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|The 1841 Niger expedition|
|► 1841 Niger Expedition||(1/4) (2/4) (3/4) (4/4)|
|Extracts from the Times newspaper|
|Sa 10 October 1840||The Albert, Captain Henry Dundas Trotter, the Wilberforce, Commander William Allen, and the Soudan, Commander Bird Allen, iron steam-vessels, are daily expected at Woolwich from Liverpool, to be armed and completed for the Niger expedition.|
|Sa 31 October 1840|
MEETING OF THE SOCIETY FOR THE EXTINCTION OF THE SLAVE TRADE AND THECIVILIZATION OF AFRICA.
On Tuesday a meeting of the friends of the above institution, of which His Royal Highness Prince Albert is patron, was held at the Corn Exchange, Manchester.
Among the parties present were the Rev. the Dean of Manchester (the chairman), the Right Hon. Sir G. Murray, Dr. Lushington, M.P., Dr. Halley, the Rev. Mr. Parkinson, the Rev. Hugh Stowell, &c.
The CHAIRMAN having opened the business of the meeting, and having read letters from Lord Sandon, Lord Francis Egerton, Mark Philips, M.P., R.H. Gregg, M.P, the Bishop of Norwich. Mr. Wilberforce, Mr. J. Wilson Patten, M.P., and others, expressing regret at not being able to attend.
The Rev. Mr. PARKINSON (one of the canons of the collegiate church) proposed the following resolution:- "That this meeting, holding in just abhorrence the inhuman traffic in slaves, has learned with the deepest regret, that, notwithstanding all the measures hitherto adopted for its suppression, the trade has increased, and continues to increase, under circumstances of aggravated horror, and prevails to an extent which imperatively calls for the strenuous and continued exertion of the whole Christian community to effect its extinction."
Sir GEORGE MURRAY (candidate for Manchester at the next election) rose to address the meeting amid the most enthusiastic cheers. The right hon. and gallant officer, after alluding to other occasions on which he had addressed large assemblies in and out of doors in that town, and to the grateful impressions which those occasions had left on his mind, went on to say, but the present occasion is one which transcends all others in my estimation, because we meet here to-day for no personal object, but excited by one which it is the duty of us all to support We meet here today with no consideration of any difference in regard to our religious persuasion or political opinion. We meet here, called together by no strong desire to express our love to our country, or our resentment to any of its enemies - if unfortunately we are about to have enemies to feel resentment to - but we meet here for one great object of benevolence in behalf a long afflicted race. We meet, called here together by the first of all virtues, that virtue without which all others are of no avail, the virtue of charity, in its largest, most elevated, and most sacred acceptation. The great object, as it appears to me, of such a meeting as this is to enable these feelings and sentiments which you all have long cherished in private, to have an opportunity of publicly expressing themselves. The gallant officer next adverted to the duties imposed on Christian men in aiding this good work, and, after pointing out the inconsistencies of certain amiable philanthropists of former days, such as Las Casas, who suggested the idea of relieving the aboriginal inhabitants of the South American States by bringing natives of Africa to labour as slaves in their stead, proceeded to observe, "Charles V. granted a patent to one of his Flemish favourites, containing an exclusive right of importing 4,000 negroes into America. The favourite sold his patent to some Genoese merchants for 25,000 ducats, and they were the first who brought into a regular form that commerce for slaves between Africa and America which has since been carried to such an amazing extent." Now you see the origin, of that abominable traffic which has existed to this day. Many humane persons saw its injustice, and looked forward with apprehension to the evil which might arise out of it. We, my friends, live to see those apprehensions of evil more than realized. We were the first to put an end to the slave trade, and to do that this country made great exertions. Half a century ago we relinquished all participation in that trade, and money was expended to purchase the good-will and co-operation of other nations, but unhappily without that success that was to be expected, and it now remains for us to make additional efforts. As to the manner in which those efforts are to be best directed, my own opinion is, that no possibility exists of abolishing the traffic in slaves but by civilizing the great continent of Africa itself, by introducing into that country the blessings that accompany civilization and true religion. (Cheers.) It has been found impossible to put a stop to it, and no means but the civilization of the country could effect it. When I had the honour to hold the office of Secretary of the Colonies, I was well aware I incurred sometimes a considerable share of obloquy because I declined to concur with those who were desirous of relinquishing all our possessions on the west coast of Africa, on account of the unhealthiness of the climate. I felt as muck as they did a horror of the diseases that pervaded that coast, but I looked forward with hope, nay, almost with confidence, to the time when these possessions should be instrumental in promoting that great enterprise which we now advocate. I look to their forming the means of one day inoculating - if I may so speak - the continent of Africa with Christianity and with humanity; and I trust that now we are approaching the time when that hope is about to be realised. I find now that by the Niger, new channels are afforded of penetrating to the centre of Africa, and I trust that it will be the means of introducing true religion into those regions that are deprived of its advantages. I feel confident of success, though I may be told the means are exceedingly difficult, and that a long period may elapse before any expectations are realized. But, I reply, have we not seen almost as much in our own time? Have we not seen our own colonies the same objects fully accomplished? (Cheers.) The gallant general proceeded in the same forcible manner to point out other sources of encouragement to go on with the work, confident that the Almighty would crown their labour with his blessing. (Cheers.)
The Rev. Mr. MUNRO ably supported the resolution. He was followed by
The meeting was subsequently addressed by the Rev. Dr. Burt, the Rev. Hugh Stowell, and other friends of the institution. The meeting then adjourned to 6 in the evening, when an immense assemblage was congregated, who were addressed by the same parties who spoke in the earlier part of the day. The assemblage did not separate till a late hour.
|We 18 November 1840|
LONDON, WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 18, 1840.
There was but one feeling, we will venture to say, in the minds of all our loyal fellow-countrymen, when thee consort of HER MAJESTY condescended to leave the privacy of his exalted station for the purpose of testifying, by his presence at a public meeting, his sympathy with the most wretched and degraded portion of the human race - the negro population of Africa, Rev. prelates and illustrious statesmen crowded around him, eager to pay the tribute of their respect to so princely and noble-minded an impulse, if there was little inquiry into the details of the scheme, the fitness of the machinery, or the trustworthiness of the persons constituting the under-plot and the secret springs of that unanimous movement, this was because no intention existed on the part of the distinguished individuals who attended the meeting to commit themselves to more than the principle, that all reasonable means should be tried for the extinction of slavery, and for ameliorating the condition of the African people. Sufficient time has since elapsed, for the enthusiasm occasioned by the association of Prince ALBERT'S name with the new project to subside; and people are beginning to feel that great undertakings require wariness and circumspection. We shall be much astonished if there is not now a very general misgiving as to the practicability of the proposed operations of Sir FOWELL BUXTON'S "Society for the Extinction of the Slave Trade and for the Civilization of Africa," and, even if considered practicable, as to their expediency and probable results.
To say truth, there is a large ingredient of charlatanism in the whole society system, which, as carried out at the present day, bids fair to supersede the office of the church in religion, and of the state in civil government. In spite of all their mighty pretensions, these societies are, by the very law of their being, incapable of conducting great moral operations. Voluntary in their origin, having no recognized functions, no public responsibility - democratical or oligarchical in their government, composed of the most fluctuating materials, destitute of that unity of sentiment which can alone insure consistency in action, depending upon excitement and popularity for their results, and therefore competed to aim at immediate rather than ultimate, showy and popular rather than permanent results - they really accomplish very little, and that little at a vast expenditure of means, and in a most unsatisfactory way. But what they want in action they fully make up in noise. The art of puffing is nowhere better understood than in Exeter-hall; and wonderful is the good which our fair countrywomen must suppose their well-advertised guineas to be doing all over the world, if they believe what they hear at those oratorical entertainments which are found to be a substitute, not less agreeable than orthodox, for the proscribed dissipation of the ball-room.
Of all possible undertakings, that for which a society of this character is the most disqualified by its nature and constitution is the elevation of the physical, moral, and intellectual condition of the savage tribes inhabiting the continent of Africa. When we consider the present state of those tribes, their geographical isolation, the vast space over which they are distributed, the insalubrity of their climate to European temperaments, the very narrow stock of knowledge which we possess concerning them; when we remember the failure of all that has been hitherto attempted (by men at least as wise and humane as Sir GEORGE STEPHEN or Sir FOWELL BUXTON) in their behalf; when we extend the field of our reflection, and ask of past experience whether the white man's commerce has ever yet brought civilization or recommended Christianity to the aboriginal races of the world; when we inquire whether it is desirable to add an African to our Indian empire, and think upon the light in which other nations may interpret any considerable enterprises in that direction, we are forced to acknowledge that the task undertaken by this society is the most gigantic in its difficulties, the most delicate is its collateral bearings, that can be imagined. For the forecast of its operations it requires the profoundest wisdom, and the highest degree of practical experience; for their execution, the most concentrated energy, the most undeviating consistency, the most complete subordination of means to ends. Nor would even these qualifications, great as they are, be found sufficient, unless the national name were identified with the undertaking, and functions of government and political control intrusted to the hands by which it was to be accomplished.
Even then, under the peculiar circumstances of Africa, success would be more than doubtful; and a wise man would feel that he was acting the part of an impostor if he affected to entertain sanguine anticipations as to the result. But not so this new society, with a title too tedious to be repeated. Elated, apparently, by the sanction which their project has received from many excellent and distinguished men, and by the éclat which attended their London debût, they have resolved upon a country campaign for the purpose of forming, according to the most improved method, auxiliary associations; and, unfortunately for themselves, appear to have selected Berkshire for the commencement of their operations. In that county they held a meeting on Wednesday last, at which the principal speeches (with one exception) were conceived in a spirit of insane self-confidence, while the schemes propounded were crude, visionary, and empirical in the last degree. The speech which constituted an exception to the rest was that of Mr. WALTER, who, much to the chagrin of the London projectors, chose to assume that the meeting was really, as well as professedly, held for the purpose of "considering the expediency of forming a society." Mr. WALTER honestly came forward to say that he thought the proposed measure was not expedient, and gave excellent reasons for thinking so. Never were facts and common sense more forcibly contrasted with empty sophisms and rhetorical parade.
Let us not be misunderstood. We believe that every man who attended that meeting went there with the best intentions. We hold with them that the extinction of the slave trade, the civilisation and conversion of Africa, are objects august and noble, such as justify enthusiasm, and would lend a dignity, if any thing could, almost to folly itself. We hardly think it possible that such objects could be accomplished at too dear a price: the British nation has already spent 35,000,000 l. Upon them, and we would cheerfully consent to spend as much more if the end could be thereby satisfactorily and certainly attained. But we think with Mr. WALTER, that to spend money by millions, and human life by thousands, to ruin our West Indian possessions, and to create a white slavery, and a Hill Coolie slavery, for the purpose of abolishing African slavery, and to be told after the lapse of 50 years, not only that we have not accomplished our object, but that all which has been done has tended only TO AGGRAVATE THE HORRORS of the evil we meant to cure, is not satisfactory; for, if this be true, so much blood and money has been worse than wasted - its expenditure has produced a positive balance of mischief. Let any man read Sir GEORGE STEPHEN'S speech at Reading on Wednesday last, and say whether he would trust the same class of persons upon whose suggestions we have hitherto acted in the slave-trade question with the disbursement of another farthing of public money for the same or any similar purposes. We trow not.
But, if it should be imagined that the present generation of philanthropists may possibly be wiser and more trustworthy than those who preceded them, that impression will be speedily removed by a little attention in detail to the projects of the new society; not to mention the fact that some of their leading members are, in their own persons, largely responsible for the past mismanagement of this question.
Their most prominent scheme is of a mercantile nature - TO CREATE A PROFITABLE COMMERCE in central Africa, which the natives may follow as a better speculation than the traffic in human beings. And for this purpose it is proposed to "teach them the construction of roads and warehouses, the application of the ordinary principles of barter, an appreciation of the comparative qualities of manufactured goods, the value of their own indigenous products, the best modes of preparing that produce for the market, and still more the cultivation of that description of produce which would obtain the highest price from European purchasers."
The fair part of the Reading audience must surely lave been in raptures at this splendid effort of fancy, which would have obtained for Sir GEORGE STEPHEN the highest degree in the university of Laputa, could it only have been enunciated in that celebrated island. The absurdity of a handful of European adventurers expecting, as if by an enchanter's wand, to change the face of the great African continent, and to stop the slave trade upon the pure principles of political economy, surpasses anything which the imagination of SWIFT was able to conceive. Must we still reason with such men? Must we ask how many colonies are to be formed, and where? How many schoolmasters, engineers, chymists, geologists, botanists, farmers, weavers, dyers, &c., are to be sent to each colony? How they are to live in the climate! How they are to be secured from being killed and eaten or sold into slavery themselves? How their communications with England are to be maintained? How they are to pass with the natives for anything but formidable and ambitious intruders? How much money will be necessary to do all this? And, finally, how many years must elapse before the society can have civilized a space equal to one moderately-sized English parish, or established one trading native town? If we ask these questions, we receive contradictory answers; and what Sir FOWELL BUXTON earnestly recommends, Sir GEORGE STEPHEN emphatically repudiates. We are reduced to the awkward dilemma of supposing, either that the projectors of this magnificent scheme are altogether at sea upon the whole question of means, or that they deal most dishonestly with the public by dissembling their real intentions.
There is, in point of fact, only one possible way in which the commercial designs of this society (upon which all the rest depend) could be in any degree accomplished; and that is, by treading in the steps of the East India Company. It might be possible (though at a vast expense of human life, and with a very questionable result as to the extirpation of slavery) to form factories or trading establishments along the course of the Niger; to maintain them by force of arms, and keep the navigation of the river in British hands; to concentrate round each settlement a native population under British protection, continually enlarging the circle as each assailant should be subdued; making treaties with the native chiefs, and enforcing them when made; till at length some rough collision would awaken us to our true position, and we should stand up the acknowledged masters of the African continent. The world might be a gainer by this; but it is an enterprise which no sane rulers will ever again allow to be accomplished or undertaken by a combination of private individuals, and before it is undertaken by public authority on the national account, there will be many things to be considered which appear to find no place in the philosophy of Sir FOWELL BUXTON.
That benevolent baronet, however, to do him justice, has some notion of a connexion existing between causes and effects, and sees as plainly as we do that there is but one way of setting to work in this matter. In his book (the book, which is quoted at the meetings of the new society as if it were a depository of perfectly oracular wisdom) we read the following statement of ends and means :-
This is, at all events, candid arid explanatory. We know what it means, and we see what it tends to. But how are we to reconcile this with the statement of Sir GEORGE STEPHEN at the Reading meeting, where he "declared, upon his honour as a gentleman, that Mr. WALKER had never been more mistaken in his life than when he supposed it was the object of the society to establish factories, and enter into negotiations with the native princes in order to take military occupation of Africa?" If, by this, he only meant to disclaim, the intention of taking military possession of Africa, he might have saved himself the trouble of informing the meeting, that persons such as those by whom this society is managed are in the habit of shutting their eyes to consequences, and affecting to wash their hands of the inevitable and foreseen results of their own actions, under the pretence that they never intended them. On the other hand, if he meant to deny that the establishment of factories, and the negotiation of treaties, are among the means by which the society would seek to accomplish its purposes, we leave him to settle that question with common sense, and with the great oracle of his sect.
But we have not yet done with the vagaries of these enthusiasts, who flatter themselves that the English people will intrust them with the task of regenerating Africa. A second great object is, "to promote gospel education, and to inculcate that knowledge which is more important than any other." A most excellent purpose, without doubt. But what are the men by whose deliberations it is to be accomplished? They are a society who boast that their committee includes "all varieties of religious principle that own Christianity for their common basis." What sort of gospel education will this medley of religionists promote? In what kind of Christianity can they agree, and how will they set about teaching it? Will they leave out whatever is offensive to the conscience of any one of their number? Will they mix up the peculiarities of each individual in one incongruous creed? Or will they deliberately, and in the teeth of the gospel which every one of them professes, introduce the principle of schism, and inculcate "all varieties of religious principle" at once, every man consenting to teach the poor Africans something which he himself "conscientiously" believes to be false? We suspect this all-sect-Christianity will not be found a much more effectual check in Africa to the supply of slaves than it is in America to the demand. And how Bishops, Archdeacons, and dignitaries of the church of England can be parties to the propagation of such Christianity, by such means, we cannot for the life of us understand.
In conclusion, we need only present our readers with Sir GEORGE STEPHEN's short summary of the remaining triumphs to be accomplished - a summary perfect in its kind, though perhaps it would have been more complete if he had mentioned the projected irrigation of the Great Zahara (according to the suggestion of Sir FRANCIS HEAD in his Life of Bruce), with canals and Artesian wells, and the lines of railroad by which (we doubt not) it is proposed to connect Timbuctoo with Cape-town, Algiers, and Alexandria, and for which the general flatness of the country offers considerable advantages. "They sought, further," said the learned knight, "to make the African population familiar with one common language by the compilation of dictionaries, grammars, and vocabularies, and thus, by obtaining a more general acquaintance with the feelings and manners of the Africans, to acquire their confidence. In the same way the society designed to give them all those scientific advantages as to agriculture and manufactures which this country had acquired in the lapse of ages; they sought further to introduce amongst them the benefits of medical science, and, by improving the drainage of the country, to facilitate the settlement of European speculators, without the risk of life on landing on its shores. There was an immense variety of similar points to which the exertions of the society might be usefully directed, but to them he would not now advert."
"Was there ever before such stupendous folly, so preposterous a chimera, as this? But when we, consider that, for the sake of these impossibilities, Englishmen will be tempted by shoals to emigrate into new death-swamps like Sierra Leone, among savages worse than those of New Zealand, probably with no better effect than that of adding to the embarrassments of our foreign politics, and creating more slave-marts like Liberia, and fresh opportunities for the employment of British capital in that detestable traffic, this chimera becomes a serious matter, and ridicule is converted into indignation.
|Fr 20 November 1840|
CIVILIZATION OF AFRICA.
TO THE EDITOR OF THE TIMES.
Sir,- In the discussion which took place at the Reading anti-slavery meeting on the 11th current, I was surprised to find a person possessed of such opportunities of information in regard to Western Africa as Sir George Stephen endeavouring to uphold the salubrity of a climate which has been incontestably proved by the experience of a long series of years to be totally unfitted for the residence, either permanent or temporary, of Europeans.
Fortunately this fact no longer rests on the loose assertions of parties who, from false philanthropy, or less worthy motives, may be anxious to uphold a system by which millions of money and tens of thousands of our countrymen have been already sacrificed, for undoubted official evidence of it may be found in a report presented to Parliament by command of Her Majesty in March last, showing the loss of the troops and settlers on that coast for a period of 20 years, and from which I am anxious through your pages to make a few extracts, hoping that thay may prove useful at the next anti-slavery meeting.
First take the Gambia, for instance, the most northerly of the settlements on the coast. The only year in which this was occupied by any body of Europeans was in 1825 and 1826, and their fate may be briefly narrated as follows:-
At Sierra Leone, the settlement next in order, it is clearly shown that even on the long average of 20 years, nearly one-half of the European soldiers perished annually.
On the Gold Coast, the next of our possessions to the south, it appears that in the average of four years two-thirds of the white soldiers died annually, and this frightful mortality took place not at Cape Coast Castle alone, but at Accra, Annamaboe, Dinare[?], and the other small settlements scattered along that line of coast; all were tried, and all found equally fatal.
Fernando Po, the settlement furthest to the south, proved just as unhealthy. Of 40 European mechanics sent out in 1828, 16 only were alive two years thereafter; and of the unfortunate survivors, and 31 Europeans who joined in 1830, there died 28[?] in the course of that year.
It may be said that these men were reckless and dissipated in their habits, which facilitated the inroads of disease. That may be true to a certain extent, but even their officers, with all the superior advantages they enjoyed for the preservation of health, suffered nearly in a corresponding degree, for-
Thus, of this class, on the long average of 20 years, about one-tenth part died annually, and another fifth returned home sick, of whom, no doubt, a large proportion also died.
Even the missionaries, a class of men likely to be the most healthy, lost on the coast about 17 per cent, annually between 18?? And 1825. Of 25 merchants who arrived on the Gold Coast in 1822, four only survived in 1825, and on the other parts on the coast the rate of mortality has been much the same, for the insurance-offices, who generally calculate their risks with considerable exactness, usually charge 25 per cent, additional for residence there, on the supposition that the average duration of European life there is about four years.
I understand a statement in preparing to be submitted to Parliament next session by the Navy Medical Department showing the loss among the seamen on that coast, which is also frightful, particularly when they are obliged to remain for any time in the vicinity of the shore. At the French settlements of Goree and Senegal the deaths of the troops average about a fourth part of their number annually, and when they were in our possession the loss was still greater, amounting to one-third of the whole force annually.
If these facts are taken into consideration, the failure of the numerous attempts to penetrate into the interior will no longer be matter of surprise. The hand of death generally cuts off half the number engaged in them before the lapse of a few weeks, and the best arranged plans were speedily disorganised by the utter impossibility of contending against the climate. Such will, I apprehend, be the fate of those brave but misguided men who are now about to devote their energies to the same desparate enterprise, as well of those whi it in intended should follow, for the purpose of training the ruthless savages of that country to the arts, occupations, and industry of civilised life.
Before any further contributions, therefore, are levied on the public in furtherance of Sir F. Buxton's well-meant, but I fear impracticable and injudicious, schemes, it seem imperative on all those who are endowed with real feelings of humanity just to inquire whether a physical impossibility does not present itself at the outset in the nature of the climate to be contested with, seeing that from Senigal on the north to Fernando Po on the south, a dsitance of nearly 2,000 miles, there is not one spot on which the mouldring bones of our countrymen do not bear testimony of the dreadful insalubrity of the coast. Sierra leone, bad as it is, is clearly proved by the documents just referred to to be the healthiest spot along the coast; but were those who are to act as the pioneers of civilisation on this occasion to be certain of enjoying even the usual duration of life in that colony, they would be in their graves long before their lessons in civilization could take effect.
From the power of influence which your paper exerts on all public questions of this kind, I trust you will take the trouble of referring to the documents here alluded to, and if you find them as conclusive as they appear to me, that you will have the kindness to warn your philanthropic readers not to let their anxiety to civillize their sable brethren induce then to forget that consideration whichis due to the lives and constitutions of their fellow countrymen.
Colonial Club, Nov 16
|Sa 21 November 1840||LONDON, SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 21, 1840.|
The Society for Civilizing Africa by dictionaries and political economy, and for promoting unity among the negro tribes by teaching them "all varieties of religious principle which own Christianity for their "common basis," seems at every step it takes to flounder more and more deeply in the mire. The bubble is bursting before it is full blown. Having started up at Exeter-hall, "a goddess armed," out of the head of its wise projectors, it was terribly worsted in its first encounter with common sense at Reading on the 11th inst.; and on Wednesday last was pierced through and through with a twofold shaft from different quarters. On that day we did the public the service of intercepting, in our non-conducting medium, a little of the glare of this dazzling luminary; and we are much mistaken if it did not look like a paint-bedizened actress, dragged into plain daylight from the stage where her got-up beauty had enchanted all beholders. On the same day it sustained a memorable defeat at Norwich, which, we suspect, will terminate the country campaign for the present season.
The English are an easy-minded nation, generously and charitably, but rather indolently disposed, always glad to take things for granted, and to be saved the trouble of inquiry, and therefore the ready dupes of mountebankery of every kind. Norfolk, Suffolk, and the adjoining counties, have recently (if we are not misinformed) shown that their latitude is not exempt from this national failing, by certain striking examples of gentlemen and clergymen high in station, education, and intelligence, who did not hesitate to embark their fortunes in the promised El Dorado of a mining adventure in Cornwall upon the unattested representations of a single worthless individual. If this was the ease where nothing but self-interest was concerned, we cannot be surprised that the same class of imaginations should be captivated by the much more magnificent moral El Dorado conceived in the brain of Sir FOWELL BUXTON, and half intimidated, half cajoled, into believing that those who have the extinction of slavery at heart must throw themselves into the arms of the new society, if they would not be esteemed traitors to the noble cause.
It is in this way, and by the use which, doubtless, has been made of Prince ALBERT's name, that we account for the success of the dictionary-dissenting-civilizers in procuring a large and highly respectable collection of names, both of clergy and laity, connected with the county of Norfolk, to their singularly imprudent requisition for a county meeting. A county meeting was accordingly held, and certainly it was intended to have been a very great affair. We shall not dwell upon the absurdity (justly pointed out by Archdeacon BATHURST) of giving the foremost places at a country meeting to the ladies, because everybody knows that it is really for their "amusement" (to use Bishop STANLEY's felicitous expression) that these things are got up. Neither shall we refute the strange notion of a "Catholic church" including all varieties of religions belief, which issued from the same right rev. lips, it being pretty notorious that the Whig Bishop of NORWICH is a fitter representative of the sentiments of the Dissenters than of the church to which he belongs. Another part of the right rev. prelate's speech - that in which he gratuitously attacked the memory of another generation of bishops, who have gone to their account - deserves a severer censure. But our object is not to comment upon the sayings or doings of the particular actors on this occasion, so much as to narrate the signal discomfiture of the party, and to moralize upon the causes of that event.
The meeting being summoned by the High Sheriff of the county, and held in the Shire Hall, it was of course impossible to act upon the hole-and-corner system, and a very considerable number of the working classes obtained admittance. Many of them are stated to have been Chartists. Before the Bishop of NORWICH, who moved the first "resolution" had spoken for many minutes, they gave manifest tokens of their presence and way of thinking. Not content with this, they found spokesmen of their own party in two individuals, named DOVER and HEWITT, who moved and seconded the following amendment:-
"That this meeting views with deep regret the many proofs of despotic slavery at home, and pledges itself to use all exertions to put a final stop to slavery wherever it is found to exist".
Deluded and misinformed as these speakers showed themselves to be upon many points, general and statistical, connected with church and state - bad at was the spirit in which they spoke of the church, and unjustifiable as was the personality of some of their remarks, we must say that at this meeting they appeared to more advantage than men of their opinions commonly do. If much of what they said was nonsense, it was not greater than might be paralleled in the speeches of Sir GEORGE STEPHEN and his followers at the Reading demonstration; and, to a certain extent, they were fighting the battle of justice and common sense against the cant of that "charity" which does not "begin at home." DOVER (Chartist though he be) spoke like a philosopher when he defined slavery to be the condition of the man "who did not receive a fair equivalent for the labour he performed." HEWITT was still better:-
"He should like some of the gentlemen who stood on the platform to attend at the door of the workhouse, and see the young girls driven, without hats or shawls, thence to the factory. He would then ask them what did they call that but slavery. This was not all, however, for he had himself found a weaver in this city who, after working 16 hours a day could only earn 9 s. a week. This was to support six children, his wife, and himself, and, deducting the outgoings, these earnings just left 1½ d. a day per head for that family to subsist upon. He could go with the Bishop who had supported the New Poor Law Bill to-morrow and show him, not one individual case, but an hundred such instances of destitution. He could take the right rev. prelate to houses where the husband worked as a weaver for 18 hours a-day, and yet had nothing but a lock of straw for his wife, his children, and himself to lie upon."
No wonder that the working men felt themselves insulted by the proposal, while so much wretchedness existed unrelieved and unrecognized among them-selves, to sound the trumpet of ostentatious benevolence on behalf of the distresses of another quarter of the globe; to show that the same purse-strings which could not be relaxed in their favour would readily open to promote any wild or fanciful scheme which was designed to take effect at the antipodes; to prove that the vary people who thought austerity itself too luxurious for the English poor, who would as soon go to Africa in person as call a county meeting for the sake of rescuing English children from the grinding slavery of mammon, had sympathies enough and to spare for the savage millions of a different race. No wonder that they cried out, "Look to the slavery and misery of the New Poor Law" - "Emancipate the white slaves before you think of the black."
We suspect that these are the things which make men Chartists, and certainly it is not the distorted medium of Chartism which causes these things to be seen in such a light It would surprise us to hear that DOVER or HEWITT had ever read the "Poetry, of the Anti-Jacobin;" yet the peculiar kind of philanthropy which excited their indignation was long ago described by CANNING in the following lines: -
"What! Shall a name, a word, a sound control
When the Chartist orators had concluded, Archdeacon BATHURST rose; and, if the gentlemen who got up the affair were chagrined by opposition proceeding from hearers on whose presence they had not calculated, infinitely greater must have been their mortification and disappointment, when they heard a dignitary of the church declare his opinion, "that to call a meeting like that now assembled, at such a moment, was injudicious; for why should Englishmen be asked to lend their ear to the details of misfortune and oppression which existed at a great distance, when the people themselves felt - whether right or wrong it was not for him to say - they had great cause of complaint at home?" The rev. gentleman then proceeded to indicate, in a tolerably unequivocal manner, his view of the impracticability of the Dictionary Society's designs, and stated that "in his opinion, too, the affection and confidence of the people of Africa now redeemed in the West India colonies must be acquired before any successful interference could be made with the chiefs of the African coast, and looking to the state of Jamaica so lately as April last, he could not but think that confidence and affection were at present to be acquired." In the spirit of this observation, he moved a second amendment, reminding the anti-slavery party, with a refined irony, of the responsibilities already incumbent upon them; and recommending the flighty philanthropists of the new society to discharge their self-assumed duties, and make good their ground, in the British colonies, before taking in hand the regeneration of the African continent. Of course the good Archdeacon did net expect his advice to be followed, or seriously imagine that the people he was addressing could ever attend to what actually concerned them, instead of leaving the half-finished work to produce new confusion in some other quarter. Their sympathies and their exertions will always be in an inverse ratio to the real claims of the objects on which they are bestowed. The Archdeacon's amendment did not find a seconder among the gentlemen assembled at the Norfolk meeting.
The rest of the proceedings consisted exclusively in dumb show and noisy disturbance. The amendment of the Chartist DOVER was put, and a forest of hands was held up for it; but, notwithstanding, the original resolution was declared to be carried, The other resolutions (being the usual farrago, dictated, of course, by the committee in London) were afterwards nominally moved, nominally seconded, nominally put, and nominally carried: and the lions of the day, befog no others than Mr. JOSEPH JOHN GURNEY and the great Archimandrite Sir FOWELL BUXTON himself, were obliged to go away in evident disgust, without having delivered the marvelous, ingenious, and pathetic harangues with which they probably meant to have entertained the meeting.
Such, and so complete, was the failure of the county meeting held in Norfolk on Wednesday last, "to consider the propriety of forming an auxiliary society (in connexion with the institution lately formed in London) for the suppression of the slave trade and the civilization of Africa." And such, we venture to say, will be the fate of every open and really public meeting which these hare-brained agitators may call together. It is not by the aristocratical blandishments of certain coteries which have invented a system of half-religious, half-fashionable excitements to supply the want of other kinds of pleasure which their conventional morality thinks proper to excommunicate; neither is it by the nominal co-operation of persons who lend their names to every scheme wearing the outward form of benevolence, that the public can be duped into pinning its faith upon the splendid promises, the extravagant chimeras of these men, who talk as if mountains were molehills, and act as if molehills were mountains. Nothing (provided it be at a sufficient distance from home) is too impossible for them to undertake; but practice shows that they have not wisdom or perseverance enough to execute, in a satisfactory manner, even the smallest things. We compared them on Wednesday to the philosophers of Lagade, without being aware, at the time, of the exact propriety of that comparison SWIFT was, by anticipation, describing them to the life when he wrote the following passage:- "These professors contrive new rules and methods of agriculture and building, and new instruments and tools for all trades and manufactures, whereby, as they undertake, one man shall do the work of ten; a palace may be built in a week of materials so durable to last for ever without repairing. All the fruits of the earth shall come to maturity at whatever season we think fit to choose, and increase a hundred fold more than they do at present, with innumerable other happy proposals. The only inconvenience is, that none of these projects are yet brought to perfection; and in the mean time the whole country lies miserably waste, the houses in ruins, and the people without food or clothes. By all which, instead of being discouraged, they are fifty times more violently bent upon prosecuting their schemes. Faithful as this description is, it does not come up to the effrontery of these who, after having been intrusted with the expenditure of 35,000,000 l. and upwards of national resources for the purpose of abolishing slavery, now come forward, and urge the alleged fact, that the expenditure of all this money according to their suggestions has tended only to aggravate the horrors of the slave-trade system, AS A REASON WHY WE SHOULD INTRUST THEM WITH 35,000,000 l. MORE for the accomplishment of the same objects, by means infinitely more wild, visionary, and chimerical, than anything before imagined. Good-natured as Englishmen are, they are not exactly the people to be cajoled or bullied into this.We are happy to perceive that persons are not wanting, among those who have taken an active part in the slave-trade question, who coincide in our views of the new society, and are willing to come forward and protest against its impracticable designs. In another column will be found a copy of resolutions, agreed to on the 16th instant by the committee of the Liverpool Anti-slavery Society, which we commend to the notice of all persons interested in this subject In these resolutions it is not only asserted, but distinctly proved, that "the present scheme is only a revival in a modified and less efficient form of the African Institution" - a society which, after attempting at a vast labour and expense, during a space of 20 years, to check the slave trade by the very means now recommended by Sir FOWELL BUXTON, was obliged to desist in despair from the vain endeavour, and confess that it had signally and unequivocally failed.
|Sa 21 November 1840|
LIVERPOOL ANTI-SLAVERY SOCIETY.
At a meeting of the committee, held on Monday morning, the 16th of November, 1840, the President in the chair; it was resolved unanimously,-
"The particular means which this society proposed to employ for promoting civilization and. Improvement in Africa were of the following kind:-
"Having signally failed, after more than 20 years' fruitless labour and expense, the directors of the African Institution arrived at the conclusion which they announced in the following remarkable words, at the end of their last report :-"'It is in slavery that the slave trade has its origin; it is the market provided by the slave holder which furnishes the direct incentive to all the crimes of a trade in slaves, to the murders and conflagrations which attend their capture, to the condensed horrors of the middle passage which follow it, and to the misery and desolation of a continent.'
"III. That a society having been recently formed for the extinction of the slave trade, and for the civilization of Africa, under the patronage of distinguished and honoured men, this committee have felt bound to give their most careful consideration to the plans it has set forth in the following terms:-
"From these plans the committee of the Liverpool Anti-slavery Society are reluctantly constrained, from a sense of duty, to withhold their support:-
"These reasons determine the course of the committee. They respectfully submit them to the calm consideration of all who are interested in the welfare of Africa, at the same time deeply regretting that they are compelled to differ in option from many whom they esteem and honour. But with them the cause of the abolition of slavery and the slave trade is too sacred to be lightly dealt with; and instructed by the experience of the past, right principles and plans in its promotion are, in their judgment, of paramount importance.
"JOHN CROPPER, Jun., President.
|Fr 27 November 1840|
LETTER FROM SIR GEORGE STEPHEN TO LORD JOHN RUSSELL, RELATIVE TO THE SOCIETY FOR THE EXTINCTION OF THE SLAVE TRADE, &c.
This "Letter", remarkably ill-written, rambling and disjointed as it is, has a claim upon our notice, solely on account of the object for which it is professedly published. It has no merit in a literary point of view; it displays no ability in the management of the subject; it manifests no talent in the author; and it exhibits neither strength of argument, nor anything like perspicuity in the arrangement of the details. It is crude, ill-digested, confused, and inconsequential; and it is only deserving of attention, inasmuch as it is intended as an exposition of the plans and views of the "Society for the Extinction of the Slave Trade, and for the Civilisation of Africa.'' The inducement to its composition its author states to have been as follows. He says- "After the lapse of only a few weeks from the publication of my former letter on the Niger expedition, I sent to my printer, for a copy, and received for answer that 'they were all gone.' This argues such a warm interest on the subject on the part of the anti-slavery public, that I am induced to comply with the request of many fiends who have read that letter, that I would enter more fully into the character and plans of the Society for the Extinction of the Slave Trade, as well as into the objections that have recently been urged against it." This excuse for writing the "Letter" puts us very much in mind of a remark which we heard made in the House of. Lords last yeas by Lord Melbourne, relative to Sir Francis Head. Some opposition peer - we forget who - stated, in a debate on the Canada Union Bill, we believe, that Sir Francis had written a certain pamphlet on the subject at his request. On that statement, Lord Melbourne observed, that he dared to say Sir Francis would very willingly write a pamphlet at anybody's request. Had this remark been made in regard to Sir George Stephen we should have been more ready to have admitted its accuracy; for from what we have seen of this weak, washy, itinerant philanthropist, we are quite sure he would be delighted to have an opportunity of volunteering, even without a request, either a pamphlet or a speech, whichever might best suit the occasion. We beg, however, to assure him, that there was nothing at all remarkable in the reply of his printer, which he is so proud to make public. That an ordinary edition of a "letter" on the "Niger expedition" should have been sold in "only a few weeks" does not, in our opinion, "argue such a warm interest in the subject" as would have induced any one but an inveterate scribbler to commit himself so soon again to print. No second edition appears to have been called for, and had the interest in the subject, or rather in his "letter," been only half as warm as Sir George Stephen flatters himself it must, the first edition would have been sold in a few hours. The truth is, disguise it as he will, that this very worthy gentleman could not keep his fingers longer from pens and paper; but, although he has made a sad bungling business of it, we are yet grateful to him for this exposition, lame as it is, of the "character and plans" of a society in favour of which a degree of enthusiasm was created on its first establishment, which, till very recently, has prevented the generality of people from reflecting soberly on the schemes of its founders.
When the formation of this association was contemplated, the general impression was, that Christianity would constitute the basis of its operations, and that the introduction of a pure religion into Africa would be the main object to which its efforts would, be directed. The vast body which congregated within Exeter-hall, and over which the illustrious and amiable consort of our Sovereign presided, were told that the blessings of the gospel were to be extended tot the benighted Africans; that slavery was to disappear before the triumphant march, of Christianity; and that moral education was to give peace, prosperity, and civilization to a people sunk in the depths of barbarism and superstition. The society, or its founders, contemplated no mercantile projects, no acquisition of territory, no selfish advantage, no merely temporal objects; but everything was to be conducted solely for the benefit of the African race, and the spirit of benevolence was to preside over all their undertakings. In the prospectus, too, it was clearly stated that, "As various opinions do and will exist as to the most fitting means to be adopted for the establishment of peace and tranquillity in Africa, it is expedient to state the leading principles on which this society is formed, and the measures intended to be pursued." And what is the very first principle laid down in this generally vague and ambiguous document? It is, that the society is "unanimously of opinion" that the "only complete cure of all those evils" (we presume the evils resulting from the slave trade are meant) "is the introduction of Christianity into Africa. They do not believe that any less powerful remedy will entirely extinguish the present inducements to trade in human beings, or will afford to the inhabitants of those extensive regions a sure foundation for repose and happiness" They further "distinctly avow" that "the substitution of our pure and holy faith for the false religion,-idolatry, and superstitions of Africa, is, in their firm conviction, the true ultimate" (how jesuitical is the use of this last word!) "remedy for the calamities that afflict her." Similar expressions are to be found scattered through the pages of Sir Fowell Buxton's book and Sir George Stephen's "letter;" and it was by these, and such like professions and representations, that the society obtained favour with a religious and benevolent public. Its founders well know that any plan of civilization, not founded on Christianity would be but coldly received by what Sir George Stephen calls "the anti-slavery public," and that if they stated that they were "to bring only secular means to bear on the great work," few of the pious individuals to whom they more particularly appealed would come forward to support schemes so fantastic as that of draining the swamps and sandy deserts of Africa. Christianity in short, was the watchword: by which they rallied around them not a few supporters; and let us, therefore, see whether or not the public have been deluded, whether the proceedings of the society have been in accordance with their professions, and what the agent is which they now propose to employ for the regeneration of the Africans.
At page 3 of his "letter" Sir George Stephen says- "I was present on the first occasion when this important body met together, and it was indeed honourable to human nature the spectacle that presented itself; 40 or 50 gentlemen, rivals in political ambition, opponents in party conflict and no less differing in religious doctrine than in political faith assembled by one common impulse of humanity to merge all differences and all distinctions in one grand and united effort for the release of Africa from her benighted and, enslaved condition. - What, under such circumstances, was to be done? Would it have been seemly, would it have been right, to reject the proffered aid of even one, the very humblest of that noble assembly? Would it have consisted with the true interests of Africa? I will go further - would it have been in accordance with the spirit of the gospel, to have started points of controversy in limine, or to have suggested difficulties that might or might never arise in the way of future co-operation? The unanimous feeling was the other way. We will put out of sight every object of contention; we will for once at least forget our differences, our distrust, our antipathies, if you will. Africa alone shall occupy us here; we have one common goal in view, while it is possible, we will pursue one common path to attain it. Such was the feeling then, and this unity of spirit has continued to this hour. Look at our list of vice-presidents and committee-men; and say whether it is possible to bring together: 130 men more various in opinion on whatever subject excepting this alone - the civilization and relief of Africa; and with them go their retainers. Each man has his tail. These have, moreover, certain caudal intertwinings of ominous intricacy. Divide on any point of high church prejudice and away go my Lord of London and Sir Robert Inglis, arm-in-arm, and tail-in-tail, and all the bench of bishops after them; not an archdeacon, not a deacon would be left us; while Dr. Lushington and Mr. Waymouth would in like manner pair off the other way, tail-in-tail together, and carrying en suite all the Dissenters and sectarians in the country. 'But how was this singular unanimity' (we should have written 'shocking discord') to be secured? Surely not, my Lord, by throwing down the apple of discord before even the moral influence of such a combination could be felt. Yet, can it be doubled that if our first proposal had been to send out missionaries for the conversion of the natives, differences of opinion, more easy to excite than to reconcile, would have promptly arisen between al? Would the Bishop of London, on the one hand, and Dr Lushington, or perhaps your Lordship, on the other, have exactly coincided in your views of religious instruction? Would Mr Gladstone and Dr Vaughan have perfectly agreed as to the ordination of an African apostle, or Sir R. Inglis have supported Mr Waymouth in the selection of scriptural readings for an African school?"
In short, finding that they could adopt no creed in which all could concur, arid that the assertion of any particular faith would scatter the heterogeneous elements of the meeting to the winds, and untwist all the "caudal intertwinings" of each man's "tail," they abandoned Christianity in every form as an agent of civilization, and resolved, that what they assert in the prospectus to be the first "leading principle" of their confederation should be inoperative, and that what they, in the plainest terms, state to be "the only complete cure" for the evils of Africa should not be applied, at least by them. But this is not all. Having secured "singular unanimity" on the troublesome, point of Christianity, by the total abandonment of every form of religious faith, they next resolved that there should be no "definite scheme of secular education involving moral instruction;" because, says Sir George, "one would be for the Lancastrian system, another for the national school - this for Paul, and the other for Apollos." Thus, then, notwithstanding all the professions to the contrary, the natives of Africa are not to have "the Gospel preached unto them," and they are to be denied, so far at least as this society is concerned, every system of enlightened moral instruction. How grossly has the public been deluded and gulled by these philanthropic charlatans!
But to proceed. Even in regard to "secular means," the "unanimity" in this "noble assembly" seems to have been as "singular" as in what had relation to far higher objects. They found, according to Sir George, that it would not be "easy to devise a principle either of commercial or agricultural speculation, involving, as such speculation must inevitably do, all the liabilities of legal partnership, without frightening into secession four-fifths of those who joined with cordiality a partnership of benevolence." What, under such circumstances, was to be done? Why, the only course open, to them clearly was that which was adopted. They resolved to assert no principle directly on any one subject, to enunciate all their plans in vague and indefinite terms so as to frighten no one, and then to trust to the chapter of accidents. Sir George himself says he is willing to admit that the committee, in their prospectus, "express themselves vaguely; for instance, when it is proposed as one of the objects of the society 'to make the Africans acquainted with the inexhaustible riches of their own soil, &c., and to convince them of the immeasurable superiority of agriculture, &c.,' It carries no definite idea of the way in which such knowledge will be imparted or such conviction produced. But surely, my Lord, to cavil at such trifles as these is paltry and puerile; it is not to be expected, till circumstances have made us familiar with African habits and topography, that we should be able to explain with minute detail our modus operandi" No, truly; and here Sir George fairly lets the cat out of the sack. He tells us distinctly that this society knows nothing of Africa at the present moment, and thus affords the most satisfactory reason why they have been able to decide upon no plan of operation for its improvement.
The religions differences of the committee have prevented them from employing Christianity and moral instruction as agents of civilization, and thus ignorance of "African habits and topography" renders it impossible for them to determine on any rational scheme for bettering the physical condition of the people. This, attempt to disguise it as they may, is the true state of the case. Their enthusiasm, or, if they will, their benevolence, has outrun their knowledge as well as their discretion, and they really do not know either what they can or what they ought to do. They believe much, and conjecture more, but they are deficient in accurate information, and therefore can form only vague general and fanciful schemes, which, in all probability, they will ultimately find it impossible to carry into effect.
We have now seen that this society does not propose to introduce Christianity into Africa; that it is none of its "objects" to afford "secular education involving moral instruction" to the natives; and that as regards the physical condition of the country, it has not sufficient information to enable the members of the committee to lay before the public any detailed or feasible plan for its improvement. When, however, they determined to make an appeal to the humanity of their countrymen in behalf of the blacks, it was necessary that they should suggest something which might he done, and that they should paint out some means by which that something might be accomplished. What, then, are the measures which they propose for the "extinction of the slave trade," and what is the agent which they mean to employ in "the civilization, of Africa?" We could hardly believe that Sir George Stephen tells us the truth upon those points, were his statements not confirmed by Sir Fowell Buxton's book. We felt it almost impossible to persuade ourselves that for a principle of civilization so monstrous as that which the "Letter" informs as is to be employed, public approbation could have been solicited; and we intreat the Christian people of this country, and particularly the "Ladies of Albion," who have been so often and eloquently appealed to, to mark well the agent which this extraordinary association proposes in order to work out the enlightenment of the African race.
Sir Fowell Buxton, at page 304 of his book, thus enunciates his plan. He says- "If it be true that Africa would be enriched, and that her population would enjoy, in multiplied abundance, those commodities for the acquisition of which she now incurs, such intense misery, the one needful thing in order to induce them to unite with us in repressing the slave trade is to convince them that they will gain by selling the productive labour of the people instead of the people themselves."
And Sir George, at page 25 of his "Letter," asks- "Is it not reasonable to infer, that if the chiefs of Africa are once brought to the conclusion that the labour of man is more profitable than his sale, the same process of self-interested calculation will ultimately bring him also to the further result that free labour is more lucrative than the labour of the slave? It is but a sorry argument at the best, that we must allow the trade to continue, because slavery will survive it. But common sense tells us, that the same principle of gain which annihilates the one must, in its continued operation, give a death-blow to the other. When, therefore, the author of the 'Remarks' asserts, that 'neither in the plans of the society, nor in the work of Sir F. Buxton, is to be found a single provision against its occurrence,' he suppresses the important fact that a principle of action is provided, which must as assuredly work out the extinction of the condition as it does the suppression of the trade."
Here then we have the agent to be employed in the civilization of Africa. The "great work" is to be effected by the base and debasing influence of "the principle of gain." The minds of the natives are: not to be elevated by religion, or enlightened by instruction; secular or moral. They are not to be taught that to enslave their fellow-creatures is sinful or unjust either in the sight of God or man; they are only to be "convinced that they will gain by selling" the productive labour of their captives instead of their bodies. That which the Scriptures have declared to be "the root of all evil," is to be the means employed for the regeneration of Africa; and we ask if it is possible that a Christian people can approve such a scheme, or give their support in any way to this unhallowed attempt to introduce a sordid and brutalizing lust for gain amongst the other vices of the African race? Civilization cannot flow from such a polluted source; sad if, unhappily, the society should succeed to any extent in their design, every reflecting man must be convinced that the condition of the blacks will be rendered far more intolerable than it ever yet has been. No man can suppose that an African chief would treat his slaves with more kindness than a West India planter. On the contrary, every one must feel that his native barbarism and ferocity, unsoftened by the influence of Christianity, and stimulated by the unscrupulous "principle of gain," would drive him to demand from his captives, when they became his slaves, the utmost possible amount of labour which torture could extract.
The "principle of gain" might, indeed, by preventing the chiefs from selling their captives, put an end to the slave trade; but that could afford small consolation to any one, were it, on the other hand, to lead to the extensive establishment of slavery amongst a race of merciless and inhuman savages. Let no one be deceived as to the objects of this society. They aim at little more than the extinction of the slave trade; while the very means by which they propose to accomplish that desirable end tend directly, as they themselves tell us, to establish slavery on a firm foundation in Africa. Their aim is to persuade the native chiefs that it will be for their gain to reduce their captives to the condition of slaves on their own pestilential shores, and to sell the produce of their labour to our merchants instead of their bodies to the slave traders. The substitution of African domestic slavery for colonial slavery is all that they propose. Sir George Stephen, indeed, says that the chiefs will soon become convinced "that free labour is more lucrative than the labour of the slave;" but this is mere delusion, for without some more softening influence than that of the selfish principle of gain, we shall long look in vain before we perceive free labourers amongst the swamps of Africa.
We have now seen what the objects of this society are, and the means by which it is proposed to accomplish them, and we fearlessly ask whether the one or the other be deserving of public support. The delusive prospects of the committee, and the high patronage under which they commenced their operations, have misled many; but after the exposition of their principles and views with which Sir George Stephen has favoured us, we are persuaded that the whole fabric must tumble to the earth, and even its ruins be execrated by every one whose enthusiasm has not got superior to his reason. The end proposed cannot sanctify the means to be employed, and we must say that the bench of bishops, at least, will betray their principles if they longer continue members of so anti-Christian a confederation. They are bound to set an example to the people, and unless they consider "the principle of gain" as the best agent of African civilization - unless they feel that Christianity and secular and moral instruction ought to be repudiated, and unless they are prepared to sanction the establishment of domestic slavery in Africa of the very worst description, they will separate themselves from this "unclean thing" and no longer give their countenance to such abominable schemes.
Let us next for a moment turn our attention to those "obviously" (obvious, because applicable to every new country) "essential operations" which are in the contemplation of the society, and which Sir George tells us are "specified with distinctness" in the prospectus; He says- "To reduce the African languages to a system of grammar, and to facilitate the acquisition of them by compiling vocabularies and dictionaries, is a work of infinite importance, of necessity preliminary to civilization on a grand scale, and involving large expense. To 'ascertain the navigability of rivers, their depths and shoals, their currents and their tides, their anchorage and their course, with a view to the internal carriage of produce, no less than to the landing of our cargoes, is another essential preliminary' (to the extinction of the slave trade or to civilization? No; but) 'to commercial speculation. The same may be said in reference to roads, with this additional circumstance, that roads may be made wherever materials and labour are abundant. The opening of river navigation implies moreover the introduction of boat-building upon scientific principles; the formation of good roads leads to the building of carriages, the manufacture of harness, and the training of cattle for the purpose of draught; and thus one improvement directly conduces to another.' Very likely it may; but will Sir George be good enough to tell us how such improvements "conduce'' to either of the objects enunciated in the title of the society, and what claims they have on either the charitable or benevolent feelings of a country which has so many poor of its own starving in workhouses or perishing in the streets or in the fields for want of the simplest necessaries of life? The very simple but very profitable processes of agriculture are also matters in which the native African at present requires elementary instruction; the fitness of particular soils for particular crops, the alternation of crops, the restoration of exhausted land, the management of produce when collected, the cleaning and preparation of cotton or coffee for our market, the package, the stowage, and the sale of it, afford scope for the exercise of benevolent exertion in the way of teaching and assistance to an extent coequal with the charity of our country. And here again are involved an infinite number of important ulterior details;" we should have thought them, preliminary; "as for instance, the construction of agricultural implements, the acquisition and the manufacture of iron" (into fetters and collars for the slaves, we presume); "the building of warehouses and stores; the whole trade of the carpenter, the mason, the wheelwright, and the smith - all this is necessarily incident to the introduction of - agricultural science."
In addition to these slave-trade-extinguishing improvements, Sir George tells us, the society will bestow upon the natives of Africa "medicine" and "surgery," "botany" and "pathology," "statistics," "mining," "printing," "the laboratory and the lecture-room," "domestic economy" and political, we suppose, "jurisprudence," "finance" and "civil establishments." These things, he is of opinion, are of such a "character, that men of every variety of political or religious doctrine may with propriety and consistency undertake them," and becoming facetious (a rare thing with a thorough-paced hunter after philanthropic popularity), he goes on to say-"I presume, for instance, that your Lordship would scarcely differ from Sir Robert Peel as to the most convenient form of a spade!". We would advise him not to make too sure about the matter. "I apprehend that the Bishop of London and Mr. Waymouth would concur in opinion that, the relative importance of the chair of the Protestant Dissenters, and the Episcopal throne, matters little to a Hottentot till he can talk English, or until they have mastered the Caffrerian patois! I presume that Sir R. Inglis or Mr. Gladstone would allow the use of printing and paper without restriction, while 'direct succession' is a term only applicable to the line of packets! Nor will even the Quakers taboo gunpowder and fowling pieces, it is to be hoped, until the Foulahs become inquisitive about the doctrine of projectiles, or the right inclination of salient angles." After having thus detailed and commented on all the "intended efforts" of the society, and informed us, which was unnecessary, that they are "of enormous expense in their detail," he asks, "Can it be questioned that they are sufficiently large and sufficiently important to demand, and sufficiently explicit to justify, the cooperation of all the Christian public?" Now, there must surely be an error of the pen or of the press in this sentence. "Christian" must have been written or printed by mistake for "commercial," for in the whole list of "objects to be effected" which he has given us, there is not one with which Christianity has anything whatever to do. The society, as he himself assures us, confines itself, "in the strictest sense of the term, to only secular duties;" and there is, indeed, not one point in the whole range, as detailed by Sir George, calling for, or which would justify, the slightest manifestation of religious zeal. Everything proposed is directed to commercial, agricultural, or trading purposes, while the vile "principle of gain" pervades and pollutes the whole. But, independent of all this, and even admitting that their plans are practicable, and that they might be of some advantage in improving the physical condition of the Africans, is this a time for carrying our charity so far from home, and for wasting on the building of boats on the Niger, and on the construction of roads through the Great Desert, money which could be so much better expended in providing food for our own famishing countrymen? Can these people see only at a distance? - must their humanity, in the words of Mr. Burke, be always in the horizon, and like the horizon be always lying before them? Are they blind to the misery which is around them, and at their own doors? and are their sympathies so engrossed by the black race, that they can afford not even a tear of pity or a word of comfort or encouragement for the multitudes of English men and English women who are in rags, without bread, and "perishing for lack of knowledge?" We sincerely hope that the many estimable and worthy individuals who have joined this association will reflect that there are calls upon their charity much nearer home than the banks of the Quorra, and when they have satisfied the wants of those who have a direct and positive claim upon their benevolence, it will then be time enough to think of teaching "botany" and "pathology" to the natives of Africa.
There is only one point more in this "Letter" to which we shall advert. Sir George, in answer to some observations which appeared in a recent number of The Times, again denies, in a postscript, that the society contemplates taking military possession of any part of the country. On this part of the subject, however, he, at page 8, completely upsets his subsequent assertion. He says- "In my former letter I complained of the omission" - in the prospectus - "of all official declaration of the free and responsible principles on which our future settlements in Africa should be governed. This, however, was a reproach to your Lordship rather than to the African Society, and I lament to say that nobody of late years has held the colonial seals so long as your Lordship without being aware that some or other of my transatlantic clients have too frequently occasion to make me the channel of complaint on this score; I should certainly have rejoiced had our prospectus announced from authority such principles of African administration as would have met my objection, but certainly our committee was not answerable in any way for this omission," That, we think, is pretty clear upon the point; for, if no part of the country is to be taken possession of, where was the necessity for an "official declaration of the free and responsible principles on which our future settlements in Africa should be governed?" If there are to be no conquests made, no acquisition of territory, "principles of administration" must be settled by the native princes; but there cannot be a doubt that Sir George contemplates "settlements" independent of the chiefs, which can only be maintained by "military occupation." If he does not mean this, we should like to see some other explanation of the passage we have quoted.
We have now gone through this very foolish "Letter," and in concluding, we cannot refrain from expressing a hope that Sir George Stephen has misrepresented the objects of the society of which he is so active, and, we fear, so ambitious a member; and we trust that that body will be able to disclaim his exposition of its views and principles. He says, in fact, that he is solely and individually responsible for every word that he has written, and we sincerely wish, it may be so. Indeed, we can hardly refrain from believing that this "Letter" was composed with the view of "showing up" the society, and that it must have been dictated by a feeling of revenge at being denied some of those lucrative appointments which Captain Washington told the people of Reading have, in contempt of native talent, been bestowed upon Germans.
We need say little in regard to the author's attack upon the "Tories, the church, and the press." He deprecates party feeling, yet he indulges in gross party vituperation, and this, no doubt, results, from his very pugnacious disposition, for he tells us, at page 17, that he is so fond of fighting, that if he cannot find an enemy to assail, he is ready at all times to knock down his friends. It is an unhappy passion, and must get him into many scrapes, but in the present case his attack upon the Tories is of no more importance than his stupid laudation of the Whigs.
|Fr 25 December 1840||A very funny sort of person is this "Sir GEORGE STEPHEN," who is now busily employed in writing down the "Society for the Civilization of Africa." It is a very rational source of amusement to watch the proceedings of these creatures of the marplot class, who are often permitted, retributively no doubt, to infest the undertakings of political or professedly religious quacks, and to scare away the gulls by the ceaseless noise they keep making.|
The "Society for the Civilization of Africa" is admitted by "Sir GEORGE" to be little else than a revival of the old, defunct, "African Institution." This being the case, what could be more happy than his reminiscences of the old society?- "I well recollect," he tells us, "being sent round as a boy among all my friends and companions to beat up for recruits to fill Freemasons'-hall at the anniversary meetings! Many others were employed in such service, and yet with all our exertions, carried on for weeks previously, it was but seldom that we could muster friends enough to occupy a dozen rows of seats!"
The motive for this tale-telling appears to be to draw a contrast between the apathy of that period and the enthusiasm of Exeter-hall at the "great meeting" of last summer. But is it not abundantly obvious, that a chief cause of that remarkable concourse was the altogether extrinsic circumstance of the expected presence, for the first time in a public meeting, of the youthful consort of the QUEEN? And is it grateful (we can not respectful) of "Sir GEORGE," after having thus made use of the Prince Consort, to offer his Royal Highness the implied insult which so evidently lurks in the very next sentence?
"Another serious difficulty with which the African Institution had to contend was found in the very high station of most of its committeemen. The Duke of GLOUCESTER attended very regularly, and many noblemen of elevated rank bestowed considerable time on its affairs. It is unnecessary to observe that such men do not belong to that class by which, and by which alone, business is transacted with promptitude and energy; such state is cumbersome where work is to be done," "The African Institution was grievously thwarted by this extreme consciousness of its dignity; could it have thrown three-fourths of its nobility and M.P.'s overboard, the vessel would soon have righted herself, and scudded before the wind." (A Third Letter to Lord J. Russell, &c. By Sir George Stephens, page 28.)
This is candid, at least; and if the public do but draw the just and obvious conclusion, the hint must be useful. The new African Institution comes forward, as did the old one, under the sanction of high patronage. The public give their money to it, partly because it is recommended to their notice by great and noble names. It is now, however, plainly stated, by this cackling member of the interior management, that these honourable persons must not look to be admitted to any other functions than that of being "decoy-ducks" to the concern; for that, should they presume to take part in the deliberations of the acting committee, they will be dealt with as lumber, impeding the progress of the vessel, and only fit to be "thrown overboard."
But enough of "Sir GEORGE'S" amusing revealings: let as now ask, as his pamphlet is mainly directed against the recent strictures of The Times, whether he has advanced any new fact or argument which in the slightest degree invalidates our objections? Never was there a pamphlet more utterly destitute of either. Take the chief point at issue. We proved, from documents of the most authentic character, the destructive nature of the climate into which the victims of this new colonization scheme are to be carried. To these statements two replies arc offered: the first - that a large proportion of the colonizers will be selected from among native Africans. This reply is good just as far as it goes. But it will not be pretended that the expedition is to consist of Africans, Englishmen there must be, in considerable numbers. If but a few were sent, the probability would be, that six or eight months would break up the whole affair, from want of leaders. If many, so much larger would be the sacrifice of life; for we have already shown that from a year to a year and a half has generally been what insurance companies call "the expectation of life" in that frightful climate.
But the second is a splendid specimen of scheme-making logic. Here are the very words:- "Though settlements on the coast may be unhealthy, others in the interior may be no more so than towns in Brazil or Jamaica." (P. 19.) "May be!' there is no such word in the whole of the West African geography. The climate of the whole of that coast is most fearfully destructive to European life. And this is the place you are sending a fresh collection of Englishmen to colonize, in the absurd hope that "in the interior," if they ever get there, there "may be" spots no worse than Jamaica or Brazil! Seriously to reply to such an hypothesis would be to weary our readers; it is quite enough to state it, as one of Sir GEOROE'S main replies to the strictures of The Times.
In fact, beyond this, we find little to notice. In the way of stark-staring absurdity we might point out a passage at the 7th page, in which Sir GEORGE urges that we must colonize West Africa, and grow cotton there, because, at present, we import from America 444,000,000 pounds of cotton per annum, at the cost of sixteen millions sterling, and "where should we find ourselves if on any sudden emergency our cousin JONATHAN required prompt payment of his sixteen millions in sterling cash?" !!!Our readers will be apt to doubt whether it be possible that such a sentence can have been gravely written down, printed, and published by a man who is still going about without a keeper. But they will actually find it, word for word, as we have quoted it above, in the 7th page of Sir GEORGE STEPHEN'S "Third Letter." Surely, after this, we need not add another syllable.
|Ma 28 December 1840||LONDON, MONDAY, DECEMBER 28, 1840.|
Although we have freely censured the absurd schemes of the Society for the Civilization of Africa, we are not disposed tacitly to assent to their misrepresentations of our argument, as if we pleaded without remorse for the continuance of "things as they are," We are fully aware that one of the most enormous evils that at present oppresses the human race is the detestable and increasingly destructive slave trade; and, just in proportion as we desiderate a real cure for this disorder, do we dislike and contemn the quackish contrivances of "Sir GEORGE STEPHEN" and Co. - of which Dame PARTINGTON mopping out the Atlantic, was no caricature - for suppressing this vast system of rapine and tyranny, by means of "two steam-boats," and a meeting at Exeter-hall. We have already objected to the terrible sacrifice of English life which this experiment must involve. What makes the matter the more deplorable, is that we can discern not even the shadow of feasibility: in the plan itself. To throw away valuable lives is a fearful thing in itself; but to lavish them in an undertaking which is perfectly hopeless, seems doubly lamentable.
What is the chief object and mode of action propounded for this steam-boat expedition? It is, to act upon the native chiefs of Africa - upon those who are at present in various ways concerned in the slave-trade abominations; and to influence them by "moral suasion," by arguments of self-interest, and by the force of good example; showing them, both by precept and by ocular demonstration, that "honesty is the best policy," - and that it would be far more for their real and permanent advantage to turn their hands to honest industry - to plough and sow, to grow cotton and coffee - than to live by murdering and destroying their neighbours and their brethren.
Now, this theory is all very fine and very good, and if it had been the work of some young female "friend," whose knowledge of life had been gathered in Mr. GURNEY'S drawing-room and Sir FOWELL BUXTON'S library, no one ought to have been surprised at its simplicity. But as emanating from grown men, who know something of the world, and cannot plead the young Quaker's innocence of its wickedness, it quite perplexes the observer to surmise whether folly or fraud is its real progenitor.
All observers of mankind are well aware, that just in proportion as men are sunk in vice and profligacy is their deadness to this "moral suasion," and their entire insensibility to the clearest demonstration of their real interest. Why do not the projectors of this notable scheme for "civilizing" the African men-stealers begin by trying their experiment, on a cheap and easy scale, among the less criminal professors of larceny and burglary in our own metropolis? An experienced leader of the police would readily afford them an introduction, in a friendly way, to some of these gentry. Let them try, then, with some of the "artful dodgers" or "flash Neds" of the metropolis. Let them show these gentry the desperate folly of the course they are pursuing - the infamy of their lives - the certainty of a disgraceful end; and let them urge upon them the clear and undeniable expediency, upon the plainest grounds of self-interest as well as of religion, of forthwith abandoning their evil courses, and taking up a hod, with an honestly-earned 15 s. Per week.
Would any one of the committee of African "civilizers" enter upon such an effort of "moral suasion" with the slightest hope? Do they not feel convinced that the young ruffian who has learned by the abstraction of a watch or a shirt-pin to gain a night's revel in the wine-vaults or the brothel, is not to be persuaded by any power short of that which arrested PAUL on his journey to Damascus to quit his life of excitement and guilty pleasure for the harder labours and monotonous round of honest industry?
Or take another and more resembling case. Go to our southern coast, and preach to a Sussex smuggler the expediency of abandoning his dangerous and immoral pursuit, and confining himself in future to the capture of mackerel and whitings. But, where will you gain the ear of one who has once tasted the delights of a successful run, and pocketed his 30 l. Or 50 l. for a week's work; or, if you even gain his ear, what chance have you, so far as "moral suasion" is concerned, of getting the least access to his heart?
Now, the slave-captors and slave-dealers of Western Africa are far indeed below either the London thieves or the Sussex smugglers in profligacy and obdurate hardness of heart. We say nothing against any attempt to Christianize them; only let us not rely upon such attempts for the extirpation of the slave trade; but as to the other fancy of civilizing them, by introducing agriculture, &c., and thus persuading them to leave off a life of plunder and take up habits of industry, it is not more chimerical than would be a civilizing expedition to the wolves of Siberia, nor is it less!
But we have said, that we on no account wish to be understood as depreciating the evil, however lightly we may estimate these particular remedies. A single fact exhibits the absurdity of the present state of things, and the impossibility of maintaining it. England is now paying from 600,000 l. to 700,000 l. for her attempts to put down the slave trade; and amidst all this vast expenditure, to which we should add the loss of many valuable lives, the slave trade is not put down! Nay more, it grows and increases year by year.Now this is so monstrous a state of things, that we cannot believe it possible for Lord JOHN RUSSELL to contemplate its continuance.
|Sa 9 January 1841||The Soudan steam-vessel, Commander Bird Allen, arrived at Woolwich on Thursday evening, and is expected to proceed to Deptford to take in stores, previous to proceeding on the expedition to the Niger.|
|Th 14 January 1841||We have recently paid a visit to the Soudan, one of the three iron steam-vessels destined for the projected Niger expedition, and now lying in Depford docks. This vessel is smaller than the other two, the Albert and Wilberforce, being of only 230 tons, while the tonnage of both of the others is 440. The Soudan (the name is a corruption of Habib-es-Sudan, or friend of the Blacks) is destined for detached service, when required, up smaller rivers; for conveying intelligence or invalids, and especially for sounding ahead of the other vessels in difficult or unknown navigation. The destination or this vessel requires that its dimensions should be within narrow limits, and the accommodations of the inferior officers (the same in number for the three vessels) and of the crew are necessarily remarkably straitened- a disadvantage which, under a tropical climate, may be attended with unpleasant consequences. A free circulation of fresh air between decks has, however, been ensured by the erection of a ventilating apparatus, fitted under the able superintendence of Dr. Reid. It consists of a case of sheet iron, about two feet and a half in breadth, and eight inches in thickness, extending all round the sides of the vessel, and provided with mouths, which may be opened or closed at pleasure. The air is driven into this case by means of a large circular fan, which is set in motion by a band communicating to the axle of the paddles, or, when the engine is not in play, to a wheel which may be turned by manual labour. By means of this apparatus the entire vessel, or any single department, may be thoroughly ventilated, and the ship's company protected from the ill effects of the miasma that usually prevails in alluvial soils on those coasts where these vessels are destined to navigate. Connected with this there is a chamber containing woollen cloths, lime, &c, through which it is intended, whenever the presence of malaria, that formidable foe to European life in tropical climates, is suspected, the air shall pass previously to being circulated below by the ventilating apparatus. Another peculiarity in the construction of this vessel is, that instead of the usual covering provided for the paddle-wheels, two shaloops are so fitted as, when inverted, to supply the place of paddle-boxes. The time of departure of this vessel is not fixed.|
|Ma 18 January 1841|
16 January 1841The Pluto steamer arrived to-day [at Portsmouth] from the eastward, with a few volunteers for the Indus; she will go to Plymouth with a few others for the Impregnable, and is ultimately intended to accompany Captain Trotter's three iron steamers to the month of the Niger river.
|Sa 23 January 1841|
22 January 1841
The Wilberforce iron steam-vessel, Commander William Allen, is expected at Deptford by the end of the month. The Soudan being already there, it is said, when these three vessels are ready for the Niger expedition, that his Royal Highness Prince Albert will visit and examine them previous to their sailing for their destination in Africa.
|Ma 25 January 1841|
23 January 1841The Albert, new iron steamer, for the Niger expedition, arrived yesterday from Liverpool, and proceeded to Deptford, where the vessels intended to be employed on this service are to be finally equipped.
|Fr 12 February 1841|
A FURTHER APPEAL TO THE GOVERNMENT AND PEOPLE OF GREAT BRITAIN AGAINST THE PROPOSED NIGER EXPEDITION.
It is now some months since Mr. Jamieson, of Liverpool, first called the attention of the country to the cruel, wrong inflicted on the mercantile community by the proposed expenditure of 61,000 l. Of the public money on the outfit of three armed steamers to ascend the Niger, and to pioneer the way for the future operations of Sir F. Buxton's two societies, one for the civilization and the other for the cultivation of Africa. In the teeth of the direct assurances which he received from Lord John Russell, that "the Government expedition would engage in no commercial transaction, either for the benefit of the Society for Promoting the Civilization of Africa or for that of any private parties whatever," Mr. Jamieson learned that merchandise to promote the objects of the first society was to be conveyed up the Niger by the Government vessels, and therefore lost no time in informing his Lordship that be must withdraw the steam-vessel which he had equipped, to navigate and trade upon the same waters, as he was convinced that "no private merchant could keep his ground in or near a Government merchant or Government philanthropic merchant settlement, bolstered and sustained by the public purse and public subscription." In the course of the appeal, which he simultaneously made to the Government and people of Great Britain on this subject, he protested against the expedition on three distinct grounds;- first, that the objects which it professed to have in view were based on the assumed success of the settlement of Sierra Leone, whereas that settlement after an expenditure of millions, is a melancholy monument of the total futility of such settlements for the advancement of commerce, agriculture, and civilization; secondly, that the slave trade has retired from the Niger, and that a legitimate commerce with England, the greatest from any part of Africa, is prosecuted upon its banks, contrary to the repeated allegations of the abolitionists; and, thirdly, that the slave trade is most extensively prosecuted on the south-west coast of Africa, from which there is scarcely any commerce with England. He maintained that it was a downright absurdity to suppose that agriculture would precede commerce in Africa, and demonstrated that there must be a demand, first to induce, and afterwards to keep up, production; that such a demand could only be produced by commerce; that commerce flourished best under competition of individuals; and that if the competition of individuals were destroyed, as it would be by the existence of Sir F. Buxton's overgrown Joint-stock Company, the natives would be left at its mercy, would no longer obtain a remunerating price for their productions, and would consequently have no stimulus either for agricultural or for any other kind of exertions. He likewise pointed out the fallacy of attempting to cultivate the soil of Africa by free labour, by showing that few or no free men are to be found amongst a people who are almost exclusively slaves or serfs to their kings and-chiefs. "The adoption as a sacred and primary principle," continued Mr. Jamieson, "that 'any man who enters any territory we may acquire in Africa is from that moment free and discharged from all manner of slavery, and that Great Britain pledges itself to defend him from all, savage or civilized, who may attempt to recapture him,' implies, in the present state of the population of Africa, that agricultural establishments are to be worked by runaway serfs, the recovery or recapture of whom, by the chiefs, or powers to whose dominions they belong Great Britain is pledged to prevent." Such a system would inevitably lead to perpetual collisions with the native Powers; and, in case of any general attack upon our settlements, would compel us, to engage in a war for Nigritia, as France has engaged in a war for Algeria, to her great expense, and to her very doubtful acquisition of profit and glory.
Such were the leading statements enforced by Mr. Jamieson with great power of argument and language in the very excellent pamphlet which he published last August. We have thought it right to place a brief abstract of them before our readers, because the abolitionists, with an obstinacy proportionate to their ignorance of the real condition of Africa, are still urging upon the Government the expediency of despatching the expedition which they originally suggested, and are still supporting their arguments in its favour by allegations which, though they have been refuted and contradicted over and over again, they have still the audacity to repeat. We shall presently show that there are reasons far stronger than any which have yet been mentioned why this expedition should not sail at all, or at least should not sail to accomplish the objects which are contemplated at present. But, if it needs must sail, why, in the name of humanity, has it not sailed before now? Sir F, Buxton informs us (p. 357), that "the usual period of a voyage from London to Benin is 53 days," or, in common parlance, a period something short of two months; that the best time of visiting the coast is from December to May; and that the worst time is from the middle of July, to the middle of December (page 358). It is now; the commencement of February; the three steamers are still in our rivers; if they were to sail this very day, it would be April before they reached the swampy delta of the Niger; and thus, instead of having four, they would only have one, of the healthiest months of the year for the commencement of their operations. If their departure be much further protracted, they will reach their destination as the unhealthy season sets in; and then, notwithstanding all that is predicated in the prospectus prefixed to Sir F. Buxton's book about the "diminished danger" to which European constitutions will be exposed on this insalubrious coast, when "the aid of medical science is secured for them," it requires but little prescience to foretell that sailor and surgeon will alike fall victims to the destroying fury of the autumnal pestilence. But now at least there is no occasion why the Government steamers should sail at all. From "a further appeal," which Mr. Jamieson has just published against this expedition, it appears to be at length ascertained, that "from the unhealthiness of the river and its difficult navigation, the Niger, of which so much has been expected is likely to remain comparatively of little importance to the world as a medium of commerce with Africa". The Ethiope steamer, which Mr. Jamieson still employs upon the Niger, draws only 5½ to 6 feet water. Captain Becher, the commander of it, has very recently, transmitted intelligence to England, that in pursuance of his instructions he attempted, but failed, the entrance of the Niger by the Benin or Formosa-river; that he tried the other central branches of the Niger, and was equally unsuccessful; but that he succeeded at last in finding an entrance by way of Warree. "Thereafter he penetrated into the interior to near Liver (a short distance from Boussa and the highest point which has yet been reached from the Niger), when the bed of the river became so contracted and obstructed with rocks, that further progress was stopped. The river throughout was difficult of navigation, being dependent upon the rains, which for the season had been unusually light. Trade was attempted at all the leading towns on its banks, but very little could be done, although the natives at all parts were friendly and favourable to commercial intercourse. Much sickness had prevailed among the white men of the ship's company while in the river; and we regret to add, several deaths had taken place." Now, before we proceed to notice the other points in Mr. Jamieson's recent pamphlet, we must take the liberty of calling public attention to the wide difference which exists between the ascertained facts and the imaginary pictures which Sir F. Buxton has drawn of the capabilities of the Niger. We have no doubt that this task would have been executed more ably by Mr. Jamieson himself, had he had time for it: but the fact is, that he did not receive this information until his pamphlet was struck off, and that he has transmitted it to us in a printed slip, which will of course be attached to all the unsold copies (we trust that they are few) of his very clever and intelligent little work. "We now know," says Sir. F. Buxton "the course of the Niger, and an entrance into the centre of Africa is opened by means of this noble river, We have now got in steam a power which enables us to traverse it, to pass rapidly through the unhealthy parts of it, to ascend it against the current; in short to command its navigation", (p. 524). Again, in another part of his book- "Here, then, is one of the most magnificent rivers in the world introducing us into the heart of Africa. At a central point it opens the way by its eastern branch to the kingdoms of Bornou, Kanem, and Berghami; by its western, to Timbuctoo; each of them bringing us into communication with multitudes of tribes, and unfolding to us the productions of a most extensive and fertile territory" (p. 346). In a page or two before we are told, "We now know that a mighty river, which discharges itself into the bight of Benin by upwards of 20 mouths, is navigable, with little interruption, thence nearly to its source, a distance of more than 2,000 miles."
"Quid dignum tanto feret hic promissor hiatu!"
We confess our ignorance of the exact position of Lever, the point to which the Ethiope ascended, and we cannot tell whether it is above or below Boussa; it is, however, only a short distance from Boussa; and Boussa, according to Sir F. Buxton's book, is only 560 miles from the bight of Benin. We have here, therefore, undeniable evidence, that at least 2,000 miles of this "great highway into the heart of Africa" are not practicable for commercial intercourse. Moreover, it was not without great difficulty that the Ethiope, drawing only 5½ feet to 6 feet of water, penetrated to Lever. "She was unable to pass a bar above the Eboe, for want of water, until the water rose;" and, as Eboe is considerably nearer the sea than the confluence of the Niger and the Tchadda, where Sir F. Buxton proposes to form his principal factory, enough has been ascertained to show that "the locality chosen for a new British settlement in Africa is," as Mr. Jamieson justly remarks, "wholly out of the question."
But we are not surprised at this; we have had too many proofs that Sir F. Buxton is an unsafe guide to follow to feel any wonder at the discovery, that he knows nothing of the natural impediments which the Niger presents to a free communication between the coast and the interior of Africa. They form at once an insuperable and conclusive objection to his plan.
We have no doubt that Mr. Jamieson has communicated to Lord John Russell the information on which we have just been commenting; and as Lord John, in his letter of the 26th of December, 1839, to the Lords Commissioners of Her Majesty's Treasury, had the candour to avow that on the confluences of some of the principal rivers falling into the Niger from the east he proposed that the expedition should establish British factories for certain purposes, which he specifies therein (Appendix to Sir F. Buxton's book, p. 558), we trust, that if he still persists in that intention, he will publicly avow it, and so enable Parliament, which is fortunately sitting, to decide whether it shall be carried into effect at the public expense or not. We have already stated that Sir F. Buxton wishes the principal factory to be placed at the junction of the Tchadda and Niger. The objections to this proposal are so forcibly urged by Mr. Jamieson that we shall allow him to state them in his own words:-
Here, perhaps, we might stop; for after the impracticability of a scheme is established there is little benefit derived from demonstrating that the means by which it was intended to accomplish it were perfectly futile and inefficient. But in the present instance we are inclined to shoot another shaft against the abolitionists, as it will wound them to the quick in the point on which they profess to be most sensitive - we mean their charity. It is taken, however, from the quiver of Mr. Jamieson; and, if it fails of reaching the mark at which we aim it, its failure will arise from our wish to compress the argument into the shortest possible compass owing to our inability to insert it in all its details.
We have already had occasion to mention that Sir F.Buxton contemplates the civilization of Africa through the combined operation of two societies, namely, "a benevolent society, which shall watch over and befriend the interests of Africa - its object, charity;" and "a company which shall cultivate her soil - its object, gain." No attempt, however, is to be made to form this latter company until the expedition to the Niger has made the necessary preparatory arrangements and negotiations in Africa. It nevertheless proposes to obtain by treaty land for cultivation; such land is to be freely offered, and its limits are to be extensive. The Government is "to take upon itself the whole duty and responsibility of preserving the peace, and affording the necessary protection to such new settlement in Africa." An arduous and may be expensive duty! And for whose benefit? For that of a joint-stock company, whose object is its own private gain.
And who are the members of that joint-stock company? The men who profess to be moved by compassion for the sorrows of Africa; for it is to them, and to them alone, that Sir F. Buxton addresses his emphatic injunction, "Join the African institution, which we are about to revive, and join the agricultural institution, which we are about to establish." Now, if we saw any of these worthies ready to jeopardize their private fortunes by incurring a liability for the debts of such a company, we might give them greater credit for sincerity than we can afford, at present; but we see nothing of the kind; they ask to be made a chartered company, and to have their responsibility limited; and unless the Government is under a pledge to grant them a charter, the chances are that the company is never formed, and that the three iron steamers might as well stay at home.
But it would appear that Government is not only to preserve the peace, it is also to make treaties with the native powers and chiefs, and to give them presents and all for the benefit of this company. Now, the giving away of presents will be injurious to the introduction of commerce, and will increase the jealousy which has been already created in the minds of the Africans by the visits of our travellers. "They can see something like an honest purpose," says Mr. Jamieson, "in the visit of the merchant for trade; but they cannot comprehend so clearly the object which brings a mere traveller to their country; and the presents given only increase their suspicions of the purposes in view." With respect to treaties with the native Powers, Mr. Jamieson asks two very shrewd questions; first, whether we know enough of the various languages and dialects and of the chiefs of the people on the banks of the Niger, to form intelligible and permanent treaties with them; and, secondly, whether the chiefs will be inclined to enter into treaties with us, when the basis of our treaties declares their slaves to be free, and is therefore calculated to undermine their own powers? He also shows from experience that treaties with African princes are good for nothing, and gives a striking instance of the truth of his assertion in the conduct of Bello, the Sultan of the Fellans, resident at Sackatoo, who addressed a letter through Captain Clapperton to the King of England, proposing the establishment of a friendly intercourse between the two nations by means of a consul, who was to reside at the seaport of Raka, the delivery of certain presents described at the port of Funda, and the prohibition of the exportation of slaves by any of the Houssa merchants to Atagher, Dahomey, or Ashantee. It subsequently turned out that there were no such seaports as Fundah or Raka; that they were places 200 miles inland, and that neither of them were under the dominion of Sultan Bello, except we sanction the principle, that "God had given to him all the lands of the infidels." Moreover, he treated poor Clapperton, who returned with the presents, so cruelly and ungraciously that he died of a broken heart at Sackatoo.
It appears from Captain Clapperton's journals that wherever he went he was met with the question "What are you come for?" and that a general belief prevailed that we intended to take possession of Africa, as we had of India,. Well, therefore, may Mr. Jamieson inquire whether this idea will not be strengthened if we send out a body of settlers to take possession of their territory. Supposing resistance to be made at a subsequent period to their continuance upon it, may we not be involved, in spite of ourselves, in an immense expenditure, not only of money, but of valuable life, for the benefit of this charity professing, but really self-seeking company?
Agreeing as we do in the premises of Mr. Jamieson, it will not surprise our readers that we heartily concur in the conclusion which he deduces from them, and which he expresses in the following strong and pithy language-
We had almost overlooked the "Addenda" to this pamphlet; but there is such a total annihilation of the defence which Sir George Stephen set up at the Reading meeting for the colony of Sierra Leone, that, we cannot refrain from submitting it to the notice of our readers:-
|Fr 12 February 1841|
HOUSE OF COMMONS, THURSDAY, FEB. 11.
Lord INGESTRIE wished to ask a question of the noble lord the Secretary for the Colonies on the subject of the expedition to the Niger. He understood that the steamer had been delayed much beyond its time, and the consequence was that the expedition, if now sent out, would arrive out at the moist unhealthy season of the year. He wished to know whether the Government intended that it should now proceed?
Lord J. RUSSELL said, that the steamer was delayed because it was ascertained that the waters. of the Niger were not sufficiently deep to admit that vessel up. He would make enquiries on the subject.
Mr. HUME wished to ask whether the noble lord would have any objection to lay before the house a copy of the instructions given to those who had charge of the expedition ? The public, in fact, did not know what were the objects of this expedition.
Lord J. RUSSELL said, that the instructions were laid on the table of the house last-year. He was not (as we understood the noble lord) prepared to lay any other instructions before the house on the subject.
Lord INGESTRIE asked whether the expedition would not arrive on the coast at the most unhealthy season of the year, if sent out at the time fixed for its departure?
Lord J. RUSSELL said, that the climate on the coast might be unhealthy, but it would not be found so as the expedition advanced up the river.
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