« PreviousContinue »
WHAT IS LIFE?
Say, is there aught that can convey An image of life's transient stay? 'Tis a hand's-breadth ; 'tis a tale; Tis a vessel under sail; "Tis a courier's straining steed; "Tis a shuttle in its speed; 'Tis an eagle on its way, Darting down upon its prey; 'Tis an arrow in its flight Mocking the pursuing sight. 'Tis a vapour in the air; 'Tis a whirlwind rushing there ; 'Tis a short-liv'd fading flower; "Tis a rainbow on a shower; "Tis a momentary ray, Shining on a winter's day; "Tis a torrent's rapid stream ; 'Tis a shadow-'tis a dream; 'Tis the closing watch of night, Dying at the rising light; 'Tis a landscape vainly gay, Painted upon crumbling clay ; 'Tis a lamp that wastes its fires, 'Tis a smoke that quick expires, 'Tis a breath on burnish'd steel, 'Tis a furrow, which the keel Ploughs upon the watery main; 'Tis an April shower of rain, 'Tis the iris on the spray, Dash'd by vessels in their way, Catching some slant solar ray; 'Tis a meteor in the sky; 'Tis a bubble; 'tis a sigh; Be prepared, O man, to die.
CHURCH MISSIONARY SOCIETY.
THE NIGER EXPEDITION.
nothing interesting. We saw but a
few persons the first day, and those It will be recollected that the Com- whom we saw made their escape into mittee of the Church Missionary So- the bush as fast as possible, on our ciety obtained from Her Majesty's approach. On the second day we Government permission for the Rev. saw more; and some had the courage J.J. Schön, and a native catechist to come to our vessels in their canoes, Mr. Samuel Crowther, to accompany but could not be persuaded to come the expedition up the Niger, for the on board. The "Wilberforce' sepapurpose of ascertaining what openings rated from the other vessels in the existed for Missionary exertion in afternoon, to examine another branch. the neighbourhood of that great The people were much alarmed at us river ; and to obtain full and accu- in several villages, and crowded to rate information as to the most de- the water-side, armed: they had no sirable situation at which a Mis- intention of attacking us, but came sionary station might be advanta- to defend themselves. We had an geously placed. Mr. Schön was one interpreter in our vessel who could of the few Europeans who was mer- speak to them in the Brass language; cifully preserved from any serious and I observed that he always first told attack of fever, and from that fear- them that we were not Portuguese, ful sickness and mortality which but came as friends of the Black eventually rendered it necessary for people. Their apprehensions were the vessels to return.
generally soon removed; but still From Mr. Schön's letters and jour- they could not put confidence enough nal we make the following extracts : in us to come on board. On the
The arrival of three steamers in the third day we entered the main river harbour of Freetown, on their way again, before the other vessels of the to endeavour to put an end to the Expedition. The country appeared Slave Trade, would naturally be re- beautiful, and the weather was ungarded with lively interest by those commonly fine. who had themselves experienced its On the evening of the sixth day horrors; and it was a pleasing fact, we anchored at the creek leading to that upward of 1500 natives attended Ibo. The · Albert' and the Southe religious services held on the 28th dan' arrived on the following day, of June, in St. George's Church, to the 27th, in the afternoon; and we implore the divine blessing upon the had the unspeakable joy of hearing undertaking.
that there was not a single case of River Niger, 15 miles beyond fever on board any of the vessels. Ibo,* Aug. 1842.- After a stay of Negociations were immediately five days at the mouth of the river, commenced with the king of Ibo, during which time every preparation who came on board. Our object was made in the vessels which was having been largely and clearly exdeemed necessary, we left our an- plained to him, he expressed himself chorage on the 20th instant. The willing to enter into a treaty with whole company was in excellent England, and to abolish the slave spirits, as well as in the enjoyment, trade altogether. He admitted that with no material exception, of bodily that was a hard thing; but, notwithhealth. The prospect of seeing new standing, agreed to all the propocountries, other people, customs, and sals. Our interpreter, Simon Jonas, habits, and of entering upon the pro- acquitted himself very well : he is a per business of our mission, cheered liberated African of Sierra Leone, and enlightened every heart. The and a member of our Church. He first ten or twelve miles presented spoke most touchingly to the king, of
the miseries which slavery brings on * The town of Ibo, or more correctly Aboh, is about one hundred miles from the mouth
the people at large, of the tears of of the river.
their parents, the desolation produced MAY, 1842.
to the country, and of the kindness chiefly engaged in preparing palmof England in rescuing them from oil. He was told by the interpreter, the hands of the Spaniards and Por that he himself had been made a tuguese, making them free, and slave, but had been liberated and teaching them how to make this life kindly treated by the English. The comfortable, and to prepare for the Ibo man could hardly credit it. He next. The king listened to him with had hitherto believed that slaves the greatest attention, and expressed were purchased by the white people his approbation and surprise very to be killed and eaten, and that their frequently. He could not have be- blood was used to inake red cloth. lieved that slaves could be treated This notion is very prevalent among with so much kindness : that they them. were ill treated, he well knew. . The object of my coming, and my
ANYA. desires, were explained to him by Our Brass interpreter was pecumyself and my interpreter; when he liarly anxious that one of the large expressed an earnest desire to have number of persons who surrounded teachers sent to him and his people. our vessel this evening should come He most readily confessed that he on board, because he thought he rewas ignorant of God, and dependent cognized him. Though many years on 'white man' for instruction. I had elapsed since our interpreter directed Simon to read some verses was sold, and the other had, in the of Scripture to him, which astonished mean time, become an old man, they him not a little. That white men instantly recognized each other; and should be able to read and write, he I cannot describe the astonishment expected, as a matter of course ; but manifested by the Ibo man at seeing that an Ibo slave should read, was one whom he verily believed had more than he could ever have ex- long since been killed and eaten by pected. He seized Simon's hand, the white people. His expressions squeezed it most heartily, and said, of surprise were strong, but very sig"You must stop with me : you must nificant. · If God himself,' he said, teach me and my people : you must had told me this, I could not havé tell it to the white man : I cannot believed what my eyes now see.' let you go, until they return from the The interpreter then found out that country. He could not be diverted Anya was the very place to which he from his object, but insisted on Si- had first been sold as a slave, and at mon's remaining ; to which, after which he had spent nine years of his much consideration, we agreed. I early life; and that the very person much wish that he had more know- with whom he was speaking, had ledge, and was better qualified for been his doctor and nurse in a severe teaching, as a great door is opened illness, on which account he had reto him. I have had an opportunity tained a thankful remembrance of of watching him daily for the last ten him. or twelve months, and I believe him Aug. 26.-King Obi sent one of his to be a sincere Christian. He has a sons to welcome the strangers : he correct knowledge of our religion ; was a very fine-looking young man, and I believe that he joined the ex- of about twenty years of age. Both pedition with a desire to do good to himself and his companions attended his country-people.
our morning devotions ; after which This , occurrence proves that the I told them what book it was, of objection so often raised that the which I had been reading a portion; Africans would not listen to their and that I had come to this country own country-people, if they were to tell the people what God had, in sent to them with the Gospel--is per it, revealed to us. They were surfectly groundless. The king of Ibo prised, and could not well understand is willing, yea anxious to hear of the how it was possible that I should wonderful works of God, from the lips have no other object in view. They of one of his own country-people, are sensible of their inferiority, in formerly a slave..
every respect, to white men, and can Simon Jonas and myself had some therefore be easily led by them either conversation with an Ibo man, from to do evil or good. When I told one, which we gathered, that there was this morning, that the slave trade not much traffic in slaves carried on was a bad thing, and that white peoat present, and that the people were ple wished to put an end to it altogether, he gave me an excellent an- ing on the Niger was more particuswer : 'Well, if white people give uplarly the object of Mr. Schön's invesbuying, black people will give up tigations, it was agreed, by the kind selling slaves.' He assured me, too, permission of the commanders, that that it had hitherto been his belief he should remove from the 'Wilberthat it was the will of God that black force' to the 'Albert,' and exchange people should be slaves to white duties with the Rev. "T. Muller, the people.
chaplain of the expedition. The Arrival at Iddah and proceedings distressing prevalence of sickness, there.-As the expedition proceeded however, very soon rendered it necesup the river from a little above Ibo, sary that the Wilberforce' should the people inhabiting the right side proceed without delay to the sea. were found to speak the Egarra lan Mr. Schön writes, in a letter dated guage, and to be subject to the Attah Oct. 16, 1841.: or king of Iddah, whose dominions The · Albert' left the Confluence were found to be very extensive on the 21st ult. to ascend the Niger Some of the proceedings at this place Very few men were able to do duty; are described in Mr. Schön's next and before the first day was over, letter, which was written near the several even of these exhibited deconfluence of the Niger and Tshadda, cided symptoms of fever. On our and dated September 18th.
passage to Egga, which we reached Our proceedings with the king of on the 28th, we lost two of our seaIddah were as encouraging as those men, all our engineers were laid up with king Obi at Ibo. He entered with fever, and nearly all the Euroupon the treaty in all its details, peans were either ailing or seriously agreed to give up the slave trade and indisposed, so that to proceed was human sacrifices, and will be very altogether impracticable. We lay at glad to receive Christian mission- anchor for a week off Egga; during aries. He also requested that the which time I went on shore several interpreter might remain with him, times, to collect information. On to teach him and his people our the 3d instant, Captain Trotter was fashion. I am sorry to add, that the taken ill with fever; and there being interpreter, William Johnson, a com only one officer able to do duty, and municant of our church, fell over two or three European sailors, Dr. board, and was drowned, on the very M'William advised Captain Trotter day that the treaty was concluded. to return with all speed to the sea.
I am much disappointed with re Account of Egga.--Sept. 29.-This gard to the situation of Iddah: for is undoubtedly the largest town we though high, it is surrounded by have yet seen on the banks of the swamps, and cannot fail to be very river; the population may safely be unhealthy for Europeans. A large stated at 7000 or 8000. Nufi is the tract of country was purchased from language of the country, though the king of Iddah, commencing at many others are extensively spoken Beaufort Island, and extending to and understood. Sterling Hill: on this the Model The Nufi language is spoken at the Farm has been commenced. There confluence of the 'Tshadda and Niger, appears to be no great population in on the left bank of the river all the these regions, as they were driven way to Rabba, and even beyond it. away by the Foolatahs but a few The Nufi nation must comprise more months ago. They depend on Eng- than 100,000 persons. What a large lish protection, and have expressed field for missionary labours ! They their desire to return to the place: are a harmless, teachable, and indusif they should return, I shall be bet- trious people here; and such is the ter able to express an opinion as to character at Sierra Leone. its eligibility for a Missionary settle Egga appears to be entirely surment, after our return from the rounded by water ; and the swamps Niger.
behind it extend to a considerable Prevalence of Fever, and consequent distance. The whole country may Return of the Vessels to the Sea-At become perfectly dry in the dry seathe Confluence, it was decided by son ; but it is a question whether the Her Majesty's Commissioners, that healthiness of the town would be adthe ‘Albert' should proceed up the vanced by it. The unanimous testiNiger, and the · Wilberforce' up the mony of the natives is, that the dry Tshadda. As the country border- season is very unhealthy, and that
fever, small-pox, and dysentery, carry off large numbers, even of those born and brought up at the place.
The answer to the question, whether Egga might be considered a suitable station for European missionaries, is obvious. It is much more objectionable than Iddah, because much more unhealthy. Having now advanced upwards of 300 miles into the interior, in search of comparatively healthier stations than those along the coast, and being obliged to sum up my investigations in this single sentence, 'I have seen none,' I feel no small portion of grief and sorrow, especially when I consider that the people, to all appear ance, would be ready to receive the Gospel of our salvation with open arms and hearts. They are prepared by those means which God, in his providence, has often sent as the forerunners of the Gospel-trials and troubles. They have suffered oppression and hardships for many
years, from a haughty people; and · the deliverance from the chains of
slavery which would attend British intercourse with them would be the best recommendation for the introduction of the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the religion which we profess. How shall it be accomplished ? He knows, who reigneth on high, and who has promised to be with His Church even unto the end of the world. He will find means, when all human plans are disappointed; that all the glory may redound unto Him.
Voyage of the 'Albert' from the Model Farm to Fernando Po.-The narrative in Mr. Schön's Letter proceeds as follows :
Early on the 10th, we again steamed down the river, and reached Iddah before night. On the 11th, we got as far as Keri Market; and in the afternoon of the 12th we anchored off Ibo. King Obi had got fire-wood in readiness for us ; and did all in his power to supply us with a large quantity early on the following morning, so that we were ready to depart at 10 A.M. The first engineer was hardly fit for any duty; the second was still very ill ; and the third, in a fit of delirium, jumped overboard a few days previous, and was drowned; so that we could not think of the dangerous bar before us without serious apprehensions for our safety, as the
only officer capable of doing duty had been laid up since we left Iddah. Dr. M'William had, besides the care of twenty-six patients, the command of the vessel, Dr. Stanger acting as engineer. From these few particulars, which contain no exaggeration, you may form an idea of our situation, and be able to join us in our thanksgivings to Almighty God for his merciful deliverance from anxiety and danger. In the afternoon, Captain Becroft met us in the 'Ethiope.' He had come purposely to see after us, and to render any assistance in his power. He brought several letters from our friends of the 'Wilberforce,' which proved that the fearful apprehensions we had entertained were not without foundation. Eight of the sick finished their earthly career before they reached the sea; and thirty eight patients were taken on board the ‘Dolphin' from the Soudan' alone, to be carried to Ascension. Captain Becroft put his first engineer on board the ' Àlbert;' and by his labours we were enabled to reach the mouth of the river Nun in the evening of the 14th, contrary to all our expectations. The 15th was spent in wooding; and on the 16th, between 6 and 7 o'clock A.M., we crossed the bar, Captain Becroft himself being on board ; and soon found ourselves in a healthier and cooler atmosphere, which we hope will, by the blessing of our gracious God, prove beneficial to our sufferers. On the evening of the 17th we anchored at Fernando Po; and on the 18th, early in the forenoon, 28 sick were landed.
On arriving at Fernando Po, Mr. Schön, carefully reviewing the circumstances which had occurred, and the investigations which he had made during the voyage up and down the river, thus sums up the conclusions to which his own mind had arrived on the subject :
I have no hesitation in saying, that our visit was made during the best season of the year, in every respect : the information I have received from the natives, proves that the dry season is decidedly more unhealthy, and that the Natives themselves suffer extremely from fever, small-pox, and dysentery, when the water begins to subside. The country in the vicinity of the river is low and swampy, sometimes to a considerable distance, leading one to anticipate much sickness; and gene