The present unsettled state of affairs in Morocco, in consequence of the War in which she is now engaged with her more powerful and ancient enemy — Spain, must, I conceive, render any information regarding a region so little known peculiarly acceptable at the present moment.
In Morocco, my late husband laboured to advance the same objects which had previously taken him to Central Africa, viz., the amelioration of the condition of the strange and remarkable races of men who inhabit that part of the world. He aimed at the introduction of a legitimate commerce with a view, in the first instance, to destroy the horrible and revolting trade in slaves, and thus pave the way for the diffusion of Christianity among a benighted people. While travelling, with these high purposes in contemplation, he neglected no opportunity of studying the geography of the country, and of obtaining an insight into the manners, customs, prejudices, and sentiments of its inhabitants, as well as any other useful information in relation to it.
I accompanied him on his travels in Algiers, Tunis, and Tripoli, in which last city he left me, it not being considered advisable that I should proceed with him into the interior of the country. We were not destined to meet again in this world. My beloved husband died at Bornou, in Central Africa, whither he was sent by Her Majesty’s Government to enter into treaties with the chiefs of the surrounding districts.
Of the many difficulties and dangers which the traveller is likely to encounter in penetrating into the interior of so inhospitable a region, the reader may form some idea by a perusal of the the following extracts from my husband’s writings.
“I am very much of opinion that in African travel we should take especial care not to attempt too much at once; that we should proceed very slowly, feeling our way, securing ourselves against surprise, and reducing and confining our explorations to the record of matters of fact as far as possible, or consistently with a due illustration of the narrative. But, whether we attempt great tours, or short journeyings, we shall soon find, by our own sad experience, that African travel can only be successfully prosecuted piecemeal, bit by bit, here a little and there a little, now an island, now a line of coast, now an inland province, now a patch of desert, and slow and painful in all their results, whilst few explorers will ever be able to undertake more than two, at most three, inland journeys.
“Failures, disasters, and misadventure may attend our efforts of discovery; the intrepid explorers may perish, as they have so frequently done, or be scalped by the Indian savage in the American wilderness, or stabbed by the treacherous Bedouin of Asiatic deserts, or be stretched stiff in the icy dreary Polar circles, or, succumbing to the burning clime of Africa, leave their bones to bleach upon its arid sandy wastes; yet these victims of enterprise will add more to a nation’s glory than its hoarded heaps of gold, or the great gains of its commerce, or even the valour of its arms.
“Nevertheless, geographical discovery is not barren ardour, or wasted enthusiasm; it produces substantial fruits. The fair port of London, with its two parallel forests of masts, bears witness to the rich and untold treasures which result from the traffic of our merchant-fleets with the isles and continents discovered by the genius and enterprise of the maritime or inland explorer. And, finally, we have always in view the complete regeneration of the world, by our laws, our learning, and our religion. If every valley is to be raised, and every mountain laid low, by the spade and axe of industry, guided by science, the valley or the mountain must first be discovered.
“If men are to be civilized, they must first be found; and if other, or the remaining tribes of the inhabitable earth are to acknowledge the true God, and accept His favour as known to us, they also, with ourselves, must have an opportunity of hearing His name pronounced, and His will declared.”
My husband would, indeed, have rejoiced had he lived to witness the active steps now taken by Oxford and Cambridge for sending out Missionaries to Central Africa, to spread the light of the Gospel.
Among his unpublished letters, I find one addressed to the Christian Churches, entitled “Project for the establishment of a Christian Mission at Bornou,” dated October, 1849. He writes: “The Christian Churches have left Central Africa now these twelve centuries in the hands of the Mohammedans, who, in different countries, have successfully propagated the false doctrines of the impostor of Mecca. If the Christian Churches wish to vindicate the honour of their religion — to diffuse its beneficent and heavenly doctrines — and to remove from themselves the severe censure of having abandoned Central Africa to the false prophet, I believe there is now an opening, viâ Bornou, to attempt the establishment of their faith in the heart of Africa.”
He ends his paper by quoting the words of Ignatius Pallme, a Bohemian, the writer of travels in Kordofan, who says “It is high time for the Missionary Societies in Europe to direct their attention to this part of Africa (that is, Kordofan). If they delay much longer, it will be too late; for, when the negroes have once adopted the Koran, no power on earth can induce them to change their opinions. I have heard, through several authentic sources, that there are few provinces in the interior of Africa where Mohammedanism has not already begun to gain a footing.”
It would be a great solace to me should this work be received favourably, and be deemed to reflect honour on the memory of my lamented husband; and, in the hope that such may be the case, I venture to commit it into the hands of an indulgent public.
November 15, 1859.
Last updated Monday, December 22, 2014 at 10:54