To the Right Hon. Lord Stanley, Her Majesty's Principal Secretary of State for the Colonies, a Report of Proceedings from Captain Trotter, R.N., First Commissioner of the Niger Expedition.
Richmond Hill, Surrey, March 15th, 1843.
Agreeably to the general instructions furnished to the Commissioners of the Niger Expedition previous to their departure from England, I have the honour to lay before your Lordship a report of such of my proceedings, as First Commissioner, as have not been included in our general despatches. I shall commence by briefly referring to the arrangements which were made before the Expedition left England.
Her Majesty having directed Her Ministers to enter into treaties with the Chiefs of various African States for the abandonment and prohibition of the Slave Trade, and the establishment of friendly and commercial relations between those countries and Great Britain, I had the honour of being nominated, in September, 1839, to the command of the Expedition to be sent to Africa for that purpose; and at the same time Commander William Allen, Commander Bird Allen, and Mr. William Cook were named to be my associates in a commission for negotiating conventions with the Chiefs of those states situated on the Western Coast or Africa, within the Bights of Benin and Biafra, and on the parts adjacent to the river Niger and its tributaries.
The month of March was at that time considered to be the best period of the year for entering the Niger, and Her Majesty's Government being desirous that the Expedition should take advantage of the first season, it was important that no time should be lost in commissioning proper ships for the purpose.
The Government had decided that three steam-vessels should be employed on the Expedition, and as there were none in Her Majesty's navy suitable for this service, the Board of Admiralty determined, if possible, to hire or purchase them.
To effect this object Lord Minto sent me with Commander William Allen to visit the various sea-ports of the kingdom. No vessels could, however, be found, excepting such as would have required very great alterations to render them fit for the service, and would, even then, have only imperfectly answered; and as the success of the Expedition was likely to depend much on the efficiency of the means employed, and the loss of a season could not be set against the risk of failure from inefficient vessels, it was considered expedient to construct three iron steam-vessels in a manner which should be in every way adapted to the peculiar service on which they were to be employed.
Iron vessels were preferred to wooden ones on account of the greater facility of repairing them when damaged, as well as for their superior buoyancy. The quality of buoyancy was particularly desirable on account of the known shallowness of the Niger; and in order to fit the vessels still more for the navigation of such a river, they were to be constructed with perfectly flat bottoms, whilst their qualities as sea-boats, and their steerage in deep water, were to be improved by sliding keels, and the adaptation of tails to the rudders.
In order still more to lessen the draught of water, it was considered desirable to give the vessels a comparatively small steam power, more especially as the contraction of the engine-rooms consequent upon this would, at the same time, afford greater space for the accommodation of the officers and crew, and for the stowage of the large quantity of provisions and stores which it would be necessary to carry.
Though by adopting engines of a newer construction, a larger power might have been obtained in the same space, without much increase of weight, it was considered advisable to have engines of the old construction, as none of the others had been sufficiently tried; and on a long voyage, where we should be out of the reach of getting accidents repaired, it was desirable to incur no risk of difficulties which any failure of the parts of engines on a new construction might have presented. The want of powerful engines was conceived to be of comparatively little importance, on account of the moderate velocity of the current of the Niger, and the necessity of proceeding at a cautious speed in a river the navigation of which had been very imperfectly explored, while, should we meet with rapids, our speed could, if required, be materially increased by lightening the vessels.
The engines of the three vessels, and wherever it was possible their other equipments, were to be made precisely alike, so as to adapt each article to any one of the vessels, by which means the number and weight of the spare articles required for repairs would be materially reduced. The vessels were to be divided into water tight compartments in order both to strengthen their frames and to avoid the risk of foundering in the event of receiving serious damage under water.
No vessels of war had at this time been built of iron, and there were no facilities for the purpose at any of Her Majesty's dock-yards. Sir Edward Parry was therefore called upon by the Admiralty to give his opinion as to the most desirable size of the vessels to be constructed, and to report on the cost of building by contract, three which should combine all the desired properties.
Sir Edward, after consulting with me, made his Report on the 14th November, 1839, but it was not until June, 1840, that a Parliamentary grant was voted, authorizing the Government to build the vessels and send out the Expedition.
In the latter month the Admiralty entered into a contract with Mr. John Laird, of Birkenhead, near Liverpool, and that gentleman, who had long enjoyed a high reputation for constructing iron steam-vessels, accordingly built three (two of exactly similar dimensions, and one of a smaller size) in conformity with specifications and estimates based on Sir Edward Parry's report.
The two larger vessels, named the Albert and the Wilberforce, were each furnished with two engines of 35-horse power each engine, and measured 457 tons. The smaller one, named the Soudan, had one engine only of the same power and measured 249 tons.
With a view to the health and comfort of the crews, attention was at an early period directed to the proper ventilation of the vessels. This was a point of great importance in vessels constructed with water-tight compartments, the iron partitions forming which, were necessarily brought up above the water line to a height considerably above the cabin deck, and thus prevented a free current of air through the vessel. Dr. Reid, who was consulted as to the best means to be employed for improving the ventilation, proposed an artificial plan of throwing air into the various compartments by means of fanners. This plan was finally adopted and carried out under his direction by Mr. Augustine Creuze, of Portsmouth Dockyard, who was appointed by the Admiralty for the purpose.
Considerable delay, however, occurred in the completion of the vessels, owing to the adoption of Dr. Reid's plan. In the estimates of the Niger Expedition, a certain sum had been set apart for the ventilation of the three vessels at a time when circumstances prevented Dr. Reid being consulted as to the expense that was likely to be incurred by it. When Dr. Reid afterwards made his estimate of the probable cost, it was found so greatly to exceed the sum which had been appropriated in Parliamentary grant for that purpose, that the Board of Admiralty could not sanction the plan until it was decided from what fund the extra expense was to be defrayed. Hence arose the delay, for until this point was determined, the interior fittings of the vessels could not be proceeded with; so that although all the vessels were launched by the 10th of October, 1840, it was not till the end of February, 1841, that they were assembled in the Thames.
The delay, however, was not altogether to be regretted, for in this interval more correct information was received regarding the proper time of ascending the Niger. The consideration of this subject had naturally claimed from the earliest period my anxious attention. The month of March, as I have already stated, had at first been considered the fittest time for entering the river. Commander William Allen and other competent authorities had concurred in thinking that that month was the beginning of the healthy season immediately above the Delta, and it was well known to be healthy at that time at the mouth of the river.
Commander Allen had no personal knowledge of the depth of the water in the Delta in that month, but he entertained a belief, as I did myself, that a channel sufficiently deep might be found for the steam-vessels, although the river was known at that season to be nearly arrived at its lowest state.
Information, however, reached England early in 1841, which was entitled to the fullest confidence, showing that this latter impression was erroneous, and that there would not be water enough at the earliest till June. Indeed before leaving England, I learned that Captain Becroft's experience had led him to consider the beginning of July as the proper season to enter the river, of which fact I informed Lord John Russell in my letter to his Lordship of the 12th of May, 1841. Notwithstanding the delays that had occurred, I was still therefore in hopes of arriving at the mouth of the Nun, the branch of the Niger which the Expedition was to ascend, soon after the earliest time that the state of the river would allow us to go up without detention. The rains it was expected would then be in full force, but I was of opinion from my own experience, and that of others, that the rainy season in Africa was not unhealthy for Europeans, if due precautions were taken to keep them dry.
On the arrival of the vessels in the Thames, where they had been ordered round from Liverpool to try their engines and complete their crews, those equipments were furnished which, being peculiar to men-of-war, could be more conveniently provided in one of Her Majesty's dockyards, and had not therefore been included in the contract.
These equipments, together with the correction of the compasses, occupied a considerable time, advantage of which was taken to extend the ventilation and to combine with it a plan, also proposed by Dr. Reid, for drying and purifying the air between decks, to be put into operation on the arrival of the vessels in the unwholesome parts of the Niger. This latter plan was one which many scientific men thought it advisable to try, and the Admiralty accordingly allowed the necessary apparatus to be supplied. Various other suggestions were also most readily adopted by that Board and the other departments of the Government, whenever the plans suggested could be shown to conduce to the health and comfort of the crews, or to the general efficiency of the Expedition.
Supplies of coals, provisions, and other stores were sent to the Cape de Verde Islands, Sierra Leone, and Cape Coast Castle: and a small brigantine, the Amelia, was purchased at Sierra Leone, to be ready on the arrival of the Expedition at that place to assist in conveying stores to the Niger, and to serve generally as a tender.
It was desirable to avoid as much as possible any delay after our arrival on the coast of Africa; and as it would probably occupy much time to procure proper interpreters from among the liberated Africans at Sierra Leone, I had some time previously to this requested the Rev. Mr. Schön, a member of the Church Missionary society at that place, to endeavour to find suitable persons before the Expedition should arrive there.
This gentleman, for whom, and for Mr. Crowther, a native catechist, the Church Missionary Society had obtained permission from the Government to accompany the Expedition (with a view of reporting on the practicability of the Society extending its operations in the interior of Africa), entered very warmly into my views on the subject, and took great pains to obtain properly qualified interpreters.
As we should require to take canoes up the river, and I knew from personal experience the superior quality of those on the Gold Coast, I wrote to Mr. President Maclean, requesting him to procure some to be in readiness on our arrival at Cape Coast Castle.
In addition to the facilities which these arrangements would afford, a transport was engaged, in order not only to carry out additional stores and to fill up the vessels at the mouth of the Nun with a full supply of fuel and provisions, but also to relieve them there of such of their stores as would not be required up the river.
In order to avoid further delay by the vessels of the Expedition calling at Sierra Leone, the Admiralty had intended to give orders for this transport (the Harriot), which was a very fast-sailing vessel, to proceed there to take in the interpreters, and to return and meet the Expedition at the Cape de Verdes, but a series of southwesterly gales kept her so long in the Downs that this plan was necessarily abandoned, and she was detained to accompany the Soudan.
A statement of the number of the crews, and lists of the officers and men of the Expedition are annexed to this Report (marked A and B). In addition to seamen and marines, a small number of the corps of Royal Sappers and Miners accompanied the Expedition for the purpose of blasting rocks and otherwise assisting in removing obstructions in the river.
I may remark that the marines instead of being embarked, as is usual, by rotation, were volunteers, as was the case with all other persons belonging to the Expedition. Double pay was given to the whites, to commence from the time of their leaving England, in consideration of the climate of the Niger being injurious to the European constitution.
It was intended to obtain Africans as part of the crews on our arrival at the coast, but a few coloured men were entered in England, who it was hoped, with the seamanship and experience of Europeans, would combine constitutions less liable to tropical diseases.
Besides the complement of officers appointed by the Government, several men of science, sent out by the African Civilization Society, accompanied the Expedition with a view of obtaining information respecting the countries which we were about to visit. These were Dr. Vogel, botanist; Dr. Stanger, geologist and explorer; Mr. Roscher, miner and geologist; Mr. Fraser, naturalist; and Mr. John Ansell, collector of plants.
The African Civilization Society, not only in this, but in numerous other instances, evinced the greatest readiness to co-operate with the Expedition; and besides contributing largely to furnish extra surgical and scientific instruments and medicines, so as to increase the means of the medical officers to make themselves useful to the natives of Africa, allotted 1000l., to be used as circumstances made it desirable, to aid exploring parties, or in any other way to advance the objects of the Expedition.
Another association, distinct from the African Society, but participating with it in the benevolent view of benefiting Africa, having been formed for the purpose of establishing a model farm on the banks of the Niger, the Admiralty granted passage out to Mr. Alfred Carr, a West Indian gentleman of colour, entrusted with the superintendence of the proposed establishment, and also permitted some of the materials and implements which would be required, to be taken out in the Harriot.
On the 30th of March, 1841, the Soudan, Commander Bird Allen, being ready for sea, left Woolwich, and after some detention at Devonport by contrary winds, finally sailed from England on the 17th of April, in company with the Harriot transport, for Porto Grande in the Island of St. Vincent, one of the Cape de Verdes, which had been decided on as our first rendezvous. This place the Soudan reached on the 26th of May, after having been forced, through stress of weather, to put into Lisbon for repairs.
The Albert was ready for sea at the time the Soudan left Woolwich, but it was thought advisable for her to wait for the Wilberforce, Commander William Allen, which, having been launched several weeks later, had not then completed her equipments.
The Wilberforce being at length ready, the Albert and that vessel left Woolwich together on the 22nd of April, and, in pursuance of instructions from the Admiralty, proceeded to Devonport for final orders.
Mr. Cook, the fourth Commissioner, embarked here on board the Wilberforce; and the two Ashanti princes were received on board the Albert for a passage to Cape Coast Castle. South-westerly gales detained us at Devonport until the 12th of May, but this delay afforded us an opportunity of fitting the furnaces with tubes on a plan of Mr. Grant, of Clarence-yard, for injecting creosote oil upon the fires to assist the combustion of green wood, the only fuel we were likely to have up the Niger. These tubes had been previously ordered, but not being finished when the vessels left the Thames, were sent after us to Devonport.
The wind having at length become favourable, the Albert and Wilberforce left Devonport in company on the 12th of May, and after touching at Madeira and Teneriffe in order to prove the rates of the chronometers and to complete fuel, we arrived at Porto Grande in the Island of St. Vincent (Cape de Verdes) on the 3rd of June. We found here the Soudan and the Harriot, which had only arrived eight days before.
It was most desirable that the steam-vessels should be thoroughly cleared out and re-stowed; and those stores for which we anticipated no further use transferred to the transport before we reached the coast of Africa; and it was to effect this purpose that Porto Grande, the climate of which was known to be salubrious at this season, had been fixed upon as a rendezvous.
I had full reason to be satisfied with the selection of this place; for although these duties occupied a fortnight, and involved the necessity of the men being a good deal exposed to a hot sun, this was so far from producing any bad effect upon the health of the crew, that I rather conceived their constitutions were prepared by it for exposure to an African climate. I was so impressed indeed with this idea that in a letter which I wrote at the time to the Board of Admiralty, I took the liberty of suggesting that all cruizers going to the coast of Africa should touch, if the season admitted, at Porto Grande with this view.
As the presence on board of the majority of the officers at this time was unnecessary, many of them were usefully employed on shore in taking magnetic and astronomical observations, while the medical and other scientific gentlemen attached to the Expedition were actively engaged in various parts of the island in the pursuits of their respective departments. (Commander W. Allen and Lieutenant Fishbourne took charge of the magnetic observations, and lost no opportunity of taking them, before, as well as after, entering the Niger.)
I here issued general orders for the guidance of the Expedition, having a special reference to the sanatary regulations to be observed on board the vessels. A copy of these general orders is annexed to this Report, marked C. On the 16th of June the vessels being again ready for sea, I directed the Soudan, which had less speed than the others, to go direct to Cape Coast Castle, and to be accompanied by the Harriot, in order to be supplied with coals during the passage, while I proceeded in the Albert to Sierra Leone, giving directions to the Wilberforce to follow me to that place after watering at the Island of St. Antonio.
The Albert reached Sierra Leone on the 24th of June, and the Wilberforce two days afterwards; and on the 29th the Soudan unexpectedly put in, having parted from the Harriot in squally weather, and being consequently in want of coals.
I here found the advantage of having requested Mr. Schön to make inquiry before our arrival for interpreters, as he had found out a large number of intelligent persons, which made it only necessary to select afterwards from among them such as were best qualified. Thirteen in all were chosen from the following nations:- lbo, Kakanda, Yariba, Bornu, Èggarrah or Igalla, Haussa, Nufi, Benin, and Fulah or Fulatah (sometimes Filatah, or (as at Egga) Filani). The Fulah interpreter, whose services Commander William Allen secured at the last moment before sailing, was the only individual who could be found in the colony who had ever visited Tomboktu.
The anxiety to join the Expedition was so great on the part of the liberated Africans, that we might have obtained any number we pleased. Besides those who were entered as interpreters, many others were taken in lieu of Kroomen, the better description of Kroomen not having volunteered so readily as they generally do for men of war employed to cruize on the coast.
During our stay at Sierra Leone, the Commissioners received much attention and kindness from Mr. Carr, the acting governor, who was anxious to do all in his power for the Expedition; and from him, as well as from the late Mr. Lewis, the Commissary Judge, and Dr. Ferguson, the head of the Medical Department, we derived many useful suggestions for our future intercourse with the natives. Little or no information, however, could be obtained concerning the countries situated on the higher parts of the Niger, between which and Sierra Leone there was no intercourse.
The Wilberforce on her passage from the Cape de Verdes, had seriously injured her foremast, the repair of which, together with the coaling and watering of the three vessels, and the fitting and loading of the Amelia tender, and taking on board the vessels some additional farm implements, kept us fully occupied during the time we were at Sierra Leone.
I sent Lieutenant Harston, with a party of men from the Albert, to take charge of the Amelia, and put on board of her 14 liberated Africans whom Mr. Carr, the Superintendent of the Model Farm, had engaged as farm labourers and mechanics. Three of these had wives, who accompanied them, together with two children.
Sierra Leone was at this time considered healthy, there being scarcely a case of fever in the colony. The rains had set in earlier than usual, and had hitherto been very heavy; but we were fortunate enough to arrive during an interval of tolerably fair weather, a circumstance which enabled us to carry on our operations without much interruption. No illness of any kind occurred on board the vessels during our stay at this place.
On the afternoon of the 3rd July, the Expedition put to sea. In order to save coal, our stock of which had been encroached upon by the arrival of the Soudan, the Wilberforce took her in tow, whilst the Albert towed the Amelia till we reached Cape Mesurada. Here I despatched the Soudan direct to Cape Coast Castle, and anchored with the other vessels till next day off the American settlement of Monrovia. I touched at this place to give Mr. Carr an opportunity of procuring men who understood the cultivation of cotton, as he had been unable to hire any persons of that description at Sierra Leone.
We met with marked attention and kindness from Mr. Buchanan, the Governor of Liberia, who entered very warmly into the spirit of the Expedition, and offered to promote our views as far as it was in his power. Mr. Carr succeeded in getting two volunteers for the farm, one of whom, Ralph Moore, an emigrant negro from the Mississippi, had been accustomed to the management of a cotton plantation. Many others could have been procured, had there been time to send to the adjacent Liberian settlements a few miles up the river St. Paul's.
On the 6th July we proceeded on our route to Cape Coast Castle, but contrary winds and currents obliged the Albert to put into Sinou (or Greenwell) for fuel, and the Wilberforce into Grand Bassa and Cape Palmas, three American settlements, whilst the Soudan, which had the largest proportion of coals, reached her destination without difficulty.
The Albert anchored in the roadstead of Cape Coast on the 19th July, where she found the Soudan and Harriot. The Amelia, which had been swept past the port by a strong current, arrived on the 22nd, and the Wilberforce on the 24th.
I was sorry to find that remittent fever had made its appearance on board the Wilberforce since parting company with her, and that seven of the coloured men entered in England (one of them a native of Haussa, who had been a long time in Europe), and five of her white crew had been taken ill. The coloured men had been attacked the most severely, and one of them (Henry Halbert), a woolly-haired Mulatto, born in England, had died of the disorder.
Dr. Pritchett, the surgeon, partly attributed this sickness to the unusually heavy rains they had met with on the coast, especially at Grand Bassa, during which the coloured men, as well as one of the white men beforementioned, had been exposed in bringing off wood to the steamer. While lying at Cape Coast, the Soudan also had one case of remittent fever, which Mr. Marshall, her surgeon, attributed to exposure to the sun. The patient was a West Indian, one of the black men entered in England. The Albert's crew were all healthy.
The sickness of the coloured men on this occasion shows, in some measure, that the constitution of the Negro, whether of African or American birth, requires an habitual residence in Africa to be entirely exempt from the fever of the country. This is found to be the case in Liberia, with the emigrants from North America; they all, with very few exceptions, have fever on their first arrival, and many die, but those that recover are said to stand the climate well afterwards.
The steamers here embarked the provisions and stores which had been sent out for them; and as the weather was fine, I thought it advisable to take in as many stores as possible from the Harriot, for I knew that at the mouth of the Nun we should have again to encounter the rainy season at its height, whereas since rounding Cape Palmas we had got out of the rains, which, at this season, entirely cease from Cape Palmas nearly to Cape Formosa. Our operations, however, were much impeded by the heavy rolling of the vessels.
Mr. President M'Lean afforded us every facility in completing our arrangements. The long experience of this gentleman in Africa enabled him to give us much useful information. During our stay, I accompanied him five miles into the country to see a plantation which had been carried on for some years at the expense of Mr. Swanzy, a merchant of the place. The generally flourishing appearance of the farm, although circumstances had prevented its being attended with profit, impressed me with a favourable idea of how much could be accomplished by native industry, particularly when under the direction of an European, as was the case here. Mr. M'Lean, indeed, was of opinion that white superintendance would be essential to the success of any similar experiment up the Niger.
While lying here Mr. Marshall, surgeon, and Mr. Webb, mate of the Soudan, expressed their readiness, if it were thought desirable in order to obtain information, to make their way overland from Cape Coast Castle to the upper part of the Niger, where they might embark in canoes and meet the steam-vessels on their ascent, but I could scarcely have dispensed with their services, even if the plan had been practicable, which Mr. M'Lean considered it was not. I allude, however, to the circumstance to show the zeal of these officers.
Before we left Cape Coast Castle, Captain Tucker, of H.M.S. Iris, put into the roadstead. This officer was most desirous of forwarding our views in every way. He had already given instructions to the commanders of the vessels on the station to afford us every assistance we required; and an Admiralty order, that a cruizer should be stationed at the mouth of the Nun whilst the Expedition was in the river, had been entirely anticipated by the system of blockade which he had adopted.
The vessels, as soon as they were ready, proceeded along the coast to Accra; the Albert, Soudan, and Amelia, sailing for that place on the 30th July; the Wilberforce and the Harriot on the 31st. Our object in calling at Accra was to take in live stock, and also the canoes which had been here purchased for us by Mr. M'Lean-This gentleman, anxious to the last to render us all possible assistance, accompanied us from Cape Coast to this place. Several Fantees joined the Expedition at Cape Coast and Accra.
On the 4th August we sailed for the mouth of the Nun, which the Albert reached on the 9th. I found the Harriot already there, as well as Her Majesty's brigantine Buzzard, Lieutenant-Commander Reginald T.J. Levinge. The rest of the Expedition arrived on the following day.
On this part of the coast we once more encountered the rainy season, and I never remember seeing heavier torrents of rain than on the day the Albert anchored off the mouth of the Nun. The sea was so heavy in-shore that, the vessels were obliged to anchor nine miles out, and even there the rolling was so violent as to make the communication between the vessels very hazardous. Happily there was a cessation of rain at intervals, which facilitated our operations.
On the 13th August the Albert and Soudan, having received their supplies of coals and stores, and transferred to the Harriot some remaining articles which were not required for river service, got under weigh with the Amelia, and crossed the bar. The Albert was piloted by Lieutenant Levinge, and came to an anchor with the tender inside. The Soudan, instead of anchoring, proceeded a few miles higher up, to sound Louis Creek, the first shallow channel through which the Expedition had to pass, and unfortunately ran on a mud-bank, where she lay all night. The Wilberforce passed the bar on the 15th.
All the three steam-vessels, on their voyage to the river, had lost the tails of their rudders, by which accident their steerage, especially that of the two larger vessels, had been considerably affected. A sandy beach, with six feet rise and fall of tide, here gave us an opportunity of laying them aground to repair. As we should not have the means up the river of remedying any defect of this kind, it was necessary to effect the requisite repairs at this place in such a substantial manner as would prevent a recurrence of the accident. The part of the beach selected was just within Cape Nun, and constantly exposed to the sea-breeze. The Albert was laid aground before the Wilberforce crossed the bar, but the beaching of the Wilberforce could not be effected until the 18th, in consequence of a heavy swell which had set in. The Soudan, being engaged in communications with the Harriot, was not beached till the 19th, but her new rudder tail having been in the mean time prepared with the assistance of the Albert's engineers, she was got off on the same day, and on the evening of the 19th all the vessels were ready to ascend the river. (The new tails of the Albert's and Soudan's rudders were of iron. The Wilberforce made her's of wood, which was more easily done, but was not found durable afterwards at sea on account of worms.) Before we began the ascent, the Harriot was despatched to Fernando Po.
The Nun, from the anchorage inside the bar, presents the same general appearance with the neighbouring rivers, the banks presenting a luxuriant foliage, consisting chiefly of mangroves, interspersed with oil and cocoa-nut palm trees, reaching down to the water's edge. Scarcely a hut is to be seen from the anchorage. The inhabitants, few in number, reside chiefly in two villages on the left bank, near the sea, one of which is called Acassa. They carry on some little trade with the natives higher up the river, and get provisions in return, but their trade with Europeans is inconsiderable.
Though the bar of the Nun has as much water on it as the bar of the Bonny, ships experience great difficulty in getting out, owing to the tide setting strongly across the channel, and to this may be attributed the smallness of the palm-oil trade of this river.
During our stay the Governor of Acassa paid a visit to the ships, and received small presents. We availed ourselves of the services of one of his pilots to send a message to "King Boy," Chief of Brass Town, whose authority extends over all the neighbouring waters. Brass Town is situated to the eastward of the mouth of the Nun, at a distance of about 30 miles, the intermediate communication being by creeks navigable for canoes. It is a few miles distant from the sea, and the Chief carries on a considerable palm-oil trade in the Niger as far up as Aboh, and also between the rivers Nun and Bonny.
"King Boy" has long been notorious for dishonesty, but although the Commissioners were aware of this, as they were within the limits of his jurisdiction, and as his influence is felt, more or less, all the way up to Abòh (Ibo, or Eboe), we deemed it of importance to be on good terms with him, and, if possible, to prevail on him to accompany us to Abòh. With this view we invited him to visit us, but he excused himself under the plea that he was engaged in a religious service which would occupy him a week. I sent back a small present by the person who brought his answer, with a message that if he did not come immediately we should have proceeded up the river. He did not, however, come, but sent his son with a present of two sheep. Whether he was prevented by fear, or from his being really engaged in any religious ceremony, we were not able to ascertain. We were inclined to believe that he was alarmed at hearing of so many vessels having come without the intention of trading with him; this opinion was strengthened by the circumstance of two pilots, who had come in the canoe with the Governor of Acassa, and who had promised to accompany us to Abòh, having ultimately refused to do so, though one of them afterwards followed us about 24 miles up the river.
Dr. M'William vaccinated many persons in the neighbourhood of Acassa: he was readily allowed to perform the operation, his doing which gave much satisfaction. While on shore this officer had an opportunity of examining several pools of water that had been stagnant since the preceding spring-tides, but could detect nothing peculiarly unwholesome, there being no indication of the presence of sulphuretted hydrogen, which had been supposed to be a cause of the unhealthiness of these rivers.
While lying here we had the misfortune to lose Mr. Bach, mathematical instrument maker. His death, though occasioned by fever, was not attributable to the climate, but to a debilitated constitution.
On the 19th of August, 1841, I took advantage of the high tide in the afternoon to tow the Amelia, which drew much more water than the steamers, through Louis Creek. We got through the channel before sunset, and came to an anchor seven or eight miles above the mouth of the river. The Wilberforce and Soudan followed the next morning.
We were now entering upon the more immediate field of our labours, - upon one of acknowledged difficulty and danger; - and I thought it a fit occasion for general prayer throughout the Expedition. Accordingly, previous to commencing the ascent of the river, a prayer, which the Rev. Mr. Müller, the chaplain, had at my desire framed for the occasion, was offered up on board each vessel.
Lieutenant Levinge, of the Buzzard, desirous of being useful to us till the last, accompanied us a short distance in our progress up, and took leave of us with three hearty cheers, taking our letters for England. I should not be doing justice to this officer were I not to acknowledge here, in the strongest terms, the obligations we were under to him for his zealous co-operation with us in every way during our detention at the mouth of the Nun.
The voyage to Abòh occupied us from the 20th to the 26th of August, but as it presented few incidents, I shall not enter into a detailed report of our daily progress through the Delta.
The weather throughout was remarkably pleasant, with generally only sufficient rain to cool the atmosphere, and there was a refreshing breeze, which we enjoyed the more as it was in our favour, and enabled us frequently to make use of our sails. Every one was in the highest spirits, cheered by the novelty and beauty of the scenery and by the exhilirating feeling of the air, which to our senses appeared perfectly salubrious, and it was difficult to imagine that it could be otherwise.
For the first few miles there was a want of animation, few birds or living things of any kind being seen, and only a single canoe, the solitary occupant of which paddled as fast as he could into the mangroves, to avoid the steam-vessels. A lonely hut appeared occasionally, with its floor scarcely out of the water: the few inhabitants, who were generally quite naked, appeared much alarmed at our approach. The stream on each side was lined with mangroves, with oil palms and other trees appearing occasionally amongst them.
As we proceeded upwards from Sunday Island (All the English names of places are taken from Lieutenant (now Captain) William Allen's Chart of the "Quorra."), where the influence of the tides gives place to the constant downward current of the river, a marked change took place in the scenery. The banks began to be slightly elevated above the, water, and instead of the mangrove a variety of beautiful palms and other trees formed a forest so dense, that for upwards of 100 miles, except where spots were cleared for cultivation, the eye could not penetrate more than a few yards beyond the water's edge. These cleared spots, containing yams, cocoas, cassadas, Indian corn, plantains, and occasionally sugar-cane, began to appear immediately after leaving Sunday Island, and gradually became more frequent. Solitary huts were now succeeded by clusters, and clusters of huts by villages, the villages became larger and more populous, while the natives showed themselves less timid, and often came off in their canoes to hold intercourse with us. For the first 50 miles there was little appearance of trade; but afterwards large canoes were seen carrying palm-oil, destined for Brass Town and Bonny.
The plan of proceeding which I determined to adopt in our progress up the river was to weigh every morning at daylight, which was about half-past five o'clock, having first issued to each man a cup of coffee, and also quinine when recommended by the surgeon. We continued under steam through the day, never stopping but when it was desirable to take observations for ascertaining the latitude and longitude, or where a good opportunity was afforded of communicating with the natives. Their timidity, however, especially in the lower parts of the river, was such that our intercourse produced little worthy of remark, though their disposition was invariably friendly.
The ventilation was always at work; and on anchoring, which we usually did before it became quite dark, such parts of the drying and purifying apparatus as were recommended by the medical officers were put into operation.
The officers during the day were mostly employed in recording the soundings, measuring the breadth of the river, estimating distances, and in such other operations as are usual in a running survey, which, while they were carried on without materially impeding our progress, were of the highest importance as furnishing elements of charts, and proved afterwards of great use on our return down the river.
This routine I purposed to continue without intermission, except on Sundays, on which day I determined to remain at anchor, unless peculiar circumstances should render it necessary to go on. This I did, not only with a view to the proper observance of the day, but to allow rest to the officers and men, and more especially to the engineers. The frequent shoaling of the water, by rendering it necessary for one of the engineers to be constantly below in readiness to ease or stop the engines, subjected them and the stokers to far greater exhaustion and fatigue than any one else on board, and rendered the husbanding their strength imperatively necessary.
Had I, when I arrived in the Delta, considered it to be as unhealthy as I had been led to expect when I left England, I should have considered it right to proceed without stopping, at the risk even of laying up the engineers; but there being no indication of an unwholesome atmosphere, so far as Dr. M'William's observations, which were very minute, could ascertain the fact, I did not, even in the Delta, deviate from this rule of giving rest to all hands on Sunday.
The cessation of the working of the engines did not, however, involve a cessation of the ventilating process; for although the engines, when at work, were the moving power of the fanners, the latter were not solely dependent on them, but could be turned by the revolution of the paddle-wheels put in motion by the force of the stream while the vessels were at anchor; the paddle-wheels being on these occasions disconnected from the engines.
Owing to the large quantity of stores and provisions with which they were laden, the steamers seldom made good more than from 25 to 30 miles a-day. One of the large vessels, usually the Albert, took the Amelia in tow, notwithstanding which her speed was equal to that of the Soudan.
We began our ascent of the river, as I have already stated, on the 20th August. On the afternoon of the 21st I had directed Commander Allen, of the Wilberforce, by signal, to look into a branch of the river on the right bank, which he accordingly did; but, as it proved, without understanding that I wished him to go only a short distance up and return. The three other vessels in the meanwhile continued their course, and anchored in the evening at the village of Assassi, 10 or 12 miles above the branch which the Wilberforce had entered, called by the natives Agobri.
I remained at anchor on Sunday, the 22nd, and also for a few hours on the following day, in expectation of the Wilberforce coming up to us; but at length, fearing that she might have got into difficulties, I returned with the Albert in search of her, leaving the Amelia to anchor till my return. After going a few miles up the branch which the Wilberforce had entered, I fired a few guns to denote our position; but as no answer was returned, I concluded she had followed out the channel, and accordingly resumed my course up the main stream, taking the Amelia in tow upon rejoining her about sunset.
The Soudan, in the mean time, had proceeded upwards till she arrived at the village of Sabogrega (or Sabo-krugga), where she found a letter from Commander W. Allen stating his proceedings. The Wilberforce, after rather a circuitous route, had re-entered the main stream 20 miles above the place where she had left it, at a point opposite to this village, and had then proceeded up the river. The Soudan was returning to give me this intelligence, when she ran aground, and was still on the bank when I reached her in the evening. On the following morning the Albert assisted in heaving her off. These were the only delays that occurred in the Delta.
On the afternoon of the 26th August the Albert, the Soudan, and the Amelia reached the town of Abòh, 130 miles from the sea. This town has hitherto been called by Europeans Ibo, or Eboe, and was generally supposed to be the capital of the whole of the Ibo country; but we ascertained that its proper name is Abòh, and that it is the principal town of a territory of the same name, which forms a part only, and that probably the most western, of the Ibo country.
The Wilberforce had reached this place the night before. The circumstance which caused the delay of the other vessels has already been related.
At daylight on the morning after the arrival of the Wilberforce, Obi, Ossai (or sovereign chief, as the word Ossai denotes) of the Abòh country, sent his second son on board; and afterwards, on receiving an invitation, visited the ship himself, and expressed much pleasure at meeting Commander William Allen, whom he remembered to have seen in 1832, when that officer accompanied Messrs. Lander and Laird on their voyage up the river. The objects of the Expedition were briefly explained to Obi by Commander William Allen and Mr. Cook, and he was given to understand that he would hear full particulars on the arrival of the other vessels, which appeared in sight before he left the Wilberforce.
On the morning of the 27th August, Obi came on board the Albert, having previously intimated his intention of doing so. He was attended by several of his sons and a few of his head men, but without any pomp or state. With the exception of his dress, which was a British scarlet uniform coat and scarlet cloth trousers, his appearance was more that of a keen trader than of a sovereign chief of an extensive country. His manner, however, though friendly and unceremonious, showed a consciousness of power, and his attendants treated him with marked respect. On his arrival on board the Albert he was conducted to a chair at the after-part of the vessel, and seated himself with the Commissioners under the awning, whilst his attendants stood or sat down on the deck.
We were anxious to lose no time in bringing the objects of the mission before the Chief; and as we found him quite ready to listen to them, we entered at once upon the subject.
As our proceedings with respect to the Treaty which we formed with Obi are detailed in the letter of the Commissioners to Lord John Russell of the 30th August, 1841, I shall only here state that the negotiations detained us till the 28th, on which day we proceeded onwards towards Iddah.
We had entered Obi's country about 20 miles below the town of Abòh, where a branch goes off to Warree, and we came to its northern limits at the Oniah market, 170 miles from the sea. To what distance the Abòh country extends on each side from the river we had no means of ascertaining.
The banks of the river the whole way up to nearly the northern limit of the Abòh country, were perfectly flat, and presented, with few exceptions, a continuance of the same impenetrable forest that has been already described, which, though beautiful, and at first most pleasing to the eye, wearied it at length by its sameness. It was a great relief, therefore, to find the ground afterwards slightly elevated and undulating, and the country more open. On the 2nd of September we at length saw the high cliffs on which the town of Iddah stands, and detached hills appearing still higher up the river.
On the evening of that day the Albert, the Wilberforce, and the Amelia came to an anchor off the town, the Soudan arriving on the following morning.
Iddah, situated about 95 miles above Abòh, and 225 miles from the sea, is the residence of the Attàh, or sovereign chief, of the Eggarrah or Igalla country. This country, which lies along both banks of the Niger, extends from the Òniah Market on the south, where it is bounded by the Abòh country, to Buddu (called Kakanda in Lieut. Allen's Chart of the Quorra) on the north, at which place the Nufi country commences.
I could hear at least of no denial of the Attàh's authority within this limit, excepting on the right bank, immediately opposite to Iddah, where the people professed allegiance to the King of Benin, though still styling the place where they lived the Èggarrah country.
The Èggarrah country is said to extend a short distance up the Chadda, and the Attàh claims tribute from the Chief of Fandah, his title to which we were told is not disputed.
Dr. M'William and Mr. Schön were deputed to wait on the Attàh on the morning of the 3rd of September, with a message from the Commissioners, to invite him on board the Albert. They experienced some difficulty in obtaining an interview, being taken, in the first instance, to the house of the Attàh's sister, a clever intelligent woman, by whose counsels it is said the Attàh was much guided. Here they were detained for some hours; they finally, however, succeeded, in seeing the Attàh, but he declined to go on board the Albert on the plea of its being contrary to etiquette for a king in his country to go on the water.
We were inclined to attribute these delays on the Attàh's part to his wish to obtain as much information as he could beforehand respecting our purpose in coming to his country; for his reception of us afterwards, though much appearance of state was kept up, was very cordial.
On the 4th of September the Commissioners went on shore by appointment, to visit the Attàh, accompanied by several of the officers of the Expedition, and escorted by a marine guard. The Chief had ordered horses to be in readiness to take the Commissioners to his residence, but by some mistake they were not sent in time. We were taken in the first instance, as the deputation had been the day before, to the house of the Attàh's sister, but shortly afterwards received a summons from the Attàh, and were conducted to his residence, where we found him surrounded by the principal people of the place. We here entered on the subject of our mission, and on the sixth of September concluded a Treaty similar in all respects to the one we had formed at Abòh, excepting that in an Additional Article we obtained permission to purchase for her Majesty any land in the Attàh's territory that we might consider suitable for the erection of forts.
Our negociations respecting this treaty being detailed in the letter of the Commissioners to Lord John Russell, dated the 8th of September, 1841, I beg leave to refer your Lordship to that Despatch for further particulars.
On the 6th of September, previous to going on shore at Iddah to complete the Treaty, I gave orders for the Wilberforce and Soudan to proceed up the river. The Soudan accordingly did so, but the Wilberforce, after getting under weigh, ran upon the point of English Island, and was detained two days in consequence, during which time the Albert remained to assist in getting her afloat. This, after the utmost exertions on the part of her officers and crew, was not effected till the 8th, when we followed the Soudan up the river.
When the article of the Treaty respecting the purchase of land was under discussion, the Attàh offered to send up accredited agents to define the boundaries, and make over to us any land we might select. We were accordingly accompanied up the river by the second judge, and were followed by the Attàh's secretary in his canoe. A mallam or priest, a confidential friend of the Attàh, also took a passage in the Albert on his own business.
On the 10th of September, after passing through a romantic part of the river with lofty hills on each side rising at times from the water's edge, we reached the confluence of the Niger and Chadda, having shortly before come up with the Soudan, and on the 11th the vessels of the Expedition were all assembled off the ruins of the town of Adda-Kuddu.
In their Despatch of the 16th of September, the Commissioners informed Lord John Russell of their having obtained a grant of land for Her Majesty situated on the right bank of the river near Adda-Kuddu, and embracing Baraga or Beaufort Island. The reasons which determined us to secure the possession of this district are there stated, as likewise the circumstance of Mr. Carr, the superintendent of the model farm, having fixed upon a part of it as a convenient site for his proposed establishment.
Mr. Carr at first selected Adda-Kuddu itself for this purpose, the soil being richer than any we had seen since leaving the Delta, and the various implements and stores belonging to the farm were accordingly landed there; but on further examination the ground was considered to be too much interspersed with rocks to be favourable for the cultivation of cotton, and on proceeding with the Commissioners a few miles further up the river in the Wilberforce Mr. Carr ultimately selected Mount Stirling, a place equally within the limits of our purchase.
The farm stores and utensils were accordingly re-embarked at Adda-Kuddu, and again landed at the new site.
On the 16th of September the Commissioners having finally concluded the purchase of land for Her Majesty with the agents of the Attàh, and all the necessary arrangements respecting the model farm being nearly completed, it was resolved at a meeting of the Commissioners that Commander Bird Allen and myself should proceed up the Niger, whilst Commander William Allen and Mr. Cook should form a sub-commission and ascend the Chadda.
In the event of the Albert's progress beyond Rabba being stopped by rocks or other impediments in the navigation, it was my intention, if found practicable, to dispatch one of our forty-feet galleys to proceed further up the river; and it became necessary before parting with the Wilberforce, to make arrangements to have a sufficient number of officers and men to detach on this service. For this purpose I directed that Lieutenant Strange, whom I had selected to take charge of the boat party, should join the Soudan, where his services would be available in the mean time, on account of the illness of Lieutenant Ellis, and transferred Mr. Fairholme (mate) from the Amelia to the Albert, with the view of his accompanying him.
John Waddington, quarter-master of the Wilberforce, was also taken on board the Albert for the same purpose, as well as two of the corps of sappers and miners, and James Peters a black seaman of the Haussa country. Dr. Stanger and Mr. Woodhouse, with a portion of the crew of the Albert, were also to form part of the boat party.
Lieutenant Harston at the same time joined the Wilberforce, and I put the Amelia under the charge of Mr. Webb (mate), and appointed Mr. Collman assistant surgeon to her. At Mr. Carr's request I arranged that the Amelia should be left at anchor off the model farm for its protection during the absence of the steam-vessels up the river. A copy of the instructions which I gave to Mr. Webb on this occasion is annexed, marked D.
I allowed Mr. Kingdon, assistant clerk of the Soudan, at his own desire to join the Amelia. This gentleman had accompanied the Expedition with the view, if a proper opportunity presented itself, of remaining permanently up the river as a missionary, for which he was well qualified. Mr. Ansell, collector of plants, was also allowed to remain at the model farm at his own particular desire.
Some of these arrangements, before they could be carried into effect, were unhappily frustrated. Previous to this time fever had made its appearance in the Expedition. The first case in the river occurred on the 3rd of September on board the Soudan, on the day of her arrival at Iddah, and the disease spread almost simultaneously through the other vessels. Before they left Iddah a considerable number were on the sick list, and one of the Albert's white men had died there on the 6th of September.
We were still, however, sanguine that the progress of the disease might be arrested. The country about Iddah was flooded, but the river was still rising, which latter circumstance was considered to be conducive rather than otherwise to the healthiness of the climate; the country, too, through which we were about to pass was more open than below Iddah and the land higher. All these circumstances seemed to justify an expectation that as we ascended the river a purer atmosphere would be found. But our hopes that the progress of the disease might be in this way arrested were not destined to be realized; for by the time that the arrangements I have alluded to at the confluence were completed, one officer and seven men had died, and a large proportion of the crews were laid up with fever, many in a dangerous state, and the sick lists were still increasing.
On the 18th of September the number of sick amounted to sixty, and Dr. McWilliam having given me his opinion (as expressed in his letter to me of that date, a copy of which is herewith enclosed, marked E) that the best hope of their recovery depended upon their being sent to the sea, I gave instructions for the Soudan to be got ready for the reception of all those whom the surgeons might think it desirable to send away; and as the services of Commander Bird Allen would be required up the river in his capacity of Commissioner, I appointed Lieutenant Fishbourne to take temporary charge of that vessel.
I may here state that before coming to the determination of sending the Soudan away, I suggested to Dr. McWilliam the possibility that the air on the neighbouring hill (Mount Patteh) might afford sufficient change of air to produce a favourable effect on the sick if they could be removed there, but he said that having no experience of the climate of the hills he could only give the advice he had done; but had he even recommended a trial of the mountain air, I have great doubts if the removal of so many sick would have been practicable.
On the 18th, having informed the Commissioners of the determination I had come to of sending the Soudan to the sea, a meeting of the Commission was held, at which Commander William Allen and Mr. Cook expressed their opinions that the whole Expedition ought to return down the river; the former alleging as his reasons that the river would soon begin to fall, that the unhealthy season would in his opinion commence in October, and that the present sickness seemed still to be increasing, and that on these grounds he thought the decision the Commissioners had come to two days before ought not to be adhered to.
Mr. Cook said that in his opinion to ascend the river under the above circumstances would paralyze future exertions, and prevent ultimate success, but that if we were now to withdraw we should be able to ascend again with renovated health.
Commander Bird Allen was of opinion that we ought to persevere at all events a week longer, to see what effect change of air might produce in checking the disease.
As we were well aware before we embarked upon the Expedition of the hazard we had to encounter from the climate, the objections of Commander William Allen and Mr. Cook did not appear to me of sufficient force to justify a retreat at so early a period, whilst so many of us were still in full health; and besides, being of opinion with Dr. M'William that we might possibly reach a healthier climate as we got higher up the river, I conceived that the measure of sending away the sick would restore such efficiency to the vessels as to afford a reasonable prospect of the Albert remaining up the Niger long enough to reach Rabba, and the Wilberforce a corresponding heightin the Chadda, or, at all events, tojustify our making the attempt.
I resolved, therefore, after recording the opinions of the Commissioners, that the same course should be followed in regard to the two larger vessels, which had been determined upon at the meeting of the 16th September.
Under this arrangement, Commander William Allen and Mr. Cook were still to form a sub-commission, and ascend the Chadda in the Wilberforce, while Commander Bird Allen was to proceed with me in the Albert up the Niger, it being understood that either vessel was to retire to the sea should circumstances render it necessary.
My belief that the measure of sending the sick to the sea, while it would benefit the sick themselves, would restore efficiency to the Expedition, was founded not only on the consideration that the removal of so many men, whose services were not likely to be soon available, would render the vessels more efficient than they were whilst the sick remained on board, but that the remainder of the crews who were still in health would be thus relieved from the depressing influence on the spirits occasioned by the presence of so many of their sick shipmates, and also that a predisposing cause of fever, in the closeness and impurity of the air, arising from a number of sick persons being closely crowded together, would be removed; while those patients, whose state did not require a removal to the sea, would be benefited, by being less crowded in sick quarters.
When the ascent of the Wilberforce up the Chadda had at this meeting of the Commissioners been decided on, it was resolved that a present should be sent to the King of Fundah, inviting him to appoint agents to confer with the Commissioners on the return of that vessel down the river. A small present was accordingly given in charge to the Mallam, who had accompanied us from Iddah, and as he was well aware of the objects of the Expedition, and was an honest friendly man, I have no doubt that he faithfully executed his commission.
On the 19th of September at noon the Soudan began her descent of the river, taking thirteen (two of these were coloured men entered in England) cases from the Albert and six from the Wilberforce, besides her own sick, which included almost every one on board. Dr. Pritchett, of the Wilberforce, only decided to send away two of his patients, being of opinion that in general the sick would recover quite as well by remaining up the river, as by being sent to the sea; but I suggested to Commander W. Allen, the propriety of allowing any of the other patients to go down in the Soudan who might wish to do so, and four availed themselves of the offer. As soon as the Soudan parted company, the steam was got up in the Albert and Wilberforce, in order that they might proceed on their respective services, but before the anchors were weighed the second and third engineers of the Wilberforce were taken ill, and Commander William Allen came on board to report his vessel unfit to ascend the Chadda. I therefore ordered him to prepare at once to follow the Soudan to the sea. At the same time a special meeting of the Commission was held, at which Commander William Allen and Mr. Cook again urged the expediency of the whole Expedition retiring from the river, but as the Albert was still in a condition for service, I saw no reason for departing from my former resolution, especially when I remembered that Messrs. Lander and Laird's Expedition of 1833 had been in this very part of the river, and higher up, in the months of September and October, and the European crew during all that time had remained perfectly free from fever.
On the afternoon of the same day the Albert was brought alongside the Wilberforce, and the following day, the 20th, was taken up in supplying the latter vessel with fuel, and in making other necessary arrangements. Lieutenant Harston having been sent away sick in the Soudan, Lieutenant Strange remained on board the Wilberforce; and Mr. Webb, having fallen sick, was removed from the Amelia to the Albert: the Amelia was then left in charge of Mr. Kingdon, the instructions which I had left for Mr. Webb being made over to him. Mr. Bowden, the secretary, Mr. Harvey, master of the Albert, and Mr. Collman, assistant surgeon of the Soudan, had in the mean while become so ill that it was necessary to transfer them to the Wilberforce, making 33 white persons on her sick list, including the commander and Mr. Cook. At the request of Commander William Allen I sent Mr. Woodhouse, the only remaining assistant surgeon of the Albert, down in the Wilberforce to assist Dr. Pritchett in the arduous duty which thus devolved upon him.
Mr. Cook's illness happily did not afterwards prove to be river fever, nor did Commander Allen's fever prove of so long continuance or so debilitating as most of the other cases, for on the day he reached the mouth of the river he was able to resume charge of the vessel, which from the day previous to her departure from the confluence had devolved upon Lieutenant Strange; but as he had become liable to attacks of fever which would soon have altogether incapacitated him for continuing his duties up the river, however much I regretted the loss of his services in exploring the Chadda, I could not but be glad that the return of the Wilberforce afforded him the means of getting to a better climate. Neither could I regret the departure of Mr. Cook, whose case at the time Dr. Pritchett had reason to fear was one of the prevailing endemic.
On the 21st of September, I placed my final instructions in the hands of Lieutenant Strange, to be delivered to Commander William Allen when he should be sufficiently recovered to attend to duty, and the Wilberforce then began her descent of the River. For an account of her passage to Fernando Po, as well as of that of the Soudan, I beg to refer your Lordship to my letter to the Admiralty, dated at Fernando Po, the 25th October, 1841, a copy of which is in the Colonial Office.
There were at this time 39 Europeans on board the Albert, 17 officers and 22 men: six of these, including two engineers, were slightly ill with fever, but they declined availing themselves of the opportunity of returning in the Wilberforce, and Dr. M'William did not consider it necessary to send them away: all the rest were well excepting three or four who had had the fever, but were convalescent.
On the 21st, after the Wilberforce had left, I proceeded in the Albert up the Niger. In the course of that day Commander Bird Allen showed symptoms of fever, and on the following morning was entirely disabled from duty. Other cases, both among the officers and men, continued to occur, but judging it still right to endeavour to reach Rabba while any prospect of doing so remained, I continued the ascent, still hoping, with Dr. McWilliam, that we might find a better climate higher up the river.
On the 22nd the Albert arrived at the Gori market, situated on the right bank, about 30 miles above the confluence. The next morning a number of canoes came alongside, and amongst them one belonging to Ajimba, son of Ajiddi, the Chief of Mùye, a village of the Kakanda country, under the jurisdiction of the Attàh of Eggarrah. This canoe was returning from the Egga market, in the Nufi country, where, besides a cargo of horses and goods, Ajimba had purchased three slaves, one male and two females, whom he was bringing down the river. This was the first instance of a traffic in slaves which had come under my notice; and as Egga, where the slaves were purchased, is out of the Attàh's dominions, the carrying of them from one country to another was a decided breach of the treaty we had concluded at Iddah. I, in consequence, detained the canoe, and after a formal investigation on the quarter deck, liberated the slaves, keeping them on board the Albert; but as it appeared that Ajimba was in ignorance of the existence of the treaty, I thought it only just not to enforce the confiscation of the canoe and her cargo, to which penalty he had subjected himself.
The three slaves, natives of the Yarriba country, had cost 80,000 cowries (or £5, at the rate of 100 cowries for 1½d., which was their cost to Government when bought in the London market in 1840, and which may perhaps be considered an average price in England), which was a considerable loss to the owner, but it was nevertheless imperative on me under the treaty to liberate them, and Ajimba at once acquiesced in the justice of this decision, as did also the son of the Attah, who happened to be on the spot, and who at my desire attended the trial as the representative of his father. The Attah himself afterwards sent me a message expressing his entire concurrence in all my proceedings.
This transaction, taking place as it did when at anchor off a considerable market, whence the news would be widely spread, no doubt had a beneficial effect, as evincing a determination on our part to enforce the conditions of the Treaty. The minutes of the trial taken at the time are herewith enclosed, marked F. I eventually took the people I had thus liberated to Fernando Po, thereby indeed risking in some degree the misconstruction of my motives on the part of the natives who witnessed the transaction; but there was no alternative. I had no opportunity of returning them to their own country, and I knew were I to land them at Gori, where we then were, or at any of the other places which we afterwards reached, they would in all probability be seized again, as they were natives of a distant part of the Yarriba country, and totally ignorant of the languages spoken in this part of the Niger.
I had not the advantage of Commander Bird Allen's advice on this occasion, as he was too unwell to be spoken to on the subject. On the 24th we communicated with a Nufi village on the left bank, called Bezzani, containing about 200 inhabitants. The inhabitants were in a wretched state of poverty, being much harassed by the Fulatahs, who make such exactions upon the people in this part of the country as entirely to destroy all their energies, and discourage any exertions on their part to better their condition.
On the 25th we stopped to cut fuel at Kinami, a village on the right bank, inhabited also by Nufis, the population of which we estimated at about 1000. The inhabitants occupy themselves in weaving, and carry on some trade with Egga in country cloths, ivory and bees' wax, but derive little benefit from it, owing to the heavy taxation which the Fulatahs impose upon them.
On the evening of the 27th of September, being at anchor in sight of Egga, I despatched Mr. Samuel Crowther, catechist, to announce our arrival to the Chief, and on the 28th the Albert anchored off the town.
Egga is one of the principal towns in the Nufi country, and the largest we had seen since we entered the Niger. The Nufi country has for some years been overrun by the Fulatahs; and the two native kings who were at that time disputing the throne, are entirely subject to the King of Rabba, one of the most powerful Chiefs of the Fulatah tribes, though himself tributary to the Sultan of Socatu. Notwithstanding, however, the entire subjugation of the country, Rogang, a Nufi by birth, is allowed to hold the government of Egga, and we understood the office to be hereditary in his family.
The first report of our appearance had caused considerable alarm, as news had previously arrived of the seizure of the three Yarriba slaves, who had been purchased, as I have already stated, at Egga; but when the nature of the Treaty under which the seizure had taken place was explained to the Governor, he was quite satisfied, and expressed himself desirous that the Slave Trade should also be abolished in the Nufi country.
He said he would be happy to see me, but declined to comply with my request to come on board the Albert, for fear of incurring the displeasure of the Rabbah Chief.
Though, however he expressed the desire he himself had to see the Slave Trade put an end to in his country, and wished a Treaty could be made to that effect, he said he could afford us no assistance in this till something had previously been done in favour of such a measure by the King of Rabba, who, he candidly told us, was not likely, in his opinion, to meet our proposition with favour, adding, that God alone could bring the event to pass. He further informed us, that it would be useless to attempt to make a Treaty with Ezu-Issa (or Edirissa), one of the nominal kings of Nufi, who resided only a few miles higher up the river, as he was altogether powerless and quite dependent on the King of Rabba.
Our further proceedings were now interrupted by the almost universal sickness on board the vessel. We had, since leaving the confluence, lost two seamen; those then on the sick-list, instead of improving in health, had become worse, whilst others had been taken ill; and on our first arrival at Egga, Mr. Lodge, the only engineer able at that time to do duty, was seized with fever.
I still, however, clung to the hope that one of the other engineers might become sufficiently convalescent to work the engines, so as to enable us, by the time we had finished our supply of wood, to proceed up the river.
My hopes were, however, disappointed, for when we had completed our fuel, the engineers were still unable to do any duty; and the only stoker who, failing them, was competent to work the engine, was also disabled from duty by fever.
On the 4th of October, two days after the fuel had been completed, our state had become very deplorable, and all idea of being able to make further progress up the river was with reluctance finally abandoned.
I had myself been seized the day before with fever, although I was unwilling to believe it to be more than a temporary attack. Commander Bird Allen's fever continued unabated; and, excepting Mr. Willie, mate, one convalescent seaman, Dr. McWilliam, Dr. Stanger, and the Rev. Mr. Schön, there were only five others among the white crew (none of them seamen) able to do duty; a number scarcely adequate to wait upon the sick. The river had now fallen 14 inches, and the swampy nature of the banks made it indispensable to move away before the drying up of the lands made the climate more unhealthy. On the 5th October I was too ill myself to go on deck, but I directed Mr. Willie to weigh, and as there was nobody to work the engines, to drop the vessel down the stream.
This zealous young officer had at that time, as I afterwards learnt, been threatened for some days with fever; but being the only executive officer besides myself, he would not desist from duty.
Before leaving Egga I took measures, in which Commander Bird Allen, who was well enough at that moment to be consulted, entirely concurred, to have a message sent to the Chief of Rabbah, Samo Sariki (or Hàssaman Zaiki), stating that the Commissioners were at present prevented from paying him a visit by illness, and the falling of the river, but that they hoped to return and see him next year, and that they would then deliver their message from the Queen of England, who had sent them to ask the king to put an end to the exportation of slaves, and to establish commercial relations between Great Britain and his country.
I sent the message through Rogang, with a request to him that he would forward it to Rabbah, together with a valuable silk velvet tobe, a handsomely bound Arabic Bible, and a large print of the vessels of the Expedition, and that he would make known that these were intended as a present to the Chief of Rabba, in token of the friendly feelings of the Queen of England towards him. It was requested that the messenger might also inform him that the English had made a settlement near Adda Kudu, and that he must not allow his warriors to approach or molest the neighbouring towns. Rogang, who undertook to have the message and presents conveyed to Rabbah, expressed himself pleased that we had taken this step, saying that if we had gone away without sending a conciliatory message, Samo Sariki, hearing of our arrival at Egga without receiving any communication from us, would have been doubtful as to whether our intentions towards him were favourable or not; and he might have suspected him, Rogang, of prejudicing our minds against him.
On the 5th of October, while Mr. Willie was dropping the vessel down the river, Mr. Brown, our Negro clerk, was sent on shore to deliver the message and present to Rogang, and rejoined us a few miles below Egga, where we had come to an anchor for the night.
The mode of descending the river by dropping down the stream, though both tedious, and attended with danger, must have been pursued the whole length of the river, had it not been for the spirited conduct of Dr. Stanger, the geologist, who, after the first day, undertook to work the engines. The particulars of our descent from Egga to the mouth of the Nun, and our voyage from thence to Fernando Po, have been so fully detailed in my despatch to the Admiralty of the 25th of October, 1841, already alluded to, that I shall only in this place briefly mention such circumstances as were not then noticed, or are necessary to connect the narrative.
On the 6th October we reached Buddu on the right bank, the chief Kakanda town on the Niger, situated on the confines of the Attàh's territory. Here we found the Attàh's authority distinctly acknowledged, and that he had, according to his agreement, faithfully published the law for the abolition of the Slave Trade.
About this time Mr. Willie was obliged to desist almost entirely from carrying on duty, and soon afterwards altogether. I was too ill to be told of this, and Dr. McWilliam, notwithstanding the very unusual increase of his ordinary duties, took charge of the ship.
During the night of the 7th of October Mr. Wilmett (clerk) jumped overboard in a fit of delirium, but was saved by William Guy, a native of Gambia, and Tom Osmond, Kruman, who gallantly jumped after him into the water, although the night was very dark and the stream running strong. The Humane Society has since awarded silver medals to these negroes for their conduct on the occasion.
On the 9th we had descended as far as the model farm, where we found Mr. Carr, as well as Mr. Kingdon and Mr. Ansell, the only two Europeans who had been left behind, laid up with fever; and as there was no medical man at the farm, it was necessary to take them on board for a passage down the river. Mr. Kingdon was indeed past all hope of recovery at the time of embarkation. The farm establishment, consisting of 21, men, women, and children, (all negroes, whom we had brought from the coast,) were then placed under the charge of Ralph Moore, the American negro emigrant, whom we had taken on board at Liberia. The Amelia was still left for their protection, under the charge of Mr. Thomas King, an intelligent man of colour, with a crew of 12 black men, and provisions sufficient for nine months, and cowries to purchase enough for three months more. The farm people had also a supply of provisions, sufficiently large to last about the same time, with plenty of goods to procure a fresh supply. Mr. King was a liberated African and our Yariba interpreter. Although he was unused to command and responsibility, yet I had great confidence in his steadiness and uprightness, from the character he bore at Sierra Leone.
Having made these and some other necessary arrangements, which, in my unfitness for duty, devolved chiefly on Dr. McWilliam, our voyage down the river was resumed on the 10th of October. On the evening of that day we anchored a few miles below Iddah. Early the next morning the Attàh sent to express his regret that we had not anchored in his waters, meaning off the town. The sight of our decks covered with sick must have been quite sufficient to satisfy the messenger of the cause of our haste to get down the river. It was at this time the Attàh sent me a message, stating his satisfaction at my having liberated the slaves. He was about to send a bullock on board, but as we had not time to wait for it I expressed a desire that the present might be transferred to the people at the confluence, and I sent a message to the Attàh, recommending them to his care. I was afterwards pleased to hear that the bullock was, within a fortnight, received on board the Amelia, on which occasion the Attàh's agent informed Mr. King that I had left him and his people under the Attàh's charge.
On the evening of the 12th we reached Abòh, where, notwithstanding our forlorn state, Obi was as friendly as before, both he and his son giving their best assistance in supplying the vessel with fuel. He breakfasted on board, and before leaving the ship paid me a visit in my cabin, to which I was still confined by fever.
When at Abàh, on my way up the river, Obi had expressed a wish that we should allow the interpreter to remain, and teach his people our religion and "all that the white people knew," and appeared so earnest in his request, that though we could not leave him behind at the time, we promised to send him back to Abòh by the first opportunity, and I had accordingly availed myself of the return of the Soudan to fulfil the promise. This man, Simon Jonas, a native of the Abàh country, was now again taken on board, and I was gratified by learning from his account how well he had been treated, and how much disposed the natives were to listen to him.
After as short a stay as possible, we again resumed our downward course, and when about a hundred miles from the sea were happily met by Captain Becroft, in the Ethiope steamer, who, at the request of Commander William Allen, was most kindly proceeding up the river to render us assistance.
As I have already dwelt in my despatches to the Admiralty on the services rendered to me on this occasion by Captain Becroft, I shall here only state that, under his guidance (I being still too unwell myself to do duty), the Albert, on the 16th of October, was taken safely over the bar, and thence on to Fernando Po.
As we were coming out of the river we met the Soudan entering it, in charge of Lieutenant Strange, who was about to proceed up, with a view of joining us if possible. Two assistant surgeons (Mr. Thomson and Mr. Woodhouse) accompanied him, but the latter, since leaving Fernando Po, had been seized with fever.
This vessel I ordered to return with me to Fernando Po, where we arrived, the Albert on the 17th and the Soudan on the following day.
The hand of a merciful Providence was so conspicuously shown in the safe progress of the three vessels down the river, and particularly in the case of the Albert, that I am sure no one who descended the river at that time can look back upon his safety without feelings of gratitude to God for his preservation; and while recording this feeling, I shall only be doing justice to myself and all those who were at that time under my command, if I also here put on record our sense of the liberality of Mr. Jamieson, of Liverpool, who, though much opposed from the beginning to the Expedition, conceiving it would be injurious to British commerce, had, previously to its arrival on the coast, sent orders to his captains to afford us every assistance in their power. Captain Becroft could scarcely otherwise have felt himself justified in complying with Commander William Allen's request to come to our assistance, as he was at that time about to sail in another direction.
The complete state of inefficiency, both of the Albert and Soudan, precluded any attempt to proceed beyond Fernando Po; Lieutenant Strange, Mr. Anderson, second master of the Soudan, and Mr. Cross, third engineer, (the two latter of whom had only joined the Expedition a few days before as volunteers from Her Majesty's steam-vessel Pluto,) being the only executive officers able to do duty. The sick were therefore all landed the day after our arrival at the West African Company's establishment, which afforded, comparatively, good accommodation for them; and everything that could add to their comfort was kindly placed at our disposal by Mr. White, the agent of the Company. Shortly after our arrival, five officers and one man sunk under the influence of the disease: among the former was Commander Bird Allen, whose lamented death I reported at the time. The whole of these, it must be observed, were cases which were so far gone on our first arrival as to afford little hope of their recovery.
We found at Clarence Cove Dr. Vogel and Mr. Roscher. These indefatigable gentlemen, of whose zeal on all occasions it would be impossible to speak too highly, had fallen sick at the confluence, and were obliged to descend the river in the Wilberforce, but they had declined going on to Ascension for the re-establishment of their health, in the hope of being able to pursue their scientific researches in Africa. Dr. Vogel lived only to the 17th December following, but his memory will be cherished as long as botany remains a science.
Dr. McWilliam, a few days after we reached the island, was seized with river fever, being the last individual taken ill with the disease. The great exertions of this officer previous to his illness were fully stated by me in my letter to the Admiralty of the 25th of October, 1841; and the fact of his health having been preserved during the whole voyage from Egga to Fernando Po, at a time when his services were quite essential to the sick, was a subject of great thankfulness.
The want of engineers prolonged our stay at Fernando Po for several weeks; but I did not regret the delay, as the climate at this time was considered well calculated to restore the health of those who were now becoming convalescent; and I was, moreover, anxious to wait the arrival of two vessels which were daily expected from England, freighted with fuel and other stores for the Expedition. A respite was also required for those on whom for some time most arduous duties had devolved: I more particularly allude to Lieutenant Strange, who, after bringing down the Wilberforce the greater part of the river almost without assistance, excepting what was zealously afforded by Mr. Commissioner Cook, (Mr. Green, second master, the only other officer, being engaged in working the engines,) subsequently took the Soudan back to the Niger under still more difficult circumstances, and had now to undertake the whole charge of both the Albert and Soudan, involving a variety of duties, which, owing to the sickness of the other officers, fell almost exclusively upon him, and which only his steady zeal and good judgment, combined with a degree of systematic arrangement for which he is very remarkable, could have enabled him to get through. He was the only executive officer who went up the river without getting the fever.
On the 5th of November the Pluto arrived, having left the Wilberforce at St. Thomas's, and brought back Lieutenant Fishbourne and Mr. Bowden, both of whom, having partially recovered, had volunteered to return to the coast with the intention of rejoining the Albert up the river. Of the former of these two officers I had occasion to write fully to the Admiralty, in reference to the energetic manner in which he brought the Soudan down the river. The latter, Mr. Bowden, of whose zeal and assiduity as secretary to the Expedition I cannot speak too highly, had, as I have mentioned before, descended in the Wilberforce; and the early resumption of their duties by these two officers, and their being again prepared, after so recent an experience of the bad effect of the climate, to re-ascend the river, showed a most praiseworthy zeal; but the consequences in both instances of a too early return to their duty was a relapse, and in Mr. Bowden's case, I regret to say, that, after the lapse of 17 months, his health remains in a very shattered condition. They were both, however, in the meantime most useful in their several capacities, in affording relief to Lieutenant Strange.
The accounts which the Pluto brought from the Wilberforce were favourable; her officers and men were rallying, and several had returned to their duty, and it was hoped that in a few days after the Pluto had left her she would be able to proceed to Ascension.
Mr. Carr, the superintendent of the model farm, had by this time recovered from his late attack of fever, and had, in the most spirited manner, resolved, if possible, to return to his post in one of the canoes trading between Brass and Abòh.
As the Pluto was about to sail on a cruize, her commander, Lieutenant (now Commander) W.S. Blount, who had, on various recent occasions, rendered service to the Expedition, kindly offered to give him a passage to the mouth of the Rio Bento, the nearest water access to Brass Town. Mr. Carr, therefore, left Fernando Po, accompanied by his servant, Henry Bulmer, a liberated African; and I sent with him a boat and crew from the Albert, under the orders of Mr. Brown, the negro clerk, giving the latter instructions to take Mr. Carr to Brass Town, and deliver a present to "King Boy," whom he, Mr. Brown, had formerly known, with a request from me that he would have Mr. Carr conveyed safely to Abòh, which I knew Boy had the power of doing if he chose.
I strongly urged Mr. Carr to take few things with him, that the natives might have no temptation to molest him. This recommendation, however, he disregarded, so much so as to make it necessary for Lieutenant Blount, on his arrival off the Bento, to send one of his own boats in addition to the Albert's to carry his luggage over the bar. The two boats went five miles up the river to the creek which was supposed to lead to Brass Town. Here they met several canoes, and on Mr. Brown asking the way to Brass Town, he was told that he had no business there, and that "King Boy" had gone up to Abòh. Mr. Brown would still have gone on to Brass Town, but the canoemen, probably supposing him to be on a search for slaves, would not allow the boat to pass, and a scuffling ensued, in which Mr. Brown lost some of his clothes. Some men, however, belonging to a canoe which was going up the river, and which Mr. Brown thought belonged to a place near Abòh, offered a passage to Mr. Carr, who accepted it, and transferred his things to it; but such was the number and bulk of his packages that the canoemen were obliged to throw overboard some of their own goods to make room for them. Mr. Carr was unhappily imprudent enough to trust himself with his servant to their care, and soon after proceeded up the river against Mr. Brown's recommendation. They had not been long gone before Mr. Brown was warned by some natives that Mr. Carr's canoemen were not to be trusted, and he consequently endeavoured, though unsuccessfully, to overtake them, after which he returned to Fernando Po.
It is lamentable to reflect that the loss of this gentleman's life, of which little doubt can be now entertained, should have been brought on by his own imprudence, and that he has also, as I conceive, put it out of the power of the British Government to require an account of him at the hands of "King Boy," or any other Chief, as nothing further is known of this canoe than that it was supposed to to be trading in the Brass country, and that the canoemen represented themselves as belonging to a town near Abòh.
In my letter of the 25th October, 1841, to Lord John Russell, I intimated my intention of returning to England to obtain instructions as to the further proceedings of the Expedition, going first to Ascension to ascertain the condition of the officers and men who had gone to that Island; but the state of my health induced my medical attendant, Mr. Thomson, strongly to urge my return home without delay, and I, therefore, took my passage in the Warree, merchant schooner, about to sail direct for Liverpool.
Having made over the temporary charge of the Albert to Acting Commander Fishbourne, whom I had appointed to the Soudan, in Commander Bird Allen's vacancy, I instructed him to house over and lay up the latter vessel, placing her stores either in the warehouses on shore or on board the vessel herself for protection from the weather, and to proceed afterwards in the Albert to Ascension.
As it was desirable that no time should be lost in getting the Warree, (on board of which were several invalids, besides myself,) out of the calms and currents which prevail in the Bights, I arranged that the Albert should tow the schooner as far as St. Thomas's. This, at the same time, afforded an opportunity of trying the strength of the engineers previous to their longer voyage to Ascension, while it afforded the benefit of change of air in the meantime to the Albert's crew, who had nearly all become convalescent.
On the 23rd November, the chief engineer being so far convalescent as to be able to superintend the engines, I left Fernando Po in the Albert; and on the 27th, having reached St. Thomas's, embarked on board the Warree, leaving Commander Fishbourne to return to Fernando Po to fulfil my instructions. I was accompanied to England by Mr. Schön, as well as by Dr. Stanger, who kindly offered his medical services during the voyage. Mr. Merriman, the gunner, was also sent home by this opportunity, as affording the only hope of recovery, and I am happy to say his valuable life has been spared.
Before leaving Fernando Po I wrote to Commander William Allen, to tell him of my departure for England, and to inform him that he might expect instructions for his future guidance to arrive at Ascension from home by the 1st of June, 1842, or at Fernando Po by the first week of the following July. I, at the same time, wrote to him and Mr. Cook, the remaining Commissioners, informing them of my proceedings since parting from them, and assigning my reasons for thinking that the river should not be entered before July. A copy of this Despatch, marked G, is annexed. I sent at the same time the copy of letter from Captain Becroft to me, stating the proper time, in his opinion, for ascending the Niger, a copy of which is also annexed, marked H.
As the reports of the surviving surgeons of the Expedition to the Inspector-General will enter fully into the nature of the sickness by which the Expedition was so extensively visited, I shall not attempt to investigate the causes to which it may be ascribed, but briefly lay before your Lordship such facts as I consider to bear upon the subject.
I beg, in the first place, to refer your Lordship to the annexed tables; the first, marked I, showing the number respectively on board each vessel who suffered from river fever; and the second, marked K, the number who died from its effects: the third, marked L, is an abstract of tables A, I, K; and the fourth, marked M, shows the number of days that each of the vessels was up the river. By these it will appear that the Albert and Soudan each lost far more men in proportion than the Wilberforce.
The first fact to which I shall call your Lordship's attention is, that when the Albert parted with the Wilberforce on the 21st of September she had only six cases of fever, and those all slight cases; while the Wilberforce had 32 (thirty-three white persons were on the sick list, but only thirty-two had river fever), many of whom were in a dangerous state: but the Wilberforce proceeding to the sea lost only six, the rest beginning soon to recover; while the Albert, proceeding up the river, found her sick-list rapidly increase, and lost 11, the recovery of the remainder proving most tedious.
This may either prove that the upper parts of the river are no less pernicious than the lower parts, or else that the seeds of the disease, being imbibed in the lower parts, are less easily thrown off by a continuance up the river than by a return to the sea.
Though the longer stay of the Albert up the river may possibly account for the greater mortality on board that vessel as compared with the Wilberforce, the same cause cannot account for the mortality on board the Soudan, which exceeded that of either of the other steam-vessels, though she remained a shorter time up the river.
As my object is to record any circumstances that may tend to elucidate the cause of sickness in the vessels, and of the different degrees of mortality by which they were affected, I beg to state that the Soudan, on her first arrival inside the bar of the Nun, got aground on the mud at the mouth of a narrow creek, where she lay high and dry the greater part of one night and part of the following day; and that the Wilberforce and Amelia invariably kept in the open stream, whilst the Albert and Soudan more than once, chiefly to avoid the strength of the main stream, took a much narrower channel between islands of considerable length.
I would observe that I never heard any of the medical officers attribute the sickness on board the Soudan to either of these causes, but I think the facts should not be overlooked in endeavouring to draw deductions from our experience.
It is worthy of remark that the Wilberforce, which of the three vessels lost by far the fewest number of men from fever, was the one whose crew was subjected to the hardest work, by reason of her getting on shore at English Island off the town of Iddah, which involved very severe labour; whilst the Soudan, which was a shorter time in the river, and whose men, from circumstances, were less exposed to the sun, and underwent less fatigue than the crews of the other steam-vessels, suffered the most. More deaths, indeed, in proportion, occurred on board the Amelia than in any of the others, as she lost four white persons out of seven, and these perhaps had less even to do than the crew of the Soudan; but the smallness of the numbers on board the Amelia renders her condition less a subject of comparison.
I have mentioned that several of the blacks entered in England had remittent fever after our arrival on the coast. Some of these had afterwards fever in the river, but of a milder character, more resembling intermittent fever; while other blacks entered in England who escaped fever on the coast were attacked very severely by the river fever, without, however, any case proving fatal. These men were, as Table B will show, natives of various countries, but had been all more or less accustomed to a northern climate.
Before closing my remarks upon the subject of the climate of the Niger, I may state that a still more striking circumstance than the mortality which attended the Expedition was the extent to which the sickness spread in the short space of a few weeks, only 15 white persons having escaped the river fever out of 146. This circumstance, taken in conjunction with the complete prostration of strength both of body and mind which usually accompanied the fever, and the length of time its effects lasted, offers, in my opinion, a most formidable and almost insuperable impediment to a communication with the upper parts of the river being kept up with white crews, as I shall afterwards have occasion to advert to.
But while the climate seems so pernicious to white constitutions, and in a comparative degree to affect the health of negroes who have been accustomed to the climate of higher latitudes, it is a consolatory circumstance to find that the natives of Africa who were taken from Sierra Leone and Liberia did not suffer in the slightest degree from its effects.
There is no reason to believe that the climate was more unhealthy than usual the year the steam-vessels were up the Niger: nor was it considered by the natives to be an unhealthy time of the year - on the contrary, they consider the dry season to be the most unhealthy. The year of our visit was only characterised by the river having risen to a very unusual height. This could only have affected the health of those who were left behind at the model farm after the recently flooded lands began to dry up; but these people all kept their health.
I shall leave it to the surgeons to report upon the effect of the ventilating and medicating apparatus of Dr. Reid, and shall remark only, in reference to the former, that by creating a circulation of air it undoubtedly contributed to the comfort of the crews of the steamers, by enabling them to remain between decks, and especially to sleep there, with less inconvenience; and that by the latter we were able to dry the air between decks several degrees when it was thought desirable. The power of doing this was considered by Dr. McWilliam to be very valuable, and therefore, though the apparatus occupied much room, I had reason to be satisfied with having been furnished with it.
With regard to the height of the thermometer up the river, it was not remarkable. The heat, however, during the day, in some parts of the river beyond the Delta, and more especially between the confluence and Egga, was exceedingly oppressive and debilitating, far more so than I have found it in other climates where the thermometer has ranged much higher. The state of the thermometer and hygrometer is shown in the Meteorological Table accompanying this Report, marked N. It will be seen that the dryness of the air in the day time, in some parts of the river, was very remarkable. It will be observed also, by reference to the Table, that though we frequently had rain, yet there was little or no continued rain. This state of weather is found on the coast to be unfavourable to the health of Europeans, although a continuance of rain is not so. I understand that during the ten months' residence of the settlers at the model farm, heavy rains of any duration, such as occur on the coast, were scarcely ever experienced, and when they did occur it was generally at night. The circumstance is worthy of consideration in attempting to account for the greater degree of unhealthiness of the climate of the Niger for Europeans, in comparison with the neighbouring sea coasts.
I subjoin a letter in reference to this subject from Captain Midgely (marked O) showing that in the year that the Expedition was up the Niger the rainy season at the mouth of the river did not terminate till the end of September, and that there was no sickness there till the first week in October; whereas the greater part of our sickness had previously taken place.
Having brought to a close the account of the proceedings of the Commission during its continuance up the Niger, and alluded to the sickness which forced us to suspend our operations, and led eventually to the total abandonment of the enterprise, I may be expected to make some observations on the state of the countries we visited, and to offer an opinion as to the effect which is likely to be produced by our short intercourse with the natives.
By Lord John Russell's instructions I was desired to collect as much information as I could respecting the state of slavery and the Slave Trade up the river, as well as respecting the social and domestic condition of the natives, more particularly with regard to the state of civilization and religion among them.
My duties, not only as Commissioner, but as the person on whom the whole of the naval arrangements devolved, under trying and harassing circumstances, allowed me little leisure during my short stay to make personal inquiries on these subjects, but Mr. Schön, who was able to devote his whole time and attention to inquiries of this nature, and was particularly qualified for the investigation by having some knowledge of the languages and an intimate acquaintance with the African character, informed himself on many points at my suggestion, and also collected as much general information, considering the nature of the climate and the disadvantageous circumstances in which we were placed, as it was possible to do in so limited a period. I do not think, therefore, that I can better supply the information which Her Majesty's Government desired to obtain in regard to the condition of the countries which we visited, than by accompanying this Report by the notes and memoranda of that gentleman, which are accordingly inserted in the Appendix, marked P. These notes include all the information which I myself had an opportunity of obtaining, and embrace all the particulars we could learn respecting the state of domestic and prædial slavery in those countries. I would here beg to express my obligations to this gentleman, as well for his valuable ministerial labours, as for his readiness at all times to procure any information which I might require concerning the places which we visited: to Mr. Crowther, also, I feel much indebted for his obliging conduct on all occasions.
With regard to the Slave Trade, this traffic, while I was up the river, appeared to be carried on to a very small extent, owing, no doubt, to the little demand for slaves on the coast. I never saw any canoe having on board slaves for sale (that I was aware of) excepting the one belonging to the Chief of Mùye before spoken of; neither did I hear at the time of any having been seen by the other vessels, although I have since been told that the Wilberforce and Soudan met with at least one instance each of canoes having slaves on board, apparently for sale, but probably without there being the means of ascertaining from what place the slaves had been recently brought.
Lieutenant Webb states that Mr. King, during his stay of several months up the river in the Amelia, sometimes saw 50 canoes in one day pass down laden with slaves; but I have no doubt, if Lieutenant Webb had questioned Mr. King on the subject (which he tells me he did not), it would have been found to be only a conjecture on Mr. King's part, for from where the Amelia was at anchor the canoes must have passed at so great a distance as to have made it quite impossible for him to discover whether the persons in the canoes were slaves or not. Mr. King, in his journal kept on board the Amelia, makes mention of slaves passing down the river on one occasion, but only on the authority of two individuals on whose testimony little reliance can be placed.
With regard to the effect produced by our intercourse with the natives, there can be no doubt that the Chiefs, as well as the people, were made quite aware that our motives in visiting them were not those of commercial gain, and were connected with their own rather than our benefit. I conceive, therefore, if through means of this Expedition Her Majesty's Government has shown to the people of Africa the interest that this country takes in putting down the Slave Trade, in discouraging human sacrifices, and in promoting the welfare of the natives, that no inconsiderable advantage will have been gained.
The unexpected arrival in the river of no less than four vessels, two of them much larger than any they had before seen, containing the very goods they would most have desired to purchase, and the circumstance of these goods not being for sale or barter, but meant as presents and tokens of good will, must alone have produced a favourable impression, not likely to be effaced from the memory of the youngest among them. I may here remark that the presents which we distributed amongst them, while the amount (not exceeding 200l.) was too small in value to injure in any way European commerce, would no doubt prove conducive to the interests of those who may hereafter trade with these countries, by creating or increasing a desire for European goods, of which few, if any at all, find their way higher up than Abòh.
The future benefit, however, to the natives which may be expected to result from the Expedition must depend upon how far the treaties we entered into are likely to be adhered to, and on the prospect there is of a friendly intercourse being kept up between them and the subjects of civilized countries. I have no doubt that the treaties were entered into by the Chiefs in perfect sincerity, and with a full intention on their part to act up to the engagements they formed; but if it be considered how prone even civilized and professedly Christian states have shown themselves to disregard the obligations of treaties, it would be too much to expect an adherence of those Chiefs to their engagements, in their present rude and uncivilized condition, if left to themselves for any considerable period, and if no other description of trade be substituted for the Slave Trade, which by these treaties they agreed to abandon.
As the nature of the climate is likely to preclude any extensive intercourse with Europeans, unless of a commercial character, it is therefore on the prospect there is of something like a regular commerce being carried on that the fealty of the Chiefs can be counted on, or any permanent advantage looked for as likely to follow the efforts which Her Majesty's Government has made in sending out this Expedition to Africa.
In respect to commerce on the Niger, from the observations which I was enabled to make during my short stay in the river, it would appear to me that as far as Egga, the furthest place which the Expedition reached, the number and value of the articles of barter which would be sought by the British trader are inconsiderable, though doubtless we should have seen more ivory had it not been known that our object was not to trade; but, from the accounts I have heard of the trade of Rabbah from several Europeans who have been there, I should imagine that a remunerating trade might be carried on with the enterprising inhabitants of that place.
The chief articles of commerce to be had at Rabba suited to an European market, are said to be bullocks' hides, indigo, and ivory: the last mentioned article is now for the most part carried through the Yarriba country to the coast, and could be brought at a much cheaper cost down the river, the land journey being chiefly resorted to on account of the insecurity which now prevails, as well for the person as the properties of those who are engaged in traffic in canoes on the Niger. The occasional visit of an English steamer to the highest point at which the river is navigable, would doubtless tend rapidly to give a greater degree of security, and inspire the natives with confidence in the pursuits of commerce, and in this respect be of great service; and though the navigation between the confluence and Rabba could, there is reason to believe, be carried on by steam-vessels during only about three months in the year, owing to the shallowness of the river, the trade would, under proper encouragement, soon find its way in canoes as low as Iddah, or the confluence, or even to Abòh, if necessary, at those seasons of the year when the state of the river might prevent the steamers proceeding further up to meet them.
The occasional presence in the river, of a British steamer, would, at all events, at first be quite indispensable to carry on the trade I have described; but after my experience of the climate, I entertain little or no hope of European crews being ever fitted for the service. At the same time, the instance of Captain Becroft and of some who accompanied the late Expedition, shows, that a small number of white persons, with constitutions proof against the climate, may from time to time be found for the purpose of conducting mercantile enterprises.
An intercourse, however, restricted to European superintendence, must from the difficulties attending it, be very limited in its extent: and it is ultimately in the coloured race that the means of extending it must be sought. This view of the subject seems to point with peculiar force to the necessity of training natives not only to take the conduct of such enterprises, but to fill other situations, which, though subordinate, require a higher degree of education than has usually been given to blacks. The schools in Sierra Leone and in the West Indies present a field from which youths might be selected to be educated as engineers and medical officers. Two intelligent black boys, who served in the late Expedition as engineers' apprentices, and there learned in a short time the practical use of the engine, are now at the naval establishment at Woolwich, to receive further education, and it is very desirable that this number should be increased.
It is indeed to the natives of Africa that we must look not only for keeping up commercial intercourse with the interior of Africa, but for the gradual spread of Christianity and civilization in that country.
The Commissioners, in their letter to Lord John Russell of the 8th September, 1841, stated their opinion that missionaries might be advantageously and safely introduced into the country at Iddah and Abòh, and I may remark that the desire evinced by the natives in the neighbourhood of the model farm to be taught the Christian religion, gives me every reason to believe that when the day happily arrives of missionaries reaching that part of Africa, they will be gladly welcomed by the inhabitants.
The great readiness also which the natives showed to engage themselves as labourers at the model farm is a proof of how willingly they would submit to place themselves not only under European, but even under foreign negro management, and their ultimate docile behaviour during a period when some misconduct was shown towards them by the settlers, and more especially by part of the crew of the Amelia, and the regret which Lieutenant Webb informs me was evinced by many of the natives at their departure - all tend to prove that no impediment is likely to be presented by them to those persons who may enter their country with a view of engaging them in the peaceful pursuits of civilized life.
The conduct of the natives, not only at the model farm, but on all other occasions that came under my notice, is a subject to which I feel much pleasure in adverting, as during the entire period in which the vessels under my command were in the Niger, not only the native Chiefs of the country, but the people in general evinced the most friendly disposition toward us, and this not only during our prosperity whilst going up the river, but also in our forlorn condition coming down. The Wilberforce, indeed, did not receive from Obi on the latter occasion, when in want of fuel, the active assistance which the Albert afterwards in like circumstances received at his hands, but this was owing to the absence of almost the entire grown up male population at a neighbouring market, as was ascertained to be the case by Mr. Green, who was the officer sent on shore to confer with Obi. A difficulty in obtaining wood was also again experienced by the Wilberforce lower down the river from another cause, namely, the misapprehension and fears of the natives, and subsequently their cupidity in trying to obtain too large a price for their fuel. Respecting both these circumstances, Mr. Green (the officer who on each occasion had intercourse with them) gave me a particular report. I have made a point of mentioning these two circumstances, as they were the only occasions in which there was any apparent remissness on the part of the natives in their desire to serve us.
It is with satisfaction I remember that during the whole time we were up the river not a single shot was fired, nor a musket discharged, in anger or in intimidation, either by us or by the natives. At many places, especially in the lower part of the Delta, the natives looked upon us on our first approach with fear or suspicion, and were ready with their muskets or their bows and arrows, to repel aggression; but they instantly laid aside their arms on finding our intentions were friendly.
Having noticed the misconduct of some of the settlers at the model farm, I cannot refrain here from briefly reverting to that subject. Reprehensible as their conduct undoubtedly was, it must be borne in mind under what peculiarly trying circumstances they were placed, after Mr. Carr, the intelligent individual to whom the chief management was entrusted, was obliged to leave them. Rules, necessary for the government of the establishment, had scarcely been formed, or were at least not properly understood by those who were to be subjected to their authority, and it unhappily proved that the individual who succeeded Mr. Carr had not sufficient weight or influence to exercise a proper control over them. Under these circumstances it was not to be wondered at, if, after a short period, disorder and confusion arose. It is much, indeed, to be questioned, whether, if the labourers at the model farm had been taken from among the corresponding classes of our own population, and had been subjected to the temptations to which these settlers were exposed, any other consequence would have resulted.
In the course of this Report I have had occasion, as their names occurred, to express my sense of the merits of many individuals, and I have done so, I hope, without the risk, as I certainly have without the intention, of disparaging the services of others. When zeal and devotion to the service were so generally manifested as these qualities were throughout this Expedition, I am obliged to refrain from the expression of my feelings towards many amongst the surviving officers and men, as well as towards the memory of those who died, or I should be under the necessity of extending this Report to an undue length. It must be a source of consolation to those who have lost friends or relations in the Expedition, to know that they were engaged in a service having the welfare of others for its object, and that no expression of regret at the course they had taken, ever escaped from them during their severest sufferings. Their resignation under affliction was no less remarkable, than their active energy in health. As they had all been fully aware beforehand of the risk of the climate, so they all felt satisfied to the last that they were pursuing the path of duty, and had at no time any wish to shrink from it. This last feeling was particularly exemplified at the time the Wilberforce was ordered to the sea, when not a wish was expressed to go down in her by any one who remained behind in the Albert; although several from the state of their health, might well have taken advantage of the opportunity, had they been disposed to do so.
There are two individuals, however, whom I should wish particularly to mention, although they did not originally belong to the Expedition. These are Mr. J.G. Anderson, Second Master, and Mr. J. Cross, engineer, who volunteered from the Pluto to ascend the river in the Soudan, when the latter vessel had, by death or sickness, been deprived of almost all her original white crew, and when the deadly effect of the climate, baffling all our precautions and resources, had been then so recently and fatally proved. Mr. Cross afterwards ascended the Niger with Lieutenant Webb. Mr. Anderson was prevented doing so by a severe attack of fever.
I must also beg to put on record the very great assistance rendered to the Expedition by Lieutenant, (now Commander), Edward Littlehales, the commander of Her Majesty's brigantine Dolphin, who after using every exertion to effect the safe removal of our sick on board his ship from the Soudan in the heavy swell at the mouth of the Nun, treated them on the passage to Ascension with a degree of kindness which can never be forgotten by those who experienced it, or who were interested in their recovery. To the officers generally of the Dolphin, I feel also much indebted, especially to Mr. Loney, the Assistant Surgeon, whose care of the sick was represented to me as being beyond all praise.
I should have been induced to allude to the zealous conduct of Lieutenant Webb, who, after suffering more severely than almost any other individual of the Expedition, from fever contracted during his first ascent of the Niger, volunteered to ascend the river again in command of the Wilberforce, in July, 1842, were I not aware that his services are well known to your Lordship, and that his merit, as well as that of those under his command, has been strongly pointed out to the Board of Admiralty by Captain William Allen, under whose immediate orders he performed the service. The recent offer made by Lieutenant Webb to return once more to the Niger, to look after Mr. Carr, if the Admiralty thought such a step necessary, is deserving of high commendation.
The Board of Admiralty has liberally bestowed promotion on a very large proportion of the surviving officers, but there are two gentlemen to whose merit, as they do not belong to the naval service, and are not therefore eligible for naval rewards, I am anxious to draw your Lordship's attention, and to recommend them strongly to your favourable consideration: I allude to Mr. James E. Terry, chief clerk, and Mr. Richard Mouat, extra clerk to the Commissioners. Mr. Terry not only performed with diligence his particular duty, as clerk, but strove to render himself useful in every possible way, and in particular by affording assistance in the survey of the river, and aiding Commander William Allen in taking magnetical and other observations, an assistance which he rendered with an assiduity that did him the greatest credit. Mr. Mouat, besides being a clerk of the Albert, was an extra clerk to the Commissioners, and remained in the Albert when the secretary and other clerks were forced by illness to leave the river, and independently of my satisfaction at the manner in which he fulfilled his duties in this respect, I had occasion to make particular mention of him in my letter to the Admiralty of the 25th October, 1841, as having, though ill himself, materially aided Dr. McWilliam in his care of the sick, a duty he was enabled to perform from a previous knowledge of medicine, and in the fulfilment of which he was most indefatigable.
Having, at the commencement of this Report, particularly described the construction of the vessels, it is only due to Mr. Laird, the builder, to state that they were found to be well adapted to the navigation of the Niger, although, from circumstances, we were prevented from lightening them to the extent we had intended for the general service up the river. The model farm implements added in some degree to the draught of the Albert and Wilberforce, although they proved more inconvenient by encumbering our decks than by their weight.
Could we possibly have anticipated remaining so short a time in the river, and consequently requiring as much fewer provisions and stores, greater weight might have been allotted to the engines and the steam power might have been advantageously increased.
With regard to the Nun branch of the Niger, taken by the late Expedition, it must still be considered the best entrance till further information be gained with respect to the Warree branch, by which Captain Becroft ascended in the Ethiope, in 1840. Should it, however, prove that the Warree branch falls into the sea (as Captain Becroft supposes) at the mouths of the rivers Forcados and Escardos, it will probably be found the shortest route to Abòh, and be taken by all vessels from the Bight of Benin and the westward. But the Nun branch, though it may involve a longer stay in the Delta, will even then in all probability be preferred by vessels from Fernando Po, and places to the eastward of Cape Formosa. I may here remark, that higher up than the Warree branch, we found no other running to the sea, excepting a small one just above the town of Abòh, which was said to lead to Bonny. The mouth of this branch was nearly dry when the Wilberforce passed it in the beginning of July, 1842. I would also observe that from the sea to the Egga we found no river running into the Niger excepting the Chadda.
The late experience of Lieutenant Webb, in the Wilberforce, confirms me in the opinion that the beginning of July is the earliest time for ascending the Niger in vessels drawing more than three feet water, but I think it possible that vessels of a less draught might find water enough at the lowest season of the river to ascend as far as the confluence of the Niger and Chadda.
Before concluding this Report I cannot omit the opportunity of acknowledging the hearty co-operation which I received at all times from Captain William Allen and Mr. Cook; and I am sure they will cordially join with me in bearing testimony to the important aid which we received from our late colleague, Commander Bird Allen, whose uprightness of mind, excellent judgment, and remarkable energy and decision of character, combined with his cheerful and conciliatory disposition, rendered him a most valuable member of the Commission.
Captain Alien will inform your Lordship of the proceedings of the Commission subsequent to the period of my departure from the coast of Africa for England, and it only now remains for me to hope that my conduct, while in the command of the Expedition, may have merited your Lordship's approbation.
I have, &c.,
H.D. Trotter, Captain, R.N.
The Right Hon. Lord Stanley, &c. &c. &c.
Enclosure in No. 52.
Statement of the Number of Officers and Crews of the Vessels comprising the Niger Expedition, when they commenced their Ascent of the Niger, August 20th, 1841.
|Remainder of Crew||29||33||15||4||81|
|Civilian (West Indian)||..||1||..||..||1|
|Men entered in England||14||7||3||..||24|
|Men entered in Africa||44||37||18||9||108|
* This number includes the interpreters, but not the men, women, and children, belonging to the Model Farm, 21 of whom were in the "Amelia," and 2 in the "Wilberforce."
H.D. Trotter, Captain.
Her Majesty's Steam-Vessel Albert.
List of European Officers and Crew, and of Coloured Men entered in England, belonging to Her Majesty's Steam-Vessel "Albert" when she commenced her ascent of the Niger, August 20, 1841.
|*D.H. Stenhouse||Lieutenant and Assistant Surveyor; died 28th October, 1841, at Fernando Po.|
|*Geo. B. Harvey||Master; died 2nd October, 1841, onboard the "Wilberforce" at Fernando Po.|
|†Theodore Muller||Chaplain, (Chaplain to the Commissioners, and Arabic Interpreter).|
|J.O. McWilliam, M.D.||Surgeon, (Surgeon to the Commissioners).|
|*James Woodhouse||Assistant Surgeon; died 30th of October, 1841, at Fernando Po.|
|*F.D. Nightingale||Assistant Surgeon (in Amelia); died 17th of September, 1841, on board the "Albert," at the confluence.|
|William Bowden||Purser, (Secretary to the Commissioners.)|
|*William C. Willie||Mate; died 18th of October, 1841, at Fernando Po.|
|James W. Fairholme||Mate (in Amelia).|
|R.T. Saunders||Second Master.|
|*W.H. Willmett||Clerk; died 5th of November, 1841, at Fernando Po.|
|Richard Mouat||Assistant Clerk, (extra Clerk to the Commissioners).|
|John Langley||Engineer, 1st class.|
|*Albion Lodge||Engineer,2nd class; drowned 8th of October, 1841, in the river Niger, when labouring under river fever.|
|James Brown||Engineer, 2nd class.|
|William Stanger, M.D||Geologist and Explorer.|
|*John Fuge||Captain of the Forecastle (in Amelia); died 29th of September, 1841, in river Niger.|
|*William M'Millan||Quarter-Master; died 27th September, 1841, on board Her Majesty's Brigantine "Dolphin," on passage to Ascension.|
|Henry Davey||Carpenter's Mate.|
|§John M'Clintock||Stoker; died 21st November, 1841, at Fernando Po,|
|James Haughton||Gunner's Mate, (in Amelia).|
|*John Peglar||Armourer and Stoker; died 6th September, 1841, in River Niger.|
|*Ellis Jones||Quarter Master; died 26th September, 1841, on board Her Majesty's Brigantine "Dolphin," on passage to Ascension.|
|Edward Capps||Captain's Steward.|
|†John Huxley||Sick Berth Attendant.|
|*John Burgess||Quarter-Master; died 14th September, 1841, in the river Niger.|
|Thomas Ward||Gun Room Steward.|
|*Lewis Wolfe||Yeoman of Signals; died 27th September, 1841, on board "Soudan," at Fernando Po.|
|*Robert Millward||Purser's Steward; died 22d October, 1841, at Fernando Po.|
|†Richard Lamb||Gentlemen's Steward.|
|*James Robertson||Stoker; died 17th September, 1841, at the confluence.|
|James May||Boatswain's Mate.|
|†Archibald Yair||Sick Berth Attendant.|
|James Worwood||Able Seaman.|
|*George Powell||Cooper; died 11th September, 1841, in river Niger.|
|*George Symes||Captain of Forecastle; died 2d October, 1841, in river Niger.|
|*John Waller||Corporal (in Amelia); died 26th September, 1841, on board Her Majesty's Brigantine "Dolphin," on passage to Ascension.|
|*Henry Gibson||Private; died April, 1842, in Ascension Hospital.|
|*George Cole||Private; died 17th October, 1841, near Fernando Po.|
|‡Morgan Kittson||Private; died 6th November, 1841, at Fernando Po.|
|Sappers and Miners.|
|Tobias Edmonds||Corporal, (Lance Serjeant.)|
|James Craig||Private, (Lance Corporal.)|
|*William Moffat||Private; (in Amelia,) died 26th September, 1841, on board Her Majesty's Brigantine "Dolphin," on passage to Ascension.|
* Died from river fever or its effects.
† Escaped the river fever.
‡ Escaped the river fever, but died from the effects of climate on an impaired constitution.
§ Death from casualty.
|Coloured Men entered in England.|
|Guinea||William Oakley||Captain's Cook.|
|Calcutta||Emanuel Mandulee||Gun-Room Servant.|
|West Indies||†John Williams||Captain's Servant.|
|Bombay||William Underwood||Gun-Room Servant.|
|Halifax||Richard Wilson||Engineer's Servant.|
|Gambia||†William Guy||Able Seaman.|
|Kroo Country||†Jack Be-Off||Ordinary Seaman.|
|Sierra Leone||†Andrew Williams||Able Seaman.|
|Jamaica||Edward Henderson||Sick Berth Cook.|
|†Thomas Johnson||Ordinary Seaman.|
|Sierra Leone||†James Carroll||Stoker.|
† Escaped the river fever.
N.B.- The "Albert" lost after leaving England, Samuel Johnson, Captain of the Forecastle, and John William Bach, mathematical instrument maker; the former was killed at sea by falling from the fore-yard on the 3d July, 1841; the latter died of fever (not of an endemical kind) at the mouth of the river Nun, on the 15th of August, 1841.
H.D. Trotter, Captain.
Her Majesty's Steam-Vessel Wilberforce.
List of European Officers and Crew, and of Coloured Men entered in England, belonging to Her Majesty's Steam-Vessel "Wilberforce" when she commenced her ascent of the Niger, August 20th, 1841.
|†James N. Strange||Lieutenant.|
|Henry C. Harston||Lieutenant (in Amelia.)|
|†Morris Pritchett, M.D.||Surgeon.|
|†J.R.H. Thomson||Assistant Surgeon.|
|†John Stirling||Assistant Surgeon.|
|*Cyrus Wakeham||Purser; died 27th September, 1841, river Nun.|
|Henry C. Toby||Mate.|
|W.H.T. Green||Second Master and Assistant Surveyor.|
|William Johnston||Engineer, 1st class.|
|Joseph Graystock||Engineer, 2d class.|
|George Garritte||Engineer, 3rd class.|
|J.E. Terry||Chief Clerk to Commissioners.|
|William Simpson||Clerk to Commissioners.|
|†Rev. J.F. Schön||Missionary, of the Church Missionary Society of England.|
|*Dr. F.R. Vogel||Botanist; died 17 December, 1841, Fernando Po.|
|C.G. Roscher||Miner and Geologist.|
|Alfred Carr||Superintendent of model farm, (a West Indian of colour.)|
|John Ansell||Collector of Plants.|
|*Peter Fitzgerald||Stoker; died 2d October, 1841, Fernando Po.|
|John Wilson||Captain's Cook.|
|Richard Smythers||Gun-room Steward.|
|Henry Hillier||Carpenter's Mate.|
|†David Douglass||Gentlemen's Steward.|
|F.J. Gurney||Gunner's Mate.|
|†Michael Walsh||Carpenter's Crew.|
|Absolam Delavante||Arabic Interpreter.|
|William Funge||Able Seaman.|
|Joseph Hopkins||Sail Maker.|
|Edwin Hoskin||Purser's Steward.|
|George Boys||Captain of the Fore Top.|
|William Ward||Captain of the Forecastle.|
|*James Kneebone||Ordinary Seaman; died 11th September, 1841, river Niger.|
|*William Allford||Ordinary Seaman; died 31st October, 1841.|
|Richard James||Ordinary Seaman.|
|William Lucas||Boatswain's Mate.|
|*George Cuthbertson||Serjeant; died 11th October, 1841, on board, off Prince's Island.|
|John Bealey, alias Veley||Private.|
|Sappers and Miners.|
|William Martin||Second Corporal. (Lance Serjeant.)|
|*William Rabling||Private; died 14th December, 1841, at the confluence.|
* Died from river fever or its effects.
† Escaped the river fever.
|Coloured Men entered in England.|
|Barbadoes||†John Garner||Captain's Steward.|
|St. John's America||‡James Case||Able Seaman.|
|Gambia||‡John Dennis||Able Seaman.|
|Jamaica||†William Scott||Ship's Cook.|
|Haussa||†James Peters||Ordinary Seaman.|
|Jamaica||‡William Jackson||Engineer's Servant.|
|Cape Coast||†Lewis Asasa||Ordinary Seaman.|
† Escaped the river fever.
‡ The fever with which these men were attacked in the river assumed the character of intermittent: they had previously had remittent fever on the coast before entering the river.
N.B. The "Wilberforce" lost, after leaving England, John Morley, carpenter's mate, and Henry Halbert, able seaman, (a coloured man;) the former was drowned at St. Vincent, Cape de Verde Islands, on the 10th of June, 1841; the latter died on the Coast of fever on the 23rd of July, 1841. Another coloured man, David Wright, seaman, died of apoplexy on the 22nd July, 1841.
H.D. Trotter, Captain.
Her Majesty's Steam-Vessel Soudan.
List of European Officers and Crew, and of Coloured Men entered in England, belonging to Her Majesty's Steam-Vessel "Soudan" when she commenced her ascent of the Niger, August 20th, 1841.
|*Bird Allen||Commander; died 25th October, 1841, Fernando Po.|
|*W.B. Marshall||Surgeon; died 21st September, 1841, river Nun.|
|*H.C. Collman||Assistant Surgeon; died 6th October, 1841, Fernando Po.|
|F.W. Sidney||Mate and Assistant Surveyor.|
|*Nicolas Waters||Clerk in charge of provisions; died 22nd September, 1841, river Niger.|
|*William Kingdon||Assistant Clerk and Schoolmaster; died 13th of October, 1841, river Niger.|
|G.V. Gustaffson||Engineer, 1st class.|
|William Johnson||Engineer, 2nd class.|
|*Christopher Bigley||Stoker; died 2nd October, 1841, Fernando Po.|
|William Strain||Gentlemen's Steward.|
|*John Kirrens||Stoker; died 27th September, 1841, Her Majesty's Brigantine "Dolphin," on passage to Ascension.|
|*Charles Levinge||Captain's Steward; died 9th September, 1841, river Niger.|
|John Davis||Captain's Coxswain.|
|*William M'Lackland||Sailmaker; died 24th November, 1841, in "Warree," on passage to England.|
|*John Young||Quarter-Master; died 27th September, 1841, Her Majesty's Brigantine "Dolphin," on passage to Ascension.|
|*James Thomas||Carpenter's crew; died 21st September, 1841, river Niger.|
|John Straman||Able Seaman.|
|John Wood||Gunner's Mate.|
|Henry Dennis||Boatswain's Mate.|
|*James Hill||Gun-room Steward; died 25th September, 1841, Her Majesty's Brigantine "Dolphin," on passage to Ascension.|
|Richard Pitham||Gunner, Royal Marine Artillery.|
* Died from river fever or its effects.
|Coloured Men entered in England.|
|Dominique, West Indies||John Gray||Sick Berth Attendant.|
|Tortola, West Indies||Michael King||Purser's Steward.|
|Gambia, Africa||†George Lee||Able Seaman.|
|St. Thomas, Africa||§James Vaux||Ditto.|
† Escaped the river fever.
§ Had remittent fever in the river, but not of the same kind which attacked the Europeans.
N.B. The "Soudan" lost, after leaving England, Richard Edwards, Purser's Steward (a coloured man), who was drowned at sea on the 20th of May, 1841.
H.D. Trotter, Captain.
(Copy.)- By Henry Dundas Trotter, Esq., Captain of Her Majesty's Steam-Vessel Albert, and Senior Officer in command of an Expedition to the Niger.
You are hereby required and directed to take the following General Orders for your information and guidance, and communicate the same to the respective officers and men under your command, as far as it may concern them.
(Signed) H.D. Trotter, Captain.
Her Majesty's Steam Vessel Albert, St. Vincent, Cape de Verde Islands, 16th June, 1841.
To the Commanders of the Vessels of the Niger Expedition.
1.- 1. In issuing General Orders to the commanders of the vessels under my command, I would wish them to impress upon their respective officers and crews, that the mission on which our Most Gracious Queen has been pleased to send us for the benefit and happiness of the African race, is distinguished from all former Expeditions, by the disinterested and beneficent objects it has in view. It may, indeed, be said to have attracted the attention of the whole civilized world, and perhaps, it is not too much to add, that no Expedition ever left the shore of Britain with the good wishes and prayers of so large a portion of our countrymen. It is, therefore, incumbent on all of us to consider the responsible nature of the duties before us, and how much the force of good example may effect towards the accomplishment of the ends proposed, by exhibiting to the African the Christian in character, as well as in name, and proving by our actions the sincerity of our desire for their welfare and happiness.
2. In the preparations made for this great enterprise, every thing which could be thought of as likely to contribute to the health and comforts of the officers and men has been most liberally provided; it therefore more especially behoves us to use our best abilities and utmost endeavours zealously to discharge our respective duties, humbly relying upon Him who ruleth all things, and remembering that success will mainly depend under the blessing of Almighty God, on the cheerful and cordial co-operation of every individual attached to the Expedition.
3. In our intercourse with savages, or half civilized people, an unusual degree of forbearance will often be called for, and a kind, courteous, but at the same time, firm line of conduct will tend materially to remove suspicion or alarm, and create confidence.
4. We should always keep in view, that our object is the good of our fellow-creatures, and not our own, constantly remembering the golden rule, "to do unto others as we would that they should do unto us."' And it is only in proportion as we retain this sentiment, and endeavour to make it the ruling principle of our actions, that we may expect a blessing to attend our efforts in the cause of Africa.
II.- 1. In the event of your meeting with any of Her Majesty's ships or vessels of the African station, it is my direction that you carefully abstain from any interference whatever with them.
2. Should you require any assistance, you are to apply in my absence to the senior officer on the station, who is directed by the Admiralty to give it, provided that it can be done without interfering with the duties on which the vessels on the station are employed, or without inconvenience to Her Majesty's service.
III.- One of the most important parts of naval discipline, is that which has a reference to the health of the crew, more especially when employed on the West African Station, and the immediate attention of the commanders is particularly directed to such of the following regulations as relate to that subject, in drawing up which, I have had the able assistance of Dr. McWilliam, the senior surgeon of the Expedition.
IV.- 1. The Admiralty having spared no expense in providing the vessels of the Expedition with an expensive ventilating apparatus, it becomes the duty of all to make themselves acquainted with the system, as fully explained in Dr. Reid's paper, and to use their utmost endeavours to carry the plan fully into operation, in order to make it as extensively useful as possible for the health and comfort of the crews.
2. The principal arrangement is to be placed under the charge of the surgeon of each vessel, who is to follow the rules and suggestions contained in Dr. Reid's valuable paper, and is to apply to the commander, to appoint a competent individual to instruct under his directions a sufficient number of persons for the management of the various valves and slides of the ventilating tubes. These should be numbered to insure an effective and easy adjustment. Odd numbers on the starboard, and even numbers on the port side, beginning from aft, is the plan adopted in the Albert. The persons having charge of the different sections of the vessel should be fully instructed to report any apparent increase or diminution in the ventilation of the compartments under their charge.
3. The ventilation should be practised frequently, even when its beneficial effect is not required, and as many persons as possible should be encouraged to learn the principle upon which it acts, by putting into operation the various movements.
4. The powers of the fanners ought to be tested.
1st. In producing a circulation of air introduced into the vessel, directly from the external atmosphere.
2nd. In propelling the heated air of the engine-room into the hold and various compartments, as first practised in the Wilberforce.
3rd. As connected with the medicator or purificator.
4th. In connection with the tubular heating apparatus attached to the purificator, or simply connected with the external tube leading to the fanner.
V.- The commanders are to direct the surgeons to send reports to them in writing from time to time, showing the results of the trials of the ventilation, and these reports are to be carefully preserved.
VI.- 1. Dr. Reid's General Rule, No. 2, is not only to be strictly attended to every day, but one hold is also to be examined daily by the surgeon, (excepting on Sunday) and the state of the air reported to the commander, in order that every compartment may come under particular inspection during the week.
2. The hold of any compartment, suspected of being unwholesome, is as soon as possible afterwards to be completely cleared out, and thoroughly dried and ventilated, and its state afterwards noted in the log-book, when the names of any articles are to be mentioned, which may be considered to have caused the unwholesomeness.
3. The surgeon is also to draw up a particular report upon such occasions, a copy of which report is to be forwarded to me.
VII.- 1. To avoid as much as possible any unnecessary exposure to the night air, the white crew are all to sleep below, when on the coast or up the river, and are on no account to be permitted to lie about the upper deck.
2. The Kroomen alone are to sleep on deck, to whom every facility should be given to protect them from the rain. It might be advisable when practicable, to fit up a canoe or boat, moored alongside, or astern of the ship for the accommodation of the Kroomen, when the vessels are at anchor, and much crowded on deck.
3. As few white men as the performance of the duty will admit of are to remain on deck during the night, particularly when rain or much dew is falling.
Those who are obliged to be on deck on duty, will be supplied when in unhealthy localities with respirators, and a fire is then to be kept all night in the cook-house for their benefit.
VIII.- As the hottest hours of the day are comprehended between eleven and three o'clock the white men should be exposed to the sun as little as possible during that period.
IX.- 1. Exposure on shore in Africa to the morning and evening dews, and the night air having proved even more prejudicial to health than the intense action of the sun's rays, no white person belonging to the Expedition, after arrival on the coast, is to be on shore between sunset and an hour after sunrise, unless with my permission, or that of the senior officer present, who is not to grant it, unless when duties are unattainable at other times, and care must be taken by the respective commanding officers, that the unavoidable exposure of white men on shore at night be reduced to the least possible amount.
2. The above precautions are considered necessary on the coast generally, but more especially in the Delta of the Niger, where the exciting causes of disease are to be regarded as acting with increased energy, and all possible means are to be used for obviating their injurious effects.
It is to be hoped that the climate above the Delta will be found to be such as will admit of this restriction being modified.
X.- Boats or canoes going alongside their own or other vessels, are to be directed to take the shady side, in order to avoid, as much as possible, the exposure of the boats and crews to the rays of the sun.
XI.- Dress.- The commanders may give permission to the officers of the ships under their command to wear uniform jackets, and white hats or caps on shore or on board.
XII.- Dress.- 1. Duck frocks and trowsers are to be worn by the white men during the day in fine weather, with flannel next to the skin. Each man must also be provided with two broad flannel waist belts, so that he may be enabled to have a dry one continually round his body.
2. The men's hats are to be of white straw, with a padding, or defence of some sort under the crown, to prevent the injurious action of the sun's rays upon the head. The white men are not allowed to go aloft without the officer of the watch seeing that they have attended to this necessary regulation.
XIII.- The crews are to be mustered before sunset, when the white men are to be clothed in their blanket dresses for the night, in addition to flannel clothing underneath.
XIV.- In case of any of the men getting wet, the officer under whom they have been employed is particularly charged to muster and report, them in dry clothing, before they are allowed to go below, If the weather is not suitable for the clothes being hung in the rigging, a place on deck must be pointed out where they may be deposited.
XV.- As all surfaces giving out moisture by evaporation are injurious to health, open vessels of water, wet clothing, officers' towels, &c., should never be allowed to remain below, nor the crew permitted to wash themselves on the lower deck.
XVI.- While the steam vessels of the Expedition are at an anchor on the Coast of Africa, and in the Niger, and more especially in the Delta and other unhealthy places, a cup of warm coffee is to be given in the morning to each European, whenever the surgeon thinks it advisable, and also to such of the black men as the surgeon may think require it; to make which, one-third of an ounce of coffee, and one-third of an ounce of sugar are to be issued as an extra allowance.
XVII.- As it is most desirable to encourage temperate habits on board the steam-vessels of the Expedition, more especially with a view to the preservation of health; it is my direction that such individuals as do not take up spirits be supplied daily with the established allowance of lemon juice and sugar, except when their allowance of grog shall be stopped for punishment.
XVIII.- The Kroomen are allowed only two-thirds proportion of spirits, which is always to be mixed with at least three waters, but as an encouragement to them also, not to take up their allowance, they are to be paid for any such savings, at the rate of six shillings per gallon; thus making their savings at two-thirds allowance of all spirits, calculated at this rate, equal to full allowance, at four shillings per gallon. This order is not to apply to savings payable to the sick mess.
XIX.- It is my direction that the issues of the following species of provisions on salt meat days be regulated from the time of arrival on the Coast of Africa by the following scale, observing that cranberries and pickled cabbage (which are to be considered as an extra allowance) are to be issued only in proportion to the salt meat actually taken up, and that the pickles are not to be served with pork unless when salt meat shall have been issued the day before.
|Days.||Salt Beef.||Salt Pork.||Flour, &c.||Peas.||Pickled Cabbage.||Cran- berries.||Sugar for Cran- berries.||Mornings|
|1 Salt Meat Day||¾||..||¾||..||1||2||¾||⅓||⅓|
XX.- Preserved meats are to be issued to the company of Her Majesty's steam-vessels of the Niger Expedition on Sundays and Thursdays whenever the crews shall have been two days previously on salt meat, or if more palatable to the crew, it may be divided into halves, and served in four days of the week, mixed with salt meat, without interfering with the scale in the last order regulating the issues of pickles and cranberries.
XXI.- Wine and quinine may be given to the men occasionally in lieu of wine and bark, and its issue may be extended to the whole crew when thought desirable by the surgeon.
XXII.- Unless absolutely necessary the hammocks are not to be piped up in Africa until sunrise, which in the Niger is always about 6 o'clock, and when recommended by the surgeon a cup of coffee is to be given to every man before going on deck. The hammocks are to be left unlashed for a quarter of an hour, and then lashed up and taken on deck, and the duties of the ship proceeded with.
XXIII.- As ill consequences often arise from persons taking large draughts of cold water when thirsty, a small measure is always to be kept at the filterer or tank, and used by the ship's company, and no other is to be used by the men for this purpose.
XXIV.- The water of the Niger having been proved to contain much animal and vegetable matter ought not to be used for drinking until boiled, and a little lime added to it to purify it.
XXV.- As it is extremely desirable to ascertain what constitutions seem best adapted to the climate of Africa the surgeons of the respective ships are to be desired, as a measure preparatory to future observations, to note, according to the annexed form, the previous history, age, temperament, &c., of each individual on board.
|Names.||Ages.||In what Country born and educated.||Trade or Occupation.||How long at Sea.||How long Abroad, and in what Climates.||What Disease he has already suffered from.||If any Disease in the Familty to which he belongs.||Vaccinated.||Re-vaccinated.||Married or Unmarried.||Temprament.||General Appeaance.||Height.|
|In Merchant Ships.||In Men of War.|
XXVI.- 1. The General Orders, of which this is No. XXVI., being standing orders and regulations for the guidance of the officers and crews of the vessels of the Niger Expedition, to be communicated to them by their respective commanders or commanding officers, are to be kept separate from general memoranda and other orders, which though they may be for the direction and information of the vessels generally, are only of a temporary nature. If one book only is kept it must contain General Orders at one end, and General Memoranda, &c., at the other, a new book being commenced when the two sets of orders meet.
2. No. 900 in the General Signal Book is to be marked in pencil as follows: "Second Master, Clerk, or Clerk’s Assistant, with the Order Book to copy orders," and, when obeyed, the officer is to sign his name and rank as having copied the order correctly.
3. My clerk will occasionally be ordered to see that the general orders have been correctly copied, and, when satisfied of their correctness, to sign his name at the end of the last order.
XXVII.- 1. It is to be understood that all presents received from the African Chiefs, Headmen, or others of the country, for which some equivalent has or will be given in Government goods or money shall be considered for the use of Her Majesty.
Presents consisting of oxen, sheep, goats, poultry, vegetables, fruit, or other articles of provisions received are to be taken on charge and accounted for by the pursers and clerk-in-charge of the respective ships of the Expedition.
XXVIII.- Cowries having been supplied to the steam-vessels chiefly for the purchasing of provisions and stores and other contingencies on account of the Niger Expedition, it is my direction that they be reserved expressly for that purpose, and on no account be applied for the payment of savings of provisions or monthly allowance without my permission in writing.
XXIX.- Mr. C. Wakeham, purser of the Wilberforce, having at my request ascertained the average weight and measure of a certain number of cowries, and the sterling value thereof in regard to their cost to Government, and it appearing by his report, after a careful and tedious inquiry, that about 400 cowries weigh about one pound avoirdupois, and that an imperial pint measure will contain on an average about 500 cowries when compact and the top levelled, and that the cost to Government of 500 in relation to the whole supply taken on charge by the pursers of the Expedition has been as nearly as can be calculated about 7½d. sterling, it is my direction that cowries be issued and received at the rate of 500 for 7½d., or 100 for 1½d, sterling, and that when the imperial measure is used in payment, one pint to be considered equal to 500 cowries, and also that in cases when the parties may agree to be paid in cowries according to weight that 400 be given and received as equal to a pound avoirdupois.
And as much valuable time which would be occupied in the counting of cowries might be saved by the use of the pint measure, the commanders of the vessels of the Expedition are to encourage the natives to adopt the plan, and to cause a number of pint measures to be made forthwith from the empty preserved meat cases, and to give them occasionally as presents until a desire be expressed for them in barter.
In order to save the preserved carrots and other vegetables as much as possible, it is my direction that whenever fruit or vegetables are on board or can be procured at a moderate price for the ships’ companies they be served on preserved meat days with the preserved meats.
And as the total quantity of bread in the vessels of the Niger Expedition is not in proportion to the other species of provisions, it is my direction that when yams, cocoas, plantains, rice, or any other wholesome vegetable can be procured cheaply, the crews be put on two-thirds allowance of bread.
Instructions from Captain Trotter to the Commander of the "Amelia."
H.D. Trotter, Captain.
On Her Majesty’s steam-vessel, under my command, proceeding up the Niger, you are to place the Albert’s tender, the Amelia, in the most convenient anchorage off Mount Stirling, and remain within sight of the confluence of the Niger and Chadda, until the return of the steam-vessels down the rivers, or until you receive further orders.
Mr. Carr, the superintendent of the model farm, having applied to me to afford him such protection from the natives as will secure him and the people and property placed under his charge against aggression, you will consider it an especial part of your duty to afford him all the protection in your power, and as the presence of your vessel will be the best preventive against hostility on the part of the natives, you will in general secure the Amelia as near the party on shore as a due regard to the health of those remaining on board and the safety of the brigantine will permit, and you are to make such arrangements with Mr. Carr as you may find necessary.
Your party will land any part of the model farm property still remaining in the Amelia at such times and places as Mr. Carr may request, and you are at all times to take such measures as may be essential for the safety and advancement of the same. A large tent has been lent to Mr. Carr at his request for a short time until the erection of his house is complete, you are to consider yourself responsible for the due care of this tent, and have it examined occasionally for that purpose, and you will take such steps for the due security of the tent or any other public property left on shore by means of a ditch, palisades, &c., as you may, with the advice of the sapper, think necessary, which by a little extension will also tend to the safety of Mr. Carr and his people in the event of any unforeseen attack of the Felatahs. or for the safety and advancement of the same.
The health of the people under your charge will at all times require the most watchful solicitude of yourself and the medical officer, by causing them to avoid great exposure to the sun, particularly in the hottest part of the day, and by not allowing the white men to go on shore between sunset and 7 o’clock in the morning according to my general order of 16th June, 1841, and not permitting any of your party unnecessarily to go into swampy or uncleared lands.
Your vessel must be thoroughly cleansed and fumigated as often as it can be conveniently done, and always when the assistant surgeon deems it necessary. You will provision your party, as far as practicable, from the resources of the country, for the purchase of which, articles of barter are put under your charge, keeping a careful account of all purchases made, which must be issued according to the general printed Instructions and my Memorandum of the 26th August, 1841. Any extra supply of cattle, goats, sheep, yams, &c., which you may have the means of procuring and retaining for the use of the steam-vessels on their return to this anchorage, you may also purchase to the extent of one month's consumption for one hundred men.
You will give to Mr. Ansell, the gardener, every facility of carrying on his investigations, allowing him the services of William Jackson, and giving him permission to provide himself and Jackson with a residence on shore if he pleases, with permission to draw their provisions from the Amelia.
After your vessel is secured and properly cleansed, you will employ your men as most advantageous for the public service, and one of the first things that ought to engage your attention is the cutting of wood for fuel for the use of the steam-vessels on their return. The natives might, with benefit to the service and themselves, be encouraged to supply wood, and I recommend stakes being put into the ground in various places, by which they would know exactly the size of the cord, and they should be desired to cut billets of two feet in length, split into pieces about the size of a man’s arm; and as you have under your charge a quantity of coal-tar pitch, which Mr. Grant has found will make valuable fuel when mixed with charcoal instead of coal-dust; you will, if possible, hire some of the native charcoal manufacturers to assist your own people in preparing it for mixing it with the pitch, and --- Johnson, who saw Mr. Grant’s fuel made at Deptford, is left in the tender for the purpose of aiding you in this important duty.
Her Majesty’s Commissioners having lately made a conditional purchase for the Crown of a tract of country on the banks of the Niger included between the rivulet north of Mount Patteh and another rivulet emptying itself in the Niger south of the mountains Saddleback and Soracti, the western boundary being a line joining Outram Deacon and Soracti and the nearest points of the above-mentioned rivulets, and as it is most desirable, for the information of Her Majesty’s Government, that a survey of this ceded district should be made, you are to use all the means in your power for this purpose, and Craig, the Sapper, has been left with you for this purpose, as well as to throw up any defence that may be required.
The land in the immediate neighbourhood will naturally engage your attention first, and you will be particularly careful in marking the boundaries of the land which is now under cultivation or has houses upon it, as by the Deed of Cession such land is to be considered the property of the present occupiers. You will take especial care in the execution of such survey not to risk the health of yourself, Craig, or any other person by exposure to the sun or rain; and, for the purpose of saving fatigue, you are at liberty to purchase three horses on the public account. It is desirable you should take the survey in such a manner as to enable you to lay it down on an 8 inch scale, and any correct sketches of the country by a camera lucida or otherwise would be very desirable.
You will take pains to register correct observations taken with the philosophical instruments left in your charge, which will be very valuable, taken as they will be in a fixed situation.
You will consider every information regarding the territory and the persons living upon it of primary importance, ascertaining the numbers, occupations, and dispositions of the various inhabitants you meet, and all particulars relative to any predatory incursions which may have been made by the Foulahs or others upon the natives, and ascertaining, as far as possible, the nature and pretexts of such incursions. In fact, it is so desirable that every possible information should be afforded to Her Majesty’s Government to enable them to judge of the propriety of retaining this portion of country, lately ceded to Her Majesty, that the information concerning it cannot, be of too varied a character, and for this purpose you are to keep a daily journal of observations, mentioning in it whatever may attract your notice, and furnishing me hereafter with a copy thereof.
In the important duty of collecting information you will doubtless derive much valuable assistance from the zeal and intelligence of Messrs. Collman and Kingdon, whom you will direct to record all matters of interest coming within their observation, whether derived from their own experience or from conversation with intelligent natives. You will direct them to keep a journal punctually from day to day unless absolutely prevented by uncontrollable necessity. The doing so may at times prove irksome, but it will in the end abundantly compensate all who do so for the self denial and effort which it may involve.
Given under my hand on board the Albert off Mount Sterling, opposite to the Confluence of the Niger and Chadda, 19th September, 1841.
(Signed) H.D. Trotter, Captain and Senior Officer.
To Mr. Webb,* Mate, commanding Her Majesty’s Brigantine Amelia.
* On Mr. Webb being taken on board the Albert, on account of fever, these orders were transferred to Mr. Kingdon, and by Mr. Kingdon, when he was obliged to leave the Amelia, on account of illness, to Mr. King.
From Dr. McWilliam to Captain Trotter.
Her Majesty’s Ship Albert, at the confluence of the Niger and Tchadda, September the 17th,* 1841.
Having, by your direction, proceeded on board Her Majesty’s ships Wilberforce and Soudan, I found the state of the sick lists on board of these ships to be as set down in the accompanying Report, from which you will perceive that the fever, which made its appearance among the crews of the squadron under your command when at Iddah, has continued to increase, and now prevails to a formidable extent.
For the restoration of the sick, I consider a change of climate to be indispensable; and having no experience of the salubrity of the higher lands in this neighbourhood, it only remains for me to suggest to you the propriety of placing the patients of the squadron likely to improve by such a change on board one of the ships which will descend the river with all speed, and then proceed onwards to Fernando Po or Ascension, where they will have the beneflt of hospital accommodation, in addition to that likely to be derived from climate.
I have, &c.
(Signed) J.O. McWilliam, M.D.,
Surgeon, Her Majesty’s Ship Albert.
Report of the Sick on board Her Majesty’s Ships Albert, Wilberforce, and Soudan, on the 17th* September, 1841.
|Number of Officers.||Number of White Seamen.||Number of Marines and Sappers.||Number of Kroomen, African Boys, and East and West Indians.||Agriculturists, Aprentices, &c.||Total.|
|Her Majesty's Ship Albert, including Amelia Tender|
|Placed on Sick List for Fever since 4th inst.||2||15||5||5||..||27|
|Discharged to duty||1||..||..||..||..||1|
|Remain on the Sick List||..||12||5||5||..||22|
|Among whom are convalescent||..||2||2||2||..||6|
|Effective on board the ship and tender||18||12||9||73||..||112|
|Effective on shore||..||..||..||..||20||20|
|Her Majesty's Ship Wilberforce|
|Placed on the Sick List for Fever since 4th inst.||7||13||5||..||..||25|
|Discharged to duty||..||1||..||..||..||1|
|Remain on Sick List||7||11||4||..||..||22|
|Among whom are convalescent||1||1||..||..||..||2|
|Effective on board the ship||..||..||..||..||..||..|
|Effective on shore||..||..||..||..||..||..|
|Her Majesty's Ship Soudan|
|Placed on Sick List for Fever since 3d inst.||5||9||2||1||..||17|
|Discharged to duty||..||..||..||..||..||..|
|Remain on Sick List||5||8||2||1||..||16|
|Among whom are convalescent||..||1||1||1||..||3|
|Effective on board the ship||4||5||2||21||..||32|
|Effective on shore||..||..||..||..||..||..|
|Total Number placed on List||69|
|,, discharged to duty||2|
|,, remaining on List||60|
|,, effective on board|
|,, effective on shore|
(Signed) J.O. McWilliam, M.D., Surgeon.
* The date ought to have been the 18th, and not the 17th.
† This is the number victualled by, - not the number belonging to the Albert.
Her Majesty’s Steam Vessel Albert, off Gori Market, in the river Niger; Thursday, September 23rd, 1841.
Minutes of the Trial of Ajimba, son of the Chief of Muyè, who was detected with three slaves in his canoe, with horses and other goods, returning from Egga market, the exportation of slaves being contrary to the Treaty made on the 6th September with the Attah of Iddah, to whom Muyè is subject.
Captain Trotter said to Mr. M'Auley, the interpreter, "Explain to Ajimba that the Attah of Iddah made a law seventeen days ago, by which he prohibited all his subjects from buying or selling slaves, and that the Attah promised to send word up the river to that effect; and at this place the Chief of Muyè’s canoe is found with slaves bought in the Egga market, with other property. Now, as this place is in the Attah’s dominions, I, by virtue of the Treaty, have seized the canoe and all the property in it. What have you to say? The slaves are now free, and the canoe ought to be broken up, according to the law made with the Attah of Iddah."
Captain Trotter desired Aduku, the son of the Attah, to listen.- Aduku: "Yes."
Ajimba, son of the Chief of Muyè, and owner of the boat, said: "I cannot object to anything that has been said; the law has been broken; but I plead, in my defence, ignorance; and if my father, the Chief, had known the law, he would not have sent a boat to trade for slaves."
Captain Trotter (to Aduku). How was it that Ajimba's father was not made acquainted with the law?
Aduku. My father sent people to tell all his people to give up the Slave Trade; but this place is far away, and my father took his own time to make it known. It would look like force to take this boat.
Captain Trotter (to Aduku). Your father has had plenty of time to send up. He sent you away the day after the treaty was made, and you have not done as he told you.
Aduku. The people who were in the canoe left Muyè before this law was made known.
Captain Trotter (to Aduku). You were at this (Gori) market four or five days ago.
Aduku. I have been here twice since the law was made. I have informed the people higher up, at a place called "Putah" or "Biddu."
Captain Trotter (to Ajimba). The Prince says he was some days ago higher up the river, and told the people; and you might have heard of the law.
Ajimba. I have not been at home since the law was made known.
Aduku remarked that when he came up he did not see the people of this canoe at Muyè, they being absent at Egga; but he explained the law to the Chief of Muyè.
Captain Trotter. How often do boats go up to Egga from Muyè.
Ajimba. Three moons ago I was at Egga, and not since.
Captain Trotter (to Aduku). How near to Egga does your father’s dominions extend? How many days from Egga?
Aduku. The King of Iddah, before the ravages of the Felatahs, possessed the land up to Rabbah. He now has under his power only as far as Biddu, two days below Egga.
Captain Trotter (to Ajimba). The law was made seventeen days ago; the Prince was sent the next day by the Attah to tell the people up the river, but he has not done so. He has been to blame, and not you. According to the law, the slaves must be made free, and the property ought to be seized; but, as you did not know the law, I shall only make the slaves free: for this time the canoe and property will not be condemned. I am sorry the Prince should have got you into this scrape; had he made the law properly known at "Biddu," this violation of it would not have taken place. I shall, whenever I see the Attah, tell him how sorry I am that his son neglected to do as he told him.
Aduku. It is not my fault; I told the people of "Putah" to give up the Slave Trade.
Captain Trotter took the opportunity of telling the Prince that if he had told the Chief at Gori Town, no slaves would have been sold in that market; now five slaves were sold, or, at all events, brought from Bornou yesterday.
Captain Trotter (to Ajimba). The Queen of England desires to be friends with all black men; has sent us out to put an end to the Slave Trade. Your God is our God, and it is contrary to one of his commandments to sell your fellow man.
This time you may go with the canoe and property, but the slaves are free, and may remain if they like; another time the canoe and property will be broken up.
H.D. Trotter, Captain.
The Prince was requested by Captain Trotter to make known to the Attah the seizure of the canoe and the emancipation of the slaves immediately on his arrival at Iddah.
J.O. McWilliam, M.D., Pro Secretary.
From Captain Trotter to Commander W. Allen and Mr. Cook.H. D.Trotter, Captain.
Her Majesty’s Steam Vessel Albert, Fernando Po; 19th November, 1841.
I have to inform you that the paralysed state of the Expedition by the sickness that has occurred amongst the crews of the steam vessels, renders it necessary that I proceed to England to lay before the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty the state of the vessels; and I have accordingly written to their Lordships and the Secretary of State, that I may be expected to arrive in England about March. It was my intention to have proceeded to Ascension, to consult with you as to the future operations of the mission, but Mr. Thomson, acting surgeon of the Soudan, my medical attendant during the illness of Dr. McWilliam, has Strongly urged the necessity of my return to England direct, as offering the best means of a speedy recovery from illness, caused by a fever with which I was attacked while in the Niger.
I am in consequence about to proceed to England from this place in the Warree merchant vessel.
It is my painful duty to acquaint you of the death of Commander Bird Allen, which took place on the 26th of October last, from the effects of a fever contracted in the river, and I am sure you will deplore with me the loss of so intelligent, zealous, and amiable a coadjutor. By this lamentable event a vacancy has arisen in the Commission, which I consider it will be unadvisable to fill up until it be seen who will have sufficient health to return to the Coast of Africa and be able to re-ascend the Niger to fulfil the duty of Commissioner.
As I have given Commander Allen orders not to leave Ascension for the Coast till the 1st of June, Her Majesty’s Government will have sufficient time to communicate their wishes as to the future proceedings of the Commission.
In the event of the Government not requiring my further services on my arrival in England, I shall briefly inform you, for your guidance, of the state of the Niger as far as Egga, the highest part of the river which I reached in the Albert.
Commander Bird Allen having been unhappily taken ill with fever a few hours after the Albert parted with the Wilberforce, which never for one day left him till his death, I was altogether deprived of his valuable services, with the exception of getting his opinion in one or two cases. The effects of the incursions of the Felatahs on the right bank of the Niger you had ample opportunity of witnessing before you left the river, particularly at the deserted town of Adda Kuddu. We found the inhabitants on each bank as we advanced complaining of their vexatious and tyrannous conduct towards them. All those towns with which we communicated paid tribute or taxes to them - even Buddu or Kakunda; although up to that place the Chief is still chosen by the Attah of Iddah, to whom he pays a nominal tribute. At Egga, however, the Felatahs appeared to have complete control. The Chief, Rogang, acknowledged that he was placed there by Samo Sariki, the King of Rabba, with no power at all to act unless under his knowledge and direction. The following is the answer which he gave when I sent the Rev. Mr. Schön to say for what object the Commissioners had been sent from England: He replied, "He was anxious to see the commander of the vessel; that he had heard of our coming before, and was very glad to hear that we had not come to make war, but to establish peace; but that he was prevented from going on board for fear of the Felatahs; that the King of the Felatahs would soon hear of it, and, as he was afraid of the white people, he would say, "Ah Rogang has joined the white people and as soon as the white people had returned he would have to suffer for it. He had heard before that our object was to abolish the Slave Trade, and that, as far as he was concerned, he was quite agreeable to it, but would do nothing until his King had done something in favour of the measure. He plainly told us his opinion that the Felatahs would not like it, and that God alone was able to bring it to pass.”
The kingdom of Nufi is under the entire subjugation of the Fulatahs, according to Rogang - the two claimants for the throne, Edrissa, who lives at Barra, one day higher up the river than Egga, and the Magia, who resides beyond Rabba, having no power or authority of any kind.
An order was said to have lately arrived from Rabbah to collect all the Felatah soldiers from the lower part of the river, as their services could no longer be spared in making slaves at a distance, but were required near Soccatoo; and I have reason to think there was some truth in the report, as great numbers were being despatched to Rabba during the time we were lying at Egga.
Before leaving Egga I thought it advisable to send a present to the King of Rabba, and I therefore despatched Mr. Brown on shore with a green silk velvet tobe, a richly bound Arabic Bible, and a coloured engraving of the steam-vessels, and desired him to deliver them over to Rogang with a message which he was to have literally translated. Captain Bird Allen was well enough at this time to concur with me in the propriety of this present and message; the latter was as follows:- "The messengers of the Queen of England are prevented from going to Rabbah at present on account of illness and the falling of the river; but they expect to return and see the King next year, and will then deliver their message to the King more fully; they send him now a present as a token of their friendly feelings towards the King of Rabbah. The chief thing they come for is to persuade the Kings of Africa to put an end to the exportation of slaves, and to establish commercial intercourse between these countries and Great Britain, which would be much more advantageous to the Kings and people of Africa than the exportation of slaves. The English have made a settlement at Pandaiki, or Adda-Kuddu; and the King of Rabba must not allow his warriors to come near Pandaiki or Adda Kuddu, as all the neighbouring people are friends to the Queen of England and her people. A drawing of the vessels composing the Niger Expedition is sent to the King of Rabba, by which he will see that it consists of three large vessels and one small one."
Rogang replied that he was glad we had sent the present, as the King of Rabba would not have otherwise understood the reason of our coming to Egga and advancing no further, and would have been very suspicious of our conduct without such a demonstration of good feeling. He said the presents should be delivered safely to the King of Rabba.
I am of opinion, since gaining the above information, that Rabhah is the first place which the Commissioners ought to visit in the Niger next year; and I am sorry to find from Captain Becroft that it will be impossible for the larger steam-vessels of the Expedition, and even the Soudan, unless she be lightened to four feet, which would be difficult, to ascend so far as that place till about the 1st of September. This, I consider, renders it advisable that the Expedition should not enter the river till the beginning of August, so as to pass up to Rabbah without any delay. Any detention in the intermediate parts of the river might be fatal to the accomplishment of a Treaty there, for past experience cannot but lead to the conclusion that the climate of the river is most injurious to European constitutions. After the Treaty is concluded at Rabbah (which I trust may embrace some clause in favour of Nufi and Kakanda) the vessel might descend to the confluence, and still have time to ascend the Chadda.
I have said thus much about future operations, supposing it possible only to make one steam-vessel efficient. If a greater force can be sent up the river, of course more may be done up the Chadda; but still I think the same principle ought, to be attended to, and no vessel ought to enter the river without a certainty of there being water enough to carry her beyond the confluence. Captain Allen can best speak as to the proper time for ascending the Chadda, so as not to risk detention.
Following out the same principle with regard to the Coast, and still considering Rabbah as the place of all others that the Commissioners ought to strive to reach next year, I consider in the present debilitated state of the Expedition, that to visit the rivers in the Bight of Biafra in the steam-vessels, with the view of entering into Treaties with the Chiefs near the sea-coast, would be materially risking the completion of the Treaties up the Niger. The health of every body who has any idea of going next year up the Niger ought, on the contrary, to be the main object of care until the water of the river allows a free and easy passage up.
It is for these reasons that, in my letter to the Admiralty, I fixed upon the 1st of June as the proper time for leaving Ascension; and that, in my letter to the Secretary of State, a copy of which is enclosed, I mentioned the 1st of July as the time I might rejoin the mission at Fernando Po, previous to its departure thence for the Niger.
I conceive that it will be very desirable that you should, by the very first opportunity, send home your opinion to the Secretary of State of the best plan of operations next year, as your views on the subject may differ from my own.
Before concluding, I must call your attention to the enclosed copy of the Minutes of a trial which took place when I seized a Kakanda canoe, for a breach of the Iddah Slave Treaty. The individual who had the slaves in his canoe (the son of the Chief of Muyè) had evidently never heard of the Treaty, but still he admitted the justice of my decision in freeing the slaves; and as the seizure took place just opposite to Gori, before the people had quitted the market, the news of the event reached Egga before the arrival of the Albert, and I have reason to believe a very good effect was produced by the seizure. The Attah, as we passed Iddah, sent to say that he was quite glad we had made the seizure. The three slaves are now living comfortably with their fellow-countrymen at Clarence Cove, Fernando Po, under the names of Albert Gori, Hannah Buxton, and Elizabeth Fry.
I am, &c.,
(Signed) H.D. Trotter, Captain, R.N.
To Commander William Allen, and William Cook, Esq.
From Captain Becroft to Captain Trotter.
H.D. Trotter, Captain.
Clarence Cove, 23rd November, 1841.
In reply to the Queries you handed me a few days ago, I beg leave to state, to the best of my judgment, as follows:-
Query 1st.- A vessel drawing four feet, and wishing to reach Rabbah as quick as possible, should not enter the river previous to the 1st of July.
Query 2nd.- A vessel drawing five feet water, and wishing to proceed direct to Rabbah, should not enter the river before the end of July.
Query 3rd.- Wishing to ascend the river as high as Addacoodoo in the month of March, should not draw more than three feet.
I beg leave to state that the communication I have given above is with the experience I had last year, starting in the Ethiope from Benin in May, drawing five feet ten inches water. I had great trouble and difficulty in ascending, particularly a few miles above Eboe, which was the latter end of May; but then I had to discharge the whole of her cargo, which lightened her to four feet.
I am, &c.,
(Signed) John Becroft.
To Captain H.D. Trotter, R.N.,
P.S.- I ought to observe, that though a vessel might get up drawing three feet, there would be considerable risk of detention in the month of March, that is when the river is at its lowest. I believe I told you in conversation, that I was a month from Egga to Rabbah, arriving at Rabbah on the 26th of August. The Ethiope’s draught of water was five feet eight at that time, and had to discharge her cargo five or six times to get over the shoals.
Statement of the Number of Cases of River Fever on Board the Vessels of the Niger Expedition in 1841.
|Remainder of Crew||24||31*||15||4||74|
|Civilian (West Indian)||..||1||..||..||1|
|Men entered in England||5||..||1||..||6†|
|Men entered in Africa||..||..||..||..||..|
H.D. Trotter, Captain.
* Five of these had previously had remittent fever before entering the river.
† Besides these, three belonging to the Wilberforce (who had had remittent fever on the coast) had fever up the river, but Dr. Pritchett considered it to be rather of the nature of ague than of the remittent type. There was also one other case in the Soudan, which, though remittent, was not, however, of the same character as the fever which attacked the Europeans.
Statement of the Number of Deaths from the effects of River Fever, in consequence of ascending the Niger in 1841.
|Remainder of the Crew||9||4||6||3||22|
|Men entered in England||..||..||..||..||..|
|Men entered in Africa||..||..||..||..||..|
H.D. Trotter, Captain.
Abstract of the preceding Tables, A, I, K, showing the Number of Europeans belonging to the Niger Expedition, who ascended the River in 1841, and the number of those who had River Fever, as well as of those who died from its effects.
|Number on Board||Ill with River Fever.||Died of River Fever, or its effects.|
|Officers, including Engineers and Civilians.||Men.||Officers, including Engineers and Civilians.||Men.||Officers, including Engineers and Civilians.||Men.|
H.D. Trotter, Captain.
Table showing the Number of Days the Expedition was in the River.
|Number of Days at the Mouth of the River within the Bar.||8||9||6|
|Number of Days up the River.||56||36||32|
|Total number of Days in the River.||64||45||38|
H.D. Trotter, Captain.
Extract from Meteorological Register of Her Majesty’s Steam Vessel Albert. August 9 to October 16, 1841.
[table not included here]
From the Master of the Lady Combermere to Captain Trotter.
H.D. Trotter, Captain.
On Board the Lady Combermere, Clarence Cove, Fernando Po, 23rd October, 1841.
I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your note of this morning; and in answer to your question about the healthy and unhealthy seasons in the river Bonny, can confidently say, after 12 years’ experience, that the rainy season, viz. June, July, August, and September, is pre-eminently the most healthy for Europeans, and it has proved to be so in the present year. I consider the most unhealthy months to be April, May, October and November, the two first-named months being immediately previous to the commencement, and the latter months immediately following the termination of the rains.
This season the rains ended unusually abruptly with the month of September, and sickness immediately ensued. There was little or no sickness this year in Bonny until the first week in October, since which it has been more than usually unhealthy, even for the season; for eight out of ten of the vessels have lost from two to five men each, and when I left Bonny, four days since, every vessel in the river had men laying in a very doubtful state.
Although the smokes, which prevail from December to February inclusive, are undoubtedly very prejudicial to the health of Europeans, I have noticed that there has been less mortality in these months than at the commencement and termination of the rains; and I consider that the unusual degree of sickness which has prevailed during the early part of the present month in Bonny, may, in great measure, be attributed to the excessively hot sun, (with little or no wind for days together,) which has so suddenly followed the very abrupt termination of the rains.
I may remark that vessels lie off the town of Bonny, which is from three to four miles up the river, and well open to the general sea breezes; the crews are well protected from the weather by houses built of sticks and mats, about 18 feet above the decks, and projecting 3 feet exterior the vessel.
I have, &c..
(Signed) T. Midgley.
To Captain Trotter, R. N., &c. &c.
Benin* Branch of Lieut. William Allen's Chart..- The town on the right bank, where the Benin branch separates from the main river is called Anya in the Ibo language, signifying Eye, We could not obtain another name from the natives for the Benin branch than Miri, signifying water. They all agreed that the river Nun led in the shortest time to the Mirina-salt-water.
* This branch was discovered by Captain Becroft, of the Ethiope Steamer (in 1840), to lead to Warri, which town communicates, by creeks, with the river Benin or Formosa.
Their palm oil and their slaves are chiefly taken down the Benin branch to a town called Egabo in the Brass country. They offered sereral children to us for sale. I believe all were Yarubas.
Ibo, better Aboh.- I satisfied my own mind as to the correctness of several things which I long before learned, respecting some of the superstitions of the Ibo people. It appears but too true that human sacrifices are offered by them, and that in the most barbarous manner. The poor devoted victim is tied by his legs and dragged from place to place till he expires, and when dead he is cast in the sea. Infanticide is likewise committed, and is of a peculiar kind; the origin or cause of it I could never ascertain. Twins are never allowed to live; as soon as they are born they are put into two earthen pots, and exposed in the forest. The unfortunate mother is ever afterwards exposed to great troubles and hardships; a small hut is built for her in the bush, where she has to submit to many ceremonies for her purification, and remains separated from society for a considerable time. Her conjugal connexion with her husband is for ever dissolved, and she is never after permitted to sit down with other women, in the same market or in the same house. To give birth to twins is therefore justly considered the greatest misfortune which can befal a woman. If a child happens to cut his top teeth first, the poor creature is likewise killed; it is considered to indicate that the child would be a very wicked person in after life if it were allowed to live. There is a town in the Ibo country - where I could not sufficiently ascertain - which is called Tshukunga, or God’s Town; there God dwells and gives his oracles from the ground. Any matters of importance is left to his decision; and people are travelling to the place from all parts of the country. The people of Aboh say that they can reach it in three months, or that it is at a distance of a journey of three months. Tshuku cannot be seen by any human eye; he speaks every language on earth, discerns thieves; and if there is any falsehood in the mind of the inquirer he is sure to find it out.
The whole nation speaking the Ibo language seems to be called the Ibo nation; while this part of the country and the town hitherto called by that name, ought to be called Aboh. The town was almost under water: we had to wade through the mud up to our knees to the very palace of the king; and on our visit on our return we got up in the boat to the very gate of the palace. The king himself said that his town was unhealthy, and there was too much water, and to European or other settlers he would point out better spots for their residence. Obi has one hundred wives. Under the piazza of his house there is an idol made of wood; in his left hand he holds a pistol, and in his right a sword, representing the god of war. In times of war every soldier is required to lay his hands on the idol, who secures him a safe return from the field. Obi proclaimed the Treaty he had entered into to his people the same night it was concluded. Obi’s wish that Simon Jonas should stop with him proves to me several things which deserve notice. I conclude from it that Obi is sincere in his profession to act up to the terms of the Treaty which was just concluded with him. If he had had any intention of acting contrary to it he would not have wished to have a person about him who understands his language and can watch and observe all his proceedings, and who, as he well knew, would join the Expedition again, and would make known to the Commissioners anything that he might have considered wrong. It also shows that the objection so often raised that the Africans would not listen to their own country people in matters of religion, or anything else, and especially not to such as had been slaves before, is perfectly gratuitous. Obi was not ashamed to confess his ignorance, and to express his readiness to learn of one of his own country people something better.
Simon Jonas's† Account. - The children flocked around him every day to learn something; he counted about 2600 school children. The number of domestic slaves is, in his opinion, greater than the number of free people, and the treatment they receive at the hands of their masters is kind and humane. They are allowed after some years’ service to build houses for themselves. Some have five or six wives - the surest sign of their acquiring property. After they have built their own house they are free, and cannot be called upon by Obi or their former masters to work for them. An annual tax is required of them by Obi, proportioned
† This man, a native of the Ibo country, was one of the interpreters of the Niger Expedition. He resided at Aboh, from the 20th September to the 11h of October, 1841, on which latter day he rejoined the "Albert" on her passage down the river, and afterwards gave Mr. Schön the above information.
according to the property they possess. Each must pay forty yams to Obi in the yam season; those who possess many sheep and goats must pay him some of them too. The Benin people came up as far as Aboh with their canoes for palm oil; they chiefly pay rum, gunpowder, and guns for it; a very few articles of clothing, &c. find their way to Aboh. Obi has a large quantity of rum and powder, and is very liberal in the distribution of the former. It is the custom of the principal people of the town to wait on him every morning in several divisions, each comprising six persons, and each party receives one bottle of rum. The Bonny people carried slaves to Aboh for sale, but lately were told that Obi had given up the slave trade.
Iddah—Kingdom of Èggarrah.
The kingdom of the Attàh is called Èggarrah, also Igalla. The letters r and l are frequently interchanged with each other amongst the Africans. The extent of his kingdom is best ascertained from the official documents (Treaty). The town is either called Idaah or Addah; the former seems more correct. The population is not overrated at 5000. Some of the houses are built of bricks, made by the natives, not burned, merely dried in the sun, and might be much improved by European industry. Little ground is under cultivation, though the soil appears fertile. The people appear of a harmless nature; never asked for rum; all they begged of me was writing-paper; they are chiefly Pagans, but no idols are publicly set up in the town, though many other things of Pagan superstitions. The higher classes have embraced the Mahomedan religion, but know very little of it. The Mallams themselves are unable to read; and none of the King’s Mallams could sign the Treaty. The Mallams are not only teachers, but carry on trade.
The people in general appear very healthy, and of a strong constitution. Yaws and craw-craws seem their principal diseases. Articles of trade are well described by Laird. Two accounts were given respecting the successor of the King in case of death; the first was, that the King chose his own successor; the second, that his eldest brother succeeded him as a matter of right.
The opposite Shore of Iddah.*- "This shore is low and swampy, but abounds with large trees, which we commenced cutting. A number of natives, armed with bows, arrows, and short broad knives stuck in a girdle, made their appearance, inclined to make some resistance, but were soon satisfied with our explanation. We proceeded to the town, five miles distant, by a good road, through a dry country, cultivated with plantains, yams, Indian corn, and cotton. The town is called Wappa. The Chief calls himself Egada Yaluelama; appears to be under the King of Benin, whose name is said to be Obah, who sacrifices three human beings every day, one at sunrise, the second at noon, and the third at sunset. The Chief is said to be able to raise an army of 10,000 men, if required."
* This information was obtained from Dr. Pritchett of the Wilberforce.
Confluence of Niger and Chadda.
Confluence.- There are four different languages spoken by the natives of the immediate vicinity of the Confluence, viz., the Kakanda, as it is called by the Nufi people, (or Shabi, as called by the Èggarrah people,) the Nufi, and Bunu languages. The inhabitants of the left bank or side of Chadda speak chiefly Èggarrah. The Nufi language appears to be most extensively understood, and to serve as the medium of conversation between all.
One of the villages on the left bank, opposite Addu Kudu, is called Shimri, another Gandeh; the Headman’s name of the latter is Samabu. These two villages have been but lately peopled by the inhabitants of Addu Kudu, being driven away by the Filatahs or Filanis. They prefer the Addu Kudu side on account of its fertility, the opposite bank being low and marshy, and are anxious to return to Addu Kudu, in case of an English establishment at the place.
The statements of the people agreed together that the Chadda was an inconsiderable river in the dry season, and that the water became so low that a man could wade from one side to the other.
The Niger is called in the Haussa language Fari-nrua, or white water.
The Chadda, Baki-nrua, or dark water.
Kelebeh, on the right bank of the river, is of considerable size. Two of the inhabitants came on board, offering to show us a place to procure fuel, and pilot the vessels to Kakanda. We anchored (21st September) near Lelemu, on the right, and Atshiba, on the left, bank of the river. Lelemu is subject to the Attah; the Chief of Kakanda (Bornu) appoints the Headmen of the villages in this neighbourhood. They profess the Mahomedan religion; are visited now and then by Mallams from the interior, who teach them a few prayers, for which they receive payment. The army of the Filatahs was only one day’s journey distant from Kelebeh, with a great number of horses, muskets, cutlasses, bows and arrows. They had lately killed many persons at Kelebeh, and carried away a great number as slaves to Rabba. No resistance is offered to the Filatahs; they describe them as a warlike nation.
Barker’s Mountain is called Dolli and Eilden-hill Jegila by the natives. Omeh, on Captain Allen’s chart, seems to be called Muyé; the name of the chief is Aggiddi; he estimates the inhabitants of it to be about 2000. The river is not expected to rise higher than it is at present; three months hence it will be quite low. The natives suffer much in the dry season from fever, the small-pox, and dysentery; use a medicine prepared from roots, and called Laboje. The canoes passing for Gori market contained but a few articles of trade, as tobacco, country grown, and ingeniously rolled together; some camwood, and a little ivory.
Gori, not on Captain Allen’s chart, on the right bank of the river, contains about 80 or 90 houses, a market town, said by some to be held every thirteenth day, by others every fifth day. No European articles of trade exposed. The native articles of commerce consisted of salt packed in grass bags, said to have come from Rabba; each contains about one bushel, and is sold at the rate of ___; straw hats as large as a common umbrella, a little cam wood, supposed to have come from the Ibo country; some large grass bags of cotton, the seeds still in them; beautifully made large tobes, carved calabashes, earthen pots of native manufacture, yams and tumatahs, several calabashes of shea butter, and one of cow butter. It was admitted that slaves were commonly sold at this market. Gori, with some other towns, as Akoka, Atshira, Egbu, and Area, were said to form an independent state, which, however, was contradicted the following morning, and it was fully proved that the Attah was their sovereign. These towns pay an annual tribute to the King ot the Filatahs of 360,000 cowries, and to the Attah one horse. The Attah may levy troops at Gori; and in seasons of distress they call upon Attah for help. Aduku, son of the Attah, proclaimed the law his father had made relative to the abolition of the Slave Trade to the Headman, Mallam, Judge, King’smouth, Chief Messenger, and principal people of the town.
The chief Mallam stated that 50 cowries were paid for each man, on the canoes visiting Gori market, to the Headman; and another statement was that only salt paid duty, each bag 50 cowries. It was said that five slaves had been sold at Gori on the day before our arrival.
The three slaves which were liberated were purchased at Egga. Two statements respecting the price paid for them:- 1. The healthiest and strongest woman cost 40,000 cowries; and the other two 20,000 each. 2. He paid for all three six muskets, a keg of powder, and three fathoms of red cloth. The value either way may be about 5l. for three persons.
Bezzani. - A miserable town on the left bank of the river, containing about 200 inhabitants, speaking the Nufi language, tributary to the Filatahs. Kinami on the right bank of the river, subject to the King of the Filatahs by right of conquest, pays an annual tax of 20,000 cowries, and payment is rigidly exacted from them by the King’s messengers, the people being often obliged to sell their own clothes or agricultural implements; a deficiency is made up by taking some as slaves to Rabba. There are no slaves exposed for sale at Kinami, if they want any they purchase them at Egga, where a slave market is held every fifth day.
Domestic slaves are kept in every village, and their condition differs little from that of their own proprietors. No other punishment can be inflicted by their masters for any offence than that of flogging; in case the slave endeavours to make his escape he may be sold, or if he commits theft or other offences more than once he may be sold also. Mutilation is not allowed. If a slave commits murder his punishment is death, and his master is fined in cowries; but if a master should kill a slave he would not be liable to capital punishment, but fined in money. The population of Kinami may be said to be about 1,000 or 1,100. The district, of which Kinami is one of the principal towns, is called Bushi,* commencing on the right bank opposite Bachinku, and extending as far as Egga, comprising about 40 towns or villages, the inhabitants of which are said to amount to about 30,000. They are an industrious people, make many country clothes, the wearing of which is excellent considering the rude instruments. The cotton is purchased from the Nufi people on the left bank, where the soil is better for its growth. Little is grown in the Bushi district. They commence planting it after the first fall of rain, and five months afterwards it is fit for use. The value of a bag, containing about one lb. and a-half with the seeds in, is 400 cowries, or about 6d. English. They collect a little bees’ wax, grow generally much rice; this year’s crop has been spoiled by the unusual height to which the river has risen. They have not much ivory, having no means of killing the elephants or taming them. They are said to be numerous in the neighbourhood. They sell yams, sheep, and goats at Egga and other towns; obtain their salt from Dohma, the Rabba people are said to get it from Yauri, to which place it is said to be brought from the interior of the Haussa country. The price of a bag, before described, is said to be 1,100 cowries, but I am afraid that this statement cannot be correct.
* The Nufi language is spoken in this district.
Their religion a mixture of Mahomedanism and Paganism.
They can marry as many wives as they are able to purchase, the average price of one is 20,000 cowries; this sum is paid to the parents of the young woman, whose consent is never required, the payment of the money, and eating and drinking together, constitutes the whole marriage ceremony. The wife thus acquired may be sent away again by her husband, but cannot be sold as a slave by him. The Fulatahs marry Nufi women, but never give their daughters in marriage to Nufi men. The Fulatahs appear to observe the laws of the Koran as regards the number of wives, and never marry more than four, and their Mallams solemnize the marriage by offering up some prayers. The Mahomedans are also said to offer up prayers at funerals. The natives of Kinami stated likewise that the rainy season was healthier than the dry season, in which they were generally much troubled with those diseases before mentioned.
Egga.- The name of the Chief, Rogang, a Nufi by birth, subject to the King of the Fulatahs. Answer of the Chief to our message - "He was anxious to see the commander of the vessel; that he had heard of our coming before, and was very glad to hear that we had not come to make war but to establish peace, but he was prevented from going on board from fear of the Fulatahs; that the King of the Fulatahs would soon hear of it, and as he was afraid of the white people he would say, - Ah, Rogang has joined the white people, and as soon as the white people had returned he would have to suffer for it. He had heard before that our objective was to abolish the Slave Trade, and that as far as he was concerned he was quite willing to do it, but would do nothing until his King had done something in favour of the measure. He plainly told us that the Fulatahs would not like it, and that God alone was able to bring it to pass. He hates the Fulatahs, and would be glad if they could be stopped in their ravages. My endeavours to prevail on him to let us see the slaves proved ineffectual. The report of the liberation of three a few days before had reached his ears, and he said, as we had taken them, we might also take others. It was fully explained to him under what circumstances they had been taken, and that the agreement had been broken by the Attah’s people, by which he was fully satisfied that the people were in the wrong. There were only a few Fulatahs present at the opening of the interview, and none in the private yard of the Chief.
There are no less than about 200 country looms employed in various places of Egga, sometimes as many as ten in one yard or open space; the looms are extremely simple, though the cloth made is very narrow, only about three inches wide; some quite white, others striped white, blue, and red; they make them about 50 yards long, and afterwards sow them together to any width or length required. In this simple manner they have the means of providing themselves with clothing; make large and wide tobes of them, which would nearly consume 15 yards of calico. The dye is made by themselves; the blue of indigo, the red of camwood. The latter is beaten to powder in a large wooden mortar by women, while the weaving is principally performed by men. There are sometimes four standing around the mortar with large wooden pestles in their hands, keeping time together, so that from a distance you fancy you hear four persons employed in thrashing corn. The powder thus obtained is mixed with clay, and made up into balls of the size of our English apple, and exposed to the sun to dry, and afterwards used, chiefly by females, to ornament their skin. The mode of applying it is this - the hand is made moist and then reddened by the ball, and smeared all over the body. I am told that it is not merely used as an ornament, but as a medicine too. The earthen country pots, of which they possess an enormous quantity, have the appearance from a distance of solid cast iron, and are used as cooking vessels. No real iron pots were observed. (Along the coast I have always observed that iron pots are most readily purchased by the natives.) Their earthen pots cannot be very strong, as heaps of them are seen broken in almost every corner; sometimes broken pieces are used for paving the floors of their houses, and they improve the houses much. I observed one single oyster-shell only exposed for sale; no white lime can therefore be procured in the country, as neither lime-stones nor oyster-shells can be found.
The market was inferior to Gori market. Some European beads, and a piece of handkerchiefs, were the only European articles that I noticed. Besides these mentioned at Gori market, I may mention, as having seen here, gunpowder, several horses, and 15 slaves, three of them were children under eight years of age, and 12 were grown-up women; very little rice, some raw and some red silks, said to have come from the Haussa country. No fire arms exposed for sale. Swords made in the country were seen (of iron); a great abundance of spears, and bows and arrows. The slaves before mentioned were said to have been taken in war by the Fulatahs; the grown-up persons are said to sell at 40,000 and the children at 20,000 cowries.
The town is the largest we have visited on the banks of the river; the population may with safety be said to be 8000. The Nufi language is the language of the country and town, though many other languages are spoken and understood, as Yaraba, (the capital of Yaruba, Katanga, is said to be 15 days journey distant from Egga), Haussa, Fulatah, Bornou, Eggarra, Kakanda, and others; people of many of these nations are joined with the Fulatahs, some by their own choice, others by force. The houses of Egga are a little belter than those of Iddah, all of a conical shape; the walls of clay mixed with grass to render it more cohesive, and about 15 inches thick, some only six, and some are painted with indigo, which improves the houses much, and if the colour could be made brighter, it would be as good as English paint. There are sometimes two walls built for the same house, and the outer wall, about two feet distant from the inner, forms a kind óf piazza, and is calculated to keep the inside dry and cool. They would improve the buildings much more if they were built at a greater distance from the dwelling house, and if a few windows or air holes were made in them. The houses have generally only one door; windows in any shape are not yet introduced. The town is, as much as I could perceive, entirely surrounded by water at this season of the year, and the swamps around it appear to extend to a considerable distance. These places may become quite dry in the dry season, but the healthiness of the place will not be improved by it; on the contrary, it is the unanimous opinion of all of whom I could inquire, that the mortality amongst the natives is sometimes very great when the river is in its lowest state. The stench arising at certain places is horrible, for reasons which I do not know how to express in language without offending the ears even of the deaf.
The people at Egga, not including strangers, differ in nothing from those below, as regards religion; the same mixture of Paganism and Mahomedanism exists. It is true fewer charms and other superstitions are observed than in the countries below Iddah. I was in the Mallam’s house, who had several Arabic books beautifully written, but he could not read them himself; others who read them fluently do not understand the tenth part of what they are reading.
It appears not that the number of domestic slaves is as great as has been stated, bearing a proportion of three to one freeman; and as there is little ground under cultivation, proper employment could perhaps not be found for them. The Egga people seldom make or purchase slaves of their own, that is, the Nufi nation, and prefer purchasing such "who do not know their mother’s house," that is whose native countries are far away, and whose escape is rendered difficult. The description given of the condition of domestic slaves is so favourable that I at first doubted its correctness, and inquired of several persons, who always agreed in the main points. The slave is allowed half the time to work for himself, and the other half he must devote to his master’s service, for which he receives food and clothing; both are cheap. The clothing consists of a wrapper around his loins, and the food is chiefly obtained by the labours of the slaves. The slave may sell the produce of his farm after his proprietor has disposed of his own; and if engaged in trading, and employed in the canoes visiting the various market-places, he may have his own articles of commerce and sell them. He is permitted to purchase as many wives as his means will allow, and his offspring are free. This accounts, in some measure, for the continuance of the internal slave trade. If the slave can procure money enough, he frequently purchases his own freedom; after which he may remain unmolested in the town in which he has before been a slave, or return to his own country and nation. A domestic slave is only allowed to be sold when he is guilty of a crime; none taken for the debts of his master, is allowed to be sold out of the country.
Egga pays an annual tribute of 400,000 cowries to Sumo Sariki, and a still larger sum is squeezed from them in various other ways, and on many pretences, chiefly by fines for alleged offences. They only paid 50,000 cowries to the former king of the Nufi country. Sumo Sariki is said to allow his soldiers to sell or reap the profit of half the number of slaves they catch; it can therefore be no matter of surprise that they should be so zealous in their iniquitous pursuits.
The custom of painting their eyelids black with lead, much prevails in this part of the country. It gives the eyes a gentle appearance, and illustrates several passages of Scripture, as Jer. iv. 30, 2 Kings ix. 30. Compare the original. The beauty is lost in the English translation, which renders eye - face. Another ornament is used by them very frequently, the nails of their fingers are dyed red with the juice of a leaf, called in Nufi and Haussa Lalleh, in Arabic, Hanna, or Herma.
Nufi Kings. - Majia or Mamajia, and Ederisa or Ezu-Issa. The former residing at Lukuma, a town about one day’s journey beyond Rabba; the latter at Barra, about one day’s journey above Egga. It appears that about 23 years ago, Masa, King of the Nufi country, died; when a contest arose about the person who should be his successor. His son Majia laid claim to the throne, and likewise Jamala, son of the eldest daughter of Masa, and nephew of Majia. Majia called upon the Fulatahs for assistance; Jamala was killed, but his son Issa continued the contest for some time. The country was then divided between the two contending parties, and the title of King was allowed to each, while both became tributary to Sumo Sariki, King of the Fulatahs.
Ederisa is not used correctly; he cannot be called King Ederisa, Ezu, or Ezur (I am not sure that the r is heard), means King in the Nufi language; Issa is his proper name: instead, therefore, of spelling it Ederisa, it ought, in my opinion, to be spelt Ezu-Issa or Ezuer-Issa.
Majia is more frequently heard; Mamajia, abridged for Mallam Majia.
The name given to the King of the Fulatahs in common conversation is Sumozaki, or Sumor Sakki; it may be that Sumo is his proper name, and that Sariki or Saliki, meaning King in the Haussa language, is his title; as Sumo, the King; and Sumo Sariki would be the correct way of spelling it.
Message to Sumo Sariki sent from Egga, That the Commissioners were at present prevented from seeing him, on account of illness and the falling of the river, that they expected to return and see him next year, and deliver their message from the Queen of England to him; that the chief business they had come for was to prevent the exportation of slaves, and establishing a commercial intercourse between these countries and Great Britain. A drawing was sent to him of the vessels composing the Niger Expedition, and a present as a sign of their friendly feeling towards him. He was informed too that the English had made a settlement at Addu Kudu, and was requested not to allow his warriors to come near that place.
Sumo Sariki is the son of Mallam Dendo, and grandson of Sultan Bello. The chief Mallam’s name of Rabba is said to be Musa, in common conversation called Mamusa, abridged for Mallam Musa. Audi Bossu is the head of the department of war. Mamadu, an influential person, a brother and favourite of the King Aliluh, is said to be King of Sokoto in place of his father. Bello Alibah is King of Yariba. Seita ojr Sita, King of Illoring, or Illorin, on the maps usually Alorie. His right is disputed by the Yaruba people, and he can only be called King of the party joining the Fulatahs.
According to information received, there is a river called Gindi, flowing from Sokoto, and emptying itself in the Niger, at a town called Gomba, situated on the left hand of the river. Our informant told us that the Albert might go in the rainy season to within three day’s journey from Sokoto; and canoes can always go from Yauri to Sokoto in 15 days; and canoes can pass at any season of the year from Rabba to Yauri.
Rogang, the Chief of Egga, through whom the present and message was sent to Sumo Sariki, expressed himself pleased with the message and present, thought it was very well that a message was sent to him, as Sumo Sariki might otherwise have suspected that Rogang had prejudiced the minds of the Commissioners against the King; he wished they might recover their health soon, and return ere long; that the river would be high enough again for the vessels to ascend about seven months hence. Rogang stated there were rocks in the Niger between Boussa and Rabba, over which the waters fall. Canoes cannot get over them when the river is at its highest, or at its lowest state; consequently people always travel by land, and get their goods carried from one place to another. Rogang was requested to send a man with us down the river, who might show us the various villages and tell us their names, but all were afraid of being taken to the sea; and as he had none acquainted with the various places whom he could command to do it, he regretted that he could not oblige us in this instance.
The Egga people get their cotton from the opposite shore where a considerable quantity is grown. Kogang would like it much if the English would make an establishment on the opposite shore; but thinks Sumo Sariki should first be consulted, though he does not anticipate that Sumo Sariki would raise an objection even if it should be commenced without his previous consent.
Kakanda is the name of a small district, comprising five or six towns, besides Buddu, which has hitherto been called Kakanda on the maps or charts. The same tribe or nation speaking the Kakanda language is called Shabi by the Egarra people; and by the Nufi people Kakanda. The Attah of Iddah became King of this district about four years ago, and receives an annual tribute from it of one horse. (This cannot mean that the Attah had only obtained the sovereignty of this district four years ago, but must refer to the present Attah’s coming to the throne, since they stated that they had been in the habit of paying this tribute to the Attah "from the beginning of the world.") The Fulatahs had been in the town of Buddu only three months ago, but as they agreed to pay them an annual tribute of 100,000 cowries, of which Riggido, a village just opposite Buddu, pays a proportionate sum, the Fulatahs took no slaves and killed nobody. Every Fulatah was armed with a musket. They had plenty of swords, spears, bows and arrows, and a great number of horses. In case payment is not made, the Fulatahs pay themselves by capturing and carrying away as slaves whoever happens to fall first into their hands; and the towns can never enter into any agreement with them as regards the number or individuals that should be taken. The friends and relatives of those taken as slaves always endeavour to ransom them by purchase from the Fulatahs, and such cases of ransom deserve the notice of the English cruisers.
The Attah had faithfully published the law of the abolition of the Slave Trade at Buddu. They all admitted that Buddu had before been a great slave-market, but that they had given up selling any, since the King had made a law to that effect. They possess domestic slaves, but are not allowed to sell any of them, nor to purchase others for their own work.
The Buddu people grow no cotton, purchase all from the opposite shore, which is subject to the Fulatahs to a considerable extent in land.
The Kakanda people deny having ever practised human sacrifices. They confirmed the statement so often mentioned, that the dry season was the unhealthiest season of the year.