. Speke fell the arduous task of delineating an exact topography, and of laying down our positions by astrono- mical observations-a labour to which at times even the undaunted Livingstone found himself unequal." Captain Speke returned with Captain Grant last year from Africa. They had solved a problem which had puzzled the wisest men for 3,000 years-whence did the Nile take its source ? where were di ritis ostia Nili ? Homer spoke of the Nile whose sources were unknown: Herodotus confessed himself unable to solve the mystery; Alexander the Great, and Nero the notorious, both were baffled in the search. The younger son of a Somersetshire squire traced the Nile to the Victoria N'yanza lake. He had been there in the summer of 1858, and went out again in the spring of 1859 to make assurance doubly sure. It is hardly necessary to mention the enthusiastic recep- tion given to Captain Speke on his return to this country. He was the lion of the season. He was received by the Royal Geographical Society at one of the most crowded meetings (out of their regular session) of that learned body with the heartiest welcome. Even the sills of the win- dows facing the courtyard," so runs the report, had their clusters of visitors, straining eye and ear to see the man who had solved the great geographical problem of past ages." The illustrious heroes of the occasion were appa- rently the least excited persons in Burlington House. Sir Roderick Murchison, in presenting Captains Speke and Grant to the assembly, spoke of their enterprise and its im- portant results in terms which drew hearty cheers from those who heard him. It appears that in 1858, when Captain Burton was sick at Kazeh, Captain Speke having heard of the lake Victoria N'yanza from some Arab merchants, determined to reach it. Finding that its southern extremity was on the high plateau land between 3,000 and 4,000 feet above the sea, and that the waters of this lake were fresh, he was convinced that this body of water must be the great southernmost reservoir out of which the White or Main Nile flowed at its northern end. For this discovery Captain Speke obtained the medal of the Royal Geographical Society. Accompanied by Captain Grant-one of the heroes of the Indian mutiny- he followed up the track, and the result is known to all. Her Majesty the Queen congratulated Sir Roderick on the success of the expedition, towards which her Government contributed the necessarf funds, and the Prince of Wales listened to Captain Speke's interesting narrative of his travels at the Royal Institution. The King of Italy ordered gold medals to be forwarded to the explorers, on which the motto was "Honor a Nilo," and the letter of the Italian Ambassador accompanying the gift was couched in such graceful terms that Sir Roderick Murchison designated it as "worthy of the country which reared a Columbus." Captain Speke's county, the same which gave birth to Sir Francis Drake, was not slow to recognise his merits. Sir William Miles, the senior member for the county, brought forward the merits of Captain Speke before the House of Commons, and drew forth from Lord Palmerston a hearty tribute of respect. It is certain that some honour would ere long have been conferred upon Captain Speke, but his premature death has put a sad stop to the expectations of his friends, and he has died unrewarded. — « Mr. Eyre Coote, of West Park, near Rockbourne,

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