William George Tozer.

Letters of Bishop Tozer and his sister, together with some other records of the Universities' Mission from 1863-1873; online

. (page 1 of 20)
Online LibraryWilliam George TozerLetters of Bishop Tozer and his sister, together with some other records of the Universities' Mission from 1863-1873; → online text (page 1 of 20)
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SISTER 1863— 1873 . .

From a FJutogi apii ui/ccn in iJcB by Hills & Satoutc/i.

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ETs of Bishop Tozer
his Sister together with some other
records of the Universities' Mission
from 1863— 1873 Edited by GERTRUDE
WARD Author of " Life of Bishop Smythies "
" Letters from East Africa " -jf^ -jlf^

MINSTER S,W "^ "9^ 1902

Butler & Tanner,

The Selwood Printing Works,

Frome, and London.

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THE Universities' Mission was founded in
1859, in answer to an appeal of Dr. Living-
stone to the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge
to send out men to civilize the region of Lake Nyasa,
where the slave trade was devastating the country.
The first body of men, under the leadership of
Bishop Mackenzie, sailed for Cape Town in October
i860, and made their way to the Zambezi. For
more than a year no news whatever of their doings
reached England, and when at last, in 1862, letters
did arrive, they announced that the Bishop and
three of his staff were dead.

The news of this disaster aroused fresh enthusi-
asm in England. " I have no suspicion," wrote
Dr. Livingstone, " that, after the first stunning
effect of our heavy tidings has passed over, you
will feel disposed to draw back." Livingstone
was right. The English Church did not draw
back. Bishop Gray of Cape Town hastened to



England to confer with the Committee, and from
the names submitted to them they selected as
Bishop the Rev. William George Tozer, Rector
of Burgh-cum-Winthorpe, Lincolnshire. He was
consecrated in Westminster Abbey on the Feast
of the Purification, 1863, and sailed soon afterwards
for the Cape. On April 20 the whole party, in-
cluding the Bishop's friend. Dr. Steere, the Rev.
C. A. Alington, Mr. Drayton and four mechanics
left Cape Town for the Zambezi in H.M.S. Orestes.
From this point the letters tell their own story,
but that the reader may the more readily realize
the position of affairs at this, the most critical
moment in the history of the Mission, a brief account
must be given of what had actually taken place
during the two preceding years.

When Bishop Mackenzie reached the mouth
of the Zambezi early in February 1861, he put
himself under the guidance of Dr. Livingstone,
whose object was to establish the Mission party
in the neighbourhood of Lake Nyasa. They tried
first to reach the lake by the river Rovuma, but
finding it impracticable, returned to the Zambezi,
and made their way up it and the Shire in the little
Government steamer Pioneer, which had been
lent to Livingstone for the purposes of his exploring
expedition. By the middle of July the village of
Chibisa's, on the Shire, was reached, and at this


point they left the river and continued the journey-
by land in a north-easterly direction. In the course
of this land journey they met a party of the fierce
slave-raiding tribe of the Ajawa (^better known
as the Yao tribe) with slaves that they were taking
to the coast. Livingstone rescued these slaves,
and then suggested that the Mission party should
adopt them as the nucleus of a village, and settle
at Magomero, a spot about sixty miles from the
river station of Chibisa's. When this had been
arranged, Livingstone and his party continued their
journey of exploration, and the Bishop and the
Mission party set to work to arrange their village life.
Their rescued slaves amounted to about 150
men, women and children, and the tribe
amongst whom they settled were the Manganja,
a weak people, constantly harried by their aggres-
sive neighbours, the Ajawa. The life at this station
was beset with dif^culties, partly owing to the
frequent conflicts between the Ajawa and Man-
ganja, from a share in which the missionaries
did not feel able to abstain, and partly owing to
the complications that were bound to arise in the
endeavour to govern a mixed community, to whose
language and customs the missionaries were as
yet strangers. But, difficult as it was to make any
progress in their work, Bishop Mackenzie, in his
loyalty to Livingstone, was reluctant to give up


what eventually proved an impossible task, and it
was in the endeavour to place the work on a better
footing that he met with his untimely death.

To solve the problem of training the women and
girls of the station, he had arranged that two ladies
should join the staff ; these were his own sister.
Miss Mackenzie, and Mrs. Burrup, wife of one of
his clergy. The ladies were waiting at Cape Town
until such time as the Bishop should be ready for
them at Magomero. The arrangement was that
Livingstone should meet them at the mouth of
the Zambezi about New Year's Day, 1862, and
bring them up the Shire as far as its junction
with the Ruo, where Bishop Mackenzie should
await them. As the time for this meeting drew
near the Bishop became increasingly anxious that
nothing should prevent it. " I am so longing for
our ladies to come up," he writes, in October 1861.
" It is not a week since we got an increase of fifty
people, only ten boys and no men. Here is more
work for them. It is impossible for us men to do
what I trust God will do by them. The women
are some of them wild and rude, and some of them
worse, but I hope the influence of our ladies will
tell upon them."

The story of the Bishop's journey to the Ruo
to meet his sister is one of the saddest in the history
of the Mission. From beginning to end it was


full of misfortunes, and its closing scene was the
death of the Bishop on a lonely river island ^close
to the now important town of Chiromo), worn out
by fever, fatigue, and hardships. He was attended
by Mr. Burrup, himself so weak that he had barely
strength to carry out the burial arrangements.
Mr. Burrup then returned to Magomero, where
shortly afterwards he died.

Meantime Dr. Livingstone met the two ladies
at the Kongone mouth of the Zambezi, and after
some delays the party proceeded up the river to
the point where they expected to meet the Bishop.
Here the natives denied all knowledge of the Bishop,
probably from fear that they would be punished
for his death. The party, therefore, continued
their journey as far as Chibisa's, and there learnt
of the sad calamities that had overtaken the Mission.
The two ladies, finding that the brother of one
and the husband of the other were dead, naturally
felt it impossible to proceed to the Mission village ;
they therefore returned to the Zambezi, and eventu-
ally to Cape Town.

Troubles at Magomero increased after the Bishop's
death. War and famine fell upon the natives,
sickness attacked the staff. The dif^culty of obtain-
ing food was at last so great that it was decided
to move from Magomero to Chibisa's, and there
to await the arrival of the reinforcements that were


to come from England. Here it was that Bishop
Tozer found the poor remnants of the brave band
when he arrived in June 1863. His description
of the meeting will be found in the letters.

Enough has perhaps been said in this slight
sketch to show that problems of no ordinary diffi-
culty had to be faced by the new Bishop. During
the fifteen months that had elapsed since Bishop
Mackenzie's death, the state of the country had
altered considerably, and he had to consider whether
loyalty to his predecessor and to the founders of
the Mission demanded that he should stay in the
part of the country to which Dr. Livingstone had
led them, or whether the aims of the Mission could
not really be best attained by making an entirely
new start. His own opinion, as expressed in his
diary, was that the whole scheme had been too
hastily planned, and the first settlement made
with insufficient knowledge of the country. He
was hampered, too, by finding that amongst the
natives the aims of the Mission had never been
clearly understood ; the first party had arrived
in a Government steamer, in company with Living-
stone's exploring expedition, and the general belief
in the native mind appeared to be that the
mission had some political object in view.
These reasons, coupled with those of climate and
supplies, of the diminished population, and the


problems of the freed-slave settlement, inclined
the Bishop to move elsewhere. But he had also
to consider the wishes of the surviving members
of the first party, and some of them were firm in
their desire to stay. There are passages in the
Bishop's diary which show that the anxiety of
coming to a decision was a severe strain upon
him, and it is well known that anxiety tells with no
ordinary stress in the African climate. The popular
course would have been to stay, but at last, after
months of consideration, he decided, with a courage
for which the whole Mission owes him lasting
gratitude, that the Zambezi was at that date im-
practicable, and that it was necessary to reculer pour
mieux sauter. The decision to move was made in
November 1863, and, after careful deliberation,
Zanzibar was chosen as the Mission's new home.

Then followed a weary period of suspense, such
as is now unknown in civilized and accessible Zanzi-
bar. Owing to the absence of regular mails, the
Bishop did not receive the approval and support
of the Home Committee until March 1865, and
during the whole of this time he and Dr. Steere
worked on in faith, not knowing whether or no
their work was to be permanently established. At
last came letters of approval — though opinions at
home had been sharply divided as to the wisdom
of the course adopted — and thenceforward the


work steadily progressed, though it was not with-
out its share of such disasters as cyclones, sickness
and death.

That Bishop Tozer did wisely in moving from
the Zambezi to Zanzibar can hardly be doubted
by those who trace the history of the Mission from
his day to our own. Apart from the manifold
agencies for good established in Zanzibar town and
island, and on the mainland to the North and
South, the move was the means of achieving
that great work on Lake Nyasa, which is every
year increasing in importance. This region was
from the first the goal of the Mission. Bishop
Tozer repeatedly declared that his object in
going to Zanzibar was to reach eventually the
tribes around the lake. Bishop Steere established
the Rovuma stations which were to lead on to the
lake, and sent the Rev. W. P. Johnson in 1881
to make a beginning on the lake shore. Bishop
Smythies himself visited the lake five times, and
spent his best strength in establishing the work
there, finally securing to Likoma a Bishop of its
own. Bishop Tozer survived both his successors,
and we may well imagine that the solitude and
sadness of his latter years must have been cheered
by the knowledge that his work had been so ably
carried on and developed.

The services rendered by Bishop Tozer to the


Universities' Mission, and through it to other
Missions and to the Church at large, have perhaps
suffered something of an eclipse through the more
recent renown of Bishops Steere and Smythies.
But it should never be forgotten that the high
traditions of our Mission were formed by him at
a time when English missionary ideals were not
commonly of a high type. Reaching Central
Africa in the days of disaster following as the result
of inadequate knowledge and indefinite policy,
he from the first refused to depart from the lines
that Catholic tradition had laid down for mission-
aries from the earliest ages. He steadfastly de
clined to take any share in the politics of the country, -
either native or European ; he insisted that the
natives, while being Christianized, should yet not
be Europeanized ; and he established a rule of life
for the Europeans which has been substantially
maintained ever since. Perhaps the secret of his
conduct was the stern resolve " never to let things
slide." No matter what the physical difficulties
of climate or distance might be, he never would
acquiesce in a standard other than the highest.
In store-keeping, in accounts, in reports for Com-
mittee, in the daily services and the fittings of the
hut that did duty for a church, in the boys' meals
and manners — in everything he insisted on the
best being done that could be done, and would not


accept the excuse that out in the wilds of Africa
such things did not matter. It was comparatively
easy for those who followed him to maintain this
high standard, but to him is due the honour of
having first established it and consistently main-
tained it.

To his tact and judgment is also due the very
cordial relation existing from the first between
the Mission and the Government. No one can fail
to be struck by the frequent references in his letters
to the naval officers and men in Zanzibar harbour,
and to the friendliness of the Consul and the Sultan.
Such unruffled smoothness between missionaries
and officials can only be maintained by the continued
exercise of those qualities of good sense and worldly
wisdom (in its best meaning) that Bishop Tozer
possessed in a remarkable degree. To his shrewd-
ness and diplomacy is also due the establishment
of a post office in Zanzibar, with a regular monthly
mail. And who that has ever lived in that island
will refuse him highest praise for this service ren-
dered !

The breakdown in his health was no doubt due,
in the first instance, to the great strain of responsi-
bility in the Zambezi region in 1863. Already
in those early days he was observed to have " a
low tone of pulse, and a suspicion of malady,"
that augured ill for future years, and he prob-


ably never afterwards regained his full vitality.
His malady was an insidious one, due less to climate
than to overstrain. It rendered him incapable
of doing sustained work either in England or
abroad, though he tried both in Lincolnshire and
Jamaica. He spent his strength for the Mission,
and, not being granted the happiness of dying in
the beloved land, had the harder task of living for
over twenty-five years in bodily weakness, separated
from the work of his choice.

G. W.
Christmas^ 1 90 1 .




H.M.S. Orestes,
Friday, May \, 1863.

Entrance of Mozambique Channel.

Y last* will have told you of my arrival
at Cape Town and of my meeting
there Steere, Alington and Drayton, all well, and
anxious for a start. By the great kindness of
the authorities the Orestes was allowed to wait a
week at Simon's Bay, after the arrival of the Cam-
brian, to give us time to make all our plans. I was
mvself so weak and ill from the effects of continuous
sickness that I was heartily thankful for such a
respite. The first part of the time I spent with the
Bishop at his house, and I need not say that I
received every kindness from him and Mrs. Gray.
The quiet of Bishop's Court was just what an invalid
needed, and by the week's end I was quite prepared
to be off. The chief inconvenience of the place lies
in its eight miles distance from Cape Town. I went
in, however, several times, and, so to speak, " took
stock " of all our property, sending on almost every-
thing to Simon's Bay, condemning certain things
to be sold, as utterly useless, and directing the

* The first letter is unfortunately lost.



photographing apparatus to be sent to England for
sale. This latter is contained in two huge boxes, and,
as it has no chance of a sale in the Colony, we all
agreed that it was worth while to re-ship it to Eng-
land. The church tent, which was put up and
examined, was found to be a small trumpery affair,
capable of containing very few persons, and so gim-
cracky in its construction as to be wholly useless for
our purposes. As a last resort, we asked the Bishop
of Cape Town to accept it, and use it as he thought
best, and though he appeared to demur to this
plan, yet it is left with him, and we are freed from
further responsibility about it. This has reduced
our property to about three or four packages, one
of which is a huge box of medicines, another of
clothes, another the portable altar, etc., another
church furniture, and another a crate of domestic
articles purchased by Miss Mackenzie, besides a
magic lantern. All the rest are with us, amount-
ing in weight, together with such stores as we
purchased or brought from England, to about
thirty tons.

On the Saturday before sailing I went to Govern-
ment House, and remained as the guest of Sir Philip
and Lady Wodehouse until Monday morning. Their
kindness to me was very great, and I have agreed to
write from time to time to his Excellency, who was
good enough to express a wish for me to do so. I
have omitted to say that he took the chair at a
meeting for the Mission at the Town Hall the Fri-
day evening previously. On Sunday morning I
preached at the Cathedral, and in the evening at
Mr. Lightfoot's most interesting Missionary Church


to a congregation wholly coloured. The next
morning I left Cape Town for Simon's Bay, calling
at Bishop's Court to breakfast and say good-bye,
and to take up Steere and Archdeacon Thomas,*
who, with the Dean of Cape Town, were my com-
panions. We drove to the Admiral's at once, and
were most kindly entertained by him, all the nota-
bilities of the station, with the officers of the flagship,
the Narcissus, being asked to meet us at luncheon,
immediately after which we were conducted by Sir
Baldwin Walker himself to his own barge, and
so introduced to H.M.S. Orestes. I cannot help
again saying how very sensible wc all are of the
great consideration which has been shown us, and
of the extreme personal kindness of all those with
whom we have been brought in contact since leaving
England. Sir Baldwin Walker again and again
desired me to feel no scruple in applying to him in
any emergency, and we left his hospitable roof, only
regretting that our acquaintance with him and
Lady Walker was necessarily so short.

Nor has our good fate forsaken us ; since leaving
Simon's Bay, Captain Gardner has, in the most dis-
interested manner, put his own cabin at our disposal,
which has had to accommodate not merely ourselves
but our luggage also. I feel that the Mission is placed
under very serious obligations to him, as well on
account of our inroad on his private apartment, as
for his constant and never-ending forethought for
our present and future comfort. He seems never to
tire in suggesting something which wc may possibly

• See a letter from him at this date, Appendix, p. 295.


want, either at the station or on our journey to it,
and then it is at once put in hand and speedily added
to our store. The officers are, without exception,
like their captain, all that one could wish, and we
shall feel the parting from such real friends very
acutely. I am glad to say that I have felt little or
no inconvenience from sea sickness since I came on
board the Orestes, and, in spite of occasional touches
of lumbago, I am unusually well.

Our plan of operations is not definitely settled. The
captain will put in at the Kongone, and failing to
gather tidings of Dr. Livingstone there, will send a
boat over the bar at Quilimane. I have some small
hopes of meeting Waller there, in which case many
of our difficulties would disappear at once. It will
depend very much on the weather, and the state of
the bar, our being able to land our goods. If the
worst comes to the worst, we shall all go on in the
Orestes to Mozambique, and there charter Seiior
Suarez' schooner, which, we understand, can cross
the Quilimane bar at high tides. But, in any case, I
am inclined to go to Mozambique myself, taking with
me Steere and one of the men, and letting the others
make the best of their way up to the Mission station
from Quilimane. My object in doing this is two-
fold. First to see, and enter into friendly relations
with, the Governor-General, and if possible to allay
the irritation which recent occurrences would
naturally have produced on his mind, and secondly
to make arrangements with Sefior Suarez about his
becoming our Agent, and keeping up a communi-
cation with us. From enquiries which I have made,
I fancy that Mozambique would be able to supply


US with flour, and possibly other things as well,
and in that case a great saving of time and anxiety
would be effected, if not of actual cash. The present
Cape Town system of relying on such chance and
uncertain help as the navy can give us will never
work satisfactorily so far as provisions are concerned,
and the sooner we can put this matter on a better
basis the better. Indeed, until regular traffic is
developed along this East African Coast, of which
there seems to be no immediate prospect, Cape Town
has very few advantages as a victualling depot for
the Mission. What is purchased must be conveyed
overland to Simon's Bay, a distance of more than
twenty miles, and this is a very costly business in
itself. Then, there is always an uncertainty about
the amount of goods which a ship can take, and
frequently a surplus remains behind, in some store-
room, at Simon's Bay. Of course, all this could be
done in such a way as to involve no considerable
loss to the Mission, but, as a matter of fact, without
paid clerks we cannot expect the Cape Town Com-
mittee (which is another term for Mr. Eustace) to
devote time and trouble enough to so very compli-
cated a machinery, and judging from the past, the
less we inflict on them the better. It has been a
case of everybody's business being nobody's, as
the case of the gunpowder pretty well shows, for
which vide last letter. Still Cape Town must be
the route for all things coming to us from Eng-
land, and I do not see why this should necessitate
any very bulky parcels, provided that Mozambique
can furnish flour, etc. Should I see Suarez, all
this can be determined, and if I make any arrange-


ment with him, I will lose no time in writing to tell
you of it, and also the good people at Cape Town.

Friday, May 8. — We have anchored this evening
off the Kongone, and a hoat will put ashore early
in the morning. If we gather no news of the Doctor
the ship will steam up to the Quilimane Bar — about
thirty miles north of this.

Saturday, May 9. — Two attempts have been made
to land a boat, but without success. We can see a
flagstaff on shore, but the channel, if one exists,
appears to be extremely tortuous.

May 1 1 . — We are oft' Quilimane, and after a council
of war this morning we have settled that, if a landing
can be effected, Steere and Drayton shall go on to
Mozambique, and the rest shall push up to the
station. The Confirmation* took place yesterday
morning. We are all well.


H.M.S. Orestes, off Quilimane,

May 15, 1863.

MY former letter to you is closed, and I must
therefore commence another, as I have
important news to communicate. Yesterday we
were able to land two boats ; one came back to the
ship again after merely crossing the bar, the other
with the captain and Dr. Steere, went up to Quili-
mane, and returned this morning. They brought
the report of the deaths of Mr. Scudamore and
Dr. Dickenson. The former event is, I regret to

* See Appendix, p. 296.


think, beyond a doubt, because Steere read a letter
from Procter, addressed to Senor Nunez, in which
it was mentioned. We have not the same evidence
about Dr. D.'s death, but I fear that there is no
room for any reasonable doubt. 1 am able to copy
a part of Livingstone's last letter received by Sefior
Nunez at Quilimane : —

"River Shire, February 21, 1863.
" The whole valley of the lower Shire is depopulated
by Tete people, Mariano, and famine. We cannot buy a
single article of food, the river has not yet risen high
enough for us to reach the Cataracts. We are waiting
about thirty miles below Chibisa's for the water to rise,
and rains seem to promise that this will take place soon.
The vines sprouted out and died." (Referring to some
cuttings he had taken from Q.) " We must go again in
the Pioneer for provisions, so I may have the pleasure of
seeing you again. Waller was here two days ago."

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Online LibraryWilliam George TozerLetters of Bishop Tozer and his sister, together with some other records of the Universities' Mission from 1863-1873; → online text (page 1 of 20)