William Edward Oswell.

William Cotton Oswell, hunter and explorer; the story of his life, with certain correspondence and extracts from the private journal of David Livingstone, hitherto unpublished; (Volume 2) online

. (page 1 of 21)
Online LibraryWilliam Edward OswellWilliam Cotton Oswell, hunter and explorer; the story of his life, with certain correspondence and extracts from the private journal of David Livingstone, hitherto unpublished; (Volume 2) → online text (page 1 of 21)
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X,AST POKTRAIX



CONTENTS OF VOL. II.

CHAPTER X.

ENGLAND.
1852 — 1853. AGE 34—35.

FAGI

John as a coachman — A projected African expedition
'^ abandoned — Letter from Livingstone : ' I should have
^ burst into a regular roar'; 'an unruly dissenter '; ' I
t won't smuggle '• — La Societe de Geographie de Paris
^ award Oswell medal for discovery of Ngami — London
\,^ Missionary Society's recognition of his assistance to
Livingstone — Letter from Brooke Cunliffe : ' Gum-
ming exaggerated;' 'Harris hed intensely;' 'Pro-
fessor Owen's unapproachable paw ' — ' Why doesn't
^"""^ Oswell earn R.G.S.'s gold medal by publishing ?' —
He destroys his African journals — Shyness or
chivalry? i — ^^

GHAPTER XL

RETROSPECT OF HIS AFRICAN CAREER, AND THE OPINION OF
HIM HELD BY CONTEMPORARY TRAVELLERS.

Romance of his life — Praise of companions, servants,
natives, dogs, horses, and gun — ' I was a good rider,
but never a crack shot' — Incredible abundance of
game— Sensation at time of accidents— Fascination



v1



CONTENTS OF VOL. II.

PAGE

in recollection — Livingstone, the Fabius of South
African travel — His original view of sport — Gradual,
but complete change — Kafirs' opinion of Oswell's
courage — Mr. Webb's testimony to him — Sir Samuel
Baker's: Nimrod par excellence; pioneer of civiliza-
tion II — 25



CHAPTER XII.

PARIS, CONSTANTINOPLE, CRIMEA.
1853 — 1855. AGE 35—37.

Death of Edward Oswell — The Crimea — Oswell carries
despatches and secret service money for Lord Raglan
— An incident of the ride — Meets John — Present at
the Battle of the Alma — In the trenches ; composure
under fire — Assists surgeons — Strange story of mes-
meric seance — Resolves to visit America - - 26—38



CHAPTER XIII.



NORTH AND SOUTH AMERICA AND WEST INDIES.
1855 — 1856. AGE 37—38.

A lady passenger on board the Tyne, and a very gentle-
manly man — A cup of kindness — Monsignore Talbot
- — The north coast of South America — From Colon to
Panama with Colonel Totten — Wonders of the
journey — Steams down the west coast to Valparaiso
- — Description of ports touched at — Influence of the
physical geography of a country on its inhabitants —
Two thousand miles of coast without a harbour — ' One
of your sincerest friends ; try me if need be '- — Mr. and
Mrs. Lees — A most happy month at Nassau — Niagara
— Miss Bremer's books — Interesting appreciation of
America and Americans — Return to England - 39 — 50



CONTENTS OF VOL. II. vii

CHAPTER XIV.

ENGLAND.
1856— 1860. AGE 38—42.

PAGE

Mrs. Beecher Stowe— Miss Rivaz's family— A loan with-
out security— Cheerful acceptance of disappointments
—Livingstone's return— Success of his book— Livmg-
stone writes from the Shire River a year's doings-
Colonel Steele—' My cousin Kate '—Bishop Wilber-
force's climax and anti-climax marvels— Lord Spencer
—'My South African spoils '—Another letter from
Livingstone : ' it's your own idea that I am bent on
carrying out ' — Between two stools — Cousin Kate's
legacy— Date of wedding fixed— Benjamin Cotton's
congratulations — John as a butler — Letter from
Francis Kivaz - - - - J



CHAPTER XV.

i860— 1865. AGE 42—47.

Home-life and occupations— British Association— Letter
to Rev. W. G. Tozer in defence of Livingstone—
' And is this my mistress ?'— Death of John— Return
of Livingstone— Correspondence with Oswell— Col-
laboration in ' Zambesi and its Tributaries '—Living-
stone's humour: irrigating a dispensation of Provi-
dence ; popular recipe for likeness of a black man ;
'my face wrinkled like a gridiron;' 'I feel like a-
cussin' and a-swearin' dreadful '—Dedication of the
book— Suggestive note by Oswell—' He always did
what was brave, and true, and right '-Livingstone
describes his mother's death-His love for Oswell-
' And yet we never show it ' - - - - " 69—89



viii CONTENTS OF VOL. II.

CHAPTER XVL

1865 — 1869. AGE 47 51.

PAGE

Letters from Livingstone from Marseilles and Bombay — •
' My adopted one ' — Lady Baker — ^Anxiety as to the
fate of Livingstone — Letters to Miss Livingstone and
Sir Roderick Murchison — E. W. Cooke, R.A., and
his family — African trophies restored — A tusk for the
Irish Famine Fund — Defence of Sir Samuel Baker —
Presence of mind in illness — Livingstone writes from
Lake Bangweolo- — -His indignation at ' Instructions '
of R.G.S. — His death falsely reported — ^Oswell's
letters to Miss Livingstone : ' I will come from the
end of the earth if you want me ' - - - 90 — 104

CHAPTER XVH.

1869— 1873. AGE 51 — 55.

Building of Hillside — Uncarted — Franco-German War —
Long letters from Livingstone as to Nile sources —
His admiration of the pluck of Miss Tinne — First
day at Hillside — ' Your old friend Thomas Steele ' —
Livingstone writes finally from Tanganyika about
the Nile sources — Professor Owen on sucking bones
— British Association at Brighton — ' Stanley a very
plucky fellow ' — Oswell reads lessons in church —
'You quitted yourself uncommon well' — Sudden
death of Sir John Lees - - - 105 — 121

CHAPTER XVHI.

1873 1878. AGE 55 — 60.

Keen interest in work and play of his sons at school —
Love of classics — Death of ' Everybody's uncle ' ; his
personality and home — Identification of Livingstone's



CONTENTS OF VOL. II.



I'AGE



body ; his funeral — An estimate of his motives and
character — Oswell's lov-e of geology — Harris's
' Africa ' ; ' where he left off shooting, I began ' — ■
Refusal to edit Livingstone's 'Last Journals' — 'I
was put into Pindar and Theocritus when I was
twelve ' — Weston the walker — The moral and physical
uses of boxing — An awful example — Invites and
promises openness — Worse troubles from curiosity
and ignorance than from knowledge — ' Are you Hand-
some Oswell ?' — Admiral Englefield's chest, biceps,
and calves — Never use cribs — Verses a mistake —
Thanks for good reports — ' Don't work too hard ' —
Minnie — ' Cheeky to the French master ' — Visit to
Haileybury — Tone of a school safeguard of boys —
Kaleidoscopic education — Lister and carbolic spray —
Physics better than physic — Death of Francis Rivaz
— An extract from his diary — Sir George Nares :
' boy or girl ?' — Prizes rewards of spurts — Gain at
school hahit of working and doing — Lord Stratford de
Redcliffe : ' a most extraordinary old man' - 122 — 150



CHAPTER XIX.

1878 1885. AGE 60 — 67.

Afghan War — India not lovingly attached to English rule
— Death of Tullie Cornthwaite : what he was and did
— Noah's Ark animals — Public speaking : English-
man speaks anyhow or nohow — Courage and tactics
of Zulus — -Visit to W. Egerton Hubbard — Death of
E. W. Cooke — He said he was the Duke of Welling-
ton — Sir Woodbine Parish and Congress of Vienna
— Greek Iambics — M. de la Moriniere — 'Hang
theology ' Rogers — A generous conception of 'Varsity
• life and expenditure — A graceful acknowledgment of
a photograph — A father's letters to his sons — ' Life of
Bishop Patteson ' — Visit to Oxford — The Australian
match — 'Summer in the Arctic Regions' — The 1843



CONTENTS OF VOL. II.

PAGE

comet — Lord Shaftesbury's advice — French plums —
James Nasmyth — A versatile Bishop — Sojourn in
Guernsey — Conflicting claims — Death of Mr. Hub-
bard — 'That excellent fellow, Dr. Acland ' - 151 — 176



CHAPTER XX.

1885 — 1890. AGE 67 72.

Knight-errantry in doing good — Not forgetful to entertain
strangers — Silver Wedding — Dulverton — Home Rule
Bill — The work of the world is done by screws —
Ormonde's Derby — Symond's Yat — Life happier
when acquaintances fewer — Bank clerks — Coventry
Patmore — Jolly in a cottage — The sweet sense of pro-
viding — Popularity at Oxford — Helping lame dogs
over stiles — The little horn — Accepting help to pro-
vide luxuries — Death of a faithful old servant — A sick
grandchild — The Magniacs of Colworth — The
pleasure of helping — ' Not much of a man for indica-
tions ' — Modern weddings — Missions — Long engage-
ments — ' Wanny ' — Lewin Hill - - - 177—



199



CHAPTER XXI.

1890 — 1892. AGE 72 — 74.

Sir Samuel Baker — For Livingstone's sake — Delight in
garden — ''It's 'is 'obby ' — 'The most enthusiastic
welcome' at Sandford Orleigh — A noble-looking,
splendid-charactered old lady — Dean Cowley Powles
— ' The pleasantest seaside town I know ' — Things
never so bright as hoped for — Vicarious sacrifice not
fair to victim — Aptitude for language — Master and
servant : give and take, and no worry — Letter from
Baker : ' buy a ream of foolscap, a box of J pens and
a gallon of ink, and write a book ' — Lowering franchise



CONTENTS OF VOL. 11. xi

PAGE

undue influence to masses — Sir Harry Johnston — The
Stanley Expedition — The submerged tenth — Riding
friends' horses — Missing the dead — Mr. Webb of
Newstead — Johnston's ' Life of Livingstone and the
Exploration of Central Africa ' — Suggested article in
' Badminton ' Series — Baker's advice and encourage-
ment — Mr. Rudston-Read — Letter from a school-
fellow of sixty years previously — Kind to the Devil — ■
Baker withdraws his article — Correspondence with
him — Oswell's views on Mashonaland, slave-trade and
Boers — An extract from Livingstone's Journal- 200 — 230



CHAPTER XXH.

1892— 1893. AGE 74—75.

A trip regardless of expense — Oswell gives his wife
advance copy of ' Badminton ' article — A splendid
triumvirate — Herr Pauer — ' Good friends for over
forty years ' — A seaman orphan — ' Now is the time
for a Bonapartist ' — Democracy in England — ' Bring
them all up Romans ' — Thoughtful kindnesses-^Last
illness — ' My ideal gentleman ' — Death- - 231 — 238



CHAPTER XXHL
His friends' farewell — Their letters and memorials - 239 — 245

CHAPTER XXIV.

CHARACTERISTIC EXTRACTS FROM THE CORRESPONDENCE
AND PERSONAL REMINISCENCES OF WILLIAM COTTON
OSWELL 246 266



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS IN VOL. II.



LAST PORTRAIT OF WILLIAM COTTON oswELL - Frontispiece

OBVERSE MEDAL - - - 4

REVERSE MEDAL - - - 4

' SEVEN DIFFERENT KINDS OF ANIMALS WERE WITHIN
VIEW . . . ; TOGETHER THERE COULD NOT HAVE

BEEN FEWER THAN THREE THOUSAND' - - I3
' I CAME UPON A HERD OF AT LEAST FOUR HUNDRED

ELEPHANTS ' - - - - - ' ^7

OSWELL's FAVOURITE GUN - - - - 24

MOSQUE IN CONSTANTINOPLE PREPARED FOR WAR - 27
JOHN STOOD BY MY STIRRUP - - - "30

LORD Raglan's quarters at Constantinople - -31

THE composure OF OSWELL WHEN UNDER FIRE - 34

THE CAMP AT SCUTARI, WITH THE BARRACKS IN THE

DISTANCE - - - - - -35

MISS AGNES RIVAZ IN 1 855 - - - - 4O

DR. LIVINGSTONE IN 1865 - - - [faClUg) 82

HILLSIDE - - - - - - -115

BENJAMIN COTTON . . - - - 126

SIR SAMUEL BAKER . - - - - 20I

OX-HORNS - - - - 254

MEMORIAL TABLET . - - -



266



WILLIAM COTTON OSWELL



CHAPTER X.

ENGLAND.
1852-1853. AGE 34-35.

John as a coachman— A projected African expedition abandoned
— Letter from Livingstone ; ' I should have burst into a
regular roar ;' ' an unruly dissenter ;' ' I won't smuggle ' —
La Societe de Geographie de Paris award Oswell medal
for discovery of Ngami — ^ London Missionary Society's
recognition of his assistance to Livingstone— Letter from
Brooke Cunliffe ; ' Gumming exaggerated ;' ' Harris lied
intensely ;' ' Professor Owen's unapproachable paw ' —
' Why doesn't Oswell earn R.G.S.'s gold medal by pub-
lishing?' — He destroys his African journals — Shyness or
chivalry ?

' On arriving in England,' writes Oswell, ' I left John in
London and went down to my brother's. He hesitated
about my henchman, thinking a real, live black man
would hardly suit the household of a country clergy-
man. But his coachman fell sick. Could John drive ?
I should think so, he was the best eight- in -hander
in Cape Town ! Down he came, and in half an hour
was perfectly established in the family. My brother
declared he never had such a coachman, and was very
kind to him, timidly at first. The cook taught him
VOL. IL ^°



2 WILLIAM COTTON OSWELL

writing ; the lady's-maid went on with his reading. I shall
not forget meeting him with the two women, one on either
arm, chatting with them in the most accomplished style.'
It had been Oswell's intention to remain in England
for eight or nine months and then return to Africa, and
in conjunction with Livingstone, carry out the project
which, for the reasons detailed, had been temporarily aban-
doned in the preceding year. But he found his brother
very ill, and craving for his companionship, affection and
support, and accordingly he made up his mind, for the
present at all events, to put any thought of Africa aside.
He sent John back after a six months' sojourn, giving him
a letter for Livingstone, announcing his decision and the
grounds of it. Meanwhile Livingstone's account of events
since his friend's departure had arrived :



' Cape Town,

^ April 27, 1852.

* . . . Mrs. L. and family sailed only on the 23rd inst.
on board the Trafalgar, Captain Robertson. She seems
a fine ship, and the company on board appear respect-
able, so I committed my cares to their keeping for a while.
The children got colds just before embarking. It was
only with the greatest difficulty I could restrain my sor-
row in parting ; had I given way in the least, I should
have burst into a regular roar. . . . Mr. Thompson
pressed me so much to give him something to read to
his people, I at last consented, and gave him the rough
copy of the letter to the Geographical Society, and after
reading it to his people he put it into the Commercial
Advertiser. I put a preface to it as to what we had done
in opening up a market for commerce on the Zouga and
Sesheke, and in it I told the dear public that neither you
nor I had gained anything but loss. I know you don't like
me to say anything about you, but what else can you expect
from an unruly dissenter ! I hear nothing of the map



ENGLAND 3

which I sent from the Zouga along with yours, I fear it
has shared the same fate as yours. I made enquiries after
yours at the Postmaster General's, and he told me it had
not yet arrived. . . . Another thing detains me here—
permission to take what powder I need, and three guns.
Mr. Darling said I must apply to the Governor as I passed
through Graham's Town, and he had no doubt but
General Cathcart would grant it. He thought that my
route runs through Caffreland, evidently. I would much
rather not have had anything to do with these bigwigs,
but I must have some powder, and I won't smuggle. If
the answer does not come down by next mail I shall go
without powder, but it is rather hard seeing I shall remain
two years in. Shall I see you? Please do write if you
think of coming in from either coast. Only think ! Cap-
tain Tuckey gives a vocabulary of the dialects on the river
Zaire, and among many others which we know, there
stands staring at us Mokanjui's favourite Mabotabota
with very little alteration. . . . Your cook George Flem-
ing proposes to go up country on his own account some
months hence. Mr. Rutherford seems to approve of the
plan and so I think will give him goods to trade with.
... If you wish it I might detain George for you sup-
posing you came from the West. I shall certainly try
either the East or the West coast. I hope you found
your brother better in health. I shall write to you in
going up, and again when I get in. I entreat you to
write soon.'

Not only did Oswell make no bid for popular recogni-
tion, but he was at elaborate pains to keep entirely in the
background, and persistently refused the applications
which rained in upon him for lectures, articles and papers.
It was therefore a surprise and gratification to him to
receive the following letter, and the handsome medal
that accompanied it, from La Societe de Geographic de
Paris :

18-2 .



WILLIAM COTTON OSWELL



(Translation.)



23, RUE DE l'UniVERSITE,

' Paris,

' April 5, 1852.



' Sir,



* The Geographical Society of Paris, at a general
meeting on Friday, the 2nd inst,, heard read the Report
presented to them by M. Jomard in the name of the
Committee appointed to adjudicate in the competition
for the annual prize for the most important discovery
in Geography. This Committee, which was charged
with the duty of directing its investigations principally
to the journeys of discovery undertaken in the course
of the year 1849, has reported most favourably on the





OBVERSE MEDAL.



REVERSE MEDAL.






important results of your last exploration in the interior
of Africa. Agreeably with the conclusions of this Report,
the Society has awarded you a large silver medal for
your discovery of Lake Ngami. A similar medal has been
awarded to your learned fellow traveller, the Reverend
David Livingstone. We hasten to forward you this
medal ; pray accept it as a token of our hearty interest
in your useful labours, and as some small recompense of



ENGLAND 5

your enlightened zeal for the progress of Geographical
Science.

*We have the honour to offer you, sir, with our most
sincere congratulations, the assurance of our most dis-
tinguished consideration.

* Ae. Mathieu,
' Rear - Admiral and President of the
Society.

' Sedillor,

' Secretary of the Society.

' W. P. GUIGNIANT,

' Member of the Institute and President
of the Central Committee.

' De la Roquette,
' General Secretary of the Central Com-
mittee.'

The London Missionary Society too, feeling that the
constant assistance rendered to their representative ought
not to pass unnoticed, sent him, through their foreign
secretary, the following courteous and grateful acknow-
ledgment :

Dr. Tidman to W. C. Oswell.

' Mission House,

' Blomfield Street,

' FiNSBURY,

'July ID, 1852.
'Sir,

' Having only ver}' recently learnt from Mrs. Living-
stone your present address, I avail myself of the earliest
opportunity for making the present communication. In
the successive journeys undertaken by the Rev. Dr. Living-
stone in South Africa, with a view to the extension of
Missionary operations in a Northerly direction, beyond the



6 WILLIAM COTTON OSWELL

limits hitherto reached by foreigners, you have rendered
such generous and efficient aid to our excellent and devoted
friend, that the Directors of the London Missionary
Society feel constrained to express to you their deep sense
of obligation. It would be unnecessary on the present
occasion to discuss the various objects of interest and
importance, both scientific and philanthropic, which are
involved in the ultimate results of these arduous under-
takings. That the cause of Science as well as the highest
social interests of humanity will be promoted by the
energetic and successful efforts of yourself and your com-
panion in travel, the Directors cannot entertain a doubt.
. . . But for your valuable services, of which Dr. Living-
stone has in his correspondence repeatedly expressed his
very grateful appreciation, our Missionary would scarcely
have ventured upon enterprises involving so much peril
and responsibility, or, if undertaken, they must have failed
to realize the measure of success which has attended them.
Did not feelings of delicacy both to yourself and Dr.
Livingstone restrain us from adverting more particularly
to many acts of disinterestedness and generosity rendered
by you to your fellow traveller, thereby relieving him from
much anxiety, it would have been gratifying to have made
them the subject of special reference and acknowledgment.
. . . Allow me to repeat in the name of the Directors of
the London Missionary Society the expression of their
cordial thanks for your great and valuable services ren-
dered in the prosecution of these arduous undertakings,
and with ev^ery sentiment of respect and esteem
' I remain, sir,

' Yours very truly,

'Arthur Tidman, D.D.'

Dr. Tidman acquainted Livingstone with the action of
the Society, and in his next despatch to them, written
from the banks of the Zouga, and dated November 2,
1852, he says : ' The notice taken of Mr. Oswell by the



ENGLAND 7

Directors has been highly gratifying to my feehngs.
By a letter from Mrs. L. I find he is still anxious to
befriend us.'

Meanwhile Oswell was being urged on all sides, by
relatives, friends, and from official sources, to write an
account of his wanderings :

Brooke Cunlijfe, H.E.I.C.S., to W. Cotton Oswell.

' Madras,

^Sept.g, 1852.

' . . . I was very glad to hear from you, though as our
old master Ashton would say, "place not mentioned."
You would indeed "amuse me for half an hour," and a
good deal longer, by recounting your adventures, but now
I do trust that you are not going to bury them in your
own breast, but that you will give them to the world.
Interesting they will be, and more than that, decidedly
useful in extending our knowledge of this fair globe.
You should get into the Travellers' ; indeed, they should
make you an Honorary Member for all that you have
seen and gone through. I know your dislike of coming
BeiKTtKM^ before the world, but really it has become your
duty now to communicate your knowledge to others. I
have only dipped here and there into Cumming's book,
and did not like the style: "Come now, softly old girl,
take it easy," to the lioness that confronted him, k. t. \.
I am told that he was given to exaggerate too, and it is
now pretty well confessed that Harris lied intensely ; so
that we want, what we shall get if you undertake it, a fair
relation. However, if you intend to remain silent, pray
give me a few lines shewing the extent of your travels m
latitude, etc., that I may dot you off on the map. Did
you see any new animal, any Megaloceros Oswellii, or
Dinornis Cottonii, or Megatherium GiUielmi, or bring any-
thing to book for the first time ? If you have brought
any rpoTraia or reliquicB home, I suppose you have taken



8 WILLIAM COTTON OSWELL

means to bring them before the world. Richard Owen

is long ahead of anyone else, and has a paw which in

clutching a femur, or manipulating the nerves and

muscles of a scorpion (see one thus treated, which I sent

home, in the College of Surgeons), is unapproachable.

You must make his acquaintance, and learn what gigantic

knowledge goes hand in hand with most unassuming

manners and modesty. ... If you don't return to

Africa, and are determined to wander again, why not try

Upper India ? there's much delight and much sport and

many an undiscovered nook in Nepal, the Terai and the

lower ranges of the glorious Himalaya; after which you

can revel in the Snowy Range. The scenery is beautiful, , ' •

and I know not whither I would rather go, if indepen- .^j

dence, time and the wherewithal, would only favour me. ^\

I am afraid there is nothing worth your acceptance in

this Presidency. The Neilgherries have been almost

cleared out, except on the Koondahs, and there again

you want the diversity of game existing towards the

North. Elephants too are getting scarce ; the fear they

once shed around has passed away, and any young fellow • j

who has passed a year or two in Coimbatoor, Madura or

Tinnevelly now thinks it no great thing to bag his tusker

from out the herd of females. You say you regret, on

the whole, having left the service. You may be right,

but in truth promotion is so slow and the duties in such

petty detail and of such a tontine nature, that for my part

I cannot think you have lost anything it would be desirable

to retain. Would you willingly return to cutcherry with

the old humdrum of H. of 1816, or the long spun out

yarn regarding the possession of yVths of an acre ?

This too with only one month's holiday out of twelve —

too short to enjoy or execute any plan or excursion. . . .

I still go on with racquets at the Club ; but non sum qualis

eram in the old court of Cuddalore. . . . You see what

a stave I have written you and that I have not forgotten



ENGLAND 9

the days that are past, when we used to go up the Avenue
together, after snipe, or take the dogs out. Now God be


1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21

Online LibraryWilliam Edward OswellWilliam Cotton Oswell, hunter and explorer; the story of his life, with certain correspondence and extracts from the private journal of David Livingstone, hitherto unpublished; (Volume 2) → online text (page 1 of 21)