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CMS. Niger Mission CA3/013. Archd. Dandeson C. Crowther. Letters. Journals & Reports. 1862-80
Report on the Mission Stations in the Upper & Lower Niger, visited June to October 1879
Kippo Hill station - Upper Niger.
Early in the morning of the 5th of August, we left Lokoja (the Rev. J.C. John accompanying me,) in the S.S. “Wanderer” for Kippo Hill Station. Arrived at Eggan about 8 o’clock a.m. of 6th instant, & engaged 2 canoes to take us to Kippo Hill, about 3 miles opposite Eggan. Met the Rev. C. Paul & wife well, with the other agents in the compound. I felt quite thankful to be at this station for the first time, with its beautiful scenery of distant mountains in front & on both sides; and the river silently winding in serpentine form through the extensive grassy plain, dotted here & there with shea butter & other trees. As if at the immediate base of the distant mountains; the long row of beehive huts of Eggan, loosely packed together are continually before us, not too far for us to distinguish the white corrugated roofs of this or that factory, showing civilisation there, as Kippo Hill Station tells of Christianity in this far off place.
Took Service at the Stan on Sunday the 10th & preached from Job xxxvi. 26v. “Behold, God is great & we know Him not:” there were 70 present, Mohammedans & Pagans, among the former was the consul of Katsa village 2 miles from us. Mr. Paul went over to Eggan for Service.
On Tuesday the 12th Mr. Paul & myself started for Bida. We arrived at Wunangi at 2 o’clock of the afternoon of the 15th. - The next morning at 8 o’clock a.m. we rode to Bida 8 miles. After were shown our lodgings by the governor’s messenger, we proceeded to the king’s. We met him sitting in a wide veranda, surrounded by a good many of his courtiers. By the looks of abut 30 people at some distance from him we guessed they were strangers. All these with the courtiers were dismissed while he spoke to us & asked after the welfare of the Bishop. Our stay was short & we promised to see him again in the afternoon after we have rested. An hour after we left him be sent us presents of 2 mats 2 rams, 2 large bowls of cooked food & 1 dozen yams. At 3½ o’clock in the afternoon, he sent for us to come then I delivered the message from the Bishop, that through the protracted illness of my mother he will be unable to see him this year, also the reason of archdeacon Johnson’s detention at Lagos; but that I am sent as a representative of the C. M. Society to thank him for his care & protection of the missionaries & Mission stations in his kingdom. I took the opportunity also to state that I had occasion (together with other illustrations) to make use of his name as an example of intelligence & his acts of toleration, to convince chiefs on the coast in favour of our work, also the great good effected already in church buildings & congregations in the coast stations, & hope we may be able ere long to speak of the same in these parts.
He was deeply interested in all what was said, expressed himself glad for the use I made of his name. During this interview, a letter in Arabic was brought him from his sister, which after reading he told us was a very valuable paper. It was, he said, written before he Umoru was born, to his grandfather, by the then Sultan of Sockoto. The Sultan wrote advising his grandfather how to establish and improve a town or country newly formed in the midst of the heathen - reading the portion in Arabic he translated to us thus “rule them said the Sultan (after conquest) with truth, let justice be seen in the settlement of any difference that may be brought to you, and by Allah, you will not fail to gain the confidence of those among whom you live.” We remarked that it is truly a valuable paper that truth has greater power than guns & swords, but now rarely men use that weapon of truth! Mr Paul immediately after, asked whether he still had with him his Arabic Bible presented him by the Bishop. He answered in the affirmative. The few presents of cloth we took with us, more according to custom than the value were given him & we left the palace.
Aug. 17th - Today being Sunday; we kept at home in the morning & read prayers among ourselves. In the afternoon we went to the marketplace, & entering a barber’s shop a large airy building we conversed with the people on religious subjects. The king sent his Arabic Bible to us to show that he has not parted with it; most of the pages looked clean, but some parts shewed clearly that they had been handled in use.
We met with a traveller today from Wadai (Wady) in the north, he had been at Bida sometime now, waiting for the payment of some horses he brought for sale to the king. He is a young man; fully six feet in height; with a very slender body, & narrow features; he is jet black & his hair curly. He said the language spoken at Wadai is pure Arabic. He is styled here Jikka Anabi - the descendant of the Prophet. Among other questions we asked whether he ever heard of Gordon Pasha, he answered in the negative & that he had left home travelling from one place to the other since the last 4 years. He, however, interested us with accounts of Kordofan & Khartoum, that silver is the currency used in Wadai and these places.
Monday 18th. We left Bida today & visited the King to say goodbye. Having asked to be kindly remembered to the Bishop, he made enquiries about a boy he gave for Kippo Hill Station last year, who by mistake was taken to the Coast but was brought up by me this year; he was glad when told that I have brought him to Kippo Hill Station for which he was intended.
He also asked Mr Paul to tell him about the wonders of the sewing machine he heard he has with him at Kippo Station, & expressed a wish to get one, turning to me i.e desired me to tell the Bishop to help him to obtain such a useful thing, not only for the wonder it causes, but also to do up the many things he has which take a long time to sew. This gave Mr Paul an opportunity to tell me that he had long ago asked the king to send girls, with his daughters among them, to learn reading writing, & sewing, but he has not done so & that a sewing machine will be useless to him without someone who knows how to use it. He promised to do as Mr Paul advised; then I added that if he really meant it I will in the Bishop’s name promise to get him one exactly like Mr Pauls d.v. next year. We rode homeward-bound to Wunangi at 5 o’clock p.m. where we engaged a canoe, & on the morning of the 20th instant, we landed at Kippo Hill Station.
For Statistics of Kippo Hill Station, see paper attached.
Ilorin & Ibadan - I learnt at Bida that the disturbance between Ilorin & Ibadan still continues. King Umoru was asked by the Ilorin people to help to crush their antagonists as he has the advantage of guns & powder, which none of the kings around there can boast of, but King Umoru would rather act as a mediator, than show the superiority of his arms. He sent back to say that he would rather see peace made between the two than fight in favour of either & should he be required to do this, he would answer their call. No reply has since been received My intention after Bida was to have gone on to Shonga, an opportunity offered itself on the 21st the day after our return from Bida. I immediately wrote to Capt. McIntosh the General Agent of the Amalgamated Company, for a passage in one of his steamers, but unfortunately, the ships did not go in the creek at Eggan, but steamed direct upwards, & before my letter reached the stream from Kippo Hill Station, they had passed miles away. Losing this chance I gave up ever reaching as far, as it is quite impossible to do it in canoes, short of 12 or 15 days, at this season. Knowing in what state I left Onitsha & the letters which I had received since then, my move was more for the Lower Niger where my presence was required. I left Kippo Hill & Eggan on the 2nd of Sept. At 10 o’clock a.m., in S.S. Fullah” for the Lower Niger. -- In closing this report of the furtherest station among Mohammedan, I must make the following observation.-
There has been much said & written by travellers & others, about the ‘superiority of the Mohammedan religion & its elevating principles.’ & some have gone as far as to say that Mohammedanism & not Christianity is the religion for Africa. Having the opportunity this year to visit the Upper Niger & [insertion in faith ink illegible] move among Pagans in the Lower, & Mohammedans in the Upper, I made it a point before starting to watch closely, to discover this much talked of ‘superiority.’, I must say that I fail to discover any other than this, that in the Mohammedan religion you can find one here and there who can read and write Arabic e.g. Arabic is taught in a school visited at Bida by Rev. Mr. Paul & myself; but when one does not stop here in the research but enquire what use this reading & writing is put to, you will find that this superiority consists in imposition on others less informed, & especially on the heathens around them, by writing out sentences from the Koran, in scraps, binding them in leather, & selling them at enormous prices, as charms protective of outward evil; no saviour of the soul is offered, but earthly pleasures in the world to come, wives &co. The superiority of their knowledge of (Arabic) literature which the heathens have not, being thus strict as regards its use, we look for the elevating principles & find none after all.
Again, travellers do meet with Mohammedans in the Coast, who have lived among Christian civilization for years & are cleanly & decent in their habits & persons, & this at once is put to the credit of the Mohammedan religion, but I invite our friends to Eggan, a staunch Mohammedan town, about 400 miles from the coast, where Islamism has its full sway; what do we find? With those who live there, cleanliness is not next to Godliness, as a rule, (and the exceptions are very rare,) their gowns, caps, & cloths, do not touch the water, except by an accidental shower of rain,) from the time they are put on till they fell off their backs in fibres; as a natural sequence, the olfactory nerves are greatly offended in coming in contact with them, by the complications of musk & other scents which are freely used to cloak the real offender.
On a gala day, one cannot wish for a more imposing sight of splendid & costly new gowns, white blue & red turbans &c, but take these off the wearer there & then you will find on these people of superior religion and elevating principles, the indispensable “vade mecum”. A lousy tobe or a dirty cap. By way of contrast, (and I must be understood to write, not of the peculiarities of nations or of tribes, but of the effect of their religious teachings) let us take Asaba, a purely heathen country rife in superstition & idolatory, - compare its busy occupants, cleanly swept town, decently enclosed kitchen gardens, & extensive yam, cocoa, & cotton farms with filthy Eggan the Mohammedan town, the men lounging under trees, a great man or a prince on a begging or plundering expedition with drums & innumerable satellites; - see the inhabitants of heathen Asaba at the wharf 2 or 3 times a day washing, not only their clothes but themselves, & ask why are the people always in clean white clothes, & you will learn that “to be found with spots, dirt, or stains about the clothes & person, is accounted by the ‘gods’ as ‘forbidden’ (nso) and the penalty to the offender is to offer a goat & chickens for sacrifice, with a certain sum & palm wine to propitiate the gods for uncleanness”. But the defenders of “Mohammedan for Africa’, will tell us of the atrocious system of human sacrifices, perpetrated nearly every day at Asaba & around, & the nos of lives hurried to eternity through their religion, this I admit, but may I ask whether the nos of souls equally hurried to eternity by the sword of Islamism in the Nupe kingdom alone, are not alarming, in order to make the heathen proselytes to their religion, & through them oppression? What tales do heathen towns of the Igbiras, Bunus, Bassas, Ikis [i.e. Ekis], & Kakandas tell us, but mournful ones of desolated homes, the scattering of families, the bloody fights & deaths in withstanding the oppression & sword of Mohammedans? If idolatry has slain its thousands, Mohammedanism has slain its ten thousands.
I can arrive at no other conclusion but this; that both the Pagan and the Mohammedan, require something higher, a religion superior to theirs, elevating in its principles, & saving in its nature, and that its, the Gospel of the good old old story, of Jesus and His love.
Lokoja & Gbebe - Upper Niger.
The “Henry Venn” anchored at Lokoja at 12 o’clock a.m. on the 29th June, and we were kindly welcomed by Rev. J. C. John & the other mission parties. The next day Sunday I preached in the piazza of the Mission house (the new church not completed) to a congregation numbering 95. In the afternoon, I preached at the Bunu Chapel to 30 people. Having heard from different sources that Akaya the king of Gbebe had been sending messages to the missionaries at Lokoja for a re-establishment of a mission station among them, I proposed a visit to Gbebe.
Mr. Ashcroft having placed the steam launch bought for the Binue expedition at my disposal, I went over on the 4th of July accompanied by the Rev. J. C. John & Mr. P. J. Williams. Our reception was cordial, there was not that ceremony which is peculiar in days gone by for strangers or visitors to be kept hours & hours waiting before seeing the king, we were not quarter of an hour in the messenger’s house before we were called in the King’s apartment where we found him sitting on a raised mound matted over, & surrounded by his people. After salutation, we sat on stools already placed for us. I sat opposite him, Rev. J.C. John, & Mr. Sergant the engineer at my right, & Mr. Williamsat the left. He is the Akaya I knew at Gbebe in 1872 but very much altered, at that time he was robust black, muscular & energetic, one on whom the eyes would delight to look, but now, I had before me, a most miserable picture of humanity, asthmatic, paralytic, with a blank look rather inclined to sleepiness. The evils of contention was fast telling on him, hunting others, & being hunted about himself from one place to another, he had passed through many privations, exposures, & narrow escapes, he lived day & night in fields, forests, canoes, & on sandbanks, having really no abiding place for 13 full years. -- I opened our interview by stating the cause of the Bishop’s not coming up, & continued that I was sent by him to look after whatever work may be required to be done in these parts; and hearing of the repeated messages he had sent from friends at Lokoja, I thought I should pay him a visit, to see him & hear myself. He answered that all I had heard were true, & that he wishes a missionary to reside at Gbebe to show his people the right way. I answered that I was glad to hear that, but would make him understand that when we come to his country it will not be only to teach his people book but also to preach to them about Jesus Christ the Son of God who came into the world to save sinners, & in preaching this, he must be aware that himself the king is included & will have to hear it, his wives & children, his chiefs, traders, as well as the ordinary people, men women, boys & girls, - all have to come under the preaching of this name Jesus. He replied that he has already told everyone & will repeat it to them that all are at liberty to attend our place of worship unmolested & added that he will be glad at any time to hear the word of God himself. I then took out my Bible, & read the 16th verse III Chap St. John & gave a short address to all assembled thereafter this I promised to send Mr. P. Williams over to reside with them.
On our way home I presented the king with a piece of grey baft, merely as a token of respect. The mission ground was visited, it is an eligible spot, situated a few yards out of the town, & from it the Mission station & houses at Lokoja could distinctly be seen on the opposite side of the river. After a little refreshment, we returned to the launch, & steamed homeward.
On Monday the 7th July, I held a conference with the agents at Lokoja, at 10 o’clock a.m. Read 1Cor. 1v. The Rev. J.C. John engaged in prayer. The purport of the conference & instructions given are contained in paper no.1 attached. I closed with prayer after 2 hours profitably spent in interchange of ideas. Mr. Williams went over to Gbebe on the 9th of July; letter no.2 tells of his commencement in that Station.
The “Henry Venn” had all the while been taking in wood & making preparations for the Binue river.. She was ready to leave on the 8th. Of July. I had proposed to Mr. Ashcroft about having a service on board before the departure of the steamer to the Binue & that I will be there to conduct the service, accordingly on the morning of the 8th July Mr. Aschroft wrote to say he was ready. All of us from the station, some strangers, with the crew of the ship met on the poop at 10 o’clock; the 91st Psalm was read alternately verse by verse between myself & those assembled - then the Litany, after which I delivered a short address based on the 33rd Chapter of Deut: latter part of ver 25th. “As thy days, so shall they strength be,” remarking that the trip now about to start is a step towards the realization of Dr. Krapfs’ grand dream of a chain of missions across this dark continent, for the advance must be made from both sides’, yea more, it is a step towards the accomplishment of the words of Holy Writ that “His dominion shall be from sea to sea; however, the work cannot be done in a day, it will require ‘days’, nor was it to be done by human strength, the required strength must come from above, & it is that which is promised us in our text, most comforting to believers, & exceedingly applicable to pioneers of the way for the extension of the grand and elevating gospel of our Lord Jesus in heathen lands that as their days, so shall their strength be.” Service over, we shook hands with our friends, returned on shore, & stood on the bank of the rier; at 12 o’clock, the state forming a passage to the ship was drawn in, the steersman took his position at the wheel, the order ‘go ahead’ was given by the Captain. The “Henry Venn” hissed & puffed, the paddles were soon in action, and in the midst of waving of handkerchiefs from us ashore, dipping of flags from S.S. “Wanderer” & showers of Godspeed & good bye” the “Henry Venn” turned round for the ‘black river’, on her trip to the unknown regions.
Mission Station Bonny. July 5th 1880
My dear Sir,
By the intermediate steamer from Akassa last week I received some letters from the Niger among them were Mr. P.J. Williams journal of Itineracy. No.2 with two letters to the Bishop.
As I received instructions from the Bishop to open his letters, & communicate to you any important news there may be I take the liberty of doing so now, and enclose Mr. William’s original letter for your perusal; copies of them are sent to meet the Bishop at Brass, if he is not already on his way up the Niger.
From the letters you will learn that there has been some disturbance in the Upper Niger about the vicinity of Gbebe & that the seriousness of the disturbance was increased by a captain & agent of the United Company.
I hope you will allow me to make a few remarks on such proceedings as these -
a.) The attention of the Society is now directed, & rightly too to extensions into the interior. Mr. Williams, by his journal has been gradually feeling his way inland alone; but when such disturbance as this arises, & ‘Oyinbos’ (a term applied to white & black foreigners from the sea), take such warlike part in them, can we be looked upon with favour & be kindly received by those inland whose traders are witnesses of our unjust actions?
B.)We have to contend with Mohammedanism in the Upper Niger, - we deprecate their actions everywhere we go for making proselytes by the swords & the oppressed heathens look upon us as sympathizers, & therefore, gladly received us; - but when English merchants use gun & powder to further their commercial relations with natives by firing as on Onitsha after the bombardment in the Lower Niger & now by firing on a brother chief in help against the other brother, about the vicinity of Gbebe in the Upper Niger, in what are we the better? We may well deserve to be turned away from their countries & a reproach cast on our religion and once we lose the confidence of these people we will find it hard to regain.
C.) However, such cases as these may be smoothed over by pleading defence, or connived at out here, regardless of what effect they may have on the work we are engaged in. Yet the fact stands true that these arbitrary firings have been indulged in, & are still the pet play of those connected with the United Company trading in the Niger. - & if we report to England the readiness of natives to receive Manchester goods, certainly if should not be introduced with the means now employed to the injury of the cause of Him who is the Prince of Peace.
2. The Bishop when here had a visit from one of the rich men some say the richest chief of Okrika. He asked the Bishop to send some one to lead them in the Christian worship at Okrika. He further remarks that since last year a church, containing over 600 attendants every Lord’s day, has been erected, by 5 chiefs, himself included; roofed over with corrugated galvanized sheetings with windows & benches all complete - a teacher is all they want now - for the schoolboy who leads them in worship is about to return to his master at Brass. This is a very important call, as it is a great step to the interior of the Ibo countries Okrika being about 40 miles from Bonny
The tribes in the Delta or Oil rivers are very jealous of any foreigner going beyond their river, & so is Bonny to Okrika; but we have already told the leading authorities of Bonny that we are not to be kept back by such jealousies & have left the matter to be overruled by King George Pepple who has been working hard since the Bishop left to influence his chiefs to see the policy of helping forward the name of Christ into the interior, & the blessings to be derived thereby.
The enclosed copy of letters handed me today, will tell the result of his praiseworthy efforts - What will tend to keep me from frequenting Okrika, and the countries beyond it as I should wish is this:-
My sermons? want of an ordained agent in this station, St. Stephens & also at St. Clements - the work grows every day here, & the demands of both stations are increasing. The Europeans complain that I do not pay that attention to them & their church by visits to the ships, meetings among their men, and preaching at the church as I used to do; while at St. Stephen the candidates for baptism and the communicants require my strict attention as their present pastor especially at this overflow of attendants and if I add to this the building work of the Church you will see how impossible it is for me to move with satisfaction, without having some responsible persons in office to act when I am away, in such an important place as Bonny.
A capital chance is offered me also by a friendly European agent residing at New Calabar, to visit the Ibo markets about 30 miles inland from the shipping where they are going to mediate between 2 contending chiefs; but from the above ties to Bonny I regret I must forgo the pleasure of this visit.
3. I am sending also some papers- productions of the printing press liberally procured for us by the friends of the Missionary Leaves Association - The Lord’s Prayer Belief & Alphabet sheets we sell @ 1½.d a copy, the baptismal register @ 6.d a copy & the names (samples sent) @ 6 copies of each name for 1/- we have already £1.8.0 from these printed sheets.
4. The Bishop mentioned to me that Late Chief Fred. Pepple’s photo did not reach you, I enclosed it, perhaps it slipped out. I will try to get another to send to Mrs. [Bralaher or Malaber =illegible] &[illegible] & ask her to send you a copy. By the last mail, I sent her one of late King Ockiya.
With kind regards-
I remain My dear Sir,
Your obt. Servant Dandeson. C. Crowther.
Ed. Hutchinson Esqr
Salisbury Square. London.
The printed papers & journal are sent to you Book post.
Niger Mission CA3/023 Archd. H. Johnson. Journal 1877
A Journey Up the Niger by the Rev. Henry Johnson.
E Hutchinson Esq. Mission House, Lagos
Sec CMS 14th December, 1877
My dear Sir,
There is [ - ] apologies on account of the silence which I have maintained for many months past. I take it for granted that you & the Committee are fully persuaded that I have not been spending my time in luxurious ease & idleness, but in fulfilling the trust committed to me, with all due fidelity. The tide of business has been [-] me on, and I could scarcely find time to write. But I am sure that no great loss [-] could [-] from my enforced silence hitherto; for considering that the Report of my predecessor in regards to the spiritual condition of the Breadfruit District was transmitted to the Society at or about the time of my assumption of the duties of the station there could be no harm done if some time were allowed to elapse before any accounts are received from me.
I have felt, moreover, that being a stranger, I stood the chance of being imposed upon by many a false glitter and
[lengthy omission – lost]
On Thursday Sept: 6 at 4 p.m., we arrived at the important Station of Lokoja, beautifully situated at the Confluence of the Niger & Benue rivers. As at other places, the news of the arrival of a steamer soon brought half of the population down to the water's edge, the colour and variety of whose costumes gave just grounds for many critical remarks. I was struck, a the very first view, with the difference between the people of this place, and those in the lower part of the river. The former have attained to a degree of civilization which contrasts very favorably with the almost total absence of it among the latter. Nude bodies are here the exception and not the rule. A glance too, was sufficient to show that Mahommedanism hold sway. Flowing tobes and turbaned heads issued from every quarter. But let me crave pardon to say that to nickname the inhabitants as "the Great Unsoaped" would do them no injustice whatever. The tobes were red with the dirt & dust of years. It is said that from the time when they are put on new, to the time when they become so threadbare as to be unfit for any further use, they are never dipped in water. Does anyone ask whether they are alive? Save the mark! Why, they can run away fast enough of their own accord if forgotten on the ground. The smell of musk (with which these tobes are besmeared) is agreeable to their olfactory nerves, and they are afraid lest the superstition of washing might deprive them of that delicious odour! The Koran speaks of a river in Paradise (Salsabeel) being perfumed with the smell of musk; no wonder then that the Faithful in this part of the world are fond of that particular odour.
Mr. & Mrs. John had been labouring here and were just returning from their first visit to their friends at Sierra Leone, after an absence of 12 years. The welcome which they received from the people was must gratifying to behold. There was intense joy when it was perceived that they were among the passengers. Some waved their handkerchiefs and others their hands. Their landing was waited for with impatience, and no sooner was that done than they were surrounded on all sides and most cordially saluted. Few things are more refreshing than the sight of an affectionate people grouping round their beloved Pastor. I wanted no other proof to convince me that Mr. John's labours have been acceptable at Lokoja, than the spontaneous outburst of welcome which I saw greeted him & his on the return to the scene of his labours, after a necessary absence of about 2 years
This is a station of no small importance. As a base of operations its position is such as enhances its value enormously. No trade or exploring party can overlook the advantages of Lukoja, as affording all the requisites of a convenient starting point. It is on account of its importance, I suggest, that the agents, both industrial and scholastic are many, -some waiting there for any providential openings that the Lord may be please to point out to us.
We spent a Sunday here on our return from the upper countries, and the Bishop preached in the morning, and I in the afternoon. As compared with Onitsha the number of converts is small; but I am neither surprised nor disappointed, knowing how difficult it is for Christianity to make way in a country that is professedly Mahommedan. There is a small chapel, built expressly for the Bunu people. The Bishop preached there to a very attentive congregation. I could not visit it as I was then engaged in the principal Church.
Mr. P. Williams whom I mentioned before as having been brought to this station [annotation follows = from Akasa] in the absence of Mr. John, and the removal of Mr. Paul to Kipo Hill, has made during the year one or two important missionary journeys, particulars of which he has given to Bishop Crowther. He took the Binue Branch of the river and went as far as the town of Yimaha, whose King earnestly entreated him to come and settle there as a Christian Teacher. From all I have heard, that town seemed to be a key to important countries in a direction that is not yet explored.
About a month ago a German Savant? came out for the express object of exploring the river (Binue); but I regret to say that he was obliged to return through a severe attack of dysentery. He was ordered to Lagos where medical aid could be easily procured, and much anxiety was felt for him. I have not heard anything of him since. Dr. Baikie ascended the river in 1854 for upwards of 300 miles, but circumstances obliged him to return without solving the problem of its rise. In a book recently published on this part of Africa, the writer, after balancing a series of probabilities, gave it as his opinion that the Binue will be found to have issued from the same neighbourhood with the Congo. If only this supposition could be established by actual experiment! It will then be clearly seen how desirable it is for us to push forward to the great Lakes and connect our Mission with that which is now penetrating from the East. Any way, we should not be slow in responding to the call of such places, as Yimaha. That the King of that place, unlike that of Ida, is not actuated by sordid motives in his request for Missionaries is evident from the fact that trading factories are already established in his country. The other journey made by Williams was to Ipara, far away over the mountain that flanks the back of Lokoja. He took, from choice, a long roundabout route, which gave him a good general idea of the country, and the opportunity of speaking the Word of God as he went. He was everywhere well received. As his report, or the substance of it will be sent to you by the Bishop, I need not say anything more. The report contains the clearest evidence of the intense desire of the inland people to hear the gospel of the grace of God.
Having spent 4 days at Lokoja, I had sufficient time to form an idea of the proficiency of the Mahommedans there in the knowledge of the Arabic. The result of my inquiries was ridiculously meagre. If I except one of the priests, I did not come across a single person with any decent idea of reading. The priest I have alluded to has compiled a history of the Nupe country, in Arabic, part of which he gave to the Bishop. I have not yet seen the copy; when I do I shall try to make it out to see whether it be of any literary value. There was a man with whom I spoke Arabic, but he hailed from Waday, and his was a vulgar dialect spoken quite independently of grammar. However, I was able to make out his meaning. The few who attempted to read out any Koran managed but indifferently. Unless I made the beginning, they could not open anywhere and go on by themselves. They proposed to be unused to printed copy and said that their lack of fluency arose from the fact that mine was so. This was but a lame excuse, for as a rule they recite the Koran memoriter, & therefore, if they had ever learnt it, it would have made no differences to them whether a copy was manuscript or printed. But I am bound to say on their behalf that the Lokojans make no sort of pretensions to book learning. Their Mahommedanism is a blind, imitative kind. From what I could gather, many of them are convinced of the superior excellence of the Christian faith, but for the sake of worldly advantage, and with a view to stand well with the masters of the country, they done the Moslem garb. It is a pleasing fact that many of them come to church as visitors. Besides being situated at the junctions of two rivers, Lokoja is also a Confluence of languages. The Hausas, Nupe, Bunu, Igara, Igbira languages may be heard any day in the streets. It is possible to estimate the amount of good which might be done by a strong band of devoted energetic missionaries located in that place. The town is the common resort of strangers from the interior, and, through the blessing of God, such persons might return to their country with the blessed seed of gospel truth sown in their hearts. The result of 12 years of labour may seem somewhat disappointing; but no one can doubt that there is a bright future in store or this important Station.
Our next stage was
Egan - The great ivory market town, distant from Lokoja about 90 miles. In going up we could not do the whole distance in a day, owing to the strength of the current; but on our return we glided smoothly down in 7 and half ours. The country through which we passed was beautifully diversified. The scenery in many parts was bold, and rich table-land extended as far as the naked eyes could discern. All the way from the Nun there is nowhere with a larger population. The houses are built with conical tops, and so near each other as to make you think, when at a distance that there is no space between them. The number of inhabitants (exclusive of strangers) is variously estimated at from 8 to 10,000. As applied to Egan, that saying is true - distance lends enchantment to view." No one could look at the Factories with their galvanized iron sheet coverings - the steamers moored beside the house of each Firm, and the river and creeks covered with a countless numbers of canoes plying about with articles of merchandise, or conveying passengers from one section of the island to the other, without congratulating himself that he was approaching a town with a higher type of civilisation than he had yet met with since leaving the coast. But alas! cultivating a closer acquaintance with Egan, you are reminded of another proverb, equally true:- all that glitters is not gold. There are no streets but narrow crooked lanes, some leading nowhere. Walking out with the Bishop on one occasion, we took by mistake a wrong turning, and not until we were on the point of invading the sanctity of a private dwelling house, before we knew that we had left the right track. Refuse of all kinds are shot into the streets, which are at this same time, the places of public convenience. Can you wonder then that all the senses are offended at once whenever you would take your walk abroad? It is wonderful that people could live and thrive in this fetid atmosphere; but such is the nature of habit, that after residing there for a certain period of time, even those who were originally born and bred in the purest atmosphere seem utterly insensible of the malarious poison which floats about them continually. I used to think that houses could hardly be built more close to each other than they are in certain quarters of Lagos; but the architects of Egan are far more skillful, and more economical of space. I believe that it is possible to traverse the town by leaping from one housetop to the other, but for the shape of the roofs. These are the physical drawbacks: but the merchant can risk anything - life itself to make money. and he does make money at Egan; The mercantile houses here make together several thousand pounds annually by their trade in ivory and shea-butter. Who can say that that is not worth a consideration? And it seems that the trade is capable of unlimited development. Whereas at the beginning only 5 casks of shea-butter could be had at this market, [illeg. word] now, one Company alone can easily secure between 300 to 400 casks. Ivory traders have come from Adamawa and other places on the banks of the Binue. Really no one can tell what amount of trade will be carried on, when that river shall have been thrown open to the commercial world.
Kipo Hill, the farthest point as yet attained in the planting of missions on the Niger, lies right over against Egan, and therefore I had the opportunity of making more than a merely distant acquaintance with the latter place. On one occasion I crossed over to it for divine service. The crew of 3 ships, besides agents and other servants onshore composed the congregation, which was so large that there was not sufficient accommodation for all who would come. The service was held onboard the Victoria. The Rev. C. Paul read the prayers and I preached. We were all plainly visible to the natives on shore, who assembled in overwhelming numbers to see us go through our religious exercises. The scene was an impressive one to them. I am quite sure that the moral effect must have been good when they saw men like the Consul, and the Captains of 2 ships joining with us publicly in worshipping God. It must have been evident to them that our religion was not a mere device of the Missionaries, but the acknowledge [view?] of all , of every race, - of merchants as well as high government officials. Mr. Paul remarked to me that formerly it was thought by the people that we were infidels, & that we only refrained from works from habit & not because it was a day to be devoted to meditation and prayer. Their notions have undergone a modification since they found out that we could, & that we do worship God in a regular formal way. The idea of separating one day of the week as a day of rest from all worldly employment strikes the natives as being very excellent, and though under no pressing obligation to do so, they hasten to adopt it. Hence you will find, just as I did, that the Mahommedan town of Egan is as quiet on Sundays as in most Christian countries. Business is for the most part suspended, and the hurry & bustle observable on other days of the week is checked into order and stillness when Sunday comes round.
Friday, the day of Assembly, is less scrupulously observed than the Christian Sabbath. Merchants and other business people scarcely know how much indirect good they may be the means of doing, by being consistent in their observance of the Sabbath, especially when they are amongst heathens and Mahommedans. Let them not fail to recognise the sacred obligation of that day, and one serious impediment in the way of the successful preaching of the gospel to our benighted brethren will have been removed. I come now to
Kipo Hill Station.
The station causes it to be distinctly visible from a great distance. It is our furthest station & was granted to Bp. Crowther quite recently by the King of Bida, after repeated importunities. We arrived here on the 8th? [or 5?] Sept. & continued off and on until the 6th. Oct. Kipo is most pleasantly situated. Only 2 years ago it was overrun with long grass & thickets; but now it has become a desirable habitation. Its elevation, and the fact of there being no villages at the back, means for it a pure atmosphere, & nothing hinders it from being made an excellent sanitarium. Over & overdid I feel its superiority over other parts of the river as a place of residence. Egan enjoys the unenviable reputation of being as hot as an oven. Scarcely a whiff of air blows to cool your panting breath. But just when you are so tormented with heat, go across to Kipo, & you will there enjoy the delicious breeze that perpetually blows over it from the hills. The native village from which the Hill derived its name is about a quarter of a mile on the east of it, and the market town of Kasa is a mile beyond that; so that we almost, but not quite solitary. But this a wonderful country for villages and towns springing up with the rapidity of mushrooms. Since our occupation of Kipo Hill, the local governors of Egan has made a most extensive farm on our left, stocked with maize & other marketable products. It took the Bishop, Mr. Paul & myself about half an hour to pass from one end of this farm to the other: and I was told that before long we shall have large & flourishing villages beside us. The truth is, that the people long for protection which, under the present system they do not enjoy; and they are gradually strengthening themselves in the belief that their safety largely depended upon their making themselves our friends & neighbours.
A very interesting & persistent illustration of this is to be found in the following story. I must first premise that the whole of the Nupe Country is considered as the personal property of the King, who is himself subject to the Sultan of Gondo. The latter monarch, though politically independent of the Sultan of Socoto, yet yields him precedence and offers annual presents as being the elder brother. It is the custom to assign district & provinces as [fuedal?] lands for the support of each of the children of the Sultans; and these princes appoint officers over their possessions to gather taxes. Some of the officers are a rapacious set who grind down the people by exacting nearly as much again as the princes may have chosen to impose. Wherever their Highnesses pass, they take away from the inhabitants their hard earned property, so that their progress through any district very much resembles the ruin caused by a plague of locusts. On such occasions, they would never limit themselves to the land regularly made over to them but would settle down upon any that lie in their route, and make the most exorbitant requisitions. Once, news came that a son of one of these Sultans was going to Lokoja via Kipo. The villages in the neighbourhood were frightened out of their wits. Some left their houses entirely & went to stay in the bush until this tyranny were overpast. The majority, however, brought their beds, cooking utensils, cowries and all their belongings to our Mission House for safety and filled the parlours, bedroom, piazzas and garret with their worldly goods & chattels. Mr. Paul was away from home, but had left word that the Prince should not be allowed to enter the house, but that his wife was to send him handfuls of Kola nuts, the usual token of welcome and goodwill. In due time the Prince came, & Mrs. Paul faithfully observed her husband's directions. He was too polite to take advantage at the absence of the master of the house to force himself in, & so after gazing about for minutes? & expressing his admiration of the house, he took his departure. The thing heard of him was, that he had plundered a distant town of all the sheep, fowls, goats and corn, & compelled the unfortunate inhabitants to provide ever so many bags of cowries.
It is needless to say that the villagers to whom our premises proved such a refuge, in a time of distress, are profuse in their thanks; and when I saw them last, they were all settled at their homes in peace. When the man who is the governor of the villages, and who had been absent with the King on a war expedition heard of the conduct of the Annasaras (as we are commonly called) to his people, he was full of joy, and is said to have remarked that the never expected it of us, & that those whom at first they were not pleased to see in their country, had turned out their best friends. I need not say that I was glad of the observation. Little incidents of this kind will help to clear the confused vision of the people as to our real character. By being punctual in observing the duties of reciprocity and benevolence, - obligation which are scarcely recognised by others in their dealing with them, we shall find a key to their hearts. Practically these natives are hostile to us on account of our creed; we need therefore to be cautious & circumspect in our movements. Having already obtained a footing it will be difficult to turn us out; we may therefore safely strengthen our hold by building, and other evidence of a full possession. There being no large towns in the immediate vicinity of Kipo Hill is by no means a permanent drawback to its utility. I have already stated my grounds for believing that in a short time it will be the centre of flourishing towns and villages around it. Besides, our aggressive movements require that we should have such a place as this for a rendezvous. Evangelistic tours can issue from it to Egan and other large towns on the Kworra branch, and return to it after a few weeks or months, both for the purpose of enjoying a needful rest, and of maturing fresh plans of attack on the strongholds of Satan.
Everything about Kipo has a commencing appearance. While we were there the Bishop pointed out a very eligible plot of land which will serve for the purpose of an Industrial Institution. It was being rapidly cleared when we left, and a list of plants to be cultivated was given to M. Paul the Missionary in charge of the station. I look forward with a very sanguine hope to the future usefulness of this advanced post in our mission
the present Capital of the Nupe country, & residence of the King Umoru, was the utmost limit of our northward journey. Mr. Crowther, 2nd son of the Bishop, and Agent General of the West African C.(Limited) very kindly allowed us a passage in his steam launch to Wunangi, where we disembarked, and took the land journey to Bida.
We were forcibly detained at the former place, firstly the lateness of our arrival there, and then by frequent and heavy showers of rain. A messenger was dispatched to announce to the King our near approach to the capital, and to request of him to and horses for our party. That same evening he forwarded to us a kettle of kola nuts as a token of welcome, and horses to convey us to Bida. But it was impossible for us to set out that night, and, as I have said the next day was a rainy one. Evidently the King did not think the rain a sufficient reason for our remaining so long behind, for he sent horsemen after horsemen to [contact?] us who seeing nothing of us, came on to Wunangi. our number gradually increase, so that when we set out, we found a cavalcade of 14 horsemen, accompanied by a large band of footmen. One of the messengers informed us that the King could not sleep all-night, from the excitement occasioned by our arrival. The road to Bida is by no means a bad one. Minus a little depression in one or two places, it is generally level, and a good tramway might be laid to the Capital from Wunangi, to facilitate the carriage of produce. We passed through fields of guinea-corn. The land is rich, and the eye could wander fully over a vast sweep of country until it rest upon rising hills at the distant horizon. The [pandomatic = illeg.] registered 8 and half miles, and this distance we cleared in 2 hours. But for the wretched country saddle put upon my horse, should have enjoyed the ride both ways. As it was, it was like doing penance sitting upon that hard horning? substance, and no wonder that I felt the effects of the ride a long time afterwards. We road straight to the King accompanied by the Ndegi (lit. father of the country) - an officer that may be regarded as Prime Minister and Lord Chancellor rolled into one. We found the King sitting among his chiefs, captains, and people of distinction, seriously awaiting our arrival. The welcome he gave to the Bishop & his son with whom he had been long acquainted was extremely hearty. Short of embracing them he showed a warmth of genuineness of affection which was extraordinary, as coming from one whose religion inculcates a by no means conciliatory spirit towards Christians. I was introduced, and the King shook hands with me cordially and then we were ushered into the reception room. It was a large and spacious rotunda, called in Nupe a Katamba, where business is usually transacted by the king. As soon as he was seated he again saluted us, and expressed his great pleasure (which was very evident) at seeing us. Though King Umoru could have conversed with us directly, yet court etiquette forbade his doing so. The Ndeji was commonly the medium of communication between him and us. The Nupe, Hausa, Foulah & Yoruba are equally familiar to him, and he can express himself readily in each. He is a man somewhat above the middle stature, much inclined to obesity, of a very pleasing countenance, & keen powers of observation. Unlike the former King (a description of whose acts puts one in mind so much of that infamous Pasha of Acre, summoned at Fezzan or the butcher) Umoru is of a religious turn of mind, quiet in disposition, and fonder of the arts of peace than those of war. The Bishop told him that good friends in England enquired after him; at which he was much pleased. We alluded anxiously to the Russo-Turkish war, and to the strong hostile feelings at present existing between the two brothers - Abbeokuta and Ibadan. The general reception over, we were conducted to our lodgings, - the Bishop and myself occupying one, and Mr. Crowther and his assistant, another. Before our arrival, the King had caused a herd of bullocks to be driven to the part of his palace that he himself might have, he said, the pleasure of pointing out the two which he had intended to give for our entertainment. Besides the bullocks, the King sent us fowls, turkeys, yams, shea butter, oil, mats, rice, and other things, for our use while we remained his guests. Over and above all this, every evening two large bowls of cooked provisions were usually brought in. The quantity would have suffices for 24 persons, however hungry they might have been but we never could touch them owing to the peculiar mode the Nupes have of preparing their dishes. No people are more scrupulous of showing strangers the rites of hospitality.
The house at our disposal was of similar construction to the King's reception room;- only that it was of much smaller dimensions. A thoroughfare ran right through, and horse, sheep, and rude little urchins came and went in incessantly. After a little while it was found impossible for us to allow of such obtrusion into our privacy, and hence the Bishop requested the landlord to have the animals taken elsewhere, and thus put a stop to the needless going to and from of the children. The request was instantly complied with, and we proceeded leisurely to arrange everything to suit our convenience. We had hardly shaken down properly when an occurrence took place which set the whole compound adjoining our lodging into a most frantic commotion. At first a subdued [?] moans arrested my attention, and I observed to the Bishop that something was wrong with our neighbours. I had no sooner made the remark than we were hastily called to the scene; and what was our astonishment - our landlord who but a few minutes before was arranging things for our comfort, stretching helpless in the hands of his wives? He was suddenly seized with a fit of epilepsy. The Bishop ordered some hot water, took a piece of the cloth & gave me another, and we began to bathe the hands and feet of the patient to restore animation. In the meantime someone had gone and prepared a drink of cayenne pepper which was poured down his throat, and the pungency of it made him turn about a little. Still he was not restored to consciousness. Not long after, a regular doctor came and took the case in hand. He went about it with the air of one who knew his business. When we next looked in, the sick man was sitting up & expressing his thanks to those who had shown such anxiety on his behalf.
His wives and children contributed not a little to increase the confusion that prevailed. They were uttering piercing shrieks and ejaculating prayers for help to Mahommet. Had the man died, the weeping, mourning and woe could not have been more loudly expressed. Poor souls! no doubt they were being themselves with apprehensions of what the future would bring to them, should their worst fears be [illeg.]fied. But the Lord was merciful, and before many hours were over, their sorrows was succeeded by unbounded joy.
The day after our arrival was the time fixed for entering upon regular business. All the morning we waited in vain to be called. It was not until after 2 p.m. that is, after the midday prayers, that a messenger came to say that we were wanted. Accompanied by the Ndeji we went direct to the reception room, where we met the King looking after trading affairs. Immediately all the men & women present were ordered out of the room, and we were seated. The usual preliminaries having been gone through, Mr. Crowther began to address the king on the subject of trade, and after concluding, he produced a few pieces of cloth, extremely beautiful, which he offered to the King as the [?] present from the Firm which he represented. The cloths were very much admired. It was handled and viewed from different points, and there was but one opinion entertained in regards to its wonderful texture. The King thanked him again and again, renewed his protestations of friendship, and expressed in hearty; grateful terms his special obligations to Mr. Crowther for certain helps rendered him last year.
the Bishop followed, but before bringing out his presents, he introduced me in a formal speech, and told the King the object of my visit to his country. He was informed that I could read and speak the Arabic language, at which the king was greatly surprised. He was further told that in order to do this I was sent to the East, and that I visited Egypt, and was 2 years in El Kuds/Jerusalem) More surprises were expressed. But the climax was reached when the Bishop said that I was a native of this part of Africa, as my father came from Ilorin, where also my grandmother died last year. The King stared. It provoked a smile to see the marks of astonishment standing out in bold relief on his ample brows. He seemed puzzled to understand what could have been my in travelling so far to study the Arabic, being a Christian. The Bishop gently insinuated that it would be well if his co-religionist could try to make themselves acquainted with our books, as we are trying to learn theirs. He replied mechanically, gaskia gaskia "true, true". Seizing the opportunity, I produced my copy of the Koran, which he took and examined. That it might serve my purpose, I had had it interleaved, and had made my notes everywhere. The King wanted to know what my writing meant, and I explained everything to him. He requested the Bishop to stop his speech until he had sent for a young man whom he attached to himself as being a good Arabic scholar. There being none to satisfy him at Bida, he had requested his friend the Sultan of Kano to send him this young man who could always read Arabic to and with him. He came, took up the copy of the Koran, and read on without any hesitation. His reading was clear; his accent, pure; and intonation, very pleasing. I complimented him with some Arabic phrases, & the king turned round and asked in the same language whether I had understood the reading of his chaplain. I replied in the affirmative. He was very much pleased. As a specimen of my handwriting, I produced an extract from the gospel of St. Luke; Here, O Isreal, the Lord they God is one Lord; and thou shalt love the Lord they God &c. The King read the extract plainly and in a manner which convinced me that he understood its meaning. I was greatly impressed by what I perceived of his intellectual prowess.
After this, the Bishop continued and ended his general remarks, and then brought out one by one the present which he had chosen for the King. A large arm-chair, made at Kipo Hill by one of our carpenters, of the wood of shea-butter tree, was the first present. The King had though that the chair was brought from England. He could hardly credit the fact that it was made so very near how own doors. After that, half a dozen pieces of brick burnt at the same Kipo Hill were also produced, and the Bishop tried to show that it was possible for the King and his people to have improved dwelling houses if they wanted, and also told him that we should be quite ready to teach carpentry and brick-making to any numbers of children that the King may send to our establishment. Before we left him he promised to send three. The next thing brought out was a globe. The relative position of places was pointed out . Russia or Turkey was shown, and the Bishop gave some information about the wars between the 2 countries. The king said it was all true, & that it confirmed reports which he had received from the Sultan of Kano who had heard particulars by the overland route. Last of all 2 splendid rolls of carpet which exhausts the Bishop's store. I have no language to express the exquisite satisfaction evinced by the King throughout the proceedings. He listened intelligently to information, and look in took part whatever advice were given which were intended for the good of his country. In this pleasant interviews 3 hours sped away imperceptibly. But the interview was not carried on with closed doors to the end. The most important things being said, those who had business with the King were freely admitted. Some brought presents for the entertainment of his strangers. Tributaries came with their accustomed offerings. Debtors brought payments for what was due, to each and all of whom the King gave audience while conversing with us. He transacts all business “in propria persona” it mattered not howsoever humble and he does all with ease and dispatch.
I must now point out one or two dead flies in the ointment, that my account may not seem to have a partial and one-sided appearance. With all his enlightenment, the King has not yet seen that it is for the advantage of his country that the cursed degrading system of slavery should be abolished; on the contrary no one seemed more earnest in upholding the institution. While in the audience chamber, a poor man who could not pay a debt of 2 and half heads cowries (5/-) offered instead a little slave boy. The King accepted the exchange with a smile. Himself pointed out to us a white horse for which he gave 10 slaves; and told us that that beauty and another, which I afterward saw were attended daily by 50 slave boys! Slaves are medium of exchange here like cowries. They are offered for sale in the public markets daily. It is nauseating to hear accounts of the miseries which these wretched beings suffer from the cruelties of their owners.
There was another thing which disturbed me very much. The former king had a set of cannibals kept in the town, who were used on special occasions, as ministers of his [illeg]. The present King retains them apparently for the same reason. He told us that at a recent war in which he engaged by the special request of his suzerain of Gondo, he actually caught the King of the enemy with his own hand. (By the way, this extraordinary feat has since raised him very high in the estimation of his subject and near neighbours) On the army returning home, the King gave the unfortunate Chief to the head of the cannibals who with his companions devoured him greedily. We were told that we might see the skull if we would, but none of us showed any curiosity that way.
Most sickening are the stories told of the habits of these wretched specimens of humanity -as cannibals. The [-] buzzards which are so numerous at Bida are not most found of offals and carrion than those human buzzards of the flesh of incurables. Lepers are not permitted by them to live: like scavengers they would pounce upon them and devour them with a gusto. I was told that on one occasion they made a journey to Lokoja. No sooner did the news that they were approaching became known than 17 lepers crawled away and effected their escape to the other side of the river, and thus saved themselves from the horror of being killed & eaten. While we were at Egan they got hold of an incurable, and we could see them paddling away at a distance and hear them singing merrily and rejoicing at the prospect of the good food they were going to have. Why should I continue any longer in this strain? Thus is much to distress the heart of a Christian man when he contemplates the dark deeds which are daily perpetrating in this dark corners of the earth.
I have dwelt long enough on Bida, & must therefore wind up my story. We had intended to have left the day after the long interview with the King; but he advised the Bishop to delay a day longer, in order that we might take occasion to visit 4 of the principal chiefs, who are all [-]rly related to late King Masaba. The day came and we went the round of the 4 authorities, who received us more or less cordially. When the time came for us to depart, the King could not be seen early. It was not until 10 o’clock that we were invited to the palace. He had no mind to let his guests go away so soon and he went on spending a long [illeg.] on the same topic till we were fairly wearied out. He offered to accompany us by the way; but this offer the Bishop declined, as it could have involved further tedious delays. In fine, instead of getting to Wunangi at 9 or 10 a.m. as we had hoped to do, we did not arrive there until 3 p.m. when it was altogether too late to embark in the steam launch for Egan.
Bida is a very large town, but the population is rather sparse. It is not remarkable for its neat and well-kept appearance, for grass grows everywhere, and large pits and ditches are left uncovered. Not infrequent fatal accidents have taken place overnight to this culpable neglect of leaving the pits open. The blind, in their haste to get out of the way of the tramping of horses, have often disappeared in? & there ended their cases. The people all seemed hard workers as in all countries where everything is performed by slaves. The state of things will not last long, let us hope. I look to Christianity & civilization to repair the broken fabric of society, and to impact their peculiar & special blessings to the thousands who are thirsting after them.
Before we left, the Bishop prepared the King for a visit from the British Consul, who was said to have been on his way to Bida. On reaching Egan again, we found that the Consul had already arrived there. He was the bearer of some costly presents from the Home Government to the King, for the protection which he had afforded to the lives and peoples of British subjects carrying on trade within his dominion. There is nothing that the King prizes so much as friendship with the English. We are thankful for this disposition in him, and hope that nothing will happen to mar the good understanding at present existing. It is said that a gun-boat will ascend the river regularly every year, with a view to keep it open for free navigation. When the natives see a man-of-war passing to and fro at stated intervals, they will know that they cannot molest us with impunity, and that we are really cared for by our government. I am thankful also that an annual visit will be paid by a Consul, as there are irregularities which require to be corrected by the presence of fully constituted authorities. It grieves me much to do so, but I am bound to state that things are being done which are fraught with tremendous evils, and are calculated to cast dishonour upon the British flag. No one has a right to claim British protection, without being at the same time answerable to British laws. In many instances the natives are unjustly taken advantage of, and when they resent? the injuries inflicted on them, the parties retaliated upon hastily send down to the coast to call in the aid of a man-of-war. This conduct is highly reprehensible. It is very wrong to make such an imperfect use of a great power, which should only be employed as terror to evil deeds, and not for the purpose of gratifying or spiteful personal revenge. You cannot conceive to what extent certain individuals give license to their wicked passions when they are out of British jurisdiction. Cases of willful murder & manslaughter are almost common, but the facts are buried in silence: not always, however, for sometimes justice overtakes the guilty. Last month the English judge at Lagos sentenced to a long imprisonment, a Captain for the manslaughter of a Kroo boy. Almost immediately after, a warrant was issued for the apprehension of another on a similar charge. A report was afloat when I left the river, that a boy was so severely beaten in one of the trading steamers, that death was immediate result. When offenders know that escape will be impossible, they will learn to check their evil propensities, and not suffer them to break out to the extent of causing the life of a fellow creature. Might not the Society use their undoubted influence to prevail upon the government to re-establish a Consulate at Lokoja? I am of opinion that considering the rapid growth of commerce, and the steady influx of British subjects in the river, such a step is more desirable now than at any previous time. Six steamers are now plying backwards and forwards every year. I understand that 2 new Companies with 2 or 3 steamers will open trade next year. The Binue will soon receive a due share of attention. This being so, I conceive that British interests here are of substantial kind, and that they need being well looked after.
One other evil the presence of a Consul will tend to eradicate I am ashamed to say that many in the Niger have grown so bold as to be carrying on the odious traffic of slave dealing. Undercover of the word “ransom”, they unblushingly pursue that nefarious system from which their fathers and mother, and in some cases themselves had suffered so cruelly before they were providentially rescued by British ships and landed at Sierra Leone. Their so-called “ransomed” ones are by no means free to stop or go as they please, but are treated not one whit different from domestic slaves - let me say like goods and chattels; for when the whim takes possession of their owners they would sell them  so easily as if they were bargaining for palm oil or shea-butter. The Consul took away from Lokoja and sent down for trial to Lagos a Sierra Leone young man who was said to have been deeply compromised in that foul practice. He sent him down handcuffed, and one of the victims of his unrighteous traffic was also sent as an evidence against him. If he is convicted of the offense it is said that he will be safe? for 14 years imprisonment. A striking example is wanted to frighten others, who are equally guilty - perhaps more so. A few names of notorious offenders in this line wee supplied to the Consul; but he could not bring the parties to book, as those who knew were afraid of giving public evidence. That men whose relations and friends have been rescued from the iron fangs of that “accursed thing” should yet be found preaching the same themselves, is one of those strange development which make one feel quite “ashamed of his own species.”
The Coast Stations.
The inspection of the lower stations of Brass , Bonny and New Calabar concluded our tour; and having made brief observations upon each of them I shall close my remarks on this interesting visit.
Brass –We arrived at Brass on the 31st of Oct.: The hand of civilisation was plainly visible in the superior buildings put up by the European merchants along the rivers. The front--- of our Station appeared, at a distance, and most charming, and I can testify that a nearer inspection did not deprive it of much of its real beauty. I was pleased to see everything trim and neat. A dense impenetrable bush formed a pleasing background to this picture of neatness and order. I was greatly struck with the advanced character of everything about the Station, the comparatively short time that has passed since the work was commenced there being considered. In the year 1867, as he was returning from the
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was suffering from diarrhoea, contracted from a patient whom he had been attending. The disease has refused to yield to treatment, and as it was thought that a change might prove beneficial to him, he was removed to his brother’s house near the river. Though much weakened by the wasting effect of the diarrhoea, yet there was nothing to indicate that the patient was rapidly approaching dissolution. Just a fortnight after we had left, news came to say that his spirit had taken its flight. It was a great blow, and the more keenly felt in that it was unexpected. We pray the Lord, to whom belongs the work, to thrust forth qualified labourers to the field already white unto harvest.
The time has no doubt come when on account of its important increasing development the work should have a more constant & continuous supervision, From sheer necessity, the Agents in some places in the Upper Niger had often to be left to themselves for something more than 11 out of the 12 months in the year. Many a time evangelistic work was interrupted and almost brought to a standstill because there was no resident controlling authority to guide and direct & remove obstacles. so long as the Bishop was dependent upon the trading steamers, for his movements, it was impossible for him to have ordered his visits otherwise than he has hitherto done. the new Mission Steamer which is being anxiously expected, by affording facilities for a rapid locomotion, and being under the control of the Leader of the Mission, will be of the greatest service. It will enable the Bishop to regulate his stay at the different stations with due regard to the wants and importance of each.
On Tuesday the 27th Nov. at a special meeting held in St. Stephen’s Church, Bonny, Bishop Crowther formally appointed both Mr. D.C. Crowther and myself his Archdeacons. I beg o tender my most humble and sincere thanks to the Society for recommending the appointment. On being told of it by the Bishop soon after his return from England, I was greatly startled. I do not speak the language of cant when I say that I do not consider myself to be deserving of such a high post of dignity, not having done anything to merit it. The ample missionary field in West Central Africa which the providence of God has opened for the Exercise of the one talent entrusted to me for improvement is of itself sufficiently attractive; & therefore I should most gladly and willingly have gone to labour as one of the ranks and file, & been satisfied with a humble position had it been so ordered. But it has been otherwise arranged, and I am bound to accept the appointment as a fresh dispensation towards me of that peculiar & special Providence which has been guiding my steps hitherto. I trust that having great influence by virtue of my office, I shall employ it to promote, in every possible way, the best interest of the work which shall be put under my care. It is thus alone I shall be able to prove my gratitude to God, and to that Society through which I have enjoyed so many spiritual and other favours.
With due respects
Believe me . . . H. Johnson.