Abbildungen der Seite

mitted to their charge; and again were the elders of Exeter Hall permitted to sport with the resources of the country and the lives of braver if not better men than themselves.

Never did any previous expedition create such a sensation as that which was prepared in 1841 for the Civilization of Africamagnum opus ! Ample funds were voted by Parliament, in compliance with the wishes of the Prime Minister, for its outfit and maintenance; three iron steamers were built expressly for the service; the flower of the British navy volunteered for the grand undertaking-the officers attracted by the certainty of promotion and renown, the men by the prospect of danger and double pay.

In vain did Macgregor Laird, Jamieson, and other such men, endeavour to expose the absurdity and the impolicy of the attempt; the injury which it would inflict upon the increasing legitimate commerce of Africa with England; and the inevitable mortality which awaited the unnecessarily large white crews of the steamers thus dispatched up the Niger at the very season described by Mr. Buxton himself (Slave Trade, p. 200) as most fatal to human life. Their remonstrances were unheeded as those of interested meddlers; the little fleet crossed the Atlantic without accident; and having taken on board at Sierra Leone a sufficient number of Kroomen, on the 13th of August, 1841 the Amelia schooner and the Albert and Soudan steamers rolled in heavily over the bar of the Nun mouth of the Niger—were followed on the 15th by the Wilberforce--and began the journey so much dreaded by the people' (Duncan).

One hundred and forty-five white men, and one hundred and fifty-eight blacks—thirty-three of whom were destined to be permanently located on a certain model farm, the materials of which were stowed in the hold of the Amelia-composed the crews of the devoted vessels, which were commanded by Captains Trotter, Bird Allen, and W. Allen, R.N. Their objects appear to have been to penetrate up the river as far as Rabbah,

Rabbah, establishing new commercial relations with those African chiefs or powers within whose dominions the internal slave-trade of Africa is carried on, and the external slave-trade supplied with its victims; the bases of which conventions were to be-first, the abandonment and absolute prohibition of the slave-trade--and, secondly, the admission for consumption in this country, on favourable terms, of goods the produce and manufacture of the territories subject to them' (Lord J. Russell's Letter). They were farther to select a spot, healthy, for Africa' (Buxton), on which to locate the thirty-three poor wretches who had been persuaded to remain and conduct the model farm which was “to promote cultivation, advance civilization, diffuse morality, and induce attention to a pure system of religion


throughout that quarter of the globe. It is not easy to divine by what train of reasoning Mr. Buxton had persuaded Lord John Russell that the idolatrous, polygamic, and rum-bibbing homicides, whom he dignifies with the titles of the Sultans and Kings of Central Africa,' were likely to observe, any longer than was agreeable and profitable to them, treaties which Lord Palmerston had over and over again pronounced, and which it was notorious had proved, to be no better than waste paper when 'employed to restrain the princes of Christian Europe from the same detestable commerce.

The history of the business is a short one. The sources from which we shall condense our sketch of it are · The Medical History of the Niger Expedition,' by Dr. M William, and a brief account lately published in Bentley's Miscellany, by Duncan, the African traveller, who officiated as master-at-arms on board the Albert. On the 15th of August, two days after they entered the Nun, the river-fever struck its first victim.William Bach, the mathematical instrument maker, died.

By the 4th of September, sickness of a most malignant character broke out in the Albert, and almost simultaneously in the other vessels, and abated not until the whole expedition was paralysed.'-M William.

On the 10th of September the four vessels reached the locality sagaciously pointed out for the establishment of the model-farm. In The Remedy' (written after the results of Laird's ascent had been published) these words were actually put forth :

Where the confluence of the Tchadda with the Niger takes place is the spot to erect the capital of our great African establishments. A city built there, under the protecting wings of Great Britain, would ere long become the capital of Africa. Fifty millions of people, yea, even a greater number, would be dependent on it (p. 355). This chosen scene had now been reached. On the Ilth they commenced discharging their · farm-house furniture, carts, ploughs, and harrows, and all sorts of farming implements.' The place they selected had been a large town about two years before, but this had been destroyed by a hostile tribe, the Felatahs. The high rank grass covered the streets, the ruins of the huts, and the gardens. At every step a reptile of some sort was trodden on. After remaining on this eligible site for two days, during which time they buried a man named Powell, they discovered that it was not as well calculated for their settlement as they at first supposed, and therefore, to their great mortification, they were compelled to re-embark all their stores. One mile higher they again landed their farming paraphernalia, including the famous Eglintoun tournament-tent as a tem


porary residence for the farmer and his servants.' But here again death began to make rapid strides :

'We lost,' says Mr. Duncan,' in the Albert alone 7 men in one weck, and had 18 sick. We remained here until the 19th ; during this period, men were falling ill almost every hour, consequently it was determined that all the sick should be placed in one vessel, the Soudan, and sent down the river to Ascencion, although it was very clear that most of them would be consigned to the deep long ere they reached that place. The lamentable and awful spectacle can scarcely be imagined, when on Sunday the 19th, all the sick, or at least those not expected to recover, from all three ships, were crammed on board the Soudan, with very indifferent accommodation, ncarly all being on deck like cattle.

We had still seven men sick, after sending fourteen on board the Soudan ; out of 21 white men, the crew of the Soudan, 19 were dangerously ill. The sick from the three vessels amounted to 40, a great number out of 75 men. It was arranged for the Albert and Wilberforce to proceed up the river the following day, but unfortunately on the afternoon of the 19th and morning of the 20th a great number of the remaining officers and men fell sick. In fact we had scarcely a sufficient number out of both vessels left to take one steamer up the river; consequently it was arranged that the Wilberforce should follow the Soudan, and the Albert proceed up the river.'

During the ascent from the mouth of the Nun to the modelfarm station, the King of Iddahı, one of the Sultans of Central Africa,' with whom anti-slavery treaties were to be concluded, was visited for that purpose by Capt. Trotter.* Arrangements bad been previously made for drawing up the compact between his Majesty and Queen Victoria ; all his ministers and judges were summoned to attend, as also the commissioners of tlie African Society and the officers of the ships composing the expedition. Suitable presents having been selected, the representatives of her Majesty went ashore, and mounted six ponies belonging to his Majesty. Mr. Duncan, master-at-arms of the Albert, attired as a full private of the Life Guards, to which regiment he had formerly belonged, and carrying a union-jack, headed the procession. They entered the imperial tent' by a hole about three and a half feet high, which the ex-Life-Guardsman observes was very awkward for a man of six feet three inches, with cuirass and helmet, particularly with a boarding-pike and flag attached to it.' Here they found the Sultan squatted on a bench, looking very stern, surrounded by his court, and dressed ‘much,' says Duncan, 'like

* Under the head of • Facilities for making Treaties,' Mr. Buxton informed the public, on the authority of Governor Revdall, that thirty-nine kings, including the Almanez of Footah-Jallow and the Sultan of Woolli, had consented to abolish the slavetrade, in consideration of a yearly subsidy of 3001., or about 71. 138. 10d. a-piece.


the Guy Fawkes' effigies in London on the fifth of November. He, however, readily accepted the presents-promised everything they asked, on condition that they should aid him in his squabbles with the neighbouring Kings and Sultans of Central Africa—ceded a portion of his territory to his sister the Queen of England and was very anxious that Mr. Duncan should exchange his helmet for a damaged elephant's tooth. His ministers evinced great delight at being presented with some red nightcaps, spectacles, and needles; and darkness coming on before the completion of this international treaty—(only second in importance and utility to that which Lord John Russell has lately had the good fortune to conclude with the Republic of the Equator)-it was signed and sealed by the light of a bit of calabash saturated with palm-oil, blazing in a British frying-pan, which the King of Iddah was in the habit of using as a candelabrum. That monarch never spoke during the interview, but merely from time to time nodded his woolly head."

On such fool's errands as these were gallant men despatched to certain death, in the nineteenth century, by the Friends of the African and the Government of England.

The Albert hurried onward on her desperate attempt to reach Rabbah. On the 22nd Capt. Bird Allen and Messrs. Fairholme and Webb, mates, sickened. On Sundays they lay at anchor all day, doing nothing but attending divine service,' --and inhaling the miasma.' On one Sunday, the 23rd, says Dr. M William, “the thermometer being at 92° in the coolest part of the ship, service was performed by Mr. Schön; but what with death, with those that had left us at the confluence, and those lying sick around us, the congregation seemed reduced to a mere skeleton of what it had been.' A chief came alongside in the afternoon with three slaves in his canoe. He turned out to be the son of the potentate with whom the expedition had just concluded the anti-slavery treaty at Iddah-a prince who, during Oldfield's visit to his region, had, on the occasion of his brother's death, ensured to the defunct the sincere grief of his family, by administering to his sixty widows a mortal dose, from the effects of which thirty-one died outright, and the twenty-nine who survived were 'grievously griped;' and who had, moreover, admitted having poisoned several of Laird's people. To this murderous savage Capt. Trotter, surrounded by his dying comrades, in pursuance of his instructions, gravely read, in what

The treaty made with the Attah of Iddah has been ratified by Government, ercept that her Majesty declines the sovereignty of any territory in Central Africa, or the proprietary interest in any land agreed by the Altah to be ceded to her Majesty :

-Proceed. ings of the African Civilization Society., VOL. LXXXII. NO, CLXIII.



language we are left to guess, 'the laws relating to slave-dealing, and also his father's treaty abolishing slavery for ever in his dominions !'

On the 3rd of October, being within two days' journey of Rabbah, Capt. Trotter himself was assailed by fever. At that time there remained on board capable of doing duty, Dr. M William, Dr. Stanger, the geologist, Mr. Willie, mate, the sergeant and one private of marines, one seaman, and a hospital-assistant. It was therefore decided that they should proceed no further. Dr. Stanger took charge of the engine, and Dr. M William of the ship, for the mate was compelled to give in that very evening, and all the engineers were either dead or helpless. Two invalids, in despair, cast themselves overboard-one perished. On the 8th, Dr. M William observes, Had we run aground with a falling river at that period, the certain consequences, under all circumstances, were but too dreadful to contemplate. At this time the anxiety of Dr. Stanger and myself for the safety of the vessel, and our mental anguish at seeing nearly all our shipmates in a helpless condition, cannot be expressed.' On the 9th this death. ship reached the confluence of the rivers where the Buxtonian metropolis of African Civilization had been founded, and the Amelia schooner moored. On boarding her, the schoolmaster and the gardener were found in fever in their berths; and on shore, in the Eglintoun tournament-tent, the superintendent lay in a dying state. These, and a few others, who were also sick, they took on board : ' A great many of the coloured people wished to return; but as they had previously volunteered to stop there, they were not allowed to leave' (Duncan). The farm was therefore left without superintendent, farmer, schoolmaster, surgeon, or gardener, in charge of a negro sailor. Mr. Duncan naively remarks, 'I fear the result will not be very favourable.' On the 10th the Albert resumed her race for life to the coast. Mr. Jamieson, of Liverpool, whose remonstrances against the expedition had been so contemptuously disregarded, was proprietor of a small steamer which he employed in the African trade.

He had generously sent out directions to her commander, Mr. Becroft, to render the Queen's steamers in any way in his power the assistance which he foresaw they would require; and that officer, hearing from the crew of the Soudan that the Albert still remained in the river, proceeded at once in Mr. Jamieson's vessel, the Ethiope, in search of her. On the 13th the miserable survivors in the Albert espied with surprise and delight this little steamer coming up the river to meet them. Capt. Becrost promptly sent his engineers on board and piloted them through the intricate shoals obstructing the entrance to the

« ZurückWeiter »