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William Loney RN - Background

Home-Loney-Background-Niger expedition-Book Chapter XIII * Chapter XV

A NARRATIVE
OF THE
EXPEDITION TO THE RIVER NIGER
.

VOLUME I, CHAPTER XIV.


Mount Franklin - Villages - Nearly all the officers of the 'Soudan' laid up with sickness - Adda Kuddu in ruins - English doctors appreciated by the natives - Kakanda people - Amèh Abokko, the Annajah, or Governor, visits the ships - Deaths of some of the crews from fever - Insupportable heat and closeness of the atmosphere - Visits from snakes - How accounted for - Drs. Stanger and Vogel ascend Mount Pattèh - Stirling Hill selected as the best locality for the Model Farm - First instalment of purchase money paid to the Attàh of Eggarah - Model Farm utensils and furniture landed - Malam Sabah - Towns on the banks of the Chaddah - Mr. W.H. Webb left in charge of the 'Amelia' tender and Model Farm - Fever progressing at an alarming rate in all the vessels - Death of Mr. Nightingale - Mortality in the vessels - Weakly condition of the crews generally - Captain Trotter decides on sending the sick to the sea-side in the 'Soudan' - Meeting of the Commissioners - The sick received on board the 'Soudan' - Increase of the fever on board the 'Wilberforce.'


10th.- At 12.30 we weighed, and proceeded up the river. The 'Albert,' towing the schooner, and the 'Soudan' were a-head; we saw mountains in the distance, the native name of Mount Franklin is Apotto, passed two or three villages on each side of the river, and saw one on the brow of a small hill on the right bank surrounded with tilled ground. The Indian corn is said to be here well cultivated.

The 'Soudan' stopped a short time to procure wood at another village on the left bank, most picturesquely situated on the side of a steep hill. It was found to be inhabited by about six hundred Kakanda people, who had been driven away from a settlement on the other side; they were at first rather distrustful, but this soon wore off, and they were anxious to be friendly with the "white men."

In the afternoon, the 'Wilberforce' took the 'Soudan' in tow; the fever was making fearful progress in the latter, Mr. Ellis, the first lieutenant, Mr. Marshall, the surgeon, and many of the crew having been attacked by it in its worst form; heat, dryness of the skin, and almost incessant vomiting being the most prominent symptoms. Mr. Thomson, the senior assistant, was sent from the 'Wilberforce' to take charge of the sick. Being unable to reach Adda Kuddu before dark, we came to an anchor about 7 P.M., four miles below it: the banks are high and rocky on both sides, and at that town the width of the river is 2,030 yards by micrometic angle. We had frequent lightning, and the weather was very warm.

  3 A.M. Ther 78° Wet bulb Mason's Hygr. 74°
  9 A.M. " 79° " 75°
  3 P.M. " 84° " 75°
  9 P.M. " 81°,5 " 79°

11th.– We weighed at daylight, and soon arrived off the old town of Adda Kuddu, which had been proposed as an eligible situation for our settlement. We found there many ruins, indicating the site of this once-thriving place, and the industry of its late inhabitants, especially numerous large dye pits, but so rapidly does luxuriant nature in these climes throw a mantle of vegetation over the deserted scenes of the labours of man, that it was with difficulty we made our way through a place where lately nothing but busy feet and merry voices had been.

Captain Trotter and Commander B. Allen went on shore, accompanied by the geologists, botanist, and Mr. Carr, the superintendent of the Model Farm - Commander W. Allen being too unwell to join them. On examination, we were disappointed at finding that the soil was unfavourable for the growth of cotton. {At Adda Kuddu, the granite is mixed up and complicated with gneiss, which generally dips at an angle of 60° to the southward. The granite forms veins, running into gneiss in all directions, and, in some places, the granite contains imbedded masses of gneiss.- Dr. Stanger's Geol. Report.}

The 'Soudan' was detached across the river to communicate with a town on the left bank, inhabited by the persons who had been driven away from Adda Kuddu by the Filatahs. Some officers landed, and were much pleased, not only with the dense forest scenery - among which the umbrageous Baobob, with its pendant fruit, was conspicuous - but also with the frank and joyous reception of the inhabitants. In this, their new locality - where they hoped the intervening stream would protect them from their relentless persecutors - they had already raised comfortable dwellings, and were engaged in different native manufactures. Several looms were here in busy ply on narrow cloths of blue and white cotton, the dye of the former produced by a fine description of Tephrosia, which grows abundantly in most places. Palm-oil, palm-nuts, goora-nuts, shea butter, tobacco, rice in small grass bags, fowls, broad-brimmed hats, &c., were exposed for sale in a sort of market-place.

It had been arranged that one of the medical officers should remain at the Model Farm, and on its being explained by the interpreter, that a white doctor, or "Sàliki'n Màgoni," would be near them, they all clapped their hands in apparent gladness, and it was soon known all over the little community.

Perhaps in no part of the world are English medical men in higher estimation than in Africa, where they are not only looked on as the healers of infirmities, but are supposed to be invested with miraculous knowledge, and powers of good or evil, surpassing even the native Ju-ju, or Fetiche men. Most of the people pressed forward, shaking hands in their own fashion, and offering little presents, expressive of their kindly feelings. There were from twelve to fifteen hundred persons. The chief of this place, who was also the Annajah, or Governor of the district about to be ceded, was taken on board; he looked highly pleased, but rather nervous, especially when on the point of starting, several of his people, who seemed to treat him with great respect, came down to the bank and begged him not to embark.

While the negociations were going forward, Commander W. Allen found out that the Annajah - named Amèh Abokko - was brother to his old friend, Abokko, whom he much resembles. Though not so tall as his truly noble brother, he is a fine, dignified old man; he said he remembered Commander W. Allen, and expressed much satisfaction at seeing him again, always taking him by the hand when he came near, and calling him Avoiki'n Abokko, that is, "the friend of Abokko." He entered very readily into our views, and said, of his own accord, "It is true what you say, that the Slave Trade is contrary to the will of God."

Having ascertained that the land in the neighbourhood of Adda Kuddu was not suitable for the culture of cotton, we weighed and went up to examine the vicinity of Stirling Hill, where the 'Alburkah' had been so long at anchor in the year 1832-3. From all our inquiries, we learned that one of the parties concerned in the territory about to be purchased, was Mandaïki, or the chief of the mountain which rises at the back, and is called by the Nufi people, Pattèh, and Lukosa by those of Kakanda. We found the temperature of the Niger at this place 85°; much lower down, where it is mixed with the water of the Chadda, it was but 83°, showing that the latter is cooler, owing probably to having its rise in higher mountains than the Niger.

We had the first proof to-day, in the 'Wilberforce' of the fatal effect of the fever, which has unhappily commenced its ravages, in the death of James Kneebone, a young seaman who was taken ill on the 4th; other cases were assuming an unfavourable appearance. Lieutenant Ellis and Mr. Marshall, of the 'Soudan,' were dangerously ill. Commander W. Allen was also unwell and fatigued in the evening.

  3 A.M. Ther 78° Wet bulb Mason's Hygr. 74°
  9 A.M. " 79° " 75°
  3 P.M. " 86° " 77°
  9 P.M. " 81°,5 " 77°

Sunday, 12th Sept.– We were truly glad of a day of rest; our divine service had, however, some very melancholy attendant circumstances, the corpse of the poor fellow who died yesterday was lying close to us, and during the whole of the service we had the noise of the workmen preparing the coffin, but this was unavoidable, as decomposition was rapidly going on. We buried him in the evening, near the spot where Commander W. Allen, on the former visit to this place, had laid some of his companions.

It was a trying day to the sick of all the vessels. A fiercely burning sun, the air close and sultry, with the thermometer 90° at noon in the shade, and scarcely below 85° even at night, raised the fever to its height; and it seemed with several, that without continued artificial ventilation by fans, and frequent cold spongings, they would have expired under the oppression of breathing and heat of skin. Many of those not yet entered on the sick-list were evidently beginning to feel weak and apprehensive.

In addition to the enervating fever, we seem to be threatened with another and more singular visitation, not less dreaded by the seamen. For the last two nights, the little tenement on the starboard sponson - which having been comfortably fitted up by Lieutenant Strange for some of the blacks, went by the name of Kru Town - had been disturbed by unwelcome intruders in the shape of snakes, which were now abundant in the waters, being driven off the high grasses on the inundated islands. The fear of these - as some were said to be venemous - was certainly one of the horrors, and in all the vessels several were killed at night, having either twisted themselves up by the cable, or by the paddle-wheels. While we lay aground at English Island, they were seen frequently coiled round the tops of the reeds which appeared above water, and one of the officers of the 'Amelia' tender, absolutely practised with a pistol at a bunch of these reptiles, collected in that way near the vessel. On questioning a native on the subject, he gave a very satisfactory explanation. During the dry season, when the river is low, much of the land, now overflowed, is quite exposed and connected with the banks, and the grass soon springs up luxuriantly, affording a sunny and open resort for the numerous insects; snakes then come out of the surrounding woods of these localities, and when the water rises, cutting off large patches, like islands, communication is prevented with the banks. As the river gets still higher, they are obliged to take refuge on the reeds, and when these are submerged, they swim off; attaching themselves to the first object they meet in their course which may afford a refuge; in this way several must have accidently come in contact with the vessels in the stream. Whenever a noise was heard in "Kru Town," the people used to say, "Another snake come." One of a very venemous character was killed on board the 'Soudan.'

Dr. Stanger, the geologist, and Dr. Vogel, the botanist, went to the top of the mountain, Pattèh, which they found perfectly level, with many villages and much cultivation; the grass was different from that on the banks of the river, being short and fine, and well suited for pasturage. Dr. Vogel says that the greater part of the indigenous fruits of Africa are to be met with on the summit of this mountain. Those gentlemen appeared to have suffered much from the heat and fatigue of the ascent, though the mountain is not more than one thousand two hundred feet high, as determined by them with the barometer; this agreed very nearly with Allen's trigonometrical measurement of the former Expedition: he was then very desirous, during the long period passed at the foot of this mountain, to ascend it, and made several attempts on a pony, which want of strength always obliged him to abandon. The inhabitants of this district are of the Kakanda nation, and they wage continual war with the natives of the plains, for the purpose of making slaves, a specimen of which was witnessed in 1833. From this locality, a magnificent view presents itself of both the Niger and Chadda, their tortuous course abruptly merging into one broad and bright expanse of water at the confluence, while the distance was bounded on all sides by mountains.

On this elevation, the Kakanda people have two small towns, and also a village at the base of the northern side of the mountain, which is there somewhat precipitous. The inhabitants of this romantic situation, form a little state, totally independent of the neighbouring tribes. Their great enemies, the Filatahs, however, keep them in a continual state of apprehension and uncertainty; scarcely a year passes without a predatory visit, but such is the attachment of the natives to their mountain home, that they cannot be persuaded to leave it permanently, and although sometimes obliged to make a temporary migration, they invariably return.

They are mostly small, well-made, active men, the hands and feet not large, the features regular and pleasing, and their manners particularly mild and agreeable. The eyelids of the women and children are coloured with antimony, which gives a look of softness. The faces of this tribe are generally marked with elliptical incisions, extending from the temples to the chin. In saluting a stranger, they stoop almost to the earth, throwing dust on their foreheads several times; the females in this humiliating practice, sprinkle the dust on the breast. The men all wore clean white tobes, nicely worked over the chest and sleeves, with red and blue devices, and were generally armed with daggers, knives, and a broad two-edged sword, or bow and arrows. The women had the usual cotton body-cloth, but their innate modesty and gentleness, made them appear very prepossessing.

Notwithstanding the poverty of the soil, mostly ferruginous earth, they contrive to cultivate Indian-corn, yams, and rice abundantly. This latter was brought on board in small grass bags, containing from three quarters of a pound to two pounds, and was sold at a very low price, in cowries or articles of exchange, certainly not more than one half-penny the pound. They also brought dried buffalo's flesh, fish, shea butter, tobacco of a mild flavour in large fiat rolls, and which they called Taba. Blue and red dye-balls of Tephrosia and camwood; Uoji's, or native whips of hippopotamus skin; earthern pipe heads; chalk in small squares, prepared from incinerated bones, used on the fingers when spinning, or occasionally for decorating the person, it is called Effu in the Aku, and Alli in Haussa. Most of the manufactured articles brought on board were of excellent description, considering the rude implements used: - swords and daggers well tempered, and some of the blades ornamented with attempts at Arabic characters; calabashes very neatly carved, and dyed of various colours.

The trees in this neighbourhood are of large size, especially the Adansonia digitata or Baobob, and a remarkable variety of Sarcocephalus; while among the brushwood, the Ceratophyllus, Salvinias, and a leafless Euphorbia, were abundant; the milky juice of the last plant is said by the natives to be extremely acrid, and the least quantity causes blindness if applied to the eyes.

Previously to leaving England, we had been assured there was a species of cactus very similar to, if not the same as, the true Opuntia cocci, but we looked in vain for it, and were, with regret, obliged to see the insects, we had brought so far and so carefully, perish for the want of the necessary food. Every one of the plants we had taken on board at Teneriffe were overrun and destroyed by the large colonies of cochineal which had formed on them.

Mr. Toby, mate, had a very bad night, and we feared he could not get over it - two new cases to-day. A man brought a small basket of raw cotton from a town about three miles below; he said a great deal is grown around his village; every person has some for his own purposes; the staple appeared to be fine, but short; the plant is an annual. We procured also specimens of the Pirn, used for spinning by hand, which is precisely similar to the method formerly practised in England, and still by the peasants of Italy, &c.

The Commissioners were anxiously employed every day on board the 'Albert,' deliberating on the best plan to be adopted for our future proceedings, which the rapidly increasing sickness, as well as the advance of the season, rendered very perplexing.

The botanist and geologist having examined the nature of the soil and productions, it was thought, that although these were not very favourable, yet all things considered, the land in the neighbourhood of the hill, called Stirling by Lander, was suitable for the first location of the infant colony.

Bàrraga, or Beaufort Island, and Mount Pattèh, seemed to be the most eligible positions for the erection of forts; and the country on the right bank of the river, in the neighbourhood of the confluence, having been abandoned by the former inhabitants in consequence of the frequent incursions of the Filatahs, afforded many advantages, since no jealous rights of property would be invaded, and the emigrants - who had gone no further than the opposite bank of the river to be safe from their oppressors - would, it was presumed, very soon gladly return to the homes of their fathers, and re-people the territory under the protection and better laws of the white strangers. The Attàh of Eggarah, had also expressed a wish that we should take possession of a large portion of this land.

Illustration
Mount Etse

All these circumstances being duly considered, the Commissioners resolved to fix on a district with natural boundaries, comprising some beautiful country, with great variety of mountain and plain, watered by little streams, and completely commanding both the rivers, above and below the confluence.

  9 A.M. Ther 81° Wet bulb Mason's Hygr. 75°
  3 P.M. " 87° " 77°
  9 P.M. " 82° " 76°
13th.- 9 A.M. Ther 79° Wet bulb Mason's Hygr. 74°
  3 P.M. " 85° " 75°
  9 P.M. " 79° " 74°

14th.- The Annajah, or Governor of this part of the dominions of the Attàh, and the Commissioners appointed by his Majesty, being on board the 'Albert,' and also the chiefs of the districts about to be purchased, the Deed of Cession was fully explained to them in the Haussa language, and the frontiers agreed upon. It was especially stipulated, that all those native proprietors of slaves, who now were settled, or who hereafter might settle, on the ceded territory, must not expect to hold those slaves under British protection. The agents thoroughly comprehended the whole meaning of the Deed, to the reading of which they appeared to give much patient attention; - unless we mistook apathy for such a laudable bearing.

Illustration
Mount Patteh and Sterling Hill

The tract of land fixed on, and agreed to by the agents, extends about sixteen miles along the right bank of the river, and four miles from its margin. The boundaries were pointed out to be, - on the north, a rivulet flowing between the mountains, named in Allen's chart, Victoria and Pattèh: on the south, by the first stream, which may empty itself into the Niger, to the southward of the island named Bàrraga, and including within the said limits the mountains called Etse (Soracte), and Erro (Saddleback); on the east, by the river Niger; and on the west, by straight lines joining the western bases of the mountains, laid down in the same chart as Outram and Deacon (the native names being unknown), and Etse (Soracte), to the nearest points of the aforesaid rivulets.

[illustration: Map of ceded teritory]

For the purchase of this territory, we agreed to give seven hundred thousand cowries (nearly £45) or goods to that amount; one-fifth part of which was to be paid when the Deed of Cession was signed, as security for the purchase and delivery of the said land; the remainder to be paid as soon as the British people shall have had possession of the land for twelve months, provided they should at that time wish to retain it, either at one payment, or in five instalments, as might be most convenient to the Queen of Great Britain.

The agents having signed the Deed, in presence of the sons, and some of the headmen of the chief of the mountain villages of Lucojah, fourteen bags, containing one hundred and sixty thousand cowries (Cypraea Moneta), the currency of the country, were delivered for the Attàh of Eggarah, as the first instalment of the purchase money. These small white shells - the only medium of circulation in central Africa - are found in great abundance in the Maldive Islands. We had been supplied with a large quantity, bought in London by the ton, from the price of which we estimated the value of one thousand to be about fifteen pence. In the former Expedition, Lander considered one thousand to be worth one shilling. The natives generally drill a hole, and string them in hundreds, ten of which are tied together, thus facilitating the operation of settling which is a very tedious affair when detached, as both the buyer and seller insists on counting them, and when they differ, it has to be done over again. As ours were loose, it would have been an endless trouble to have counted them; Captain Trotter, therefore, substituted measure for number, and it was easy to make the natives see, by giving a fair quantity, that it was to their advantage.

On the performance of this part of the ceremony, there was neither patience nor apathy displayed. So large a treasure, amounting to about £9, is seldom known to change hands at one transaction between the merchants in this country, and many were the eyes that gloated on it.

Power was reserved to her Majesty the Queen of Great Britain to assume the sovereignty of the aforesaid territory at her pleasure; and also to sanction, modify, or annul the whole or any part of the Deed of Cession. At the same time, it was declared by the British authorities, to guarantee to all persons the possession of their houses, and the land they might at the present time have under cultivation.

Mr. Carr, appointed to manage the proposed Model Farm, next made application to the Commissioners, to have an allotment of from three to five hundred acres of the purchased land, for purposes of cultivation.

The Commissioners acceded to this request, subject to certain conditions, namely, that an annual rent of one penny per acre should be paid in consideration thereof, into her Majesty's treasury, by the Model Farm Society, of Mincing-lane, London. The superintendent was charged to respect the rights of the natives who might be in occupation of any houses or lands under cultivation; which, however, he was at liberty to hire, provided the native proprietors were willing to part with them, on such a reasonable compensation being paid as should be decided upon by the Commissioners, or in their absence by the senior naval officer, or their deputy; in whose presence, and in that of the chief of the district in which the land should be situate, it was provided the bargain should be made, and the boundaries settled; - the same to be duly registered.

In the meanwhile, as no obstacles were anticipated to these arrangements, and in order, as much as possible, to avoid delay, which in our present circumstances was very necessary, the house, stores, and model farm furniture had been landed, and a gay tent, which figured at the Eglintoun Tournament, was set up as a temporary residence for the superintendent. In disembarking the cumbrous iron-work of the model farm, our paddle-box boat unfortunately got adrift, owing to the strength of the current, filled, and sank in a deep part of the river. The loss of the iron was comparatively of little consequence, as it must be long ere cotton gins and presses can be wanted; but the loss to the 'Wilberforce' of a valuable boat, was irreparable. From its weight, it would be doubtless buried in the sand, so that, even in the dry season, there could be very little chance of recovering it.

The Malam Sabah, or Ma'Sabah, the second judge of Iddah, and one of the agents on the part of the Attàh to settle the boundaries of the territory, came on board the 'Wilberforce,' with his wife, a very agreeable-looking young woman: they were indeed what might be called an interesting couple. She was very grateful for some female dresses. The 'Malam' is the son of the old Malam Kitàb, who, at the instigation of the former Attàh, had poisoned several of Lander's crew, and had even sent Commander W. Allen a dose, which he declined taking. He would not, however, visit the sins of the father upon the son, who professed great attachment for him; but treated him well, in the hopes of deriving some information, especially on the subject of the River Chadda, which Ma'Sabah had frequently navigated.

14th.- 9 A.M. Ther 82° Wet bulb Mason's Hygr. 75°
  3 P.M. " 86° " 77°
  9 P.M. " 82° " 77°

15th.- 9 A.M. Ther 79° Wet bulb Mason's Hygr. 74°½
  3 P.M. " 86° " 78°
  9 P.M. " 80° " 75°

16th.– At a consultation of the Commissioners, Captain Trotter stated, that the Expedition had now arrived at the confluence of the two great rivers, on the banks of each of which nations might be found, with whom it would be very desirable to open friendly communications. On referring to Lord John's instructions and dispatches, it appeared that we had power to divide the Commission, with the view of saving time, by carrying on simultaneous operations, which the advanced season, and the increasing sickness, now made very desirable. It was, therefore, decided that H.M.S. 'Albert' and 'Soudan' should ascend the Niger, to treat with the chiefs on its banks, and especially with the King of the Filatahs, at Rabbah; and that they should go as far beyond that place, either in the 'Albert,' or 'Soudan,' as circumstances would warrant. If rocks should be found to obstruct the passage of the river for a steamer at or near Bussah, as there was every reason to apprehend, it was proposed - if health would permit - that Lieutenant Strange and a party should advance in the galleys and large canoes, which had been provided for such a service.

In the meantime, H.M.S. 'Wilberforce' was to proceed up the Chadda. It was known by Allen's former voyage up this magnificent river, that, with the exception of Fandah, which lies at a little distance from it, the banks for nearly a hundred miles, at least, were but thinly peopled; but beyond that, the large city of Jakoba was supposed to be situated. This was supposed to be an active contributor to the Slave Trade, as well as Bishi, where there is a large market. Above these, we had no acquaintance with the course of the river, nor of the nations in its neighbourhood, except from the information derived from Ma'Sabah.{page 375}. A river of such magnitude, however, equal to, if not greater than the Niger, must roll its waters through an immense extent of country; and if, as there was much reason to believe, it should prove to be the outlet of the great Lake Chad, or Tzad {see a paper on this subject by Captain W. Allen in the 13th volume of the Journal of the Royal Geographical Society} discovered by Denham and Clapperton, not only would an important geographical problem be solved, and new fields opened for commercial enterprise, but access would be gained by the double operations to the principal sources of the Slave Trade.

Captain Trotter and Commander Bird Allen in the Niger, and Commander W. Allen and Mr. Cook in the Chadda, were accordingly empowered to make Treaties with the chiefs, subject to the sanction of the whole Commission; and the details of the proceedings of each sub-commission-meeting were to be embodied in the General Report of the Commissioners to her Majesty's Government.

For the protection of the new settlers at the Model Farm, and at the request of Mr. Carr, the 'Amelia' was left at the anchorage, abreast of Stirling, under the charge of Mr. Webb, mate - now commander - with Mr. Collman, assistant-surgeon, and one of the sappers; also Mr. Ansell, to procure specimens of the most valuable plants and seeds. Captain Trotter gave Mr. Webb full instructions for his guidance during our absence. He was directed to take means to secure such of her Majesty's stores as might be landed, by surrounding them with palisades and a ditch; and, generally, to throw up such defences on the territory as he might think advisable. He was to make a survey of the territory ceded to her Majesty, commencing with the immediate neighbourhood of the Model Farm, marking particularly the boundaries of land at present occupied by the original proprietors, with the view of securing them from infringement. He was, however, strictly enjoined to avoid such exposure as might be dangerous to European constitutions. The opportunity of a fixed station, for scientific observations, was not to be neglected. Supplies of live stock, yams, &c., were to be purchased, and reserved for the use of her Majesty's vessels on their return, to the extent of one month's consumption for one hundred men.

The black men under Mr. Webb's command, together with such natives as might be induced to work for hire, were to be employed in cutting and storing firewood, and in preparing fuel on Mr. Grant's plan, by mixing coal tar and pitch - of which there was a quantity left in the 'Amelia' - with charcoal, as a substitute for coal-dust.

Captain Trotter further directed Mr. Webb to "consider every information regarding the territory, and the persons living upon it, as of primary importance; ascertaining the numbers, occupations, and dispositions of the various inhabitants you meet; and all particulars relative to any predatory incursions, which may have been made by the Filatahs, or others, upon the natives; and learning, as far as possible, the nature and pretexts of such incursions. In fact, it is so desirable that every information should be afforded her Majesty's Government, to enable them to judge of the propriety of retaining this portion of country, lately ceded to her Majesty, that the enquiries concerning it cannot be of too varied a character; and, for this purpose, you are to keep a daily journal of observations, mentioning in it whatever may attract your notice, and furnishing me hereafter with a copy thereof."{ Captain Trotter's instructions to Lieut. Webb}

In fact, nothing was neglected that the most unwearied zeal and forethought on the part of the senior officer in command of the Expedition could devise for the accomplishment of its objects. The variety of perplexing considerations and intense anxieties, which in so short a time crowded in upon him, were such, that nothing but moral courage of the highest order could have sustained even the most robust constitution. A Mind, however, which to human wisdom is inscrutable, has seen fit to establish His order of things in such a way, that our devices may not subvert. The officer in charge of the 'Amelia,' to whom the foregoing comprehensive instructions were directed, was almost immediately obliged to be removed, on account of sickness, to the 'Albert.' Mr. Kingdon, assistant clerk, in the 'Soudan,' was then appointed in his place, as, under existing circumstances, no executive officer could be spared from either of the vessels for this service.

  9 A.M. Ther 82° Wet bulb Mason's Hygr. 76°
  3 P.M. " 84° " 77°
  9 P.M. " 78° " 74°

17th.- For the last three days, the fever had been progressing rapidly in all the vessels, and in the little 'Soudan,' only six persons were able to move about, and these shewed evident proofs, by depression of spirits and lassitude, that the dreadful climate was too surely doing its work. Lieutenant Ellis, Mr. Marshall, Mr. Waters, and several of her crew, were still in a most dangerous state. On board the 'Albert,' Mr. Nightingale, the assistant-surgeon, was at the point of death; and several in the 'Wilberforce' in almost as hopeless a state. The scenes at night were most agonizing. Nothing but muttering delirium, or suppressed groans were heard on every side on board the vessels, affording a sad contrast to the placid character of the river and its surrounding scenery.

Nearly every person, even the unattacked, complained of the enervating feeling. To-day, Mr. Collman, the acting assistant-surgeon, was desired by Commander Bird Allen to go on board the 'Amelia' tender, as medical officer. He burst into tears; and, on being asked the reason, he replied it was involuntary weakness, produced by the climate. However, it appeared afterwards that, in addition to this cause, he had, during a little repose snatched from his duties, been disheartened by a feverish dream of his home and family. {That this weakness did not arise from any unmanly fear of meeting death, was proved by the last moments of this amiable man on board the 'Wilberforce,' which exhibited a truly edifying instance of calm Christian-like, and even cheerful resignation.}

On the 18th of September, the number of sick had increased to sixty, and death had already done fearful execution among us. One officer, Assistant-surgeon Nightingale, and three men of H.M.S. 'Albert.' John Peglar, stoker; James Robinson, stoker; John Burgess, seaman. Two of the 'Wilberforce,' James Kneebone, seaman; William Rabling, sapper; and one, Charles Levinge, captain's steward, of the 'Soudan,' had already fallen victims to the fever; and the greater proportion of the crews of all the vessels were now suffering from it, or the premonitory symptoms of extreme lassitude and debility.

Captain Trotter at first thought that if the sick could be conveyed to the summit of Mount Pattèh, the pure air of that elevated region might be a sufficient change to produce a beneficial effect on them. On further consideration, however, and consultation with Dr. McWilliam, the chief surgeon of the Expedition, it was found that those who most required such a change, were unable to bear the fatigue of the removal; and as it was the opinion of that medical officer, that the best chance of saving them, was in their being speedily taken to the sea, Captain Trotter eventually decided on sending away all such invalids as the surgeon might think it desirable to remove.

H.M.S.V. 'Soudan' was therefore prepared hastily for this service; and, as the services of Commander B. Allen, as Commissioner, could not be dispensed with, Mr. Fishbourne, then first-lieutenant of the 'Albert,' now commander, was appointed to take temporary charge of that vessel.

A meeting of the Commissioners was held, at which Captain Trotter informed them of the determination he had come to in this respect, as naval Commander of the Expedition, with whom such power and responsibility necessarily rested. Commander W. Allen and Mr. Cook thought that the reduced state of the Expedition, rendered it advisable for all the vessels to return to the sea. Mr. Commissioner Cook said, that if he were to consult his own feelings, he would say, decidedly, proceed; but from the observations which had been made, he was of opinion, that to ascend the river now, would paralyze future exertions, and prevent ultimate success; but that, if we were to withdraw, we should be able to come up again with renovated health. Commander W. Allen stated he wished to place his opinion on record, as the river would now begin to fall, and the most unhealthy season would commence, he thought it his duty to suggest that, considering the weakened state of the Expedition, and the increasing sickness, the decision of the Commissioners at their former sitting, namely, to proceed up both rivers, should not be abided by, but that all the steam-vessels should leave the river.

Commander Bird Allen said, that as we had arrived thus far on our progress, and the 'Soudan' was about to be dispatched with the sick, he conceived it would be better for ourselves, and more in conformity with the wishes of the Government, that the two vessels should persevere for a week at least, by which time it would be seen whether the sickness was on the increase. Captain Trotter considered, that as we were all aware before we embarked upon the Expedition, of the hazard we had to encounter from the climate, the objections raised against our further progress did not appear to him of sufficient force to justify a retreat at so early a period, whilst so many of us were still in full health; and besides, being of opinion with Dr. McWilliam, that we might possibly reach a healthier climate as we got higher up the river, he deemed the measure of sending away the sick would restore such efficiency to the vessels, as would afford a reasonable prospect of the 'Albert' remaining up the Niger long enough to reach Rabbah, and the 'Wilberforce' a corresponding height in the Chadda; - or, at all events, to justify our making the attempt.

Captain Trotter "believed that the measure of sending the sick to the sea, while it would benefit the sick themselves, would restore efficiency to the Expedition, was founded not only on the consideration, that the removal of so many men, whose services were not likely to be soon available, would render the vessels more effective than they were whilst the sick remained on board, but that the remainder of the crew, who were still in health, would be then relieved from the depressing influence on the spirits, occasioned by the presence of so many of their sick shipmates, and also that a pre-disposing cause of fever, in the closeness and impurity of the air, arising from a number of sick persons being thus crowded together, would be removed, while those patients whose state did not require a removal to the sea, would be benefited by being less crowded in sick quarters."

Captain Trotter, as Senior Commissioner, resolved, therefore, after receiving the opinions of his colleagues, that the same course should be followed in regard to the two larger vessels, which had been determined upon at the meeting of the 16th of September.

The 'Soudan' was accordingly got ready with the utmost possible dispatch, to receive her melancholy cargo, and Commander W. Allen was directed to send his sick on board. That officer, however, feeling perfectly convinced from his former experience of the river, and the present condition of the crews, that in a very short time, H. M. S. 'Wilberforce' would be reduced to the necessity of following the 'Soudan,' requested permission to send such only of the sick as might desire to go; especially as he considered - in which his surgeon, Dr. Pritchett, concurred - that the removal of the men in the state in which some of them were, would be attended with great risk. Only six expressed a wish to leave, the others, sixteen in number, preferred to remain by their ship. One man, on being asked whether he would like to go, said he thought we had got into a very bad place, and the sooner we were out of it the better, but he would stay by his ship.

In order to have as much air as possible for the sufferers and to keep them from the other men, Commander W. Allen had a large screened berth fitted on the upper deck, in the middle of the vessel, well protected from the sun, and the dews at night, by thick awnings, from which was suspended a large punkah.

  9 A.M. Ther 82° Wet bulb Mason's Hygr. 78°
  3 P.M. " 83° " 78°
  9 P.M. " 78° " 75°

18th.-  9 A.M. Ther 84° Wet bulb Mason's Hygr. 77°
  3 P.M. " 80° " 77°
  9 P.M. " 78° " 76°

Sunday 19th.- The 'Soudan' came alongside the 'Wilberforce' to receive our invalids, who took a melancholy farewell of their officers and messmates.

Prayers were read to the crews of both vessels. It was an affecting scene. The whole of one side of the little vessel was covered with the invalids, and the cabins were full of officers; there was, indeed, no room for more.

The separation from so many of our companions under such circumstances could not be otherwise than painful to all: - the only cheering feature was in the hope, that the attenuated beings who now departed would soon be within the influence of a more favourable climate, and that we might meet under happier auspices.

In a short time the steam was got up, and our little consort - watched by many commiserating eyes - rapidly glided out of view.

On the departure of the 'Soudan,' Captain Trotter gave orders for the 'Wilberforce' to get up the steam, and that when he made the signal to part company, each vessel should pursue the destination agreed upon at the sitting of the 16th instant.

The fever had, however, even in this short interval, made rapid advances, many more cases having been added to the sick list. Two of the three engineers were reported to-day, after the 'Soudan' had sailed, making altogether thirty-two cases in the 'Wilberforce,' and leaving only Lieutenant Strange, Mr. Green the second master, Mr. Johnson the first engineer, one stoker, and nine men, capable of doing duty. Of these several, already complaining, were soon laid up.

Commander W. Allen, therefore, having seriously considered the desperate condition to which we were reduced, and the hopeless prospect of the future, when the signal was made "to part" waited on Captain Trotter, laying before him the state of his crew, and requesting a special meeting might be held of the Commissioners to re-consider our position.

The sitting was held on board H.M.S. 'Wilberforce,' as Mr. Commissioner Cook was unwell, though his illness did not prove to be river fever. After the usual prayers, Commander W. Allen said, that being the only person present who had experience of the Niger, he conceived it to be a solemn duty devolved upon him, to take upon himself the responsibility of stating, that from the knowledge he had of the river, the advanced period of the season, the increasing sickness in both the 'Albert' and 'Wilberforce,' the difficulty and danger of having to remain in unhealthy parts to cut wood when the coals should be expended - that the reduced state of the Expedition no longer warranted a perseverance in the prosecution of its objects, more especially should the sickness continue, as from experience we were led to infer it would; and as the moral effect of appearing before the town of Rabbah in a state of prostration would be most prejudicial to the Mission. He, therefore, proposed - "That, from a consideration of these circumstances, it appears to be advisable that the Expedition should return without delay to the sea-side, in the hope of being able to carry out its purposes at a more favourable season and with renewed strength."

This advice was in strict conformity with the opinion which Commander W. Allen had given in England as to the proper time for leaving the river, which he considered to be previous to the commencement of the subsidence of the flood. This usually happens about the latter end of September, after which, the rapidly falling river leaves stagnant water on the low lands, charged with enormous quantities of decaying vegetable matter, which must render the exhalations very prolific of disease; and, if we had found this to be the case while the river was rising, and the land but recently inundated, we might expect its virulence to be increased now that the banks were so extensively flooded.

The danger, moreover, of descending the river under such circumstances, would be greatly increased. It is at all times more hazardous to navigate an unknown river with, than against the current; when, in addition to increased speed - over a part of which there is no controul - the depth of the water is diminishing by the subsidence of the flood; if a vessel should, in that case, unfortunately run on a shoal with such force as to prevent her being got off immediately, the probability would be, that the retreating water would leave her immoveably fixed until the rise of the next rainy season; as was the case with the 'Quorra' steam vessel in the last Expedition.

The Niger now, on the 19th of September, might be expected to be very near its maximum of flood, which the natives all agreed was this year unusually high, covering, therefore, more of the low lands, which would give increased cause of fevers. Thus then had the period of greatest danger arrived, and if we had found the climate so prejudicial under ordinary circumstances, we might conclude it would be infinitely more so at the period when these may be said to reach their climax. All these considerations induced Commander W. Allen to exhort his brother Commissioners to decide on returning to the sea.

Captain Trotter and Commander Bird Allen were of opinion, that although the increased sickness in the 'Wilberforce,' rendered it necessary for that vessel to descend the river, the 'Albert' having sent away so large a portion of her's, had restored in some degree her efficiency, especially as she had a good many more officers than the 'Wilberforce.' They, therefore, considering the objects of the Expedition, would not abandon it while there was a hope of success.

It was with much pain that Commander W. Allen felt himself compelled to differ in opinion from his colleagues, with whom, hitherto, perfect harmony had subsisted, but he offered his suggestions with a most anxious desire to forward the great objects of the Expedition. With his former experience, obtained in the same locality, by no ordinary amount of suffering, he could not help anticipating the results which actually followed, and however much he regretted the decision of the Senior Officer and Commander B. Allen, he admired the unshaken courage of those gallant officers.

If it had depended on human means, their zealous devotion to the cause on which they had entered would have ensured its success. If any one should imagine that the prosecution of the Expedition was too soon abandoned, we insert the above remarks, to show how unjust and ungenerous it is for those, who being themselves in safety, undertake to censure the conduct of officers when surrounded by such extraordinary difficulties; which did not, however, lessen Captain Trotter's determination to go on, as long as there was a shadow of hope of accomplishing what was committed to his direction.

It was finally determined, that the 'Albert' should endeavour to reach Rabban, with the view of making treaties with the King of the Filatahs and other chiefs, while the 'Wilberforce' should, if circumstances would permit, carry out the intentions of Her Majesty's Government, in the Bights of Benìn and Biafra; or, if necessary proceed to Ascension.

During these discussions, the operations of landing the stores, &c. for the Model Farm had been continued. Many natives daily flocked on board the vessels, appearing to sympathize with the sufferings which they witnessed among the crews; and never was condolence more evidently, though silently, expressed than by the fine old Annajah Amèh Abokko.

The Annajah said, that the Filatahs had marched down upon his province three years ago, 1838: the inhabitants, as usual, took refuge on the sand banks in the middle of the river, and their enemies not having commenced their retreat before the floods set in, they were compelled to retire from both these ruthless invaders to the left bank, where they found themselves so secure, that they have remained there ever since, abandoning the homes of their fathers, from which they have been so frequently driven. They, however, would gladly return, and rebuild their town under the auspices of the white men, if we would settle there, and protect them from their enemies, who were still at Egòh, or at Koto'n Kàrafi, about twenty miles above the confluence.

As it was very desirable to conciliate the powerful chief of Fandah, a present was sent to him by the Malam Sabah, who promised to explain and prepare him to accede to the objects of our mission, and also to secure his friendship to the settlers at the Confluence.

During our stay, we felt the effects of the amicable disposition of the Attàh, in the abundant supplies of provisions which were brought for sale. The former Expedition, on the contrary, suffered from the enmity of the late tyrant, who forbade the natives, under the severest penalties, from communicating with them, so that they were sometimes nearly starved.

19th.-  9 A.M. Ther 84° Wet bulb Mason's Hygr. 77°
  3 P.M. " 85° " 77°
  9 P.M. " 81° " 76°

20th.-  9 A.M. Ther 83° Wet bulb Mason's Hygr. 76°
  3 P.M. " 83° " 77°
  9 P.M. " 80° " 77°

Captain Trotter having prepared his dispatches, the two vessels separated, the 'Albert' to proceed up the river, and the 'Wilberforce,' with nearly all sick, to return to the coast.


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