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William Loney RN - Background

Home-Loney-Background-Niger expedition-Book Chapter III * Chapter V

A NARRATIVE
OF THE
EXPEDITION TO THE RIVER NIGER
.

VOLUME II, CHAPTER IV.


Rogang's opinion of the Model Farm - Illness of the engineers - Doctor Stanger volunteers to manage the engines - Village of Buddu - Kakanda, tributary to the Attàh of Iddah - Filatah exactions - The captured slaves belonging to the Chief of Muyè - Influence of medical men among the natives - Mallam doctors - Anxious to introduce vaccination - Native method of cupping - One of the officers jumps overboard in a paroxysm of fever - Saved by two Africans - Mr. Lodge, engineer, drowned - Sickness of all the Europeans employed at the Model Establishment - Their removal - Prices of provisions - Progress down the river - Doctor MacWilliam's trying position - Aduku's kind wishes - Increasing sickness of 'Albert's' crew, and death of Mr. Kingdon - King Obi somewhat redeems his character by assisting the 'Albert' - The Abòh chief judge frightened - Meet the 'Ethiope' - Anxious period for Doctors Mac Williams and Stanger - Tribute to Mr. Beecroft for his generous services - The 'Albert' reaches Fernando Po.


On the 5th October Captain Trotter sent Mr. Brown to the chief of Egga, with a message for the King of Rabbah, relative to the objects of the Expedition, accompanied by a present, including a print of the vessels of the Expedition. A present was also sent to Rogang himself, who was now altogether much pleased, and expressed great satisfaction that a message was to be sent to Sumoraziki, which would remove all chance of his imagining that he (Rogang) had in any way prejudiced the captain against him.

Rogang says that there are rocks obstructing the passage in the river, betwixt Rabbah and Boussa, so as to prevent canoes passing easily at any time. Consequently, people always travel by land when the water is low. Rogang also said that canoes cannot pass at any time from Rabbah to Yauri; and that the journey from the one place to the other occupies about six days. In seven months more, according to his statement, the river will be high enough for our vessels to go from the sea to Rabbah. Cotton is grown extensively on the bank opposite to Rabbah. Rogang thinks it would be beneficial to all, for the English to make a settlement there, but that the permission of the Rabbah king is to be obtained first.

The king would like, no doubt, to have the courtesy of asking permission paid him; but Rogang does not think he would be hostile to the measure, even if entered into without his consent being first obtained.

The comparatively civilized state of the inhabitants of Rabbah, its position, the enterprising character of its ruler, and the present extension of Filatah influence throughout the Niger, are valid reasons for opening up intercourse with this city. {Rabbah, according to Captain Allen's chart, is 433 miles from the sea; and allowing a steamer to have a speed of eight knots an hour, she could reach Rabbah in seven and a quarter days of twelve hours, at full speed. Six days would be required for her return, with proper prudence, until the river is better known.}

Sumoraziki once gained over to our views, and Rabbah open to us, there would follow very little difficulty in holding the Attàh of Iddah, and Obi, king of Abòh (the only other chiefs of any importance in the Niger,) strictly by the terms of the treaties they have entered into with us.

Continued dropping down with the stream until the evening, when we anchored near a village.

October 6th.- Dr. Stanger has undertaken to work the engines, with some assistance from Mr. Brown, the only engineer able to move out of bed. The steam has accordingly been got up, and we have been making good way all day. Mr. Willie is now too ill to have any charge, and I have been obliged to attend to the duties of the ship, as well as to the sick. Captain Trotter is a little better; but Commander B. Allen and Lieutenant Stenhouse are both dangerously ill. At half-past twelve, the vessel touched the ground, but by reversing the engines, was soon got from one fathom to three fathoms' water. About five in the afternoon the vessel again struck on a bank near Adama Dalu, but soon got off. Shortly afterwards, anchored for the night near the left bank, on the opposite side of the river to Buddu, a Kakanda town already spoken of.

Thursday, October 7th.- Accompanied by Messrs. Schön and Brown, landed in the morning at Buddu, for the purpose of having an interview with the chief there, and putting some queries to him relative to the slave trade, the state of the country, and how far these were affected by the Filatah incursions. Our progress in the boat was occasionally obstructed by tall reeds and clumps of bushes of a beautiful papilionaceous plant, (Sesbania punctata), in full blossom, showing to what an extent the river was here still beyond its usual limit; the space covered by water between both shores being not under a mile and a half. We found that the chief had left Buddu to be present at a palaver at Iddah; but his son, an agreeable young fellow, about twenty-eight years of age, soon joined us; and he, as well as some of the headmen, was very willing to answer all our interrogations. We were desired to accompany Mamansa and the other headmen to the court behind Mamansa's house, where a great number of people crowded round us. When we had, after a long exercise of patience, obtained something like silence, we were able to elicit the following information relating to points which Captain Trotter was desirous of knowing.

The present Attàh of Iddah has ruled nearly four years, but the Kakanda people, a name synonymous with what the Africans, especially the Iddah people, call "Tchabbi," have from time immemorial been subject to the monarch at Iddah, and have paid tribute to the Filatahs about ten years. The Attàh, although possessing full power over the Kakandas, limits his annual exactions to a low rate. A horse is all that is demanded; a tribute so small as to seem, surely, more for the purpose of keeping up authority, than for exercising the power it might entitle the Attàh to. The same small tribute is paid at Gori, one of the great markets; more has never been paid, otherwise it might have been supposed that the Attàh had of late deemed it prudent to accept any acknowledgment of allegiance from people a long way from him, and under such fearful subjugation to another power, which even menaces himself, namely the Filatahs. These inexorable foes paid them a visit three moons since, but they then gave them a sum, and promised, in conjunction with the people of Rikido*, on the opposite bank, to pay one hundred thousand cowries annually. {Fire-arms are used by the Filatahs; each has his musket. They have also spears and swords, bows and arrows, deadly poisoned. In their predatory excursions they are generally on horseback.} Now, so long as they can afford this, the Filatahs will leave them unmolested, but if they fail to have it ready at the stated period, then they will take people in lieu thereof. The resources of the Kakanda people are at present insufficient to insure a constant supply for their exactions, and if money be not forthcoming, slaves must be made. Hence, so long as Filatah power continues, slavery will exist. It signifies not who are enslaved, but they must have the amount of tribute, at least. On some occasions, the Kakanda people ransom their friends from the Filatahs.

The Attàh of Iddah has proclaimed the articles of treaty here, though all of them did not seem to be acquainted with them. The Buddu people candidly acknowledged that they had been great slave-dealers, in short, that the trade had been their great source of emolument. But now, they say, they will not purchase more slaves, but only retain the domestic slaves they already have. On inquiring their opinion of the nature of the treaty, and about our capturing the three slaves belonging to the chief of Muyè, "Omeh" of the Chart, they said, "You are stronger than we are, and you can do as you like; we are willing to obey you." It was answered, that the Queen of England had no desire in this instance to act with force; her reason was simply to ameliorate the condition of the black men, and prevent their being made slaves of; that for this end, much trouble was taken now, and had been taken for many years; much expense incurred; and much white life had been lost. But the liberation of man from slavery was in accordance with God's law, which taught that we should love God, and our neighbour as ourselves. They seemed certainly struck with Mr. Schön's exposition of the miseries and horrors of slavery, and said, "As far as we are concerned, we would give it up, and now must do so; but it would be good if the Filatahs could be persuaded that the traffic was bad; were this the case, they would cease to sell us when the tribute was not forthcoming."

Macaulay, one of our interpreters, had been a slave at this very town, and, curious to say, almost the first female we met was the woman who sold him. She laughed heartily, and seemed delighted at seeing her former slave, and wished to present him with a fowl if he could stop a little. She was a stout little woman, with some fearful gashes in her face. She laughed and said that she was not hitherto aware that it was wrong to sell slaves, but after all she never wished to part with Macaulay; her husband insisted upon it, and, acting upon the doctrine of obedience, she gave way to her better half. Macaulay was born at Mamagia (Nufi). When a boy he was stolen by the Filatahs, and taken by them to Egga, who sold him to a mallam of Kakanda, called La-firma, who sold him again to the Buddu damsel; she in turn disposed of him to King Obi; Obi sent him with a canoe load of slaves to King Peppel of Bonny, by whom he was sold to a Spanish slave ship, which was taken by one of our cruisers.

They denied that human sacrifice had ever been made by them or their ancestors, even before the introduction of Mahomedism. They sacrifice only goats, sheep, and fowls, to propitiate the Deity.

I have been all along very desirous to extend the benefit of vaccination to the tribes of the Niger, and have at most places vaccinated, and recommended it to the mallams on every occasion. I explained its use to one or two mallams, and to Mamansa, the chief's son. Mamansa was particularly struck with what was told him, and at once begged to be shown how to operate himself. He inserted the lymph into the arms of six boys, and really with neatness and skill, although I dare say he never saw a lancet before in his life. But the people here seem to have great imitative power. Before my friend Mamansa made his debut as an operator, I showed him the mode of proceeding, in two cases. He then took the lancet, and performed, with an address that would have delighted my friend Dr. Gilham, of the National Vaccine Institution.

Speaking of vaccination, I would here remark, that I feel confident, that medicine and surgery, judiciously exercised, will form important elements in any endeavour to civilize the tribes on the banks of the Niger. The same will obtain, I believe, throughout Africa. The Africans have the most sacred confidence in the powers of medicine. Medical practitioners are nowhere more respected. When first I proposed vaccination as an effectual remedy for one of their most direful scourges in the dry season, it is true many of the mothers listened with doubt, and eventually ran away with their children; but we must not forget the bitter animosity entertained by enlightened men of the day in our own country, against one of the greatest medical discoveries ever promulgated to the world. Upwards of half a century has passed away, and the prejudice against vaccination has not altogether disappeared with time. I have said, many of the African mothers were doubtful of this new remedy, but great numbers staid and submitted their children to the operation, when its simplicity and after benefits were clearly explained to them.

Although the practice of medicine is in the lowest state of degradation, clouded with all possible superstitions, yet its professors, the mallams, are well provided for, and are even looked up to; especially in the Nufi and Kakanda countries. The mallams (chiefly from Rabbah,) profess to teach Mohammedanism, and to practice the healing art. Charms in the form of scraps from the Koran, are resorted to in all cases of difficulty. They circumcise and scarify when there is any local pain in the fevers of the country. This ritual is performed at an early age. Their sole instrument is a country razor. The mallams are paid according to the circumstances of the patients. At Egga, I understand a sheep, a goat, and several thousand cowries are often the "fee" for one operation. It is through the mallams that I entertain strong hopes of extending vaccination throughout Africa, at all events, along the banks of the Niger. Desirous as they are to add to their importance, they will be quite ready to have the boast of a new operation, which is in itself so simple. Self-interest, then, will prompt them to attend to vaccination, and in process of time, the people themselves will be able to appreciate in some degree the value of Jenner's immortal discovery.

I have seen few people in England submit so quietly and willingly to medical or surgical treatment as the Africans do. I have, for instance, proposed to a man to be operated upon for cataract. He has sat down. The lens has been depressed, and he has afterwards walked quietly into his boat.

Ajimba, the son of the chief of Muyè, who was the owner of the slaves we took from the canoe on our way upwards, came on board with two mallams. They were accompanied by the slave boy on whom I operated for cataract. He was delighted that he could count the number of fingers held to his eye, of which he was before stone blind.

Mamansa, asked me to give him a charm to preserve his health and strength.

Buddu appears to be the chief town of Kakanda. It is situated on the right bank of the Niger. The town, which consists of two parts, may contain from three to four thousand inhabitants. The huts are circular, built of clay, and, what I had not before seen, on the summit of the cone of grass which forms the roof, there was an earthen pot, black and polished, about a foot in diameter, and two feet deep, inverted. This Marmansa said prevented the huts being struck with lightning. The people seem to be idle; there was little doing, and the canoes were of an inferior order. The men had their heads shaven, generally so as to leave two or more circular patches of hair. Their dress consisted of the clout only. A few tobes were seen. The hair of the women was generally arranged in small plaits, hanging round the ears like the fringe-work of a curtain; some had the head entirely shaved. A man may have as many wives as he can afford to keep. The skin of some of the women was here and there stained with camwood, and the galena to the eyelids seemed to be common.

Satchaw has been fifteen years chief here, but the Attàh has not as yet thought fit formally to confirm him in his appointment. Another chief is talked of, but his name is not yet known.

In the dry season, fevers carry off a great many, Small pox also prevails as well as fever, bowel complaints, and sore eyes.

Before we left, Mamansa presented us with a goat, and a large jar of beer, which he said would make a good breakfast for us.

All were glad to hear of our settlement at the confluence, and said they would be happy to go and make trade with our people, and see how they build their huts, and how they cultivated the ground. They liked white men, and would be much pleased to see some white mallams. About twelve returned to the ship and weighed; steamed till two P.M., then dropped down below Muyè (Omeh of the chart), and anchored there for the night.

October 8th.- Last night about twelve o'clock, while snatching a few minutes' sleep on one of the gun-room lockers, I was awoke by a splash in the water, followed by a loud scream. Rushing on deck, I found, to my horror, that Mr. Wilmett, one of the sick officers, who had been delirious for some days, had contrived, notwithstanding that he was watched by two black men, to push back the slide of his cabin window, and jump overboard. While the boat was being lowered (which was done as soon as possible) William Guy, a Gambia man, and Tom Osmond, a Kruman, leaped into the river, and swam after him. Every one who could manage to crawl was instantly on deck.

It was pitch dark, and the cries of the poor fellow, becoming more and more feeble, as he was being carried rapidly down the river by the force of the current, broke dismally the dead silence of the night, and filled all of us with the most fearful anticipations as to his fate.

No one moved or spoke; the attention of every one was kept painfully on the rack, as the hollow sound of the oars in the rullocks, gradually becoming more distinct, denoted that the boat was returning. At length, after being kept in a state of torturing anxiety for twenty minutes, we again began to breathe freely, when she came alongside with our shipmate, whom we had all but given up for lost.

The Africans, guided by Wilmett's cries, had followed him close, but did not come up with him until they were a mile below the ship. They contrived to hold him on until the boat dropped down and picked them up. {Both most deservedly received the diploma and honorary silver medallion from the Royal Humane Society of London.}

Weighed anchor at six A.M., and dropped down with the stream a few miles, while the steam was being got up. The Victoria Range was soon in sight; and as all knew that it was not far from the confluence, there was general joy throughout the ship.

A gloom, however, was thrown over the ship this forenoon a little past eleven. Mr. Lodge, the second engineer, who had for a week been labouring under fever, had manifested on the evening before some symptoms of delirium, and he was, as a matter of precaution, restrained in his cot. In the morning he was quite quiet and sensible, but complained of being bound. In the forenoon he asked me for a drink, and looked perfectly collected. In ten minutes afterwards he got out of his cot unperceived (which was on the poop under an awning and an inverted basket boat) and jumped overboard, Strange to say, although there were four officers in cots close to him, they did not hear him move, nor did the sick attendants who were on the spot. Poor fellow, he kept up for some time. The boat was dropped astern, but it was doomed that he was not to be rescued, for he sunk and never reappeared.

We were obliged to stop frequently during the day, being often in one and a half fathoms' water, and getting on shore with a falling river, is, under present circumstances, too fearful to contemplate.

In the afternoon several large crocodiles were seen on the banks, some of them not less than twenty feet long. Dr. Stanger fired at one of them and struck it near the neck. The ball, however, glanced off, as the monster quietly took to the water, and made for the rushes immediately afterwards.

Some of the views, on the right bank particularly, have been of the most beautiful kind. Looking up some of the lateral branches, the eye beheld a long vista (so to speak) of water, threading itself through interminable green groves. I know nothing in nature with which to compare what I have seen of this kind of scenery, during the last two days. Were we only blessed with health!

At this period the anxiety of Dr. Stanger and myself for the safety of the vessel, and our mental anguish at seeing nearly all our shipmates in a helpless condition, cannot be expressed.

Captain B. Allen was seemingly sinking in the course of the afternoon; but he rallied towards the evening.

At six P.M. anchored about six miles above the Confluence.

October 9th.- There was a very heavy tornado last night, followed by a pelting rain. At five in the evening it was beautifully clear; and as all very anxious to ascertain the condition of our friends at the model farm, the vessel was got under weigh by six o'clock, and was dropping with the current when, in rounding a point, she was carried among the bushes; but there being three fathoms' water, did not touch the ground. A kedge was carried out from the larboard bow to the middle stream and weighed, by which means the vessel got clear. The steam was got up soon afterwards, and at about eight we were gratified by a sight of the Eglinton Tent, a conspicuous object on Stirling Hill.

The quantity of cleared land, the advance made in the building of the superintendent's house, and the cheerful aspect of the whole place, seemed to indicate a degree of prosperity and industry that induced us to think that he and his companions had been mercifully protected from disease; but our hopes here were again doomed to disappointment.

No sooner was the anchor dropped than Dr. Stanger and I proceeded on board the 'Amelia,' and found there Mr. Kingdon, schoolmaster, in the low stage of fever; and Mr. Ansell, the gardener, lying in his cot with the same disease. On shore no better tidings awaited us; for there also Mr. Carr, the superintendent, was found confined to his bed. He had been ill ten days, and was still in a very doubtful state. In such circumstances the course to be adopted was soon determined upon. Captain Trotter was still much indisposed; but I communicated my wishes to him relative to the superintendent and the two Europeans, as well as my ideas regarding the future management of the settlement. He desired me to act, as under existing circumstances I best saw fit; and being confirmed in my opinion by that of Dr. Stanger, it was resolved at once to remove Mr. Carr, Mr. Kingdon, and Mr. Ansell, on board the 'Albert,' where they would have the benefit of medical assistance, in addition to that likely to accrue from change of climate. The natives had on all occasions been most friendly to the settlers; and labour and provisions in abundance were easily procured at moderate prices. We therefore had no hesitation in placing Ralph Moore, an American negro emigrant, whom we got at Liberia, and a man of steadiness and respectability, in the temporary charge of the model farm, with Neezer, a negro printer, from Sierra Leone, to look after the stores, and otherwise to assist him in the management of the establishment; consisting of twenty negro men, women, and children, from Sierra Leone.

The 'Amelia' was left for the protection of the settlers, in charge of Thomas King, an intelligent man of colour, and twelve blacks, among whom was William Guy, a steady and good seaman.

King had joined our expedition at Sierra Leone, and his conduct had, in addition to the excellent character given him by Mr. Schön, been such, as to entitle him to every confidence.

During the whole of the day all available hands were employed in providing the settlement and ship with provisions to last nine months, and cowries to purchase enough for three months more, getting wood on board, and making arrangements for our departure the following morning.

Mr. Moore had forty natives employed on the farm, in addition to the artificers and agriculturists brought from Sierra Leone. Eleven acres of ground were cleared, and he purposed planting cotton in a few days, and from the nature of the soil, he anticipated very good crops {Some of the natives brought specimens of cotton on board, which looked well. According to Dr. Stanger, "the soil of Stirling Hill, and as far up the river as was explored, is composed of horizontal sandstone, becoming more highly ferruginous as we ascend. At Stirling Hill the iron occurs in the form of pea iron ore." The valleys and flats are in general covered with a rich vegetable mould. The ground subjected to the temporary inundation of the river is generally left more or less swampy}.

He said the natives were anxious to be on the most friendly terms with the settlers, and worked readily on the farm for cowries to the amount of three-pence per day.

Mr. Carr established with the natives the following tariff of prices for the several articles undermentioned, viz.: -

 Sterling money
For goats (milch)1000 cowries1s.5d.
" ditto (not milch)800 "10
" sheep (full grown)1000 "15
" fowls (large)100 "0
" ditto (small)80 "01
" ducks (Muscovy)200 "03
" eggsfrom 5 to 10 "  
" yams (per cwt.)400 "06
" tobacco, good (per 10 lbs.)500 "0

All the above articles were to be had in abundance. Mr. Carr said the tobacco was superior to the American tobacco.

In the afternoon a large canoe, loaded with goods of various kinds, passed upwards for the Kirri market.

Sunday, October 10th.- The morning broke beautifully, after heavy rain during the night. At six o'clock I was on shore, and while preparation was being made for the embarkation of Mr. Carr, I walked to the summit of Stirling Hill to take a last look at the lovely scenery of the Confluence.

The morning was perfectly still, and there was a fresh coolness of the atmosphere, now remarkably clear after the rain. While looking upon these great highways for the advance of civilization into the interior of Africa - the Niger, with its rich tropical vegetation, and the more open and broad expanse of the Tchadda, flowing smoothly from the eastward, with the hills in the far distance to the northward and eastward, I could not but grieve that such a country was about to be abandoned by civilized man; and that an enterprise which had originated in the most noble of human motives, with all appliances that human ingenuity and human foresight could devise for a successful issue; with success granted, for a while, even to our utmost wishes, was now, alas! doomed to so melancholy a termination.

Deeply impressed with the sublimity of the scene, and with a feeling of thankfulness that during the sad reign of sickness and death, some of us were still mercifully protected, I returned to the settlement, where my thoughts were soon engaged in the more immediate and pressing occupation of making preparation to resume the downward voyage.

10 A.M.- Having completed all arrangements, and delivered written orders to the persons left in charge of the farm and ship respectively, the sick were brought on board the 'Albert;' at a quarter past ten the steam was up, and the anchor weighed. At noon we were off Adda Kudu. At two P.M. at Ikori market, and shortly afterwards at the Bird Rock, where the water seemed to have fallen several feet. The current was strong throughout; and in the afternoon at half-past five, we were off the cliffs at Iddah. At six, anchored two miles below Iddah. Commander B. Allen was in a very languid low state; but sufficiently sensible to express his gratification at the hopes of being soon out of the river. Our rapid progress during the day inspired all the patients with new hopes. Our only marine capable of duty was, however, added to the sick list in the evening. Running about the deck all day managing the ship, (with the assistance of Brown, the negro clerk, who was in the Niger with Lander,) and looking after the patients, I was fain to lay myself down at night, and enjoy a few hours sleep. The state of the sick, however, required my being called several times during the night. Mr. Willie has been delirious during the afternoon.

October 11th.- In the morning our old friend Adaku, the Attàh's son, came on board, accompanied by two mallams, to know "what was the matter?" Why we had not, as friends of the Attàh, "anchored in his waters, near to his town," as we had done before. The Attàh {This term was nowhere used in the Niger except at Iddah. Its identity with the Greek word "Atta," signifying father, chief, or one to be looked upon with respect, will at once be remarked. But it appears that "Attàh" as expressive of "father" is very common in many languages. However, it is not considered a word which one language borrows from another, but rather what is called a word of organic origin; i.e., a word that exists in language, independent of any philological connexion} had desired them to say, "he never liked his friends to be far from him when they were in his neighbourhood," and begged that we would return "to near Iddah." On being told that our only object in leaving the river so hastily was to restore the health of our people, many of whom were sick; they said, "That is quite enough; we must hasten ashore, and tell the Attah what you say, as he is very anxious to know why you, as his friends, have not called to see him." Aduku said, his father, the Attah, was much pleased that we had taken the slave canoe, and liberated the slaves, and that "what we had done was quite proper." Aduku hoped "that God would soon make the captain and all the people well;" and added, that his father would send a bullock and yams to the people at the Confluence.

We soon after weighed; at half-past 3, P.M., were at Adamugu; at seven, anchored off the village Atchaba, a short way below Kirri or Onye market. I was sorry to observe that our excellent and indefatigable chaplain, Mr. Schön, was far from being well during the day. Dr. Stanger was a good deal exhausted in the evening, from being hard at work in the engine-room all day. Mr. Brown, the only engineer able at, all to move, rendered Dr. Stanger what assistance he could.

Tuesday, October 12th.- There was a heavy squall, with thunder and lightning in the morning, followed by a thick haze, which prevented our weighing until ten o'clock. When at the northern end of Bullock's Island, about mid-day, we saw seven huge hippopotami in the mud, on the left bank of the river. Some showed their heads only, while the enormous backs of others were distinctly visible above the water.

At five P.M. to our great joy anchored off Abòh, where we were soon surrounded by upwards of a hundred canoes. The vociferations and cheers of the natives welcoming us back, although well meant, were most annoying to the sick. Atchi, Obi's favourite son, was soon on board, and on being told that we were anxious to leave the river as soon as possible, immediately went on shore, and sent a large canoe-load of wood on board the same evening by moonlight, promising to complete us in the morning. Within the last day or two there has been some murmuring, and manifestations of being troublesome, among our black crew. I told John Duncan, the master-at-arms, who reported their proceedings to me, to keep a good look-out, and say nothing.

Wednesday, October 18th.- At two in the morning, Mr. Kingdon, who had been taken on board at the Confluence in a very low state, expired. At six, Mr. Schön and I proceeded to the Island of Afgub, to bury our deceased shipmate; but the waters had risen so high, and the land was so overflooded and swampy, that we could not effect a landing there {When we were at Abòh on the 26th August the river was still rising. So it was at Iddah and the Confluence. At Egga it began to fall on the 25tli September, and, as has already been noticed, it had fallen on the 5th October not less than three feet. At the Bird Rock, Iddah, and much lower down, the marks and fluviatile debris on the banks indicated a fall, although to what extent was not ascertained. But Mr. Schön, who landed at Abòh on the 12th October, found the river sufficiently high to enable him to reach the entrance of Obi's palace in the boat, which in August involved a quarter of an hour's dirty walk. He considered that the river had risen at least three feet, owing to the heavy rains which fall here in October.}

After an hour's hard pulling, we reached a small creek on the left bank, where a native offered to show us where we might easily land. Following him up the creek, the boat grounded, when the body was put into a canoe in which we proceeded a considerable distance; and at length succeeded in digging a grave, near a small village, in which were deposited the remains of poor Kingdon. He lies near to an enormous "bombax" tree, at the end of the village furthest from the creek. The natives came around us, and watched, seemingly with great interest, every movement - from the breaking of the ground, until the conclusion of the burial-service. I happened to have a few brass rings in my pocket, which I distributed among the women, who seemed mightily pleased and somewhat astonished at my liberality. On returning on board frown our melancholy duty, we found King Obi sitting in the gun-room at breakfast, habited in his scarlet jacket, and loose flowing trowsers of the same colour. He relished the fowl, rice, and coffee exceedingly; and handled his knife and fork as if he had been accustomed to them a11 his life.

There were about a hundred canoes alongside, and the noise of the people chatting and hallooing was incessant. Obi and his people had brought of abundance of wood for us, besides goats, fowls, yams, and plantains, in return for which he had a present of some scarlet cloth and cowries. Obi's prompt assistance to us on this occasion was of the highest importance. He is decidedly a fine character, and assuredly did not discredit the high opinion we had already formed of him. {I speak thus of Obi, with a full knowledge of his detention of the Landers, until they were ransomed by King Boy of Brasstown; an act, on the part of Obi, which cannot be too highly deprecated. But some allowance is due to a savage like Obi, who, on the unprecedented and extraordinary occasion of having two white men in his power, took advantage of circumstances, and exacted from them a much higher amount of tribute than was paid by ordinary strangers in passing through his territory.}

It would not have been prudent or just to have made Obi, or any other savage with such means as he had at hand, acquainted with the full extent of our distress, so he was not invited to go over any part of the ship except the captain's cabin and the gun-room; nor were any but his son and a few of his personal attendants allowed to accompany him on board. He gave expression to great sympathy and pity, when he saw Captain Trotter, Commander B. Allen, and the other officers sick in the cabin.

Simon Jonas, our Abòh interpreter, who, at the earnest request of Obi, had been for some time left at Abòh, (having been sent from the Confluence in the Soudan,) returned to the 'Albert' this morning, and gave a very favourable account of his reception by Obi and his people during his stay at Abòh. They all were anxious to hear him speak of the Christian religion, and of everything white men knew.

It was a rule with Dr. Stanger and myself, to arrange on the previous evening, after considering what was to be done, the hour of starting on the morrow. Ten o'clock was the time fixed for our departure from Abòh; and so rigorously was the custom observed, that the vessel was under weigh just as the bell struck the hour; when it was discovered that Obi's chief judge, who had been conversing with some of the black crew in the fore part of the vessel, was still on board.

His Lordship evidently apprehended we were about to make an unceremonious abduction of his person down the river; for without waiting to have the engines stopped for a minute, he made a rather undignified leap overboard, his countenance exhibiting an expression of unmingled terror. For a while he was seen floating astern, with his ample white robe inflated, balloon like, round his body; but was soon picked up by one of Obi's canoes.

At twelve o'clock we were at the Warree branch on the right bank, and shortly afterwards at Truro Island.

At a number of the villages we passed during the day, the confidence and friendly disposition of the natives were shown, by their having canoe-loads of wood, ready to be launched and brought off to us. Many large canoes with palm oil were seen, belonging chiefly to King Peppel of Bonny.

At three P.M., when near Stirling Island, a steamer, which we at once perceived did not belong to the Expedition, was seen coming up the river at full speed; we were soon close to her; and in a very short time Captain Beecroft came alongside from the 'Ethiope,' (Mr. Jamieson's vessel,) for such she was. He at once offered any assistance in his power; and it was finally arranged that he was to send his engineer on board the 'Albert' next morning; and that the 'Ethiope' was to return with us, taking the lead, as Captain Beecroft had a perfect knowledge of the river. Both vessels anchored for the night. Captain Trotter much better; Commander B. Allen, Lieutenant Stenhouse, and Mr. Webb very low, and one of the marines fast sinking.

Thursday, October 14th.- Both vessels weighed at six in the morning. The weather was beautiful throughout the day, and our progress downwards was rapid. In the afternoon, the reappearance of the mangrove on both banks above Sunday Island, proclaimed that we were once more within the influence of the tide. At six in the evening we both anchored off Barracoon Point at the mouth of the Nun. The sight of the open sea acted like a charm upon every one. {The mangroves (Rhizophora) and the other vegetables, with which they live constantly in society, perish as the ground dries, and they are no longer bathed with salt water.- (Humboldt's Personal Narrative, vol. ii. p. 375.)}

Friday, October 15th.- Sent a party of Krumen on shore to cut wood. The rigging was set up, and other preparations made, for sea. The Krumen brought on board five galley loads, and Captain Beecroft supplied one canoe load of wood; in all, sufficient for nine days' consumption. The 'Selina,' an English merchant-schooner, now here, has lost nearly all hands in this and some of the other rivers. Letters were put on board of her, for Lieutenant Strange, in case he should arrive here in the 'Soudan' after our departure; and at Captain Trotter's request I wrote a letter of thanks to the Commander of the 'Dolphin' (Lieutenant Littlehales), for his promptitude in taking the sick of the squadron sent down the river on to Ascension, which was also put on board the 'Selina.'

Saturday, October 16th.- At five in the morning Captain Beecroft came on board, and as the steam was up, we weighed immediately. When just within the bar, the 'Soudan' was seen outside. The bar was crossed in comparative quiet; and after an interchange of anxious inquiries with the 'Soudan,' the three vessels steamed on towards Fernando Po. George Cole, a marine, who had been attacked with fever at Egga, died in the forenoon. Captain Trotter was much better; but Commander Allen, Lieutenant Stenhouse, Mr. Webb, and Mr. Willie, were very low. Weather very fine, and the difference of atmospherical temperature since leaving the river, was of most sensible benefit to all, more especially to the sick. For the last few days I have had a burning sensation in the limbs, with headache and occasional giddiness. I had the same feelings at the Confluence; but intense mental occupation gave me no time to heed them.

Sunday, October 17th.- Was on deck during the greater part of the night with Captain Beecroft, where I slept soundly upon a chair. In the forenoon, the dark outline of the mountain of Fernando Po was seen through the haze which hung over the land. At twelve, we were close in with the shore; at three P.M., opened the anchorage of Clarence Cove, where we came-to a little past four.

Thus terminated the perilous descent of the Niger, which from the extraordinary combination of circumstances attending it, can never be forgotten by those who lived to see it concluded.

Every hour, from the time we left Egga, until our arrival at Fernando Po, seemed to give birth to events calculated to excite the warmest sympathies of our nature, and to occupy our minds with the most intense anxiety, in calling upon us for resources that were alien to our former habits, as well as for those with which we were familiar. No survivor in the 'Albert' can but feel a devout thankfulness, that Dr. Stanger was enabled to continue at his unusual and onerous duties in the engine-room; and that I was permitted health to remain on deck, and with the admirable chart of the Niger by Captain W. Allen, and with the assistance of Brown the negro clerk, to conduct the vessel in safety, until both of us were relieved by falling in with assistance when we least expected it.

To Captain Beecroft, I wish I could pay a tribute worthy of his prompt and noble conduct. Captain William Allen, anxious about the fate of the 'Albert,' and from his previous fearful experience of the Niger, dreading the worst, was desirous that Beecroft, then at Fernando Po in the 'Ethiopia,' should ascend the Niger, and render what assistance we might stand in need of. The wish was no sooner made known, than he at once weighed for the river. The timely aid he rendered us, can be fully appreciated only by those who were in the position to feel the full force of its value."

[It may be necessary to inform the reader of the foregoing extracts from my Journal, that although they were written at a time more fertile in events, and when objects of daily interest were perhaps more numerous than during any other period of the Expedition, it was not possible for me, in the peculiar and distressing situation in which I was soon placed, to make copious notes of incidents as they occurred, or to bestow the attention to many particulars brought to my notice, that their importance deserved. These observations are made, with the view of, in some degree, accounting for the scantiness of the harvest from so rich a field.]

J. O. McW.


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