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To the Right Hon. Lord Stanley, Her Majesty's Principal Secretary of State for the Colonies, a REPORT of PROCEEDINGS from Captain William Allen, R.N., Second Commissioner of the Niger Expedition.
London, 5th February, 1813.
Having, in obedience to the commands of Her Majesty's Government, returned to England with the greater part of the survivors of the Niger Expedition, I have the honour to lay before your Lordship a report of my proceedings, as one of the Commissioners, in the execution of the instructions of my Lord John Russell, and to accompany that report by the minutes taken at our sittings, and by an abstract of my journal, to which I beg leave to refer for details.
The Expedition finally left England on the 12th of May, 1841. It consisted of Her Majesty's steam-vessels Albert, commanded by Captain H.D. Trotter, as First Commissioner; Wilberforce, commanded by myself, Second Commissioner; and Soudan, Commander Bird Allen, Third Commissioner; Mr. Cook, the Fourth Commissioner, was on board the Wilberforce.
The Soudan and a transport had sailed previously, and after touching at Madeira and Teneriffe, all the vessels assembled at St. Vincent's, one of the Cape Verde Islands, for the purpose of transhipping stores, &c., from the transport, and of cleansing the holds. We then proceeded to Sierra Leone and Cape Coast Castle, where we presented the letters addressed by Lord John Russell to the Governors of those places, from whom we received every assurance of co-operation and assistance, if required.
Our progress along the coast was much delayed by the want of sufficient coals, and by the consequent necessity of cutting wood, when the men were unavoidably exposed to the rains. This caused some sickness, which in the Wilberforce was chiefly confined to the black men, one of whom died of fever.
The vessels also, though well calculated for the river, proved to be deficient in power for sea navigation, and as, owing to their peculiar construction, they were slow under sail, we did not reach the river Nun, the principal outlet of the Niger, till the 10th of August. By this time our men had perfectly recovered in the Wilberforce.
The operations of taking in our last supply of stores, coals, and the cumbersome implements and furniture of the model farm, and of beaching the vessels, to replace the rudder tails, delayed us 10 days, so that it was the 20th of August before we commenced the ascent of the river.
The natives of the lower part of the Delta, we found much more savage than those we saw in the interior, owing, it is to be feared, to the demoralizing intercourse with civilized man in the inhuman traffic in their fellow countrymen; they consequently received us with suspicion, and some demonstration of hostility, which however was less apparent as we proceeded.
The Wilberforce having been ordered to explore a different channel, passed round a large island; and as I deemed it expedient to continue the voyage on Sunday, we reached King Obi's town before the Albert and Soudan.
This chief, on hearing that an officer of the former Expedition was on board the Wilberforce, paid me a visit, and with the assistance of Mr. Cook, the Fourth Commissioner, I explained generally the motives of our coming, referring him to the arrival of the other Commissioners for fuller details.
On the 27th of August Captains Trotter and Bird Allen, together with Commissioner Cook and myself, held a conference with King Obi, on board the Albert, when the wishes of Her Majesty's Government were clearly explained to the Chief and his headmen. Obi repeatedly expressed his gratification and acquiescence in all our proposals for the abolition of the Slave Trade throughout his dominions; and, indeed, he acceded to everything so readily as to excite some suspicion of his sincerity, but, on the other hand, the desire he evinced to have further explanation on some points, argued much in his favour.
A Treaty for this object was satisfactorily concluded and signed on the following day, and as it was of importance to proceed with as little delay as possible, we took leave of the King of Ibu with every reason to be satisfied with our first efforts to carry out the instructions of Her Majesty's Government.
As no independent Chief intervened between Ibu and the King of Èggarah, we proceeded to Iddah, his capital town, where we arrived on the evening of the 3rd of September. The haughty manner in which this Chief affected to receive our messengers, and his apparent contempt for a small present we sent to propitiate him, gave rise to some apprehensions that we should not be so successful in our negociations here as at Ibu.
However, the Commissioners, accompanied by some of the officers and an escort, went on shore in due formality, and met with a most favourable reception. The Attàh entered with equal readiness into all our views, and his Commissioners signed for him a Treaty for the abolition of the Slave Trade in his dominions, with an Additional Article for the abolition of human sacrifices, a custom of which barbarous nature, we had reason to believe, obtained in his country; and also an Article for the cession of such a portion of territory, for the establishment of a model farm, as might be agreed on with his Commissioners, subject to the approval of Her Majesty.
The negociations having been brought to a termination more speedily than we had anticipated, We left our anchorage off Iddah on the 9th of September, and pushed on to the confluence of the Chadda with the Niger, which we reached two days.
Symptoms of fever had, however, previously manifested themselves in the three vessels, and they increased so rapidly that on the 18th of September, while at the confluence, one officer and four white men of the Albert, two men of the Wilberforce, and one of the Soudan having died, Captain Trotter, as senior officer of the Expedition, decided on sending the Soudan to the sea with the sick. As I believed that the removal of the sufferers would be attended with more danger than their remaining, in which opinion I was borne out by the surgeon of my ship, I only sent one officer and five men, who had expressed a belief that the change would be beneficial, and who therefore requested to be allowed to make the trial. All the others preferred to remain with the ship.
My opinion at the meeting of the Commissioners, on the 18th of September,- that, in consequence of the great and increasing sickness and the advanced state of the season, I considered it to be expedient that the further prosecution of the objects of the Expedition should be postponed till the next season, and that the vessels should descend the river, - having been overruled, it was resolved that the Commission should be divided. The Wilberforce, with Mr. Cook and myself on board, was to explore the Chadda, while Captains Trotter and Bird Allen should go in the Albert up the Niger, in the hope of being able to reach Rabbah, which city is the strong hold of the Filatahs, who are the most active promoters of the Slave Trade in this part of Africa.
These marauders have conquered all the neighbouring country, and have indeed no other means of existence than by their predatory incursions on all the surrounding nations, which they consider, on the authority of the Koran, as their slaves. It was therefore highly interesting and important to convince these people of the injustice of the practice, and to induce them to abandon it. As they have also extended their influence to Jakobah, on the banks of the Chadda, we had in the Wilberforce a similar task; and we hoped that by thus dividing the Commission, we should be enabled to accomplish the most important diplomatic points in our mission, within the short period that it was still possible for us to remain in the river.
Immediately, however, after the departure of the Soudan, the sickness increased to such an alarming extent, that when we were on the point of starting for our respective destinations, I thought it necessary, on the 19th of September, to call a special meeting of the Commissioners to reconsider the state of the Expedition. I then declared, from the experience I had had of the climate, from the advanced state of the season, the increasing sickness in the Wilberforce - and, as I understood, in the Albert also - from the difficulty and danger of having to remain in unhealihy parts of the river to cut wood, now that our fuel was nearly expended,- I felt it to be my duty, - as being the only person present who had any practical knowledge of the river, - to give as my opinion, that the state of the Expedition no longer warranted our perseverance in the prosecution of its objects. I also pointed out for the consideration of my colleagues, that should the sickness increase, as I was led to infer it would, both from present and past experience, the effect of appearing before the warlike Filatahs, in a state of prostration, would be highly prejudicial to the success of our mission.
Therefore, as the period had arrived which I had declared in England to be the most proper for leaving the river, l proposed that the Expedition should return to the sea without delay, in the hope of being able to carry out its purposes at a more favourable season, and with renewed strength.
Captain Bird Allen considering that by the removal of the sick of the Albert the efficiency of that vessel could still be calculated on, in which Captain Trotter concurred - especially as she had more officers than the Wilberforce - proposed that the Albert should, as was decided at the last meeting, endeavour to reach Rabbah, but that the Wilberforce should return to Fernando Po, and, if necessary, to Ascension; this, after full discussion, was finally agreed to by the Commissioners.
On the 21st of September, when the Albert weighed to proceed towards Rabbah, the Wilberforce commenced her return to the mouth of the river, which was accomplished in four days and a half, and crossing the bar in safety, after having been obliged to remain four days to cut wood, she arrived at Fernando Po on the 1st of October, where my first care was to get the Soudan ready to send to the assistance of Captain Trotter. Very fortunately also Mr. Beecroft, in a merchant steamer, offered his services, and his exertions were, perhaps, the means of saving Her Majesty's ship Albert, as he met that vessel coming down the river in great distress.
Finding some fresh cases of fever had occurred, I hastened to leave Fernando Po, with every officer and nearly all my men in the sick list; and proceeded by short voyages, touching at the islands of Princes, St. Thomas and Anno Bono, to Ascension, which latter place I reached on the 17th of November. At each of those stations the beneficial effects of change of air on the invalids was immediately apparent, especially at the comparatively salubrious little island of Anno Bono, where I remained eight days, so that by the time I arrived at Ascension the officers and men were nearly all restored to health.
The whole loss by deaths from fever belonging to the Wilberforce amounted to six, that is to say, one officer and two men in the Niger, and three on the passage from the river to Anno Bono; besides one coloured man, who died of coast fever, before we entered the Niger. There had been previously two deaths by accident. Dr. Vogel, the Botanist, died of dysentery, at Fernando Po, having been taken ill there after leaving the Wilberforce, though resulting probably from the Niger fever. Besides myself - who had it but slightly - eight persons in the Wilberforce never had the fever, viz., Mr. Commissioner Cook, Lieutenant Strange, our three medical officers, and three men; and it is a curious fact, that of the remaining five surgeons in the Expedition, four died, and the fifth, Dr. McWilliam, had a severe attack after leaving the river.
I had thus reason to feel satisfied in having come to the decision not to allow my sick to be removed, as nearly all who remained on board recovered perfectly; and although none of my men died who left me at the confluence, the greater part remained invalids, even after their return to England, I had besides the gratification of keeping my ship's company together, and fit for a renewal of the service.
The ventilating apparatus did not answer all the purposes that were contemplated by its talented inventor, who was anxious to employ every means for averting the pernicious effects of the climate; as therefore the large iron chamber, intended for medicating the air, took up a great deal of valuable space, I landed it at Ascension: but I kept the rest of the apparatus, that is, the fanner, constantly at work, exhausting the foul air from all parts of the ship, and latterly, in occasionally diffusing dried air from the engine-room. I believe these applications of it to have been attended with very beneficial consequences.
At Ascension I used every dispatch in getting my vessel ready for sea; and though I could not accomplish it by the 1st of January, 1842, at which time I was ordered by Captain Trotter to return to the coast, I should have sailed on the 7th of that month; but two days previously Her Majesty's brigantine Buzzard arrived with the melancholy intelligence of the increased sickness in the Albert, and the deplorable condition in which that vessel returned to Fernando Po; of the departure of Captain Trotter for England, and of the sinister reports respecting the settlers at the model farm, and the superintendent Mr. Carr. As, however, I had received no official report from Commander Fishbourne, I remained at Ascension until the arrival of that officer in the Albert, when I consulted with Mr. Cook, my only remaining colleague, on the expediency of returning to the coast with a view of going up the Niger to the relief of the settlers. The reasons which prompted us to consider this step necessary - departing from the suggestion of Captain Trotter, that the vessels should wait at Ascension until the 1st of June for instructions from your Lordship or from the Admiralty, - we had the honour of submitting to you in our Despatch of the 12th of February, 1842, accompanied by the minutes of that consultation.
We therefore agreed that it was desirable we should enter the Niger as early as possible, for these purposes; but I considered that, - as the Commander of the naval part of the Expedition - the privilege rested with me alone, to decide on the proper time for navigating the river with safety to Her Majesty's vessels.
It was my first intention to have entered it early in May, in order to meet as much possible the wishes of Mr. Cook, who proposed March as the proper time, which was also according to my original advice in England; but in deference to the opinion expressed by Captain Trotter, which was founded on information he had collected; and also as I had practical knowledge that the river does not begin to rise till the first week in June, I eventually fixed in my own mind upon that as the time when the Niger might best be navigated, with a reasonable certainty of safety to Her Majesty's vessels and the preservation of the health of the crews.
Soon, however, after our arrival at Fernando Po I read in the newspapers your Lordship's speech, which declared that it was not the intention of Her Majesty's Government again to attempt the navigation of the Niger with white crews.
I now deemed it to be my duty to wait for instructions from your Lordship, or from the Admiralty, in which I was strengthened by the advice of Captain Foote, the Senior Officer of the station, and especially since I was aware that the rumours of the danger to our settlers had already reached England.
On the return of that officer to Fernando Po, he reported to me that Mr. Hope the European agent in the river Formosa had assured him that no information had arrived there of any attack on the people at the model farm. The natives of the village at the mouth of the Nun also, positively denied the murder of Mr. Carr.
As the Wilberforce and Soudan were ready for sea on the 1st of May, I thought it advisable to cruize about, as the best means of securing the health of the crews; and I am happy to be able to add that, during nearly four months that we were on the coast, although on our first arrival there was a little sickness on board, I only lost one individual, an engineer, who had just arrived from England, and who died a fortnight after he joined the vessel, of his first fever.
In order to occupy the time in this necessary delay, profitably for Her Majesty's service, I made some surveys in the Bay of Amboises and the river Cameroons. In a conversation with the two principal Chiefs, at the mouth of that river, I found that, although they had latterly fallen into disuse, human sacrifices were sanctioned by the custom of ancient times. I, therefore, in the absence of Mr. Cook, who preferred remaining at Fernando Po, took upon myself to make Treaties with those Chiefs for the abolition of their horrid rites. Duplicates of those Treaties I transmitted to your Lordship with my dispatch of the 19th of May, in which I detailed my proceedings, and gave an opinion of the superior advantages of those localities.
On my return to Fernando Po for the purpose of repeating the monthly magnetical observations, towards the end of June, I was led by several considerations to the determination no longer to postpone the carrying into effect the resolution of the 3rd of February, namely, to proceed up the Niger, and to communicate with the model farm. In the first place, as nearly five months had elapsed, which I thought ample time for an answer to have reached me, I presumed that your Lordship, satisfied with the reasons adduced in our minutes of that consultation, might not have intended to arrest our proceedings; and the knowledge that my Lords of the Admiralty had been pleased to promote me, tended to confirm this opinion. Lastly, as one month had already passed away of the best time for navigating the river, I feared that longer delay would bring us so near the time of our former disasters, that we should not be able to accomplish the objects I hoped to attain. I, therefore, hastened to complete the final preparations in the two vessels; and I may be allowed here to state to your Lordship, that my intentions were to proceed with all possible dispatch to the confluence of the two rivers, where, as the Soudan could not carry coals enough for further progress, I should have left Commander Ellis to arrange the affairs of the model farm, with orders to return at once, if necessary, to Fernando Po; while, as the Wilberforce would have entered the river with nearly 40 days coal, I should have proceeded with Mr. Cook in that vessel at once to Rabbah, conceiving it to be of paramount importance to gain over the influential King of the Filatahs to the wishes of Her Majesty's Government and the British nation. The negociations with the minor chiefs would then have been easy. I should afterwards, if time and health had permitted, have explored the Chadda, with a view as well of carrying out our instructions with the Chiefs on its banks, as of adding some knowledge of that, the larger river of the two, to geographical science.
In these operations I should never have lost sight of the necessity of leaving the river in September at the latest; but if, after communicating with the model farm, sickness should have broken out, I had determined to return and abandon the enterprise as utterly hopeless.
For the execution of the plans I have mentioned to your Lordrhip I was fully prepared, and should have sailed on the evening of the 25th of June; but on the morning of the 24th, the long-looked-for instructions arrived in her Majesty's steam-vessel Kite, which, owing to a variety of adverse circumstances, had made an exceedingly long voyage, notwithstanding the zeal and activity ol Commander Gooch.
On becoming acquainted with the wishes of Her Majesty's Government, I lost no time in dispatching the Wilberforce up the Niger with a limited number of officers, who had volunteered for the service. I intrusted the command to Lieut. Webb, my first lieutenant, with instructions for his guidance, a copy of which I enclosed to your Lordship in my letter of the 5th of September, 1842.
Having accompanied the Wilberforce to the mouth of the river, and having seen her safely cross the bar, I returned with the remaining officers and men of the Expedition to England, in obedience to your Lordship's directions, and happily arrived at Plymouth on the 2nd of September, 1842.
On a termination so different from what was fairly to be anticipated, from an Expedition, than which none was ever better equipped, your Lordship may possibly look for some remarks in this Report, on the causes of its failure, and which might lead to the solution of the problem, whether the Niger may be available as the channel of intercourse with the interior of Africa. Upon this very difficult subject, however, I can only beg leave to observe to your Lordship, that I must consider this solution to be as remote as ever, since our enterprize was thwarted by a concurrence of circumstances, most of which were beyond human control; and, although I must crave your Lordship's indulgence in abstaining from giving opinions as to the cause of failure generally, I cannot help adverting to the delay and encumbrance attendant on the establishment of the model farm, which I always considered - on such a scale at least - to be premature. While, however, I pronounce my belief that the experiment of penetrating by the Niger to the interior of Africa has not yet been fairly tried, your Lordship will readily understand that it does not thence necessarily follow, that I should now be prepared to advocate another similar attempt, because the question of another undertaking must be mixed up with various considerations of difficulty, which it is for the Government rather than for me to determine.
When, on the receipt of your Lordship's directions, I sent the Wilberforce up the river again in the beginning of July, I had great hopes that the question of the climate would be set at rest, as she entered at the most favourable time of the year, and I confidently expected that her limited number of white officers would have escaped sickness. The vessel, however, struck upon a rock; and whether the fevers which supervened were caused by the great exertions of the officers, as I am strongly inclined to believe, or would have occurred as a penalty inevitably attendant on tempting a climate so inimical to European constitutions, remains still hidden. I can only state that, during a whole year's residence on the Niger, I found the rainy season to be not only the most suitable for navigation, but it was very healthy; the only fevers we then had being intermittent, which are considered as preservative from those of a more dangerous kind. I will add, that when the Expedition entered the Niger in August, 1841, the season was premature in the rise, and extraordinary in the height of the flood, beyond what had been known by the natives for 19 years. So that, by the time we reached the confluence of the Niger and Chadda, the period had arrived which I had always pronouiiced to be -before we left England - as the most proper for leaving the river.
My Lord, the voice of vituperation has loudly charged the Expedition with total failure. This I may boldly say is not true; for although the lamentable loss of life which it had suffered, had the effect of preventing the accomplishment of all the objects for which it was equipped, the success, until our exertions were paralysed by sickness, was complete; since we were able to make satisfactory Treaties with two of the three most powerful chiefs that are known.
The nations on the banks of the river Niger, as far as my knowledge of it extends, viz., from the sea to Rabbah, nearly 500 miles, and I believe far beyond, are under the influence of only three powerful and independent Chiefs. First, Obi, king of Ibu, or Eboe; second, the king of Eggarali, whose capital is Iddah; and, third, the king of the Filatahs at Rabbah, who is in connexion with, if not dependent on, the sultan of Sakatùh. With the two first of these Chiefs we succeeded in carrying out the views of Her Majesty's Government, by making Treaties for the suppression of the foreign slave trade; and although the facility with which we made those Treaties was chiefly attributable to the expectation of presents, and the prospect of future gain, - and although, also, the infraction of them may be expected, if left to themselves, - still the first grand step was gained; and I have no doubt but that if the climate had not opposed a barrier to frequent intercourse, those Treaties would have been mainly instrumental in putting an effectual stop to the traffic in slaves in the waters subject to those Chiefs. The principles of humanity, so new to them, which we expounded, were received with great satisfaction, and all classes earnestly desired the presence of British influence, as the surest means of ameliorating their condition, and of procuring a cessation of the wars which now desolate the country. Very small means, such as the occasional passage up and down the river of Her Majesty's steamers, would have been sufficient for this purpose.
But this appears to be impracticable, and if British legitimate commerce cannot be introduced to fill up the blank to be caused by the abandonment of the Slave Trade, it must be confessed that those Treaties will remain a dead letter.
The very short time we were in the river, and the anxious occupation of my time, precluded the possibility of collecting much information on the several subjects pointed out by my Lord John Russell. I trust, therefore, my Lord, that you will permit me to combine the scanty result of my inquiries on the present occasion, with what I was able to glean in 1832; when, from a much longer sojourn in Africa, I had better opportunities of collecting information, but by which, unfortunately, owing to my almost continual sickness, I was - even then - able to profit but very little.
On the important subject of slavery, which ought, and would have claimed our greatest attention, I regret to state these circumstances deprived me of opportunities of adding much to what was already known. Domestic and predial slavery, I have reason to believe, from my present and former experience, obtains all over that portion of the interior of Africa with which I have had any acquaintance. Domestic service, the transactions of commerce, and the labours of the field, are all performed by slaves. Their exertions, however, are but lightly taxed, and their treatment is in general so mild, that slavery is not even considered to be a degradation; the highest offices being frequently filled by slaves, as I found at Iddah, at Fandah, and at Rabbah; especially at the latter city, where the Baba-n durki, or "Master of the Horse" to the king of the Filatahs, was a Yàribah slave, and the general even of the Filatahs was a slave who had deserted from the Bornù army in battle.
In a country where the wants of the inhabitants generally, and even of the rich, are so few, and so easily supplied, there is no inducement to the exaction of hard labour, especially since the master participates in the natural indolence of the servant, and between whom there is generally a strong attachment. So that, except for great crimes, among which, frequent attempts to run away in recently made slaves, is the most commonly visited with such a punishment, it is rare, that domestic slaves are sold for exportation; except also in seasons of scarcity, and in cases of adultery, which last is one of the most fertile sources of the supply of slaves, next to that of war. Laxity of morals induces frequently a connivance on the part of the husband in the arts of his wife; whereby the unwary paramour is either reduced to slavery himself, or is obliged to find a substitute, which he frequently does by entrapping his neighbour. Thus a handsome wife is considered as a sure source of wealth; and demoralization, mutual aggressions and feuds, increase to a frightful extent. These causes have doubtless, from time immemorial, induced a system of slave-catching in parties, between neighbouring villages, and petty wars between rival Chiefs, of the numerous nations into which the country is divided. These were sufficient in former times to supply the demands of the foreign market; but towards the end of the last century, a portion of the Fulah, Filani, or Filatah nation, who had wandered to the districts near the Niger, and who had till that period been a harmless pastoral tribe, having been much oppressed by the native princes, threw off the yoke; and under the command of the Malem Danfodio, and after him under Dendo and Bello, his lieutenants, became in their turn the oppressors and even the conquerors of many of the nations in the heart of Sudan: and instigated by the Arabs, their friends and teachers in the Mahomedan religion, and sanctioned by the injunctions of their prophet, they are yearly extending their conquests on all the surrounding people, who offer but little resistance and are among the principal sources whence the countless multitudes are torn to supply the inordinate demands of more recent times: and whether the fearful height to which the exportation of human beings to meet this demand, be the cause or the consequence of these wars, the result is wide-spread desolation.
I formerly thought that the Niger was the high road by which the greatest part of these hapless beings were transmitted to their destination. But I have since had reason to believe, that the victims of the depredations of the Filatahs in the eastern countries, are sent in Kàfilahs, or caravans, overland from the large market at Okari, near the Chadda, to old Calebar; or from Doma and Bishi to Iddah, and thence to Bonny; and that the captives taken in the wars with the western nations, are conveyed in the same way through Yàrriba to the slave ports in the Bight of Benin. I am however certain, that until the aggressions and predatory habits of the Filatahs shall be repressed by force or persuasion, as I expressed in my letter to the Admiralty of the 1st of October, 1834, on my return from the former Expedition, there will be no peace for that part of Africa to which I have alluded.
To say precisely what are the ideas of religion entertained by those nations who are without the increasing pale of Mahomedanism, would be impossible. They are pagans, but have very ill-defined notions on the subject. Fetichism everywhere prevails, and the belief seems universal, that stocks and stones, and reptiles, -fanciful or disgusting objects of animate or inanimate nature, are deputed by good and evil spirits, to care for or mar the welfare of man.
They have unbounded faith in the efficacy of charms, - Màgoni, - which they believe can "call up spirits from the vasty deep;" and some persons pretend to have the power of transporting themselves to any place, or transforming themselves to any shape they please; or of dispensing to others exemption from the danger of all hurtful things, and from the common evils of humanity. There is, indeed, nothing too extravagant to find credence among the poor untutored natives.
Mahomedanism has made very rapid strides in this part of Negroland since the last century; and if the Filatahs continue their victorious career, they will easily engraft the religion of the Koran on the vague creed of the pagans, who, however, while they will readily adopt that of their conquerors, will still cling to the superstitions of their fathers; which even the Filatahs themselves mingle with the imperfectly understood doctrines of the Prophet.
The outposts have made considerable advance in preparing the way for a general conversion, since the Malems, or learned men, who generally have no other claim to the title than the ability to mumble a few prayers or passages from the Koran, are much venerated everywhere; their advice is taken on all occasions, and they already lead the minds of the princes and of the people. It might be supposed that this pliability would render the diffusion of Christianity very easy; but it is to be feared that it would rather be an obstacle to a sincere conversion. As all that is required from the Mahomedan proselytes consists of a few outward observances, they are all adopted without any exertion of the mind; but it will be more difficult to make them comprehend the mild morality and pure doctrines of our most holy religion.
As one of the proposed objects of the Expedition was to carry into the heart of Africa the benefits of civilization, it implied the supposition that her sons were savage or uncivilized; this, however, I aver is very far from being borne out by my experience on the present and former occasions. The people which I have met with in the interior, generally, are not only civil but very polite one to another ; "greetings in the market-place" last till both parties must be heartily tired of the repetitions, though neither is willing to be the first to leave off. In the higher classes, Lobo, the chief judge at Iddah, attracted the notice of us all by his gentlemanly behaviour; and on my first visit to Rabbah, the Sàliki-Filani, or King of the Filatahs, was one of the most courtly men I had ever seen.
The arts of life, in a high state of perfection, are neither practised nor required, but commerce is widely extended. Every town has a market on the fourth day, and there are large marts, at which neighbouring nations meet to interchange their commodities and produce, about once every fortnight. Among the principal obstacles to a commerce profitable to Europeans, will be found the dilatoriness of the traders, the royal monopolies, the very small quantity at present of exportable articles, the limited demands for imports, the want of a currency in lieu of the cumbersome cowry medium, &c.
The form of government is, I believe, generally monarchical. In some cases hereditary, in some elective. But the degree of power appears always to be dependent on wealth, which consists chiefly in the number of wives and slaves. Despotism is, in most cases, checked by the influence of the headmen of towns or villages, who have their power on the same tenure.
I had the following account of the power of the king of Ibu, or Abòb, from Ukasa, one of his relatives. It is, however, at variance with what the king asserted respecting his privileges. Ukasa told me, that the sovereignty is elective, and is vested in a council of sixty elders, or chiefs of large villages, who choose an adult, and great attention is paid to the qualifications of the candidate; among which humility to themselves was stated to be important. When a king makes himself obnoxious to the elders he is secretly poisoned by them. The king has power of life and death, only by consent of the council. In opposition to this statement, Obi frequently declared that he was absolute. He asked, "Are there two kings in your country? Here there is but one." He said his eldest son would succeed, and his - Obi's - commands would be obeyed after his death. This was confirmed by all the headmen present. Adultery with the king's wives is punished with death to both parties. One instance was mentioned in which the witnesses were also killed. In other cases the offending party is fined a slave.
This chief's designation is Ezzeh Obi Ossaï; the first being his title, the second his patronymic, and the third his cognomen. His territory extends as far up the river as the market Oniâh; and downwards to a town of the same name, near the Benin branch. On the left bank his highest town is Akra-atàn, near the Onechàh river. The name of his principal town is Abòh. I believe his territory extends but a very short distance from the banks of the river.
Ibu, or Eboe, is the name of a large tract of country extending to the eastward, and containing, probably, many independent tribes. Anno is the chief place of worship. It is a very large town on the banks of the river Inno, which passes through a rocky country. Higher up, where the water is clear and very rapid, it is called Abàïn-him - "the meeting of the waters." It is about three days from Bonny. Canoes go from Abòh to Anno by way of Andoki. The only traffic - according to our interpreter, Simon Jonas, who was a native of that country - is in slaves.
Although Obi has only two large canoes in use, he is said to possess in all fifteen, with each a small cannon lashed in the bow; they have from 20 to 50 paddlers; and the largest can carry 20 fighting men. Besides these, there are at Abòh about ten headmen who have each from two to six war canoes. When the king intends to make a "great war," he sends to all the towns and villages under his influence, which furnish, some one, some four canoes each. He appoints a chief from Abòh to command them. On an extraordinary occasion he can muster about 300 canoes, armed with swivels and muskets. In peaceable times the large canoes are employed trading between the Brass and Bonny people, - who come to Abòh from the coast, - and the natives of Èggarah, or Iddah, who meet them at a market called Oniàh, erroneously named Kiree by Mr. Lander; which latter, or, more properly, Kiri, or Ikiri, is the name of the market to which the Èggarah people resort, about 25 miles below the confluence. This was called by Lander Bokwèh, which, however, is the name of a town on the neighbouring bank. The natives of the interior meet the Èggarah people at Kiri. Thus the traders carry on their traffic on the frontiers, and never pass out of their respective countries, except in kàfilahs. This practice, I believe, obtains over great part of Africa, and may account for the difficulty travellers have invariably found in crossing the country, and for their apparently unjust detention.
The Attàh of Èggarah appears to be a powerful chief, claiming superiority over several on both banks of the Niger and on the Chadda. The native name of the former river is Ujìmmini Fufu, or White Water; and of the latter, Ujìmmini Dudu, Black or Dark Water. The first being always turbid, and the other clear. I obtained from a Malem the names of towns which he had visited, to the distance of eight days up the Chadda. At that part there are also two rivers - a black and a white water. The former, from the Malem's account, I believe to come from the great lake Chad.
I can say nothing about the laws, but that there are no written codes among the Pagans. The existence, however, of commonly established forms and usages may be inferred from the fact that there are judges. I may also add, that at the city of Fandah I had an opportunity of witnessing the exercise of justice; where the King, with all his assembled headmen, listened with great patience to a long defence of the prisoners, and delivered his sentence in a speech apparently of some eloquence.
The advent of the Expedition, and the explanation of our views, were hailed as the harbingers of peace, and the white man was looked to as the redresser of the wrongs and injuries he had inflicted. If, therefore, the paralysing effect of the climate on European constitutions had not checked us in the moment when success seemed to crown our exertions, much good might have been expected to result from the course which was prescribed for us, by the beneficent intentions of Her Majesty, and by the instructions of Her Government. But I much doubt whether a mere exposition of the principles of pure philanthropy would have attained the desired end, without the exhibition of the strong arm of power, to prevent the aggressions of the Filatahs, who are the principal disturbers of the peace of that part of Africa. The natives themselves were fully confident that the mere presence of a small force would be sufficient, as they entreated us to remain in 1833 in the little vessel Alburkah; and the chief men at Egga agreed to furnish us with money and provisions to any amount, if we would undertake to "clean the road" of the Filatahs. They even engaged that to attain this desirable end, all the towns and villages would gladly contribute according to their means. We had, however, then, as on the present occasion, suffered so much from the effect of the climate, as to preclude the possibility of acceding to their wishes.
With a boundless scope for exertion in so many interesting and important points, and where such favourable circumstances presented themselves, in the dispositions of the natives and the means of access by a noble river, it is much to be deplored that the single obstacle of the climate should have thwarted all the great efforts which have been made for the benefit of Africa. The lamentable loss of life, however, which has attended the several attempts to penetrate to the interior, seems to banish all hope that European influence can ever be so permanently established there, as to be the means of repressing the disorders produced by the great demand for slaves; or to erect legitimate commerce on a solid foundation.
The only chance of success will probably be in the employment of native agency; but, on this subject, I think it my duty to remark, that even natives, who have been long absent, do not appear to be exempt from the baneful effects of the climate, since the first fevers were chiefly confined to the coloured men of the Expedition ; and in the Wilberforce there were two negroes - one being a native of Haussa and the other of the Gambia - who suffered nearly as much as the white men; the latter, indeed, was so shaken by his long illness, that he requested to be allowed to leave the Expedition, from a fear of the climate of the Niger. It is true, however, that both of these men had been many years away from Africa.
It would therefore appear, that even the natives are susceptible of the effects of the climate, on their return after a long absence; though it is probable that their seasoning fevers would be attended with less risk than to white men, and that they would sooner recover.
My Lord, I cannot close this Report without begging leave to call your Lordship's attention to the zeal displayed by the officers under my command; and to their readiness - though nearly all had suffered severely from sickness - again to have gone with me up the Niger. I would especially point out Lieutenant Webb, and the officers who volunteered with him, to go to the relief of the settlers we had left in the interior, and I will venture to hope that the manner in which Lieutenant Webb has performed the difficult service entrusted to him will have merited your Lordship's approbation; and that you may be induced to recommend him to the favourable consideration of my Lords of the Admiralty. I would also most respectfully repeat the recommendation in my letter of the 18th of November, in favour of Mr. James Erskine Terry, chief clerk to the Commissioners, who, after having suffered severely in the Expedition, in which he performed his duties to my satisfaction, is now thrown out of employment, and is one of the few who have received no reward for their arduous services.
I have, &c.
Captain R.N. and late Commissioner.
The Right Hon. Lord Stanley,
&c. &c. &c.
Island of St. Vincent, Cape de Verds, 5th June, 1841.
Her Majesty's Commissioners of the Niger Expedition met on board the Albert, this day.
Her Majesty's Commission was read, after which it was resolved that every meeting of the Commissioners for the despatch of business should be opened with prayer.
Prayers were accordingly commenced by the Rev. Mr. Müller, Chaplain to the Commissioners.
Despatch No. 5, from Lord John Russell, was then read, approving of the appointment of Mr. Bowden, as Secretary; of the Rev. Theodore Müller, as Chaplain; and of Dr. J.O. McWilliam, as Surgeon to the Commissioners.
Read Despatch No. 1, containing Instructions to the Commissioners from Lord John Russell, dated the 30th January, 1841.
Despatch No. 2, of the same date, from his Lordship, was then read, together with its Enclosures, on the subject of Sovereignty.
Ordered, that an attested copy of Her Majesty's Commission, and copies of other documents from the Colonial Office, be furnished to each of the Commissioners.
Read Despatch No. 9 from Lord John Russell to Captain Trotter, dated the 10th of April, 1841, and referring to that part of it which related to touching at Sierra Leone, it was deemed sufficient that one of the Commissioners only should repair there for the purpose of selecting interpreters: Captain Trotter being of opinion that it was not necessary for all the steam-vessels to go there to embark the Krooman and bring away the vessel which has been purchased for the use of the Expedition.
Confirmed, this 14th day of June, 1841.
Island of St. Vincent, Cape de Verds, 14th June, 1841.
The Commissioners met on board the Albert this day.
Read the minutes of the last meeting: Resolved that the minutes of the preceding meeting, as well as those of all meetings that may be held hereafter, shall be signed by the senior Commissioner present at the time of reading the same.
Despatches Nos. 3, 4, 7, 8 and 10, with their Enclosures, from Lord John Russell to the Commissioners were then read.
Resolved, that the Commissioner who should first arrive at Sierra Leone should communicate with Mr. Schön on the subject of the interpreters to be embarked at that place. Commander William Allen suggested that they be selected from among the people belonging to the following nations as likely to be the most useful.
Shabbi, or Attàh, or Idda,
It was decided that a copy of the minutes of the proceedings at the meetings of the Commissioners should be made out and delivered to the Second Commissioner.
Resolved, that the Commissioner first arriving at Sierra Leone or Cape Coast Castle should open any Despatches addressed to the Commissioners.
Confirmed, this 13th day of August, 1841.
(Signed) H.D. Trotter.
Mouth of the river Nun, 18th August, 1841.
The Commissioners met on board the Albert this day.
The meeting was opened by prayer. Captain Trotter then stated that messengers had arrived with a present from King Boy at Brasstown, announcing the intention of that Chief to visit the Expedition as soon as he had finished the Fetish he was making.
Captain Trotter proposed that a small present should be sent in return to King Boy, as per list No. 1 in the Appendix, and that it would be well to consider whether spirits should be sent as a present to a Chief at any time.
The Commissioners considered it was desirable to cultivate the friendship of King Boy, who has complete command over this part of the Delta and the Brass rivers to the eastward, consequently great power in forwarding or impeding any communications from the interior to the Creek. That a small present, as per list No. 1 in the Appendix, should be forwarded to him by the messengers, but that spirits should never be sent when it could be avoided.
Confirmed, this 3d day of September, 1841.
(Signed) H.D. Trotter.
Iddah, 3d September, 1841.
The Commissioners met on board the Albert this day.
The meeting was opened by prayer.
A question arose whether the Articles in the proposed Treaty respecting the exercise and teaching of the Christian religion should be insisted on. The Commissioners decided in the affirmative.
The Secretary gave in minutes of the proceedings of the Commissioners in their conferences with King Obi on the 26th, 27th, and 28th ultimo, which were read and ordered to be recorded.
The Commissioners then adjourned the meeting until the evening.
Interview at Abòh (Ebo or Ibu) on the 26th of August, 1841, between King Obi, Osaï of Abòh, and Commander William Allen and William Cook, Esq., Commissioners, previous to the arrival of the Albert and Soudan.
The Wilberforce arrived at Abòh on the evening of the 25th of August, and on the following morning Commander William Allen sent a message to the King. The messenger was met by Prince Ajeh, and they both proceeded to Abòh. King Obi promptly accepted the invitation to visit the Wilberforce, and went on board, when Commander Allen and Commissioner Cook, thinking it of importance to save time, as the other Commissioners had not arrived, stated to the King the general object of the mission.
King Obi was seated in a chair in the cabin, and after satisfying his curiosity and examining everything around him, Captain Allen proceeded to explain the objects of the Expedition. King Obi listened attentively to the interpreter, and answered that he understood very well and snapped his fingers thrice in token of approbation.
Captain Allen explained to King Obi that the Wilberforce was not a trade ship, but a Queen's ship, and if Obi was willing to make a treaty with the Captains whom the Queen has sent up the river to negociate with him, let him name the articles he thinks the fittest for exchange, and trade vessels will then come up the river to him.
Captain Allen.- What produce can Obi give in exchange for English goods.
Interpreter.- The King says, he is willing to trade in palm oil, ivory, and slaves.
Captain Allen.-The English are averse to the slave trade: they do not like men who sell and purchase one another: let Obi cultivate things that will not grow in England, and English trade-ships will bring produce that is foreign to Africa.
Mr. Cook, Commissioner.- We wish to do away with the slave trade, which is unnatural and against the law of God: we wish you to learn our books and principles, which are those of an enlightened nation.
Interpreter.- King Obi promises to give up the traffic in slaves. (Here Obi again snapped his fingers).
Captain Allen.- Let him do so, and he shall be our good friend, and our Queen will not allow him to suffer, if he carries his good intentions into execution.
Interpreter.- The King says, now that he hears the truth from you, he will no longer trade in slaves.
Captain Allen.- I cannot make the Treaty now with you, as I am alone, but our Queen has sent four gentlemen to you to make such Treaty, when we are all assembled we will then negociate.
King Obi enquired if the other ships could find their way up the river. When Captain Allen said "yes," he seemed astonished, as they had never been up before, but Captain Allen assured him that it was easy for the white men to do so, and that it would become as easy to the blacks by learning.
Mr. Commissioner Cook remarked, that although our skins were white, there was no innate virtue in them: that all the knowledge we possessed was derived from God, and that God was willing to communicate the same to black men; and that the great object of our coming here was to instruct them in all we knew, if they would but attend to our instructions. After a short pause, Mr. Cook said, that by selling his subjects Obi impoverished himself, but that by keeping them at home, and cultivating the land, he and they would become rich and happy; that it is both cruel and unjust to separate children from parents, and parents from children, all which would in future be avoided, by abolishing the slave trade.
Captain W. Allen.- When a man is sold, the goods received for that man are soon expended, but by keeping him constantly employed in cultivating the earth that man's labour, in time, would be of great and durable value.
Obi smiled and said, through the Interpreter, it was true. He then held a consultation with his Chiefs, and asked whether the ships had brought up any trade goods.
Captain Allen.-The Queen's ships never carry trade goods, but the Queen has sent a handsome present to King Obi should he consent to agree to the Articles of the Treaty, which will be laid before him for consideration.
Obi laughed and snapped his fingers, when this was translated to him.
Captain Allen then spoke of the prejudices of the blacks against white men; some of the latter were indeed to be feared, but they were not Englishmen: they were Spaniards, who purchased slaves and took them away from this country, but they were generally stopped by the numerous English cruizers and liberated, which the Interpreter said was the case with himself.
Obi seemed much pleased with the interpretation, and half rising from his seat, stretched out his hand to Captain Allen. He was now getting tired of the conversation, and wished to go, but was kept back by the appearance of wine, biscuits, and raisins. He was greatly astonished when he was told that the wine he was drinking was made from the juice of the grape, and that raisins were the dried grapes. He showed himself partial to all.
He was then shown the portraits of the Queen and Prince Albert, at which he expressed pleasure. After examining the contents of the cabin he desired to see the other parts of the vessel, and arose. His attendants showed him great respect.
The visit of King Obi to the Albert.
The Commissioners having met, decided on the articles which should be given to Obi as presents, provided he should enter into a Treaty for the suppression of the slave trade.
King Obi accordiagly came on board the Albert on the 27th of August, in a canoe, paddled by twenty-six people. He was dressed in an English officer's uniform, and wore the pair of scarlet Turkish trowsers which had been given to him by Mr. Lander. He was received at the gangway by the Commissioners, and ushered aft on the quarter-deck, where seats had been arranged for the conference.
King Obi stated that he had brought a present, consisting of two oxen, two sheep, and 250 yams, for which he was thanked, and the present, mentioned in list No. 2 in the Appendix, was given to him in return.
Captain Trotter then explained to Obi that Her Majesty, the Queen of Great Britain had sent him and the three gentlemen present to enter into Treaties with African Chiefs for the abolition of the slave trade, which was held in abhorrence by Her Majesty and the whole British people. That the ships now at Abòh were Queen's ships, and not trading ships, and were sent expressly and at great cost with Commissioners authorized to enter into Treaties on the part of Her Majesty, with African Chiefs for the above-mentioned purpose.
Obi replied, through the interpreter, that he understood what was said, and appeared to be very well pleased.
Captain Trotter explained to King Obi how much more it would be to his advantage to employ his people to collect palm oil, ivory, gums, camwood, &c., and to cultivate the land, than it would be to sell them as slaves and thereby lose their services for ever.
Obi replied, through the Interpreter, that he understood what was said to him, and was willing to do away with the slave trade.
The following conversation and remarks then ensued, in explaining the articles in the proposed Treaty:-
Captain Trotter.- Does Obi sell his own people as slaves?
Obi.- No, the slaves are bought far away.
Captain Trotter.- Does Obi make war to get slaves?
Obi.- When they have a quarrel, not otherwise.
Captain Trotter.- What articles would Obi like to be brought for trade?
Obi.- Cowries, cloth, muskets, powder, handkerchiefs, coral beads, whatever is brought will please.
Commander W. Allen.- You are a King. Our Queen does not trade, she wants our people to trade with your people - what do they prefer?
Obi.- Every article - hats.
Captain Trotter.- Would they buy salt?
Captain Trotter.- The Queen's subjects would be glad to trade for cotton, indigo, ivory, gums, camwood, &c. What have you to give in return for English trade goods?
Obi.- Camwood, ivory, indigo, palm oil.
Captain Trotter.- Englishmen bring everything for trade - but rum is bad.
Captain Trotter.- If you cultivate the ground you will become rich, if you sell slaves, the country is not cultivated and you become poor.
Captain Trotter.- When you do away with the slave trade, and employ your people in cultivating the ground to raise cotton and other things, in cutting down timber, gathering palm oil, &c. the Queen says, you shall have one out of every twenty articles sold from British ships at the Abòh country, so that the more you get to sell for British goods, the richer you will become.
Captain Allen.- By so doing, you (Obi) can exact so much, otherwise you cannot you cannot force every ship to make you a dash (present), but by this Treaty you will get a regular profit.
Obi agrees to drop the slave trade, but he expects the English to bring goods.
Captain Trotter.- The Queen's subjects will not come to trade unless they are certain of a supply.
Obi.- I have always plenty of oil.
Captain Trotter.- Mr. Schön, a missionary, will explain to Obi in his own language what the Queen wishes. If Obi does not understand it, it shall be repeated to him.
Mr. Schön read the address to the African people, when Obi said, rather impatiently, I have promised to drop it, and do not wish to hear any more about the Slave Trade.
Captain Trotter.- The Queen wishes you to drop it, and if you do, she will be very much pleased, and you will receive the presents which she has sent you.
Commander W. Allen.- When people of England sign a treaty or agreement they always abide by it. The Queen cannot come to speak to Obi but she sends us. Obi can only engage his word for his own country.
Commander B. Allen.- Obi cannot sell his slaves. Our Queen has many war ships at the mouth of the river, and Spaniards are afraid to come to buy there.
Obi said he understood, and laughed.
The Interpreter explained to Obi, that he was once a slave, and the manner in which he became free.
Commander W. Allen.- Wicked white men come and buy slaves, not to eat them, but to make them work, by flogging and ill-treating them. The English Queen does not like that.
Obi believes every thing that is said to him, and once more consents to give up the trade.
Some presents were brought forward, and Obi seemed too much attracted by them to attend to anything else.
Commander B. Allen.- These are not all the presents that will be given to you.
Commander B. Allen.- Will Obi be willing to stop boats carrying slaves through his waters?
Obi is very willing, except those he cannot see.
Commander B. Allen.- Also to stop slaves being carried over his land.
Obi.- Certainly. But the English must furnish him with arms, as his doing so, would involve him in a war with his neighbours.
A conversation then ensued between the Commissioners, when Obi retired for a few minutes; on his return,
Commander B. Allen asked him if he had the power to make an agreement with the Commissioners in the name of all his people.
Obi.- I am the King - what I say, is law - are there two kings in England? there is only one here.
Commander B. Allen.- Understanding that Obi has sovereign power, can he seize slaves on the river?
Commander B. Allen.- He must set them free.
Commander B. Allen.- The boats must be destroyed.
Obi will kill no one, but break the canoes.
Captain Trotter.- Suppose a man-of-war takes a slave canoe, and it is proved to be a slaver, the officer's word must be taken by King.
Commander B. Allen.- Obi, or some one for him, can be present at the trial to see justice done.
Captain Trotter.- Any new men coming henceforth to Abòh, are not to be made slaves.
Obi.- Very good.
Captain Trotter.- If any king or other persons send down slaves, Obi must not buy them.
Obi will not go to market to sell slaves.
Captain Trotter.- Any white men that is enslaved is to be made free.
The Commissioners instanced the case of Lander, asking Obi if he did not recollect the circumstance of his being detained as a slave.
Obi and his sons positively denied the knowledge of it.
Captain B. Allen.- British people that sit down in Abòh must be treated as friends, in the same way as his subjects would be if they settled in England.
Obi replied, What you say to me I will hold fast and perform.
Captain Trotter.- People may come here and follow their own religion without annoyance. Our countrymen will be happy to teach our religion, without which we should not be what we are.
Obi.- Yes, let them come, we shall be glad to hear them.
Captain Trotter.- British people and his people may trade where they choose but whenever it may be in Abòh, one-twentieth of the goods sold is to be given to the King. Is he pleased with this?
Captain Trotter.- Is there any road open from his dominions to Benin?
Captain Trotter.- They must all be open to the English.
Commander W. Allen.- All the roads in England are alike open to your subjects.
Obi.- In this way of trade Obi is agreeable.
Captain Trotter.- Will Obi let the English build, cultivate, buy and sell without annoyance.
Captain Trotter.- If his people do wrong to them, will he punish them?
Obi.- Let them be judged and the guilty punished.
Captain Trotter.- When the English do wrong, he must send word to English officer, who will come and have palaver. He must not punish white people.
Obi agreed to this, but was getting tired.
Captain Trotter.- If Obi's people contract debts with the English they must be made to pay them.
Obi said, they should be punished if they did not.
Captain Trotter.- The Queen may send an agent?
Obi.- If any Englishman come to reside, he will show him the best place to build house, &c.
Obi said, that he had already sent two persons in the Quorra, but never saw them afterwards. How can he send his son, if those he has already sent have never been heard of?
Commissioners.- This shall be inquired into.
Commissioners.- Obi must give every facility for forwarding letters, &c., down the river, so that the English officer who receives them may give a receipt, and also so many bars for the King.
Captain Trotter.- Has he any opportunity of sending to Bonny?
Obi has some misunderstanding with the people between Abòh and the Bonny, but he can do it through the Brass people.
Commissioners.- Will he agree to supply men-of-war with fire-wood, provisions, &c. at a reasonable and fair price.
Obi.- Yes, certainly.
The Commissioners (to Mr. Schön, Missionary.)- Tell Obi, in a concise manner, the difference between the Christian and heathen religion, and the advantages of the former, illustrating it with reference to the white and black residents at Sierra Leone,
Mr. Schön.-There is only one God.
Obi had heard there were two.
Mr. Schön.- God has appointed one day in seven to be kept holy.
Children are to love and obey their parents.
No person shall commit murder.
No person shall commit adultery.
No person shall steal.
No person shall bear false witness.
No person shall long for his neighbour's goods.
Is not this a very good religion?
Obi said, Yes, very good.
Commissioners.- Do they sacrifice human beings in the Abòh country?
Obi.- They sacrifice no human beings, only animals.
Commissioners.- When a woman has twins, does she kill them?
Obi.- Never heard of such a thing.
Commissioners.- Would he like to have a Christian to teach him?
Commissioners.- Will the king make a law that no human sacrifice shall be made, no murder committed, that the Treaty be not broken in any way.
Obi.- Where he has the power, the law shall be put in execution.
Commissioners.- If the Queen make Treaty with Obi, and he should die, will the King who succeeds him abide by the Treaty.
Obi said, They will do as I command. I wish the palaver to be settled, as I do not like so much talking.
The conference ended here, and Obi having promised to come off early in the morning to ratify the agreement, went on shore.
In regard to the question of human sacrifices, it may be added, that while Obi disclaimed the existence of such a practice, he distinctly said, that it should never be allowed to take place in his dominions.
When Obi exhibited any eagerness for trade, he was always told that the English had plenty of things wherewith to supply him, but they could not afford to bring them up the river, unless with the certainty of receiving articles in exchange, and that the increase of trade would depend upon the exertions of himself and people.
Albert, off Abòh, 28th August, 1841.
The Commissioners assembled together on board the Albert this day at seven o'clock, at which time King Obi came on board accompanied by his eldest son, two of his brothers, seven of his children, and a few headmen.
Obi breakfasted with Captain Trotter, and declined to give any information as to the manner in which the Slave Trade had been carried on, saying that slave palaver was all over now.
The Treaty being prepared ready for signatures, Captain Trotter proposed that the blessing of Almighty God should be asked on this commencement of their labours. Captain Trotter then explained to Obi, through the interpreter, that the Rev. Mr. Müller, the chaplain, was going to pray that the blessing of God might be bestowed on both parties making the Treaty, and that he and his son, if they pleased, might join in prayer. After it was finished, Obi appeared agitated and wished to perform fetish (or charm) himself, but when Captain Trotter explained to him that we had not prayed to have any advantage over him, but that he and his people might be benefited through our instrumentality, he appeared to be more composed, and shook hands cordially with the Commissioners and gave up all idea of performing fetish.
The Commissioners then proceeded with Obi to the quarter-deck, where his head men were assembled, and explained again to him, in their presence, the meaning of each Article in the Treaty, to all of which he gave his assent; observing, however, that some of his people were absent, and did not know the law: was he in such case to seize their boats and punish them in case they brought slaves?
The Commissioners allowed him to the end of the present moon to make all his people to know the law. Obi then said, You must send ships to trade.
The Treaty was then signed by the Commissioners on the part of Her Majesty the Queen of Great Britain, properly witnessed, and by Obi, the Chief of Abòh, witnessed by his eldest son and his two brothers.
Flags were displayed, and guns fired, and presents given to Obi and his head men, with which they were much pleased. (For list of presents, see Appendix No. __.)
Sitting of the 3rd September, 1841, continued.
The meeting resumed their sitting.
Captain Trotter informed the Commissioners that he had despatched Dr. McWilliam, accompanied by Mr. Schön, the missionary, with a message to the King of Ègarrah, to the effect that there were Commissioners on board the British ships in the river, charged with a message to him from the Queen of Great Britain, and that they would be happy to see him on board the Albert to confer with them. Captain Trotter understanding it was customary to send a present by any one asking for a conference with the King, he had selected a few articles as mentioned in the list, No. __, in the Appendix.
At this time, about 4 p.m., Dr. McWilliam and Mr. Schön, having returned on board, made the following report to the Commissioners:-
The Attàh being seated on his throne, attended by his judges, malams, and eunuchs, and many others, admitted us, Dr. McWilliam and Mr. Schön, to an audience.
We desired the interpreter to say to the King, that we came from the captain of the big ship, who had a message to him from the Queen of Great Britain, who hoped that the Attàh was well, and that Her Majesty was desirous to make friends with him and with all good black men: that the captain would be very glad if the King would come on board and receive the Queen's message from him. The interpreter also explained to the Attàh, that he himself was once a slave, taken when a boy from this very place, but that through the instrumentality of the British Queen he was now a free man, such as we were, and such as Her Majesty wished all men on earth to be. A small present, sent by the Commissioners, was now shown to him.
The King wished to know if we had said all,- if we had done speaking. He was answered, that for the present we had done.
The King then, through his mouth or speaker, said:-
"I am glad, and I thank God first to see white people near me. If the white people are glad to see me, they must hear what I say. The late King wished white people to come to his dominions, but he did not really want to see them. I am now the King, and white people have come to see me, and I am very glad to see them. If they wish to be friends for true with me, they must not be in a hurry, for I like my friends to eat and drink with me for several days. If a stranger comes to me, I wish him not to part without a proper and fair understanding. I wished not to come out in the rain, but the white men were resolved to see me, and I imagine from that, that they had the power to stop rain coming, but it now rains as much as ever. The river belongs to me a long way up and down on both sides, and I am King. The Queen of white men has sent a friend to see me. I have also just now seen a present, which is not worthy to be presented to me, it is only fit for a servant.” The King looking at Mr. Schön's spectacles, expressed a desire to have a pair.
The King asked, whether he might send a messenger to the Queen of the white people.
Dr. McWilliam.- Most certainly. The Queen would be delighted to hear from the Attah of Ègarrah, and to make trade with him.
Attàh said, You wish me to go on board of ship. A King in this country never goes on board ship. He never puts his foot into a canoe. When white people were here before, the King never went on board. If any one wishes to see me, he must come to me. If he wishes to speak privately, I will dismiss my people. If it be a public matter, then I will allow them to remain, but King never goes on board ship.
Dr. McWilliam replied, We are only messengers, and are not at liberty to say any thing more, and will convey what the King has said to the Captain, and feel assured that if a palaver was held with him, the King would be much more satisfied.
Attàh.- Very well. I will see no one, unless the chief man (Captain) comes. Good night. God bless you.
The Commissioners decided on having a conference on shore with the Attàh, and the meeting adjourned.
Iddah, 4th September, 1841.
The Commissioners resumed their sitting, and arranged the lists of presents which were to be given to the King of Ègarrah, and the head men of Iddah.
In the afternoon the Commissioners went on shore, attended by the officers of the Albert, and a marine guard, a salute of five guns was fired on their leaving the ship, in order to hold a conference with the Attàh, or Chief of Ègarrah. The procession headed by a Tunmanee, (a black man) dressed as a sailor, bearing the union jack, proceeded onwards for nearly two miles, until they reached the residence of the Princess Ammada Bue, sister to the King, and a person of considerable influence. She despatched a messenger to the Attàh to announce the arrival of the Commissioners, and an opportunity was taken in the interim to speak to her of the Christian religion, and of the wish entertained to send missionaries and teachers, which she appeared glad to hear. She was aware of the absurdity of the fetish ceremonies, though as a woman she was afraid to give it up, on account of the loss of property which would follow. She acknowledged that human sacrifices took place on the death of a Sovereign, when it was customary to put to death the Chief's wife, and ten of his eunuchs and domestics. She caused goora nuts and country beer to be handed round, first tasting it herself to show no poison lurked beneath. On the return of the messenger from the King, the Commissioners arose, and proceeded onwards to his residence, through numerous huts with narrow door-ways, four feet by two feet. They at length reached an open court, where the judges, malams, and chief eunuchs soon assembled. The King's throne was placed at the head of the court, hidden from view, music sounded, the curtain dropped, and the Attàh was seen seated on his throne. He was dressed in a rich fantastic tobe, on which was hanging in front a large brass breast-plate, with a raised figure of a human head like the representation of a full moon; in his ears were very large circular ivory ear-rings, and on his head a cap with feathers, over the ears.
The Attàh invited the Commissioners and officers to shake hands with him, which they did, repeating the word of salutation, Sinou.
Captain Trotter.- When the Attah is ready to hear, I will deliver our message to him.
The Attàh replied, when strangers came to visit him, he gave them water first; afterwards he will be ready to hear. Goora nuts and palm wine, and beer were then handed round.
Captain Trotter.- We thank the King for the refreshment.
The Attàh.- If you have anything to say, say on.
Captain Trotter (to the Interpreter.)- Tell the Attàh, that our Sovereign, the Queen of Great Britain, has sent the four ships in the river, and the four Commissioners now present with a message to him. Tell the Attàh, that our Queen wishes her people and the Attàh's people to be good friends. A shout of applause followed this announcement.
Captain Trotter (to the Interpreter.)- Say to the King, that our Queen is most anxious that black men should not be taken away from their country, their homes, their wives, and children, and friends, and sold into slavery. She wants the traffic in slaves to be done away, (silence observed.) The Queen wishes to do away with that traffic altogether, and to establish instead of it a friendly commerce in palm oil, camwood, ivory, and any other articles they can produce for sale.
The King (Attàh) is very glad. (A shout from his attendants.)
Captain Trotter (to the Interpreter.)- Tell the King that the English people trade with all parts of the world, and that the Queen will encourage her people to come to Iddah and trade, if the King will abolish the Slave Trade.
Attàh says, If you have said all, he will answer.
Captain Trotter (to the Interpreter.)- Say to the King, that if he will consent to give up the Slave Trade, our Queen will not only encourage her people to come to Iddah and trade, but that the King shall have one-twentieth part of all merchandize sold in the Egarra country from British ships.
Attàh.- Very good.
Captain Trotter (to the Interpreter.)- Tell the King that English ships have been here to trade, but his people have been so busy in slave dealing, that they have not had any cargoes ready to sell to them; it will, therefore, be impossible for me to recommend them to come back, unless the King does away with the Slave Trade, and gets articles ready for traffic when the ships come.
Attàh will do so.
A list of the presents intended to be given to the King was then read.
Attàh much obliged to the Commissioners, and God save the Queen.
Our bugleman here played God save the Queen, the Commissioners and officers standing.
Attàh asked to look at the bugle, and was amused with its construction. He also asked for writing paper to be added to the list of presents, which was promised.
The Attàh is asked what articles his people most require, that they may be brought to market.
The English want ivory, cotton, indigo, and will send people to teach them how to cultivate the soil properly.
Traders desirous of passing through his country to other countries must pass free.
If we send agents and teachers, will they be safe?
Attàh will be very glad to have them, and will take care of them.
Our Queen hears that Attàh allows the sacrifice of human victims, and wishes him to give up this custom, because it is contrary to God's commandments - that God who made all men.
Attàh will drop human sacrifices.
Do the Felatah people trouble his country very much at Adda Kuddu and other places?
Have they driven your people from Adda Kuddu?
Will the King give us Adda Kuddu to make a farm there, to show them how to grow indigo and cotton properly.
We hope he will soon be friends with his enemies, and that he will be successful in his war.
The above remark arose from the King's stating that he was at war with a branch of his family.
We cannot go to war, but, if possible, will induce his enemies to make peace with him.
This announcement pleased the King very much,
Will the King give a large tract of land, to be purchased, for the establishment of a model farm.
The King will give land, and will tell the person now in charge as Governor, to give it up to the white men, and will send his people to learn from the white men.
Will the King send a person with us to tell the Governor of the land to give it up to us?
The King consented.
We wish to build a fort to protect ourselves, and those under us.
The King will permit the building of a fort, and will send a person with us.
We wish to have an island in the river.
The King says he is willing, and that it is good. From Jogùh to Kakanda below, the country belongs to him.
Where the King puts white men as rulers, they must let him know if the people trouble them, and white men must not forget him; and if anybody annoys him, he will tell the white men, that he and they may be one.
The King has nothing further to say, but he would like to see all the things which have been enumerated to him, and hopes to see them to-morrow.
(To the Interpreter.)- Tell the King that to-morrow is God's day, and that we do not work on that day, but will go this evening to the other side, and return to him on Monday with the presents.
(To the Interpreter.)- Tell the King that God says in his book, that we shall keep one day in seven holy. God made heaven and earth in six days, and rested on the seventh.
Will the King make a law to abolish slavery in forty-eight hours?
The King will.
God does not allow us to make any image of Him, but we pray on the Sabbath-day, and keep it holy. God made everybody; if a man be rich, God bestows it; if a man be strong, God gives it. God directs all things in this world.
The Judge Lobo promised to come on board. They did not wish to sign the Treaty before Monday, as it was nearly dark. The Commissioners retired; and that day's conference ended.
The third Sitting of the Commissioners continued. - 6th September, 1841.
The Commissioners resumed their sitting this day, the 6th of September, 1841, and having prepared the Additional Articles to the Treaty, respecting the abolition of the custom of offering human sacrifices, and the cession of land for the erection of forts, &c., they proceeded on shore, to hold a second conference with the Attàh for the final arrangement, and signing of the Treaty.
The Attàh, attended by his head men, and some of the principal people of the town, was ready to receive the Commissioners.
After the customary salutations, the Attàh was asked to guarantee the safe conveyance of messengers and letters through his dominions by land and water.
Captain Trotter.- Will the Attàh pass them on, and back again.
The Attah consents to do this.
The King appointed Hackah, the second judge, Massabah, a malam, and Bajè, his secretary, to be the agents to accompany the Commissioners to make over to them, for the Queen of Great Britain, any portion of land which they might require.
Captain Trotter told the Attàh, through the Interpreter, that the Commissioners wanted an island, and a portion of land near to the confluence of the Niger and Chadda.
The Treaties were then signed in triplicate by the Commissioners, and by Lobo, the chief judge of Iddah, on the part of the Attàh, as it was contrary to custom for him, the Attàh, to sign any document. The signing of the Treaty was witnessed by Hackah, the second judge of Iddah, and by Gibereen, a malam, as well as by an officer and others of the Albert.
The presents were then given to the King, with which he was very much pleased, and admired exceedingly the green silk velvet tobe. Presents were also given to his head men.
The master-at-arms from the Albert was dressed in the 1st Life Guards uniform, with cuirass and helmet, and attracted the attention of the Attàh very much. The Attàh sent for him to inspect his uniform.
The people in all the ships will pray to God to bless the Attàh and all his people.
This announcement was followed by shouting and clapping of hands.
Commissioners then took leave of the Attàh and retired.
Read and confirmed this 14th of September, 1841.
Albert, at the confluence of the Niger and Chadda, 13th September, 1841.
The Commissioners met this day on board the Albert.
The meeting was opened with prayer by the Rev. Mr. Müller.
The agents of the Attàh of Ègarrah being on board the Albert, ready to make over to the Commissioners for Her Majesty the Queen of Great Britain the portion of land required by them, and the Chiefs in whose districts the land was situate being also on board, the Commissioners proceeded at once to deliberate on the boundaries and to arrange the Deed of Cession, before the minutes of the proceedings of the last meeting of the Commissioners were read.
Beaufort Island and Mount Pateh, appearing to be the most eligible positions for the erection of forts, and the greater part of the intermediate country being abandoned by the inhabitants in consequence of the incursions of the Foulahs, and the King of Ègarra having expressed a wish that the white people should occupy a large portion of land, these circumstances added to the prospect of fugitives settling on the land to live in freedom under British protection, induced the Commissioners to fix on a track of land extending sixteen miles in length, with an average breadth of four miles on the right bank of the river.
The agents having consented to return on board the Albert on the following day to sign the Deed of Cession, the meeting of the Commissioners was adjourned.
14th September, 1841.
The sitting of the Commissioners on board the Albert was resumed.
The Agents of the Attàh of Ègarrah and the Chiefs of the districts having returned on board the Albert, the Deed of Cession was fully explained to them in the Houssa language, especially that part in which it was declared that those Africans who retained slaves in their possession on the land now ceded must not expect British protection. The Agents thoroughly comprehended the whole meaning of the Deed, and signed it in the presence of the sons and some of the head men of the Chief of the mountain villages of Locojah.
The Commissioners attested the Deed of Cession, and gave suitable presents to the Agents and to the Chiefs of the Districts.
Fourteen bags of cowries, containing 160,000 in number, were delivered to the Agents for the Attàh of Ègarrah, as the first instalment of the purchase-money.
Read and confirmed this 16th day of September, 1841.
Her Majesty's Steam-Vessel Albert, at anchor at the confluence of the rivers Niger and Chadda,
16th September, 1841.
The Commissioners met this day on board the Albert.
The meeting was opened with prayer by the Rev. Mr. Schön, Missionary, in the absence of the Chaplain to the Commissioners.
The minutes of the proceedings of the Commissioners at the last meeting were read and confirmed.
The Secretary read a letter from Mr. Alfred Carr, Superintendent of a proposed model farm, requesting to be allowed from 300 to 500 acres of the land lately ceded to Her Majesty by the King of Èggarah, for the purpose of cultivation, for and on behalf of the Model Farm Society of Minchin Lane, London.
The Commissioners having taken the request into consideration, decided that that quantity of land, under certain stipulations, should be allowed for the purpose, and that the Secretary should write to Mr. Carr to that effect.
The following letter was accordingly written to Mr. Carr on the subject:-
Her Majesty's Steam-Vessel Albert, at the confluence of the rivers Niger and Chadda,
16th September, 1841.
I am directed by the Commissioners of the Niger Expedition to acquaint you, in answer to your letter of the 15th instant, that they give you permission to cultivate for the Model Farm Society 500 English acres of that part of the land lately ceded by the Attàh of Èggarah to the Queen, which is not now under cultivation, on the payment of an annual rent of 1d. per acre into Her Majesty's Treasury by the Model Farm Society of Minchin Lane, London; and you have also permission from the Commissioners to hold the same for a period of five years from this date, subject to the approval of Her Majesty's Government.
When you fix upon the land which you wish to bring into cultivation, you are to inform the Commissioners thereof, or in their absence, the Senior Naval Officer of the Expedition then present, who will depute a proper person to fix the boundaries and register the same.
In the event of your wishing to hire, on the part of the Society, any houses or lands under cultivation, now in the possession of the natives, you are at liberty to do so, provided they are willing to part with the same; and you will in that case pay such a reasonable compensation to the native occupiers as may be decided upon by the Commissioners, or in their absence, by the Senior Naval Officer or their deputy, in whose presence, and that of the Chief of the district in which the land is situate, the bargain must be made and the boundaries settled, which must afterwards be duly registered.
I am, &c.
(Signed) William Bowden, Secretary.
To Mr. Alfred Carr, Superintendent of the Model Farm.
Captain Trotter stated that now that the Expedition had arrived at the confluence of the rivers Niger and Chadda, it appeared to him most desirable that some of the Commissioners should be detached to open friendly communications with the Chiefs on the banks of the Chadda, and that the remainder should proceed up the Niger for the same purpose.
The Commissioners referred to a letter from Lord John Russell, dated the 24th of April, 1841, and having deliberated thereon, resolved that two Commissioners should be detached to the Chadda, with power to act in making Treaties or Agreements with such Chiefs as lie beyond the immediate reach of the whole Commission, such Treaties or Agreements to be held subject to the sanction of the Commission, the details of the proceedings of such Commissioners to be embodied in the General Report of the Commissioners to Her Majesty's Government.
16th September, 1841.
Read and confirmed on the 18th September, 1841.
Her Majesty's Steam-Vessel Albert, at anchor at the confluence of the rivers Niger and Chadda,
18th September, 1841.
The Commissioners met this day on board the Albert.
The meeting was opened with prayer by the Rev. Mr. Schön.
The minutes of the proceedings of the Commissioners at the last meeting were read and confirmed.
A discussion arose as to the propriety of all the steam-vessels descending the Niger, as the water was now at the highest, and it was considered by Commander William Allen that the unhealthy season was approaching.
Mr. 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 William Allen stated that he wished to place his opinion on record, that the river will soon begin to fall, and that, judging from past experience, he was of opinion that the steam-vessels should leave the river, as the unhealthy season would commence in October; he considered it to be a duty to himself to state his opinion that, from the apparently great and increasing sickness which has appeared, the decision of the Commissioners at their previous sitting should not be abided by.
Commander Bird Allen said that as we had arrived at this point of our progress, and the Soudan was about to be dispatched with the sick, he thought it would be more desirable on our own accounts and that of the Government, that the other vessels should proceed for a week at least, and by that time it would be seen whether the sickness was on the increase.
Captain Trotter thought that the removal of her sick to the Soudan had increased the efficiency of the Albert, and as Commander William Allen still considered the Wilberforce fit to proceed, and Dr. McWilliam considered that the moving on of the vessels, and the change of climate higher up the river might prove beneficial, he could not see any sufficient reason for not abiding by the decision of the Commissioners at their last meeting, two days ago.
It was discussed whether when the vessels had arrived up the rivers, and at other places as far as they could reach, boats should be sent forward to Boussa and other places.
It was afterwards discussed whether a proper messenger should be dispatched to Fundah to ascertain whether the King was disposed to enter into a treaty, and a suitable present was ordered to be given to the Malam for that purpose.
Read and confirmed 25th November, 1841.
>Sunday, 19th September, 1841.
Captain Bird Allen acted as Secretary, Mr. Bowden, the Secretary, being sick - ill with fever.
The meeting was opened with prayer by the Rev. Mr. Schön, in the absence of the Rev. Mr. Müller.
Commander William Allen said he felt it a duty to state his conviction, from the experience he had had of the climate, the advanced period of the season, the increasing sickness in the Wilberforce, and, as he understood, in the Albert also, the difficulty and danger of having to remain in unhealthy parts to cut wood when the coals were expended, - that the reduced state of the Expedition can no longer warrant a perseverance in the prosecution of its objects, more especially should the sickness continue to increase, as we were led to infer it will from present and past experience; and as the moral effect of appearing before the town of Rabbah in a state of prostration would be most prejudicial to the mission.
Commander William Allen further stated that he had given the opinion in England in its general points, when first asked, and on every subsequent time, and that it remained unchanged. 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."
Commander Bird Allen was of opinion that, although the increased sickness on board the Wilberforce rendered it necessary for that vessel to return immediately to the sea, yet as Captain Trotter considered the Albert to be able to proceed, and Dr. McWilliam thought it probable that the sickness might disappear as the vessel got higher up the river, and as by concluding a Treaty at Rabbah the greater part of the duties of the mission on the Niger might be accomplished this year, he conceived it to be desirable to prosecute those duties so long as the Albert was in an efficient state.
Captain Trotter, who concurred in the observations of Commander Bird Allen, said that he and all the Commissioners must be obliged to Commander William Allen for his opinion, and must feel its value; but as the white persons on board the Alburka, when he, Commander William Allen, was in her, at this and the higher parts of the river, in September and October, 1833, had not suffered from fever, he thought Dr. McWilliam's idea of finding a better climate as we advanced higher up the stream worthy of consideration.
The Commissioners then determined that Commander Bird Allen should proceed in the Albert with the view of making further Treaties up the Niger, &c., and that Commander William Allen and Mr. Cook should proceed to the coast in the Wilberforce, with power to carry out the instructions of Her Majesty's Government in making Treaties with Chiefs in the Bights of Benin and Biafira if opportunity offered - such Treaties, as before stated, to be held subject to the sanction of the Commission.
Read and confirmed 25th November, 1841. H.D. Trotter.
Her Majesty's Steam-Vessel Albert, at Sea, 25th November, 1841.
The Commission was held this day on board the Albert.
Captain Henry Dundas Trotter,
The Minutes of the proceedings of the Commissioners at their meetings on the 18th and 19th of September were read and confirmed.
It is the painful duty of Captain Trotter to record the death of Commander Bird Allen of Her Majesty's steam-vessel Soudan, the Third Commissioner, on the 25th of October last, from a fever contracted up the river Niger.
Captain Trotter considering it absolutely necessary to return to England to lay before the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty the state of the Expedition, and to obtain from the Secretary of State for the Colonies instructions for the future guidance of the Mission before rejoining the Commissioners in Africa, signified his intention of taking his departure this day in the Warree merchant vessel.
Mr. Bowden was charged to deliver this minute-book to Commander William Allen, of Her Majesty's steam-vessel Wilberforce, together with all other documents relating to the Commissioners, and was also charged by Captain Trotter to deliver a letter to the remaining Commissioners on the subject of the future operations of the Mission.
Captain Trotter being the only Commissioner present, and thinking it very improbable that he would be at the next meeting of the Commission, thought it advisable to deviate from the general rule by reading and confirming the present minutes.
Read and confirmed, 25th November, 1841. H.D. Trotter.
At a meeting held on board the Wilberforce at the Island of Ascension on the 3rd day of February, 1842.
Captain William Allen,
William Cook, Esq.
After the usual opening with prayers, &c.;-
Despatches were read from Captain Trotter to the Secretary of State for the Colonies, and to the remaining Commissioners.
Captain Allen then said, that these communications contained subjects for the most serious deliberation. They conveyed the sad intelligence of the death of many of their companions; and the Commission in particular was reduced to half its number by the sickness and absence of Captain Trotter, and by the lamented death of Commander Bird Allen. These misfortunes, he feared, would go far to paralyse the efforts of the Expedition. "It is therefore incumbent on us to examine carefully our present condition, and to ascertain what prospect there is of attaining the objects for which so great an expense has been incurred by the country."
The first subject for consideration he thought was:- "Whether it be advisable to fill the vacancy in the Commission."
Captain Trotter in his letter says, "It is inadvisable to fill up the vacancy until it will be seen who will have sufficient strength to return to the Coast of Africa, and be able to re-ascend the Niger, and fulfil the duties of Commissioner." In this opinion Captain Allen fully concurred, believing that any appointment would be premature until the period for active operations shall commence or the wishes of Her Majesty's Government be known.
Captain Trotter is clearly of opinion that one vessel at least should be sent up the Niger during the ensuing season, for the purpose of making a Treaty with the King of the Fitalahs, and to communicate with the persons left at the model farm; but Captain Trotter also states, that the earliest time that a vessel can enter the river with a certainty of being able to pass the shoal water above Abòh will be about the 1st of July. He therefore informs the Commission that he had written to the Admiralty to say that the vessels might be expected to remain at Ascension till the 1st of June. Captain Trotter was partly led to this opinion by statements made by Messrs. Becroft and Midgley, persons of great experience in the Niger and on the Coast. The first of these gentlemen gives it as his opinion, from the difficulty he found in the Ethiope drawing 5 ft. 10 in. water at the latter end of May, that a vessel drawing 4ft., and wishing to reach Rabba as quickly as possible, should not enter the river previous to the 1st of July; if she draw 5 ft. not before the end of July; and a vessel wishing to ascend as high as Addakuddu, in March, should not draw more than 3 ft.
Mr. Midgley's opinion relates to the healthy or unhealthy time of the year. He states that the rainy season, viz., June, July, August, and September, are the most healthy; while April and May, October and November are the most unhealthy.
Captain Allen said, he was deeply impressed with the importance of making a Treaty with the King of Rabba, since it was evident from the information gathered during the recent visit of the Albert to Egga, joined to his own previous knowledge, that the Filatahs of Rabba are the oppressors of all the surrounding nations, and consequently they will be found to be the principal obstacle to the accomplishment of the beneficent intentions of Her Majesty and the British public.
With respect to the people left at the model farm there were reasons even stronger than those adduced by Captain Trotter which claimed the earliest attention of the Commissioners. Rumours have reached them which were unknown to Captain Trotter, that the infant settlement had been attacked, and every one murdered by the natives. These reports came in Her Majesty's brigantine Buzzard, by the circuitous route of Benin, and though from the peculiar mode of intercourse in the interior they must necessarily have passed through many persons, they were liable to exaggeration, and consequently not entitled to much credit; yet the voice of humanity, as well as the honour of the nation, called upon them to communicate as early as possible with those persons, and to assure their safety.
A letter which was read from Mr. Brown, a native clerk attached to the Expedition, led to suspect also, that Mr. Carr, the superintendent of the model farm, who was returning to the settlement in a canoe belonging to the people of Brass Town, was attacked by natives and probably murdered. This statement seemed, however, to be too vague to merit much confidence; yet, as the safety of a British subject was involved, it became necessary to inquire into it.
In alluding to the efficiency of the Expedition, Captain Trotter could not of course be acquainted with the state of the Wilberforce; but Captain Allen had great satisfaction in being able to state that she was in all respects ready for service, as her crew were in excellent health, and with two officers who had volunteered from the Albert, he was able to man both the Wilberforce and the Soudan.
With reference to Mr. Becroft's statement, although Captain Allen had the greatest respect for the energy and talent of that gentleman, he could not quite agree with him as to the proper time for entering the river, especially as he could not be supposed to have had sufficient means for ascertaining the best channel, and there was reason to believe that in his written statement he had purposely kept within the mark.
Captain Allen knew from personal experience that there is shoal water a little way above Abòh, but as he trusted he would be able to lighten the vessel considerably, he hoped to be able to pass that part, and to reach at least the confluence during the lowest season; and in this belief he was confirmed by the examination of the journal of Messrs. Laird and Oldfield, as well as his own charts and journals.
With respect to Mr. Midgley's report, Captain Allen agreed that the rainy season is the most healthy, but he also found that in the interior the months of April and May were not only very pleasant, but he had reason to believe, healthy; and although from sickness and from other causes the Expedition had not attained all the objects which had been hoped for, and therefore in England it may be regarded as a total failure, still, he believed, that all the ardour of those composing it was not destroyed, but that the officers and men whom he had the honour to command, who had recovered their health, feel with him that their duty to their country imperatively calls upon them to make another attempt.
It was with much regret he differed from Captain Trotter and the authorities he had quoted, but such was his confidence in the zeal, talent, and energy of that officer, that he is quite sure if he were here he would not hesitate to proceed as early as possible to the relief of the settlers at the model farm, and to complete the operations which were so well commenced.
The importance of ascertaining the state of the river, when at the lowest, is unquestionable, and although a vessel entering it at the end of July might be more sure of passing up without obstruction, she would only be 20 days in advance of the season of our former disasters. We shall then still remain in ignorance of the length of time that the navigation of the river may be open to commercial enterprise, and this opportunity once lost, such would probably be the feeling of our country, that many years might elapse ere Africa can receive the blessed light of religion and the advantages of civilization, which we hoped to have been the humble means of introducing.
He would therefore propose to devote the remaining energies of the Expedition to the noble cause for which it was intended.
And as the Wilberforce is efficient, and the Soudan may soon be made so, he would proceed to Fernando Po, and there lighten both vessels as much as possible; proceed up the Niger, when at its lowest, or at the commencement of its rise; commuicate with the Ezzeh Obi, Ossaï of Abòh; with the Attàh of Iddah; with the settlers at the model farm; make a Treaty with the King of the Filatahs at Rabbah, and then return, unless everything should prove favourable; in that case an attempt might be made to explore the Chadda.
Mr. Cook said, he is of opinion that the river will have reached nearly the lowest in January, and as before the middle of March the quicksands which compose the greatest part of its bed, will become so drained and consolidated, as to throw the stream into one channel, it will be found deeper and more rapid, at that time, than after it begins to rise, or before it has reached its lowest.
He thought it improbable that a river, which Park describes at Sego, to be "as broad and deep as the Thames at Westminster," and which in its course through a country more or less mountainous, of upwards of a thousand miles, must receive many large rivers as tributaries before it is joined by the Chadda, can afterwards dwindle into an insignificant stream not having a depth of five or six feet. Though he should not have been surprised, at its not carrying that depth through the many channels of the Delta.
He has carefully read over Mr. Becroft's statement to Captain Trotter, and although he believes that gentleman would not intentionally state an untruth, he thinks it very doubtful whether he (Mr. Becroft) possessed the means of correctly ascertaining the deepest channel between the Delta and Rabba; he would further say, that in a conversation, Mr. Becroft informed him, that, had his vessel, the Ethiope, drawn only five feet, he could have reached at least the confluence without having occasion to lighten her.
He also believes that March and the two following months will be found comparatively healthy, and the best time for transacting business in the interior; he therefore recommends that an attempt to ascend the river be made in March, when the current having less strength than during full flood, the proper channel may be traced with less difficulty, and the facilities which it affords for the purpose of navigation, can be more correctly ascertained.
Captain Allen still thought it safer to enter the river when the commencement of the flood may be expected to be at hand, since, should a channel not be found, they might, if in health, be able to wait a few days, and in the event of the vessel's getting aground, the rising river would soon relieve them.
It was ultimately agreed, that it is expedient, an attempt be made to enter the river as early as possible in order to carry into execution the commands of Her Majesty's Government.
Read and confirmed on the 11th day of April. Fernando Po.
To the Right Hon. Lord Stanley, Her Majesty's Principal Secretary of State for the Colonies, a REPORT of PROCEEDINGS from W. Cook, Esq. Fourth Commissioner of the Niger Expedition.
London, March 11h, 1843.
In obedience to instructions received from your Lordship's predecessor, I herewith annex a report of the proceedings of the late mission to the river Niger, together with a copy of my journal, to which I beg to refer your Lordship for particulars. To enter into a minute detail of all the disastrous occurrences of this unfortunate Expedition would be uninteresting, and would occupy too much of your Lordship's time. I shall therefore confine my observations briefly to the following heads:-
1. Voyage to the Niger.
2. Ascent and navigation of the River.
3. Treaties with native Chiefs.
* * * * * *
5. Model Farm.
6. Sickness and return of the Expedition to Fernando Po and Ascension.
7. Observations on origin and progress of Fever.
* * * * * *
1. Voyage from England to the Niger.
The Expedition, which was originally intended to have left England in October, did not sail from Plymouth till the 12th May following. The cause of this detention can be best explained by the naval officer in command. To this delay may be justly attributed all the disasters which subsequently occurred.
The outward voyage was as favourable as regarded the weather as could have been desired. After calling at Madeira, Teneriffe, St. Vincent, and Cape de Verds, the steamers arrived at Sierra Leone as follows: the "Albert," on the 24th, "Wilberforce," 26th, and "Soudan," 29th June.
Having engaged Kroomen and interpreters from among the liberated Africans located in the colony, the Expedition (which had now been joined by the "Amelia" tender) sailed from thence on the 2nd July, and after visiting the American settlements in Liberia, and the British settlements on the Gold Coast, it reached the bar of the "Nun" on the 10th August. The Albert, Soudan, and Amelia tender passed within the bar on the 13th, the Wilberforce on the 15th.
|Place.||Albert.||Wilberforce.||Cause of Detention.|
|Madeira||5||5||Taking coals, &c.|
|St. Vincent||13||13||Taking in coals and stores.|
|Sierra Leone||9||7||Coaling and watering.|
|El-Mina||..||1||Want of fuel.|
|Cape Coast||13||7||Taking in coals and stores.|
|Bar of the Nun||3||5||Ditto.|
|Mouth of river, (within the bar)||7||5||Cleaning vessels.|
The Soudan left England some weeks previously to the other steamers and put into Lisbon.
There being a considerable rise and fall of tide within the bar of the Nun, the steamers were laid on the ground and cleaned, and some repairs done to the rudders, which were deemed necessary. In performing this service much valuable time was lost, especially on board the Wilberforce. Four successive attempts to lay this vessel on the ground failed, and it was only with the assistance of steam that they at last succeeded.
2. Ascent and Navigation of the Niger.
The preparations being all completed, the Expedition, consisting of the three steamers and the Amelia tender, commenced the ascent of the Niger by Lewis' Creek on the morning of the 20th August. Lieutenant Levinge, of H.M. brig Buzzard, kindly accompanied it to the upper end of the creek with his boat, and took charge of the despatches for England, after which it proceeded up the river. Vessels anchored every night before dark, and weighed at day-light in the morning. The Delta at and near the creek is split up into a number of islands, or rather clusters of mangrove bushes, for there is not an inch of land to be seen above water. This creek is about 100 yards wide, with not more than 10 feet water in many places at high tide. As we advanced, the river became broader and deeper (seldom less than three fathoms) throwing off branches equally deep and rapid to the right and left. About 10 miles from the sea the land first assumed a solid form, and became sufficiently elevated to admit of huts, which might be seen here and there with patches of cultivation in their vicinity. At first the natives were exceedingly shy, and endeavoured to avoid us, but as we advanced they became less timid; the banks attained a greater solidity, and the more elevated parts were occupied with villages and plantations, exhibiting a greater degree of comfort and neatness than we had expected to find in this part of Africa. The slim, waving mangroves, with their sombre unvarying tints, were now replaced by huge forest trees of the most variegated and luxuriant foliage, throwing the shade of their gigantic limbs across the stream.
In some of the villages the inhabitants were employed in digging out canoes, making paddles, &c.; at others, they appeared to be engaged in the manufacture of earthen jars, pots, &c. In passing these villages the natives generally greeted us with a cheer of welcome, and as often as they had opportunity, came alongside in their canoes, without exhibiting the least sign of suspicion.
The river below Abòh varied from 1000 to 500 yards in breadth, seldom exceeding the former or less than the latter; several of the branches running off to the S.W. appeared of equal magnitude with that by which we ascended (and which we considered the main branch), more especially one about 20 miles below, and another about the same distance above Abòh; the latter has a depth of from 8 to 10 fathoms across it, and if ever examined will most probably be found to be a continuation of the Formosa, and will afford a shorter and better channel into the main stream, than that by which the Expedition entered (Lewis' Creek). It was afterwards found that the natives on the right bank above Abòh were subjects of the King of Benin.
After passing Abòh, the river expands into the form of a lake, thickly studded with islands, in some places it may be two miles across. The Bonny branch, which is very small, runs off to the S.E., a few miles beyond Abòh. The river preserves this lake-like appearance nearly all the way to the high land, a distance of from 50 to 60 miles. The deepest channel was found on the west or right bank, where the current was never less than from three to three and a half knots per hour. The speed of the steamers in the river was estimated at five and a half knots, so that in reality they only went over the ground about two knots per hour. Instead of two engines of 35-horse power each, the large steamers should have had two engines of 60-horse power each; two 35-horse engines might have been sufficient for the Soudan.
On entering what may properly be termed the vale of the Niger, the river is confined within narrower bounds; the ground gradually rises on both banks till it has attained an elevation of about 300 feet. After being so long among the Iowlands and swamps of the Delta, this change in the scenery was very agreeable to the eye. A belt of trees, as if planted by man, runs along the margin of the river, and another, with equal regularity, crowns the ridge of the hills; the intermediate space is interspersed with boulders and studded with clumps of trees, round which the grass is beautifully green, and gives the whole the appearance of a gentleman's park. A few miles beyond this the Niger is joined by a river from the north-east; this stream appears to be deep and rapid, with high land on both banks. Proceeding onwards for a short distance, the country again becomes Iow and swampy, it again assumes the appearance of a lake; the banks and islands, which are numerous, are all flooded, and the high land only visible in the distance. In this state it continues to some miles beyond Iddah, where it again narrows to about half a mile.
From thence upwards to the confluence there are few islands, the river is very beautiful, washing in its course the base of the Kong Mountains. It varies in breadth from 500 to 1500 yards, with a depth of from 3 to 15 fathoms, and a current of 3½ knots. On each side of the Chadda at the confluence there is a tract of low swampy country, and a number of sand-banks in the river, which renders the navigation a little difficult.
The Niger is called by the natives "Uchiminy-fu-fu" (white water); the Tchadda, "Uchiminy-du-du" (dark water.)
From the great breadth of the Niger, between Abòh and Iddah, with its numerous sand-banks and islands, it will be seen how difficult it must be to keep in the right channel when the river is in full flood, and how dangerous the navigation must be when the water is falling. The best time then to survey the river with accuracy, and to ascertain the best channel, would be when it is at the lowest, which is from January to April. This would also be found the healthiest season. Whenever this survey is made, it will be found that this mighty river, which supplies so many navigable channels through its own delta, at all seasons, cannot be less when one entire stream than after it is divided. As the bed of the river consists of sand, the channel will most probably be found to shift from year to year. Though the river assumes the form of a lake when in flood, yet there is good reason to suppose that when low its waters will be found concentrated in one narrow channel, deep enough, it may be presumed, to be navigated by such vessels as Her Majesty's steam-vessel Wilberforce, drawing from 5 to 6 feet water.
3. Treaties with Native Chiefs.
In passing up the river, Treaties were entered into with the chiefs of Abòh and Iddah, having as their basis the total suppression of the Slave Trade, the abolition of human sacrifices, and the establishment of commercial relations between their people and Her Majesty's subjects.
On these Treaties no dependence can be placed, because, in the first place, it is very doubtful whether the Chiefs possessed the power of making Treaties; and, secondly, because it is quite certain that they have no means to enforce them. The Chief of any village on the Niger would readily have entered into a similar Treaty, had he been applied to, merely that he might obtain a present.
To render these Treaties available, resident agents should be established at the principal towns on the river, with an armed steam-vessel at their disposal. The Chiefs of Abòh and Iddah expressed a great desire to have Christian missionaries sent to them. Christian instruction and agricultural knowledge would ultimately do more to raise the moral character of the people, and suppress the abominable traffic in human flesh, than any measure heretofore resorted to. The expense of these agents and a small steamer would be trifling compared with the advantages which might be expected to follow, especially in giving a check to the Slave Trade. The people every where are fond of traffic, to facilitate which markets are regularly held at several places, (chiefly on islands) in the river. These marts of commerce are well attended, and all property brought for sale is considered sacred, even in time of war! Christian instruction, and a regular demand for the natural productions of the country, are all that is wanted as a stimulus to the industry of the people. The experience of three centuries proves that commerce alone cannot effect the moral regeneration of this people; in proof of which, we have only to refer to those places on the coast most frequented by Europeans; there it will be found that the natives have acquired all the vices, without any of the virtues, of their European visitors. It is an incontestable fact that the natives of the interior are a more civilized people, more decently clothed, and much more easily dealt with than those on or near the coast.
One beneficial result may be expected from the Expedition; it has been the means of making the natives of the interior better acquainted with the character of the people of England; and ignorant as they (the natives) are, they cannot but appreciate the motives which induced our countrymen, at so much risk and expense, to visit them. The native interpreters, who were all liberated slaves, must have convinced their countrymen of the disinterested kindness of Her Majesty's Government to the people of Africa.
From the shortness of our stay at Abòh and Iddah, and the limited intercourse which we had with the Chiefs of these places, it would be difficult to form anything like a correct estimate of their character; but from what occurred during the negociations, it may be safely inferred that they are shrewd intelligent men, perfectly alive to their own interest, and adepts at evasion and dissimulation. They invariably evinced great tact in parrying or evading the various questions which were put to them relative to the Slave Trade, the places from whence its chief supplies were derived, prices at the various markets, routes to the coast, &c. They were equally evasive on the subject of human sacrifices, murder and exposure of twins, the harsh and cruel treatment of the unfortunate mothers, &c. When closely interrogated on these and other subjects, they were detected in many falsehoods, so that little dependence can be placed on any information obtained through them.
Their authority is exceedingly limited, and little more than nominal beyond the town in which they reside. As an instance of this, the Attàh or Chief of Iddah calls himself Sovereign of the Èggarah country, and claims as his subjects all the inhabitants of both banks of the river, from the Enyah market to Egga, and both banks of the Chadda, from the confluence to beyond Faundah; whereas, the inhabitants of the right bank opposite to Iddah, within one mile of the capital, are quite a different people, and disclaim has authority. They are subjects of the King of Benin, and continually at war with the Attàh. But for the circumstance of the steamers going on that side to cut wood this would not have been discovered, and credit might have been given to the Attàh's statement. The discovery is important, however, as it goes some length to prove that the territories of the King of Benin extend from the town of that name upwards along the Formosa branch of the river to within 50 miles of the confluence. These Benin people are more warlike than their neighbours of Abòh or Iddah, and in their habits totally different. They have no canoes, nor any commerce with the natives on the left bank. They were at first opposed to wood being cut on their land, but afterwards gave permission. During the time our people remained on shore the natives, armed with spears, bows and arrows, continued to watch their movements with the greatest jealousy, they had never before seen white men, and had no fire-arms.
These rude people appeared to pay more attention to agriculture than either of their neighbours. At Abòh and Iddah it is much neglected; the only implement of husbandry is the hoe.
Slavery exists in every country on the Niger; and if the information obtained can be depended upon, at least two-thirds of the people of these countries are slaves.
* * * * *
5. Model Farm.
It being an object of the Expedition to establish a model farm for the purpose of instructing the natives in agriculture, thereby to prove to them the value and capability of the soil, and how easy it would be by industry to supply all their wants from its produce, without having recourse to war or selling their fellow men as slaves, on the arrival of the Expedition at the confluence, a suitable piece of land was selected for this farm, and the erection of a fort near it for the protection of the settlement. The necessary stores and implements of husbandry being landed, possession was taken in the name of Her Majesty. All this was done with the knowledge and consent of the Attàh and the local Chiefs and people of the immediate neighbourhood, to whom presents were given. As soon as this was done, the people in the vicinity brought abundance of provisions to the new settlement for sale, and those who had nothing to dispose of came and hired themselves as labourers: nothing could exceed the good feeling shown by the natives on every occasion.
The soil of this new settlement was found to be very indifferent, but the situation possessed advantages that could not be overlooked. Mount Pettèh commands a view of many miles up the Chadda, as well as up and down the Niger: a small steamer stationed there would control everything passing or repassing.
6. Sickness and Return of the Expedition to Fernando Po amd Ascension.
So far the objects of the Expedition had been attained, and everything promised a favourable termination to the mission.
It had been arranged that on leaving the confluence, one of the steamers should proceed up the Chadda as far as it could without endangering its return, for the purpose of making Treaties with those Chiefs who might be willing to do so. The other two steamers were at the same time to proceed up the Niger for the same purpose, as far as it would be found navigable; after which it was intended to proceed in the gallies to Timbuctu, and as much higher as they could get. The Amelia was to have been left at the confluence to protect the settlement.
These arrangements were rendered abortive, and the further progress of the Expedition arrested by the fearful sickness which broke out on board all the vessels. This fever had within 19 days spread to such an alarming extent that two-thirds of the original crew were now affected by it. It was evident that the vessels in this state could not proceed farther without great risk, especially as the river had already began to fall. It must have been resolved either to remain up and take the chance of the men recovering, or to retreat as fast as possible to the sea. Had the former of these resolutions been decided on, the Expedition would have been kept entire and ready to resume operations in December following: the sick might either have been permitted to remain on board, or they could have been landed and tents erected for their accommodation on the top of Mount Pettèh. The sick in the Wilberforce were all on deck under the awnings, and by no means well protected from the effects of the weather. * * * *
By remaining up the river I believe the sick would have recovered more rapidly than they did, and they would thus be saved from running the gauntlet a second time through the Delta, where it is more than probable the first seeds of the disease were imbibed. Dr. Pritchett, with whom I coincided, gave his opinion against removing the sick, and the result of his own practice proves that opinion to have been correct. Dr. M'William, with whom the naval commander concurred, thought it best to send the sick out of the river. The Soudan, on the 19th of September, and in two days afterwards the Wilberforce, were despatched down the river, while the Albert made an attempt to reach the highest navigable point; she did not, however, succeed in getting beyond Egga, (which is about 40 miles above the confluence,) when she was obliged to return, captain, officers, and engineers being all attacked with fever.
The Soudan reached the bar of the Nun on the 22nd, where she was fortunate enough to find Her Majesty's brig Dolphin, to which vessel the sick were transferred and conveyed to Ascension.
The Wilberforce, after having been detained at several places cutting wood, reached the Nun on the 25th, where she met with a farther detention of four days in procuring fuel sufficient to carry her to Fernando Po, at which island she arrived on the 1st October in the most helpless condition, with but one officer on board beside the doctor fit to do duty. By the kind assistance of Lieutenant Blunt and the officers and crew of the Pluto, she was supplied with coals and enabled to leave Clarence on the 9th, having on board an engineer from that vessel. After calling at the islands of Princes, St. Thomas, and Annobon, she arrived at Ascension on the 17th November. The Albert arrived at the same place on the 28th February following.
7. Observations on the Origin and Progress of the Fever.
The fever, from the ravages of which the objects of the Expedition had been thus frustrated, first showed itself on board the Wilberforce, immediately after leaving Grand Bassa, a port on the Kroo coast, where she had put in to procure wood and water. The disease at that time was chiefly confined to those coloured men who had joined the Expedition in England, and who, upon this occasion, were most exposed to the wet and damp. One of these died; the others recovered and were all convalescent when the Expedition commenced the ascent of the river. On board the Albert they had one case of fever, which terminated fatally at the mouth of the Nun. With these exceptions, there was no cause for alarm; the crews were in the enjoyment of good health and spirits until the ships reached Iddah, where the disease broke out anew with increased virulence, and spread so rapidly that, within 19 days, two-thirds of the original crew were prostrated by it.
This fever differed from the yellow fever of the West Indies, and, indeed, from anything of the kind which I had ever seen before. The medical gentlemen, though possessing the highest professional attainments, confessed they did not understand it. Such being the case, no systematic course could be pursued in its treatment, (I speak more especially of what occurred on board the Wilberforce.) Nothing, however, was left undone that could be effected by the most consummate medical skill, backed by the most unwearied and humane attention.
Dr. Pritchett's professional skill may be tested by his successful practice, as may be seen by reference to Report, Appendix __; but his cheerful demeanour and unwearied attention to his numerous patients, under the most trying circumstances, must have been witnessed to be fully appreciated. At one time he had upwards of 30 fever patients to attend to night and day without an assistant; during which time he was far from being in the enjoyment of good health himself.
This gentleman's report will treat more fully of the disease.
* * * * *
In drawing up this report I have endeavoured to represent things as they appeared to myself, without reference to the opinion of others on the same subject. The observations on climate seasons, sickness, &c., are founded on the experience of many years spent in a tropical climate nearly resembling that of the Niger.
The precarious state of my health since my return from Africa has prevented my furnishing your Lordship with this document at an earlier period.
Copy of a LETTER from Sir T.F. Buxton, Bart., to G.W. Hope, Esq.
Northrepps, near Norwich, March 16, 1843.
I request you will be so obliging as to inform Lord Stanley that I have received the papers relative to the Expedition to the river Niger, sent for my inspection; and that I beg to express to his Lordship my sincere thanks for this favour.
Allow me to say that it appears to me that one point has not been sufficiently noticed. Lieutenant Webb, in a letter to myself, dated the 12th instant, says, "As far as I could gather from the settlers, they had not materially suffered in point of health; indeed the climate seemed to be no obstacle whatever to their prosperity. One or two of the black crew of the Wilberforce had a slight attack of intermittent fever, which I attributed to the effect of hard and trying work when we were on the rock; for instance, baling the coals out of the forehold, up to their middles in water, which exposure would, in all probability, have led to the same results on any other part of the coast."
I think this fact of sufficient importance to be put upon record, because, though I do not expect that we shall again send out an Expedition principally composed of white men, yet it may be in contemplation hereafter to make the same effort, with a crew composed of persons of colour, in which case it would be very desirable that a fact so decisive relative to the climate, and resting upon such good authority, should be known.
I have, &c.,
(Signed) T. Fowell Buxton.
G. W. Hope, Esq., M.P.,
&c. &c. &c.
Copy of a LETTER from G.W. Hope, Esq., to Captain Trotter, R.N.
Downing-Street, April 3, 1843.
I am directed by Lord Stanley to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 15th March, transmitting your Report of the proceedings of the late Niger Expedition, entrusted to your command.
His Lordship desires me to take this opportunity of conveying to yourself, and to the other members of the late Expedition, an expression of the sense entertained by his Lordship of the zeal and ability manifested by yourself, and those under your command, in the attempt to execute the objects of the Expedition under very difficult circumstances, and at great personal risk to all who were engaged in it.
I am, &c.,
(Signed) G.W. HOPE.
Captain Trotter, R.N.,
&c. &c. &c.
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