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William Allen's Narratve of the 1841 Niger expedition
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EXPEDITION TO THE RIVER NIGER.
VOLUME I, APPENDIX (part 2).
London, August 7, 1840.
In your Lordship's letter of December 20th, 1839, printed by order of the House of Commons, we have a very distinct explanation of the views of the British Government with regard to the suppression of the Slave Trade, and of the wise and elevated motives which induce them to resort to expedients hitherto untried for the accomplishment of that great purpose. From that document, we learn that it is intended to effect the abolition of the Slave Trade, "by teaching the natives of Africa that there are methods of employing the population more profitable to those to whom they are subject, than that of converting them into slaves, and selling them for exportation to the Slave Trader;" that factories are to be established at the stations on the Niger; and that "the Queen has directed her Ministers to negotiate conventions with the African Chiefs and powers; the basis of which conventions would be -
"1st. The abandonment and absolute prohibition of the Slave Trade, and
"2nd. The admission for consumption in this country, on favourable terms, of goods, the produce or manufacture of the territories subject to them."
The main object, then, of the Expedition, is to promote the extended cultivation of the soil of Africa; and in order to do this, British stations are to be established on the river, and African produce admitted for British consumption on favourable terms. We need hardly express our humble, but cordial acquiescence in these views; and our conviction, corresponding with that of her Majesty's Government, that "this plan affords the best, if not the only prospect, of accomplishing the great objects so earnestly desired by the Queen, her Parliament, and by her people."
Your lordship is probably aware, that it is in contemplation by some persons interested in the welfare of Africa, to make at this time an attempt to cultivate a district of that country. As a mere mercantile adventure, few would be disposed to embark in it; with a view to profit, it would be obviously expedient to wait till more was known, both of the advantages which the soil of Africa offers, and of the dangers to which the adventurers would be exposed. But gentlemen of the most acknowledged sagacity in the mercantile world, urged by a desire of rendering benefit to Africa, and convinced that there is no way of doing this so effectually as by demonstrating her agricultural resources, are willing to embark their capital, provided only that such facilities and securities are afforded to them as the Government have the power of bestowing.
For this purpose they require and trust that there will be no difficulty on the part of the Government in giving them a charter, limiting responsibility; they then will be prepared to make the experiment of cultivating a tract of country bordering on the Niger, and of raising in the first instance £50,000, with the intention, if the trial be successful, of hereafter inviting the public to unite with them in finding the funds for more extended tillage.
We now proceed to inquire what are the necessary conditions in order that this attempt may be made under the most favourable circumstances, and may lead to the most complete and striking exhibition of the effects which cultivation will produce, and the blessings it will bring with it.
In these settlements, persons, property, and lawful occupations must be protected; the produce of free labour must receive encouragement in the European market. Finally a fitting example must be presented to surrounding nations of the benefits of Christianity, and of the advantages to be derived from civilized institutions. The simple enumeration of these particulars may suffice to show the impossibility of combining or securing them under any known form of native Government. All that is known of Africa, whether from British officers, or missionaries, or scientific travellers seems to concur in proving that settlements of this description must be kept apart from the contamination of prevailing native practices, and that their internal prosperity not less than their external security, can be maintained in no other way than by placing them under the protection of the British Crown.
It is clear that in the districts where the experiment is made, the sovereign power must be held by the British Government, and the natives obey our laws, or we must be subject to their authority, and submit to such laws as they may impose. Our rule and our institutions will be a pure gain to the Africans. We might then insure security of person and property within the precincts of our settlement, and we might take care that, there at least, none of the native superstitions and bloody rites were practised.
It is not too much to say, that wherever British Sovereignty shall be firmly established, there religious and civil liberty would instantly prevail, intestine wars and anarchy would cease; the Aborigines would be protected, equal rights be enjoyed by all, and every motive, aid, and opportunity, which public or private benevolence, or enterprize, might contribute towards the civilization of Africa, would be most successfully brought into operation.
But supposing the natives to be rulers, we must submit to all their abominations, and consent to see human sacrifices made, and to be thwarted by the evil influence which such sights exercise on all attempts at civilization. We believe that no Company could be induced to endure this, and if that difficulty could be got over, we do not believe that our presence, under such circumstances, could effect any great advance in civilization.
If the districts cultivated by the persons to whom we have alluded, are under the dominion of Great Britain, Slavery must be abolished. This was done in Bulama [island off modern Guinea-Bissau, where a British settlement was founded in 1792 to introduce agriculture and abolish slavery; it was abandoned a year later], and is done at Liberia [Commonwealth of Liberia established by the American Colonization Society in 1939], and all persons resorting to those tracts of territory, have been declared to be free; and it is remarkable that we have from Captain Beaver, on the one part, and Governor Buchanan on the other, the strongest acknowledgments of the benefits which they severally derived from refusing to tolerate Slavery under any form. But advantages of this kind are not the strongest arguments for our insisting upon free labour. The extended cultivation of the soil of Africa, if unaccompanied with precautions against Slavery, may even aggravate and perpetuate this lamentable system: and every step towards extending and improving the resources of these countries may with them, as with Egypt, prove a step towards promoting and encouraging predial [agricultural] bondage. In short, our paramount object is to establish free labour cultivation, and to prove its superiority, thus providing wholesome and profitable occupation, and undermining the Slave Trade. If the district cultivated be British territory, there can be no Slavery, and it is hardly too much to say, that, under native rule, there will be no such thing at present as free labour.
Unless the territory which it is intended to till be subject to Great Britain, we shall be deprived of a large portion of the money which is to form the capital of our Agricultural Establishment. We look to members of the Society of Friends, or Quakers, for a considerable portion of this capital. Some of them are ready to undertake Agriculture in Africa, provided that in that country they are circumstanced as they are already in England. The Government here finds them protection; they have no act or part in the matter; their scruples are not offended by having to ask for the aid of an armed police; they do not carry arms themselves, neither do they ask others to carry them. But unless we are sovereigns in the district we cultivate, our people must protect themselves, and must be ready, on every occasion, to turn out against the enemy.
Lastly.- The British Government proposes to engage for "the admission for consumption in this country, on favourable terms, of goods, the produce or manufacture of the territories subject to them." And we readily admit that no inducement could be devised more efficacious for the purpose of leading the Native Powers to unite with us in the suppression of the Slave Trade; it would provide for them the two things which they most require, a market for their own products and a liberal supply of European goods; but we are at a loss to conceive how this boon can be conceded, unless the territory on which these products are grown be British. In the latter case, the Duties we impose may be as light as we please, and there will be no restraint as to the measure of encouragement which we may choose to give to the infant cultivation of Africa. But if the district belong to a native power, we shall be controlled by all our treaties with other nations, engaging to receive their commodities upon the same terms as those of the most favoured nations. We propose, for example, to grow Sugar in Africa by free labour, to come into competition with the Sugar of Brazil; we shall naturally be disposed to favour that which is intended as a blow against the Slave Trade, in preference to that which is produced by means of the Slave Trade.
In short, if the territory on which our capital is to be expended be British, we have it in our power to offer the most effectual encouragement for its growth, but the contracts we have formed with other nations forbid us to give this natural and powerful stimulus to the industry of tribes who are under native dominion.
Thus it seems that this great national experiment for awakening the people of Africa to a proper sense of their own degradation and misery, and for developing practically and before their eyes, the advantages which they might derive from the resources of their soil, and the pursuits of legitimate commerce, is liable to be defeated, and that system which it is declared affords the best, if not the only, prospect of accomplishing the suppression of the Slave Trade, will be exposed to difficulties at every step, unless the experiment be made in the first instance, on land belonging to the British Crown.
We shall lose the aid of the Society of Friends, our Settlements will have to defend themselves, and thus be either weak and so tempt native cupidity, or if strong, themselves be tempted to aggression. We shall be unable to encourage it in its earlier stage, by favourable and light duties on its products. We shall lose the vast advantages which may be expected from the absence of Slavery. We must submit to witness, and almost to connive at those horrid rites which are practised in Africa under the name of religion.
In short, the administration of just laws, security, free labour, fiscal encouragement to African agriculture, constitute the essence of the new preventive system; without these, the experiment is forlorn, no body of persons will be hardy enough to attempt it, and these essentials are only to be obtained on a territory attached to Great Britain.
The practicability of obtaining such territory is sufficiently indicated by repeated instances of willingness on the part of the Chiefs and people of Africa, to dispose of territory (sovereignty and soil included), for adequate considerations.
By far the greater number of treaties made with African nations contain stipulations for the cession of territory, either absolutely or with reservations, and upon condition either of receiving a subsidy, or of enjoying the advantages of British protection and commerce. The preamble to many of these treaties attests beyond any question the sense entertained by the natives of the insecurity of their own condition, and their ardent desire to find refuge under a regular form of Government.
It is true that it has been the practice of the Government of late years to discourage arrangements of this description in Africa, and no doubt wisely. When the benefit contemplated was the extension of our dominions, the Government shewed their moderation by rejecting overtures which if they gratified ambition on the one hand, entailed responsibility and expense on the other; but the present plan suggests a definite object of a magnitude and importance which would seem fully to justify the adoption of a different policy. If we acquire sovereignty over any given district in the neighbourhood of the Niger, it will be not for the purpose of enlarging the limits of our empire, but for the purpose of accomplishing an object, beyond all others, dear to the disinterested benevolence of this country, and of rescuing one of the most forlorn and populous regions of the world from the miseries of the Slave Trade. It has been truly observed, that "the state of Africa is such that change as it may, it cannot change for the worse;" this is especially true with respect to the principles and objects of the present plan, which presents a striking contrast to those of almost every scheme of Emigration or Commerce of ancient or modern times. The acquisition of land and the assumption of sovereignty now recommended, will be based on a full recognition of the independent rights of African Chiefs and nations.
It would be the result of voluntary cession, or of equitable purchase only. It would guarantee to individuals the possession of all personal and proprietary rights not inconsistent with justice and British institutions. It would rest upon the firm footing of the mutual interests of both contracting parties; the benefits of Christianity and of British protection, on the one hand, amply compensating for the surrender of savage independence; and, on the other hand, the advantages of enlarged and regular commerce, promising at no distant day, a sufficient reward for the additional labours and responsibilities of extended government. It is to be borne in mind that opportunities of this kind, if much longer neglected, may be finally lost. The Portuguese, in addition to their extensive possessions in Western Africa, have already assumed the sovereignty of a district extending fifteen hundred miles along the eastern coast; the American settlement of Liberia occupies three hundred miles of the western coast, and as we learn by a recent letter from Governor Buchanan, they are continually accepting the voluntary allegiance of Chiefs whose dominion stretches far into the interior. Your Lordship need not be reminded of the anxiety of the French to extend their African territory, and it is far from impossible that the Texians may, ere long, covet portions of the African soil, for the very purpose of giving facility to the Slave Trade.
Your Lordship will observe that we do not now, for the first time, urge the necessity of acquiring sovereignty. In the observations of Sir Fowell Buxton, addressed to the Marquis of Normanby, and in the Right Honourable Stephen Lushington's letter to his Lordship, 31st July, 1839, the same doctrine is maintained, and British sovereignty is represented as the most effectual instrument for accomplishing the great purposes of the Government; and the only difference is, that we now propose that British power should be confined within much narrower limits than those which were formerly suggested by us. Our opinions are unaltered that the acceptance of voluntary offers of sovereignty extending over whole kingdoms will be found the greatest boon which we can confer upon Africa, and the surest as well as the speediest mode of effecting the eradication of the Slave Trade. As, however, it is considered premature, at all events before the return of the Expedition, to resolve on any very important and decided mode of proceeding, we very reluctantly, and with a clear sense of the delay which it will occasion, and of the impediments not now existing which may arise, forbear to press upon your Lordship the immediate acceptance of any such offer, should it be made.
We hope, however, no objection will be entertained to the Commissioners becoming the bearers of conditional proposals of this nature, subject to the approval or rejection of the British Government, in order that they may be considered under the light which the Expedition is expected to throw upon the state of Africa. The objections which are supposed to exist to the acquisition of sovereignty upon a large scale, do not, we conceive, apply to the voluntary cession, on the part of African Chiefs, of portions of Territory comparatively small. Our proposal is then, that the Commissioners be instructed to purchase on the part of the Government, the sovereignty of a territory not exceeding one hundred miles square, bounded as far as may be by natural objects, commencing beyond the limits of the Delta, and running into the interior in the direction of the Niger, so as to keep the river well in the centre. The Agent of the Agricultural Society will also be instructed to purchase for the Company, in fee simple, the most eligible spot to be found within this territory, for the purpose of commencing the cultivation of the soil.
Supposing both these arrangements to be carried into execution, we shall have a settlement circumscribed within narrow limits, and favourable in soil and aspect for the agricultural purposes of the Company, and we shall have the adjacent and surrounding country under British authority, and thereby protected from the injury which would necessarily arise if the Slave Trader were permitted to prowl about the skirts of the Farm. We shall have, moreover, the river running through the centre of the British dominion, and thus no longer open as a highway for the transport of Slaves.
In asking for a territory one hundred miles square, we speak, as we necessarily must, indefinitely; but it may turn out that a much smaller extent may be sufficient for our purposes; this point, therefore, must be left in great measure to the directions of the Commissioners.
[Admiralty instructions to Captain Trotter.]
By the Commissioners for executing the Office of Lord High Admiral of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.
Whereas it has been signified to us by Lord John Russell, one of Her Majesty's Principal Secretaries of State, that Her Majesty being desirous of establishing a friendly intercourse with those African states which approach the Gulfs of Benin and Biafra, and which stretch along the great rivers Quorra and Chadda, and also of encouraging in the native population of those states that wholesome spirit of commercial industry which must tend to put down the traffic in slaves, has determined for these purposes to send there an Expedition, under the direction of four commissioners, of whom you have been appointed the chief; and further that you have been already furnished by Lord John Russell with full instructions for duly carrying out Her Majesty's beneficent views, We have therefore caused the three steam-vessels, 'Albert,' 'Wilberforce,' and 'Soudan,' to be tboroughly equipped, in order to carry into execution the above recited objects, and having a full confidence in your zeal for Her Majesty's service, as well as in your ability, temper, and prudence, we have thought fit to intrust you with the command of this important Expedition, and we have therefore appointed you to the first-mentioned of these vessels, and we have directed Commander William Allen of the 'Wilberforce,' and Commander Bird Allen of the 'Soudan,' to follow your orders for their further proceedings: You are hereby required and directed to take the 'Wilberforce' under your orders, and as soon as that vessel and the 'Albert' are ready in all respects, to put to sea with them, and to proceed to the Islands of Madeira or Teneriffe in order to prove the rates of the chronometer, but touching by the way at Lisbon or Gibraltar, for a supply of coals, if any untoward weather should have rendered such a measure absolutely necessary.
From thence you will proceed to Porto Grande in the Cape de Verde Islands, as your first general rendezvous. You will no doubt find there Her Majesty's ship 'Soudan,' and the 'Harriet,' transport, and with them you will call at Sierra Leone for the purpose of embarking such parties of Krumen and interpreters as may be necessary for the service, and such other persons as you have been instructed to receive on board by the Secretary of State, and having proportionately divided them, into the several vessels under your command, you will make the best of your way to Cape Coast Castle, as your general rendez-vous, in case of parting company.
After completing all your requisite arrangements there, and obtaining from the governor any information which may bear on your future proceedings, you will repair to the mouth of the River Nun, which there is reason to believe offers the most ready access to the main branch of the Quorra; but we desire that you will remain in the offing till your final dispositions are made, immediately removing from the transport all the stores which can be wanted by the steam-vessels in their progress up the river, or which can be stowed by them; and then directing her to proceed to Fernando Po, in order to deliver all the remaining stores to the agent of the West African Company, who has been directed to take charge of them for your future use, and who on giving her master proper receipts and vouchers, will signify to him that his engagement with Government has then terminated.
During this period you will also take means to have a satisfactory survey made of the bar of the Nun, with the approaching soundings, the entrance channel, and the adjacent anchorage, but under such precautions as may not prematurely expose your men and officers to the baneful effects of the climate.
If the objects of the Expedition should happily be fulfilled and should lead to a free intercourse with the interior, this survey of the bar will be of great moment in enabling all new-coming vessels to run at once into a secure berth, Any further survey of the lower part of the river must be deferred to a fitter opportunity, as we desire that when once entered, you will proceed across the whole breadth of the alluvial and pernicious Delta, as far as Eboe, with all the speed compatible with the safety of Her Majesty's vessels, and the comfort of their crews, and that you will not allow yourselves to be diverted from that object by any minor considerations whatever. Nevertheless as by that time the month of June will have commenced, and as the river will be at its lowest, all those flats and shoals which render its navigation so difficult when the river is full will then be above water, and their positions visible. You will therefore be prepared with a digested plan for the combined operation of all the three vessels under your command, by which the position and extent of those flats and banks may be approximately determined, the three tracts of continued soundings carefully recorded, and the opposite shores with their projecting points, creeks, villages, and general characteristics satisfactorily sketched - in short, you will take means for making such a competent though running survey of that part of the river as may ensure its safe navigation to Her Majesty's vessels when returning with a full or possibly with a falling river, and which will serve as the foundation for a subsequent and regular survey.
These preliminary matters being duly arranged, the transport dispatched, and proper dispositions made for giving mutual assistance to each other in case of touching on banks or rocks you will at once cross the bar, and press forward to the scene of those operations which are so fully and clearly traced in the instructions drawn up by the Secretary of State, and which we hereby require and direct you to carry into execution. On those leading and specific objects of the Expedition, we need not here enlarge nor do we intend by these orders in anywise to interfere with your plane for carrying them into effect, nor with the periods at which you may think it prudent to visit the various districts along the rivers. To those primary objects, all other pursuits and inquiries must be subordinate, but next in importance to them, or rather as an essential part of them, we place the extension of geographic discovery, and therefore while in the upper waters of the Quorra and Chadda, you will consider it a part of your duty to send forward Her Majesty's ship 'Soudan' to the utmost limits of those rivers to which she can be floated with safety, and with a certainty that her return will not be intercepted by the falls of the water. Nor should your researches be bounded even by those limits, provided the season of the year, the disposition of the inhabitants, and the health of your own people are sufficiently encouraging to induce you to explore those rivers and their principal adjuncts still further into the interior by means of your boats. Such enterprizes, however, must never consist of less than two well appointed galleys and commanded by an officer of intelligence. For these parties you will carefully select native interpreters, who have seen the nature and power of the steam-vessels, and witnessed your friendly and peaceable conduct, and who will declare among the various tribes that may be visited, the real purport of the Expedition.
In framing the orders for these distant detachments, we desire that you will give the most peremptory directions that in no case whatever the two boats may be permitted to separate - and that no over-confident individual may be allowed to straggle through the towns or villages, as an array or some frivolous misunderstanding might mar all that you had already effected. It is also our opinion that on these occasions it is bad policy to conceal the arms,- for though everything like violence or menace should be repressed, yet among such people the evidence of superior strength will obviate its employment.
We further desire that every exploring party, whether by land or water, should be accompanied by a medical officer, not only for the benefit of his comrades, but from the favourable impression that medical skill is sure of making on the artless and ignorant nation. While in the upper reaches of the river, some tempting opportunity may occur of sending an exploring mission overland; and though we do not altogether forbid occasional adventures of this kind, yet we insist on their never being undertaken but on the most sufficient grounds, where the object has been fairly weighed against the means, and where there is no probable doubt of a successful and pacific result. Distant and doubtful discoveries must be deferred to other opportunities.
Though any accurate knowledge of the country cannot be expected from the natives, yet by a series of judicious inquiries, frequently repeated and never put in a leading form, much general information may be obtained. Their memories can supply surprisingly accurate itineraries,- they can describe the magnitude and distance of the high knots and chains of mountains, and the direction and breadth of the intervening basins of the rivers and lakes. They know the principal products of their own and of the neighbouring districts, and of the caravans that transport them, and you will be able to learn from them the commencement and duration of the periodic rains in the distant mountain groups, which will throw a useful light on the perplexing subject of the intermitting rise of the rivers.
To give the greater dignity and weight to your proceedings at those places where chiefs of a certain rank reside, it may sometimes be prudent to retain with you more than one of the vessels under your command; but, whenever possible, two of them should be kept employed in exploring and surveying.
The upper parts of the river, as above directed, will first engage your attention, but afterwards, when the proper season arrives, you will undertake the examination of complicated branches through the delta, and the discovery of the quickest and surest channel of communication with the sea. The Benin or Formosa, the Warri, the Cross, the Bonny, and the New and Old Calabar, have each had their advocates, and undoubtedly some of them near their mouths do appear to offer a wider, deeper, and more easy access than the opening of the Nuna, or central branch. On the other hand, according to statements which have lately reached this country, the Benin and other branches are said to fail at a short distance from the sea, while the Nuna, which from its position must evidently have been the principal agent in the protrusion of the delta, still seems to be the most direct road. In order to solve this important problem, you will in good time prepare all the necessary measures, so that you may be able at once to seize on the most favourable period of the year for this trying service; and the officer to whom it may be entrusted must be charged to pursue it with the utmost rapidity in his power, and yet with the utmost prudence, cautiously feeling his way with respect to the health of the people, and immediately retiring to the higher aud more wholesome parts of the river, or proceeding to sea on the first appearance of disease. But you are not to consider that the leading and peculiar object of your mission, nor your efforts in discovery, are to be confined to the Quorra and Chadda, and their confluent or diverging branches - the Cameroons, the Malinda, the Gaboon, and sundry other streams of great magnitude, which empty themselves into the Bight of Biafra offer, if not a more extended, at least a newer field of discovery; and. the same objects which are to be accomplished by your visit to the former rivers, equally invite the Expedition to explore the latter. Nothing being known of the direction that these Biafra rivers take, or the regions from whence they flow, or whether the period of the rains from which they are swollen is simultaneous with those which swell the waters of the Niger, the proper time for exploring them must be left to your own judgment, or to the information you may be able to glean.
If their sources be in the equatorial belt of mountains which traverses the African continent, then their rains, as well as the season proper for ascending them, will alternate with the rains and the season necessary for the navigation of the Quorra, and the two enterprizes will therefore not interfere with each other. Nor does it appear that you need be apprehensive that you will have to pass through an extensive and sickly delta; for it has been reported to us by those who have entered the Bay of Cameroons that the river is seen to issue from between high and sound banks.
Another point to which we have to direct your attention in this quarter is the Cameroons Mountain, which it has been asserted is an island similar in formation to Fernando Po, and separated from the main land by narrow channels communicating with the mouths of the Rio del Rey. Its extensive base is said to be fertile and populous, and its height of 12,000 feet offers every variety of temperature, with forests of timber fit for the largest scantling; while at its foot the Amboises Islands afford a secure anchorage, untainted by Mangrove exhalations, and enjoying the full effect of the sea-breeze. If these assertions be correct, it would seem to be a place most singularly adapted for any agricultural establishment that may be the result of this expedition, and they will therefore deserve your careful examination.
It is our further direction to you that the officers employed on every species of detached service, whether by land or water, should present to you a full report of all their proceedings, accompanied by plans and views. You will also insist on the daily projection of all surveying work, never suffering it to fall into arrear; and you will take care that the several series of observations, in the various departments of science to which your attention may be directed, shall be so clearly and distinctly recorded in tabular or other forms that no data may be wanting for future computation. You have been liberally supplied with the most approved instruments for every purpose connected with geography and hydrography, as well as for extending to Africa those magnetic and meteorologic investigations, which are now pursued with so much activity in all quarters of the world. Botanists, geologists, and gentlemen, whose tastes are devoted to various branches of national knowledge, accompany the Expedition; and, in order to carry on all these numerous inquiries in such a manner as to obtain the largest return with the least fatigue, we recommend you early in the voyage to organize the officers and men under your command into proper parties for those several purposes.
In order to preserve a due uniformity of method in the execution of your surveys, as well as in the objects and tendency of your geographic engineers, we have directed our hydrographer to furnish you with proper extracts from the instructions usually given to our surveyors; and we desire that you will correspond with him on all the subjects connected with his department, and that you will transmit to him tracings of all your charts and sketches, and duplicates of all your observations.
Duplicates, also, of all your dispatches to our secretary should invariably be kept ready for convenient opportunities of forwarding them to any of Her Majesty's cruisers which may be employed in the Bight in preventing the approach of slavers during your stay in the rivers, and one of which will, until the 1st of October, be directed to appear close off the mouth of the River Nun on every full and change day of the moon, or on such other days as may be agreed upon by you and the senior officer in the Bight, and to remain there till sunset for the purpose of receiving your communications, and on the following morning to communicate with the palm-oil ships at Bonny for the same purpose. After the first four months, however, it is probable that your communication will be less frequent, and you will therefore make the necessary arrangement with the senior officer in the Bight as to more extended periods, or as to more appropriate points, at which the above-mentioned cruiser is to touch the shore.
Ingenious and costly contrivances for ventilating the vessels under your command having been fully supplied, as well as every article of nutriment or medicine which can tend to preserve or restore the health of your crews, or which may enable them to resist the reputed malaria of the climate, we desire that in the full and unsparing employment of all these resources you will keep in mind not only the immediate benefit and daily comfort of your own people, but also that you are carrying out a series of sanatory experiments of high importance to our future communication with those and other similarly situated countries.
Notwithstanding the above means of obviating or dispelling the effects of the unwholesome districts through which you will pass, and the known skill of your medical officers, and the prudent precautions recommended in the enclosed letter from the Inspector-General of Naval Hospitals, it is probable that the sudden change of climate, with other local causes, will more or less affect the health of many individuals of the Expedition; and to this subject we especially direct your most scrupulous attention. In the event of anything like the appearance of contagious or endemic disease, you will form proper establishments by which the sick may be immediately separated, and where unremitting attendance may be given to them; or it may be expedient to construct temporary quarters for them on shore in some dry and cool place,- or in an extreme case, perhaps, it might be necessary even to convert one of your vessels into an hospital for all.
Whenever you may have occasion to go out of the Quorra, either to visit its other branches, through the delta, or to advance to the River Cameroons, you will find it expedient to remit your stores and provisions at Fernando Po; and when you have brought this service to a final conclusion, you will proceed there, and should you not find at that place any instructions from us to the contrary, you will return to England with the vessels under your orders, and on your arrival repair without delay to this office, in order to lay before us a full account of your proceedings, bringing with you the logs and journals of all the officers and other persons on board the several steam-vessels, together with all charts, drawings, and observations made whilst up the Niger, which you are hereby instructed to demand from them, and which are all to be sealed up, and afterwards to be disposed of as we may think proper to determine.
If, however, it should appear to you that the intentions of Her Majesty's Government would be more fully carried out by returning to England yourself, or sending home another officer, leaving behind one or more of the steam-vessels, you are to use your discretion on this point, taking such steps as you may deem advisable for the health of the officers and crew, by sending them to Ascension, or to any other place which you may deem more advisable, until the commencement of the ensuing healthy season, with a view to their then re-ascending the rivers, and following out the objects of the Expedition; or, if you should deem it more advisable, you are at liberty to leave them up beyond the delta, provided the state of the ships and the health of the crews be such as to justify this measure, bearing in mind our constant anxiety for the health and safety of those entrusted to your care.
If you decide to bring one vessel home, and to leave the other vessels in Africa, you have our permission to select from the officers and crews of the Expedition such persons as may volunteer to remain out for this service, keeping in view while making the selection their general state of health, and whether, from appearances and the Surgeon's report, they are likely to be in a fit state for a prolonged stay in the rivers.
In the event of an accident happening to any one of the steam-vessels, so as to cause her loss, or temporary or total abandonment, and the removal of her officers and crew to the other vessels, the officers and men of the vessel so lost or abandoned are to be borne as supernumeraries for wages and victuals, and are to perform their duties according to their respective ranks and stations in the vessels to which they may be so removed; and if the 'Albert' should be the vessel lost or abandoned, you are in that ease to take command of either of the other vessels as you may deem expedient, bearing her Commander as a supernumerary for wages and victuals, and distributing the officers and crew of the Albert on board the two vessels as may be most convenient for the Service.
Should other circumstances make it expedient for you to assume the command of either of the other vessels, whether permanently or as a temporary measure, you are at liberty to do so, retaining her Commander as a supernumerary as before, or transferring him to the 'Albert,' as Acting Commander of her in your absence, as the Service may require.
In case of any fatal accident to yourself, Commander William Allen, or the senior surviving officer, is to assume the command of the Expedition on board any one of the three steam-vessels he may judge most fit for the benefit of Her Majesty's service.
During the whole period of this service you are to consider yourself under our immediate command, and in case of an admiral or officer senior to yourself being employed on the Coast of Africa, we shall direct him not in any wise to interfere with your proceedings.
The mission which is hereby committed to your guidance being one of great importance in its object and principle, requiring sagacity and prudence in its development, and involving anxiety, exertion, and responsibility, we feel satisfied that your utmost will be done to fulfil our intentions, and that you will be supported by the unwearied and cordial co-operation of your two commanders, and of every officer and man under your orders.
[Addition Admiralty instructions to Captain Trotter.]
By the Commissioners for executing the Office of Lord High Admiral of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, &c.
Referring to our other instructions of this day's date, directing you to proceed with the steam-vessels therein-named on an expedition to the Niger, we hereby require and direct you, on your arrival on the Coast of Africa, not in any way to assume the command on that station, nor to interfere with the disposition of Her Majesty's ships and vessels under the orders of the senior officer now on the station, but to confine yourself entirely to the objects of the Expedition under your orders, and we acquaint you that for any assistance you may require from the ships on the African station, you are to apply to the senior officer, who is directed to give it, provided it can be done without interfering with the duties on which they are employed, or inconvenience to Her Majesty's service.
By command of their Lordships,
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