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 enemySpain, 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 religionto diffuse its beneficent and heavenly doctrinesand to remove
from themselves the severe censure of having abandoned Central Africa to the
false prophet, I believe there is now an opening, vi 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.