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The 1841 Niger expedition  

1841 Niger Expedition (1/4) (2/4) (3/4) (4/4)

Extracts from the Times newspaper
We 17 February 1841


Lord INGESTRIE rose and said, that pursuant to the notice which he had already given, he begged to call the attention of the house to the period which had been fixed upon for the sailing of the expedition which was shortly to leave this country for the Niger. He had no intention of occupying the house at any great length with the subject. The point to which he wished to direct their attention was not so much to the principles and objects of that expedition as to the period fixed on for its departure. If he were not withheld by a feeling of incompetency from entering into a discussion on the general bearings and objects of that expedition, he should feel himself precluded from doing so, in the first place, because it had been already under discussion in that house, and had received the sanction of a vote during the last session of Parliament, and again because, although he might have some doubts as to the general policy of the measure, when he considered the very great difficulties which might attend the execution of it, still he could not but recollect that he might be wanting in respect to that large and influential meeting held, in London which gave rise to the motion now before the house - a meeting at which an illustrious individual presided - if he had done so on the present occasion. It was impossible to doubt for a single moment that the motives which prompted this expedition were most pure, most benevolent, and he could not do otherwise than applaud the objects in view - the abolition of the slave trade by the establishment of colonies in the interior of Africa. From some circumstances or other incidental to undertakings of this sort the expedition had been delayed, probably from some causes which were inevitable. He had been also given to understand that the preparations would not be in such a state of forwardness as to enable it to start, at the earliest, before the 1st of April next. Looking at the length of passage necessary to be traversed before a vessel could arrive at Sierra Leone, the first point to which he apprehended the vessels would proceed, and being of opinion also that one of the three vessels would most likely have to be towed out, it did not appear to him probable that the expedition could arrive before the middle or the end of May. It would then become necessary to procure some of that class of the natives called Kroomen, which would again naturally take up more time, probably ten days, or a fortnight, at least, and the vessels must then proceed up one of the numerous entrances of the Niger, when would commence the known objects of the undertaking. This would bring them to the month of June, about the most unhealthy of the rainy season. He believed that season began in the middle of April and lasted till the middle of October, and the last three mouths were the most unhealthy of the six. When he had urged the impolicy of adhering to the time fixed for sailing, he was told by the noble lord the Secretary for the Colonies, in answer to a question which he (Lord Ingestrie) had put to him the other night, that it was necessary these vessels should go out during the rainy season, when the river was in a state of flood, in which state only it would be capable of admitting them. That might be very true; but what he complained of was, that they had no certain data to go upon as to the time when they would arrive at the river. If it could be shown that vessels, when they commenced operations, could go by a certain channel from the sea-coast into the interior of the country he should have no objection to their starting. But he well knew that the delta of the Niger extended 200 miles at least, and that the course of its channels was constantly shifting and changing, and the probability was that when these vessels arrived at the mouth they would be able to proceed but a little way up, where they would remain. Any delay would be fatal to the expedition. The crew would be exposed to the pestilential effects of that pestelential climate. This was no party question. The object of the expedition was to extirpate the slave trade. But the thought that they should be careful lest they sacrificed the lives of those engaged in the undertaking; He therefore hoped that that expedition would be delayed, and in the meantime that a survey would be made. He had received an account from Captain Becher, who commanded the Ethiopia, and had been a great deal on the African coast. He stated that out of 12 men employed he lost five; that he had to effect an entrance into the river by Formosa, but, failing in that, he at length entered by Warree. He felt sure that the Niger could never be made the medium of commerce with Africa, all ingress or egress being denied by means of that river during six months of the year. Heavy goods could never be conveyed by it, such as coffee and rice, but only such light ones as palm-oil, gum, gold dust, and ivory. Under these circumstances he hoped that Her Majesty's Government would give this subject their grave consideration. He would conclude by moving for a copy of the correspondence which had taken place relative to the Niger expedition.

Mr.M. O'FERRALL agreed with the noble lord that this was not a question on which parties could express adverse opinions. The Niger was supposed to be navigable during the dry season for vessels drawing six feet of water. On this proving not to be the case, the departure of the expedition was deferred till March. It would arrive about the latter end of June. It had been ascertained that the rainy season was by no means the most unhealthy in those parts. It was not necessary for him to follow the noble lord into all the details of the question; he would merely state that the utmost anxiety existed in the Colonial Department to ascertain the time for starting which would be the most beneficial.

Mr. HUME had expected to find the noble lord the Secretary for the Colonies in his place, because he had the other evening asked that noble lord a question relating to the subject now before the house, and had received a most unsatisfactory answer. He had asked what were the objects of that expedition. He wanted to know whether it was the intention of the Government to plant colonies, or take possession of land in that part of Africa and alarm the inhabitants, or whether it was simply a voyage of discovery. But the noble lord had vouchsafed no information, so that both he (Mr. Hume) and the whole country were at a loss to comprehend what the noble lord's intentions were. He would for this reason suggest the propriety of adjourning the motion till the noble lord should be present to declare what in truth his object was.

Mr. V. SMITH said, that the reason why the noble lord the Secretary for the Colonies was absent was because that noble lord had understood from the noble lord opposite (Lord Ingestrie) that he intended solely to make inquiries as to the time of starting, but had no intention of entering into the general question of policy. ("Hear" from Lord Ingestrie.) He really felt surprised that the hon. Member for Kilkenny should now for the first time ask what were the objects and principles of the measure, when he himself was one of the assenting parties to it.

Mr. HUME. -No such thing.

V. SMITH. -He was one of those who voted 60,000 l. To start the expedition, and now he turned round and asked the objects of it. He would not, however, on the present occasion enter into a long discussion with him on the subject, as he (Mr. Hume) would have another opportunity afforded him of voting more money by a bill which would be brought in in the present session. The principle was known to every one who had paid the least attention to the subject. It had been discussed at a very large public meeting, and in all the newspapers. The principle was to extirpate slavery. It was intended to establish relations with the native chiefs, and to obtain the cession of lands, as by possessing them they would be in a better position to superintend the commercial operations which they might carry on. He could assure the noble lord that every attention had been paid to that important feature in the expedition, which as much concerned humanity as its ultimate object, he meant the health of those about to engage in it. The difficulty was this, that the season which was considered the least healthy was that at which the possibility of navigating the river was greatest. The noble lord, however, must not assume that the health of those persons would be subjected to the same trials as that of travellers; because in this case every possible contrivance for averting the bad effects of the climate would be resorted to, while it was well-known that very little, if any, precaution had been taken by those who had travelled in the country. He supposed the noble lord would not press his motion, and that it would be unnecessary to produce the papers after the explanation of his hon. Friend.

Mr. WARBURTON said, that when the sum of 60,000 l. Was voted last year, the hon. Member for Kilkenny was not in the house, and no discussion whatever had taken place. In his opinion there never had been a vote of so much consequence passed with so little attention, or in a manner so wholly disproportioned to the magnitude of the expedition it was intended to set on foot. He hoped sincerely that advantage would be taken of the delay which had arisen in consequence of defective information after, he might almost say, the expedition had been begun, and that the house would require from the Government a complete explanation of the difficulties likely to be met with, before the vessels were allowed to sail. If 60,000 l. Were required at the onset, what were they to expect hereafter? Considering the magnitude of that sum and of those sums which future Parliaments might be called upon to vote in furtherance of this expedition, and considering also the natural difficulties that must be encountered in the undertaking, he thought the house would be acting unjustly if it did not call for full information upon the subject.

Mr. O'CONNELL was of opinion that the noble lord had not made out any great case as regarded the time the expedition was to be undertaken, or the likelihood of its failure. The noble lord had spoken of the unsuccessful attempt of Captain Becher to ascend different branches of the Niger, but when he came to read the letter, it appeared that he had at least succeeded in penetrating farther than any one else. His hon. Friend the member for Bridport treated the motion as if there had been a refusal on the part of the Government to afford every explanation on the subject. Now he (Mr. O'Connell) was not aware of any intimation that such explanation would be required. The noble lord's motion and speech did not point to it, his object being merely to show that the expedition would arrive at the most unhealthy season. The only complaint then was that owing to the absence of the hon. Member for Kilkenny, no discussion had taken place upon the subject when the estimates were before the house. The object of the expedition, it was well known, was to open commercial relations with the interior of Africa, and for a holier object money could not be voted. (Hear.) When we were expending large sums of money in fruitless attempts to put down the slave trade, he thought that 60,000 l. Ought not to be objected to for the purpose of attempting to establish a legitimate commerce in the interior of Africa, and thereby check the horrible traffic which was there going on in human flesh. Unless there were physical obstacles, which it would not be possible to overcome, he certainly thought that it would be worth while to expend 60,000 l. In an endeavour to achieve the great object of this expedition.

Mr. HUME observed, that this was certainly the first time he had ever heard a member of the Government refer a member of that house to speeches delivered at a public meeting for information respecting the objects of a great expedition, such as that under discussion. Before the vote had come on last year, he told the noble lord the Secretary for the Colonies that he intended to oppose it; and he was now more inclined to do so even than then, for it was now evident, that the expedition had been commenced in ignorance, the Government having first determined that it should sail in October, and upon subsequent information, that it should not start until March. He agreed with his hon. And learned friend the member for Dublin, that it would be very desirable to establish commercial relations in the interior of Africa, but he denied that this expedition was one calculated to do so. He contended that those relations had been already established, and that merchants, and not sailors, were the persons required to render them effective. The Government were beginning at the wrong end. By the course they were pursuing they might do mischief, and could do no good. Upon these grounds was it that he wished for that information which was invariably granted in reference to all such objects of discovery.

Mr. HUME thought that hon. Members had no foundation for stating that the house was without information upon this subject; for that the whole scope and objects of the expedition had been laid before the house in the month of February last, in a letter from Lord John Russell to the Commissioners of the Treasury. It was then stated that the expedition was to go out, if possible, to put a stop to the slave trade, which it was found no marine guard was capable of preventing; and to give to the African chiefs, from whose dominions the external slave trade was supplied, interests of a better description. In a word the object of it was to put down the slave trade, by establishing commercial relations with those chiefs. We were expending tenfold the sum voted for this expedition in steamers and other vessels to put down that trade; and he therefore felt with the hon. and learned member for Dublin, that it was at least worth the experiment of attempting to do by natural what they could not effect by artificial means.

Lord INGESTRIE, in consequence of what had fallen from the hon. member for Dublin, read some further extracts from the intelligence which had been received respecting the Ethiope steamer, to show that, although Captain Becher had found an entrance by way of Warree, and had penetrated to near Lever, yet that owing to the state of the river, the sickness of the crew, and other causes, the experiment had totally failed. If this expedition were to be undertaken, he wished to see it done effectually or not at all. With that feeling it was that he had brought forward this motion. Among mercantile men in the city, and those who were best acquainted with the subject, there was but one opinion as to the inexpediency of sailing at this period of the year. He entertained such strong doubts of the success of the enterprise, that he thought it most probable he should give his vote against the grain for the expedition when it came before the house.

Sir C. ADAM said, that every inquiry had been made as to the most eligible time of sailing, and by proceeding about this season it was expected that no difficulty would be found in crossing the bar and entering the river, and that the expedition would be certain to make its way up some one of the tributary streams, of which there were many, to a sufficient distance. On a former occasion the vessel under Captain Becher had been delayed at the delta.

The motion was then, by leave, withdrawn.

Fr 19 February 1841The steamer Pluto, Lieutenant Lunn, is at Plymouth, waiting the arrival of the steam squadron for the Niger, which she is to accompany.
Sa 20 February 1841The Albert iron steam-vessel, Captain Henry Dundas Trotter, arrived at Woolwich frem Deptford on Wednesday, and will remain here until ready to sail for Africa. Professor Airy intends examining her compasses minutely, so as to have them placed in such a position as to insure their acting correctly, notwithstanding the vessel is an iron one. The superiority of Grant's patent fuel having now been proved, the vessels for the Niger expedition will be furnished with it. It is now expected the expedition will sail early in March, or as soon as the arrangements can be completed.The Soudan iron steam vessel, commander Bird Allan, for the same expedition, will remain at Deptford for the present.
Ma 15 March 1841The Soudan, iron steam-vessel, Commander Bird Allen, arrived at Woolwich from Deptford on Tuesday afternoon. It is not generally known that there are 15 men of colour attached to each of the vessels appointed for the Niger expedition, as it has been considered they will be found more suitable for the labour of the vessels in a tropical climate. It is now expected the expedition will leave Woolwich, where the whole of the vessels, the Albert, Wilberforce, and Soudan, are now assembled, in the first week of April.
We 24 March 1841


His Royal Highness Prince Albert, attended by Mr. George Edward Anson, Hon. C.A. Murray, Hon. Major Keppel, Sir Edward Bowater, Captain Francis Seymour, and Dr. Praetorius, went to Deptford yesterday afternoon to inspect the vessels fitting out for the Niger expedition. His Royal Highness and suite went on board the Albert steam-packet, and immediately proceeded to Woolwich, where His Royal Highness went on board and inspected the other vessels preparing for the expedition.

His Royal Highness and suite returned to Buckingham-palace soon after 6 o'clock, in two open carriages and four, with outriders.

Th 25 March 1841


The Queen held a Levee, the first this season, at 2 o'clock yesterday afternoon, at St. James's Palace. Her Majesty and his Royal Highness Prince Albert arrived from Buckingham Palace escorted by a party of Life Guards…

The following noblemen and gentlemen had the honour of being presented to Her Majesty:- …
Captain Trotter, R,N., on his appointment to command Her Majesty's steam-vessel Albert, and as First Commissioner of the Niger Expedition, by Lord J. Russell.
Commander W. Allen, R.N., on his appointment to command Her Majesty's steam-vessel Wilberforce, and as Second Commissioner to the Niger Expedition, by Lord J. Russell.

Tu 30 March 1841The Earl of Minto, Lord John Russell, and other Cabinet Ministers, went to Deptford yesterday, to inspect the steam-vessels in the river fitting for the Niger cxpedition.
We 31 March 1841The desire to see the vessels of the Niger expedition continues unabated; crowds of distinguished visitors, anxious to inspect Her Majesty's ship Albert now lying in the basin in Deptford dockyard, arrive there daily. On Monday, amongst others, were Lord John Russell, the Earl of Minto, the Earl of Clarendon, Lord Morpeth, the Countess of Minto, and the Ladies Elliot, Lady Lowisa Fitzmaurice, Lady Mary Howard, Lord and Lady Braybrooke, the Duke of Buckingham, the Marquis of Chandos, the Ladies Cornwallis, Lady Jemima Elliot, Mr. Charles Wood, M.P., General Sir H. Bayley, G.C.B., Captain Blackwood, R.N., Sir Henry Vassall, R.N., &c. On Tuesday we observed the Right Hon. Sir R. Peel, the Earl of Errol, Lord Adolphus Fitzclarence, Earl and Countess of Denbigh and family, Lord and Lady Radstock and family, Lord and Lady James Stuart, Hon. Miss Denman, Sir Thomas Freemantle, M.P., Lord and Lady Leveson, Sir Walter and Lady Farqahar, Sir Harry and Lady Verney, Lady Antrobus and family, Rev. J.M. Trew, Sir George Clerk, Bart., M.P., Sir Thomas Dyke Acland, M.P., Mr Acland, M.P., Sir Thomas Pasley, Bart., R.N., Right Hon. Henry Goulding, M.P., Mr. Strutt, M.P., and Mrs. Strutt, Mr. and Mrs. Gibson Craig, Mr. and Mrs. Romilly, Mrs. Marcet, the Rev. J.M. Trew, Mr. Colquhoun, M.P., Captain and Mrs. Beaufort, Colonel and Mrs. Sabine, Captain and Mrs. Washington, Dr. Lindley, Sir William Hooker, Captain Smart, R.N., Captain Sparshott, R.M., Sir J. Clarke, M.D., &c.

The Soudan, Commander Bird Allen, sailed at 3 o'clock this afternoon for her destination, and will call at Plymouth for the Harriet transport ship. Commander Bird Allen, a few minutes before he embarked, examined Porter and Co.'s anchors, and expressed his decided approbation of the principle on which they are constructed.

Ma 5 April 1841Whilst his Royal Highness Prince Albert was going in the boat to visit the vessels intended for the Niger expedition the lad steering ran the boat foul of some craft; and the rowers were thrown into the bottom, the Prince being tilted atop of them. The officer in the boat apologized for the accident, upon which his Royal Highness said, "Never mind, never mind - if the worst had happened and the boat been upset, I could have swum ashore".
Ma 5 April 1841The Soudan iron steam-vessel, Commander Bird Allen sailed on the 30th ult. for Africa. The Albert, Captain Henry Dundas Trotter, and the Wilberforce, Commander William Allen, are expected to sail in the course of next week, for the same destination, as they form a part of the Niger expedition, in which so much interest has recently been shown. The Harriet transport ship will join them at Plymouth with stores and other articles necessary for the undertaking.
Tu 6 April 1841In my communication relative to Prince Albert's visit to the vessels of the Niger expedition at Woolwich, I stated that the pinnace in which his Royal Highness proceeded from the Albert to the Soudan was forced by the high wind and strong tide at the time against Her Majesty's vessel the William and Mary, and that the Prince laughed heartily at the narrow escapes the party had of losing their hats by coming in contact with the ropes attached to the booms of that handsome yacht constantly anchored opposite the dock-yard. The paragraph therefore which appeared in the evening papers of this date is a silly invention, as the boat was steered by an experienced veteran sailor, a master in the navy, and not by a lad, and there was no tilting or other inconvenience to the Prince or any of the party.
Ma 19 April 1841The Albert iron steam-vessel, Captain Henry Dundas Trotter, sailed from Deptford on Tuesday, and is now opposite the dockyard, Woolwich, where the crew will be paid wages about Tuesday next, and afterwards sail for the Niger in company with the Wilberforce, the Soudan having previously sailed for that destination.
Ma 3 May 1841The Albert, Captain Trotter, and Wilberforce, Commander Allen (iron steam-vessels), sailed on Tuesday for Plymouth and the Bonny River, on their way to explore the Niger River. At Spithead the Albert steamed round the ships, and, as a compliment, they manned the yards and gave her three cheers.
Tu 15 June 1841THE AFRICAN EXPEDITION.- The iron steamer Soudan, which left Plymouth on the 17th of April, arrived at Teneriffe on the 14th of May. The following is an extract of a letter from a gentleman on board, addressed to a friend is this town, and dated May 17:- "I write according to your wish, to tell our progress. We left Devonport April 17th, and we had a violent gale from the north-east, on the 21st and 22d, in the Bay of Biscay. It was sublime; I enjoyed it much; the swell of the waves was magnificent, Our round house, life-buoy, &c. were washed away, and the things even in the magazine were soaked through. Another gale set in on the 29th, from the south-west, which drove us into Lisbon on the 1st of May. I admired Lisbon exceedingly, and the country around it is most lovely. We left Lisbon on the 8th of May, had a fine passage all the way, and arrived here on the 14th of May. This is a most grand and magnificent island. Mountains are towering around us. I ascended one, and the view was superb. The famous peak, however, is, at this season of the year, inaccessible. We leave this to-morrow for the Cape de Verd Islands, where we wait for the Wilberforce, which I expect will join us there in a week or two, and then we sail on together for the Niger, but I doubt our entering it before August. I begin to feel the heat dreadfully; I felt quite knocked up yesterday. The ship is healthy. She is a dreadfully slow vessel, and how she weathered the gales we have met with I cannot tell. Many thought she would have been lost; but, when it came to the point, I felt no fear myself whatever."- Liverpool Albion.
Ma 21 June 1841The Albert and Wilberforce, two of the steamers composing the Niger expedition, had arrived at Madeira, whence they were expected to sail on the 25th of May for Teneriffe, at which place the Soudan had already arrived, all well. The intelligence is brought by the Espoir, Madeira packet.
Ma 28 June 1841Her Majesty's schooner Cockatrice, Lieutenant Oxenham, arrived at Madeira May 21, in eight days from Plymouth, all well. Passengers on board, Sir William Hoste and Lieutenant Knott, late of the Excellent, and Surgeons Robertson and Yeoman. Arrived the same day, the Albert and Wilberforce, Niger steamers, which sailed again for their destination on the 24th of May.
Fr 17 September 1841It is a rare occurrence that papers from Liberia are received in this country, and if they were, it is doubtful whether they would be regarded of any great importance, as our commerce is not much directed to that part of the globe. Some have, however, come to hand to-day, which are rendered interesting as they contain the news of the arrival on the 5th ult., in Montserado roads, of the Niger expedition, after a favourable passage nearly the whole way, and what is more satisfactory, Captain Trotter reports that there was not a case of sickness in any of the vessels. "The appearance of this squadron in our waters was hailed," says the paper (Africa's Luminary) published at Monrovia, "as a new era in African coast and river navigation".
Ma 11 October 1841THE NIGER EXPEDITION.- Letters were received in London on Saturday from Cape Coast Castle, dated the 28th of July, reporting the steam-vessels composing this expedition to have arrived there from Sierra Leone - the Soudan on the 15th, the Albert on the 19th, and the Wilberforce on the 24th of that month. The apprehension entertained, by some persons previous to its departure from England that the expedition might arrive at the mouth of the Niger somewhat late for ascending the river, as, the best possible penod appears to have been groundless, as from information gained on the coast from persons who had been up the Niger with Lander, it is found that large vessels would be unable to proceed above Ibo at an earlier period than the month of August.
Th 11 November 1841

Express from Liverpool

THE TIMES-OFFICE, 6 o'Clock a.m.

The Daedalus, Captain Martin, arrived at Liverpool yesterday from the coast of Africa. Captain Martin reports that the Niger expedition entered the new branch of the Niger between the 13th and the 15th of August, the Soudan leading. The expedition had, up to that date, lost nine hands by death.

Fr 12 November 1841


We have much gratification in stating, that the news from Liverpool, published yesterday, of mortality among the persons engaged in the expedition to the Niger, proves to be greatly exaggerated. A letter from a gentleman on board of the Albert, dated off the Nunn, August 10, says- "The Wilberforce, Soudan, and Amelia, joined us yesterday; the officers and men of all the vessels, so far as I can learn, are in good health." On the 18th he again writes- "We are now anchored above Alburkah Island having passed over the shallow part of the narrow creek, where we had 14 feet water, with the Amelia tender in tow; the Wilberforce and the Soudan come up to-morrow morning. There is one coloured man in the Albert, and another in the Wilberforce, who have the African fever, but the symptoms are favourable; both these men were West Indian negroes, and entered the ships in England. With these exceptions, I am happy to say, the officers and men of the expedition are quite well."

A letter from another gentleman, dated on board the Albert, the 19th of August, says- "We entered this river on the 14th. The health of the whole expedition has been all along very good, considering the number engaged in it, and any illness of consequence which has occurred has been almost exclusively confined to the black men. In the Albert we have unfortunately lost two men, one named Johnston, a white, fell from the foreyard-arm during our passage from Sierra Leone to Cape Coast, and died two hours after the accident from injury to the brain; the other was Mr. Back, the mathematical instrument maker, who was attacked on the 9th inst. with symptoms of fever of a low typhoid kind. It appears he had been suffering for some time from dyspepsia, and this attack supervening upon a constitution previously debilitated, proved fatal on the 15th; there evidently was nothing local in the cause of his death."

A letter from the chaplain to the expedition, dated the 18th of August, says- "all the officers and people of the whole squadron enjoy at present perfect health."

From letters received up to the date of the 20th of August, the whole of the losses sustained appear to have been three from casualties during the voyage, which with two coloured men, and one European - the latter not from African fever - comprises the entire loss of life sustained by the expedition from the time of its quitting England to the 20th of August.

The total number employed in the expedition is about 300 persons.

Fr 3 December 1841

(Extract from a Private Letter.)

Her Majesty's ship Prince Albert.
Off the River, Aug. 10, 1841.

We called at Madeira, Teneriffe, St. Vincent, Sierra Leone, Monrovia, River Sinde, Cape Coast Castle, aad Accra. We have had very good health, but have lost three men since we left England by accidents. Thus far we have been fortunate; all are in good spirits, and anxious to get into the river, which we shall do in a few days. We are now taking coal, &c., in from the Harriet transport; she then goes on to Fernando Po, and thence to India. The appearance of the country is not here very good, being low and swampy, bat after a few days it will improve. The grealest evil I have to complain of is the heavy rolling of the ship; it is dreadful just now; she is rolling in sach a way that it is with great difficulty I can write: however, when we get across the bar of the river all will be well. Fortunately, we had fine weather when we crossed the bay: as these are certainly not first-class sea-boats, they will, I have no doubt, do well for the river. Her Majesty's brig Buzzard is here; she has been blockading the river for six months, and has not lost one man. We have been to the river Sinde, which professes to be a civilized American colony, but it is, if anything, worse than a native village. Liberia is not all as it should be; I should not like to go to live there. As to Cape Coast Castle and Sierra Leone, I like them very well: I had much rather live in Sierra Leone than in Sydney. The only objection that I have to Accra and Cape Coast is, that no horses will live; they have lived a little while, bnt not so as to do any good. We hear the natives in the river are not very friendly. The Buzzard's boat went in the other day, and was obliged to return, so most likely we shall have something to do.

14th.- We are in the river now; crossed the bar yesterday; all well, and in good spirits. I went a little up the river yesterday in the Soudan, bnt she at last stuck in the river, where she remained until the tide rose. We all go up on Monday.

Sa 4 December 1841THE NIGER EXPEDITION.- Farther accounts, dated the 19th of September, but reaching to the 22d, have been received of the Niger expedition, which had at the former date ascended the river to the confluence of the Tchadda and Quorra; and at this point determined upon a change of operations. The original plan, to be guided, however, by events, was that the steamers should proceed in company; but circumstances have led to a resolution, that the Prince Albert, Captain Trotter, should ascend the Quorra, and the Wilberforce, Captain W. Allen, should navigate the Tchadda. - The Soudan, Captain Bird Allen, had returned down the river with invalids; for we regret to say that considerable sickness had prevailed, in spite of all the precautions taken to prevent it; and eight Europeans, sailors, had died since the expedition left England. Captains Trotter and B. Allen had both kept their health; but Captain W. Allen had been ill, but was recovered. The sickness which attacked the crews attended the vessels all the way up to Attah, about 200 miles, above which we do not hear that it continued; whilst the Prince Albert and Wilberforce made their way up the additional 70 miles to the site we have indicated as the junction of the two grand branches - viz., the Quorra or Niger, flowing from nearly the north or north-north-west, and the Tchadda, or Chad, from the eastward. The Soudan, from Attah, had got down to the coast in three days, and providentially found the Dolphin, lieutenant Littlehales, cruising off the mouth of the river, and put the sick on board, to be carried, we believe, to the Isle of Ascension. Such is the latest intelligence received. A previous letter from Mr. Cyrus Wakeman, the purser of one of the steamers, states that the patent prepared potatoes, of which the Literary Gazette spoke as likely to be so useful in such voyages, had turned out an invaluable blessing in affording fresh and nutritive provision for the ships' companies.- Literary Gazette.
Ma 6 December 1841


The Horatio transport arrived yesterday from Ascension, which she left on the 27th of October, with invalids from the African squadron. She brings sad accounts of the disastrous effects of the climate on the crews composing the Niger expedition, no less than one-third of them having invalided, of whom about 22 have died. The Soudan, on quitting the Nun river, with 36 invalids on board, fell in with the Dolphin, and transferred them to that ship. Eight of these died on board the Dolphin; and with the remainder she proceeded to Ascension, where they were put on board the Horatio, and have returned home. The havoc made by the climate on the crews had greatly disheartened the expedition, and it was considered doubtful whether it could proceed. It is somewhat singular that the blacks who went from England with the expedition were the first to fall a prey to sickness on entering the river. The former accounts received from the expedition mentioned that the steamers entered the Nun river on the 13th of August. We now learn that this river is two miles wide, and that it is thought to be the chief of the many months of the Niger. The vessels, with the Amelia tender, did not do more than about a dozen miles, until the 20th, on which day they did about 30; the 21st, 30 miles more; the 22d, being Sunday, they rested; the 23d was wasted in looking after the Wilberforce, which had gone up (without Captain Trotter's knowledge) by a different channel. The 24th they did 20 miles; the 25th, 25 miles; and on the evening of the 26th they all four arrived at the Island of Ebor, 130 miles up the river, according to its course. The river here is about 200 yards wide, and of good depth, the banks to the water's edge covered with vegetation, with the cotton, umbrella, palm, bamboo, and many other trees of the kind. The depth of water varies from 13 fathoms down to very shallow indeed, the current against them going up about two miles an hour. Thus far up the river its width varies from 100 yards to a mile and a half. The next 30 or 40 miles they saw but few huts. The next 30 or 40 miles they passed several villages, then (for some miles) fewer inhabitants again, and latterly none. The town of Ebor is very large, not on the main river, but up a creek; the king went on board the Albert, dressed like a mountebank, red coat, &c. Tbe natives are quite peaceful towards them; indeed, they were fearful of them ; they had provided them with vegetables and some bullocks on the day the last letter was dated -viz., the 18th of September. The have very large canoes, carrying 40 or 50 men each.

The following is an extract of a letter, dated Mount Stirling, close to the confluence of the Niger and the Tchadda, September 18, 1841, Her Majesty's ship Amelia tender (this point is 306 miles from the sea, and being above the delta of several rivers is comparatively healthy):-

"The pestilence has broken out; 50 or 60 are ill in the squadron; 10 or 12 have died, and many more will die, I fear. The Soudan takes the sick out of the river; the Wilberforce goes up the Tshadda; the Albert, with Captain Trotter and Captain Bird Allen, goes up the Niger. Mr. Horatio Collman, acting-assistant surgeon of the Soudan, is left in the medical charge of the Amelia and the settlement which is forming on shore here under Mr. Carr by the society. Mr. Nightingale, assistant-surgeon of the Albert, is dead, and also Mr. Marshall, acting-surgeon of the Soudan." -Portsmouth paper.

Tu 7 December 1841


(From a Correspondent)

Portsmouth, Monday

The Horatio transport, Lieutenant Chapman, arrived here on Friday from St. Helena and the Coast of Africa, and has brought home some of the officers who have been invalided belonging to the Niger expedition, and who had come down the river in the Soudan steamer. The accounts they bring home are up to the 1st of October, and are most deplorable. The mortality and sickness among the officers and men composing the expedition were great in the extreme. 26 had already died, and almost all were ill and unable to do duty. On board the Wilberforce, out of the European portion of the crew of about 50 men, not more than four or five were able to attend to their duty, the others were all laid up, and they were nearly as ill off on board the Albert. At the time the Soudan left it, the expedition had reached the confluence of the Niger and Tchadda, about 270 miles up the river, but it was feared that from the lamentable condition in which it was placed by the sickness and the increasing mortality among the officers and men, it would be compelled to return to Ascension. Among the victims to the climate previous to the Soudan's leaving her consorts was Assistant-Surgeon Nightingale, of the Albert; and during her passage on her return from Attah to the mouth of the river, she lost her own surgeon, Mr. W. B. Marshall and one of her men. When she arrived at the entrance of the river she fell in with Her Majesty's ship Dolphin, and put her sick on board that vessel to be conveyed to Ascension, eight of whom, however, died previous to the Dolphin's reaching that place. Mr. Walter, the clerk of the Soudan, was so ill that he could not be removed on board the Dolphin, and it was not expected he would survive many hours; all prospect of his recovery was perfectly hopeless. Captain Bird Allen, of the Soudan, did not come down the river with her, but joined the Albert, being anxious to accompany the expedition to the extent of its researches. The Soudan came down under the command of Lieutenant Fishbourne. All her officers and men were sick.

The steamers make very slow progress in ascending the river; none of them are remarkable for their speed. The current of the stream is about three miles and a half, and the average speed of the steamers is six miles, consequently their progress is not more than two miles and a half per hour. The Albert was to proceed up the Niger, and the Wilberforce up the Tchadda, while the Amelia schooner was to remain at Mount Stirling, where the farm is to be established, and where the tent lately used at the Eglintoun tournament has already been pitched. The natives were very friendly; at Eboe, a town containing 8,000 or 9,000 inhabitants, several of the officers went on shore, the natives crowding to see them. At the Queen's palace they were received by her sable Majesty, who was squatted at the door surrounded by her ladies, the principal of which were decorated with heavy ivory anklets, weighing from eight to ten pounds each. They seemed much pleased with the visit, and laughed immoderately, and in return for some little trinkets given by the officers, her Majesty presented them with a fowl and some Geoza nuts, the bestowal of which is considered highly complimentary there. The King of Eboe went on board the Wilberforce, accompanied by his son and the interpreter, and others of his suite. A bottle of port wine was placed before him. which he did not pass round to any of his attendants, but drank it all himself, and then gave a broad hint, which, however, was not taken, for some grog. The King of Attah was more dignified, and upon the Commissioners waiting upon him he told them he was perfectly aware that they were the subjects of a Sovereign to whom they paid every respect, and he should expect the same respect paid to him. He should not go on board, because he considered he was entitled to as much attention as their own Sovereign. He said they might have the command of the water, but he had the command of the land.

He looked with perfect indifference on the elegant and valuable presents of velvet robes trimmed with gold, but seemed much taken with the spectacles worn by the chaplain, and gladly accepted several pairs that were given him. He, as well as the King of Eboe, entered most willingly into all the arrangements of the Commissioners, and they both expressed their desire that their subjects should be instructed. He sold them the land at Mount Stirling, where they intend to establish the settlement, which he said was just within the extent of his dominions. The officers belonging to the expedition who came home in the Horatio are - Lieutenant Harston. Mr Belam, master, and Assistant-Surgeon John Stirling, of the Soudan.

Th 9 December 1841LONDON, THURSDAY, DECEMBER 9, 1841

According to the last accounts from the Niger, it would appear that the equivocal sort of entertainment which consists in "eating the fruit of one's own doings" is not always confined to the wicked, but is sometimes partaken of by a very different class. It seems odd in particular, that this unpalatable kind of fare uniformly falls to the lot of those engaging philanthropists who love to style themselves "the friends of Africa." From the period when their sublime humanity took credit for having emancipated the West Indian negroes, their subsequent interference with the successful working of that measure, in virtue of which it has materially deteriorated the condition of the objects whom it professed to benefit, have, ever since, subjected the philanthropists to the retributive fruit-eating which should, more canonically, be restricted to a viler order of offenders. As it is the appointment of providence that they shall eat as they have laboured, their doings in the West Indies have necessarily consigned them to very nauseous ruminations, and in very indifferent company.

Equally indiscreet and unfortunate were their doings in South Africa, in regard to "the Children's Friend Society." Having left their philanthropy nothing to effect on behalf of the emancipated blacks, except bitter remorse at the injuries which their interference had inflicted, they next exerted their calamitous and ostentatious benevolence in trepanning white infants of tender years for the purpose of enslaving them at the Cape. Their doings, however, in that particular line were speedily put an end to by this journal. Never did we rest till we effectually broke up their canting and unhallowed confederacy, the fruits of which they are now eating in bitter and mortified silence.

But the friends of Africa, from Mr. DANIEL O'CONNELL down to Sir FOWELL BUXTON, could not permit themselves to remain in unobtrusive sedation. Something new, on a grand and ambitious scale - something that should give a flattering prominency to the professed emancipators of an injured race - something that should immortalize Mr. DANIEL'S patriotism and Sir FOWELL'S pamphlet - something that should bewitch the entire world from Buckingham Palace to the Brewery in Spitalfields - must needs be immediately organized. Hence arose the African Civilization Society. Prince ALBERT was persuaded to take the chair at its first meeting. Exeter-hall mustered its usual complement of fair attendants and white rod ushers. The platform was crowded with supporters of the illustrious chairman. Mr. EDWARD BUXTON, fired with the egotistical zeal of Papa, was threatening everybody with the station-house who demurred to O'CONNELL'S intermeddling: and thus, the Spitalfields and Derrynane project was not only set agoing, but by dint of a combined pressure which the Whigs were not in a condition to resist, the glorious expedition to the Niger for the purpose of cultivating fancy farms, raising supernatural crops, civilizing a black peasantry, blessing Africa with thriving agricultural villages, and eventually causing the Ethiopian to change his skin, was at length undertaken by Government at an expense to the country little short of 200,000 l.

Against this insane and self-perfuming coxcombry, we ventured at the time to enter our stern protest. But the excellent philanthropists, commanding at once the patronage of the Court and the purse of the country, would listen to no remonstrances. Madness ruled the hour. Off went the expedition, with Admiralty steamers, Eglintoun marquees, liquor for the intemperate Chiefs, and gewgaws for the sable Venuses. To Africa it forthwith proceeded; and the intelligence just received enables us now to take some account of its fruits.

Let any one read the authentic details which we published on Tuesday, and then say if this infatuated enterprise be not sufficient to consign African philanthropy to everlasting ridicule and scorn. Compassion for the unhappy sufferers who have lost their lives and health in this mad scheme, will doubtless be extensively felt; but how can the wretched charlatans who have occasioned the mischief be regarded with any other feelings than those of disgust and indignation? The expedition, as we confidently predicted, has turned out a complete failure. Disease and death have attended its movements throughout. A judicial miasmatic infection is blighting it at every stage. And what is to be the upshot? Why, your humane philanthropists, who always contrive to keep in sound skins at home, will relentlessly persevere in pampering their own vanity and self importance, till their thinned and diseased agents are hardly able to work the vessels in which they have jeopardied their existence. A lavish expenditure of money and life, involving no personal sacrifices, will not easily discourage such imperturbable nerve as Sir FOWELL and CO's. But what will the country say to all this! Sooner or later, the pretensions of these philanthropic canters will find their proper level. It is really sickening to think of them.
We 22 December 1841


From the intelligence received from this expedition, extending in part to the 10th of October, the following statement of facts may be gathered:-

The Albert, Wilberforce, and Soudan, with the Harriot transport and Amelia tender, after a favourable though somewhat tedious voyage, arrived off the Nun on the 9th and 10th of August. In unloading the transport they were detained a considerable time, owing to the heavy rolling of the vessels in the swell outside the bar. A further detention arose when they had crossed the bar from the necessity of refitting the tails of the rudders, which had been carried away on the passage from Cape Coast, and without which the vessels were almost unmanageable. These repairs the badness of the weather and strength of the tide did not permit of being completed till the 20th.

The necessary delay does not, however, appear to have positively injured the health of the crews, as they enjoyed a wholesome sea breeze, and every precaution was taken to preserve them from illness. Up to this period there had been sevea deaths - four from casualties, one of apoplexy, and two of fever, not African, but typhus. Of these last, one only was an European.

Under these favourable auspices they commenced their ascent of the river on the 20th of August. Their progress was necessarily slow, as they do not ordinarily make more than six miles an hour, and the current runs at the rate of three. They were delayed still farther by looking for the Wilberforce, which had gone up a different channel. Thus the 22d (Sunday) was spent, and at last it was found that she had gone ahead. They rejoined at Eboe on the 26th. This deviation was, however, the means of discovering a new branch of the river, with numerous villages, and a larger population than had yet been seen. Six days after they arrived at Iddah, when the fever broke out, and continued to the confluence (272 miles up) with increased violence.


 Officers (including Engineers)White seamen &cMarines and SappersTotal WhitesKroomen, and other AfricansBlack Labourors from Sierra LeoneTotal BlacksGrand Total
Victualled in three vessels, and Amelia51813016212020140302
Placed on fever list since Sept 3.143812646-670
Discharged to duty11-2---2

In consequence of this alarming sickness, and their inability to examine the higher grounds for a healthy station, it was deemed advisable to send the sick to the sea-side. 43 of the 49 remaining cases were accordingly embarked in the Soudan on the 19th, and reached the mouth early on the 22d. On their way they lost two hopeless cases - Mr. Marshall, surgeon of the Soudan, and one of her men. They were fortunate enough to fall in at once with Her Majesty's ship Dolphin, Commander Littlehales, by whom they were taken on board, except two, and carried to Ascension. On their way eight more died, but the rest recovered in a most sudden and striking manner.

Assistant-Surgeon Stirling, who came home in charge of the invalids, has since returned to the Niger. The accompanying table shows the entire mortality from the first setting out, and the number of Whites who have died of African fever:


 OfficersWhite seamen &cMarines and SappersColoured MenTotal
Died from casualties, and one of apoplexy-4-15
Died of fever (typhus) up to August 9-1-12
Died of fever (African) up to September 17161-8
Died of fever (African) on passage down11--2
Supposed to have died in Soudan after Sept. 2211--2
Died on passage to Ascension-62-8
Of African fever3143-20
Ma 10 January 1842


(From the Hampshire Telegraph )

Extract of a letter from an officer of Her Majesty's Steam-vessel Wilberforce, dated Fernando Po, October 5:-

"The Soudan had turned her head downwards on the 19th of September, under charge of Fishbourne, with the greater part of the sick of the squadron. It was Captain Trotter's intention, at that time, that the Wilberforce; should proceed up the Chadda, and the Albert up the Niger; but on the following day the number of our officers (originally, as you know, very small) being much reduced, it was thought prudent to send us down to the sea as well. Accordingly on the 21st we parted company from the Albert, then under weigh, to go upwards, and arrived here four days ago, haring been unavoidably detained cutting wood on our way. I saw Captain Trotter and Captain Bird Allen a few minutes before we left, both in perfect health and spirits. We brought down as passengers Messrs. Bowden, Harvey, and Collman, all ill with fever. Mr. Bowden has had a sharp attack, but is, I trust, fairly in the way of recovery. Poor Harvey breathed his last two days ago, and we lost Mr. Wakeham on our passage down. On our arrival here, we found the Soudan and Pluto, and poor Fishbourne laid up with fever, to which, no doubt, fatigue and anxiety have mainly conduced. I trust, however, that as the fever shows some signs of being spent on board the Wilberforce, since our exit from the river, his may not prove a serious case. The deaths have been altogether 15; five of whom were officers. (This does not include the eight deaths on board the Dolphin, of which the writer knew nothing.) The number of cases by the time we left the Albert, had been altogether 85 or 86."

Extract of a letter from another officer of Her Majesty's steam-vessel Wilberforce, dated Ascension, November 22:-

"You will already have heard that it was found necessary to send the Soudan to the sea, on the 19th of September, with the sick of the expedition. On the 21st of September Captain Trotter considered the Albert to be still in an efficient state; having sent the sick away, he was anxious to make a further attempt, in hopes of being able to reach Rabbah, which, if he succeeds, will enable him (after the success we had at Iber and at Iddah) nearly to complete the main objects for which we entered the river. He intended to come down to the sea in the middle of November, and as he has plenty of coals, which he will reserve for the purpose, a few days will bring him clear of the river, even from Rabbah. After the Soudan left us, there were so many sick in the Wilberforce that we were not able to go up the Chadda, as. Had been previously determined, but were unfortunately obliged to follow the Soudan. On the arrival of the Wilberforce at Fernando Po, she (the Soudan) was sent in charge, of Lieutenant Strange to endeavour to reach the Albert; and before she left Mr. Becroft arrived in the Ethiop, and very handsomely agreed to go up the river, and offer any assistance, should Captain Trotter require it. We are getting ready to go to the coast according to our orders, but hope before we sail to see Captain Trotter here."

Extract of a letter from an officer of Her Majesty's steam-vessel Albert, dated

"Wilberforce, off Ascension, Nov. 22."

"The Albert left the confluence for Rabbah the same day we did for Fernando Po. As Mr. Fishbourne took the Soudan down the river with 46 fever patients, Captain Bird Allen remained in the Albert. As soon as we arrived at Fernando Po, Captain William Allen despatched the Soudan and the Ethiop (Mr. Becroft) tip the river to assist the Albert, in case of need. We arrived at Fernando Po on the 1st of October, and left the island on the 9th, accompanied by the Pluto. Mr. Strange took the command of the Soudan, because Mr. Fishbourne got the fever and came on board the Wilberforce to go to Ascension, but recovered so rapidly that he returned in the Pluto to join the Albert on the 21st of October, with Mr. Bowden, who also had been taken ill up the river. On the 14th of September it was arranged that the Albert and the Soudan should proceed together up the Niger, and the Wilberforce up the Chaddah; 'but my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor my ways your ways saith the Lord.' Sickness and disease came upon us like a thunderbolt. This was as unexpected a defeat of our plans as it was sudden. The Lord's will be done! If prudence, sound judgment, and indefatigable diligence and perseverance could have overcome the difficulties of the expedition, our excellent commander-in-chief would soon have accomplished more than the most sanguine hope could ever have ventured to expect; but to overcome the laws of nature is beyond the power of human wisdom and strength. In two letters which were written by Captain Trotter, on the 20th and 21st of September, at the confluence of the Niger and Chadda, there are the following passages, which show, that notwithstanding the numerous obstacles arising from the climate, he had still strong hopes of eventual good resulting from the expedition, and was by no means disposed to omit one single chance of success:-

"'The new cases that occur every minute are very perplexing, but I do not see that it is yet time for the Albert to give up the river this year, though half-an-hour more may alter the case.' 'I shall certainly, I think, be at Fernando Po by the 15th of December. The model farm is going on well, and is beautifully situated.'"

It is probable, as no news of the Albert had reached Ascension when the letters from which we have given extracts were written, that Captain Trotter has been able to persevere in his design of visiting Rabbah before leaving the river. It appears from other letters that the Wilberforce came down the river in charge of Lieutenant Strange, Captain William Allen and 26 of her hands being ill of the fever. She also brought down three invalids from the Albert, leaving her with eight or ten on the sick list, inclusive of two of her engineers. Captain William Allen had quite recovered at the date of these letters. We publish these extracts because it is desirable that authentic intelligence should be before the public. At the best the news is bad and distressing enough, but it is always better that facts rather than uncertain and often exaggerated reports should reach the ears of the friends of those engaged in this perilous enterprise.

Tu 11 January 1842


Portsmouth, Monday.

The accounts which have been received here within these two or three days of the Niger expedition have fully confirmed, those which were brought by the Horatio, and which were published In The Times of Tuesday, Dec. 7. At that time it was stated that when the Soudan left the expedition, it had reached the confluence of the Niger and Tchadda, and it was arranged that the Albert should proceed up the Niger, and the Wilberforce up the Tchadda; but it was feared that from the deplorable condition in which it was placed by the sickness and the increasing mortality among the officers and men, the expedition would be compelled to return. These unpleasant anticipations have been speedily realized in the return of one of the vessels, the Wilberforce; and but little hope was entertained that the other, the Albert, would continue her course more than a day or two longer. From the present accounts, it appears that on the very next day after the Soudan left there were so many sick on board the Wilberforce, that it was not able to go up the Tchadda, as previously determined, but was unfortunately obliged to follow the Soudan to Fernando Po, under the charge of Lieutenant Strange, her captain,W. Allen, and nearly the whole of the crew, being ill of the fever. On the same day that the Wilberforce left the confluence to return to sea, Captain Trotter got the Albert under weigh to proceed up the Niger for the purpose of visiting Rabbah, which he considered essential for the furtherance of the objects for which be entered the river. While, however, he resolved to make the attempt, he was by no means sanguine of being able to accomplish his design. He had already many of his men ill on board, and he himself stated that many new cases were occurring every moment, which were very perplexing, but he did not yet see it was time for the Albert to give in, though half an hour more might alter the case. The Soudan was despatched by Captain Allen back to the river to assist the Albert in case of need, and was accompanied by the Ethiop, Mr. Becroft, who volunteered to undertake that service. The Soudan was placed under the command of Lieutenant Strange, the officer (Lieutenant Fishburne) who brought her down the river being ill of the fever; he had, however, subsequently become convalescent. Mr. Wakeham died on board the Wilberforce on her passage down the river, and Mr. Harvey died when she arrived at Fernando Po.

Th 20 January 1842



The Lady Combermere arrived this morning from Africa. She sailed from Bonny on the 19th of October, and from Clarence, Fernando Fo, the 26th of October; she left Her Majesty's steam-ships Albert and Soudan at Clarence, returned from the Niger expedition, with all hands sick. Captain Bird Allen, R.N., died at Clarence on the 25th of October.

(From the Liverpool Courier.)

It is with feelings of no ordinary concern - feelings which we are sure will be participated in through the length and breadth of the land - that we have to communicate the melancholy tidings of the total abandonment, under circumstances of the most disastrous character, of the Niger expedition. The Lady Combermere arrived yesterday at this port, from Africa, haying sailed from Bonny on the 19th of October, and from Clarence, Fernando Po, on the 26th. Captain Midgely reports, that the vessels forming the expedition had returned to the latter port; that all the commanders and most of the crews had died; and that all further attempts to explore the Niger had, of course, been given up.


To the Editor of the Times.

Sir,- I am not in the habit of obtruding my opinions on the public, but at a time like the present, when all our newspapers teem with accounts of the disastrous mortality which has attended the unfortunate adventurers in the African expedition, I think it becomes the duty of any one who has a reasonable suggestion to offer to use his best endeavour to make it known. It would be out of place here to enter into a physiological discussion; but I may state that one of the conclusions at which I arrived as the result of some very extended inquiries into the nature of fever was, that what we call malaria, or whatever it may be that causes fever, makes its noxious impression, not upon the lungs, but upon the general surface of the body. A fever caused by exposure to cold in this climate is a familiar illustration of the mode in which I conceive malaria produces fever in hot countries. However, be this as it may, it was this view which led me to entertain the idea of the possibility of defending the skin from the action of malaria by means of some unctuous application, or oil alone. This opinion was no sooner formed than it struck me as a very remarkable circumstance that the most distinctive characteristic in the personal habits of the natives of Africa, as contrasted with those of the strangers who visit them, is, that the common custom of the one people is to anoint the whole surface of their bodies freely, while the other, on the contrary, with the aid of soap, are at great pains to remove everything of the kind which even the natural secretion of the skin provides. Here, then, is a broad distinction between the personal habits of the two people - the one anoints, the other washes. They are both equally exposed to the influence of malaria - the one escapes, the other is nearly annihilated. The circumstance now adverted to, though sufficiently remarkable, would not of itself warrant a conclusion either way; let us see, therefore, how it agrees with what has been observed in other countries. It has been noticed in those parts of Turkey where the plague (not the same as the African fever certainly, but still a fever) is most prevalent, that there is a class of persons who appear to possess an immunity from its attacks, in fact "a charmed life;" and this class consists of those who are engaged in the practical part of the oil trade. It is quite impossible for these persons to keep themselves clean; their clothes imbibe the oil, and they seem consequently to move about clad as it were in an armour plague-proof. One more example will suffice; it is the fact mentioned as having been observed in London at the time of the great plague - viz., that no tallow-chandler was known to suffer from it. It has been supposed that the effluvium of the melted fat might be the cause why these persons escaped the destruction which raged around them. I am, however, disposed to attach great weight to the fact of the clothes of these men being in the same condition as those of the oil traders, because here are examples of three totally distinct classes of men having no one thing on earth in common except greasy skins and freedom from infection. Surely this cannot be mere chance; indeed, I think it not at all unlikely that the practice of anointing, so common to several nations of antiquity, took its rise from some similar observations and experience. It is quite possible that the custom may be continued among the Africans, even at the present day, from some idea of its being conducive to health, though more probably all recollection of its origin has long been lost. But, whatever may be or might have been the reason why these people anoint themselves with oil, it is sufficient for us to note the fact and its consequence, and to profit by it.

I trust, Sir, I have said enough to justify my intruding myself upon your notice. A great and urgent necessity exists, for which I propose a remedy, which there is great reason to believe will prove effectual - a remedy so simple that all may obtain and use it, for the wonderful goodness of God has placed the oil-bearing plants, as he has the great coal beds, in those regions where they may be most useful to mankind. As the cleanly habits of Europeans may be somewhat checked at the idea of wearing clothes saturated with palm oil, it may be as well to state that I do not apprehend it to be at all necessary to use it, to any such extent. The skin will retain a certain quantity of oil when rubbed in without giving rise to the inconvenience of soiling the dress, and perhaps that might be sufficient; but, however, the quantity and the most convenient mode of applying it are matters that could very soon be ascertained by those immediately concerned in using it. I would only add, that I think it important .hat it should be used in the evening as well as in the morning, because it would appear that the influence of malaria is most powerful between the hours of sunset and sunrise. I am. Sir, your obedient servant,

Cheltenham, January 18,1842.

Sa 22 January 1842


We transcribe, in another column, from a morning contemporary, what it justly calls "the afflicting intelligence" respecting the Niger expedition, and which is considered to be the official anti-slavery account of the matter. The result of that enterprise has been sadly correspondent with what all reasonable men must have augured, and what we ourselves hare always predicted. Three vessels have gone about 320 miles up the Niger and Chadda, and have come down again. A model farm some 300 miles from the coast has been bought, stocked, and abandoned; treaties have been made with the two negro Princes of Eboe and Iddah for the abolition of the slave trade and of human sacrifices, and then they hare been left to their own practices; and this at an expense of health and life which is not indeed distinctly stated, but may well be divined from the account given by our contemporary, to whose statement we will add an extract from a letter written on board the Ethiope on the 21st of October :-

"We entered the Nun on the 10th inst., and proceeded up the river the next morning, and fell in with the Albert on the evening of the 13th inst. At Stirling Island, about 24 miles below Eboe. We found her in a worse state than the Wilberforce; all hands down with fever but Drs M'William, Stanger, a scientific gentleman, a marine, the boatswain's mate, and a servant. Captain Trotter very weak, Captain Bird Allen (who is since dead) very low; no engineers; Dr. Stanger was endevouring to work the engine the best way he could. We sent our head engineer on board, and the Albert followed the Ethiope to the coast. Captain Becroft then went on board the Albert, and took her to Fernando Po. The people at the model farm, including its manager, Mr. Carr, were all sick, and have been brought down by the Albert."

So it would appear that, had it not been for the generous assistance afforded them voluntarily by the vessel of a private merchant - an assistance which the planners of the expedition had not provided, and on which they had no right to calculate - it is but too likely that we never should have seen again either the Albert or any part of its enterprising crew.

Such would have been - rather such has been - the end of this unhappy affair, projected and announced with so much Exeter-hall enthusiasm, among speeches from Prince ALBERT, Sir ROBERT PEEL, Lord HOWICK, and Sir FOWELL BUXTON; letters of sympathy from illustrious and Right Reverend personages; promises of civilization, and trade, and agriculture, and alliances with native chiefs, and missionary success, and pride, and indignation. It has ended in nothing strange or unexpected - nothing but what might have been and was foretold, if its projectors would have listened to reason - nothing but the sacrifice of the lives of our countrymen.

We are far from wishing to cast any slur on the generous feelings of those distinguished personages who gave the support of their names to this enterprise. They had other things to think of than to examine its impracticable details. It had a generous object, and came to them supported by respectable names; and so they lent it the weight of their characters: yet still it does suggest feelings not favourable to the slap-dash, rhetorical, showy meetings to which people crowd to be amused, and to clap their hands, and to hear fine sentences, and to give their guineas for objects which neither they nor any of the fluent gentlemen who entertain them know anything about. Good enough amusement to them, but death to others, on whom it falls to carry out, at their own risk, and at the expense of their own proper lives, what these societies talk of so glibly, and listen to so complacently.

We confess it is with little patience that we hear smooth gentlemen, borne luxuriously along on the easy gale of popular enthusiasm, taking full advantage of the opportunity given them to display in full dress their costly sensibilities, but meanwhile quite forgetting to inquire what is the real worth of the scheme they advocate - what the dangers to which they are urging other less ornamental, but perhaps not less valuable, members of society than themselves - what prospect of advantage, what are the warnings of experience, what the opinion of those practical men whose opinion is really worth having. But this is the order of the day, and must be borne, it seems, in spite of its quackery. Everybody must have a finger in everything; and everything must appeal to and be managed by everybody; and the consequence is, that instead of sober forethought and knowledge, and calm chastised determination, our undertakings have to be recommended by eloquent appeals and piercing statements, and fluency and clap-traps for the ladies. Instead of a scheme quietly calculated by one or two or three sober and earnest men, prepared themselves to take part in the dangers they recommend, and unfettered by any necessity of approving it to the imaginations of an audience, we have such wild, ill-considered, showy projects as everybody can embrace at a glance, with nothing but novelty and a popular object to recommend them. Is it wonderful that those who heedlessly employ their talents in supporting such schemes should find now and then, what we hope they will now realize, that they were taking shares in a most heavy responsibility, affecting the lives of their fellow-creatures, while they thought of nothing more than making an impression on the fair auditory which surrounded them?


The public mind has been already prepared for the afflicting intelligence respecting the Niger expedition, which it is the object of this article to communicate. It is, therefore, only necessary that we should preface the narrative with the assurance that the facts about to be stated may be entirely relied on, having been drawn from letters and other documents of unquestionable authority.

On the 20th of August the vessels of the expedition commenced the ascent of the river, having passed safely over the bar six days previously. This delay was occasioned by the necessity they were under of repairing what is technically termed "the tails" of their rudders, which had been damaged during their passage from Accra to the mouth of the stream. On the 26th they anchored opposite to Eboe, a place situated at the upper angle of the Delta, and distant 120 miles from the sea. Thus far no case of sickness had occurred amongst the Europeans which did not immediately yield to medical treatment. The weather was remarkably favourable, the thermometer ranging from 74 degrees to 84 degrees, with a clear sky and occasional refreshing showers.

After receiving a visit from Obi, the King of Eboe, on which occasion a treaty was concluded with him for the total abolition of the slave trade and human sacrifices, the expedition proceeded on its course, arriving at Iddah, 100 miles higher up, on the 24 of September. Here, for the first time, the African fever broke out amongst the crew with violence, commencing on board the Albert, and rapidly spreading to the Wilberforce and the Soudan. Captain Trotter, however, considered it his duty still to persevere. In this resolve it is some comfort to knew that the other officers of the squadron fully concurred. Accordingly, after the ratification of a treaty similar to the one already described, with the Attah (King) of Iddah, and the purchase from him of a piece of land, to be chosen higher up the stream, for the establishment of a model farm (the selection of which was left to the commissioners, the three commanders, and Mr. Cook) the vessels ascended to the confluence of the Niger and the Chadda, 270 miles above) the sea. This they reached on the 11th of September. A tract of land having been fixed on, not far from this point, for the farm, and having been duly made over by accredited agents of the Attah, the stores were landed, and the persons originally appointed to the office left in charge of them. In the mean time disease continued its afflicting ravages. To such an extent, indeed, did it spread, that on the 19th it was resolved to put the sick, now amounting to 46, on board the Soudan, and to despatch her to the sea. Lieutenant Fishbourne, of the Albert, was placed in charge of her, while her commander, Captain B. Allen, removed on board the Albert. With regard to the Soudan we need only farther remark that at the month of the river she happily fell in with Her Majesty's steamer Dolphin, to which the sufferers were transferred, and which proceeded with them direct to the Island of Ascension, while the Soudan continued her course to Fernando Po. Meanwhile it was determined by the commanders of the vessels still up the river to prosecute their voyage, the Wilberforce ascending the Chadda, and the Albert the Niger.

The particulars thus far recounted have, by scraps, been for the most part before the public for the last three weeks. It seems necessary, however, briefly to recapitulate them, in order to a perfect understanding of the remainder of this sad narrative. By sunset on the evening of the 19th (the day on which the Soudan sailed from the confluence) several entirely new cases of fever had broken out on board the Wilberforce; the history of which vessel, now about to be separated from her consort, we shall take up first. Amongst these were her commander, Captain William Allen, her master, and purser; also the botanist and the mineralogist attached to the expedition. To ascend the Chadda under these circumstances would, of course, have been madness; to stay at the confluence but little less. No alternative remained except that of turning the vessel's head down the stream, and following in the track of the Soudan. Accordingly immediate preparations were made for carrying into effect this new change of plan, and on the morning of the 21st the Wilberforce began her downward voyage, haring previously taken on board sundry fresh patients from the Albert. Owing to various stoppages occasioned by the necessity of procuring supplies of wood, a duty of peculiar difficulty in the weak-handed condition of the vessel, she did not reach the open sea until the 29th. On the morning of the 3d of October, however, by the blessing of Almighty God, she anchored safely in the port of Clarence, Fernando Po. During her passage to the mouth of the river she lost her purser, Mr. Wakeham, and after her arrival at Clarence, Mr. Harvey, the master of the Albert, and Mr. Collman, assistant-surgeon of the Soudan. Here it affords us the greatest pleasure to record an instance of that noble generosity which we trust and believe marks the character of the British merchant and the British sailor. Mr. Jamieson, of Liverpool, the owner of several vessels trading on the western coast of Africa, had sent out instructions to the ship-masters in his employ to render all the assistance in their power to the officers and crews of the Niger expedition. Accordingly, on the 6th of October, the Ethiope steamer, one of the vessels alluded to, made her appearance at Fernando Po, and her commander, Mr. Becroft, at the solicitation of Captain William Allen, instantly turned his vessel's head towards the Niger, with an intent to ascend in search of the Albert, and render her any assistance she might appear to require.

On the 9th the Wilberforce again weighed anchor and set sail for Ascension, where she arrived after a tedious passage of more than five weeks, on the 17th of November. During the former part of this passage she was accompanied by Her Majesty's steamer Pluto, which, in various ways, rendered her effective assistance. The last accounts received from the Wilberforce convey the gratifying intelligence that the fever appeared to have been almost subdued, for that no serious case of illness remained on board.

We now return to the Albert, which we left on the eve of her departure from the confluence to ascend the Niger. This, as we have already said, was on the 21st of September. On the 28th she arrived at Egga, situate between 50 and 60 miles above the Junction of the Chadda, and 320 from the sea. During this short passage she lost two of her seamen, whilst several others were taken ill; nor did the officers escape - Captain Bird Allen was attacked within four hours after the departure of the Wilberforce, and Captain Trotter himself whilst the vessel lay at Egga. At this place the Kroomen were employed in taking a large quantity of firewood. This necessary duty, of course, occupied considerable time. As soon as it was completed, Captain Trotter, who now saw clearly the necessity of abandoning the enterprise, and whose judgment was confirmed by that of the surgeon (Dr. M'William), gave the necessary orders for returning down the river. On the 4th of October, therefore, the steam was once more got up, and the Albert followed her consorts to the sea. Her condition at this period may be judged of by the fact that she had but a single officer and two or three European seamen capable of performing their duty. The confluence was passed upon the 9th, and immediately afterwards the model farm, where, finding the Europeans all ill of the fever, Captain Trotter took them on board, and continued to pursue his melancholy voyage. On the 12th the vessel anchored off Eboe, and was supplied by King Obi with a quantity of wood, which he had previously got ready for her, and which with great kindness he put on board with the least possible delay. Here Mr. Kingdon, the clerk of the Soudan, died. He had remained ashore at the farm during the Albert's absence at Egga, and was dangerously ill at the period of his re-embarkation. Thus far the Albert had made her way in safety, through the merciful Providence of God; but her poor suffering inmates could not forget the dangerous bar which was still to be passed before they could leave the region of pestilence and death behind them. Happily, their anxieties on this head were destined to a speedy termination, for in the afternoon of the 13th their eyes were gladdened with the sight of the Ethiope's smoke as she steamed rapidly up the water of the Delta. Captain Becroft at once put his first engineer on board the unfortunate Albert, and by incessant exertions both vessels crossed the bar soon after sunrise on the 16th, and cast anchor in Clarence-cove late in the evening of the following day.

Next morning 28 patients were taken ashore, and kindly received into various private houses. Amongst the sufferers were Captains Trotter and Bird Allen; the former happily convalescent, the latter, alas ! fast sinking into the grave. On the 25th, at half-past 9 a.m. his brave and gentle spirit exchanged a world of sorrow for one of unmixed and unchanging joy. Of the condition of the remaining patients our accounts are too general to enable us to speak with anything like certainty: as the Lady Combermere, which sailed from Clarence on the 26th, and by which we have received the accounts communicated above, left but nine days after the return of the Albert from the Niger, it could not of course be expected that she should bring intelligence of so satisfactory a kind at we may hope, and, we would fain trust, look for by the next arrivals.

Such is the melancholy story which it has become our duty to set before the public.

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