[BURTON, Richard F. (1821-1890)] Letter signed by the acting civil surgeon at Aden (''D? K?''), to the acting political agent there, Aden, 22 April 1855. 1¼ pages, folio, in a native secretarial hand, lightly browned.
[BURTON, Richard F. (1821-1890)] Letter signed by the acting civil surgeon at Aden ("D? K?"), to the acting political agent there, Aden, 22 April 1855. 1¼ pages, folio, in a native secretarial hand, lightly browned.
"I FOUND LIEUTENANT BURTHON WITH A SPEAR WOUND": THE ORIGINAL MEDICAL REPORT BY THE PHYSICIAN ATTENDING BURTON AND SPEKE AFTER THEY WERE ATTACKED
The examiner describes the circumstances of his treatment: "I was requested at 7 AM this morning to attend two members of the African mission who were laying [sic] wounded at the Hotel at Steamer Point & who had arrived from Burbara early this morning. On my arrival I found Lieutenant Burthon [sic] with a Spear wound which piercing the cheek removed 2 of the Molar teeth and divided the roof of the mouth, the spear entered on the left side of the face and came out on the right: Lieutenant Burthon's wound is a serious one and as he has recently Suffered from Secondary Syphilis must immediately proceed to Europe as it would not be proper to allow him to remain in Aoen [sic] during the approaching hot weather. I also saw Lieutenant Speake [sic] of the Bengal Army; this Gentleman received Seven wounds chiefly from Spears the most serious is one of the right thigh. The Spear entered the middle of the thigh on its outer side passed close behind the bone and came out on the inner side he also received a second wouNd on the right thigh a third on his back a fourth in the left hand three about the neck the remainder four are not of much importance. Lieutenant Speake cannot be moved at present. I likewise saw two Seede Servants of the expedition, one received a Severe Sword wound dividing one of the Bones of the Arm, the other has a wound above the knee."
Burton had returned to the Red Sea in the middle of 1854, given leave from his regimental duty by the Bombay government to explore Somaliland. On this expedition, he wished to penetrate through the mountains to the upper waters of the Nile. Among his companions were Speke and Herne of the Indian army, and Stroyan of the Indian navy. "Before starting with them, Burton set out alone on a pioneer trip to Harar, the inland capital of the country, which no European had ever visited. On this occasion he assumed the disguise of an Arab merchant, but when once within the city he disclosed himself to the Amir. The success of this adventure perhaps encouraged him to neglect necessary precautions when the regular expedition was organised. While still near the port of Berberah the camp was attacked one night by the Somalis. Stroyan was killed; Speke was wounded in no less than eleven places; Burton's face was transfixed by a spear from cheek to cheek; Herne alone escaped unhurt. The party could do nothing but return to Aden, whence Burton proceeded to England on sick certificate. While under treatment for his wound he wrote 'First Footsteps in East Africa' (1856), and again met his future wife. As soon as he had recovered he volunteered for the Crimea, where he spent a year from October 1855" (DNB). The first serious attempt to discover the source of the Nile was undertaken by Burton from 1856-59, with Speke as second-in-command. Owing to Burton's illness at the time, Speke later proved to be the discoverer of the source. Their already strained relations were exacerbated on their return to England when Speke published two articles openly assuming the main credit for the expedition. Burton provided his own ridicule of Speke in his book The Lake Regions of Equatorial Africa. See Brodie, p.124; Burton First Footsteps, ed. Waterfield, 1966, p.260.