John Hanning Speke (1827-1864)
Autograph letter signed to an unnamed correspondent ('My Lord'), Jordans, Ilminster, Somerset, 17 October 1859, endorsed with a prcis in another hand on p.8, 7 pages, 8vo, on bifolia, (second bifolium glued between pp.2 and 3 with obscuration of some words or characters on p.3, small hole to pp.3-4 with loss of a few characters).
SPEKE PLANS HIS 'DISCOVERY OF THE SOURCE OF THE NILE' EXPEDITION. The letter emphasises the importance of an early reply from the Government as to his new African expedition, explaining the practical necessities of a journey to Zanzibar and from thence to Kazeh in the interior, referring to reports of a German explorer on his way to Lake Nyassa - 'If he lives and does reach the Nyassa he will find that Livingstone is before him' - and to Lord Elphinstone's party: 'I hope these men will be induced to travel up the Eastern side of the Nyassa, between the Lake and the mountains Kilimandjaro and Kenia to Gondokoro on the Nile, where we shall meet together and will be able to produce more actual knowledge of Central Africa than is known of Central Asia'. He ends with reports of disturbances in Zanzibar, and the quieting influence of Captain Chrisopher Rigby, the British Consul, whom he refers to as 'the real Sultan of Zanzibar'.
Speke had returned from the joint expedition with Burton in May 1859, and his early publicising of their expedition, together with his claiming much of the credit, completed the estrangement between the two explorers.
Speke's subsequent expedition, which led to his exploration of Lake Victoria and his much-debated announcement of the solution to 'the problem of all ages', the source of the Nile, left England on 27 April 1860.
The recipient of the letter is probably to the first Marquis of Ripon, Under-Secretary of State for War, eventual sponsor of the expedition, after whom Speke was to name Ripon Falls, the source of the Nile on Lake Victoria.