|The Victorian Royal Navy William Loney R.N. Fun||Search this site|
|The 1841 Niger expedition|
|► 1841 Niger Expedition-Parliamentary Papers||(1/4) (2/4) (3/4) (4/4)|
Copy of a DESPATCH (No. 1.) from Lord Stanley to Her Majesty's Commissioners of the Expedition to the Niger.
Downing-street, 11th November, 1841.
Referring to the instructions with which you have been furnished by Lord John Russell, under date of the 30th of January last, for your guidance in the conduct of the mission entrusted to you, I have Her Majesty's commands to desire you to consider yourselves prohibited from concluding any treaty or agreement with any African Chief or Chiefs which should have the effect of binding Her Majesty to give military aid to such Chiefs, or to assume any right of sovereignty or of protection over any portion of the soil or waters of Africa. Cases may occur (I hardly think it possible they should) in which it may be deemed advisable ultimately that Her Majesty should enter into such an engagement. But I repeat, that in no case are you to take any step which may fetter the discretion of the Queen's Government. If at any time application should be made to you to place an African Chief or his territory under the sovereignty or protection of the Queen, the utmost to be done, and that most sparingly, and in instances of extreme urgency, should be to forward such application to Her Majesty's Government, but independently and irrespectively of any other terms of treaty or agreement.
I am, &c.
Her Majesty's Commissioners.
&c. &c. &c.
Copy of a DESPATCH (No. 6.) from Her Majesty's Commissioners of the Expedition to the Niger to Lord Stanley.
Her Majesty's Steamer Wilberforce, Cape Coast Castle, 29th March, 1842.
We have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your Lordship's Despatch, No. 1, of the 11th November, 1841, containing a prohibition from concluding any treaty or agreement with any African Chiefs which may have the effect of binding Her Majesty to give military aid to such Chiefs, or to assume any right of sovereignty or of protection over any portion of the soil or waters of Africa, &c. We beg leave to assure your Lordship that these instructions shall be strictly attended to.
Her Majesty's steam-vessel Wilberforce arrived here on the evening of the 20th, and the officers having completed some magnetical observations, she sails this day with the crew in good health for Fernando Po, in order to complete the preparations for the Niger. In the meantime we anxiously hope to receive your Lordship's instructions.
We have, &c.
(Signed) William Allen,
The Right Hon. Lord Stanley,
&c. &c. &c.
Copy of a DESPATCH from Captain Trotter, R.N., to G.W. Hope, Esq.
12, Old Quebec-street, 1st April, 1842.
Agreeably to your request, I beg to offer some suggestions upon various points which I conceive will require Lord Stanley's consideration previous to a vessel-of-war being again sent up the Niger.
The officer in charge of the steam-vessel will have to be made acquainted with the determination of Her Majesty's Government as to the ratification, in whole or in part, of the Treaties made at Abòh and lddah last year, and must receive corresponding instructions to guide his conduct.
A conditional bargain was made with the Attah of Egaria at lddah in September, 1841, for the purchase of a portion of land for the Queen, for which cowries, amounting in value to about 8l., were paid at the time by the Commissioners as a security for the purchase; and it was stipulated that, if the land were retained as the property of Her Majesty (a point which it was agreed should be decided before September, 1842), a further payment of 27l. should be made to the Attah, either in cowries or goods, in September, 1842; or, if more convenient, by annual instalments not exceeding five.
If Her Majesty's Government determine to retain this land, I would suggest that the remainder of the payment be made at once, as it may be inconvenient to send up the river annually.
The sovereignty of this land was offered to the Queen as a free gift, with the option of accepting it or not at any period prior to September, 1846. The land, however, may be retained without sovereignty. The officer who proceeds up the river will, therefore, have to be instructed how to act with regard to this matter.
It was part of this land which the Commissioners permitted the superintendent of the model farm to cultivate on paying a nominal rent of one penny per acre.
I would suggest that the officer have authority to make presents to the King of Abòh to the amount of about 25l., or half the value of the presents given to the Chief when he made the Treaty last year; and that the value of about 50/. be given to the Attah of Egarra. The latter Chief declared that, of the presents made to him last year, amounting in value to about 100l., he would have to give a great proportion to his subsidiary Chiefs; and l have no doubt the King of Abòh would to a certain degree be under the same obligation.
The commanding officer of the steam-vessel might be left to his discretion in making presents to minor Chiefs and other persons, according to their importance, being guided by the proportions above named.
The Chiefs should be made fully to understand that the presents are given in proof of the Queen's approbation of the Treaties entered into last year, the officer being instructed to take especial care not to involve the Government by giving the Chiefs reason to expect any further gifts from the Queen; nor to create any impediments to future trade by giving presents without due consideration.
If the Commission of the Niger be broken up, it will be necessary to recall the two Commissioners who remain abroad, directing Captain William Allen to come home as soon as he is released from his naval duties, and Mr. Cook by the earliest opportunity; also Dr. M'William, the surgeon of the Commissioners; Mr. Bowden, the secretary; Mr. Müller, the chaplain; and Messrs. Terry and Simpson, clerks, as soon as their naval duties, if they have any, will permit.
Lieutenant (now Commander) Strange, of the Albert, is the only executive officer of the Expedition who escaped the Niger fever, and he is therefore the individual who may, in all probability, be appointed to proceed up in command of the steamer which may be ordered for that particular service. I may, therefore, remark that, should Lord Stanley consider it advisable to invest him with power to continue the negotiations with the native Chiefs, his talents, zeal, and judgment render him peculiarly qualified for the appointment.
Captain Allen's health would not permit of his going up the river again; but I understand Mr. Cook is both well enough in health, and quite willing to be employed again as a Commissioner, either up the Niger or on the coast.
As the instructions to the Commissioners of the Niger Expedition direct them to treat with Chiefs residing on or near the sea coast, within the Bights of Benin and Biafra, I would beg to call the attention of Lord Stanley to the propriety of making a Treaty now, or at some future time, with King Boy, of the Brass country, a Chief who has considerable influence on the Niger, between Abòh and the mouth of the Nun. His residence (Brass town) is situated on a creek in the Delta, about 30 miles eastward of the mouth of the Nun, and a few miles only from the sea. The Commissioners, last year, were not fortunate enough to fall in with this Chief, though they sent a message to him, and received a reply, stating he could not then visit them; but the next steam-vessel that goes up the Niger is very likely to meet with him, and the commanding officer might in that case be instructed to propose a Treaty to him for the suppression of the Slave Trade, which might either be concluded at once, or afterwards by the senior officer on the west coast. The latter will soon have to communicate with the Chief at Bonny, whose late Treaty with this country requires to be modified or corrected; and an arrangement could easily be made to form a Treaty with King Boy at the same time.
A sincere adherence of these two Chiefs to their Treaties would, in connexion with those lately made up the Niger, present a formidable barrier to the prosecution of the Slave Trade on that part of the coast. Presents to the amount of 100l. a-year for five years would be well bestowed on the Chief of the Brass country, if he could be induced to enter into such a Treaty; but probably much less would suffice. 400i. a-year for five years has been, or is about to be, offered to the King of Bonny.
I alluded, in my letter to you of the 30th of March, to the propriety of sending out orders to Captain William Allen to arrange with Captain Foote, of the Madagascar, senior officer on the west coast, about keeping the remainder of the presents at Ascension. They would there be ready to send to Bonny and Cameroons, where an annual payment to the Chiefs is likely to be required for some years. I would only further observe, that Mr. Cook might be instructed to send home to the Colonial-office a list of all the presents that remain unappropriated, and of all the books belonging to the Colonial-office, as Captain Allen's time will be much occupied in making numerous naval arrangements previous to returning home.
In my letter to you of the 20th of March, I also suggested, for Lord Stanley's consideration, the propriety of giving over the duplicates of any of the colonial books to the commandant of the garrison at Ascension. To this letter I beg to refer you.
I have, &c.
(Signed) H.D. Trotter, Captain R.N.
G.W. Hope, Esq.,
&c. &c. &c.
Downing-street, 13th April, 1842.
I am directed by Lord Stanley to transmit to you, for the information of the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty, a letter which has been received at this office from Captain Trotter, on the subject of the operations which it may hereafter be necessary to undertake in furtherance of some of the objects of the late Expedition to the Niger. In the uncertainty under which Lord Stanley at present labours as to the course which may have been, or which may be taken, by the surviving officers of the Expedition, who are still on the coast of Africa, or in its vicinity, it is not in his Lordship's power to draw up any definite instructions for the guidance of those officers, nor even to determine to what particular person any such instructions, if prepared, would most properly be addressed. To obviate, however, as far as possible any misconception of the views of Her Majesty's Government on the subject to which Captain Trotter has adverted, Lord Stanley has prepared the accompanying Minute, and directs me to request that you will move the Lords Commissioners to avail themselves of the earliest opportunity which may offer for transmitting a copy of it to the officer in charge of the vessels, and in command of the survivors of the Expedition, with instructions to him to consider that Minute as affording the general rules for his guidance, until more complete and specific instructions shall reach him.
I have, &c.
(Signed) James Stephen.
Sir John Barrow, Bart.
Enclosure in No. 41.
A Minute explanatory of the general views of Her Majesty's Government, regarding the further prosecution of the original design with which the Expedition to the Niger was undertaken. It being necessary to adopt some final decision as to the further proceedings to be taken in reference to the objects of the late Expedition to the Niger, and it being impossible in our present defective state of information regarding the recent proceedings of Commander Allen and Commissioner Cook, to state with precision the course which they ought now to pursue, I think it right to record in general what are the conclusions adopted by Her Majesty's Government on this subject.
1. It is to be distinctly understood that the Expedition is at an end, that all the officers and men are to return to this country with the utmost practicable despatch, and that the vessels, and their equipments and cargoes, are to be disposed of in such a manner as the Lords of the Admiralty may direct in furtherance of any other branch of the public service, which is under their Lordship's administration. This general statement is to be understood as qualified by the communication addressed by my directions to the Secretary of the Lords of the Admiralty, for their Lordships' information, on the 30th, and by the remaining paragraphs of this Minute.
2. In accordance with that communication, one of the two Commissioners of the Expedition who are still on the coast, viz., Commander Allen or Mr. Cook, will proceed up the Niger, for the purpose of communicating with the model farm, and there decide on behalf of the proprietors of that establishment, whether it is to be continued or not.
3. If the farm should be found in so prosperous a condition, that with a probability of succeeding in the cultivation of cotton, or any other grounds, the settlers should desire to remain, the Commissioner may, if he think fit, authorize them to do so, on behalf of and as representing the subscribers to the farm, and in this case he may station the Amelia tender, at the confluence of the Tchadda and Quorra, for the defence of the settlers, as well as the galley left there last year by Captain Trotter.
4. Should the health of the party on board the steam-boat be unusually good, and circumstances fevourable on the arrival of the vessel at the model farm, Lord Stanley would not object to an attempt being made to open a communication with Rabbah, but the propriety of such an attempt, being made is left to the discretion of the Commissioner, and it must be distinctly understood that he is not authorized to attempt to proceed beyond that place.
5. As it has been represented that some settlers at the model farm may wish to remain there for the purpose of securing their crops, the Commissioner may consider himself authorized to undertake that one of Her Majesty's vessels shall remain off the Nun, for a limited period, to be agreed upon between the Commissioner and the settlers, for the purpose of receiving these settlers after they shall have gathered their crops, and the senior naval officer on the station will give the necessary orders accordingly.
6. If, on the other hand, the settlers should be in an unfavourable position, and desirous of removing themselves from the Niger, the Commissioner is authorized to bring them and their property away.
7. Supposing, however, that these instructions shall not reach the hands of Commander Allen or of Mr. Cook, previously to either of them having ascended the Niger, as according to the last accounts received from Commander Allen he was about to do, they are not in this case to consider themselves authorized to return to the model farm, as if the settlers have not availed themselves of that, opportunity of coming away, Her Majesty's Government is not prepared to advise the expense and risk of life which would be consequent on a second Expedition in the same year.
8. Supposing, on the other hand, that the officer carrying out the present instructions is unable to find the Commissioners, or to obtain any account of their proceedings, he should in this case repair to the senior naval officer on the coast, and deliver the instructions to him, to whose discretion it must be left according to the information of which he may be in possession, to take such measures as he may judge proper for carrying them into effect.
9. It will be the duty of the Commissioners, if they receive the present instructions, or of the senior naval officer on the coast, if it devolves on him to act on the instructions, to take advantage of a convenient opportunity for acquainting Obi Ossai, the Chief of the Eboe country, that Her Majesty confirms and ratifies the Treaty entered into by him with the Commissioners of the Niger Expedition on the 28th of August, 1841, and that being firmly resolved to execute that Treaty strictly, so far as depends on Her Majesty, Her Majesty relies on Obi Ossai's exact and faithful observance of the obligations which he has by that Treaty contracted. A similar communication is to be made to Ochejah Attah of Egarra, in respect of the Treaty concluded by him with the Commissioners on the 6th of September, 1841, which Her Majesty is pleased to approve and ratify, with the exception of the second and third Additional Articles, on the ground that Her Majesty declines to accept the sovereignty of any territory in Central Africa, or any proprietary interest in any land which the Attah has agreed to cede to Her Majesty. The officer making these communications to Obi Ossai and Ochejah is to consider himself empowered to make presents to the former to the amount of about £25, and to the latter to the amount of about £50; and to minor Chiefs and other persons according to their importance presents of less amount. Those to whom such presents may be made should be given clearly to understand that they are so made as expressive of Her Majesty's approbation of their conduct towards the Expedition sent by Her Majesty last year up the Niger, and of the readiness with which they acquiesced in the proposal made to them in Her Majesty's behalf.
The Chiefs should, however, be distinctly apprized that they have no further gifts to expect from Her Majesty, and the utmost care must be taken that the presents are not bestowed in such a manner as would impede, rather than promote the natural growth and progress of trade, by exciting hopes that commodities can hereafter be obtained, on any other terms than the delivery of a fair equivalent for them.
Copy of a DESPATCH (No. 7.) from Her Majesty's Commissioners of the Expedition to the Niger to Lord Stanley.
Her Majesty's Steamer Wilberforce, Bimbia, near Fernando Po, 19th May, 1842.
Having had about a month to spare, while waiting for the proper time for re-entering the Niger, or for your Lordship's instructions, I considered it necessary for the preservation of the health of the crews of Her Majesty's vessels under my command to move about in preference to remaining at Fernando Po, and to take this opportunity of obtaining information on some points alluded to in the instructions from my Lords of the Admiralty.
With these objects I proceeded to the river Cameroons, where I learnt, in conversation with the Chiefs Bell and Aqua, that it had been the practice to sacrifice a human being on the death of a Chief, and although, from the great intercourse with Europeans, this appears to be falling into disuse, yet there exist no positive obligations to prevent its recurrence.
I therefore deemed it advisable, though without the benefit of the assistance of my colleague, who preferred remaining at Fernando Po, to conclude an agreement which should abolish for ever that inhuman custom.
The young Chief A'Lobah (King Bell) assured me, that on the death of his grandfather, his father had made war on the "Bush people" for the express purpose of killing some one, and on the death of his own father, A'Lobah hung up the broken pitchers in the Fetish house, whence they could not be removed, nor could he shave his head, until he had complied with the custom of the country. This ought to have been done within the year, but he had happily been too much engaged in lawful trade. He readily assented to the truth of my arguments, which his people also listened to with satisfaction, and in proof of sincerity he at once removed the broken pitchers, and promised to build a new house upon the spot.
The other Chief, Gandoh, (King Aqua,) is an old man, and has been trading with the English all his life. He required no inducements to abandon what he acknowledged to be a bad practice. However, in order to strengthen his good disposition, and to bind his son, I entered into a similar agreement with him, and gave him the same presents as I had to King Bell, which will prevent jealousy, though they were but trifling in amount.
Your Lordship will perceive that these agreements are of little importance in themselves, as I believe that the Chiefs are now so fully occupied with the palm oil trade, that they will defer of necessity the consummation of these barbarous rites until they probably will be discontinued and forgotten; but, as I had an opportunity of penetrating a little way into the interior, on the river of Cameroons, and as I spoke to the people there of the possibility of the steamer going up at a future time for the most pacific and friendly purposes, the report of such an agreement having been made will, I think, have the effect of preparing a favourable reception, since those people whom I visited are, I believe, the sufferers in the wars consequent on the death of a Chief.
At Bimbia, the same custom has prevailed, but as the Chief has made over his right of sovereignty to the Crown of England, through Colonel Nicolls, although I do not know whether it has been accepted, I would do no more than exhort him earnestly to abandon the practice, which he readily promised. Indeed, he denied the existence of it, but I learned from some of his own people, as well as from King Bell at Cameroons, that he was desirous of making war to sacrifice to the manes of his brother Kuanèh. The head men of the neighbouring villages expressed their gratification at the prospect of the extinction of this custom, of which they all acknowledge the injustice, if even they are insensible to its barbarity.
It is, my Lord, much to be deplored, that the long intercourse which the Europeans have had with the Africans has but tended to increase their innate avidity for gain, while the white merchants who have succeeded to the Slave-dealers, in order to protect themselves from fraud and extortion, frequently have recourse to arbitrary measures, which are as repugnant to all principles of justice as they must be to those of good policy. A mutual reaction of evil is thus induced, and on it has been based a system which must be not only an effectual bar to the introduction of civilization, but must bring the parties into continual collision. I would therefore take the liberty of respectfully suggesting to your Lordship that, the natives having arrived at that point where lawful trade has become a necessity, the interference of Government would be very salutary, on the one hand, in establishing such simple regulations as, without throwing any impediment in the way of trade, may afford protection to the merchants against the extortion of the natives, and enable them to recover their just debts, and on the other hand, may protect the natives against arbitrary proceedings on the part of the whites, by preventing the necessity of having recourse to them.
I would further beg leave to observe, that the natives of the two principal towns of the Cameroons, having already made some advance in civilization, and in worldly knowledge, it would now seem to be a fitting time for the introduction of that knowledge which is necessary for their eternal welfare. I therefore believe that a judicious missionary would find, in that country, a fair field for his ministry. Indeed, A'Lobah (King Bell) assured me that he would afford a kind reception and protection if one would settle at his town and teach his people.
Some fresh cases of fever having occurred in the Wilberforce, I hastened to the Bay of Amboises, where the comparative salubrity of the climate soon restored them to health. I had it in command from the Admiralty to examine this locality as to its eligibility for an agricultural establishment. I shall send a report on the subject to my Lords, accompanied by fuller details and plans to their hydrographer. I would also take the liberty of pointing out to your Lordship the very great importance of this place in every point of view, especially if we have not possession of Fernando Po. I consider the mountain of Cameroons, which rises from this bay, together with several islands adjacent to it, as possessing most of the advantages of that beautiful island, with others in addition, especially in respect of salubrity. It has been considered in favour of Fernando Po that it is an island, but I would take leave to say, that one of the principal objects in the formation of a settlement in Africa being the spread of civilization and the extinction of the Slave Trade, if the immense variety which this noble mountain presents in climate, soil, and productions, should prove favourable to the establishment of any colony, these objects will be more readily secured by the intercourse which obtains to a considerable extent among the neighbouring nations, With regard to the safety of the settlers, there are several positions in the bay, and on the islands, which might be rendered impregnable.
In fact, I consider, my Lord, that no place on the West Coast of Africa presents so many advantages as the Bay of Amboises. I might have purchased the two islands in it called Mòndoleh and Damèh, but I found that the West African Company, some years ago, made an agreement for the territory called Amboises. As, however, the designation in this agreement is of a vague nature, and as the whole of the purchase-money has not been paid, it perhaps may be considered as null and void, though an arrangement might easily be made with both parties; and I will venture to remind your Lordship, that the sovereignty of the whole of this splendid country, that is to say, the south-west base of the Cameroons mountain, has been offered to the British Government through Colonel Nicolls, by the present Chief, who calls himself King William, and who is, I believe, the legitimate sovereign.
I beg leave to enclose the triplicates of the agreements which I have concluded with the two Chiefs of Cameroons. I have the satisfaction of being able to state that there is no sickness of any kind in either the Soudan or Wilberforce.
I have, &c.
William Allen, Commissioner and Acting Captain.
The Right Hon. Lord Stanley,
&c. &c. &c.
Enclosure in No. 42.
An Agreement between William Allen Esq., Acting Captain of Her Majesty's steam-vessel Albert, in command of Wilberforce, Senior Officer and the only Commissioner present of the Niger Expedition, on behalf of Her Majesty the Queen of Great Britain, on one part, and A'Lobah, one of the two Chiefs of Dualla, commonly called King Bell, of Bell's Town, Cameroons, on the other part.
Whereas it appears, by the acknowledgment of A'Lobah, Chief of Dualla, commonly called King Bell, of Bell's Town, Cameroons, that it has formerly been the practice in the country of
Dualla, or Cameroons, to sacrifice a human being on the death of a Chief, and whereas, on the explanation by Captain Allen of the evil tendency of such a practice in all its bearings, the said Chief has declared his conviction of the truth and justice of these arguments, and his regret that they have never been explained to him before,-
He, the aforesaid A'Lobah, Chief of Dualla, (King Bell of Cameroons,) freely agrees and declares-
That from the signing of this Agreement, no human being whatever shall be sacrificed on account of religious or other ceremonies or customs.
And so we, William Allen, and A'Lobah, Chief of Dualla, (King Bell, of Bell's Town, Cameroons,) have made this Agreement, and have signed it on board Her Majesty's steam-vessel Wilberforce, off Bell's Town, river Cameroons, this 10th day of May, 1842, and this Agreement shall stand for ever.
William Allen, Captain (Acting) and Commissioner.
A'Lobah King Bell, Chief of Dualla of Cameroons, his + mark.
Witnesses to the Signatures,
W.H. Webb, Acting Lieutenant.
M. Pritchett, M.D.
An Agreement between William Allen, Esq., Acting Captain of Her Majesty's steam-vessel Albert, in command of Wilberforce, Senior Ofecer and the only Commissioner present of the Niger Expedition, on behalf of Her Majesty, the Queen of Great Britain, on one part, and Gandoh, one of the two Chiefs of Dualla, commonly called King Aqua, of Aqua's Town, Cameroons, on the other part.
Whereas it appears by the acknowledgment of Gandoh, one of the two Chiefs of Dualla, commonly called King Aqua, of Aqua's Town, Cameroons, that it has formerly been the practice in the country of Dualla, or Cameroons, to sacrifice a human being on the death of a Chief, and although Gandoh is fully sensible of the evil tendency of such a practice, and believes it to have fAllen into disuse, yet, as no positive obligations exist to prevent the recurrence of it,-
Therefore the aforesaid Gandoh, Chief of Dualla, (King Aqua of Cameroons,) freely agrees and declares-
From and after the signing of this Agreement, no human being whatever shall be sacrificed on occasion of religious or other ceremonies or customs, and that he will command his son not to perform such sacrifice at his death.
And so we, William Allen, and Gandoh, Chief of Dualla, (King Aqua, of Aqua's Town, Cameroons,) have made this Agreement, and have signed it on board Her Majesty's steam-vessel Wilberforce, this 11th day of May, 1842, and this Agreement shall stand for ever.
William Allen, Captain (Acting) and Commissioner.
Gandoh King Aqua, Chief of Dualla of Cameroons, his + mark.
Witnesses to the Signatures,
W.H. Webb, Acting Lieutenant.
M. Pritchett, M.D.
Extract of a DESPATCH (No. 3.) from Lord Stanley to Her Majesty's Commissioners of the Expedition to the Niger, dated Downing-street, 3l st August, 1842.
I have received the despatch of your colleague Captain Allen, numbered 7, and dated the 19th of May last, covering Agreements dated the 10th and 11th of that month respectively, into which he has entered with A'Lobah, commonly called King Bell, of Bell's Town, Cameroons, and Gandoh, commonly called King Aqua, of Aqua's Town, Cameroons, by which those Chiefs have formally renounced the practice of sacrificing human beings; and I have to acquaint you, and desire you will equally inform those Chiefs, that having laid the said Agreements before the Queen, Her Majesty has been graciously pleased to confirm and ratify the same.
Devonport, 5th Sept., 1842.
I have the honour to report to you, that I was about to proceed again up the Niger with Her Majesty's steam-vessels Wilberforce and Soudan, when the Kite arrived at Fernando Po, on the 24th June, bringing despatches from your Lordship, and from the Admiralty.
Having become acquainted with the wishes of Her Majesty's Government, I lost no time in carrying them into effect. I despatched the Wilberforce up the river, agreeably to your Lordship's wishes, manned by a black crew, and a limited number of officers, viz., one lieutenant, one assistant surgeon, one clerk in charge, two warrant officers, and three engineers, who very handsomely volunteered from the Expedition. I towed the Wilberforce to the mouth of the river, in the Kite, and saw her safely cross the bar, on 2nd July; I enclose a copy of my instructions to Lieutenant Webb. I then ordered the commander of the Kite to receive on board the remaining officers and men of the Expedition, and to proceed at once to England.
I have now the satisfaction of announcing to your Lordship that we arrived at this port, all well, on the 2nd instant.
I beg leave to apologize, my Lord, for an apparent remissness, in not having reported my arrival to you immediately.
I have, &c.
(Signed) William Allen, Captain, and only Commissioner present.
The Right Hon. Lord Stanley,
&c. &c. &c.
Enclosure in No. 44.
William Allen, Captain and Commissioner.
Her Majesty's Steamer Wilberforce, Clarence Cove, Fernando Po, 29th June, 1842.
Her Majesty's Government having declared that the Niger Expedition is at an end, but that one of the vessels shall be sent up the river for the purpose of communicating with the model farm; and as you have volunteered for this service, I hereby appoint you to the temporary command of Her Majesty's steamer Wilberforce; and it is my direction that, as soon as your preparations shall be completed, you proceed to the Nun branch of the river Niger, and that you carry into effect the wishes of Her Majesty's Government. As I have the fullest confidence in your zeal and discretion, I feel that I cannot do better than enclose copies of their Lordships' Letter to Captain Foote, together with Lord Stanley's Minute, strictly enjoining you to carry out the spirit of the views of their Lordships therein contained. I will only add, that it is of the utmost importance that you use every dispatch consistent with the safety of the vessel, in accomplishing the service entrusted to you; and that, although Lord Stanley permits you to communicate with Rabbah, it is only to be done under the most favourable circumstances. If, therefore, the slightest symptoms of sickness should break out among your European party, you are on no account to attempt it. In any case my opinion is, that it is not desirable to appear before Rabbah with a reduced complement of officers, and a black crew; as the natives, knowing the deadly effect which their climate has always had on us, will believe that it places them beyond the reach of white men, especially if any of your officers should be sick while there. You will observe also that Lord Stanley, and the Lords of the Admiralty, are peremptory in commanding you not to go beyond Rabbah, nor to explore the river with Her Majesty's vessel.
You have with you what you consider a sufficient number of officers, and on their zeal and cordial co-operation I feel confident you may rely. At your strong instance I have appointed a third engineer, which I agree with you in thinking absolutely necessary. The Kroomen are of your own selection; one of whom, Yàrriba George, the stoker, was promised his discharge when we should go up the river again. He also applied for it when I was at Rabbah, in the Alburkah. You are therefore to discharge him at any convenient place, paying him the amount of his wages in goods and cowries.
Mr. Cook, the Civil Commissioner, having very recently altered the determination he had made to accompany you, for the purpose of attending to the interests of the proprietors of the model farm, this difficult task devolves on you; and I have no doubt you will do all in your power to comply with the wishes expressed by the Chairman of the Society in his letter to Mr. Cook. I would, however, impress on your mind the importance of deeply considering the condition in which you may find the settlers at the model farm, since much of the future good to Africa which may still be hoped to arise out of the exertions which have been made in her behalf, may depend on the decision to which you may come with respect to that establishment. At the same time I must express my conviction that those who are interested in it, will be satisfied with whatever course you may take.
As Her Majesty has declined to accept the sovereignty, or proprietary interest, in any land which the Attàh has agreed to cede to her Majesty, you will explain to the Attàh, or to his officers, that the person left in charge of the model farm, is to be considered on the behalf of the Agricultural Society, as the proprietor of such a portion of the territory originally proposed to be purchased, as may be agreed on by you, in consideration of the sum of 160,000 cowries, which have been paid to the Attàha's agents, being one-fifth of the whole purchase-money. The limits of such portion are to be clearly defined by you, and explained as well to the native authorities as to our settlers. You will also explain to the settlers who may choose to remain, that they will not be under the sovereignty of the British Queen, but under that of the Attàh of Égara, and they must therefore abstain from violating any of his laws. You may possibly be able to stipulate on their behalf for the taxes and duties to which they will be liable.
The Chiefs of Ibu, and of Égara, have agreed to abolish for ever the Slave Trade in their dominions; but as it is reasonable to suppose, that without the presence of a restraining influence, they will not take active measures to enforce the observance of the treaty by their subjects, you may have opportunities of seeing this inhuman practice still carried on. I am clearly of opinion, under existing circumstances, that you should refrain from all interference in such a case, since, in the first place, we have no authority from the Admiralty for capturing any vessel or canoe engaged in it; and in the next there is reason to fear that such capture being totally at variance with the prejudices and ideas of right and wrong they have hitherto entertained; the natives not only would be unable to appreciate the principle upon which you act, but they might probably imagine that you have used your power for the purpose of appropriating the slaves to yourself. And, lastly, instances of rigour, although just, if they be not followed up, may, by exasperating the natives, be productive of much evil, not only to those persons who may remain as settlers, but to any future enterprise which may be purely commercial.
On your return to the coast you will find one of Her Majesty's vessels at the mouth of the Nun ready to assist you, and probably with orders from the Senior Officer; otherwise you will return to this port, and be guided by instructions, which you will here receive.
You will request the Senior Officer that he be pleased to take steps for sending all the Kroo-men and liberated Africans composing your crew, to their respective countries; and you will remember, in making out their pay-lists, that such men as you may think deserving of it, are entitled to one month's extra pay, as a reward for their good services.
I have, &c.
(Signed) William Allen, Captain.
To Lieutenant W.H. Webb,
Her Majesty's Steam-vessel Wilberforce.
Downing-street, 14th September, 1842.
I have to acknowledge the receipt of your despatch, No. 8, of the 5th ultimo, reporting the arrangements which you have made in pursuance of my instructions of April last, for sending Her Majesty's steamer Wilberforce up the Niger, under the command of Lieutenant Webb, to communicate with the model farm.
Amidst much that has occurred, connected with the Niger Expedition, to cause deep regret, it has afforded me considerable satisfaction to find, by your present communication, that my instructions reached your hands in time to stop the renewal of that Expedition, and that yourself and the other surviving officers and seamen have returned in safety to England.
It only remains for me to state that I approve the instructions which you have given to Lieutenant Webb, for his guidance in the conduct of the mission entrusted to him.
I am, &c.
To Captain Allen, R.N.
Copy of a LETTER from Sir John Barrow, Bart., to G.W. Hope, Esq.
Admiralty, 10th December, 1842.
I am commanded by my Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty to send you herewith, for the information of Lord Stanley, a copy of a letter dated the 8th instant, from Lieutenant Webb, of Her Majesty's steam-vessel Wilberforce, reporting his proceedings up the Niger, whilst endeavouring to ascertain the fate of Mr. Carr, of the late Niger Expedition.
I am, &c.
(Signed) John Barrow
G.W. Hope, Esq.
Enclosure in No. 46.
Woolwich, 8th December, 1842.
I have the honour to acquaint you, for the information of my Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty, that owing to the duties which have intervened since my return to England, I have not been able to send in a minute report of my proceeding up the Niger, but which I trust to have the honour shortly to transmit, now they have come to a close.
On the presumption that the scattered information I am in possession of, regarding the disappearance of Mr. Carr, to be a matter of some importance, and may be a guide for their Lordships' further proceedings in that case, should they deem it necessary, I beg to lay before you all the facts upon that head which I have been able to elicit.
On thy first landing at Abòh, on the 6th July, after the preliminary inquiries, I made it the first subject of investigation with King Obie, if he knew any white man having ascended the river in a canoe, mentioning the time Mr. Carr had entered Brass or St. John's River. He assured me that no intelligence had reached him of any white man proceeding up the river by that route, and he was confident Mr. Carr had not gone up, or it must have come to his knowledge.
On my way to the vessel, after having secured a pilot, observing several large canoes, I asked him to whom they belonged; he informed me to King Boy, who was in one which he pointed out. This rather surprised me, as King Obie had not mentioned the circumstance, although Boy's name was brought under discussion. I immediately proceeded to the king's canoe, and saw Boy, demanding any information he might have regarding Mr. Carr. He positively assured me that he had never heard of the arrival of Mr. Carr in Brass river, but thought it most probable that if he had landed or passed through there, a son of the late King Jacket, a co-chief in the same river, might have been aware of the circumstance. This reply, considering they were such near neighbours, was sufficient to convince me he had more knowledge of Mr. Carr than he was disposed to give; and finding, after many promises, threats, and much questioning, nothing further was to be obtained from him without proceeding to force, I proceeded up the river, and made the same inquiries on my arrival at lddah, when I was equally unfortunate in obtaining any information.
On my way down I stopped to communicate with King Obie; and, after anchoring, two messengers came on board from King Boy, who was encamped on a sand-bank on the right-hand side of Abòh creek, requesting an interview with me respecting the white man that entered his river about seven or eight moons back; which, after his previous disavowal of all knowledge of Mr. Carr, convinced me of his duplicity. I immediately despatched the galley with his two messengers, requesting his attendance on board. They returned, saying that he would come if white man would fetch him (a custom not uncommon among African chiefs).
Mr. Hinsman, assistant surgeon, kindly volunteered for that duty; who, on his return without Boy, reported that he was unwilling to come; but be how confessed Mr. Carr had entered his river about seven or eight moons since, though not under his protection; and that he was in possession of his clothes, together with two Bassa men, from whom he took them about that period. He studiously avoided stating whether the canoe was going seaward or to their own country in the interior, or giving his reasons for retaining this information on my last interview; which behaviour led me to believe that be was deeply implicated in the loss of Mr. Carr; and whilst he declared that he had no positive evidence of his murder, yet he believed him to be killed by the Bassa people, and was ready to furnish pilots to their locality, although he would not go himself. As I considered this statement of his not sufficiently satisfactory, I proceeded on shore myself, to prevail upon him, if possible, to come on board, hoping, when he was once is my power, to arrive at some more definite conclusion as to the destiny of the unfortunate superintendent. He directly refused to come on board; and all his replies to why he withheld this intelligence before, and his reasons why he had not communicated the circumstance to the King of Bonny, with whom he is in constant intercourse, were more evasive and shuffling.
Finding it impossible to seize him, being strongly encamped and supported by three large canoes, I returned on board and got the vessel under weigh, in order that I might intimidate him and cut off his retreat to Abòh without coming to actual hostilities on friendly ground; but I am sorry to say he anticipated the movement, and, during the confusion of clearing the numerous Abòh canoes which surrounded the vessel, King Obie having arrived at the moment of weighing, also hastily left the ship.
My first measure was to secure the persons of the two Brass men (Boy's messengers), thinking that if I was unable to obtain any final information from either Obie or Boy, I might obtain more substantial proofs from the prisoners, on my way to Fernando Po, not wishing to remain long in the Delta, as three out of the eight Europeans were confined to their beds with fever, also the boatswain and last engineer complaining.
I then sent a message to Obie, through one of his canoes just arrived from the lower part of the river, saying that, as we were friends by treaty, I trusted he would renew the visit. He sent me back word, by one of his head men, that he would come if the captain would fetch him. I accordingly proceeded in the galley with Mr. Hinsman up his creek; but before I could arrive at the landing place, two large canoes suddenly closed from either side of the creek, and showed evident marks of hostility and a wish to cut the galley off, the banks at the same time being instantaneously lined with armed men.
Her Majesty's steam-vessel being in a precarious state, and the boat's crew unarmed, I deemed it more prudent to return to the vessel; and, after securing the person of Obie's messenger, and waiting a short time for a communication from the shore, I took the schooner in tow and proceeded down the river.
On the following morning I examined the Brass men and Obie's messenger, whose examination I now beg to enclose, only remarking that the prisoners were examined separately.
On a subsequent examination at Fernando Po, before Mr. Becroft, they asserted they were not certain Mr. Carr was murdered, but constantly endeavoured to impress upon me, that if such was the case, the Brass people were innocent.
Finding the prisoners prevaricated in their replies, and seemed only anxious to exculpate their tribe, and fix the stigma on the Bassa people, I proceeded the same day down the first Benin branch, 40 miles up the river Nun, to the Bassa creek (a chart of which I enclose), under the pilotage of the prisoners, determining to investigate the matter at Bassa Town, as it appeared so singular that Mr. Carr's clothes and the Bassa prisoners should be taken in Brass creek, when they stated he was murdered at Bassa; but after proceeding five miles down, and the vessel grounding, the boatswain being obliged to lay up, the remaining engineer getting worse, and the surgeon also down with fever, I was compelled to relinquish all further prosecution in the matter.
I would beg to observe to their Lordships, that from the suspicious behaviour of King Boy, and the unsatisfactory replies of the prisoners, I am of opinion that Boy is in possession of all the information regarding the mysterious disappearance of Mr. Carr; and further, that although there is no positive proof of his death, yet the presumption is such as to leave little doubt of it, as Boy would have been but too happy to have obtained possession of Mr. Carr himself, as well as his boxes, in whosesoever power he might have been, for the sake of his ransom.
In my letter to Captain Foote, I stated in what manner I had disposed of the prisoners, viz., discharged them into the Soudan, to await an opportunity for a passage to their own country, and expressed my assumption of Mr. Carr's death.
I trust their Lordships will be sufficiently satisfied that I prosecuted the inquiries on the river respecting Mr. Carr, with as much zeal as untoward circumstances would admit, and I humbly beg leave to request, should their Lordships' contemplate making further researches there for more positive evidence, I may be allowed to offer my services for that particular duty.
I have, &c.
(Signed) W.H. Webb
Lieutenant late Commanding H.M.S.V. Wilberforce.
The Secretary of the Admiralty.
Examination of King Boy's Messengers, Ben Williams and Ebony Bill.
26th July, 1842.
Q. Do you remember the white man coming up Brass river about 8 moons ago?
A. No; but I remember hearing of one who was said to go up in a Bassa canoe.
Q. What became of him?
A. It was said he was tied to a tree and shot by the Bassa men at Bassa Town.
Q. Where, and how did you hear of this?
A. Brass; Bassa prisoners say so, at Bassa Town, the first Benin branch about 40 miles up the river Nun.
Q. Has King Boy got his clothes, and two Bassa men prisoners who are supposed to have murdered him?
Q. Did these two men murder him?
A. They say no.
Q. When and where did King Boy take the clothes and men?
A. In Brass Creek, about seven or eight moons since.
Q. Can you mention any of the articles King Boy has?
A, Yes; plenty of clothes and plenty of books, but all the boxes had been opened.
Q. Why do you think Bassa men murdered him?
A. Do not know; suppose for his clothes.
Q. What did they do with his servant?
Q. What did they do with his servant?
A. Sent him into the country for slave.
Q. Did these Bassa men say he was murdered; and how did they account for being in possession of his clothes?
A. Yes; would not tell.
Q. Where was the Bassa canoe going when King Boy took it?
A. Did not know or would not tell.
Q. Why did not King Boy tell King Obie or King of Bonny he had his clothes, or why did he not tell me about one moon back?
A. Do not know.
Q. If they murdered Mr. Carr down the first Benin branch, near Bassa Town, how did King Boy get his clothes at Brass Town, or in Brass Creek?
A. Would not answer.
Q. If King Boy could get Mr. Carr's clothes, why could he not get his person?
A. Because Bassa people too far.
Q. Did Chief of Bassa ever come to Brass Town, and demand his men from King Boy?
Q. Why did King Boy keep these men so long prisoners without letting white men know through King of Bonny?
A. Because he had no opportunity.
Q. Will you take this ship to Bassa Town?
Q. Can this ship go to Brass Town?
Many other queries put, but no further information could be obtained.
Examination of Black Beard, King Obi's Messenger.
Q. Did you ever hear of a white man landing in Brass river to go up this river about seven or eight moons back?
Q. Did you ever hear of a white man being murdered in Brass or by the Bassa people about that time?
Q. Did you ever hear of King Boy having clothes of a white man, and two Bassa people that he took with them?
Q. How often does King Boy generally come to Abòh?
A. About one in two moons.
Q. What does he come for?
A. Palm oil and yams.
Q. Does King Boy deal in slaves?
Q. With whom?
A. Would not say.
Q. You are positive that you never heard from King Boy or any Brass people of a white man having been murdered about seven or eight moons back and King Boy having his clothes?
Q. What was the reason King Obi's canoes prepared to attack my boat and make white man prisoner?
A. Do not know.
Q. What made Obi's canoes and all people on shore armed, as well as the canoes near the ship?
A. Do not know.
Q. Why did King Obii leave the ship and refuse to come again when I sent for him.
A. Afraid, I suppose.
Q. What was he afraid of?
A. Do not know.
Many other queries were put, but nothing of the least importance could be elicited.
W.H. Webb, Lieutenant.
Admiralty, 11th January, 1843.
With reference to your letter of the 30th March last (page 56) relative to the withdrawal of the Expedition to the Niger, I am commanded by my Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty to send you herewith, for the information of Lord Stanley, a copy of a report from Lieutenant Webb, late commander of Her Majesty's steam-vessel Wilberforce, dated the 2nd inst., relative to the proceedings of the said Expedition, and my Lords desire me to express their hope that the conduct of Lieutenant Webb, as therein detailed, will be approved of by Lord Stanley under the circumstances stated.
I am, &c.
(Signed) John Barrow.
James Stephen, Esq.
Enclosure in No. 47.
To the Secretary of the Admiralty, a Report of Proceedings from Lieutenant W.H. Webb, R.N.
8, Cecil-street, Strand, 2nd January, 1843.
As my Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty may require further information on the subject of my late voyage up the river Niger than is contained in my letter of the 10th ultimo, I beg leave to transmit a full and particular report of my proceedings.
Her Majesty's Government having sent out despatches to recal the officers and crews of the Niger Expedition, and directing at the same time that a vessel should be sent up the river to communicate with the model farm, I volunteered for this service, together with the officers named in the margin.
Mr. J.H.R. Webb, Clerk in Charge.
Mr. W.C. Huisman, Acting Assistant Surgeon.
Mr. John Waddington, Acting Boatswain.
Mr. Henry Davey, Acting Carpenter.
Mr. W. Johnstone, first Engineer.
Mr. M. Cameron, second Engineer.
Mr. Henry Collins, third Engineer.
Captain William Allen, senior officer of the Expedition, having judged the Wilberforce most suitable for this service, appointed me to the temporary command of her, with the above-named officers and 46 Kroomen.
On the 29th June, 1842, all our preparations having been completed, we sailed from Fernando Po, towed by the Kite, in which vessel Captain Allen accompanied us, to see us safely enter the river, which we reached at noon of the 1st July. The tide not serving that day to cross the bar, and also having to communicate with Captain Allen, we anchored.
At 6.30 a.m. of the 2nd July we parted our chain, in consequence of the strong breeze and heavy swell, and after being supplied with an anchor from the Kite, and received my final instructions from Captain Allen, we weighed, and parted company with the old English appeal of three hearty cheers.
We crossed the bar 10.45 a.m., and anchored at 11 in the mouth of the river, as we found the vessel would not steer without addition to her rudder, the tail of which we had lost the day we left Fernando Po. To repair this defect we were under the necessity of grounding her, which we did safely, and by the exertions of the carpenter and the engineers completed this duty in six hours, but unfortunately we lost the night tide, and were detained till 11 a.m. of the 3rd.
We found little or no variation in the soundings or strength of the tide (which was now at flood), as observed on a former occasion, until we arrived near Sunday Island, when the sea tide ceases and the mangrooves begin to disappear. There our difficulties commenced, and, as Captain Allen had predicted, we found the appearance of the river totally altered, sand banks showing themselves in all parts of the bed of the stream, and in some places extending nearly across the whole width, never affording more than from 7 to 10 feet of water, or if we happened to find it somewhat deeper near the banks, the snags protruded in such numbers that it was with the utmost difficulty that we avoided them.
We also observed in passing the several villages on either bank of the river, that the natives (few of whom appeared) did not display that curiosity, fear, or wonder which had been so apparent on our first ascent, and that our passage (except in rare instances) was a matter of unconcern to them.
I was at a loss to account for this indifference, except that it might have arisen from the little intercourse we had had with the tribes in the Delta; or else (and as I suspected) that it arose from their having some knowledge of Mr. Carr's fate, and therefore were apprehensive of our intentions on that account.
The current from Sunday Island to Abòh was considerably less, never exceeding two knots; and this circumstance taken in reference to steam-vessels of smaller dimensions and better proportioned powers than the Wilberforce, affords a good argument for preferring to ascend the river in the month of July, or even so early as the middle of June, for with the Wilberforce we found great advantage, her power being so small.
On arriving at a branch of the river above Ingiamma, through which the Wilberforce went last August, and which Captain Allen thought we might try on this occasion, we found it nearly dry, precluding all possibility of taking that route. The banks of the river had varied from 15 to 20 feet in height, and the particles of light, fine, yet firm sand in the bed of the stream were from two to three feet high; in fact, this formerly broad sheet of water was diminished to a narrow stream, abounding with shoals.
The neighbourhood of the larger Benin branch, which we reached on the 5th July, was so intersected by shoals that we grounded several times before we succeeded in finding a fit channel. The navigation was rendered extremely difficult by the partial covering of shoals, but where the sands appeared above water the channel was generally well defined.
At 9 a. m. of the 6th we anchored off Abòh. Knowing the danger of delay in a pestilential atmosphere, I immediately proceeded to visit Obie, to inform him of the objects of my mission and to obtain if possible information respecting the settlement at the confluence and the fate of Mr. Carr. The king kept me in waiting nearly an hour in his, so called, palace. He then made his appearance, dressed in the habiliments given to His Majesty by the Commissioners on signing the Treaty for the suppression of the Slave Trade. Our interview was very brief. I informed the king of the ratification of that Treaty by Her Majesty Queen Victoria, upon which he inquired after the expected trading vessels, and I answered that in due time they might appear. My inquiry for information respecting Mr. Carr then followed, viz., as to whether the king knew of any white man having ascended the river in a canoe, mentioning the time when Mr. Carr had entered Brass (or St. John's) river. The King assured me that he had no knowledge, nor had any intelligence reached him, of any white man proceeding up the river by that route; that he was confident Mr. Carr had not gone up, or he, the king, must have become acquainted with the circumstance.
Upon inquiry respecting the settlement, or model farm, the king reluctantly produced a small box containing letters from the settlers, dated in October, 1841, which one of his head men had received at Iddah "six moons before," saying at the same time that there was a rumour of the Foulahs or Falatahs having attacked the settlement and murdered three of the farmers.
The detention of this box of letters which it was so easy for the King to have forwarded to its destination through the Bonny or Brass people, with whom he is in constant intercourse, raised doubts in my mind as to his zeal; and his constrained manner made me suspect that he knew the fate of Mr. Carr, and the true state of the settlers at the farm.
However, I obtained a pilot and took my leave, inviting the King to visit the Wilberforce, in order to receive a portion of the presents I was instructed to offer him. I perhaps should explain that I came to the determination to withhold a portion of the presents intended for King Obie, because I was convinced that he had misgivings as to the object of the Expedition, which he ought not to have had, while the disappointment and anxiety displayed on his countenance at my determination, strongly indicated either his avarice or his fears that something respecting Mr. Carr and the settlers might transpire to disappoint his hopes of getting the remainder. As I could not afford the delay of six hours which the King, in compliance with mere etiquette required, in order to pay a visit to the vessel, I waited till noon, when the King not having made his appearance, I sent by his son the following articles, as a present, in the name of Her Britannic Majesty:
1 double-barrelled gun,
2 single ditto,
and being uneasy at the rumours about the settlers, I hastened my departure from King Obie's Creek with all possible solicitude.
Here I may mention that on my way to the vessel with the pilot, I observed several large canoes lying in the Creek; these it appeared, on inquiry of the pilot, belonged to King Boy of Brass Town, who himself was in one of them, which the pilot pointed out; this rather surprised me, for King Obie had not mentioned the circumstance of King Boy being at hand, although his name was used in our conversation.
I immediately proceeded to the King's canoe and saw Boy; I requested of him any information he might possess respecting Mr. Carr; the King showed willing acquiescence, but the account he gave was as unsatisfactory as that obtained of King Obie, for while be acknowledged that Brown (an African employed in the Expedition as interpreter, and who accompanied Mr. Carr up the Brass Creek), had communicated with some of the Brass people about eight moons back, he disavowed having heard that Mr. Carr or any white man was with him, and all knowledge of the reasons which had induced Brown to enter the Brass river. He suggested, however, that if Mr. Carr had landed or passed through his, the King's water, a son of the late King Jacket, and now a co-chief in the same river, might have been aware of the circumstance. This suggestion, considering the near neighbourhood of these Chiefs, was sufficient to convince me that he knew more of Mr. Carr than he chose to tell.
Boy's fawning and abject behaviour greatly disgusted me, and confirmed my fears as to Carr's fate. I fully resolved, should I be spared, to make him account on my return for Mr. Carr, or to carry him a prisoner to Fernando Po.
We proceeded shortly after noon up the river. The entrance to Obie's or Eboe Creek, which at our former visit was nearly a quarter of a mile in width, had now decreased so much as to be barely sufficient to admit of the use of the galley's oars, and the sands were fully half across the bed of the river. We soon reached the village on the opposite bank (marked hostile in Captain Allen's chart), the natives were assembled in multitudes, and showed the same degree of curiosity that had marked our former track in every part of the river: at 3.30 p.m. we experienced a heavy squall from the S.W., accompanied by lightning, thunder, and rain. Squalls from the S.W. are unusual.
We soon found the uselessness of the pilot Alherr, who was ignorant of the proper channel. We anchored for the night at 6 p.m., having threaded our way among numerous sand banks.
Shortly after weighing on the 8th, we found ourselves in a wrong channel; and in winding ship, grounded. We had recourse to the anchors, and with the assistance of the engines, aided by the untiring zeal of the officers and men, succeeded in clearing the shoal and reaching the mid-channel by dark, when we anchored for the night. While we were aground an Abòh canoe came alongside, from which we obtained by purchase some provisions; after this we discovered a slave bearing Houssa marks, chained to the bottom of the boat. I pointed out to the head man this breach of faith of King Obie, upon which the canoe immediately quitted our side unmolested; for besides being in difficulty at the moment, I thought it more advisable to follow the suggestion of Captain Allen, viz., "not to exasperate the natives by seizing slaves in canoes, should I meet with any;" than to indulge the impulse of my own feelings on this occasion, viz., to carry out the objects of the Treaty for the suppression of the Slave Trade, by liberating any I might meet with.
At nine o'clock a.m. of the 9th, we grounded for an hour near Tamuka Market, on passing which we observed a large concourse of people bartering grass mats, &c. At four o'clock p.m. of the 9th, abreast of Oniàh Market, the sand banks at this part of the river were higher and more extensive than any we had hitherto seen, averaging nine feet. On these banks greater numbers of people than we had seen on the river banks at Tamuka, were encamped in tents; I estimate 1500 as thus encamped; each tent bore a flag with various fantastic devices. There was apparently but little trade going on, but plenty of palaver, as is the case in all African communities on this coast.
At five o'clock abreast of the river Edòh, supposed to be a tributary of the Benìn river, which Soudan attempted to ascend, but was unable to arrive at any definite conclusion as to its source.
At 1.15 p.m. of the 10th we anchored off lddah; Mr. Davey, the carpenter, was sent a-shore for the twofold purpose of inquiry if I could see the Attàh, of whom I wished to learn tidings of Mr. Carr; and of ascertaining by a mark on a large cotton tree made by Captain Trotter's orders during his ascent, how much of the river had fallen, the river was then at its height. 2.40 p.m. the boat returned with intelligence that the Attàh could not be seen till the following day; that the settlers at the confluence were all well, but that no tidings of Mr. Carr had reached them. The river had fallen 30 feet. At 2.45 weighed and proceeded between English Island and the cliffs, not choosing to lose 24 hours in a race of life and death for the caprice of an African chief. At 3,30 finding we were unable to proceed by the before-mentioned channel, and in endeavouring to retrace our steps, we grounded, laid out the kedge, and subsequently the best bower and chain, and tried every available means to get the vessel off without effect. I beg leave here to remark on the unfitness, in my opinion, of such vessels as the Wilberforce and her consorts for the navigation of a river of this description; they have been found both unwieldy and unmanageable under the most favourable circumstances we met with. Notwithstanding the untiring and praiseworthy exertions of officers and men up to a late hour of the night, we laid a-ground till 3.30 p.m. of the 11th. While a-ground on the morning of the 11th the Attah's Mallam (minister) Massabah came on board, bringing a box of letters from the settlers, dated January, 1842, describing their anxiety for the return of the vessels, as the Foulahs had threatened an attack on one or two occasions. The Mallam inquired why I did not visit the Attàh; to which I answered, "I had not time ;" and in return demanded to know why the Attàh would not see me without delay? and why the letters had been so long detained instead of being forwarded to the coast? To the first it was answered, that the "Attàh would break through a long established custom if he received a visitor the same day of his arrival" and to the second, "that he had no opportunity of transmitting the letters." I explained to the Mallam why we came here, and begged him to return to the Attàh and obtain permission to accompany or follow us to the confluence, that a final settlement concerning the purchased territory might be made on the spot; and not wishing to create an unfavourable impression from any lack of courtesy, I sent by the Mallam to the Attàh a silk tobe, and to the old Queen Madogbie a piece of drab silk.
We anchored for the night, and proceeding with the next morning, were at 7.30 of the 12th a-breast of Bird Rock.
Its appearance was completely altered; when we last saw it, it was only a few feet above water, it now appeared about 35 feet high, and bore more resemblance to a ship under sail than to anything else. We passed several rocks, some of which were from 15 to 20 feet above water, although entirely hidden and passed over on our former ascent; at noon passing between a large cluster of rocks (some of which were 35 feet above water) and the lower end of Beaufort Island, and nearly in mid-channel, with leads going one forward and one aft, and every possible precaution, we struck on a reef, which penetrated the second compartment, in the neighbourhood of the boatswain's store-room on the larboard side, and started four rivets in the third compartment on the starboard side; the soundings taken by the two leadsmen before we struck were three fathoms forward and four fathoms aft. The engines were stopped, and immediately reversed, but ineffectually; and before I could run forward from the break of the poop, the foremast compartment filled up to the deck. The leaky compartment was cleared as far as practicable, and the bower-anchor and chain laid out astern, with the kedge on the larboard quarter, and two lengths of hawser to the rocks from the starboard bow. After several unavailing attempts at the purchase together with the engines reversed, finding it impossible to move the vessel, we steadied her for the night.
From day-break of the 13th until 2 p.m., we used every exertion by turning the stowage, heaving on the purchase, and using the engines, to get her off, without success. I then determined to despatch Mr. Waddington, the acting boatswain, in the galley to the confluence to clear out the Amelia tender, and drop her down (if practicable) to take in our stores and provisions, and to lighten the vessel. At 7 p.m., eight of the men belonging to the Amelia appeared in a 40-feet galley attached to the settlement, the said Mr. Waddington had sent down pursuant to my orders, while he and his party were engaged in preparing the Amelia, in which he returned at 5.30 p.m. of the 14th. The promptitude and ability with which Mr. Waddington performed this important service merits my warmest acknowledgments. He had great difficulties to encounter in the mutinous disposition of the crew, and to thread his way through rocks, a distance of 16 miles.
On the 15th, hauled the Amelia alongside, and were busily engaged removing stores and provisions, in which we were greatly assisted by the Bahah refugees brought from the confluence in the schooner until 4.30 p.m., when we again tried all our strength, but without success. We then secured for the night.
On the 16th, employed in removing stores and provisions to the Amelia till 5 p.m., when the schooner being sufficiently deep, we again tried the purchase, and moved the vessel a little. We, however, found it necessary to heave overboard six tons of coals to lighten her; at 7 p.m. we secured for the night. At midnight we had a heavy squall. At 6.30 of the 17th, after baling through the night and pumping, we hove off, and, taking the Amelia in tow, proceeded at full speed towards the confluence. Here I would beg leave to record the high sense I entertain of the exertions of every individual under my command throughout this critical juncture, feeling assured that, by their united and cheerful compliance with every order issued, the vessel was saved from total wreck. While fixed on the reef, Madogbie, the old Queen of Iddah, came on board; she was accompanied by the Mallam Massabah, who, according to my request, came to accompany me to the confluence for the arrangement of affairs. The Queen brought two goats as a present from the King of Iddah, and an assurance that the King would supply any want of provisions. The Queen was so pleased with the reception and what she saw about her, that she prolonged her visit to the extent of 20 hours, when she quitted us and proceeded down the river, landing the Mallam on a neighbouring rock, whence he was soon after brought on board the Wilberforce by a canoe of Iddah, which had been to a market higher up the river. In this canoe I discovered two female slaves from Kakanda; and on my reminding the Mallam, in pretty severe terms, that the King of Iddah, his master, was breaking the Treaty of last year by thus suffering his Chiefs to deal in slaves, he instantly pushed off, and we saw no more of him.
On the 18th July, at 8 a.m., we anchored off the settlement, and found the settlers unmolested from without, but in a state of disorganization.
Finding we could not gain on the leak, we swept the vessel's bottom with a topsail and rain awning; this, however, with constant bailing and pumping, was insufficient; I therefore weighed, and ran her bows on a grassy bank about a cable's length from the right shore. At 6 p.m. we ascertained the injury to be about five feet in length, and two inches in breadth, under the boatswain's store-room, which was to be only repaired by fixing an iron plate from within.
July 19th. Employed on the leak, and in re-stowing stores and provisions from the Amelia, as the river was rising and I was anxious to proceed to Rabbah with the least possible delay.
Up to this time no sickness had appeared among the Europeans of the crew, and I had every reasonable ground of expectation to be able to carry out the views of Her Majesty's Government; but now I found all my designs frustrated by the illness of Messrs. Davey the carpenter, and Johnstone the first engineer, who were seized with fever this day.
20th July. 6.30 a.m. discovered three feet water in the after compartment, accounted for by the oversight of the engineers, on the previous night, in not putting the box-nuts on the pipes which connects with the bilge in the engine-room from each compartment; and in consequence of this accident we were obliged to clear out the after holds. Many of the presents and the powder were found much damaged. The drying these articles and keeping the foremost compartments constantly baled dry, so that the engineers might fix the plate, occupied the whole of this day.
21st July. Employed drying the holds, stores, &c. Mr. Cameron, second engineer, was taken ill, and reduced our strength in this branch to the third engineer, Mr. Collins. We continued every exertion preparatory to removing down the river, though the reduced strength of engineers retarded all our operations to a very inconvenient degree.
About noon, Shimaboe, uncle of the Attàh, came on board to pay his respects. I informed him of the necessity I was under of removing settlers from the model farm, at which he expressed his regret; but he fully concurred in the arrangements I proposed to make with respect to the disposal of the buildings and crops. The friendly behaviour of this Chief induced me to give him, on his departure, a damask tobe. After the departure of Shimaboe, I proceeded on shore, hearing that the Foulahs were within three miles north of the settlement, and engaged in an attack on the village of Priaprie, situated on a rocky eminence at the foot of Mount Pattèh.
I took with me Mr. Webb, the clerk in charge, and an interpreter, to obtain, if possible, an interview with the Chief of the invaders. On arriving at the scene of action, we found that the Chief of the village attacked, Agajah, had beaten them off: this frustrated my hopes of an interview with their Chief. We were shown two arrows by Agajah, as trophies of his victory. Agajah appeared a short though a robust man, with a countenance the most open of any I had yet met with. He had with him about 400 men, armed with bows and arrows; two men, who appeared to be of consequence, carried each an old-fashioned musket: these were the only firearms we observed amongst them. These people appeared better appointed, and expressed more determination than I expected to meet with. The position of the village was well chosen against attack, and the Chief assured me that he had successfully resisted all attacks for a number of years; that he had never had recourse to flight; but, as his enemies were becoming more numerous every moon, he began to be apprehensive of the consequences. His manner was determined and manly, and sufficiently cordial until I refused to give him the pistols I carried. This refusal appeared to offend him; nevertheless, I sent him two single-barrelled guns by his son, who came to visit me on the following day, and exhibited in his person the fine qualities of his father.
A few days before our arrival at the confluence, a village gogœ between Priaprae and the farm, was abandoned by its inhabitants, under apprehensions of hostilities from the Foulahs; the fugitives taking refuge on the dry sand banks in the bed of the river, where they had built huts, as a temporary security against the attacks of their enemies the Foulahs, who never venture on the water and rarely or never dismount unless to bind any unfortunate victims, who never by any chance offer resistance, but give themselves up in passive hopelessness. By this, it would seem, that the settlement did not altogether secure its immediate neighbours from aggression.
July 22nd. Completed the repairs as far as was necessary to carry us to Fernando Po. At 3 p.m., got the steam up and hauled alongside the landing place to receive the remaining stores, &c., belonging to the settlement; we received also four men fugitives from the Bahàh country, who had been at the settlement for some time and feared being left behind, their country is situated about a day's march, west of Mount Pattèh, and judging from their industrious disposition, I should think must be well cultivated, but the Foulahs had found their way there, and they were obliged to seek another home.
We discharged Yàrriba George, a stoker, at his own request; and old Harvey and Finlay, who were returning to their own country, Rabbah, from service in one of the West India regiments, and had served me as interpreters, were also discharged here. By Finlay, who wrote Arabic, and who had excellent certificates of character, I sent to the King of Rabbah, Assima Azariki (Hàssaman Zaïki). a letter, (a copy of is appended), and-
1 silk velvet tobe,
2 scarlet caps, and 11,000 cowries.
1 also sent to the King of Seccatoo, Attikoo-
1 silk tobe,
1 spy glass,
1 packet of buttons but no letter.
These presents, I judged it proper to make, with a view of cultivating a good understanding with two such powerful chiefs.
I have now to state my reasons for removing the settlement, which I found in the following state and condition. I stated in my log from estimate, that the quantity of land under cultivation was about 30 acres; this I found reason to believe might be more correctly stated at 20; this was in good order, mainly planted with cotton, there were also a few yams. The first cropping with corn and cotton had failed entirely from, it is said, the seed having got damaged on its way from England, the growing crops were from the produce of country seed and very promising. Twelve mud huts had been erected, as well as the model farm-house, excepting on gable end of the latter, and the reason given by Nicholls, the head carpenter, in answer to my inquiry, why this remained incomplete was that he could not obtain wood, nor teach the fugitives about the settlement to saw it into plank; now the facts were, that there was sufficient wood to be had hard by the farm, and abundance on the opposite side of the river, and that it might have been cut into planks by five or six carpenters at the settlement. I found that Mr. Moore, the director, "pro tempore," had neither authority nor influence over Nicholls and his subordinates. I found that Mr. Neizer, the clerk, has been busier in malversation than in the business of the Society, for whose benefit he was employed, indeed I found it necessary to take from him merchandise, which he had acquired by the Society's means on his own account, and dispose of it for the Society's benefit. In short, the most complete disorganization had taken place; there was no room to hope for amendment without the presence of some European of ability and integrity to direct the affairs, a few only of the settlers were willing to remain, and this only on condition of increased wages. Mr. Hensman, the assistant surgeon, had volunteered to remain as director of the settlement for six months, and in him, I doubt not would have been found the requisite for good management, but the shortness of the time he would remain, forbad me to entertain any very sanguine hope of permanent advantage for his measures. I should, however, in compliance with the wish of the Society, have left Mr. Hensman to try the experiment, had not sickness supervened on the majority of the persons under my command, and rendered it, in my judgment, imperative upon me to withdraw the settlers, and relinquish the establishment altogether.
I found the conduct of the settlers in general, and that of the crew of the Amelia, (excepting Thomas King, who was left in command of the vessel,) highly reprehensible for indulgence in the worst vices of the natives, and insubordination.
I found them indolent and lazy, not one (as far as my experience went) willing or even disposed to manual labour, but ready enough to exercise authority over the negroes they hired, and whom they employed on the most trifling occasions rather than exert themselves; as a circumstance of their love of power, I would mention that a number of negroes having been hired to assist the settlers in transporting the stores from the hill to the vessels, two of the settlers were found to have furnished themselves with whips, apparently for the purpose of urging the natives to greater exertion. I forthwith ordered these instruments to be laid aside, and though I have no knowledge of their having been actually applied to the natives, yet I have reason to believe that the settlers were in the habit of carrying such instruments, which, if not applied, could not but fail to inspire the natives with terror, and alienate their good will, to the great injury of the British character. Of the whole numbers of the settlers and the crew of the Amelia, comprising about 32 persons, seven only of the former and two of the latter were willing to remain at the farm, and these only on condition of the before mentioned increase of wages, and the presence of an European chief.
The motives of such a general dereliction of purpose appeared to be partly a desire to return to their own country, under a feeling that their enterprize could not become profitable. All these circumstances combined, made me adopt the resolution to abandon the settlement, a resolution which, however, from circumstances, I could not help regretting, because I felt that we were retiring from a position of great advantage, whether regarded as an inland point from which commerce and civilization might be expected to diffuse their blessings through the neighbouring countries, or as a point of refuge for the fugitive negroes, seeking to avoid slavery, when they might become acquainted with the advantages of our protection, and possibly in time form a considerable colony under our rule, objects for which the Expedition was planned, but which cannot be realized unless one or more able Europeans could remain to conduct affairs.
I was informed by King, that he had sometimes seen from the schooner as many as fifty canoes go down the river in one day laden with slaves.
The settlement had already afforded an asylum to upwards of 300 refugees, many of whom we left residing among the neighbouring hills, under the government of Kulema, a Bahah chief, and of Sumana, chief of the village of Pandaïki, chiefs who, on account of their friendly disposition towards us and agreement with each other, I thought deserving of a share of the property we were about to relinquish.
To Sumana I gave the model-farm buildings, and to Kulema I gave the growing crops. Of the moveables, I gave to Kudajah, a chief of the Bahàh people, a horse, and I distributed 33,000 cowries (about 2l. 1s. 0d. sterling) among the natives, in payment of their services, with which they appeared contented. Having done this, we quitted the settlement at dark on the 22nd July, having the Amelia in tow.
23rd July, 4 p.m., arrived off Iddah. I immediately proceeded on shore to have an interview with the Attàh; he could not be prevailed on to dispense with his ceremonial delay, and, as I was most anxious not to lose time in our descent, I was under the necessity of communicating with the old Queen Madogbie, the Mallain being absent. I informed her of the disposition I had made respecting the property at the late settlement; this she undertook to convey to the Attàh, and she returned with an answer, that the Attàh willingly acceded to my disposition of the property, that he regretted that white man was going away, and hoped that we should resume possession of the same territory whenever we pleased.
I returned to the vessel at 6.30 p.m, I had received directions to make a fit present to the Attàh for his kindly feelings towards the objects of the Expedition last year, and, although I had found him infringing the Treaty, by dealing in slaves, I thought it best, both in compliance with my orders and to leave a favourable impression behind in the event of resuming our settlement, to send the following articles, which I did by our own boat, to one of the Attah's chiefs, who waited at the landing-place to receive them, viz.:-
3 velvet tobes,
3 papers of N. E. buttons,
3 scarlet caps,
1 snuff box,
1 piece of silk,
1 saddle and bridle,
1 cloth dress,
4 pairs of pistols,
1 piece of blue velvet,
1 piece of varied striped velvet,
35 yards of red baize,
3 boxes of razors,
And for his chief Mallam,-
1 damask tobe and 1 pair of silk trowsers.
At 7.30, anchored for the night in mid-channel, about four miles below Iddah, from whence we proceeded next morning and arrived on the 25th off Abòh, where I stopped to communicate further with King Obie (and if possible with King Boy) respecting Mr. Carr. As I had discharged the pilot at this place, I took advantage of his going ashore to send by him an invitation to Obie to visit the Wilberforce. As I could not leave the vessel while waiting the result of my message, two messengers from King Boy (who was encamped on a sand-bank near Abòh Creek) came on board to say that the king wanted to see me respecting the white man that had entered his river about seven or eight moons back. It will be remembered that on my way up he denied all knowledge of such a circumstance. I immediately despatched the galley with his messengers, requesting that the king would come on board, as the messengers, said he would do so; they returned, however, with a message that King Boy would come on board if white man would fetch him. Mr. Hensman, assistant surgeon, immediately volunteered for that duty, as it was my object to get the king on board, and not to enter into any palaver on shore. The king still refused to come on board, but he acknowledged to Mr. Hensman that a white man (doubtless Mr. Carr) had entered his river about seven or eight moons since, though not under his protection, and that he (the king) had in his possession at Brass Town (the kings residence) some of the white man's clothes, together with two prisoners, Bassa men, from whom the clothes were taken about that period. Finding that the king would not come to me, I proceeded to his camp and endeavoured to prevail upon him to accompany me on board, hoping that when he was in my power I should arrive at better knowledge of the fate of the unfortunate missing superintendent.
Boy refused to accompany me; he gave the same account (before detailed) as he gave to Mr. Hensman. I inquired why he had concealed this information from me at our last interview, and the course pursued by the canoe? also, why he had concealed from the King of Bonny these circumstances? To these inquiries he studiously avoided giving any direct answer; and whilst he declared he had no positive evidence of Carr's murder, yet he said he believed him to have been killed by the Bassa people, and was ready to furnish pilots (though he would not go himself) to their locality.
Finding it impossible to obtain any satisfactory elucidation of the matter, I would have carried him to Fernando Po, but I found myself unable, having only a weak and unarmed boat's crew to oppose his numerous followers, strongly encamped and supported by three large canoes with swivels in the bow; I therefore returned on board and got the vessel under weigh with a view to interrupt his retreat to Abòh, and so intimidate him into a compliance with my wishes, without recourse to actual hostilities, on friendly grounds. Owing, however, to the confusion and delay in clearing the vessel of the numerous canoes which surrounded us, the king took advantage of the delay and escaped into Abòh Creek, across which I laid the vessel, in ignorance of the king's movement.
While I was engaged on shore with King Boy, King Obie came on board; I found him on my return, he took alarm at our getting under weigh, and despite of all entreaty to remain and assurance that we were friends of his, he quitted the vessel and went to his own creek.
Disappointed in my object of securing King Boy, my next step was to secure the persons of the two Brass men (Boy's messengers) yet on board; thinking that if I was unable to obtain any positive information from either Obie or Boy, I might gain more substantial proof from the prisoners on my way to Fernando Po. I was also unwilling to remain a moment longer than absolutely necessary at this particular insalubrious part of the river, for I had now three out of eight Europeans confined to bed, and the boatswain and third engineer complaining. I then sent a message to King Obie, by one of his own people, to say that as we were at amity with him, I hoped he would renew his visit. He sent me word by one of his headmen that he would do so if the captain would fetch him. I accordingly proceeded up his creek in the galley, taking with me Mr. Hensman, intending to disembark at the landing-place, where there were many canoes. I had to pass on my way thither several war canoes, which were lying near the bank, on either side of the creek. We had passed the first two of these when my attention was drawn by some of my boat's crew to the movement of the canoes astern, as if intending to close upon us, and to the people in them having taken up their fire-arms; I at once winded the galley and pulled up alongside the nearest canoe, presenting my pistols (the only armms in the boat) at the Chief, who instantly dropped his musket, begging by gestures for mercy, and calling aloud "King Obie !" "King Obie !" The other canoes immediately pulled away towards the landing-place, but the right bank was simultaneously covered with armed men, who, till that moment, had not shown themselves. Some of them pointed muskets at us, but the appearance of my pistols pointed against them seemed to deter them from further violence, and we rejoined the vessel without other molestation. The messenger sent by King Obie remained on board the vessel while I proceeded up the creek; but seeing the galley on her way back, he hastily quitted the vessel, which being perceived by me, I called out to those on board to prevent its escape. It appears that, to effect this, Mr. Webb, clerk in charge, with his usual promptitude, sprung forward with a musket, which being pointed at the fugitives, they all jumped overboard from their canoe and swam for the bank, the high grass of which would effectually have concealed them had they succeeded in reaching the shore. At this juncture one of the Kroomen of our crew threw a boarding pike at the messenger, who avoided the stroke by diving, and continued his course; but the galley coming up at this moment, he was seized by one of the boat's crew and taken on board, where I at once placed him in irons. I think it necessary to state that there was no firing on our side; indeed not any of the crew were in possession of ammunition, although it was ready for distribution whenever I should consider it necessary. My reasons for putting Obie's messenger in confinement were grounded on strong presumptive proof that he had been sent to me as a decoy; and I hoped, in any case, to obtain some information respecting Mr. Carr, and for these reasons I also determined to carry him to Fernando Po. Having waited a short time, but in vain, for a further communication from the shore (during which delay I seized, by way of reprisal, a small canoe belonging to King Boy,) we took the schooner in tow, and proceeded on our way down the river.
The next morning I questioned the Brass men and Obie's messenger respecting Mr. Carr. The sum of their statements was, that some time ago King Boy had taken two Bassa men prisoners, which men had in their canoe, when taken, some white men's clothes; that these prisoners and clothes were now at Brass Town (King Boy's residence); that they had heard from the Bassa prisoners that the white man had been tied to a tree and shot at Bassa Town (a small place situated on a narrow creek of the lower Benìn branch, and about 40 miles from the mouth of the river), and that his servant was sent into the country. I could not learn from them the direction in which the Bassa prisoners were going when they were taken. The white man's clothes were described as comprising "plenty of clothes and plenty of books;" thus affording a presumptive proof that the effects described belonged to Mr. Carr. I could get no answer to my question, "If the white man was murdered at Bassa Town, how came the canoe with his clothes in Brass Creek, nearly 60 miles apart?" Though I examined these men separately, their testimony agreed in all the material points; but there was much prevarication, and I believe them to have been prepared by King Boy to answer any questions.
Finding, however, that they seemed anxious to exculpate their own tribe, and fix the stigma on the Bassa people, I proceeded under the pilotage of the prisoners down the first Benìn branch (a chart of which I have already transmitted), to investigate the matter at Bassa Town; but having gone about five or six miles down the river, and reached the entrance of the creek, the vessel grounded on a bank. We laid out the hedge and hove her off. I sounded in person the neighbourhood of the shoal, and found five fathoms inside, the channel very narrow, and the breadth of the creek itself not exceeding 150 yards. Just as we had cleared the shoal, I observed three large canoes coming down the creek; being in difficulty with the vessel, and the Amelia being five miles off unprotected, with only a black crew on board, and being ignorant also of the intentions of the people in the canoes, as well as apprehensive, from what I had learnt from the prisoners, that the appearance of these canoes could, at best, be only as suspicious, I fired three shots from the brass swivels, over the canoes, to warn them off, which had the desired effect of dispersing them, without hurting any person. They jumped overboard and fled to the bush.
The boatswain was now no longer able to do duty: the third engineer was getting worse, and the assistant-surgeon himself laid up with fever. I therefore found it necessary to relinquish all further prosecution of the inquiry, and at dusk of the 26th July, we took the schooner in tow, and resumed our course towards the mouth of the river, and anchored in the main stream for the night. I must mention here, when rounding the vessel, too, after dark in a narrow bend of the river, the schooner fouled the right bank and carried away her jib boom; however, we hove her off at nine o'clock that night, and secured her astern.
July 27, at daylight proceeded down the river; a little below the Benìn branch we observed several vollies of musketry from a village on the right bank. The distance at which the firing was first observed, together with the circumstance of our passing the people on the river's bank unmolested, left me in doubt of the real disposition of the people towards us, but as a measure of precaution we beat to quarters.
We arrived at the mouth of the river at 10 a.m., 27th July, victualled the schooner for 9 days, and prepared her for crossing the bar at low water. I found it necessary to get across as quickly as possible, on account of the increasing sickness of the third engineer, who, notwithstanding his weak state, assisted in this service as long as he could stand. We crossed at 11.30 a.m., having not less than two fathoms water, and moderate weather, and shaped a course for Fernando Po.
During our stay in the river, comprising a period of 26 days, we found by observations it had risen two feet. From observation, and the general state of the atmosphere, (a table of which is appended,) which was infinitely cooler in the daytime, with less dew at night, than had been found in August last year, I am led to believe that the months May, June, and July are the best for prosecuting any service with vessels of light draft of water. The current at this season (July) being never more than two knots, and probably much less in May and June, excepting the neighbourhood of rocks and narrows, where of course it was more rapid, but we did not find it ever exceed three and a half knots.
28th July, 2 p.m. Eased the engines to bale and better secure the 40-foot galley in tow of the schooner astern of us; during this operation the galley got under the schooner's quarter, tore her bows out, parted the tow rope, and turned bottom upwards, the schooner herself having sprung a leak early in the morning: the state of the weather rendered it utterly impossible with safety to the schooner and ourselves to pick the galley up, and she was lost.
29th July, 1.30 a.m. Anchored in Clarence Cove, Fernando Po, from which time to the 16th August we were employed in clearing out the two vessels, and with the assistance of the two engineers and artificers of the Soudan (the whole of our own people being sick) making Her Majesty's steam-vessel under my command sea worthy. While under refit, Mr. Becroft paid us a visit, and I took advantage of his presence and experience of the African character, to endeavour to obtain further information from the prisoners I had brought down respecting Mr. Carr.
They confirmed their former statements as to King Boy being in possession of the white man's clothes, but they denied their ever having heard of the white man's murder, and expressed their belief that King Boy had had nothing improper to do with the business. Finding that I could not elicit anything satisfactory from these people, I determined to discharge them before I quitted Fernando Po for a passage back to their country; meanwhile they worked among the crew as supernumeraries, and were at liberty as the rest. I cannot, however, close my notice of Mr. Carr without stating my belief that King Boy is acquainted with all the particulars of Mr. Carr's fate, and I must also think that he took an active part in the business.
I trust their Lordships will be of opinion that I prosecuted this inquiry with zeal and with all the ability in my power, under the circumstances before detailed, and that I may be allowed to express my readiness to undertake further inquiry, should it be deemed necessary; observing that the easiness of access at any period of the year to both localities (Bassa Creek and Brass Town) would render such further inquiry a matter of little difficulty; and it might be completed, as to information in about ten days.
On the 12th August Mr. Webb, clerk in charge, was seized with fever. On the 20th I proceeded in the Wilberforce on a cruize towards the Isle of Princes. I did this in consequence of a representation from Mr. Stirling (the assistant surgeon who rejoined on the 10th and relieved Mr. Hensman, who was discharged to sick quarters) that the sick, instead of advancing in convalescence, were relapsing, and that a change of air was necessary. I was, moreover, induced by a report from Lieutenant Earle, commanding Her Majesty's brig Rapid, who had arrived on the 3rd on his way to meet us at the river Nun, that I should probably meet Captain Foote, the senior officer; in this object, however, I was disappointed.
On the 22nd, at 10 p.m., we anchored in West Bay, Princes Island, and from noon of the 23rd to 3.15 p.m. of the 25th were cruizing off and on, and then anchored in Church Bay, where we remained until the 1st of September.
The air at this anchorage, noted for its salubrity, proved most beneficial to the sick. We returned to West Bay 1st September, and on the 2nd Her Majesty's brig Rapid arrived with a prize belonging to the Madagascar. The presence of another of Her Majesty's vessels enabled me to apply for a survey on the vessel under my command, which being ordered by Lieutenant Earle, a report, already transmitted for their Lordships' information, was obtained, by which the expediency of proceeding to England without loss of time was fully apparent. I should not, however, have quitted the station without orders from the senior officer, but that I had learnt from Lieutenant Kingston, the officer in charge of the prize, that there was no probability of Captain Foote being at this point of the station for a considerable time; and I considered that any such delay at this season, for a mere, though important point of form, would be incurring an unwarrantable risk of irreparable injury to the vessel, whose defects it was impossible to repair effectually on the coast, there being neither materials nor requisite convenience; as well as sacrificing the health of the crew, already greatly impaired by the unwholesomeness of the climate.
I therefore determined to return to Fernando Po, to replenish our stock of coals and prepare the vessels for the passage across the Atlantic, which being completed, we left Fernando Po on the 18th September for Sierra Leone.
On the 12th September Mr. Waddington, acting boatswain, died of the fever, and about the same time I sold the Amelia tender (being totally unfit for further service) to Mr. John Lilly, for 150l.
On the 22nd September died Mr. Webb, clerk in charge, whose remains were consigned to the deep on the 23rd.
On the 24th, in the evening, we anchored off Cape Coast Castle. Here we paid five Africans, who were to be discharged at this place, their home. Received wood for fuel.
The steering compasses having been found very erroneous and constantly varying, and the chronometer belonging to the vessel having become unserviceable by the breaking of the mainspring, I found it absolutely necessary to purchase a chronometer, to assist in the navigation of the vessel. This I effected for 78l., the lowest price for which I could obtain it.
We proceeded in the forenoon of the 28th of September for Cape Palmas, which we reached on the 3rd October. We lay to, and discharged ten Kroomen, first paying them their wages.
On the 7th October, 2.30 p.m., arrived at Sierra Leone, and discharged the model farm people. Having received supplies of provisions and wood for fuel, and discharged the remainder of the Africans engaged in the Expedition, and not having received any tidings of the senior officer, I proceeded, at 8.30 p.m. of the 15th October, for England, with a complement of 15 whites and 27 Africans, pursuing the in-shore track. We arrived at Teneriffe on the 27th, and after receiving 10 tons of coals, we proceeded to Madeira, experiencing half a gale of wind from the N.E. on our way.
We arrived at Madeira on the 31st October, at 8 a.m., and having replenished with provisions and fuel, and received 22 distressed British subjects by the request of Her Majesty's Consul, we proceeded on the 6th November, and reached Plymouth on the 17th, after a boisterous passage.
We found the compasses very erroneous, varying from three to four points between N. and S.E., occasioning considerable deviation in our course (to the extent of 150 miles); in fact, the vessel was navigated from Madeira by the aid of the boat's compass, secured to the cabin skylight.
Having thus detailed the particulars of my proceedings whilst in command of Her Majesty's steam-vessel Wilberforce, I feel it my duty to bring before the notice of their Lordships my opinion of the conduct and behaviour of the officers and men employed under my command. I have to regret the loss of two officers, viz., Mr. Waddington, acting boatswain, and Mr. Webb, the clerk in charge, both from the effects of the climate acting upon debility occasioned by extraordinary exertions in the discharge of their respective duties. To Mr. Waddington I felt indebted for his zeal and ability, in having, after we had struck, proceeded to the confluence and brought down the schooner to our aid; moreover, his knowledge of the river rendered his services of the highest value. He has left a widow and children unprovided for; these I would recommend to the favour of their Lordships.
I had to call upon Mr. Webb for exertions beyond the routine of his duty; these exertions were ever cheerfully rendered, and proved extremely useful.
The first and second engineer fell ill of the fever before we left the confluence, and remained on the sick list until we left the coast; each however did his best under most pressing and harassing circumstances, and I would recommend most particularly the zeal and intelligence of Mr. Johnstone, the first engineer. The third engineer discharged the whole of the duties of the engineer's branch from the 21st to the 27th of July, and I cannot sufficiently approve of his zeal in rendering assistance to repair the damage sustained by striking on the reef, even while labouring under sickness, which ultimately laid him up and deprived me of his services.
Mr. Davey, the acting carpenter, deserves my strongest commendation, and was of the utmost assistance to me in the duties of the vessel before leaving Fernando Po, and subsequently previous to her being paid off.
The crew in general (composed of Africans and weak as to number) behaved to my satisfaction. I think it right to mention that Mr. Hensman (Surgeon of the West African Company, and Acting Assistant Surgeon of the Wilberforce during the absence of Mr. Stirling, with whom he had exchanged duties) rendered me valuable aid, and was unremitting in his attentions to the sick whilst able, but he also fell ill, and suffered severely until relieved by Mr. Stirling, with whose exertions on behalf of the sick I have great reason to be satisfied.
I think it due to the zealous exertions of the engineers of the Soudan, Mr. John Chesters, first engineer, Mr. James Kelby, second engineer, Mr. Edward Webster, third engineer, employed to repair the defects of the Wilberforce at Fernando Po, to state that they were unremittingly employed from the 8th to the 11th of August, in fixing a plate outside over the defective part; this service was rendered peculiarly difficult by the want of a slip, upon which the vessel might have been hauled and the general want of every convenience for effecting such repairs.
I have thus and to the best of my ability detailed my proceedings, and their consequences. I trust their Lordships will find reason to approve of my conduct, and that I may be permitted to express my readiness to be employed in any way their Lordships may think my services can be useful.
I have, &c.,
(Signed) W.H. Webb, Lieut.,
late in Command of Her Majesty's Steam-vessel Wilberforce.
To the Secretary of the Admiralty.
Sub-Enclosure in No. 47.
To His Majesty Assima Azaiki, King of Rabbah.
By virtue of the power invested in me, William Henry Webb, Lieutenant, commanding Her Britannic Majesty's steam vessel Wilberforce, by Her most Gracious Majesty Queen Victoria, Queen of England, to conclude a Treaty with the King of Rabbah for the suppression of the Slave Trade, and the encouragement of lawful commerce with the interior of Africa.
I, by the hands of John Finlay (a subject of your Majesty, and late a servant of my sovereign) humbly beg to send your Majesty a present in the name of my Queen, regretting that in consequence of my crew being sickly, I am unable to visit your Majesty in person.
In the name of my Sovereign I also would beg to impress upon your Majesty the hope that the objects which have brought the white men up this river, will have their due weight, and induce your Majesty to afford every protection and indulgence to the natives surrounding the colony we established, who always proved good neighbours to our settlers, and therefore have become friends of Her Britannic Majesty.
Should any further attempt be made by "white men" to visit the settlement, I am convinced by your Majesty’s previous conduct "in desiring that your soldiers and subjects should not molest the white men’s settlement" (for which in the name of my Sovereign, I return you thanks) that your Majesty will ever retain the same friendly disposition towards them.
And I further trust your Majesty will continue to earn the esteem of my Sovereign by using every effort in your power to better the condition of your subjects in teaching them the advantages they will derive by substituting legitimate barter with the "white men," or those of your Majesty’s countrymen who have experienced the blessings of a peaceable and secure government under my Sovereign's rule, for that of the horrible traffic in human beings.
Wishing your Majesty all health, prosperity and happiness, in the name of my Sovereign, Her Britannic Majesty, Queen Victoria,
I have, &c.,
(Signed) W.H. Webb, Lieut., commanding Her Majesty's steam-vessel Wilberforce.
Confluence of the Niger and Tchadda, 21st July, 1842.
Downing-street, 27th January, 1843.
Having laid before Lord Stanley your letter of the 11th instant, with the copy therein enclosed, of Lieutenant Webb's voyage up the Niger, in execution of the instructions given to him to communicate with the model farm, I have received his Lordship's directions to request you will state to the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty that he feels happy to express his approval of that officer's proceedings.
I have, &c.
(Signed) James Stephen
Sir Jojn Barow, Bart.
Copy of a LETTER from Edward N. Buxton, Esq., to Lord Stanley.
15, Parliament-street, 16th December, 1842.
I have the honour to address your Lordship on behalf of the gentlemen interested in the model farm at the confluence of the Niger and Chadda, for the purpose of stating that they having learnt, with deep regret, that Mr. Carr, the superintendent, who entered the river Nun, in a native canoe, in November, 1841, for the purpose (after a short absence) of returning to the farm, had not reached it at the period of the recent departure of Her Majesty's steam-vessel Wilberforce, from thence, they have great reason to fear he may have been murdered on his passage up, yet there being a possibility that he may merely be held in captivity, the subscribers to the farm have resolved to offer a reward of 2,000 dollars for his recovery, and they have accordingly issued notices to that effect, and I am to solicit the favour of your Lordship to give directions that copies of the said notice may be communicated to the officers of Her Majesty's ships on the West African station, and that they be requested to afford their assistance in obtaining the object in view.
I have, &c.
(Signed) Edw. N. Buxton.
P.S. Printed copies of the notice mentioned above shall be sent to the Admiralty, should your Lordship be pleased to comply with my request.
&c. &c. &c.
Enclosure in No. 49.
2000 Dollars Reward.
Model Farm in Africa.
The subscribers to the above named farm established at the confluence of the Niger and Chadda, having received intelligence by Her Majesty's ship Wilberforce, recently returned from thence, that Mr. Alfred Carr, the superintendent of the said farm, who, with his African servant, entered the river Nun in a native canoe, in the month of November, 1841, for the purpose of returning to the farm after a short absence, had not reached it when the Wilberforce left in July last; and although there is much reason to fear he may have been killed on his passage up, yet, the subscribers entertaining a hope that he may be still alive, though held in captivity.
This is to give Notice,
That should such be the case, the above reward of 2000 dollars will be paid to any person who shall procure the liberation of the said Mr. Alfred Carr, upon producing a certificate of the fact signed by himself.
Application to be made to the bankers, Messrs. Barnett, Hoares, Barnett, and Bradshaw, bankers of London.
(Signed) On behalf of the Subscribers,
Late one of Her Majesty’s Commissioners on the Expedition to the Niger.
Downing-street, 26th December, 1842.
Lord Stanley has desired me to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 16th instant, enclosing a printed notice of an offer of a reward of 2,000 dollars for the recovery of Mr. Carr, the superintendent of the model farm at the confluence of the Niger and the Chadda, who is supposed to have been murdered in his passage up the river Nun, and requesting that copies of that notice may be communicated to the officers of Her Majesty's ships on the Western African station. His Lordship directs me to request you will inform the gentlemen interested in the success of the model farm, that he will be happy to promote their views in this matter by transmitting, with the requisite instructions, to the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty, any number of notices they may propose to send, which it will be better, therefore, to forward at once to this office. His Lordship will also cause a portion of them to be sent to the Governor of Sierra Leone, in order that they may have all possible publicity given to them.
I am, &c.
(Signed) G.W. Hope.
E.N. Buxton, Esq.
Downing-street, 10th January, 1843.
The gentlemen interested in the success of the model farm at the confluence of the Niger and Chadda having determined to offer a reward for the recovery of Mr. Alfred Carr, the superintendent, who entered the river Nun in a native canoe in November, 1841, but has not since been heard of, I am desired by Lord Stanley to request you will move the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty to give directions for the accompanying printed notices to be communicated to the officers of Her Majesty's ships on the Western African station, who should at the same time be instructed to give them all possible publicity, and to take every means in their power for rescuing Mr. Carr from captivity, should that be his present condition.
I am, &c.
(Signed) James Stephen.
Sir John Barrow, Bart.,
&c. &c. &c.
|► 1841 Niger Expedition-Parliamentary Papers||(1/4) (2/4) (3/4) (4/4)|