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

Royal Navy1841 Niger expeditionBookAppendix (part 2) ◄►  Appendix (part 4)



[The Commissioners address to the African Chiefs]

To the Chiefs and People of Africa.

Listen to what we have to say. The Queen of England is a great Sovereign, and has sent us to offer you her friendship, and to talk with you as friends and brothers about the way to become wise and rich and powerful.

You know that the great God made all nations of the earth of one blood. White people are Christians, and worship this great God. They can do many things which black people cannot do; and they have almost everything that black people want: clothes, ornaments, tools, and useful articles of every kind. Some of these things we have brought with us to the Great Water, or Kawara, to show you what we mean; and anything else you desire can be sent you another time.

But for such things as these you must give us something of yours in exchange. You have been used to sell slaves for some of these things. But it is contrary to the laws of God and of white men to buy them of you, though some white men have been wicked enough to do so. Now you live in a country where everything grows very quickly out of the ground, and these are the things which we want. They will also bring you much more profit than slaves.

You must dig the ground, and raise cotton trees, indigo, coffee, sugar, rice, and many other things of the same kind; and while these are growing, you can collect elephants' teeth, gold dust, gums, wax, and things of that sort, almost without any trouble.

Now, if you will always have plenty of these things ready for our people when they come, you shall have plenty of our goods in exchange.

Perhaps you will say we do not know how to make these things grow. But the Queen of our country has sent good men to teach you how, and also how to build houses, and to make clothes, and to read books, and to talk about the great God, who made all things. Only you must be very kind and attentive to them, and not suffer anybody to hurt them.

You may say again, our country is so disturbed by war, that if we dig and sow we are not sure of gathering our crops. But is not this the consequence of catching and selling each other for slaves? If you wish to be rich, you must be peaceful; therefore you must leave off this wicked practice. And if several of the chiefs would agree together to do so, their people would be much more safe and industrious and happy.

Perhaps some chief may say again, but what shall I gain by giving up the trade of catching and selling men? First, you will gain much by putting an end to war, for by this means your people will live quietly, and become industrious, and thus you will be able to get large tribute, like the kings and queens of Europe. Secondly, you will gain also in this way. Suppose you sell a man for five pounds; this sum you get for him only once; but if you make him free as our people are in England, and pay him good wages, he will work very hard, and will collect for you so much gum, or so many elephants' teeth, or help you to grow so much cotton and other things, that after paying him his just wages, you will get as much every year by his labour as you would have got only once by selling him and sending him away.

Now then, you must judge for yourselves. Our Queen offers you her friendship, and an innocent trade which shall make you rich and powerful and happy; but it is only on one condition, and that is, that you will promise solemnly to give up the practice of catching and selling slaves, even if wicked white people should ask you to sell them, and that you will punish, without cruelty, any one who tries to do so; we also hope you will give up the sacrifice of your fellow-creatures because it is displeasing to God.

Consider well the offer we now make you, and remember that if you accept it you will please the great God; you will have our powerful Queen for you friend; all good white people will love you, and will endeavour to help you, and you will soon become wiser, richer, and happier than you ever were before.

[Captain Trotters General Orders to the Commanders]

To the Commanders of the Vessels of the Niger Expedition.

I.- l. In issuing General Orders to the commanders of the vessels under my command, I would wish them to impress upon their respective officers and crews, that the mission on which our Most Gracious Queen has been pleased to send us for the benefit and happiness of the African race, is distinguished from all former Expeditions, by the disinterested and beneficent objects it has in view. It may, indeed, be said to have attracted the attention of the whole civilized world, and perhaps, it is not too much to add, that no Expedition ever left the shore of Britain with the good wishes and prayers of so large a portion of our countrymen. It is, therefore, incumbent on all of us to consider the responsible nature of the duties before us, and how much the force of good example may effect towards the accomplishment of the ends proposed, by exhibiting to the African the Christian in character, as well as in name, and proving by our actions the sincerity of our desire for their welfare and happiness.

2. In the preparations made for this great enterprise, every thing which could be thought of as likely to contribute to the health and comforts of the officers and men has been most liberally provided; it therefore more especially behoves us to use our best abilities and utmost endeavours zealously to discharge our respective duties, humbly relying upon Him who ruleth all things, and remembering that success will mainly depend under the blessing of Almighty God, on the cheerful and cordial co-operation of every individual attached to the Expedition.

3. In our intercourse with savages, or half-civilized people, an unusual degree of forbearance will often be called for, and a kind, courteous, but at the same time, firm line of conduct will tend materially to remove suspicion or alarm, and create confidence.

4. We should always keep in view, that our object is the good of our fellow-creatures, and not our own, constantly remembering the golden rule, "to do unto others as we would that they should do unto us." And it is only in proportion as we retain this sentiment, and endeavour to make it the ruling principle of our actions, that we may expect a blessing to attend our efforts in the cause of Africa.

II.- l. In the event of your meeting with any of Her Majesty's ships or vessels of the African station, it is my direction that you carefully abstain from any interference whatever with them.

2. Should you require any assistance, you are to apply in my absence to the senior officer on the station, who is directed by the Admiralty to give it, provided that it can be done without interfering with the duties on which the vessels on the station are employed, or without inconvenience to Her Majesty's service.

III.- One of the most important parts of naval discipline, is that which has a reference to the health of the crew, more especially when employed on West African Station, and the immediate attention of the commanders is particularly directed to such of the following regulations as relate to that subject, in drawing up which, I have had the able assistance of Dr. McWilliam, the senior surgeon of the Expedition.

IV.- 1. The Admiralty having spared no expense in providing the vessels of the Expedition with an expensive ventilating apparatus, it becomes the duty of all to make themselves acquainted with the system. as fully explained in Dr. Reid's paper, and to use their utmost endeavours to carry the plan fully into operation, in order to make it as extensively useful as possible for the health and comfort of the crews.

2. The principal arrangement is to be placed under the charge of the surgeon of each vessel, who is to follow the rules and suggestions contained in Dr. Reid's valuable paper, and is to apply to the commander, to appoint a competent individual to instruct under his directions a sufficient number of persons for the management of the various valves and slides of the ventilating tubes. These should be numbered to insure an effective and easy adjustment. Odd numbers on the starboard, and even numbers on the port side, beginning from aft, is the plan adopted in the 'Albert.' The persons having charge of the different sections of the vessel should be fully instructed to report any apparent increase or diminution in the ventilation of the compartments under their charge.

3. The ventilation should be practised frequently, even when its beneficial effect is not required, and as many persons as possible should be encouraged to learn the principle upon which it acts, by putting into operation the various movements.

4. The powers of the fanners ought to be tested.
1st. In producing a circulation of air introduced into the vessel, directly from the external atmosphere.
2nd. In propelling the heated air of the engine-room into the hold and various compartments, as first practised in the 'Wilberforce.'
3rd. As connected with the medicator or purificator.
4th. In connection with the tubular heating apparatus attached to the purificator, or simply connected with the external tube leading to the fanner.

V.- The commanders are to direct the surgeons to send reports to them in writing from time to time, showing the results of the trials of the ventilation, and these reports are to be carefully preserved.

VI.- 1. Dr. Reid's General Rule, No. 2, is not only to be strictly attended to every day, but one hold is also to be examined daily by the surgeon, (excepting on Sunday) and the state of the air reported to the commander, in order that every compartment may come under particular inspection during the week.

2. The hold of any compartment, suspected of being unwholesome, is as soon as possible afterwards to be completely cleared out, and thoroughly dried and ventilated, and its state afterwards noted in the log-book, when the names of any articles are to be mentioned, which may be considered to have caused the unwholesomeness.

3. The surgeon is also to draw up a particular report upon such occasions, a copy of which report is to be forwarded to me.

VII.- 1. To avoid as much as possible any unnecessary exposure to the night air, the white crew are all to sleep below, when on the coast or up the river, and are on no account to be permitted to lie about the upper deck.

2. The Kroomen alone are to sleep on deck, to whom every facility should be given to protect them from the rain. It might be advisable when practicable, to fit up a canoe or boat, moored alongside, or astern of the ship for the accommodation of the Kroomen, when the vessels are at anchor, and much crowded on deck.

3. As few white men as the performance of the duty will admit of are to remain on deck during the night, particularly when rain or much dew is falling.

Those who are obliged to be on deck on duty, will be supplied when in unhealthy localities with respirators, and a fire is then to be kept all night in the cook-house for their benefit.

VIII.- As the hottest hours of the day are comprehended between eleven and three o'clock, the white men should be exposed to the sun as little as possible during that period.

IX.- l. Exposure on shore in Africa to the morning and evening dews, and the night air having proved even more prejudicial to health than the intense action of the sun's rays, no white person belonging to the Expedition, after arrival on the coast, is to be on shore between sunset and an hour after sunrise, unless with my permission, or that of the senior officer present, who is not to grant it, unless when duties are unattainable at other times, and care must be taken by the respective commanding officers, that the unavoidable exposure of white men on shore at night be reduced to the least possible amount.

2. The above precautions are considered necessary on the coast generally, but more especially in the Delta of the Niger, where the exciting causes of disease are to be regarded as acting with increased energy, and all possible means are to be used for obviating their injurious effects.

It is to be hoped that the climate above the Delta will be found to be such as will admit of this restriction being modified.

X.- Boats or canoes going alongside their own or other vessels, are to be directed to take the shady side, in order to avoid, as much as possible, the exposure of the boats and crews to the rays of the sun.

XI.- Dress.- The commanders may give permission to the officers of the ships under their command to wear uniform jackets, and white hats or caps on shore or on board.

XII.- Dress.- 1. Duck frocks and trowsers are to be worn by the white men during the day in fine weather, with flannel next to the skin. Each man must also be provided with two broad flannel waist belts, so that he may be enabled to have a dry one continually round his body.

2. The men's hats are to be of white straw, with a padding, or defence of some sort under the crown, to prevent the injurious action of the sun's rays upon the head. The white men are not allowed to go aloft without the officer of the watch seeing that they have attended to this necessary regulation.

XIII.- The crews are to be mustered before sunset, when the white men are to be clothed in their blanket dresses for the night, in addition to flannel clothing underneath.

XIV.- In case of any of the men getting wet, the officer under whom they have been employed is particularly charged to muster and report them in dry clothing, before they are allowed to go below. If the weather is not suitable for the clothes being hung in the rigging, a place on deck must be pointed out where they may be deposited.

XV.- As all surfaces giving out moisture by evaporation are injurious to health, open vessels of water, wet clothing, officers' towels, &c., should never be allowed to remain below, nor the crew permitted to wash themselves on the lower deck.

XVI.- While the steam vessels of the Expedition are at anchor on the Coast of Africa, and in the Niger, and more especially in the Delta and other unhealthy places, a cup of warm coffee is to be given in the morning to each European, whenever the surgeon thinks it advisable, and also to such of the black men as the surgeon may think require it; to make which, one-third of an ounce of coffee, and one-third of an ounce of sugar are to be issued as an extra allowance.

XVII.- As it is most desirable to encourage temperate habits on board the steam-vessels of the Expedition, more especially with a view to the preservation of health; it is my direction that such individuals as do not take up spirits, be supplied daily with the established allowance of lemon-juice and sugar, except when their allowance of grog shall be stopped for punishment.

XVIII.- The Kroomen are allowed only two-thirds proportion of spirits, which is always to be mixed with at least three waters; but, as an encouragement to them also, not to take up their allowance, they are to be paid for any such savings, at the rate of six shillings per gallon; thus making their savings at two-thirds allowance of all spirits, calculated at this rate, equal to full allowance, at four shillings per gallon. This order is not to apply to savings payable to the sick mess.

XIX.- It is my direction that the issues of the following species of provisions on salt meat days be regulated from the time of arrival on the Coast of Africa by the following scale, observing that cranberries and pickled cabbage (which are to be considered as an extra allowance) are to be issued only in proportion to the salt meat actually taken up, and that the pickles are not to be served with pork, unless when salt meat shall have been issued the day before: -

◄Table scrolls horizontally►
Days Salt beef Salt pork Flour &c. Peas Pickled cabbage Cranberries Sugar for cranberries Mornings
Coffee Sugar
  lb. lb. lb. pts. oz. oz. oz. oz. oz.
1 Salt meat day 3/4 - 3/4 - 1 2 3/4 1/3 1/3
2 Salt meat day - 3/4 - 1/2 1 - - 1/3 1/3
3 Salt meat day - 3/4 3/4 - 1 2 3/4 1/3 1/3
4 Salt meat day - 3/4 - 1/2 1 - - 1/3 1/3
5 Salt meat day 3/4 - 3/4 - 1 2 3/4 1/3 1/3

XX.- Preserved meats are to be issued to the company of her Majesty's steam-vessels of the Niger Expedition on Sundays and Thursdays, whenever the crews shall have been two days previously on salt meat; or, if more palatable to the crew, it may be divided into halves, and served in four days of the week, mixed with salt meat, without interfering with the scale in the last order regulating the issues of pickles and cranberries.

XXI.- Wine and quinine may be given to the men occasionally in lieu of wine and bark, and its issue may be extended to the whole crew when thought desirable by the surgeon.

XXII.- Unless absolutely necessary, the hammocks are not to be piped up in Africa until sunrise, which in the Niger is always about six o'clock, and when recommended by the surgeon a cup of coffee is to be given to every man before going on deck. The hammocks are to be left unlashed for a quarter of an hour, and then lashed up and taken on deck, and the duties of the ship proceeded with.

XXIII.- As ill consequences often arise from persons taking large draughts of cold water when thirsty, a small measure is always to be kept at the filterer or tank, and used by the ship's company, and no other is to be used by the men for this purpose.

XXIV.- The water of the Niger having been proved to contain much animal and vegetable matter, ought not to be used for drinking until boiled, and a little lime added to it to purify it.

XXV.- As it is extremely desirable to ascertain what constitutions seem best adapted to the climate of Africa, the surgeons of the respective ships are to be desired, as a measure preparatory to future observations, to note, according to the annexed form, the previous history, age, temperament, &c., of each individual on board: -

XXVI.- 1. The General Orders, of which this is No. XXVI., being standing orders and regulations for the guidance of the officers and crews of the vessels of the Niger Expedition, to be communicated to them by their respective commanders, or commanding officers, are to be kept separate from general memoranda and other orders, which, though they may be for the direction and information of the vessels generally, are only of a temporary nature. If one book only is kept, it must contain General Orders at one end, and General Memoranda, &c., at the other; a new book being commenced when the two sets of orders meet.

2. No. 900 in the General Signal Book, is to be marked in pencil as follows: - "Second Master, Clerk, or Clerk's Assistant, with the Order Book, to copy orders;" and, when obeyed, the officer is to sign his name and rank, as having copied the order correctly.

3. My clerk will occasionally be ordered to see that the general orders have been correctly copied; and, when satisfied of their correctness, to sign his name at the end of the last order.

XXVII.- l. It is to be understood, that all presents received from the African Chiefs, Headmen, or others of the country, for which some equivalent has or will be given in Government goods or money, shall be considered for the use of her Majesty.

Presents consisting of oxen, sheep, goat's, poultry, vegetables, fruit, or other articles of provision received, are to be taken on charge, and accounted for by the Pursers and Clerk-in-Charge of the respective ships of the Expedition.

XXVIII.- Cowries having been supplied to the steam-vessels, chiefly for the purchasing of provisions and stores and other contingencies, on account of the Niger expedition, it is my direction that they be reserved expressly for that purpose, and on no account be applied for the payment of savings of provisions or monthly allowance, without my permission in writing.

XXIX.- Mr. C. Wakeham, purser of the 'Wilberforce,' having, at my request, ascertained the average weight and measure of a certain number of cowries, and the sterling value thereof in regard to their cost to Government, and it appearing by his report, after a careful and tedious inquiry, that about four hundred cowries weigh about one pound avoirdupois, and that an imperial pint measure will contain, on an average, about five hundred cowries when compact and the top levelled, and that the cost to Government of five hundred, in relation to the whole supply taken on charge by the Pursers of the Expedition, has been, as nearly as can be calculated, about 7½d. sterling; it is my direction that cowries be issued and received at the rate of five hundred for 7½d., or one hundred for 1½d. sterling, and that when the imperial measure is used in payment, one pint to be considered equal to five hundred cowries, and also that in cases when the parties may agree to be paid in cowries according to weight, that four hundred be given and received as equal to a pound avoirdupois.

And as much valuable time which would be occupied in the counting of cowries might be saved by the use of the pint measure; the commanders of the vessels of the Expedition are to encourage the natives to adopt the plan, and to cause a number of pint measures to be made forthwith from the empty preserved meat cases, and to give them occasionally as presents, until a desire be expressed for them in barter.

In order to save the preserved carrots and other vegetables as much as possible, it is my direction, that whenever fruit or vegetables are on board, or can be procured at a moderate price for the ships' companies, they be served on preserved meat days with the preserved meat.

And as the total quantity of bread in the vessels of the Niger Expedition is not in proportion to the other species of provisions, it is my direction, that when yams, cocoas, plantains, rice, or any other wholesome vegetable can be procured cheaply, the crews be put on two-thirds allowance of bread.

Henry Dundas Trotter, Captain.

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