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Medical History of the 1841 Niger expedition
|► 1841 Niger expedition ► Medical history||Section 3 Section 5|
EXPEDITION TO THE RIVER NIGER
DURING THE YEARS 1841-2.
HISTORY OF THE EXPEDITION.
Journal of proceedings to the completion of the Expedition.
Iddah, in the kingdom of Eggarra. Iddah is situated on the left bank of the Niger, which is here nearly a mile and a half broad, in latitude 7°.6.10 north, and longitude 6°.43.31 east. The cliff upon which the town is built varies in height from 140 to 185 feet above the level of the river, and is formed by the outcropping of a rock of ferruginous sandstone, horizontally stratified. Looking to the southward, English island and the other islands below it were seen inundated, and broken up into patches by the rising of the river. North Abokko island, and the others up the river, were similarly overflowed, the people being obliged to paddle from hut to hut in canoes. The opposite shore is for some way low, flat, and swampy. The land behind, however, gradually rises to hills of considerable height, which seem to be richly wooded. From the anchorage (within 200 yards of the cliff) a magnificent range of rounded and conical hills and high table land was seen in the distance, stretching from the north-east to southwest, with a dense forest, extending from the table land downwards, through which a series of streams were pursuing curiously tortuous courses, until they joined the main stream of the Niger, a short distance above the town of Iddah.
Iddah contains two towns; one of which belonged to Abokko, a brother of the former Attah of Iddah, and is still called Abokko’s town. The huts are all of a circular form, are well built of coarse brick hardened by the sun, and mud, and surrounded by verandahs, but are small, dark, and gloomy, light being admitted only through a low narrow door-way. The palace of the Attah consists of a series of circular huts, communicating with each other, and one or two quadrangular buildings in the middle of a court-yard, which is surrounded by a mud wall. The Attah is a man of immense size, jet black, most gaudily dressed, and haughty and despotic in his government. On being invited to visit the Albert, he replied, that a king in his country never condescended to go into a canoe, and that rain never could fall upon him. He, however, offered to the officers sent to wait upon him palm wine, a kind of beer, and the emblem of welcome, the goora nut.*
His sable majesty, however, improved upon acquaintance, and although he to the last maintained all the same outward dignity, yet he expressed himself as complimented that the Queen of England had sent commissioners to him, and readily acquiesced, after proper explanations had been given, to the terms of a treaty for the abolition of the slave trade, and the discontinuance of human sacrifice in his dominions. I had no means of ascertaining anything like the exact amount of the population of Iddah, but I should think it cannot be much under 7000. The bulk of the people are Pagans, but the Mallams from the Upper Niger are said to have converted many of the upper classes to the Mahomedan faith. The tobe, which we had first seen worn at Damagu, was also very common at Iddah. Polygamy, as throughout the Niger, prevails at Iddah. Edina, a headman, when showing us his wives, who were young and rather pretty, laughed when I asked him how many fair damsels he had married, and said, "I have only fifteen wives now, but I am in hopes of soon adding to my stock."
Circumcision is practised, and always at an early age. The chief men of the Attah are eunuchs, who are operated upon by the Mallams, who use for this purpose a small razor-shaped knife.
At the death of a king, his chief wife and several of his headmen are immolated to attend him in the next world. When a king succeeds to the throne he sacrifices at least one wife and several headmen, merely to show how he can exercise his prerogative.
The soil partakes of the nature of the rocks, with a stratum of vegetable mould. The natives do not seem to pay much attention to cultivation. Yams, dawa corn, shea butter, ground-nuts, and cocoa-nuts were, however, exposed in the markets in considerable quantities. The magnificent Baobab or monkey's bread (Adansonia digitata) abounds in various parts of the town and neighbourhood. Cutaneous diseases in a most aggravated form were common: several cases of extensive ulcer with exfoliation of the bones were seen.
Up to this time the expedition had been fortunate beyond all expectation. The Delta had been passed, and we were entering the valley of the Niger under circumstances seemingly the most auspicious. The crews were in the best possible condition, and with a general buoyancy of feeling, looked forward to the period when the vessels were to ascend the river; while they contemplated with delight the novel and diversified scenery of the high land before them. With such prospects so favorable beyond all anticipation, it is not to be wondered if we indulged a rather sanguine hope that the continuance of health would he granted to us, and that we should, under Providence, thus be enabled to persevere in the great object of our mission. But it was otherwise ordained.
Sept. 4th. Fever of a most malignant character broke out in the Albert, and almost simultaneously in the other vessels, and abated not until the whole expedition was completely paralysed.
On the evening of the 6th Sept, the Wilberforce, in shifting from the wooding place to the anchorage under the town, grounded on a sand bank close to English Island, and in spite of all efforts was not got off until the 8th. The Soudan, after taking in her complement of wood, proceeded at once some miles further up the river. Meanwhile, the disease was making steady progress on board of all the vessels, and, to add to our misfortunes, William Johnson, the Eggarra interpreter, fell overboard and was drowned.
On the afternoon of the 8th Sept, the Albert and Amelia left Iddah. During our stay at this place, the weather was close and sultry, the atmosphere being in an unwholesome stagnant state, from which condition it was occasionally relieved by the occurrence of strong tornadoes: there was one of unusual violence as the vessels weighed. In the intervals between the squalls, we had some magnificent views of the distant high land, placed, as it were, on a brilliant ground of sky, illumined only in that direction, and everywhere else enveloped in a dark gloom. At seven p.m. anchored near a small village called Bafra.
Sept. 9th. Weighed at daylight. Some red cliffs were seen on the right bank, and several villages among the swamps on the left side of the river. At four in the afternoon I landed with Dr. Stanger on the right bank at Ikori, a little way above the Bird Rock. The people, who had assembled in considerable numbers, fled at our approach, but soon returned; most of them carried long bows, and large quivers of poisoned arrows; others had muskets. Mica slate was found here in a nearly perpendicular position. In the middle of the river there was a rock about five yards square, and about three feet above the water: this was "bird rock," already mentioned, which is a mass of quartz imbedded in mica slate. Several new cases of fever were this day added to the sick list, and Mr. Nightingale, the assistant-surgeon, who had been in the tender from the time we left Sierra Leone, was received on board the Albert yesterday, with the same disease. A tornado was experienced towards the evening, which cooled the air, and afforded great relief to the patients.
Sept. 10th. We were again steaming upwards at daylight, and in the forenoon the river flowed in a narrower channel; the tabular hills around us, with precipitous sides, were upwards of a thousand feet high; large masses of granite were seen here and there in the thick bush at their bases. At eleven a.m. Beaufort island was passed; and at two p.m. we came to anchor for a short time near a village situated on the summit of a hill on the left bank. I then went on board the Soudan to inquire into the state of the crew, and was grieved to find that the captain's steward had died on the previous day, and that Mr. Ellis, the first lieutenant, Mr. Marshall, the acting-surgeon, and several of the seamen and marines, were laid up with fever.
The effect of the high land upon the sick was most extraordinary in rousing their energies, which from the commencement of the disease were, in general, in a state of great depression. This moral stimulant seemed to exert a most salutary influence upon men who had not for days raised their heads from the pillow; many now began to look up, and call to mind hills in their own country, which they fancied bore a resemblance to those around them.
At five p.m. we were approaching the confluence of the Niger and Tchadda [present name: Benué river], the junction of the main roads (so to speak) to central Africa, — the grand arteries through which it is devoutly to be hoped civilization, and its attendant blessings, will be diffused throughout this benighted country. High table land was seen stretching from north-east to south-west. On the Tchadda the land was lower and more undulating than that on the banks of the Niger; the upper portions of the hills were beautifully tinted by the sun, now low in the horizon. At sunset anchored off Adda Kuddu. No new case of fever occurred on board the Albert this day, but George Powell, the cooper, who was taken ill at Iddah, was, in the evening, in a very precarious state.
Sept. 11th. Landed for a short time in the morning, with Captain Trotter, at Adda Kuddu, and found the town totally deserted; the inhabitants had been expelled by the Filatah people some time back. All the huts were in a ruinous condition, but the dye pits, of which there were several, seemed to be in good order. The soil was a rich vegetable mould, with blocks of granite scattered about, but the rocks were chiefly of gneiss. Castor-oil, cotton, indigo,* and other plants, were abundant. * Some guinea-hens were seen, as also several other birds of beautiful plumage. In the forenoon I visited the Wilberforce and Soudan, and found sickness on the increase in both vessels. In the evening George Powell died on board the Albert; the Wilberforce also lost a man about the same time.
Sept. 12th to 17th. Stirling Hill having been selected as a more favorable position than Adda Kuddu for the residence of Mr. Carr and the model-farm people, the vessels moved up to that place; and the various farming implements, and materials for the house were, during this period, transferred from the ships to the shore. This duty necessarily involved considerable labour, and was performed chiefly by blacks, but requiring the supervision of at least one officer, and some assistance from the white seamen; the latter were consequently subjected to an exposure, which could not have been otherwise than prejudicial. The weather was intensely hot, and the stagnation of the atmosphere during the day was most oppressive. Squalls, with vivid lightning, were common in the evening. As the sickness continued on the increase on board all of the ships, as several deaths had already occurred, and as many of the men continued in a hopeless state, — it was evident that some decisive step was called for to prevent the total discomfiture of the expedition.
To remain where we were was out of the question; therefore the adoption of one out of two alternatives became imperative, — to seek for a more genial climate, either in the river, or out of the river. Mount Patteh was near us, rising to a table 1160 feet high: the air on its summit might prove more salubrious than that of the river, but then, it might not. To transport the sick thither would subject them to an amount of fatigue and exposure, independently of the risk of losing time, which the prospect of mere possible benefit did not seem to justify. There also remained the chance of the more open countries higher up the Niger or Tchadda being comparatively healthy; but to move all the ships further into the interior, upon such precarious grounds, would have been to place the fate of the whole expedition upon a contingency which might lead to the most calamitous results. Feeling confident that the disease would assume a milder form, in the climate of the open sea, I placed the following table before Captain Trotter, recommending one vessel to be sent out of the river with the whole of the sick, to proceed onwards to Fernando Po, or if possible to Ascension, where they would have the benefit of hospital accommodation, in addition to that likely to be derived from climate.
|No. of Officers, including Engineers.||No. of White Seaman.||No. of Sappers and Miners.||No. of Kroomen, coloured Men entered in England, African Boys, &c.||Black Agriculturalists, &c.||Total.|
|H.M.S. Albert, |
Including Amelia Tender.
|No. victualled on entering river||21||25||12||67||23||148|
|Placed on the sick list for fever since 3d inst||2||15||5||5||0||27|
|Discharged to duty||1||0||0||0||0||1|
|Remain on sick list||0||12||5||5||0||22|
|Of whom are convalescent||0||2||2||2||0||6|
|Effective on board the ship and tender||19||10||7||62||0||98|
|Ashore at farm||0||0||0||0||23||23|
|H.M.S. Wilberforce.||No. victualled on entering river||21||23||13||47||0||104|
|Placed on the sick list for fever since 4th inst.||7||13||5||0||0||25|
|Discharged to duty||0||1||0||0||0||1|
|Remain on sick list||7||11||4||0||0||22|
|Of whom are convalescent||1||1||0||0||0||2|
|Effective on board||14||12||8||47||0||81|
|H.M.S. Soudan.||No. victualled on entering river||11||15||4||21||0||51|
|Placed on the sick list for fever since 4th inst.||5||9||2||1||0||17|
|Discharged to duty||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Remain on sick list||5||8||2||1||0||16|
|Effective on board||6||6||2||20||0||34|
|Placed on sick list||63||6||69|
|Discharged to duty||2||0||2|
|Remain on sick list||54||6||60|
|Effective on board and on shore||84||152||236|
Sept. 19th. The Soudan steamed down the river in the afternoon, with forty cases of fever on board, including thirteen from the Albert and six from the Wilberforce. Lieutenant Fishbourne had the command, and Mr. Thomson, assistant-surgeon of the Wilberforce, the medical charge. The Soudan had not long left the confluence when Commander William Allen reported that several others of his crew had been attacked with fever, among whom were two of the engineers. There were also some new cases in the Albert. With appearances so formidable, it became a matter of question whether the whole of the squadron should be withdrawn for the season. But as one vessel could still be made sufficiently effective to make an effort to carry out the objects of the expedition, it was finally determined that the Albert was to make the best of her way up the Niger; and that the Wilberforce was at once to proceed out of the river. She accordingly steamed downwards on the morning of the 21st of September. Among the sick on board were Mr. Foster, master; Mr. Cyrus Wakeham, purser; Mr. Toby, mate; Dr. Vogel, botanist; Mr. Rosher, mineralogist; Messrs. Simpson and Terry, clerks; Mr. Bowden, purser, and Mr. Harvey, master of the Albert; and Mr. Collman, assistant-surgeon, of the Soudan, the latter of whom was seized suddenly a few hours before she sailed. Captain Allen and Commissioner Cook were also both unwell.
The site of the settlement at the confluence of the Niger and Tchadda. The land comprised in the English territory, purchased from the Attah of Iddah, extends from the northern ridge of Mount Patteh downwards to Mount Soracte, including Beaufort Island, - a tract, about sixteen miles long and five miles wide. Stirling Hill (the talus of Mount Patteh) is about two hundred feet high, and was already in a state of partial cultivation, with yams, cotton, and a kind of millet. Mount Patteh rises behind Mount Stirling to the height of 1160 feet above the level of the river, forming on the summit an extensive flat table, on which there are several villages. This situation commands a splendid view of the Niger; and the broad expanse of the Tchadda is seen flowing smoothly from the eastward. High table land appears in all directions: the north side of the mountain is a precipitous cliff, under which there is a village, containing about fifty circular huts: the distance from the sea is 272 miles. The natives of this and the other villages in the neighbourhood were in constant fear of an incursion by the Fulatahs, who spread a report that now all chance of safety was lost to the Kakanda people, as the steam-ships had come by sea to kill them, and that they would continue to persecute them by land. The soil is a ferruginous sand, farmed by the decomposition of the rock of Mount Patteh, with a vegetable mould. The faces of the Kakanda people were marked on each side by three elliptical incisions, extending from the temple to the chin. The eyelids of the women are stained with galena, which they keep in small leathern bottles, with globular bottoms, and long necks. Cotton cloths of good manufacture, spun cotton, calabashes beautifully carved and ornamented, small squares of chalk produced by the incineration of bone, tobacco, camwood balls, shea butter, dried buffalo flesh, and dried fish were brought on board in great quantities. Some of the men had small daggers and cutlasses, which they said came from Rabba: most of them wore tobes. The heads of the women were in general close shaven. As with most Africans, traffic seemed to be the predominant passion with them, with the usual good share of dexterity in turning a bargain to their own account.
Mr. Carr, the superintendent of the model-farm, and Mr. Ansell, gardener, remained at Stirling Hill with the agriculturists and labourers from Sierra Leone. On board of the Amelia were Mr. Kingdon, catechist; Mr. King, an intelligent man of colour, with a sufficient number of blacks to keep the vessel in order, and render assistance to Mr. Carr.
The Albert, with her complement of men and officers sadly reduced in number, but full of hope, and resolved, if possible, to reach Rabba, now proceeded alone up the Niger. In addition to those already mentioned as having left us to return to the sea in the Wilberforce and Soudan, Mr. Muller, the chaplain for the time, exchanged duties with the Rev. F. Schön, who since our leaving Sierra Leone had been on board the Wilberforce; so that there remained of those who had left England, in the gun-room, only Dr. Stanger and myself. Above the confluence, the land on the left bank was rounded and undulating; and the river became more winding in its course. At three p. m. we were off a village on the right bank, called Kelebeh. The huts were circular, built of mud, and thatched with grass and palm-leaves; many of them were more than half under water. Here we lost sight of an aquatic plant, which, from about twenty miles above the Nun mouth, had been most abundant, particularly at Aboh, where the surface of the river was in many parts literally covered with it.* In the afternoon, when near Muyé, a chief town of Kakanda, the natives at once launched a canoe, with the intention of bringing off wood to the ship; but being anxious to cut a quantity ourselves higher up the river, we pushed on, and, about seven, anchored off Litemu, a town on the right bank. Muyé, we were informed, was formerly situated about three miles inland; but the incursions of the dreaded Fulatahs caused the Kakanda people to resort to the river side, for the sake of greater security. The people told us that the river would not rise higher this season; and that in three months it would be very low. Circumcision is performed here by the Mallams from Egga, who also profess to teach the Mahomedan religion. Smallpox and dysentery are said to prevail during the dry season: for cure of the latter, the Mallams use a decoction made of the leaves and root of a plant called Laboji, which I did not see. The day was beautiful, but extremely hot: a tornado, however, came on in the evening, attended with heavy rain. The first and third engineers were complaining during the day and in the afternoon. Captain Bird Allen, who had joined us at the confluence, to act in concert with Captain Trotter, I was grieved to observe, had symptoms of fever.
Sept. 22d. Mr. Fairholme and Mr. Webb, mates, were both placed on the sick list, and Captain Allen’s symptoms were unequivocal. In the course of the forenoon three new cases were presented. The river at Lilemu was more than a mile in breadth, and having burst over the banks, was seen cutting deeply into the flats on each side. Long belts of palms and clusters of huts were observed completely surrounded by water. Having procured a good quantity of wood, we weighed at one p.m., and in an hour were at a small island on the right bank called Gori, where a market of some note is held. Landed with Captain Trotter, Dr. Stanger, and Mr. Schön, and found an immense number of canoes assembled at the market-place. We were soon conducted through a series of narrow lanes to the residence of the chief, whom we found to be an old and rather intelligent looking man, sitting on a mat smoking his pipe. His "mouth" told us that slaves, salt, ivory, and a number of other commodities were brought to the market, and that Gori was an independent territory:* and further, that he had power over four other towns, but added, that their tenure was rather precarious by reason of the frequent visits of the dreaded Fulatahs. In the market-place we saw not less than from 1500 to 2000 people. The articles exposed for sale were bags of salt from Rabba, tobes of various colours, country cloths, camwood in balls, iron work, as hoes and shovels, indian corn, dried buffalo’s flesh, and dried fish, ground nuts, twine, silk, seeds of various kinds, shea butter, straw hats with enormous brims, platters of wood, and calabashes beautifully carved.
Sept. 23d. No improvement among the patients; one was dangerously ill. A number of the people came from Gori with firewood, which was purchased, but the unceasing clatter of their tongues was very annoying, and we were glad to get rid of them. In the course of the forenoon a large canoe came alongside; it belonged to the headman of Muyé, and was commanded by his son. It contained three horses, corn, calabashes, and three slaves, two females and one male, purchased at the Egga market. As Muyé was in the dominion of Iddah, the canoe, slaves, and the whole of the property were condemnable in virtue of a treaty made with the Attah, seventeen days previously. Aduku, the Attah’s son, was fortunately at Gori, and Captain Trotter, determined to show that the terms of the treaty would be strictly enforced, after a formal trial, declared the whole of the property in the canoe to be forfeited; but in consequence of the solemn protestations, supported by strong probability, of Ajimba, the commander of the canoe, that he purchased the slaves in perfect ignorance of any law against it, he was allowed to depart with every thing except the slaves, who were now liberated and detained on board the Albert. Poor creatures, on first coming on board, they looked around and cried bitterly, one of them afterwards told an Akou boy, one of the crew, that they imagined at the time we would kill and eat them. They however gained confidence, on being cleaned and properly dressed; Captain Trotter gave the very appropriate names of Hannah Buxton and Elizabeth Fry, to the two females, and the man was called Albert Gori, in compliment to His Royal Highness Prince Albert, and as commemorative of the place where he for ever threw off the chains of human bondage. In the afternoon Buddu, a large Kakanda town on the right bank, was passed, and in the evening we stopped for the night a short way above Adama Dalu, on the left bank. Two new fever cases were added to the sick list in the course of the day. The early part of the day was rainy, afterwards the weather was most sultry and oppressive.
Sept. 24th. The river now seemed to extend far beyond its usual limits, as many villages were seen completely inundated and deserted. Several canoes came alongside with goats and fowls for sale; the left bank seemed destitute of huts, with the exception of one miserable looking village called Bezzani, where the squalid wretchedness of the inhabitants corresponded with the appearance of the place. In the afternoon we were off Mount Elphinstone Fleming, which was of tabular form, with sloping sides, seemingly well cultivated. The Terry mountains were visible in the back ground: this range consists of rounded and table hills, with an extensive valley between it and Mount Elphinstone Fleming, to which the name of Oldfield Plains has been given. The vessel touched the ground three times in the course of the day. A tornado was experienced in the evening, with the usual relief to all. One of the stokers complained in the afternoon, and the other patients continued nearly in the same state.
Sept. 25th. The Kroomen were sent on shore to cut wood, near a village on the right bank, called Kinami. This place is situated on a bank about eight feet above the river, consists of seven different clusters of huts, and is chiefly inhabited by Nufi people. The chief sent an old woman on board to consult me about her disease, which was lepra in its most aggravated form of ulceration; and in return for some medicine I gave her, the chief sent me some beer of an acid but not disagreeable taste. My patients on board were by no means improving; and, to add to our misfortunes, five more of our most useful men were obliged to lie down in the afternoon, with all the symptoms of fever. The next day, Sunday, was beautifully clear; but the heat was oppressive beyond endurance: the thermometer being 92° Fahr. in the coolest part of the ship. Divine service was performed by Mr. Schön: but what with death, with those that had left us at the confluence, and those lying sick around us, the congregation seemed reduced to a mere skeleton of what we had been! Even weighing anchor now became an act of difficulty, from our weakened condition: but the steam was got up on the afternoon of the 27th, chiefly with the view of ventilating the ship; by the action of the fanners, propelled by the engines, chlorine was diffused from the medicator throughout the ship, and found to be very grateful to the patients. John Fuge died at eight p. m.
Sept. 28th. In the forenoon we were approaching Egga, which seemed to be a long straggling town lying close to the river on the right bank. The only remaining engineer now began to feel the effect of the duties, which of late had pressed hard upon him, and, on our anchoring at Egga, he lay down, and shortly afterwards expressed himself as much better; several of the other patients were in a very low condition, and one of the best seamen was in a state of great danger.Abstract of Meteorological Journal from Aboh to Egga.
|Barom.||Therm.||Dry bulb.||Wet bulb.||Dew point.||Wind.|
|At Aboh, Iddah, and Confluence||29.690||84.000||84.000||75.90||73.50||Very light S.W. calm. During tornados E.|
|Confluence of Niger and Tchadda to Egga||29.570||86.600||86.600||79.500||72.000|
Egga. Egga is upwards of 340 miles from the sea, and was formerly the seat of government of the Nufi people. It is at present under the immediate rule of Rogang, a native of this part of the Niger, who is, however, subject to Sumo Sariki the Fulatah king at Rabba. Sumo Sariki must be one of the most powerful chiefs of Central Africa. Although a vassal to the Sultan of Soccatoo, he pays him merely a nominal tribute, and he is constantly extending the limits of his already immense territory.
When Lander was at Egga he supposed the town to be four miles long and two in breadth. I had no opportunity, from the great number of sick I had to attend to, of going on shore, but Mr. Schön and Dr. Stanger estimated the population at not less than eight thousand. While we were at Egga the town was completely surrounded by water, and the land for miles in all directions was completely swamped. On the shore opposite the town Dr. Stanger, after wading two miles from the main stream, was nearly up to his middle in water, when he reached a shea butter tree, which he found to have a large trunk, not very lofty, but umbrageous. Specimens of the leaves and fruit were obtained, but no flowers. On the drying up of the morass behind the town, after the cessation of the rains, pestilential effluvia are exhaled from its bed, which, according to the Mallams, create bad fevers, eruptive diseases, and dysentery, proving fatal to great numbers of the inhabitants. The huts are packed close to each other, and the streets are so narrow as scarcely to allow two people to walk abreast. The accumulation of filth is thus favoured, and the stench of the town is horrible. Until the subjugation of the Nufi people by the Fulatahs, Paganism prevailed at Egga, and much of this still remains, mixed up with the Mahomedanism introduced by their conquerors. Most of the men I saw wore the tobe; many of the Nufis were dressed with a cloth, which hung somewhat gracefully from one of the shoulders, after the fashion of the Roman toga. They were in general tall and well made; the form of the head, the countenance, and the lighter shade of colour of the skin, indicated an intermixture of the Caucasian with the negro race. The practice of blackening the eyelids with galena* was very common, and many of the women had their nails stained with henna. They unhesitatingly brought their children on board to be vaccinated, and the Mallams were not a little pleased at being shown and taught how to perform the operation. The shea butter tree (Bassia Parkia)† abounds in the neighbourhood; a quantity of the butter was purchased in the market-place at Egga, weighing about sixteen pounds, for cowries to the amount of about two shillings sterling. The country in the immediate neighbourhood, as seen from where the Albert was anchored in mid-channel, about three quarters of a mile from each side of the river, was in general low and uninteresting. Opposite the town there were a few small hills, beautifully green, and tolerably wooded. In the distance table land was seen to the northward, known in Captain Allen’s chart by the names of the Earl Grey range, and the Admiralty mountains.
Averages of Observations taken at and below Egga, from the 1st to the 5th October, inclusive. (3 p.m.)
|Barom.||Therm.||Dry bulb.||Wet bulb.||Dew point.||Wind.|
|Averages||29.540||89.330||90.000||79.300||72.160||Dead calm all day, occasional tornados at night.|
On leaving the confluence on the 21st September, it had been hoped that the violence of the fever was in a measure exhausted, and that the climate of the more open country, higher up the Niger, would be found sufficiently healthy to enable us to reach Rabba. The result proved otherwise. Captain B. Allen was taken ill on the evening of the same day, and when we arrived at Egga not less than twenty more of the crew had been attacked, of whom two had died. On the 3d of October Captain Trotter was seized with fever. Captain B. Allen was in a very critical state, and there remained, capable of doing any duty, only one white seaman, the sergeant and one private of marines, Dr. Stanger, Mr. Willie, mate, John Huxley, hospital-attendant, and myself. Mr. Willie was already labouring under incipient fever, and could not be persuaded, even when very ill two days afterwards, to keep quiet. The season was advancing, and the river had already begun to fall. Dr. Stanger found by the marks on shore that the water had fallen fourteen inches on the 29th September, and on the 5th October not less than three feet. Under such circumstances, to have endeavoured to proceed to Rabba would have been madness, and as there was no object to be gained by remaining longer where we were, it was resolved that we should withdraw from the river with all possible speed. The Kroomen having now cut a good deal of wood, we weighed on the morning of the 4th October, and dropped down with the stream, some distance below Egga, and the next day, in the same manner, we reached the village of Eddogi. On the 6th Dr. Stanger undertook to work the engines, with what assistance he could get from Mr. Brown, the only engineer who could move out of bed. The steam was accordingly got up, and we were soon making good way downwards. Mr. Willie being now too ill to have any charge, I was necessitated to attend to the duties of the ship, in addition to those of my profession.
Captain Trotter was a little better, but Captain Allen and Lieut. Stenhouse were still dangerously ill. At half-past twelve the vessel touched the ground, but by reversing the engines was got from under one fathom to three fathoms water. About five in the afternoon she again struck on a bank near Adama Dalu, and shortly afterwards we anchored for the night near the left bank, on the opposite side of the river to Buddu, a town of Kakanda, already spoken of.
October 7th. Captain Allen and Mr. Webb were extremely weak, but Captain Trotter and the other patients were, if anything, better. Mr. Wilmett, and Mr. Lodge one of the engineers, were very noisy during the night. In the morning, accompanied by Mr. Schön, I made a hurried visit to Buddu, where we found that the chief was absent, having been summoned to a grand palaver with the Attah of Iddah. Buddu appeared to be a town capable of containing three thousand inhabitants. The huts were similar to those at Egga, and, what I had not before seen, each contained on the summit of the pyramidal-shaped roof a large earthen pot, black polished, and mounted for the purpose, as Mamansa, the chief s son, told me, of warding off the lightning. The people acknowledged to have been great slave dealers, but denied that they had ever sacrificed human beings. In the dry season they said that belly complaints, smallpox, and sore eyes, killed a number of their people; Mamansa was glad to see me vaccinate some children, and was delighted beyond all measure when, after making him operate himself, I presented him with a lancet. He asked me gravely for a charm to renovate decayed virile powers. On leaving he presented us with a goat and a large jar of beer, which he said would make a good breakfast. About twelve we returned on board, and having weighed, steamed until two p.m., then dropped with the stream below Muyé and anchored for the night.
October 8th. Mr. W., one of the patients, who for some days had been in a state of delirium, contrived, notwithstanding that he was watched by two black men, to push back the slide of his cabin window and jump overboard; his cries when in the water were terrible, and awoke every one. The boat was lowered with all possible haste, but William Guy, a Gambia man, followed by Tom Osmond, a Krooman,* at once plunged into the river, and, guided by his cries, (for the night was extremely dark,) came up with him and saved him. Weighed at six a.m., and while getting the steam up, dropped down with the stream about two miles. The Victoria range, which we knew to be not far above the confluence, was in sight in the forenoon, which cheered up the spirits of all. A gloom was, however, thrown over the ship in consequence of another patient, the second engineer, jumping overboard; he had been laid up with fever at Egga, and had the previous day manifested symptoms of wandering, for which, as a matter of precaution, he was restrained in his cot: in the morning, being quite sensible, and complaining of being bound, he was released; he asked for a drink of water, and seemed perfectly collected; in ten minutes afterwards he got out of his cot unperceived, (on the poop,) and slipped overboard. Strange to say there were four officers lying near him, besides two sick attendants who were just outside the curtain, and no one saw him move. Poor fellow, he kept his head above water for some time, while being carried rapidly down with the current, but sank, just as the boat was within a few feet of him. We were obliged to stop frequently in the course of the day, as the river was often not more than one, one and a half, and two fathoms deep. Had we got on shore with a falling river, at this period, the certain consequences, under all circumstances, were but too dreadful to contemplate. At this period the anxiety of Dr. Stanger and myself for the safety of the vessel, and the mental anguish at seeing nearly all our shipmates in a helpless condition, cannot be expressed. At six p.m. we anchored about six miles above the confluence.
October 9th. Experienced a strong tornado during the night. Anxious to ascertain the condition of our friends at the model farm, the vessel was got under weigh at six in the morning, but was soon carried among the bushes by the sweep of the current. The steam was got up some time afterwards, and about half-past eight we were gratified by the first glimpse of the Eglintown tent on Stirling hill. The quantity of cleared land, and the advance made in the building of the superintendent's house, induced us to hope that he and the two Europeans had been mercifully protected from disease; but in our hopes we were again doomed to disappointment.
Accompanied by Dr. Stanger I immediately went on board the Amelia, and found there Mr. Kingdon, schoolmaster, in the low stage of fever, and Mr. Ansell, the gardener, lying in his cot with the same disease. On the shore no better tidings awaited us, for Mr. Carr also was confined to bed; he had been ill ten days, and was still in a very doubtful state. Although Captain Trotter was still much indisposed, I communicated my wishes to him relative to those gentlemen, and he desired me to act as, under circumstances, I best saw fit; and being confirmed in my opinion by that of Dr. Stanger, I at once resolved to take them on board the Albert, where they would have the benefit of medical assistance, in addition to that likely to accrue from change of climate. The natives had been on all occasions del farm; and the Amelia in charge of Thomas King, assisted by William Guy, a good seaman, and twelve other blacks. King had joined the expedition at Sierra Leone, and his conduct had, in addition to the excellent character given him by Mr. Schön, been such as to entitle him to confidence.
As the river was rapidly falling, and the state of the sick demanding our immediate removal from the river; every moment was precious, and all who were able laboured night and day. Nine months’ provisions were sent to the Amelia, a good supply of wood was received on board the Albert, and every other arrangement was concluded within twenty-four hours of our arrival at the model farm.
About ten o’clock on the morning of Sunday, October 10th, the voyage downwards was recommenced. Captain Bird Allen was now in a very languid state, but sufficiently sensible to express his gratification at the hopes of being soon out of the river. He had been to all appearance sinking fast the previous day, but was roused by warm applications to the feet, and stimuli taken internally. New hopes seemed to be kindled up among all the other patients. Passing Adda Kuddu, Beaufort island, and Ikori, we were at the Bird rock about half-past one p.m., where we found that the river had fallen several feet. The day throughout was exceedingly fine. At six p.m. we were off the cliffs of Iddah, and shortly afterwards came to, about two miles below the town.
October 11 th. The sick were, upon the whole, better, but Captain Allen, Lieut. Stenhouse, and Mr. Willie, were in a very doubtful condition. Mr. Kingdon was also incoherent during the night. In the morning the son of the Attah came on board, accompanied by two Mallams, to know "what was the matter," why we did not anchor near the town as we did before. The Attah desired them to say "he never liked his friends to be from him when they were in his neighbourhood, and begged that we would return." On being told that we wanted to get out of the river, as our people were sick, they said, "That is enough, we must instantly tell the king." They then left us, and said that the Attah would send a bullock and some yams to the people at the confluence. We soon weighed: at half-past three were off Damugu. and at seven anchored off the village Atchaba, a short way below Kiri or Onye market. I was sorry to observe that our indefatigable and excellent chaplain, Mr. Schön, was far from being well during the day.
October 12th. There was a heavy squall with thunder and lightning in the morning, followed by a thick haze, which prevented our weighing until ten o’clock. When at the northern end of Bullock’s island, about midday, we saw not less than seven huge hippopotami in the mud, on the left bank of the river; some showed their heads only, while the enormous backs of others were distinctly visible above the water. At five, to our great joy, we anchored at Aboh, where we were soon surrounded by upwards of a hundred canoes. The vociferations and cheers of the people, welcoming us back, although doubtless well meant, were most annoying to the sick. Atché, Obi’s favorite son, was soon on board, and on being told, that we wished to get out of the river with all speed, left the ship, and sent a canoe-load of wood on board the same evening by moonlight, promising to complete us in the morning.
October 13th. Mr. Kingdon breathed his last at two in the morning, and was buried by Mr. Schön and myself, on the left bank opposite Aboh, where we had much difficulty in landing, from the flooded state of the shore.* On returning on board, we found Obi seated at breakfast in the gun-room; he and his people had brought abundance of wood, besides goats, fowls, yams, and plantains. Obi’s prompt assistance to us on this occasion was of the highest importance. He is decidedly a fine character, and assuredly did not discredit the high opinion we had already formed of him. He was melted into pity, when he saw the captains sick in the cabin.
At ten we weighed, at twelve we were off a large Benin branch, and shortly afterwards at Truro island. A great number of villages were passed, at most of which, the natives had canoe-loads of wood ready to bring on board of us. Many canoes were seen with palm oil, belonging chiefly to king Peppel, of Bonny. At three in the afternoon, when near Stirling island, a steamer was seen coming up the river at full speed, which we directly perceived did not belong to the expedition: but we were soon close to her, and in a very short time, Capt. Beecroft was alongside from the Ethiope, for such she was. He at once offered any assistance in his power, and it was finally arranged that he was to send his engineer on board the Albert next morning, and that the Ethiope was to return with us, taking the lead, as Captain Beecroft had a perfect knowledge of the river.
October 14th. Both vessels weighed at six in the morning. The weather was beautiful throughout the day. At six p.m. came to anchor off Barracoon point, near the mouth of the Nun. The sight of the open sea acted like a charm upon every one. Next day the Kroomen were employed in cutting firewood. The rigging was set up, and other preparations were made for sea.
October 16th. At five in the morning Captain Beecroft came on board, and as the steam was up, we weighed immediately; when just within the bar the Soudan was seen outside. The bar was crossed in comparative quiet, and after an exchange of anxious inquiries with the Soudan, the three vessels steamed on towards Fernando Po. George Cole, a marine, who had been attacked with fever at Egga, died in the forenoon. Captain Trotter was much better, but Captain Allen, Lieut. Stenhouse, Mr. Webb, and Mr. Willie, were very low. Weather still continued fine, and the difference of atmospherical temperature since leaving the river, was of most sensible benefit to all, more especially to the sick.
October 17th, Sunday. In the forenoon the dark outline of the mountain of Fernando Po was seen through the haze, which hung over the land. At twelve we were close in with the shore; about three p. m. opened the anchorage of Clarence Cove, where we came to at a little past four.
I wish I could pay a just tribute to the prompt and noble conduct of Captain Beecroft. Captain William Allen, anxious about the fate of the Albert, and from his previous fearful experience of the Niger, dreading the worst, was very desirous that Beecroft then at Fernando Po in the Ethiope, should ascend the Niger to render us what assistance we might stand in need of. This wish was no sooner made known, than he at once weighed for the river. The timely aid he rendered us can be fully appreciated only by those who were in the position to feel the full force of its value.
At Clarence Cove, island of Fernando Po.
Immediately the anchor was let go, I went on shore to Mr. White, the superintendent of the West African Company, at Fernando Po, to make arrangements about landing the sick, as our engineers were all laid up, and we were in every other respect unfit to proceed onwards to Ascension. Mr. White kindly offered to receive the officers at Government house; and Paradise house, a fine large building, was placed at my disposal, for the accommodation of the men. Mr. Hensman, the medical officer of the company, at once gave up his dwelling-house to those officers, for whom there was no room at the Government house. On the 18th of October Captain Trotter, Captain Allen, and the whole of the sick were comfortably lodged on shore. In the evening, Mr. Willie, whose case was hopeless long before we left the river, breathed his last. Poor fellow! the hand of death seemed to be upon him from the very first: he never complained of pain, but gradually sunk. With the exception of Captain Allen and Lieut. Stenhouse, who were fast passing from this earthly scene, there was soon a manifest improvement among the sick generally. Fresh meat, bread, and milk were provided every day, and a regular system of diet was established in the hospitals.
October 21 st. I had been for some days troubled with headach, and some other unpleasant symptoms, which I had hoped to drive away, but which now assumed the form of the river fever, accompanied by nausea, heat of skin, and distressing dyspnoea. At the end of three weeks I began slowly to recover. Mr. Thomson, acting-surgeon of the Soudan, and Dr. Stanger, were my medical attendants; and to their unremitting attention and kindness my recovery, under Providence, must be entirely attributed.
My case affords a strong exemplification of the fact that disease is prevented, or at all events retarded by intense mental occupation: for I am confident that the fever made several efforts to seize me (so to speak) when descending the Niger, but never succeeded in overcoming me until the excitement had in a great measure subsided, — after the sick had been all safely landed at Fernando Po. This excitement was sufficient to keep under a disease which had already, to a certain extent, laid hold upon me, with my body in a state of exhaustion, otherwise favorable to its full development. For several weeks I had not had two hours of continuous sleep, having constantly to attend to about thirty patients, causing me to expose myself on deck at all hours of the night; besides, from Egga to near the mouth of the river, I was scarcely off deck during the whole of the day.
During my illness, Captain Bird Allen, Lieut. David Stenhouse, Mr. James Woodhouse, assistant-surgeon, Mr. Wilmett, clerk, and a private of marines had all paid the common debt of nature.
As Captain Trotter’s convalescence, although steady, was rather slow, Mr. Thomson, surgeon of the Soudan, and in charge of the hospital while I was sick, recommended that he should proceed to England in the Warree, merchant schooner, then lying at Clarence Cove, bound to Liverpool. I at once concurred with Mr. Thomson. Mr. William Merriman, gunner; Mr. James Brown, third engineer; Mr. Ansell Gardener; James Haughton and William M‘Laughlin, seamen, also went home as invalids in the Warree.
Lieut. Fishbourne, appointed acting commander of the Soudan, now commanded the Albert; Mr. James N. Strange was the only lieutenant, and Mr. W.H.T. Green was acting master. Mr. Bowden, the secretary to the commissioners, and purser of the Albert, rejoined his ship early in November.
The Rev. Mr. Schön, who had been with us from the time of the Albert’s proceeding upwards from the confluence, and who had been most constant in his attendance upon the sick, also embarked in the Warree for a passage to England. The sailing of the Warree was delayed until the 23d of November, when she was taken in tow by the Albert with her steam up, and in the afternoon was clear of the Cove. The night was beautifully moonlight, and the sea presented a surface of liquid silver, until it was lost in the gloomy shade of the densely-wooded land. On the evening of the 25th of November we anchored at West bay, Princes island. The weather was close and sultry. The scenery of West bay consists of high land, in the form of towers, and peaks of ever-varying height, clad in all the gorgeousness of tropical luxuriance. Leaving Princes island next day, we saw, on the morning of the 27th, the island of St. Thomas, and in the forenoon were close in with St. Anna de Chaves, the capital. In the afternoon I was called on board the Warree, and found it necessary to tap William M'Laughlin, a seaman invalid, who had been for some time dropsical. At eleven p. m. we were at the isle of Rollas; when our excellent and worthy chief left the Albert, accompanied by Doctor Stanger, who had been my constant companion in health and in toil, and my kind attendant during sickness. They were soon on board the Warree, which at once made sail for England.
After wooding at Rollas, the Albert was again under sail on the evening of the 29th of November, thereby economizing fuel, and giving our engineer (not over strong) a respite of two days.
On the 2d of December we were at Princes island. The next day we encountered a tornado, and at two in the afternoon we were within a short distance of Fernando Po, which seemed enveloped in dense vapour; and, in the evening, anchored at Clarence Cove. The rainy season was just over, and the dreaded period of the "smokes" had begun. The thermometer averaged 85° Fahr.; and the sea-breeze was by no means strong. Mr. White, the superintendent, was just recovering from an attack of fever; and Dr. Vogel, the botanist, was laid up with dysentery, under the care of Mr. Thomson, who had been left in charge of the hospital. On the 16th of December Dr. Vogel died, and in the evening his body was deposited in the burial ground, by torch-light. It was pitch-dark, and the stars seen through the dense foliage were the only objects in nature that relieved the surrounding dismal gloom. At every step we trod over our former messmates or fellow-labourers. As near as possible to the grave of Lander lie thirteen of the Niger expedition, who, like himself, fell in the cause of Africa: — Captain Bird Allen; Lieut. David Hope Stenhouse; G. B. Harvey, master; James Woodhouse, assistant-surgeon; Horatio Collman, assistant-surgeon; W.C. Willie, mate; William H. Wilmett, clerk; Dr. Vogel, botanist; Robert Milward, purser’s steward; Morgan Kingston, marine; John M'Clintock, Christopher Bigley, and Peter Fitzgerald, stokers.
Up to the 18th of December, when we finally left Fernando Po, the crew were employed making patent fuel, getting stores from the shore shipped on board the Soudan, and the presents and other articles on board the Albert, and in wooding and watering. Having been indisposed the greater part of the time I was at Fernando Po, I have only a few remarks to make relative to its general topography, added to information, regarding the population, kindly given me by Dr. Prince of the Baptist Missionary Association.
Clarence Cove is formed by an indentation in the land extending from Point Adelaide on the south-west to Point William on the north-east. The distance between the two points is about a mile and two thirds, and from the outer limit of the Cove to the landing-place at the town upwards of a mile. The physical aspect of Fernando Po generally presents a densely-wooded mountainous district. The peak, which has not to the knowledge of any one ever been ascended by man, is from ten to eleven thousand feet above the level of the sea: at certain periods of the year great part of it is enveloped in vapour. The cliff, on which the town is built, extends over nearly the whole of the semicircle formed by the bay, varies in height from eighty to a hundred feet, and is composed of tuffa covering basalt.* The rainy season sets in about the middle or towards the end of May, and continues until about the beginning of December. The rains were particularly heavy in November, 1841, attended by thunder and lightning. The period of the "smokes" follows the cessation of the rains, continues from December to February inclusive, and is considered to be extremely prejudicial to Europeans. At the landing-place there is a wharf, constructed of wood, but much in want of repair: from this there is a rough and steep road, cut in the cliff, leading to the town. The principal buildings, —Government house, Paradise house, the house of the medical officer, and several large store-houses, overlook the bay. The town is situated farther back; and the houses, which are built of wood, are ranged in regular order and numbered. An exuberant vegetation abounds throughout the town, and little attention is paid to the cleanliness of the houses by the greater part of the inhabitants, who are nearly all natives of Africa. The water obtained from the rivulets is of excellent quality, and always abundant. Provisions, with the exception of yams, are dear.
The following analytical summary of the population of Clarence town, including that portion occupied by the Kroo people, was kindly given me by Dr. Prince:
|Number of adult Males||460|
|" " Females||155|
|" male Children||149|
|" female "||109=873|
With the exception of six from England, one from Scotland, one from Germany, and six coloured people from the United States of America, the whole were natives of Africa, Of Kroo people alone there were 192, of whom 158 were dwelling in their proper part of the town, and the remaining 34 were dispersed throughout Clarence. There were six Bubie women, living with as many Kroomen; two of whom have had both hands amputated by their own countrymen, for having been twice convicted of adultery. There were only twelve married people among the rest of the blacks.*
Deaths at Clarence Town, from the 1st of January to the 15th of December, 1841.
|Remittent fever, of which 11 cases|
belonged to the Niger expedition
|Diseases, whose names are not|
Births from the 1st of January to the 15th of December, 1841.
Deducting the eleven cases from the expedition, the mortality will be about 1 in every 21.29, among a population almost wholly composed of African blacks.
The aborigines, the Adeeyahs or Bubies, as they are commonly called, are dispersed throughout the island, congregating in small villages in the bush. They have hitherto showed little inclination to advance in civilization, yet they cultivate yams and other fruits, employ themselves in fishing, and work willingly in clearing ground for a trifling remuneration. Both sexes are seen walking about Clarence town in a state of almost complete nudity. They are in general short, but strongly built, the hair is longer and less woolly, the chin less prominent, the countenance a shade lighter, and altogether less Ethiopian in character than that of the natives of the continent of Africa. The number in the woods has been variously estimated, from 5000 to 10,000.
On the evening of Dec. 18th we bade adieu to Fernando Po, and had a fine passage to Prince’s island, where we procured an abundance of fresh stock and firewood. On the 24th we reached St. Anna De Chaves, in the island of St. Thomas, where I landed with Captain Fishbourne. The town is a straggling, dirty, and deserted-looking place. The governor was in the country, but the commander of the forces offered his services, to assist in providing us with stock. The place altogether is in a miserable condition. In the palmy days of the slave trade, it was a thriving port, and still has the reputation of carrying on slave exportation, although to a small amount. The hospital is fearfully filthy. There were several hideous cases of ulcer, with exfoliation of the bones, doomed, alas! never to heal in the pestiferous atmosphere of the house. In the forenoon we were again steaming towards Rollas, and in the course of the day saw some beautiful displays of basaltic columns facing the sea. The island of St. Thomas seemed to be thickly wooded throughout, and exhibited numerous high conical peaks, similar to those at Prince’s island. In the evening anchored between St. Thomas and Rollas, where we found H.M.S. Pluto.
Isle of Rollas. This island is situated at the southern end of St. Thomas, nearly under the equator. The distance between the two islands is about a mile and a quarter. Rollas is about three miles in circumference, and is bounded by huge masses of compact and vesicular lava: in the latter of which, natural bridges have been formed and deep caverns excavated by the action of the sea. Under these bridges the surf is seen rushing with terrific violence, and suddenly filling the caverns with the noise of loud explosions. The centre of the island is occupied by trees of great size. Near the sea-shore the palms, more especially the cocoa-nut, are in extreme abundance. There are also numerous beautiful epiphytes. The natives obtain plenty of palm wine, by tapping the trees near the summit of the stem, and attaching a calabash, which is generally found filled within twelve or fourteen hours. There are not above twenty people on the island: they live in small wretched huts, on the shore; hew their own canoes out of the solid tree; catch turtle and fish, and seem to have little intercourse with their neighbours on the opposite island. Some wild boars were killed, and found to be of good quality; and our sportsmen brought on board a number of wild pigeons, which formed a most excellent diet for the convalescent.
Having watered at a rivulet flowing into a bay in St. Thomas, and obtained fire-wood at Rollas, we were again under steam, on our way to Anno Bon, on the afternoon of the 5th January, 1842. Next day at two p.m. Anno Bon was seen ahead, and at eleven p.m. we were off the town.
Island of Anno Bon, latitude 1°.30 south, and longitude 5°.30 east, is about twenty-five miles in circumference The northern end terminates in a sandy flat, on which the town is built; towards the south-east the land shoulders up to a considerable height, terminating in three peaks; the plateau of this hill, which is an old volcanic cone, contains a large fresh-water lake, and the surrounding vegetation is beautifully green. Stock is to be had in abundance in exchange for old clothes, and the plantains and bananas were unusually fine. The natives are all blacks, but their countenances denote an intermixture of the European with the negro; they are bigoted Roman Catholics, and extremely ignorant. In the town there were two chapels, in the porches of which they were selling goats, pigs, and fowls. The number of huts was about three hundred. I unfortunately had a severe attack of intermittent, and was consequently only for a short time on shore.
January 10th, 1842. Sailed in the evening from Anno Bon. As we advanced to the southward, a manifest improvement took place among the invalids. The fresh supplies obtained at Anno Bon were of eminent service. On the 16th, Tom Davis, a Krooman, who had been received from H.M.S. Pluto, for a passage to Ascension hospital, died of confirmed pulmonary consumption. Being under sail only, and not meeting with the south-east trade before we reached the latitude of about 8° south, it was not until the forenoon of the 28th that Ascension was seen. The steam was then at once got up; and at six p.m. we reached the anchorage on the north-west side of the island, where we found H.M.S. Wilberforce and Brisk.
The following morning twelve patients, including Mr. Bowden, purser of the Albert, who had suffered two severe relapses, and three convalescents from the Pluto, were discharged to the hospital: their complaints were intermittent and dysentery, the common sequences of the fever.
As the main object of this narrative has been to put the reader in possession of all circumstances of position and climate, by which disease was likely to be influenced or modified on board of the ships of the Expedition, it now becomes necessary to trace the Soudan in her progress from the confluence of the Niger and Tchadda downwards to Fernando Po, where she was for the time laid up; and in the same brief manner to follow the Wilberforce to the same destination, and afterwards to Ascension.
The day after the Soudan left the confluence, the three officers, including the second engineer, who accompanied Lieutenant Fishbourne, were unable, from illness, to render him any assistance; but, with the help of two stokers, he reached the mouth of the river in the very short space of two days, and there fell in with H.M. brigantine Dolphin, in command of Lieut. Littlehailes, to which Lieut. Ellis, Mr. Belam, acting-master; Mr. Sidney, mate; Mr. Gustaffson, first-engineer; and William Johnson, second-engineer, of Soudan; Lieut. H. C. Harston, of the Wilberforce, and twenty-nine seamen, marines, and sappers were transferred for a passage to the island of Ascension. The Soudan then continued onwards to Fernando Po; but the stokers were also soon laid down with fever, and for the last twenty-four hours before reaching Clarence Cove, Lieut. Fishbourne was compelled to work the engines and do every other duty himself.
Mr. Thomson had, as has already been stated, forty fever patients under his charge when leaving the squadron; nine more were afterwards added to the list, of whom thirty-five were discharged to the Dolphin, for a passage to Ascension; two were sent to the Wilberforce, seven were dismissed cured, and five died* — Mr. William Barrett Marshall, acting-surgeon; Mr. Nicholas Waters, clerk in charge; Christopher Bigley, stoker, and John Thomas, carpenter’s crew of the Soudan; and Mr. Louis Wolfe, seamen’s school-master of the Albert.
The Wilberforce steamed down the river, on the morning of the 21st of September: at this time Dr. Pritchett, assisted by Mr. Woodhouse, had upwards of thirty cases of fever to attend to. The effective force of the ship being thus weakened, and it being necessary to make several stoppages to procure supplies of wood, she did not leave the river before the 29th, having lost, on the passage down, Mr. Cyrus Wakeham, purser. On the 1st of October she reached Fernando Po; and on the day following, Mr. G.B. Harvey, acting-master of the Albert, Mr. Horatio Collman, acting assistant-surgeon of the Soudan, and Peter Fitzgerald, one of her own stokers, died.
Leaving Fernando Po on the 9th of October, the Wilberforce proceeded to Ascension, where she arrived on the 17th of November, having on her way made a short stay at Prince’s island, Rollas, and Anno Bon: by this time two more deaths had occurred, but her crew generally were in a state of improved health.
On the 20th of Nov. 1841, an interpreter and one seaman, belonging to the Wilberforce, were invalided. The Wilberforce having recruited the health of her crew, and having entered some new hands at Ascension, proceeded to the coast early in March, 1842. About a month before she sailed, Mr. Toby, acting-lieutenant, was invalided. Mr. Fairholme, acting-lieutenant, who had joined her at Ascension, was also invalided at Cape Coast, on the 21st of March. On the 8th of April, she arrived at Fernando Po, and was for the space of four months afterwards employed surveying the Amboises islands and Cameroon river.
Early in June, the carpenter, and a seaman who had previously suffered from the remittent in the Niger, were placed on the sick list, the one for ague, and the other for remittent.
On the 7th of June, the second engineer, Alexander Ross, was attacked with fever, and died on the 14th at Amboises.
The Wilberforce returned to Fernando Po on the 20th of June. When it was decided by the government that the expedition should be given up, it became necessary that one vessel should ascend the river as high as the confluence, to ascertain the precise condition of the settlers at the model farm, and if necessary to bring away the whole of the people, and the implements connected with the establishment.
Lieut. Webb, who had joined the Wilberforce at Ascension, volunteered to perform this duty, and he accordingly entered the Nun branch of the Niger with the Wilberforce, on the 2d of July, 1642. H.M. steam-vessel Kite (which arrived from England just as Captain Allen was preparing to reascend the Niger) towed the Wilberforce to the mouth of the Nun, and returned to Fernando Po with Captain Allen, and the remaining officers and crews of the Wilberforce and Soudan, and sailed from that place for England, on the 7th of July, leaving Mr. Stirling, assistant-surgeon, to wait the return of the Wilberforce from the river. During the passage home Captain Allen experienced a severe attack of fever, but recovered before the Kite reached Plymouth on the 2d of September.
The white crew of the Wilberforce, on her second voyage up the Niger, in addition to Lieut. Webb, the commander, consisted of Mr. Joseph Webb, clerk in charge, Mr. Hensman, acting assistant-surgeon, Mr. Waddington, boatswain, Mr. William Johnstone, first engineer, Mr. Richard Cameron, second engineer, Mr. Henry Collins, third engineer, and Mr. Henry Davie, acting-carpenter; of the above, with the exception of Mr. Hensman and Mr. Richard Cameron, all had been up the Niger the previous year, where they had suffered from remittent fever.
Mr. Hensman had been several times in the Bonny and other rivers on the coast; and had acted for at least twelve months as resident medical officer at Fernando Po: he had had both remittent and intermittent fever. Richard Cameron had shortly before arrived from England, and had not previously been in a warm climate. The Wilberforce reached Aboh, on the 6th of July, Iddah on the 10th, where she was aground for two hours between English island and the cliffs. On her way upwards she again grounded near Beaufort island, and was unable to proceed until the 17th, but arrived at the confluence the following day. Mr. Webb was engaged embarking the people and the farm implements, until the 22d, when he turned the vessel’s head downwards, with the Amelia in tow, and ultimately left the river on the 27th of July. Henry Davie (whose life had been despaired of when the Expedition was in the Niger in 1841,) was attacked on the 19th of July, when at the confluence, and was not convalescent until the middle of August. The first engineer was taken ill on the same day, and could do no duty until the 18th of September.
Cameron was seized at the confluence, and was long unwell. Mr. Waddington was laid up on the 26th of July, while the vessel was in one of the Benin branches: he however got better for a while, but relapsed, and died at Fernando Po on the 12th of September. Mr. Hensman was seized with fever on the 25th of July. Collins was added to this melancholy list, as the vessel was leaving the river; and Mr. Joseph Webb, the clerk, fell ill a few days afterwards, and died of fever on the 22d of September. Lieut. Webb, the excellent and enterprising commander, alone escaped.
The Wilberforce arrived at Fernando Po, on the 29th of July; and on the 18th of September she sailed from thence for England, where she arrived on the 16th of November. Lieut. Strange of the Albert, on being promoted to the rank of commander, proceeded to England on the 21st of June, in H.M.S. Rolla, as did also Mr. Müller, the chaplain of the Albert. Mr. Bowden and five of the crew were invalided, and took a passage home in the same vessel. Their complaints were intermittent complicated with dysentery, the usual sequelae of the fever, rendering them unfit for service on the coast, to which there was at this time some probability of our returning; one had been only a few months from England.
On the 8th of October, Captain John Foote, the senior officer on the west coast of Africa, arrived at Ascension, when the remaining officers, and those of the crew of the Albert who had been engaged in the expedition, were transferred to H.M.B. Dolphin, for a passage to England.
The Dolphin sailed from Ascension on the 14th of October, and calling for about twenty hours at St. Michael’s in the Western islands, arrived at Spithead on the morning of the 19th of November.
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