William Allen's Narrative of the 1841 Niger expedition
William Allen's Narrative of the 1841 Niger expedition

Royal Navy1841 Niger expeditionBookChapter XV ◄► Appendix (part 2)



[Royal Commission of the Commissioners]

VICTORIA, by the grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, Queen, Defender of the Faith, to our trusty and well-beloved Henry Dundas Trotter, Esquire, Captain in our Royal Navy, William Allen and Bird Allen, Esquires, Commanders in our Royal Navy, and William Cook, Esquire, greeting. We, reposing especial Trust and Confidence in your Loyalty, Integrity, and Ability, do, by these presents, constitute and appoint you and each of you to be our Commissioners to proceed to Africa, and there to make and conclude with the Chief Rulers on the western coast thereof, and in the River Niger, such arrangements or agreements as you shall be empowered by Us, or by One of our Principal Secretaries of State on Our behalf, to propose to the said Chiefs, to the end of obtaining their concurrence in the suppression of the Traffic in Slaves, and in the establishment of lawful Commerce between our Subjects and the Natives of the countries aforesaid. And We do hereby require all our Officers, Ministers, and loving Subjects, to be aiding and assisting to you, and each of you, in the execution of this Our Commission.

Given at Our Court at Windsor, the Fifteenth day of September, One thousand eight hundred and forty, in the Fourth Year of Our Reign.

By Her Majesty's Command,

Captain Henry Dundas Trotter, Commander William Allen, Commander Bird Allen, and William Cook, Esquire, Commissioners for making and concluding Agreements with the Chief Rulers of the Western Coast of Africa, for the Suppression of the Traffic in Slaves, and the establishment of a lawful Commerce. 

[Government instructions to the Commissioners]

No. I.

Downing Street, January 30, 1841.


Her Majesty being earnestly desirous to put down entirely that traffic in slaves, and to substitute, instead thereof, a friendly commercial intercourse between her Majesty's subjects and the natives of Africa; and her Majesty having determined to send persons of trust to open a communication with the native African Chiefs, and where it shall appear expedient to conclude, in her Majesty's name, with those chiefs, agreements calculated to attain the salutary objects above declared. Her Majesty has been pleased to approve, that an Expedition shall be sent for this purpose to the several African states, which are situated on or near the sea coast, within the Bights of Benìn and Biafra, or within the mouths of the chief rivers, which open into the said Bights, and up and within the River Niger and its tributary streams, as far as they shall be navigable for steamers of the size and draught of those which may accompany and form part of the Expedition; or, in the event of the Niger and its tributaries not proving navigable for vessels of this size and draught, to proceed, either by land or water, to any place or places on their banks, or to any countries lying within a distance convenient to be reached, where, in the opinion of the Commissioners named in the accompanying Commission, it may be important and advisable to treat with the native chiefs, in conformity with the main objects of this Expedition: and her Majesty having the fullest trust and confidence in your tried fidelity, zeal for the service, your prudence and ability, has, by the accompanying Commission under her Royal Sign Manual, been pleased to appoint you to be the Commissioners, to accompany and form part of the Expedition for the aforesaid purpose described; and her Majesty has further been pleased to command me to give you the following instructions for your guidance: -

l. I am, in the first instance, commanded to impress upon you her Majesty's injunctions, that you act always, and in all points respecting your commission, cordially and in unison with each other. You will not withhold from each other the free expression of any variance of opinion; but you will distinctly understand, that if, after due consideration, you cannot agree, the opinion of that gentleman is to prevail, whose name stands first in the Commission which her Majesty has been pleased to give to you.

In such event, however, each dissentient will, if he sees sufficient reason, record, in writing, his opinion, for the information of her Majesty's Government.

2, 3. The first commission, as commander of the naval portion of the Expedition, consisting of three of her Majesty's steam-vessels, built expressly for this service, commanded respectively by the first, second, and third Commissioners, will receive instructions from the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty, to take on board the fourth Commissioner, and proceed to the River Niger, touching at Sierra Leone and Cape Coast Castle.

4. You will deliver to her Majesty's Governor of Sierra Leone, the letter addressed to him, which accompanies these instructions, you will explain to him and to her Majesty's Commissioners of the mixed Commission Courts established in that colony, the objects of your Commission; you will request them to afford to you such information and advice as they can give towards assisting you in the accomplishment of those objects; the substance of which information you will forward to this once, and you will preserve all written communications.

5. You are at liberty to select at Sierra Leone, or at any part of the African continent, within the limit of your Commission, and to take with you, as volunteers, any native Africans, or persons of African descent, whom you may meet with there, and who, in your opinion, may be likely to be of use to you as interpreters, or otherwise, and who may be willing to accompany you on a fair and moderate remuneration, which you are hereby authorized to make to them for their services on this Commission, provided that such remuneration does not exceed the amount allowed in the Parliamentary Grant.

6. On your arrival at Cape Coast Castle, you will deliver the accompanying letter to Mr. Maclean, the President of the Court of Magistrates of that settlement. You will explain to him the objects of your Commission, and you will obtain from him what information you can respecting the present state of those neighbouring parts of Africa to which your Commission extends, particularly the Bights of Benìn and Biafra, and respecting any other matters which may be of use to you towards the attainment of the objects of your Commission.

7. In case you visit Fernando Po, you will find that the gentlemen entrusted with the management of the concerns of the British Commercial establishment there, is in possession of an instruction from the West African Company, of which I annex a copy, and you will obtain from him what information you can for facilitating the objects of your Commission.

8. Arrangements will be made by the Admiralty for the purpose of enabling you, on your arrival at the mouth of the Niger, to proceed with the least possible delay through the unhealthy marshes of the Delta, till you reach Eboe, where you will immediately commence operations, with the view to the execution of the principal objects of your Commission. From that point you will begin to visit as you proceed, and prosecute those objects with the several native chiefs in succession, up to the highest point of the Niger and its tributaries, which you may be able to reach. But, if circumstances with which her Majesty's Government are not acquainted, should, in your opinion, render it expedient to change the order in which it is otherwise prescribed to you to make those visits, you are at liberty to do so. You will, however, in case of making any such alteration, transmit to me, for the information of her Majesty's Government, as occasion offers, a statement of the reasons which have weighed with you in that proceeding.

9. Her Majesty's Government do not limit to any particular period, your stay at one place; but you will consider it as an indispensable instruction, not to continue so long at any one place as to risk the successful prosecution of the objects of your Commission at the remainder.

10. On your arrival at each native settlement, you will ascertain the proper mode for opening a communication with the chief; and in all your intercourse with him, you will take care that you are treated by him with proper respect; and you will not neglect, also, to treat him with the respect which is due to the rank which belongs to him.

11. You will tell the chief, that you are sent by the Queen of Great Britain and Ireland, to express her Majesty's wish to establish friendly relations with him, and to settle and agree with him for the extinction of the foreign traffic in slaves in his dominions; and for the substitution, instead thereof, of a full and free intercourse and barter of all articles of innocent trade between the subjects of her Majesty and those of such Chief, for his profit and advantage, and for the mutual use and comfort and benefit of the subjects of both countries. You will ask him what articles he and his subjects are in want of, and you will express generally the readiness of this country to supply them. You will ask him what articles of trade he and his subjects wish to dispose of, and you will express generally the readiness of this country to purchase them. You will inquire what further articles of native growth, or produce, or manufacture his country can supply, as articles of useful export trade with Great Britain, and you will encourage him to the cultivation or production thereof, by expressing generally the readiness of this country to take off his hands, on fair and reasonable terms of barter, all such articles of useful trade for this country, as he can supply, in return for all such articles of use and comfort, and advantage to himself, as he requires.

12. You will show to him the advantages of putting down the foreign Slave Trade, and of building upon that abolition a lawful and innocent trade. You will say to him, that his subjects will thereby be induced to cultivate the soil, to value their habitations, to increase their produce, and to behave well, in order to keep the advantage which that produce will give to them; that they will thus become better subjects and better men, and that his possessions will thus become more full of what is valuable. You will impress upon him, that he himself will no longer need to make, or to keep up quarrels with his neighbours, or to undertake distant and dangerous wars, or to seek out causes of punishment to his own subjects, for the sake of producing from the odious trade in slaves an income to himself.

You will explain to him, that the people of this country will, out of the produce of labour in cultivating, gathering, and preparing articles for trade, bring to him more revenues, and be consequently more valuable to him.

13. You will tell him that her Majesty, desirous to make that innocent commerce, which is a benefit to all nations, a peculiar benefit to himself, proposes that, upon his abolishing the Slave Trade, not only he and his subjects shall have this free and advantageous commerce, but that he himself shall have, for his own share, and without any payment on his part, a sum not exceeding one twentieth part value of every article of British merchandize brought by British ships and sold in his dominions; such proportion to be taken by himself, without any reference to the amount of articles for which the remaining nineteen twentieths shall be bartered with him or with his subjects; and you will make agreements with him on this subject conformable, as far as possible, with the draft agreement. You will, where possible, stipulate in return for a free right of barter for his subjects, and the abolition of any monopoly in his own favour, should such exist.

14. While explaining to the Chief the profit to be derived from the cultivation of the soil, you will not fail, on all proper occasions, so far as you may deem it expedient and compatible with the main objects of your mission, to draw his attention to the superior advantages of Free over Slave Labour; to impress upon him the impolicy, as well as the injustice of slavery, and to acquaint him with the abhorrence in which it is held by her Majesty and the people of England. You may remind him of the large tracts of waste land in his possession; state how unprofitable they are to him at present, and inform him, that if he could procure such land to be cultivated by his subjects on a system of free labour, he would be justly entitled to receive a considerable share of the increased profits; far more than enough to counterbalance all the profits which could possibly arise from the continuance of the Slave Trade. You may further remind him, that every man naturally works harder for himself than for another, and is more economical and more careful of his own property; consequently, that the produce of the country would be much greater by free labour than by any other system, and that he would derive a double advantage; first, from his share of the produce as a landlord, and afterwards from the duties he would get as Chief on the sale of the remainder. You may further intimate to him, that a compliance with the wish of her Majesty's Government and her people in this respect, would certainly increase her Majesty's interest in his welfare, and enable her Majesty and her people to render much greater assistance and encouragement in improving the condition of himself and his people, than could be afforded them during the continuance of a system of Slave labour. But you must always bear in mind that the main object of your Commission is the extinction of the Foreign Slave Trade, and all other points must for the present be considered subordinate.

15. You will, at the proper time, exhibit the presents with which you are furnished from Her Majesty, as proofs of the desire of friendship which the Queen entertains towards the Chief, and as samples of the articles, with which among others. this country will be glad to supply himself and his subjects in as great a quantity, as they shall want and wish, on fair and reasonable terms of barter.

You should not distribute these presents to any of the Chiefs, except in those cases where you are satisfied that the interests of the Commission in which you are employed imperatively require it; and further, you will also bear in mind the necessity of giving no more than is absolutely requisite; and especially with a view to avoid all possibility of in future impeding ordinary traffic with British or other merchants. In case any of the Chiefs or Headmen of the country should be willing to make presents, you are authorized to exercise your discretion in receiving or rejecting the same; all presents received being for the use of Her Majesty.

16. You will finally propose to him an Agreement upon the basis of the Draft with which you are herewith furnished.

17. If, after earnestly discussing this matter with the Chief, you shall find that your arguments have not so far prevailed with him, as to induce him to enter into this Agreement for the extinction of the Foreign Slave Trade in his dominions; and if he shall resolutely resist your suggestions and the wishes of Her Majesty to that effect; you will entreat and urge him to reconsider this matter, you will ask him to assemble his elders or Headmen, and consult with them before he finally rejects the proposals made by you.

18. You will, if permitted to be present at such conference, declare that the Queen, your Sovereign, however powerful, is anxious only to promote peace and prosperity among them; that she offers them, through you, every advantage that they can want, and that she can give towards increasing, in a harmless and sure way, the wealth and power of the country; that you come but to ask them to give up the custom of exporting human beings as slaves, and, in return to offer them a more profitable substitute in innocent trade; that if they wish, moreover, any help towards the production of any article, or introduction of any commodity or art for the benefit of their country, your Sovereign is disposed to assist them, and her subjects will be willing to supply, at a moderate rate, what they desire; and that you will express to Her Majesty their wishes, and forward their views to that effect.

19. While you describe the power and wealth of your country, you will, in all your interviews with the African Chiefs, and with other African natives, on the subject of the suppression of the Slave Trade, abstain carefully from any threat or intimation that hostilities upon their territory will be the result of their refusal to treat. You will state, that the Queen and people of England profess the Christian religion; that by this religion they are commanded to assist in promoting good-will, peace, and brotherly love, among all nations and men; and that, in endeavouring to commence a further intercourse with the African nations, Her Majesty's Government are actuated and guided by these principles. You will make allowance for the motives of fear, of distrust, of jealousy, of suspicion, by which native Africans, unaccustomed to treat with Europeans, in this formal way, may at first naturally view the overtures made to them. You will make allowance also for the misunderstanding either of language, of manner, or of conduct, or of your object in seeking intercourse with them; you will also allow for any hardness of feeling you may witness in them on the subject of Slave Trade, a hardness naturally engendered by the exercise of that traffic, and perhaps, in some cases, increased by intercourse with the lowest and basest of Europeans. You will endeavour to convince them by courtesy, by kindness, by patience and forbearance, of your most persevering desire to be on good terms with them: and you will be most careful to exhibit no signs of needless mistrust. You will, on all occasions, keep a strict watch so that no mischief may from open force, or secret wile of the natives, ensue to the lives, liberties and properties of yourselves, and of others committed to your care; and with this view, you will be careful to be provided with adequate means for defence as far as possible; but you will on no account, have recourse to arms, excepting for the purpose of defence, and you will bear in mind that the language and conduct prescribed to you in this paragraph, is that which you are to observe on all occasions in the course of your Commission.

20. If after all your attempts to attain the immediate object of your Commission you shall fail in it, you will conclude by telling the Chief and his Headmen, that Her Majesty is bound to use all her naval means, in conformity with treaties already entered into with other great powers, to endeavour entirely to put a stop to the exportation of Slaves, from the dominions of every African Chief, and that the Chief and his subjects will, when perhaps too late, see cause to regret their conduct.

21. In those cases, in which all your arguments and representations failing, you will have been obliged to leave the Chief and his country without accomplishing the immediate objects of your mission, you will be careful still, even at parting, to leave that chief and his country, in a friendly manner, in order to give room for future overtures, and for a reconsideration of the kindly meant efforts of Her Majesty; and you will, if time and circumstances allow it, take an opportunity of visiting again those Chiefs who, in your first visit declined your overtures, and strengthened by the weight which your success elsewhere may have given to your negociations, you will again urge the Chiefs to conclude an agreement on the before-mentioned basis of the abolition of the Slave Trade.

22. In those cases in which you shall succeed in inducing the Chief to make an agreement on the basis proposed, you will, where necessary, induce his Headmen to join in the agreement, and further urge him to make and proclaim immediately the law of Abolition of the Foreign Slave Trade; and if time will permit, you will stay to be witness of the immediate effects of the proceeding.

23. Two Stipulations are inserted at the end of the agreement, which is to be proposed to the African Chiefs, under the head of Additional terms for Special Cases.

These additional terms are not to be proposed to the African Chiefs generally, but to those Chiefs only to whom you may deem it especially expedient or desirable to submit such stipulations for their acceptance; and in no case are those additional terms, whether they shall be agreed to, wholly, or in part, to be inserted in the body of the agreement, but to be added to it as separate articles.

24. The first stipulation is for abolishing human sacrifices. Her Majesty's Government are anxious as a general principle, that you should show that your Government and yourselves respect the laws and usages and habits of the people you are commanded to confer with. But in the case of human sacrifices, the doctrines of the Christian religion, as well as all natural principles of right and wrong, so utterly prohibit them, and the practice is so certain to perpetuate barbarism, and so calculated to prevent all safe and profitable communication, that you are authorized in this case to make an exception from the general rule of not interfering with the domestic institutions of each State.

Wherever, therefore you shall find that human sacrifices exist, you will earnestly entreat the Chief to consider the reasons for complying with the earnest wish of our Queen who desires their welfare, and who is so powerful a friend to them and to all whom she protects. You will, if necessary and prudent, assemble the Headmen, and urge to them as well as to the Chief, the considerations which should prompt them to abolish the practice, viz.:

The general and inevitable effect of human sacrifices in lessening the population; and the particular evil of the practice in depriving the country, at times, of persons the most serviceable to it, at the moment when they are most needed, the consequence in all cases of producing misery in the family from which the victim is selected; the utter subversion of all principles of justice, in taking away the life of any person without any offence having been committed by the individual; the feeling of general insecurity of life, which such a practice produces, and the necessary abhorrence of Him who has created all Men, to an act which is against every tie of human affection, and to a punishment which makes no distinction between innocence and crime.

You will earnestly entreat them to consider the great truths you have told them, and to break the bonds which chain them to this practice.

But you will insist on this point no further, than by anxious exhortation, and by affectionate advice; and should you fail at present, you will leave it to time, and repeated council, to produce a change so devoutly to be wished.

25. The second stipulation is for a purchase of land, for the erection of a Fort.

It is considered desirable by her Majesty's Government, to have power to erect one or more small Forts on the Niger, from whence, and by means of which, to watch over the due execution of the agreements, to assist in the abolition of the Slave Trade, and to protect and further the innocent trade of her Majesty's subjects.

Bearing these views in mind, you will, in your course up that river, select some one or more appropriate spots for the erection of Forts for the above-mentioned purposes; and you will make with the Chief of the country a conditional bargain for the land, stating the purpose for which it is intended; you will pay down a small portion of the price, as security for the purchase and permission; and you will send or bring home, for the consideration and ultimate decision of her Majesty's government, reports and drawings explanatory of the spot, and of its capabilities.

The spots should be chosen with reference both to defence and salubrity; to soil and to climate, not only of the spots themselves, but also of the immediate neighbourhood on both sides of the river; because the miasma from one side of the river will frequently, if carried by winds, produce diseases on the other side. They should be places where vessels may securely anchor, and ride in safety. They should be in situations to which natives are likely to resort for trade, and, if possible, in situations where natives have been accustomed to resort for that purpose. Means of a ready communication with the interior are also desirable for the positions, so that persons wishing to visit the interior from thence, for purposes of commerce, or otherwise, may there find facilities for those objects. They should be in a neighbourhood where supplies for vessels may be got, and in a country where the inhabitants are well disposed towards friendly communication with British subjects; and they will be preferably situated, if not far from some considerable mass of habitations. The establishment of a position near to the confluence of the rivers Niger and Tchadda, would, with its other advantages, have the additional and important one, that it would assist the British trade with both rivers.

26. You will promise to those Chiefs who shall sincerely aid in the views of her Majesty, in abolishing the Slave Trade, that you will do all in your power for their assistance and protection, in case they shall be attacked by enemies for the faithful performance of the conditions of the agreement. But you will only make this promise where you see the prospect of being able effectually to perform it.

27. You will in every conference with African Chiefs, assure them that the Queen has ordered you on the service in which you are engaged, for the benefit and happiness of the African race.

28. You are to understand generally, that any agreement, of whatever nature, you shall enter into with African Chiefs, is to be held subject to her Majesty's sanction; and that a clause is to be inserted in, or added to, any such agreement, declaring that it is expressly reserved to her Majesty, to sanction, modify, or annul the same.

29. If several of the Chieftains could be induced to unite together, and bind themselves by one agreement to suppress the Slave Trade, such conjoint agreement would greatly conduce to effect the principal object of the mission. You are, therefore, to avail yourselves of every opportunity to persuade the Chiefs to adopt this measure; and further to procure, in such agreement, the insertion of proper conditions, to insure to the respective parties mutual protection from all aggressions which might arise from their uniting in such an engagement.

30. You yourselves will be careful to abstain during the whole course of your mission, from all barter, or other bargain for the purposes of commerce, either on your own part, or by or for others; and you will also take care not to mix up either her Majesty's Government or yourselves, in any way, in any commercial or agricultural speculation.

31. If the sovereignty over any country or place should be offered to Great Britain through you, you will engage to submit the proposal to your Sovereign.

32. You will also take care to be courteous and friendly towards the subjects of all civilized nations, whom you may meet in the course of your mission.

33. If at any place, in an independent state, within the range of your Commission, it shall appear to you to be desirable that a Resident Agent on the part of her Majesty shall be immediately appointed, and enter on his duties, you are empowered to leave at such place provisionally, as British Resident Agent, any one of the gentlemen of your Commission, or of the officers or others of the Expedition, whom you may think competent and fitted to the duties of that situation. You may assure to such gentleman an allowance proportioned to the circumstances of his situation for one year only.

34. If, however, at such place, at which you are of opinion that a Resident Agent on the part of her Majesty would be desirable, you shall find any respectable British merchant, or factor, whom you shall see to be fit to be named provisionally British Resident Agent, you may appoint such person provisionally to that situation, subject to confirmation from home. It is supposed that the superior protection which this character will give to such a gentleman will be a sufficient compensation to him for his services.

35. In case you shall find that any Agents of foreign Chiefs or Powers shall be resident at the places at which you may touch, or that any negotiations are going on between the Chief you visit and other persons or Powers, you will endeavour to learn the purport of them, and the views of the respective parties to such negotiation, particularly with respect to the Slave Trade; and you will transmit these particulars to me.

36. You will make the commercial interests of Great Britain an object of your constant attention; you will countenance British subjects, trading innocently to the possessions of any Chief of that part of Africa to which your Commission extends; always, however, excepting merchants trading to those countries or possessions, the Chief whereof has declined to abolish the foreign Slave Trade. And if any British subjects, trading innocently, as aforesaid, to the Chiefs who shall have abolished the Trade in Slaves, should have any suit or pretension depending, you will endeavour to procure for them speedy justice. Yet, for the honour of her Majesty, you will confine your interference to such cases only as may deserve the interposition of her Majesty's name, for the proper relief of British subjects, and for their support in their just rights.

37. You will at every place you shall visit, collect, and afterwards, as opportunities may occur, transmit to me the most accurate information you can obtain upon the Slave Trade, whether carried on by the Chief only, or by his subjects only, or by both; the income derived therefrom by the Chief; the average number of slaves shipped, or otherwise taken off, in the course of a season; the countries or places from which they are supposed to have come, and the routes by which they are generally brought, and the circumstances by which in general they are supposed to have become slaves; the nations and the individuals by whom they are supplied, and the price paid for them, both in the country from whence they come, and at the place at which you make the inquiry; their course down to the spot, where they are finally embarked for the foreign Slave Trade; and the means whereby that trade can at any of those places be best prevented or stopped in its progress.

38. You will likewise make special inquiries as to the state of slavery existing in any country you may visit. As far as you can, you will endeavour to ascertain the numbers so enslaved; what proportion they bear to the whole population; to what extent predial agricultural] slavery prevails; the condition and treatment of slaves; whether liable to be sold, put to death, or how otherwise punished at the pleasure of the owner; whether the numbers are increasing or diminishing; who are liable to be made slaves, and for what causes; whether emancipation is in any, and what cases allowed to take place; what powers the Chief possesses in respect of emancipating or improving their condition; what is the average value of slaves of different ages and sexes; and every other important particular calculated to throw light upon the character of domestic slavery at present existing in Africa.

39. You will also collect and transmit to me, in like manner, the most accurate information you can obtain as to the extent of the possessions of each Chief you may visit; and as to his influence beyond those possessions; as to the number of his towns and villages, and whether they are walled or open; as to the number of the inhabitants in the principal towns, and the total supposed population of his possessions; as to the rivers which run through those possessions, their source and mouth, and how far and for what boats navigable; as to the numbers and condition of the army, as to the nature and amount of the contribution levied on the people, and what are the further and financial resources of the Chief; and what is the extent of the power possessed by the Chief over his subjects: how far it is limited by law or custom, or by powers possessed by his elders or Headmen; and whether the succession to the Chief is hereditary or elective; and also, what is the personal character and influence of the present Chief.

40. You will, in like manner, collect and send to me, the most accurate information you can obtain on the state of trade in those countries; on the state of agriculture, and the state of the mechanical arts; on the climate, and on the soil; on the general face of the country, and on their animals tame and wild. You will learn, so far as you can, and enumerate the several productions of the soil, which, either in a raw or prepared state, may be turned to uses of commerce; and the several animals, and parts of animals, which may be turned to uses. You will learn and enumerate such of those several articles as now form articles of trade, the frequency and duration of the markets, the general supply and the price of each article at them, and the quality of each article. You will state the nations to whom, and the purposes for which they are sold. And, in respect of such articles of European produce or manufacture as you may see there, you will mark the price they bear, and the comparative desire the natives have for them, and how far the supply seems equal to the demand; and you will mark which of those articles you take with you, they appear most to esteem, and what others they ask for, and how it will be best to promote and increase an intercourse of commerce with them. You will, when you can procure them, get specimens of the several minerals, woods, grains, gums, and dyes, and, folding them in paper, state on that paper the name of the article, and place and date at which procured; and you will put down memoranda of the uses to which they are or may be probably applied.

41. You will collect also, and give what information you can get, on the religion of the natives, and on their state of civilizations including anything particular in their habits and customs; stating also their bodily appearance and mental character, and any striking virtues, vices, or talents, or capabilities of which they are possessed, and any peculiar diseases to which they are subject, and what is the appearance and composition of their habitations. And you will add to this account any particulars you can observe and learn, respecting their implements both of peace and war.

42. You will be careful to note down any traces of former visits of Europeans, at the places or provinces which you visit, stating their objects, if known, and the apparent effects, if any, of their visits.

43. You will perceive from these instructions, that your attention, as to the acquisition of information, is first and principally to be directed to the countries on the banks of the Niger; but should very favourable opportunities arise of sending persons into neighbouring parts of Africa, with a well-grounded hope of advancing the principal objects of your Commission, you are authorized so to do, provided persons competent to such service shall volunteer; and in such cases, you are empowered to direct them either to return to the steamers before they quit the river, or to proceed to the coast, according to such route as you deem most advisable.

The expense attendant upon such subsidiary Commissions will be defrayed by her Majesty's Government; but you will exercise this power, so reposed in you, only when the state of circumstances appears to you fully to justify having recourse to this measure; and you will transmit in writing a statement of the reasons which may induce you to exercise this power, and the advantages expected to be derived from so doing. You will not fail to give all persons so employed by you full instructions for their conduct on such Expedition.

Whereas, likewise, it may happen, on your progress up the Niger, that you may have good reason to believe that the great objects of your Commission will be advanced by commencing a communication with Lokatoo, or the State of Bornou, or other countries at a distance from the Niger, in such cases you are authorized to send such proper persons as may be willing to go to the Chiefs of such States, to induce them to send agents, duly authorized to meet you, for the purpose of concluding agreements for the suppression of the Slave Trade; and you will instruct all persons so sent by you to procure all useful information on subjects immediately connected with your Commission as to the Slave Trade, and also as to the state of the countries they may visit, in all important points, in laws of government, agriculture, and trade; and you will further direct them, so far as time will allow, and opportunity may occur, to record all interesting particulars as to the natural productions of the country, and other similar matters.

Instructions from the Admiralty will be given to the officer commanding the Expedition, authorizing him, if circumstances shall render it necessary for effecting and securing the objects of this Expedition, to leave behind in the River Niger, one or more of the steam-vessels, with power to the officer left in command, to come down to Ascension, and there refit, returning up the river, or elsewhere, when the healthy season shall again commence, and the interests of the service shall require it.

44. You will, in respect to each place which you visit, draw up a separate despatch, addressed to me, containing an account of your proceedings at that place, including also a statement of proceedings which had occurred since the date of the previous despatch.

45. You will also, in respect to each place, draw up a separate despatch, addressed to me, containing a statement of all the information which you have been able to collect respecting such place, under the heads on which you are directed to make inquiry, including in that despatch any information you have been able to collect on any other points, which you conceive may be interesting to her Majesty's Government.

46. You will number each of your despatches to me, beginning with No. 1, and continuing the number in succession, and you will transmit them to me as occasions may arise, for the information of her Majesty's Government; and you will keep copies of each of these reports, to provide for the case of accident.

47. You will also, each of you, keep minute daily journals of every transaction which may take place under your eyes, noting down in that journal, the occurrences as they take place, and the information, as it is given to you, together with the observations you make on it at the time; and you will on your return, make up, each of you, and deliver to me, a full and complete narrative, in writing, of all affairs that have come to your knowledge during your mission, which you may deem worthy of communication to her Majesty's Government, and which may not have been included in the general despatches, including also a Report on the details and result of your Commission, and accompanying that Report by a copy of your journals.

48. You will be furnished, at the cost of her Majesty's Government, with a set of such Books, Maps and Charts, and Instruments, as you conceive may be useful to you in your Commission; and on your return, you will transmit the collection to this office, together with the originals of the official papers in your custody.

49. When the most important points of your Commission are fulfilled, it may happen that a part may yet remain, which will not require the presence of all the Commissioners. In that case, such of you as may be safely spared, without detriment to the service, may return to England; the rest will remain so long as you may deem it necessary, or as may be directed by orders from her Majesty's Government. With respect to the withdrawal of her Majesty's ships, the Commander of the Expedition will receive instructions from the Admiralty,

50. You will receive from me, and conform to such further instructions and directions, as her Majesty's Government shall, from time to time, have to give you, for your guidance in the interests confided to your care.

I have the honour to be,
Your obedient humble servant,

[Additional government instructions to the Commissioners]

No. II.

Downing Street, January 30, 1841.


In my general instructions of this day's date, I have authorized you to make a conditional bargain of a site of land on the Niger, for the erection of a fort. But I have also instructed you, that you are not authorized to accept, on behalf of her Majesty, the sovereignty over any province or place which might be offered through you to the Crown.

The question of establishing British sovereignty in Africa must be reserved for future consideration and decision. But you will perceive from the accompanying copy of a letter, which has been addressed to me by Dr. Lushington and by Sir Fowell Buxton, that they have urged the establishment of such sovereignty as indispensable, in their judgment, for the success of the views of an agricultural society, who contemplate the prosecution of the special objects explained in the letter.

Dr. Lushington and Sir Fowell Buxton are desirous of the purchase of the sovereignty over a territory not exceeding one hundred miles square, in which the agent of the agricultural society adverted to, would, on behalf of that body purchase, in fee simple, the most eligible spot for the purposes of the society.

I can only, however, at present instruct you to make this proposition the subject of your most careful inquiry, with a view to your reporting.
1st. Whether a tract of land, of the nature of that required, could be easily obtained, and upon what terms.
2nd. Whether such territory might be acquired in a district deemed tolerably healthy for Europeans.
3rd. Whether the neighbouring tribes would be likely to be friendly or hostile to the proposed agricultural establishment; and,
4thly. What force would be required for the protection of such territory.

You will have carefully to weigh, therefore, the practicability, advantages, and dangers of acquiring sovereignty for the Crown over a considerable territory.

You are not to satisfy yourselves that a single Chief is willing to sell his dominions, or a portion of them, but are to consider the hazard of jealousy, and of hostility being excited among neighbouring Chiefs by the appearance of the British Flag, as a token of sovereign power in the midst of their possessions. You will have to calculate the force that would be necessary to maintain and defend the territory that might be acquired; the facility or difficulty of relief; the extent of territory necessary to protect those who might seek shelter and security within its borders, as well as the danger of invasion from any European power which might have settlements on the coast.

I have the honour to be,
Your most obedient humble servant,

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