Samuel Abraham Walker.

The Church of England mission in Sierra Leone: including an introductory ... online

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&unner, W. Merriman.




T. K. Terry.




Bnffineer, J. Langlej, Ist CI.


Bnffineer,


W. Johnstone, let.




„ A. Lodge, 2nd CI.


^,


J.Gray8tock,2dCl.


EngvMer, 0. OustalEBon, 1st.


„ J. Brown, 3rd.Cl.


"


O. Oarritte, 3d. CI.


W.Johnson, 2d Ci:



♦ The length on deck of the 'Albert' and * Wilberforce,' was 139 feet 4} inches,
and the breadth between paddles, 27 feet 2 inches. The corresponding dimensions of
the * Soudan' were — ^length 113 feet 4 inches, breadth 22 feet 2 inches, while their
respective tonnage was 459 ^ and 250 ^ tons. The horse power of the engines belonging
to the two former vessels was 70, that of the latter 35, and the draught of water varied in
both respectively from 5 feet 9 inches to 4 feet, and from 3 feet 3 inches, to 2 feet 9 inches.

* All the officers thns marked, with the exception of Mr. Lodge, second engineer of
the •* Albert," who leaped overboard in a fit of delirium, died of the " river fever "
either in the Niger or upon reaching Fernando Po.

i* The officers thus marked were the only ones that escaped the fever. Of the civi-
lians, Dr. Vogel, botanist, died ; and Dr. Stanger, geologist, Commissioner Cook, the
Eev. T. Miiller, and the Rev. J. F. Sch5n escaped the fever.



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SAILING OF THE EXPEDITION. 469

The crews of the three vessels consisted, at their departure from
Engbind, of twenty-one marines, eight sappers and miners, and eighty-
eight seamen and stokers ; of the seamen twenty-four were chiefly
Africans and West Indians.* It was proposed that 120 Kroomenf
should be taken on board at Sierra Leone, and that these should
perform all duties requiring exposure, such as wooding, watering, &c.

The commanders of the ships and Captain Cook (well known for his
skill and humanity in rescuing the crew of the Kent East Indiaman,
when on fire in the Bay of Biscay.) were appointed Her Majesty's
four commissioners for making treaties with the native chiefs for the
abolition of the slave-trade.

The Rev. T. O. Miiller accompanied the expedition as Chaplain.

The following gentlemen connected with ;the various departments of
natural history, were selected by the African Civilization Society i to
take advantage of the opportunity which the expedition afforded, of
investigating the capabilities and resources of the part of Africa which it
should visit : — Dr. Yogel, botanist ; Mr. Roscher, geologist and practical
miner ; Dr. Stanger, geologist ; Mr. Frazer, zoologist ; to whom were
added John Ansell, a practical gardener and seedsman, bringing with him
a selection of the most useful seeds and plants, the use of which he was
to explain to the natives and shew them how to cultivate them. Mr.
John Duncan, now well known as the enterprising traveller in
Dahomey and Ashantee, was also a member of the Expedition.

As thus the dictates of humanity and civilization were practically at-
tended to, those of religion claimed that measure of attention which
on so propitious an occasion they seemed especially to deserve. The
committee of the Church Missionary Society were not slow to discover
the advantages which the expedition afforded for opening a way for the
everlasting gospel into the heart of Africa, through the medium of one
of her noblest rivers ; they therefore applied to Lord John Russel for
permission to send with the expedition two persons connected with the
Society, " in order to collect such information during its progress, as
might enable them to decide on valid grounds, on the practicability and



* Captain TrotterV report dutiuguishes them thus :

Albert— Africans, 7; East Indians, 2 ; West Indiana, 3 ; Nova Scotian, 1 ; Total, 13;

WUbefforoe—Afnc&nB^fi; West Indians, 3; St. John's America, 1. Total 7.

Soudan—A&ktLnBj 2 ; West Indian«, 2. Total 4. Grand total 24.
t See Introduction.

t ** The African Civilization Society,^^ writes Captain Trotter, " 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 £1000 to be used, as circumstances
made it desirable, to aid exploring parties, or in any other way to advance the objects of
the Expedition/*



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470 CHURCH MISSION IN SIERRA LEONE.

expediency of fonning a mission up the Niger, should the general
results of the expedition fayour, and the pecuniary means of the
Sodetj admit of, such an extension of its operations.'* Their reqnest
being granted, the Rev. James F. Schon, and Mr. Samuel Crowther
were the indiriduals selected to accompany the expedition.

It was intended that the expedition should sail from Eng^d on
the 1st of March, but it having been ascertained that there would not
be sufficient water for some months later, to enable the vesselB to
ascend the Niger, the ' Soudan/ which preceded the others by neaiiy
a month, did not leave Plymouth until the 17th of April, nor the
* Albert ' and ' Wilberforce ' until the 12th of May. The departure of
these vessels excited an extraordinary interest among all classes of the
community ; even the hardy seaman was aroused to an enthusiasdc
admiration of so holy an enterprise. An eye-witness says, alluding to
the sailing of the * Albert* and * Wilberforce' from Plymouth—

" Four ships of the line and a gun-brig, lay in the Sound. These
all as the steamers passed, manned their rigging and gave three cheers.
Cheers such as I am told none but Britons give, and such as (at least
as far as the occasion went) even Britons never gave before."*

The following extract from a letter by the Rev. J. Warburton, minis-
ter of Gloucester, to the Committee of the Church Missionary Society,
dated July 20, 1841, announces the arrival of the expedition at Sierra
Leone, besides relating some interesting occurrences connected there-
with in the Colony —

"The * Albert' Steamer arrived at Sierra Leone on the 24th
June, and the ' Wilberforce ' and 'Soudan' shortly afterward. Cap-
tain Trotter has engaged, and taken with him, a number of persons
as interpreters, &c. Though he was much occupied, he visited our
School in Freetown, and the village of Gloucester. It was after
school-hours when he arrived at Gloucester ; but, at his request, such
of the children as were in the village were assembled and he heard
them read the 5drd chapter of Isaiah, and sing part of a hymn.
He was accompanied by His Honour the Acting Governor ; his brother,
who is the person intended to conduct the model farm on the Niger ; f
Captains William and Bird Allen, and Commissioner Cook. The officers
of the expedition also attended Divine Service at St. Greorge's Church,
on the morning of the 28th of June ; when an excellent and suitable
sermon was delivered by the Rev. D. F. Morgan, from the text,
" Who hath despised the day of small things ? " — a sermon which, I
think, would benefit the cause of Missions, if it were published. A veiy
attentive congregation of at least 1 500 Africans attended on that occasion.
In the afternoon of the same day, a Prayer Meeting was held ; when

* Prefiice to Messrs. Sch5n and Crow therms Journals,
t Mr. Alfred Carr, a West Indian of color.



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DBPAETURE PROM SIERRA LEONE. 471

Captains Trotter and Allen, Commissioner Cook, and the Rev. Messrs.
Schon and Dove, addressed the persons present. The meeting was in-
teresting and profitable. We never had so memorable a day in Sierra
Leone before. It would have given more energy to the prayers and
pnuses of our Christian friends in England could they have been present
at these Religious Services."

The persons referred to in this extract as interpreters, amounted to
thirteen, they were selected from among the natives of the Haossa,
Aboh, Kjikanda, Yaruba, Bomoa, Nufi, Benin, Filatah, and Eggarra
nations.

Mr. Schon tells us that there was no want of people who were
willing and even anxious to leave Sierra Leone in order to join the
expedition. ** Seamen, laborers, interpreters, and mechanics, such as
they were, offered their services in great abundance. Though," he
adds, *'l am afraid they were not aJl actuated by proper motives,
—of some who were chosen, I have reason to believe that it is their
heart's desire to render themselves useful to their fellow creatures,
and to make known to them the *' unsearchable riches of Christ."

The following communication from Mr. J. Beal, catechist at Bat-
hurst, was penned during the memorable visit of the expedition to the
Colony, and presents to us a lively description of the various feelings
and emotions to which it gave rise :

'* The arrival of the long-looked-for Niger Expedition has caused
great excitement throughout the Colony, and has become the general
topic of conversation* both among Natives and Europeans; — ^the
Natives speculating as to the probability of their returning to their
native countries, which they are ever ready to do, if the Missionaries
will go with them, or, as they say, * if the Queen would make towns
there.'

" To-day, one of the Captains, who appears to take a lively interest
in all that concerns the welfare of AMca, was present at the quarterly
Examination of the Monitors of our schools. After he had seen the
progress made by them, he asked if some of them could accompany
the Expedition, for the purpose of learning engineering, and being
otherwise use^. After a little consultation, some boys were asked,
and sent to call their parents ; but, to our surprise, though a con-
siderable salary was offered, some of the parents refused to allow their
children to go. Several boys were anxious ; and the next morning
I had a number of parents waiting, at an early hour, to see me about
it. Upon talking with them, I found that they were not afraid of
losing their sons, but, as they expressed themselves, they did not
want their children to be taken out of the missionaries' hands.
However, when I told them that they would be helping forward the
work of God by this sacrifice, and that their sons would be under the



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472 CHURCH MISSION IN SIERRA LBONR.

care of the Missionaries and schoolmasters going with the Expedition,
seyeral hastetied to Freetown, and offered their sons to the Captaiiis ;
and two from Bathurst, and four from other Stations, were selected.
The natiyes were allowed the gratification of looking over the steamers ;
and great nmnhers availed themselves of the permission, notwith*
standing they had to paj for hoats to convey them. While on board,
I saw a nmnber, who had never se^i any thing of the kind before,
examining the machinery connected with the engines. Nothing ooold
exceed the surprise and delight with which they viewed this, to
Airicans, more than human work. They broke out in continued ex-
clamations : ' Ah, White man he sabby past all ! ' ' White man he
sabby something, for true ; ' One of our schoolmasters said to me,
* This looks like God's work : I never see such thing like this."

The Expedition left Sierra Leone on the 2nd of July, taking with
it upwards of twenty persons connected with the Church Missionary
Society, including the Rev. J. F. Schon, Samuel Crowther, catechist,
Thomas King, schoolmaster, and six boys, monitors from the Society's
schools ; besides the interpreters mentioned, many of whom were
members of the Church. The Rev. J. F. Schon first embarked on
board the ' Albert,' but he was afterwards transferred to the ' Wil-
berforce.' Mr. Crowther sailed in the * Soudan.'

The Expedition after visiting the African settlements of Liberia and
Greenwell, Cape Coast Castle,* and English Accra, arrived at the
mouth of the River Nun on the 9th and 10th of August ; after
crossing the bar on the 13th, it was detained here for some days, while
the stores were being taken out of a transport-vessel, and the tails of
the rudders belonging to the three vessels which had been carried away
during the passage from Cape Coast, repaired — ^up to this period there
had been seven deaths, four from casualties during the voyage, one
from apoplexy, and two from fever : which was not of the African
kind, but of a low typhoid character ; of these last cases, one was a
colored man, and the other an European, Mr. J. W. Bach, mathema-

* Having mentioned Cape Coast Castle, we must be allowed to adom our pages with
the following note from Dr. McWilliam^s *' Medical History of the Ezpedidon/*

** On a marble slab, in the Castle yard, there is the following epitaph to the memory of
L. E. L., Mrs. McLean :

Hie jacet sepultmn,

Omne quod mortale fiiit

LETITIjE ELIZABETHJE Mc'LEAN

Qoam egregia omatam indole, Musis

Uniceamatam, Omniumque amores

Secnm tnhentem : in ipso astatis flore.

Mors immatura rupuit

Die Octobris xv. iiDoccxxxvin. wffitatis xxxvi*^.

Quod spectas viator marmor vanum heu doloris monumentum.

CoDJux moerens erexit/*



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NEGOTIATIONS WITH THE KING OF ABOH. 473

tical-instrument maker to the Expedition. A few eases of sickness
occurred especially on board the 'Wilberforce/ but before the vessels
reached Aboh, all sickness had disappeared.

During the voyage hither, religious services had been regularly held on
board the different vessels, and previously to commencing the ascent
of the river, and " entering upon the most immediate field of labour
— ^upon one of acknowledged difficulty and danger," — Captain Trotter
issued an official order for public prayer, in the different ships. The
Rev. J. F. Schon occupied himself whenever health and other avoeap-
tions permitted, with making translations into the Haussa language.
Mr. Crowther was similarly employed on the Yoruba.

We shall now make use of a letter written by Mr. Schon, dated
* River Niger, 15 miles beyond Ibo,* August 30, 1841," from which
some interesting particulars connected with the ascent of the river so
far, will be learned:

** After a stay of five days at the mouth of the river, during which
time every preparation was made in the vessels which was deemed
necessary, we left our anchorage on the 20th instant. The whole
company was in excellent spirits, as well as in the enjoyment, with no
material exception, of bodily health. The prospect of seeing new
countries, other people, customs, and habits* and of entering upon
the proper business of our Mission, cheered and enlightened every
heart. The first ten or twelve miles presented nothing interesting, the
banks of the river on both sides being covered with mangroves. I
thought that they would continue to a much greater distance, and was
therefore not a little delighted when I observed their disappearance.
In their places, the banks became covered with a great variety of trees,
differing as much in size as in shades and varieties of colour, extremely
pleasant to the eye. We saw but a few persons the first day, and
those whom we saw made their escape into the bush as fast as possible,
on our approach. On the second day we saw more ; and some had
the courage to come to our vessels in their canoes, but could not be
persuaded to come on board. The * Wilberforce' separated from the
other vessels in the afternoon, to examine another branch. The people
were much alarmed at us in several villages, and crowded to the
water-side, armed : they had no intention of attacking us, but came to
defend themselves. We had an Interpreter on our vessel who could
speak to them in the Brass language ; and I observed that he always
first told them that we were no Portuguese, but came as friends of the
Black people. Their apprehensions were generally soon removed ; but
still they could not put confidence enough in us to come on board. On
the third day we entered the main river again, before the other vessels
♦ The lown of Ibo, also written Eboe, but more correctly Abdh, is 130 miles from the
mouth of the ri?er.



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474 CHURCH HI8SION IN SIERRA LEONE.

of the Expedition. The country appeared beautiful^ and the weather
was uncommonly fine.

*' On the evening of the sixth day we anchored at the creek ietdiog
to Ibo. From all I have hitherto observed, I am inclined to think
that we have come, if not at the best season of the year, at least in a
very good season. The river is high, and the weather fine, with
occasional rain, which is by no means unhealthy. The * Albert ' and
the ' Soudan ' arrived on the following day, the 27th, in the afte^
noon ; and we had the unspeakable joy of hearing that there was not
a single case of fever on board any of the vessels. Truly God has
been gracious unto us hitherto. He has crowned us with loving*kind-
ness and tender mercies.

'' Negodations were immediately commenced with the King of Ibo,
who came on board. Our objects having been largely and dearly ex-
plained to him, he expressed himself willing to enter into a treaty with
England, and to abotish the slave trade altogether. He admitted that
that was a hard thing ; but, notwithstanding, agreed to all the pro-
posals. Our interpreter, Simon Jonas, acquitted himself veiy well:
he is a Hberated African of Sierra Leone, and a member of our Church.
He spoke moat touchingly to the king, of the miseries which slaveiy
brings on the people at large, of the tears of their parents, the
desolation produced to the country, and of the kindness of England in
rescuing them from the hands of the Spaniards and Portuguese, making
them firee, and teaching them how to make this life comfortable, and
to prepare for the next. The king Ustened to him with the greatest
attention, and expressed his approbation and surprise very frequently.
He could not have betieved that slaves could be treated with so much
kindness : that they were ill treated, he well knew.

" The object of my coming, and my desires, were explained to him
by myself and my Interpreter ; when he expressed an earnest desire
to have teachers sent to him and his people. He most readily con*
fessed that he was ignorant of God, and dependent on * white man'
for instruction. I directed Simon to read some verses of Scripture to
him, which astonished him not a little. That white men should be
able to read and write, he expected, as a matter of course : but that
an Ibo slave should read, was more than he could ever have expected.
He seized Simon's hand, squeezed it most heartily, and said, ' ^<^^
must stop with me : you must teach me and my people : you mns^ teU
it to the white man : I cannot let you go, until they return from the
country.' He could not be diverted fi^om his object, but insisted on
Simon's remaining ; to which, after much consideration, we agreed.
I much wish that he had more knowledge, and was better qualified for
teaching, as a great door is opened to him. I have had an opportunity
of watching him daily for the last ten or twelve months, and I believe



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RATIFICATION OF THE TREATY WITH OBI. 475

him to be a sincere Christian. He has a correct knowledge of oar
religion ; and I believe that he joined the Expedition with a desire to
do good to his country-people. I trust he will daily pray for Divine
direction, and be made the instrument, in the hands of God, of much
good to his benighted countrymen.

** This occurrence proves that the objection so often raised — ^that
the Africans would not listen to their own country-people, if they were
sent to them with the Gospel — ^is perfectly groundless. The King of
Ibo is willing, yea anxious, to hear of the wonderful works of God,
from the lips of one of his own country-people, formerly a slave. I
am also confirmed in my opinion, that Sierra Leone will yet become,
like Jerusalem of old, a centre from whence the word of God will go
forth to many a benighted tribe of Africa. And I call upon the
members of the Church Missionary Society, not to slacken their
efforts, and not to spare their money or exertions, toward accomplish-
ing so great and glorious an end, by all the means in their power. I
must be the more earnest in my entreaties for native agency, as the
place appears to me to be very unhealthy, and prejudicial in a high
degree to European constitutions. The town is an entire swamp at
present : I was obliged to walk up to my knees in mud to the very
door of the king's palace. Mr. Laird and Mr. Lander must have seen
the town at a more favourable season, from the description which they
give of it. A few pious intelligent Ibo men — ^there are such at Sierra
Leone — might be further instructed by the Missionaries, and a school-
master or two might, no doubt, be obtained for them."

It was subsequently determined that Simon Jonas should accompany
the Expedition to the confluence of the Tshadda and Niger, and
return with letters which Obi undertook to have forwarded to Bouny —
a task which we may just mention he never performed.

The 28th of August was appointed for ratifying the treaty between
the Queen of Great Britain and king Obi, for the total abolition of the
slave trade and suppression of human sacrifices. The latter came un-
attended into the cabin of the 'Albert,' where he was received by the
Commissioners, and when all was ready, and copies of the treaty lying
on the table for signature, he was told that it was the eustom of Chris-
tians to call upon God for His blessing in all their undertakings, and that
those present were now about to pray for a blessing on both parties,
and that he might join or not as he liked. They accordingly knelt
down, he following their example, when prayer was offered by the Rev.
T. Miiller, Chaplain to the Expedition. At its conclusion he arose
from his knees in extreme alarm, trembling all over, and the perspira-
tion rolling down his cheeks — nothing could exceed the evident ftgony
of his mind. He cried out most loudly for his "Arrisi** idol or
fetish, which was brought him ; but when his head-man was about to



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476 CHURCH MISSION IN SIERRA LEONE.

go through his superstitious ceremonies, the interpreter succeeded in
explaining to his satisfaction and relief, the nature of the act in which
they had been engaged, and which he conceived was the imprecation of
a curse upon his head. After partaking of a tumbler of palm- wine
handed to him by his son, and receiving some further explanation
from the interpreter, he appeared quite reassured.

King Obi is described by Mr. Crowther in his journal, as " a middle-
sized man, between the age of forty and fifty : his countenance," Mr.
C. adds, '* is soft, and he appears to be of a peaceable temper. To-
day (the day on which the treaty was signed) his dress, as I was told,
was very plain. He appeared in calico trowsers of a country make, and
an English jacket of the same stuff: it would have been more re-
spectable had they been cleaner, especially as he had no shirt on. He
had on his neck, three strings of pipe coral, as large as a man's small
finger ; two of which were short and close to the neck, while the third
extended to the navel. As far as we could count from the feet of his
trowsers, when he moved, each of his feet, about the ancles, was
ornamented with eight strings of coral ; a dull old brass button closing
each string, and two leopards' teeth attached to the strings of coral on
each foot. He had on a red cap ; over which was a marine's cap de-
corated with brass scales and other pieces, and coloured cords. His
Majesty was not a little proud of this new equipment from the com-
mander of the Expedition. He marched about the quartei^deck, with
apparent satisfaction at having white men for his firiends. He con-
sented to the treaty ; and made a proclamation the same day among
his people for the abolition of the slave-trade in his country."

Obi's son and some of his people are referred to in the following ex-
tract from Mr. Schdn's journal :

"August 26, 1841 — King Obi sent one of his sons to welcome the
strangers : he was a very fine-looking young man, of about twenty
years of age. Both himself and his companions attended our morning
devotions ; after which I told them what book it was, of which I had
been reading a portion ; and that I had come to this country to telL
the people what Grod had, in it, revealed to us. They were surprised
and could not well understand how it was possible that I should have
no other object in view. They are sensible of their inferiority, in every
respect, to white men, and can therefore be easily led by them either
to do evil or good. When I told one, this morning, that the slave-



Online LibrarySamuel Abraham WalkerThe Church of England mission in Sierra Leone: including an introductory ... → online text (page 59 of 73)