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|The 1841 Niger expedition|
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|Extracts from the Times newspaper|
|Ma 24 January 1842|
THE NIGER EXPEDITION.
(From our Liverpool Correspondent.) The intelligence given in The Times of Saturday relating to the sufferings of the parties engaged in the Niger expedition appears to be substantially correct; but the reports promulgated by some of the papers, to the effect that the expedition had been given up as an entire failure, do not appear, from the inquiries that have been made, to be founded in fact.
Your narrative of Saturday gives no later news of the expedition than that brought by the Lady Combermere, which sailed from Fernando Po on the 26th of October. Another vessel, the Commerce, Captain Corran, left Fernando Po on the 7th of November, which brings the news from Clarence to the 3d of November. Relating to the Niger expedition, I have had some conversation with a gentleman who left Fernando Po in the Commerce. He states, that previous to sailing a gentleman named Hanson (late of Liverpool), who had just arrived from Clarence, informed him that there were two steamers there belonging to the expedition on the 3d of November. After corroborating the accounts already published of the prevailing sickness, he states that the captain of the Soudan and several of the officers had died of fever, but that Captain Trotter and many of the officers who had been ill had recovered, and that so far from its being the intention to give up the expedition as a failure, Captain Trotter purposed, as soon as the third steamer joined them, to proceed to Ascension, refit, and then make another trial. A gentleman also states that he bad been on board one of the steamers of the expedition in Africa, and he considers them too hot to be healthy. He compares the cabins to bakers' ovens, and considers that it would be surprising indeed if the parties living in them could preserve their health.
|Th 27 January 1842|
THE NIGER EXPEDITION.
REPORT OF CAPTAIN TROTTER.
Sir,- I have only time, on landing from the Warre merchant schooner (in order to save a post), to beg you will inform the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty of my arrival from Fernando Po, which I left on the 23d of November, at the recommendation of the medical officers, for the re-establishment of my health.
Although now almost entirely recovered, tendency to attacks of ague make it advisable that I should not travel by night, but I hope to be able to report myself at the Admiralty the day after to-morrow at furthest.
I regret to be obliged to report the death of Lieutenant Stenhouse, Mr. Woodhouse, assistant-surgeon, and Mr. Wilmot, clerk of the Albert, and one seaman and a marine belonging to the same ship, since I last wrote to their Lordships, on the 25th of October, besides a seaman of the Soudan, on the passage home with me from Africa; but the remainder of the crew of the Albert, I am happy to say, were all getting better, and are by this time, I hope, safely arrived at Ascension.
I am, Sir, your most obedient servant,
Her Majesty's steam-vessel Albert, Clarence-cove, Fernando Po, Oct. 25,1841.
Sir,- My last letter to you, dated the 18th of September, from the confluence of the Niger and Tchadda, would acquaint the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty that fever had broken out on board the vessels of the expedition, and that I had found it necessary to despatch the Soudan to the sea with all the cases the surgeons deemed to require a change of climate, directing Lieutenant Fishbourne to take charge of her in the absence of Commander Bird Allen, engaged in his duty as commissioner.
I also informed their Lordships in the same letter that the Albert was about to proceed up the Niger and the Wilberforce up the Tchadda, in prosecution of the objects of the mission.
After the departure of the Soudan, however, two of the engineers of the Wilberforce were taken ill, and the crew had become so weakened by an increased number of cases of fever that Commander William Allen found it impossible to proceed up the Tchadda, and I accordingly ordered him to take his vessel forthwith to the sea, and, if necessary, on to Ascension.
As there was still an engineer quite well on board the Albert, and another convalescent, and I considered the ship in other respects quite able to continue longer up the river; and as Dr. M'William, the surgeon, thought the fever, when we reached higher up the stream, might probably assume a milder character, and the change of air might soon restore the patients still remaining on board, who were not desirous of going in the Wilberforce to the sea; and it being of importance to reach Rabbah this year, to finish the chain of treaties with chiefs on the banks of the Niger, I deemed it my duty to try the experiment, and accordingly I weighed at the same time with the Wilberforce, on the 21st of September, and the Albert proceeded up the river while she moved down.
The cases of sickness, however, continued to increase, till at length, when we got to Egga, on the 28th of September, the only remaining engineer was taken ill, and no officers, excepting Dr. M'William, Mr. Willie, mate, and myself, were free from fever. We continued wooding and preparing to return down the river till the 4th of October, when I was myself seized with fever, and Mr. Willie a day or two afterwards.
On the 5th of October Mr. Willie weighed and dropped down the river, but was soon prevented by sickness from carrying on duty; and Dr. M'William, assisted by only one white seaman, lately recovered from fever, took charge of the vessel, not thinking it right, in my state of fever, to report Mr. Willie's illness.
From want of engineers we should have had to drop down the whole length of the river without steam, had not Dr. Stanger, the geologist, in the most spirited manner, after consulting Tredgold's work on steam, and getting some little instruction from the convalescent engineer, undertaken to work the engine himself. The heat of the engine-room affected the engineer so much as to throw him back in his convalescence, and prevent him rendering any further assistance, but Dr. Stanger took the vessel safely below Eboe, without anything going wrong with the machinery, while Dr. M'William, in addition to his enormous press of duty, as a medical officer, conducted the ship down the river in the most able and judicious manner. I may here remark that the Doctor steered the ship entirely by Commander William Allen's excellent chart of the Niger, of the correctness of which we had a good opportunity of judging on ascending the river, and which proved eminently useful on the passage down; and Mr. Brown, clerk, a native of Africa, who had been up the river before, also rendered, him considerable assistance in the pilotage.
When about 100 miles from the sea Captain Becroft happily made his appearance in the Ethiope, steamer, having been requested to ascend the river and communicate with us by Commander William Allen of the Wilberforce; and it was really a providential mercy that he arrived when he did, for had any accident, however trivial, happened, to the engines, they could not have been worked any longer, as Dr. Stanger had no knowledge of the manner of rectifying it. Fever still prevented my going on deck, and there was no executive officer to take the vessel over the bar, and only one convalescent sailor doing duty, and no black sailor who could properly take the helm. Captain Becroft, however, came on board with an engineer, and not only took the vessel over the bar but brought her all the way across to this anchorage (a distance of 160 miles), where we arrived in safety on the 17th inst.
The assistance rendered by Captain Becroft, independent of the services of his vessel, the Ethiope, was, I can assure their Lordships, almost indispensable to the safety of the Albert; and I consider it to have been so highly conducive to the preservation of many valuable lives, which might have been sacrificed, had we run aground in the Delta, and remained there even for a few days, that I shall present him with 105 l., and his engineer with 10 l. 10 s., by bills on the Accountant-General of the Navy, and I trust their Lordships will sanction this expenditure when they take the circumstances of the case and the highly meritorious conduct of Captain Becroft into consideration.
The morning after our arrival here the sick were all landed in comfortable quarters, provided for the officers and men in the most kind and prompt manner by the agent of the West African Company; and we have reason to believe the climate to be healthy for the present The air to cooler than the Niger by about 12 degrees.
I omitted to mention that off the bar of the Nun we met the Soudan, about to re-ascent the river, under charge of Lieutenant Strange, in the absence of Lieutenant Fishbourne, who had been sent sick to Ascension. She was in a very inefficient state, and returned with us to this anchorage. Mr. Strange is at present in charge of the Albert, as well as the Soudan, the officers of this ship of every rank being in sick quarters, with the exception of Mr. Mouat, assistant-clerk, doing duty at the hospital.
I regret to state, that in addition to the loss of Mr Nightingale, assistant-surgeon, and four seamen, as mentioned in my letter of the 18th of September, between the Confluence and Egga, Mr. Lodge, the second engineer, threw himself overboard in a fit of delirium, and was drowned; and that afterwards two seamen and one marine of this ship died, and Mr. Kingdon, seamen's schoolmaster of the Soudan; and that Mr. Willie, mate, and the purser's steward, have died here since our arrival; and it is my painful duty to add that the death of Commander Bird Allen, of the Soudan, has been this moment reported to me, and that Mr. D. H. Stenhouse, acting Lieutenant of the Albert, is lying in a most precarious state. For several days after Mr. Willie was taken ill he insisted occasionally upon getting out of his cot (which was on deck) and giving orders, and I fear the extra exertions of this zealous young officer contributed much to aggravate his case.
I am happy to say there is a general improvement taking place in the remainder of the sick, with the exception of Dr. M'William and Mr. Woodhouse, assistant-surgeon, who have lately been taken ill, the latter with the "river fever," and Dr. M'William, it is feared, may prove to be so likewise; but these cases, I trust, will not prove severe, now that we are in a better and cooler climate. I hope all the patients will be so far improved, and the engineers so much recovered, as in a short time to be able to proceed with the Albert to Ascension.
I call the disease the "river fever," because the surgeons report it to be of a nature that is not treated of in any work on the subject, and it has such peculiarities as they appear never before to have witnessed either in African or West Indian fever.
The Soudan, as alluded to before, left the Confluence on her passage down the river on the 19th of September, under charge of Lieutenant Fishbourne, with the master, a mate, and the second engineer able to do a little duty; but on the following day these officers were too ill to afford Mr. Fishbourne any assistance. He had, however, two stokers able to drive the engines, who were for a time well enough to do duty, and he reached the mouth of the Nun in the short space of two days afterwards. During the last 24 hours before reaching Fernando Po he was compelled to work the engines and do every other duty himself. Such exertions could not fail to hurt his health, and he was seized with fever at this place after his arrival, though I am happy to say he was doing well on board the Wilberforce when she sailed for Ascension. I beg strongly to recommend the zeal and exertions of this officer for the favourable consideration of their Lordships.
The Soudan opportunely met the Dolphin at the mouth of the Nun, and received prompt assistance from her commander, who embarked 35 patients (all that were fit to be removed), and sailed with them for Ascension, under charge of Mr. Sterling, assistant-surgeon of the Wilberforce.
Before the Soudan reached Fernando Po Mr. Marshall, acting-surgeon, and Mr. Waters, clerk in charge, fell a sacrifice to the climate, and a stoker of the Soudan, and the seamen's schoolmaster of the Albert, died after their arrival.
Mr. Thompson, assistant-surgeon of the Wilberforce, had charge of the sick on board the Soudan on her passage down the river, and his exertions and fatigue, from which he is now suffering, were only equalled by those of Mr. Fishbourne.
The Wilberforce left the Confluence on the 21st of September, but, owing to the necessity of cutting fuel, did not reach the mouth of the Nun until the 26th, nor Fernando Po till the 1st of October. Dr. Pritchett, the acting-surgeon of that ship, had 20 cases under treatment when she left the Confluence, and the number increased afterwards, and I can assure their Lordships that the exertions of that officer were of no ordinary kind, and his duties on the way to Ascension, now that he has no assistant, are likely to be still more arduous; this officer's services, as well as those of Mr. Thompson, acting-surgeon of the Soudan, render them highly deserving of their Lordships' consideration for promotion. The Inspector of Fleets and Naval Hospitals will, when he receives their reports, be well able to judge of their merits and arduous services on this expedition.
The Wilberforce, during her passage down and at Fernando Po, had the misfortune to lose her purser, Mr. Cyrus Wakeham, and Peter Fitzgerald, a stoker; also Mr. Harvey, acting master of the Albert; and Mr. Coleman, acting assistant-surgeon of the Soudan.
I have before mentioned the exertions and judgment displayed by Dr. M'William, the surgeon of this vessel, in bringing her down the greater part of the Niger in safety; but this would be considered the more remarkable if it were possible to convey to their Lordships the exertions and fatigue he had to go through in his attendance upon the sick. I cannot speak too much in praise of this valuable officer, nor feel thankful enough that a man of so much talent and energy was appointed to the expedition.
I have already alluded to Dr. Stanger's praiseworthy conduct in his acquiring a knowledge of the steam-engine, by which we were enabled to get down the river so much more speedily than we otherwise could have done; but this gentleman was, if possible, still more useful in the medical assistance which he rendered to Dr. M'William, who latterly had no assistant-surgeon to relieve him in his duties. I am sorry to say that Dr. Stanger is beginning to feel the effect of his exertions, having had fever (although slightly) within the last two days.
I must also mention Mr. Mouat, assistant-clerk, who, having served several years with a surgeon in London, was able to render great assistance in the medical department up the river, and is particularly of use at this moment, when Dr. M'William and Mr. Woodhouse, assistant-surgeon, are ill. I beg to recommend to their Lordships' consideration the propriety of remunerating this gentleman for his services, more particularly as his pay as clerk's assistant is so very small.
In bringing before their Lordships' notice the admirable conduct of the surgeon and acting-surgeons of the expedition, I wish by no means to disparage the exertions of Mr. Woodhouse, the assistant-surgeon of this ship, or of Mr. Sterling, the assistant-surgeon of the Wilberforce, or those of the deceased medical officers, which were very great, though not of so responsible a nature as those of Dr. M'William and Dr. Pritchett, or of Mr. Thompson, who before he descended the river with the large number of sick in the Soudan was for a length of time doing duty in that vessel during the protracted illness of the late acting surgeon, Mr. Marshall.
The number of deaths that has happened after the vessels got through the Delta until the sailing of the Wilberforce hence for Ascension is shown in the enclosed paper. I have no exact return of the number taken ill in the Wilberforce, but I believe it may be stated that only five white persons escaped the fever in that vessel, whilst there are only four who have not been attacked in the Albert up to the present time, and no white person in the Soudan escaped it; and when I add that Dr. M'William is of opinion that few, if any, will be fit to return to the coast of Africa who have had the fever, and that evety lieutenant excepting Mr. Strange, all the medical officers but Dr. Pritchett and Mr. Thompson (it is doubtful yet whether Dr. M'William has the river fever or not), all the mates, masters, second masters, and clerks, the whole of the engineers and stokers of the expedition, and the gunner of the Albert (the only vessel that has an officer of that rank), have been attacked, their Lordships will be able to form an idea of the paralyzed state of the steam-vessels.
It will be impossible for me to inform their Lordships as to the efficiency of the expedition for future operations until I can get to Ascension. I may, however, observe, that it will be found scarcely possible to officer and man more than one of the steam-vessels, unless assistance be sent from England, or obtained from the strength of the African squadron.
As the Ethiope will probably go home in April next, I have obtained the promise of Captain Becroft to leave his surgeon behind, if he can be spared, who would take an acting order as assistant-surgeon, and willingly go up the Niger again, and if he can spare his black engineer also he will endeavour to induce him to remain out with the view of joining the expedition.
Could their Lordships obtain assistant-surgeons and black engineers in England to volunteer for the expedition it would be most desirable, as it is quite a contingency our obtaining the individuals alluded to belonging to the Ethiope.
Dr. M'William is quite of opinion, as far as he can judge, that the Niger is not fit for white constitutions, and I shall take care to keep this in view when making arrangements at Ascension, so that the fewest possible number of white men may be continued in the steam-vessels.
Captain Becroft, whose knowledge of the river exceeds that of any other person, is of opinion (and I quite concur with him on the subject) that the Niger should not be entered before the beginning of July, as it is doubtful whether the river will have sufficiently risen to insure the passage up without detention, so that their Lordships may calculate upon the Albert and Wilberforce remaining at Ascension till the 1st of June.
It will be necessary for one steam-vessel to go up the Niger next year, as I left the Amelia tender at the Confluence of the Niger and the Tchadda, for the protection of the people of the model farm. Not thinking it right to leave up the river any white person after the fatal sickness we had experienced, I placed the vessel in charge of a trustworthy black, with 12 other natives of Africa under him, all intelligent steady men.
Their Lordships will remember that they gave permission for the utensils of the model farm to be carried out by the expedition, which were landed at the desire of Mr. Can [=Carr], the superintendent, at a spot which he selected for the site of the farm, situated immediately opposite to the Confluence; and as Mr. Can made a request for naval protection to his people in the absence of the steamers, which I considered very reasonable, I obtained volunteers to remain there in the Amelia before the Albert went to Egga; and on my return to the Confluence I was too ill to do duty, but Dr. M'William, at my desire, sent nine months' provisions on board, and cowries were left to buy several months' more. In our distressed state it would have been impossible to tow the Amelia down the river, but, independently of that consideration, it was, I conceive, necessary to leave a vessel for the protection of the farm people.
It is also very desirable that a vessel should get up to Rabbah, if possible, next year, not only to complete a series of treaties which have been already commenced, but to show the people of Rabbah that a man-of-war can get up to their town; and the presence of one of Her Majesty's vessels there might, I conceive, have a beneficial effect in their future treatment of the Nufi nation, whom we found much oppressed by the Felatahs, and also tend much to the extinction of the slave trade in the upper part of the Niger. This, however, cannot be determined upon till I meet my brother commissioners at Ascension.
Should only one of the steamers ascend the Niger next year I would prefer one of the larger ones to be selected, from their superior velocity and stowage. Under present circumstances I would countermand the coals which I requested might be forwarded to Bonny, though, if already shipped, they will doubtless prove very useful; for it is more difficult to procure wood in that than in most other African rivers, owing to the prejudice of the natives against Kroomen cutting it.
I conceive it will be my duty to go to England by the first opportunity from Ascension after my arrival, in order to lay the exact condition of the expedition before their Lordships, and I have every reason to think I shall be able to arrive in March, which would give me ample time to rejoin the expedition should their Lordships require my further services.
I may state, for their Lordships' information, that the Albert and Wilberforce could not proceed to England with safety excepting in the summer months, and I consider the Soudan as quite incapable of returning to Europe at all. I am preparing to leave the Soudan in this sheltered harbour, in charge of native-ship keepers; and as Captain Becroft has promised to make his engineer light the fires occasionally, and work the engine, and as Lieutenant Blount, of the Pluto, will be able to do the same when he comes into port, there is every probability of the machinery being kept in good order.
I am in daily expectation of the arrival of the Golden Spring, with fuel from England, of which there is scarcely enough remaining here to fill the Albert's bunkers, the Pluto having used a large quantity of our store. I hope a supply of fuel may have been sent to Ascension before this time, so as to enable us to keep the machinery of the vessels in good order at that island.
I have the honour to be, Sir, your most obedient servant,
The following are the names of officers and men of the Niger expedition who have died between the 1st of September, 1841 (the time of the vessels getting through the Delta of the Niger, on the passage up, and of the first breaking out of the "river fever" on board the Soudan), and the 25th of October, 1841. The list does not include any who may have died on the passage to Ascension in the Dolphin or Wilberforce:-
H. D. TROTTER, Captain
|Fr 28 January 1842||Captain Trotter, the senior officer in command of the Niger expedition, has arrived in town, and yesterday transacted business both at the Foreign and Colonial-office.|
|Fr 28 January 1842|
LONDON, FRIDAY, JANUARY 28, 1842.
Captain TROTTER'S official report of the Niger expedition, while it confirms our worst anticipations as to the past, contains matter which renders it imperatively necessary for us once more to enter our solemn protest against similar experiments for the future. Failure more complete, demonstration more absolute of the impossibility of succeeding in such designs, it is beyond the compass of the human imagination to conceive. To persevere in acting out Sir FOWELL BUXTON'S foolish theories after such a warning, would be deliberate wholesale murder. No Minister of the Crown can dare to propose to Parliament the grant of one sixpence more of public money for such an object. It would be quite as rational, and infinitely more innocent, to tax the people in support of a plan for the civilization of the moon.
Captain TROTTER passed the Delta of the Niger with three ships on the 1st of September last. One of these ships, the Soudan, continued in the river just one-and-twenty days; another, the Wilberforce, just five-and-twenty days; and the Albert, Captain TROTTER'S own ship, about forty-five days. The fruits of this short voyage were seventeen deaths on board the Albert, down to the time when Captain TROTTER left Fernando Po; four deaths on board the Wilberforce, down to the time when that vessel sailed for Ascension (early in October), having then nearly all her crew ill of fever; and nine deaths on board the Soudan, exclusive of any who may have died on the passage to Ascension in the Dolphin, which took 35 of her crew (all of them fever-patients) to that island on the 21st of September: in all, thirty deaths ascertained, and more to be reported hereafter. Nothing but the prompt abandonment of the expedition could have saved the entire crews of all the three vessels from perishing.
"I have no exact return," writes Captain TROTTER, en the 25th of October, "of the number taken ill in the Wilberforce, but I believe it may be stated that only five white persons escaped the fever in that vessel, whilst there are only four who have not been attacked in the Albert up to the present time, and no white person in the Soudan escaped it. And when I add, that Dr. M'WILLIAM is of opinion that few, if any, will be fit to return to the coast of Africa who have had the fever, and that every lieutenant, excepting Mr. STRANGE, all the medical officers but Dr. PRITCHET and Mr. THOMPSON, all the mates, masters, second-masters, and clerks, the whole of the engineers and stokers of the expedition and the gunner of the Albert (the only vessel that has an officer of that rank) have been attacked, their Lordships will be able to form an idea of the paralysed state of the steam-vessels."
Our readers will have observed that the Albert remained much longer, in the river than either of the other ships, and suffered proportionably in consequence. But for the arrival of timely assistance, when still at a great distance from the mouth of the river, it is probable that every soul on board this vessel would have died, and that she would have been left to drift a mere log upon the water for want of hands. When Captain TROTTER commenced his homeward voyage, himself, his officers, and crew were in such a state, that Dr. M'WILLIAM, the medical officer, assisted by only one seaman, was obliged to take charge of the ship, having at the same time an enormous weight of professional occupation; and, "from want of engineers," they would " have had to go down the whole length of the river without steam, had not Dr. STANGER, the geologist, in the most spirited manner, after consulting TREDGOLD's work on steam, and getting some little instruction from the convalescent engineer, undertaken to work the engine himself." A forlorn hope this, to men with whom time was a matter of life and death; and so, from his way of expressing himself upon the unexpected appearance of help, Captain TROTTER seems to have felt.
"When about 100 miles from the sea, Captain Becroft happily made his appearance in the Ethiope steamer, having been requested to ascend the river and communicate with us by Commander William Allen, of the Wilberforce; and it was really a providential mercy that he arrived when he did for had any accident, however trivial, happened to the engines, they could not have been worked any longer, as Dr. Stanger had no knowledge of the manner of rectifying it. Fever still prevented my going on deck, and there was no executive officer to take the vessel over the bar, and only one convalescent sailor doing duty, and no black sailor who could properly take the helm.
"The assistant rendered by Captain Becroft, independent of the services of his vessel, the Ethiope, was, I can assure their Lordships, almost indispensable to the safety of the Albert; and I consider it to have been highly conducive to the preservation of many valuable lives, which might have been sacrificed had we ran aground in the Delta and remained there even for a few days."
The British nation, therefore, has spent upon this expedition 60,000 l., more than thirty lives, and the health of many gallant men who survive - and for what? For two "treaties" (not worth the parchment on which they are written) with savage chiefs, in a region inaccessible through pestilence, and for a "model farm," situated upon the confluence of the Niger and the Tchadda! This last precious acquisition has not been abandoned, as we supposed and hoped. Not only was a large stock of "utensils" landed there, but, sad to say, a "Mr. CAN, the superintendent," and divers "farm people," were landed and LEFT there, too. For the "protection" of these unfortunate creatures (who, if not killed by the climate, will probably be found upon the "middle passage" in the next American ship over which our cruisers exercise the right of search), Captain TROTTER also left in the river "the Amelia tender," "in charge of a trustworthy black, with twelve other natives of Africa under him, all intelligent steady men." An overwhelming force! Under the shadow of which the model farm cannot but flourish, the "treaties" cannot but be observed, Africa cannot but be civilized! It makes us heartsick to think of the horrors to which these unhappy victims of Sir FOWELL BUXTON'S "philanthropy" are at this moment exposed, if indeed a merciful Providence has not already terminated their sufferings.
It seems incredible, but so it is, that after all this experience Captain TROTTER still talks of the schemes of the Civilization Society, as if further efforts were to be made for their realization - as if more model farms and more waste paper treaties were to be bought with the blood of more British subjects. He speaks of his inability to give information as to "the efficiency of the expedition for future operations;" of "going up the Niger again ;" of the expediency of obtaining "assistant-surgeons and black engineers in England to volunteer for the expedition;" of "arrangements" to be made at Ascension, &c. We do not say that, for the mere purpose of bringing away the tender Amelia (if not destroyed or captured by the natives), and the survivors (if any) of the people left on the "model farm," it may not be necessary to reascend the river; but Captain TROTTER'S notions (founded, no doubt, upon the views of his employers) go much further than this. The following sentence is worthy of Sir GEORGE STEPHEN himself:-
To this we say emphatically, that it must not be. If Captain TROTTER does not know the value of his own life and of the lives of his gallant companions, - if experience cannot teach him the futility of fighting against nature and Providence, - there is enough of true humanity left in the British people to interpose, and peremptorily forbid the prosecution of this preposterous and wicked adventure.
|Sa 29 January 1842|
TO THE EDITOR OF THE TIMES.
Sir.- In support of the able leading article in your paper of this day, which I have just read, respecting the melancholy fate of the Niger expedition, I beg to enclose you the following extract from Sir Francis Head's Life of Bruce, in which you will find (see Family Library, pages 356, 360) a striking corroboration of your opinions:-
"While the little village of Geesh is yet before the reader, and while he joins with Bruce in feelings of 'despondency,' let us for one moment pause again to reflect on those theories of the present day, in support of which victim after victim is still sent to hunt for minute objects which are, most unfortunately, of no more real sterling value than that before him. At the bottom of the sea we might indeed expect to find 'wedges of gold, great anchors, heaps of pearls, unvalued jewels;' but at the North Pole of the earth, or in the equally lifeless deserts of Africa, what are we to find but the death which Bruce escaped, or the disappointment which he experienced? We all know that men, like bull-dogs, may be set at anything, but is it right that their courage and determination should, for the sake of any man's theory, however sagaciously supported. be pitted against objects which are worthless, and after all too strong for them? 'Dulce et decorum est pro patriâ mori.' Yet the life even of the most humble citizen should be spared unless it can gain for his nation at least its equivalent; and surely no liberal person will say that those who have lately perished in search of 'the grand African problem of the day,' have given information which, in a generous country, should be considered as valuable as their lives.
"Those who seem still determined to support such desperate theories, ought surely to be desired, like Bruce, to go themselves, for certainly nothing can be more ominous, or smell more rankly of theory, than a large body of men encountering danger by deputy, and shrinking from the execution of a project which each of them so eloquently recommends. Traveller after traveller in Africa, jaded, worn out and exhausted, yet still leaning against his collar, nobly pushes forward, until death sends to inform us that he can do no more.
"'Et Tartuffe? et Tartuffe ! il se porte à merveille!
|Th 3 February 1842||The Niger Expedition. - A correspondent inquires whether the projectors of the Niger expedition have any intention of raising a fund for contributing towards the support of the widows and families of the unfortunate men whose lives have been so wantonly and uselessly sacrificed in it. We have heard of no such proposal, and fear that, from the character of the leading promoters of the expedition, distress at home will still remain unrelieved, and the families of the deceased officers and men may starve, that money may be squandered in some other such scheme as that which has just come to so melancholy an end.|
|Sa 5 February 1842||The Niger Expedition. - Amongst the invalids who arrived at Liverpool with Captain Trotter is Mr. Ansell, from the Horticutural Gardens at Chiswick, who went out as gardner to the Niger expedition. He remains very ill from the effects of the fever, from which it is feared, he will never recover. Mr. Fraser, the naturalist to the expedition, from the Zoological Society, remains invalided at Ascension.|
|Ma 11 April 1842||The Kite steam-vessel, Lieutenant-Commander T.L. Gooch, which left Woolwich on Monday week for Plymouth, has gone to the island of Ascension for the purpose of bringing home part of the officers and crews of the Niger expedition. In letters which have been received from the island of Ascension up to the 7th of February, it is stated that it is Captain Allen's intention to take the Wilberforce and Soudan to the coast of Africa in March, and again proceed up the river Niger.|
|Ma 25 April 1842|
THE NIGER EXPEDITION.
We have been favoured with the sight, of a letter from one of the survivors of the voluntary exiles to the swamps of the Niger, dated from on board Her Majesty's steam-vessel the Wilberforce, Island of Ascension, February 14. The writer states, that very few are left to recount what they have seen and felt during the expedition. All the marines had died, with the exception of Sergeant Hodges, privates G. Velley, D. Bloomfield, H. Gibson, and W. Innes; these had been attacked with African fever, and recovered, but the disease had made a permanent mark on some of their constitutions. It was expected that the Wilberforce would again go up the river very soon, but it was doubtful whether any one would live to state the result. She would remain at the Island of Ascension for despatches from the Government by a 16-gun brig, which was daily looked for. The actual number of deaths is stated to be about 70, all of them having happened in from four to six weeks. Mr. Waddington, of Liverpool, had been appointed boatswain of the Wilberforce, and was very highly spoken of. Those who are spared calculate on returning to Liverpool about August next.- Liverpool Mail.
|We 22 June 1842|
AFRICAN CIVILIZATION SOCIETY.
The annual meeting of the African Civilization Society took place yesterday in the great room at Exeter-hall, Lord Ashley in the chair. The platform was occupied by a large number of the members of both houses of Parliament, of the clergy, and other friends of the society, among whom were Lord J. Russell, Lord Sandon, Lord Teignmonth, Sir Thomas D. Acland, Sir Robert Inglis, the Bishop of Worcester, &c. The body of the Hall was occupied almost exclusively by ladies.
The noble CHAIRMAN commenced the business of the day by reading a letter of apology for absence from the Bishop of London. The right rev. prelate expressed his heartfelt sympathy with the society in the grievous disappointment they had experienced in the partial failure of their recent expedition to the Niger, but trusted that means might yet be found by which in some measure to pay the vast debt of justice which was due from Christian Europe to uncivilized and benighted Africa. (Cheers.) His Lordship next read a letter from Sir Thomas Fowell Buxton, who was prevented from being present by indisposition, but who called upon the society still to be faithful to the cause they had undertaken, and enclosed a draught of 50 l. towards their funds. (Cheers.)
Mr. F. BUXTON [sic] then read letters from Dr. Lushington, the Marquis of Northampton, and the venerable Mr. Thomas Clarkson. The cause of Mr. Clarkson's absence was illness. He expressed his regret at not being able to take part in the furtherance of a cause which had occupied 57 years of his life. He could not, he said, express what were his feelings upon the failure of the Niger expedition, although he was one of those who could never despair of ultimate success in a righteous cause. (Hear.) For it was a righteous cause; and if it was a righteous cause when first taken up, it was still so now. (Cheers.) He was of opinion that another expedition might be undertaken on a smaller scale than the last. They only required the Bible and the plough, and very few persons would be sufficient in number to attend these instruments of good. (Hear, hear.)
Letters had also been received from the Marquis of Downshire, the Marquis of Normanby, the Bishops of Glocester and Chester, and other persons of distinction, expressing their regret at not being able to attend the meeting.
The noble CHAIRMAN then called upon the Rev. Dr. Daltry and Sir R.H. Inglis to read the report. The document was a printed pamphlet, of 48 pages, and the reading of it occupied a considerable portion of time.
The Rev. Dr. DALTRY commenced it. It was divided into four heads or departments: the first relating to the operations of the society abroad; the second to the operations at home; the third to the state of the slave-trade and the condition of Africa; and the fourth to the future plans and operations of the society. The last division of the report recommends a perseverance in a course of operations similar to those which have already been commenced, and says, that in Africa the resources and influence of the society must still be devoted to the encouragement of such efforts as may tend to smooth the path and to protect the labours of the Christian missionary, the free cultivator of the soil and the friend of innocent commerce: whether this is to be done by establishments of its own in a manner suggested, or by rendering assistance to others, has not been determined.
Lord J. RUSSELL, who was very warmly received, moved the reception and adoption of the report, and addressed the meeting at some length on the state and prospects of the society, urging upon its friends not to despair of success because they had experienced a reverse, which was far from being the utter and entire failure which some would have it to be believed.
|Ma 27 June 1842||THE NIGER ASSOCIATION. - There is a melancholy difference between the recent field-day of the Niger Association and that which was celebrated when the scheme was first presented to receive the homage of a gaping public. There was no Prince Albert this year to draw an admiring crowd and reflect a glory on the Association. Sir R. Peel, having got into office, did not countenance them; and the presence of Lord J. Russell only served to corroborate the melancholy opinion, that though the Association might be worth a few civil words from an Opposition leader, it was beneath the notice of a Minister. The decided failure of the first expedition had also opened the eyes of the public. Yet did the managers seem bent, like Falstaff, upon playing out the play; for although Sir F. Buxton could not master modest assurance enough to look his friends in the face, he sent them a letter and 50 l.; and an annual report was read in due form by a secretary, and movers and seconders of resolutions spoke of perseverance. It is natural to respect consistency so long as it does no harm; and if the Niger Association can only be prevented from immolating human beings to the fever deity of their Black River, there is no reason why their annual meetings should not be tolerated. The subscriptions of their private supporters are not likely to do more than defray their annual expenses in London; and if Government will but refuse them grants of public money, they will be effectually muzzled from doing mischief. In that case there can be no danger in allowing them to perform at Exeter-hall once a year for the amusement of the seriously dissipated who junket at the May meetings; and if an ex-Minister, at a loss how to dispose of his time, should occasionally star it, among them, the weakness may be winked at.- Spectator.|
|Fr 1 July 1842|
THE NIGER EXPEDITION.
Captain Walters, of the ship William Canynges, arrived at Bristol on Monday last, the 27th instant, from Cape Coast Castle (west coast of Africa), which place he left on the 22d of March, brings some interesting information respecting the Niger expedition. The following is an extract from Captain Walters's report:-
"The William Canynges sailed from Cape Coast Castle on the 22d of March. At Cape Coast Castle were Her Majesty's ship Madagascar and the steam-packet Wilberforce, attached to the Niger expedition. This vessel (Wilberforce) arrived on the 20th of March from the island of Ascension, on her way to Fernando Po, whence she was to proceed, in company with the Soudan steamer, on a second attempt to ascend the Niger. With the exception of one case of dysentery, all on board the Wilberforce were in tolerable health.
"The Wilberforce brought accounts from the island of Ascension as late as March 10. At that time the island was healthy, and most of the invalids from the Niger expedition had sufficiently recovered from fever to allow of their being invalided to return to England. One death had occurred among them while in hospital at Ascension.
"The Albert remained at Ascension undergoing a refit.
"The Gold Coast had been visited lately by a swarm of locusts, which had done much damage among the corn, &c.
"The Ashantee mission had been established under favourable circumstances, and the two princes, Quantamissah and Ausah, were residing with the Rev. Mr. Brooking, at Coomassie.
"Captain Stanley, late 2d West India Regiment, and Lieutenant Fairholme, invalided from the Soudan, came passengers (per the William Canynges) from Cape Coast."
|Sa 23 July 1842||By the accounts brought from the coast of Africa by the Termagant, Third Lieutenant Commander Henry F. Seagram, which left Ascension on the 29th of May, this expedition had not proceeded up the Niger a second time, in consequence of there not being sufficient water to admit of it, until after the rainy season, which has only now terminated. The Albert was lying at Ascension, but the Soudan, and Wilberforce, under the command of Captain W. Allen, were off the coast. Captain Allen intended to proceed, as soon as the depth of water would admit of it, up the river as far as the model farm; but whether he would continue his voyage higher up would entirely depend upon the state of his crew when at that point.|
|Ma 15 August 1842||The Rolla, 16, Commander C. Hall, arrived on Tuesday also from the coast of Africa, and has gone round to Chatham to be paid off. She left Ascension on the 19th of June, at which date the Albert, steamer, one of the unfortunate Niger expedition, and the Prompt schooner, were lying there. The Madagascar was at Cabenda, near which place, with the Waterwitch, she had destroyed a baracoon, and liberated 200 slaves. She was expected in a few days at Ascension.|
|Ma 22 August 1842|
21 August 1842
THE NIGER EXPEDITION.
Corporal T. Edmonds, of the company of Royal Sappers and Miners, stationed at Woolwich, arrived here on the 19th insp. Notwithstanding the unhealthiness of an African climate, and the hardships to which he was exposed by the death of so many of his comrades, his constitution remains unimpaired, and having laid aside the wide garments of the sailor, he has again returned to his duty as a soldier. The rest of the Royal sappers and Miners who embarked in the Albert, Wilberforce and Soudan steam vessels and have escaped with their lives from the pestilential climate of Africa, are on their way to England, as the project for the continuance of the expedition has been abandoned. This step has been taken owing to the impracticability of achieving the desired purpose, the extinction of the slave trade, &c. without a cruel sacrifice of European life. Only six persons of the Albert steam vessel, including Corporal Edmunds, have survived the ravages of the pestiferous climate in which they served, and the river fever.
|Ma 5 September 1842||Her Majesty's steamer Kite arrived at Lisbon on the 22d ult. From the coast of Africa, having on board the remaining persons who formed the Niger expedition. The following is an extract of a letter we have received from the Kite, dated Lisbon, August 22:- "The Kite arrived at Fernando Po on the 30th of June, with orders to desist from entering the Niger, except on a very limited scale, so much so as to put an end to the expedition; and the officers and men are to be sent home in a man-of-war. As the Kite had some defects, she was selected, and the officers and men are now on board her, and may be expected in England in a few days. The officers are, Captain W. Allen, Commander W. Ellis, Lieutenant Frederick Sidney, Master W. Forster, Surgeons R.H. Thomson and Morris Pritchett, Purser William Bush, Clerk - Terry, with 22 seamen and marines. The greater part of the seamen had volunteered at Ascension from merchant ships. Lieutenant Webb, of the Wilberforce, has taken that vessel up, with a boatswain, carpenter, and two white engineers; the rest are all Kroomen; Mr. Webb, clerk, also accompanied him. Lieutenant Webb, who was senior mate in the Soudan, has been at various times in all the vessels of the expedition (including the Amelia tender, now at the Model Farm settlement), as his services were required. He had nearly eight years passed, and was promoted into a death vacancy. - Hampshire Telegraph.|
|Ma 5 September 1842||The Kite, steam vessel, Lieutenant-Commander W.J.G. Pascoe, has arrived at Plymouth from the coast of Africa. She has brought home the survivors of the ill-fated Niger expedition, Captain W. Allen, Commander W. Ellis, Lieutenant Frederick Sidney, Master, W. Foster, Purser, W. Bush, Clerk, J. Terry, Surgeons R.H. Thompson and Morris Pritchett, and 22 seamen and marines. The Wilberforce had left Fernando Po on the 5th of June for Princes Island, under the command of Lieutenant Webb, who intended to take her up the Niger as far as the Model Farm. The clerk, boatswain, carpenter, and two engineers were the only Europeans who accompanied him, the rest were all Kroomen. The Soudan had gone to Benibra.|
|Th 22 September 1842|
Captain Allen, senior officer of the Niger expedition, had an interview with Lord Stanley yesterday at the Colonial-office.
|Tu 27 September 1842|
Mr. Commissioner Cook, of the Niger Expedition, had an interview yesterday with Lord Stanley, at the Colonial-office.
|Ma 31 October 1842|
THE NIGER EXPEDITION
The last wreck of the Niger expedition has been extricated from the fatal river; and the people at the Model Farm, with the relics of the property, have been brought to Fernando Po. To the very last the events have been such as to stamp the expedition with rashness and cruelty; even this supplemental expedition, greatly reduced, and profiting by the experience of previous disasters, suffered in proportion. Of eight or ten whites on board, but two were not laid up in sickness, the commander being one of the two. Again, it was a servant of the gentleman who warned Lord John Russell of the utter failure of the expedition who helped to rescue the Wilberforce on returning from its second voyage; a black boy, who had learned the use of the steam-engine on board Mr. Jamieson's trading steamer, worked the engine of the Wilberforce as it passed the Delta. The expedition has effected some discoveries. It has discovered that which was told to its projectors before it sailed from England, that the slave traffic which it was equipped to suppress in the Bight of Biafra had already ceased there; and that the legitimate commerce which it was to introduce had been rising and flourishing in the Bight for 20 years. It also discovered, what was told to its projectors before it left England, that the site chosen for an agricultural settlement could not be approached without imminent risk to the lives of Europeans. Another notable achievement has been, that the expedition went up the river about two-thirds of the distance previously ascended by merchant vessels; and its crowning feat is, that in attempting to carry out the plans of the African Civilisation Society, by carrying up merchandise, it has for the time expelled honest commerce - the very thing that it was to establish! What next? -Spectator.
|Fr 18 November 1842||FALMOUTH, Wednesday. - Her Majesty's steamer Wilberforce (of the unfortunate Niger expedition) passed up Channel to-day, and Her Majesty's steamer Dee, for the West Indies, still remains here.|
|Ma 21 November 1842|
THE NIGER EXPEDITION
Extract from a letter dated Cape Coast Castle Sept. 26, 1842 :-
"The Wilberforce, you will recollect, was here in March last, at which time Captain W. Allen was preparing to re-ascend the Niger, to look after the "Model Farm" people, and if possible to do something to retrieve the fame of the expedition. He proceeded hence to Fernando Po, to fit out the Soudan, to accompany him. While he was still lying there the Kite steamer arrived with orders from Government that only one vessel was to go up the river, and that she was only to have on board four or five white men at most. Her only object in going up was to be the bringing back the people left at the farm. On receiving these orders Captain Allen and most of his officers and crew went on board the Kite for a passage to England. The other commissioner (Cook) went home by the Golden Spring. The Wilberforce, under charge of her present commander (Lieutenant Webb), proceeded up the river, and found the 'Model Farm' a very perfect model of disorganization. The blacks who had been left at it, having plenty of cowries (a species of India shell used as money) and goods, voted themselves to be independent country gentlemen, and managed to get hold of a lot of natives, whom they very coolly made slaves of, and whom they compelled to work on the farm, each gentleman being provided with a cat, or slave driver's whip, the better to enforce obedience. The model farmer himself (Carr, brother of the Chief Justice of Sierra Leone) has never been heard of, and had, as it afterwards appeared, been killed somewhere near the mouth of the river. The Wilberforce brought away farm implements, people and all, and those of the latter belonging to this place are now being discharged here. The steamer got on a rock in the river, where she remained five days, and came down with a hole in her bottom, which now compels her to go home. So much for the last speech and dying words of the far-famed Niger expedition. A more mismanaged piece of business from beginning to end is not, I will venture to say, to be found recorded in any history."
|Tu 22 November 1842||The Times, 22 November 1842|
The glorious magnificence of that humbug which prefers cheap philanthropy to costly and selfdenying good deeds, which spurns the dullness of secret and retiring charity, which rejoices itself in agitation by sections, vaunts itself in public speechification and the applause of the multitude, and deems popularity and excitement no ill substitutes for humility and devotion, has just achieved a consummation as signal as it probably was unexpected. In two words, letters have just arrived, whereby it appears that the Niger ANTI-Slavery Expedition has done no more (nor any less) than planted a very "model" of the most cruel and iniquitous SLAVERY, and that on a spot where such, or at least such systematic scourge-bearing slavery, was probably unknown before.
How glorious a result of the great national union effected upon the platform of Exeter-hall! Who does not recollect the "sensation" produced by that grand display of (if it be not a contradiction in terms to connect religion with display) religious philanthropy? The Strand was thronged with omnibuses, full of lady-members of committee; swarms of cabs, containing each its dissenting minister, or member of Parliament, supplied every vacuum; while Mr. O'CONNELL and Sir ROBERT PEEL, Dukes and Quakers, Bishops and Cabinet Ministers, all united for the time in amiable harmony, concentrated their powers in order to effect an object good enough in itself, by means palpably ridiculous and suicidal, not to say grossly and deliberately cruel, and to stamp with their approbation a system of ostentatious agitation, utterly alien from that Christian charity which it intends and seeks to supplant. However, the thing was done; and what has been the result? Two steam-boats; an awful loss of life; - and - a slave settlement, yes - literally and truly SLAVE SETTLEMENT. The centre of Africa was to be civilized. Nothing less was to be achieved. Other subordinate anti-slaveryites might attack the outposts; but the national expedition was to assault the citadel at once, and to commence by converting the heart of Africa. The Niger had recently been discovered; and was of course supposed by the peaceful-district-agitators of Exeter-hall to be the grand highway into Central Africa, as sure, as safe, and as easy, as the Thames between the Nore and London-bridge ; and it was imagined hat no more was necessary than to steam up that river, as a Margate steamer might steam up the Thames, and to encamp on any convenient locality. The name of the river too was appropriate: the expedition was planned on the principle of sacrificing white men to benefit black; and it was also determined (unluckily as it now appears) to make the thing still more complete and of a piece, by sending some black men also up this black river, with this very black expedition. In the words of our correspondent at Cape Coast Castle, the result of all this black work has been this :-
"The 'model farm' was found to be a very perfect model of disorganization. The blacks who bad been left at it, having plenty of cowries (a species of India shell used as money) and goods, voted themselves to be independent country gentlemen, and managed to get hold of a lot of natives, whom they very coolly made slaves of, and whom they compelled to work on the farm, each gentleman being provided with a cat or slave-driver's whip, the better to enforce obedience!!''
And this is the conduct of agents, professed, paid agents of the Female-Centre-of-Africa-Civilization anti-the-very-Name-of-SLAVERY Negro-Total-Abolition Society! Who is to blame here - the agents or the principals? Who has played false? - the niggars or the ladies committee? And then, again, this is the conduct of negroes - of individuals of that very race which the expedition was sent out to civilize. Is it a dream, or can such perfect ingratitude, and such unutterable impudence, exist among men? Sent to civilize, these "gentlemen" niggars proceed without hesitation to propagate barbarism, and coolly carry on their anti-slavery mission, slave-whip in hand.
We hope that the victims of anti-slavery committees will take a lesson by these occurrences. We hope that these things will be a lesson to those persons, those sincere and really well-disposed persons, who are in many instances weak enough to be seduced by some bustling political Dissenter, or by some conceited aspirer to petty notoriety, into a participation in that worldly, self-sufficient, and intrusive system of so-called benevolence, which, on the specious pretence that it has a good end in view, is careless by what means that end is attained, overlooks what is near at home for what is far away, talks instead of acting, and utterly reverses every principle of true and perfect charity. Let such persons, we say, take warning by the denouement of the tragic farce lately enacted on the banks of the Niger.These committees and sub-committees - this puffing and this vanity - are, we are told, directed to a good end; - be it so - let people see to it how they suffer themselves to use un-Christian and demoralizing means, and think to justify those means by that end - let them see to it lest the means do not rather, as in the Niger farce, involve the end also in their own condemnation and failure.
|Tu 22 November 1842||THE NIGER EXPEDITION. - Her Majesty's steamer Wilberforce, commanded by Lieutenant Webb, left the coast of Africa about the 14th of October, touched at Madeira for coal on the 31st, left there on the 6th inst., and arrived at Plymouth on the 17th. She is principally manned by coloured people, there being only four or five Europeans, who were taken from other Government ships, and but three of these who joined the expedition originally - viz., the commander, carpenter, and engineer. It is said these three would be willing to go out again, although they have all been attacked by the fever. The commander and carpenter appear in good health; but the effects of the climate, aggravated perhaps by the nature of his occupation, have left melancholy evidence on the person of the engineer. The Wilberforce is gone up Hamoaze to receive some necessary repairs.|
|Sa 26 November 1842|
LONDON, SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 26, 1842
The extent of delinquency of which the promoters of the African-Civilization Society have been guilty, is so great, and the lessons to be derived from it are so valuable, that we should be wrong if we dismissed the last reported results of their proceedings with a single derisive article. We think the opportunity is a fitting one for observing upon the extreme shallowness of view with which, not merely conceited enthusiasts, but practical statesmen of all parties in the present day, are capable of acting upon subjects of the highest moral and social importance. Nothing can more strongly illustrate the empirical character of the wisdom on which we value ourselves in the 19th century - nothing can more forcibly prove the fatuity of believing that the age in which we live is more enlightened, and better qualified to form sound opinions upon political or philosophical questions, than those which have gone before it.
Looking back upon this whole transaction, the facts appear so marvellous, that we doubt if a more incredible narration is to be found in the pages of GULLIVER or MUNCHAUSEN. In the summer of 1840 Sir FOWELL BUXTON wrote a book. In this book he stated, that after many years incessant labour in the anti-slavery cause, which had resulted in nothing but a serious aggravation of the horrors of slavery, and a slave trade more intolerable than ever, he, Sir FOWELL BUXTON, had at last, in 1840, discovered the true remedy for slavery, which was to civilize Africa by introducing among the natives spades, pickaxes, ploughs, potatoes, and political economy, upon the newest European principles. For this purpose, nothing more (he said) would be necessary, than just to send a couple of steamers up the Niger, make treaties with the native chiefs, invent a general language for the use of the African continent, compile and put into circulation a universal dictionary, buy model farms, settle upon them a few Scotch farmers and liberated negroes, and demonstrate to the surrounding black potentates the immense advantage of employing their superfluous hands in making sugar and coffee at home, instead of exporting them for the same purposes to Cuba or the Brazils. This was the grand "heureka" of Sir THOMAS FOWELL BUXTON - the result of his many years' thought and experience and disappointment on this subject: to unravel this secret, he wrote a book: to accomplish this plan, he requested the British Government to place steamers and 60,000l. At his disposal, and the British public to give their gold to his "African Civilization Society." In all which he was duly seconded by his trusty friend and squire, Sir GEORGE STEPHEN.
If this project had borne no marks of absurdity or impossibility upon the face of it, - if the British public had known nothing of Africa, and no more of any past attempts to put down the slave trade than these projectors thought proper to tell them, - we should still have though both the Government and the public must at least have asked some such questions as the following: - Who is this Sir FOWELL BUXTON, and what is this Sir GEORGE STEPHEN, that they should expect us to adopt their project for summarily changing the conditions of society in more than one-fourth of the globe? What proof have they given of their qualifications for so extraordinary a work - a work which (if at all practicable) mast necessarily demand for its execution the most penetrating intellect, the most profound acquaintance with the philosophy of human nature, the most excellent skill in adapting means to ends, the most wonderful aptitude for gaining ascendancy and influence over the minds of men in short, the very highest degree of political wisdom and also the most gigantic system of external means. Never did so mighty a conception enter into the mind of MAHOMET, or NAPOLEON, or ALEXANDER never was a scheme propounded implying such superhuman judgment and ability (or else such wild folly) in its authors. Who are these men, who thus set themselves up to revolutionize a quarter of the world? Are they comets blazing for the first time upon our political hemisphere, or have they already given signs of preeminent genius within the limits of their own country?
What must have been the answer, if such questions as these had been asked? The inquirer would have been told, that Sir THOMAS FOWELL BUXTON was a well-known and very common-place Whig Dissenter, who had been for many years in Parliament, but was never suspected of entertaining a design to set the Thames on fire; that no statesman ever set the least value upon his opinion on any question of domestic policy; that he never made a speech which contained one striking, original, or comprehensive thought; that he was almost the last man in England whom Sir ROBERT PEEL, or Lord JOHN RUSSELL, or any body else, would have thought of consulting, if a proposal had been made to improve the moral and social condition of his own countrymen. As for Sir GEORGE STEPHEN, it most have been affirmed, that he was a solicitor in the city of London, whose claim to distinction consisted chiefly in having written a book, entitled A Gentleman in Search of a Horse; and nothing more could have been said about him.
It was also obvious, upon the face of Sir FOWELL BUXTON'S book, that much of his life had been spent in the invention of specifics for this very thing - the cure of slavery in Africa - in a long course of agitation, carried on under most favourable circumstances, assisted by frequent Parliamentary enactments, and the expenditure of millions upon millions of public money. It was clear, upon his own showing, that the only result of all his exertions had hitherto been, to make the evil much worse than when he began. Such were the prima facie qualifications of these gentlemen for being intrusted with the task of making Africa a new moral world.
With this introduction to the persons concerned, the next point would naturally have been to look at the things recommended. To civilize all Africa by dictionaries, model farms, physical sciences, and political economy! By these means to put down the slave trade at its fountain head! By these means to teach the chiefs that it was their interest to be humane! By these means to pave the way to the introduction of Christianity! And all this with two or three Government steamers! Not waiting for the tardy lapse of centuries, as civilization used to do in the times of old, but with a railroad pace, within the brief lives of Sir GEORGE STEPHEN and Sir FOWELL BUXTON, or their still more ephemeral society! This was the scheme. Is it credible that any man in England, with any pretence to reason, could seriously and believingly swallow down such drivelling absurdity? We think not; yet men in high stations were not ashamed to act as if they did believe it.
The scheme was not simply foolish; it was not even a new folly; it had been long before tried, and disproved by facts. The Liverpool Anti-Slavery Society came forward solemnly to repudiate it, and detailed the history of a precisely similar experiment, which failed, thirty years ago, as completely as all reasonable men must have anticipated. Nor was it merely an old folly; it was also a wicked, a murderous, and a slave making folly; it included the certain sacrifice of many invaluable European lives, experience having furnished abundant proof that the climate of Africa was fatal to white constitutions; while in the establishment of free negro settlements, it involved the creation of new slave-marts, like that of Siberia, under the pretence of abolishing the old. Nor was it only a stale and a wicked folly - it was a folly and wickedness most presumptuous and deliberate; for all these facts were notorious to every person engaged in it; and least they should be unknown to any, we ourselves took care, before the thing was done, that the public should be loudly and frequently reminded of them.
Notwithstanding all this, it is a fact, to be recorded and remembered, that a "great meeting" was held at Exeter-hall in the autumn of 1840, for the purpose of applauding Sir FOWELL BUXTON for writing this silly book, and to organize the means of acting upon it. It is a fact, that HER MAJESTY'S Whig Government persuaded HER MAJESTY'S Consort to honour that meeting with his presence. It is a fact, that Sir ROBERT PEEL and Lord JOHN RUSSELL, and Mr. O'CONNELL, and Archdeacon SAMUEL WILBERFORCE, were all there for the purpose of commending the black inhabitants of Africa to the MEDEA'S caldron of this brainless Buxtonian benevolence. It is a fact, that Government steamers, and English crews, and 60,000 l. of English money from the public Treasury, were devoted by the QUEEN'S then advisers to the purposes of Sir FOWELL BUXTON and his new society. And lastly, it is a fact, that the expedition, as was predicted, has totally failed; that of the whites engaged in it, many died, more had their health broken for ever, and the few survivors returned a miserable wreck, without completing anything beyond the purchase and settlement of one small farm several hundred miles up the Niger; and that HER MAJESTY'S ship Wilberforce, on revisiting this "model farm" in the present year, found the model farmer dead, and the black civilizers already become slave-owners and slave-drivers, with whips in their hands. Everything has turned out exactly as every rational man might have foreseen from the first; and yet, as far as we can see, not the slightest symptom of compunction is manifested by those who did these things in the face of the strongest and most frequent warnings!
|Sa 26 November 1842||The Wilberforce steam-vessel, Lieutenant-Commander Webb, is ordered to Woolwich to be paid off. This vessel was the last to leave the Niger, and has brought home the few remaining parties who went out on that unfortunate expedition. The Model Farm has been entirely broken up, and scarcely a vestige remains to show that an attempt was made to colonize that part of Africa through which the pestilential River Niger has its course.|
|Tu 29 November 1842||WOOLWICH, Nov. 28. - The Wilberforce steam-vessel, Lieutenant Webb, from the Niger, arrived at Woolwich, on Saturday.|
|Sa 10 December 1842||THE NIGER EXPEDITION.- The Wilberforce steam-vessel, recently returned from the Niger expedition, was paid off at Woolwich on Wednesday last, and the Kroomen transferred to the William and Mary yacht. The Kroomen appear a hardy race of men, and prove excellent sailors on their native seas, and able and willing to work; but in this northern climate they complain of the piercing winds going through them, although comfortably clothed, and with flannel shirts next their body. The Wilberforce left the Soudan steam-vessel at Fernando Po, and it is expected she will receive the slight repairs she will require there. The Albert Steam-vessel is still on the coast of Africa; and, owing to her small draught of water, it was said she was to be employed in looking after slave vessels. An impression prevails amongst the few remaining of the crew of the Wilberforce that she will be re-commissioned in the spring of next year, and be worked exclusively by volunteers, assisted by Kroomen, and again proceed to the Niger. That river is described as being for about 20 miles below the spot where the model farm was one entire marsh, the whole of that distance clothed on each side with magnolia trees, growing into the river, and presenting a singular appearance where the rise and fall of the tide had washed away the earth from their roots. It was invariably in passing through this spot that the greatest number of cases of fever and deaths occurred amongst the white portion of the crew, and even the West Indians employed in the expedition could not resist the effects of the malaria. The country above Idah is described as comparatively beautiful and fertile, and the intelligent portion of the crew of the Wilberforce think a situation for the model farm ought to have been selected farther up the river if such could nave been obtained from the King of that country. The Niger at Idah is represented as being about twice as broad as the Thames at Woolwich, and in some parts immediately below Idah about three times the breadth of the Thames in that quarter. The dew falls every evening after sunset in the marshy parts of the Niger in the form of a dense fog of greater intensity than was experienced on the River Thames yesterday. Several of the black crew of the Wilberforce, on being paid off, were very proud of being freemen, and proceeded to London the same evening, with the view of obtaining vessels. The great majority understood and could speak English very well, and conversed with each other in that language.|
|Sa 10 December 1842||ROYAL HUMANE SOCIETY.- The committee or the Royal Humane Society have, on the representation of Dr. James Ormiston M'William, who was senior medical officer of the Niger expedition, awarded honorary silver medallions to "Tom Osmond," a Krooman, and "William Guy," an African boy, in admiration of the noble courage and humanity displayed by them, in having jumped overboard to the relief of Mr. Willmett Clark, of Her Majesty's steamer Albert, on the night of the 7th of October, 1841, while that vessel was lying off Murje, a chief town of Kakundah, on the right bank of the Niger. We are not aware that this distinction has on any former occasion been conferred upon a negro.|
|Fr 23 December 1842||The Wilberforce steam-vessel has been taken into dock, to have the injury which she sustained in her bottom by striking on a rock in going up the Niger repaired. It is stated, that when again ready for sea she will be re-commisioned by Captain William Allen, who is anxious to proceed again to Africa, and that her chief occupation on that coast in future will be as a surveying-vessel. Amongst the articles brought home in the Wilberforce by the Kroomen were several bags of cowries, a species of shell used as coin on the coast of Africa.|
|Fr 23 December 1842|
TO THE EDITOR OF THE TIMES.
Sir,- The lovers of a joke are entitled to require that any attempt to deprive them of their laugh during the Christmas festivities at the conversion of the "model farm" into a slave-driving plantation, be supported by something like evidence. Accordingly, I think that we may ask, upon whose authority the statements published in the Friend of Africa and a morning paper of yesterday are made?
It seems to me that they must be a mere flight of that fervid fancy which conjured up the inducements to the expedition itself. No person capable of writing such a paper remained upon the model-farm. The details given are - first, a fancy sketch of the pacific and pastoral way in which such a model-farm should have been managed; and secondly, anecdotes of the feelings and conduct of the surrounding native population towards the model farmers, which rest upon no better authority than that of these blacks, themselves, who are, no doubt, as loquacious and imaginative as every one familiar with the race knows them to be. And we are not even informed to whom we are indebted for this report of the counter-statements of the accused model-farmers.
I think you must see the palpable attempt at deception by printing these random recollections between inverted commas, as if drawn out by some great unknown eye-witness of the mighty wonders he relates, too illustrious for notoriety, and by "confirming" them by a line or two from Lieutenant Webb "as far as his knowledge extends." This truly gallant officer (pity that such courage and skill as that of these brave men should have been thus employed) can know nothing but what be saw during the very short time which the model farmers, then under the awe of superior authority, occupied in packing up themselves and the tools and goods not destroyed by the climate, or expended in procuring "native labour," and "securing the good-will of the chiefs."
Your readers will determine what weight is due to the assertion of this document, unsupported by other evidence, "that there was decidedly nothing like slave driving" at the "model farm."I am, your faithful servant,
London, Dec. 22.
|Sa 24 December 1842||The Wilberforce, on being examined in dock, was found to be so little injured in her bottom, that the whole of the repairs can be accomplished by the substitution of four new iron plates instead of those injured by striking on a rock and getting aground in the Niger. The iron sheets of which the vessel's bottom is entirely constructed appear to have stood very well, and are very little corroded, and, with the exception of a few shells of the limpet species, she has been found quite free from the attacks of marine insects. The precaution of having a few sheets of iron, of the same thickness as the bottom of the Wilberforce is constructed of, was found very advantageous when the accident occurred, as they were put over the injured part with great ease, and rendered the vessel perfectly water-tight. The Wilberforce is represented as being an excellent sea-boat, and kept her decks remarkably dry during her passage out and home. The only complaint against her is, that her engines have not sufficient power to render her a fast sailer. She is expected to be ready for sea in about a month.|
|We 28 December 1842||We have been requested to contradict a paragraph which appeared some days since with our intelligence from Woolwich, to the effect that Captain W. Allen, was about to re-commission the Wilberforce, and was anxious to return with her to the coast of Africa. The gallant officer to whom this unviable task was thus ascribed has heard nothing of his being appointed to any such service, and has had, as might have been expected, quite enough of the Niger expedition.|
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