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West African Mission ; Exploring
Journeys. M R. GRENFELL has sent the following letter to Mr Glover, of N1 Bristol. We are glad to have the opportunity of presenting it to our readers. Mr. Glover's church has liberally furnished Mr. Grenfell with mathematical and other instruments for his use in his exploring undertakings.
“In all my journeyings I have kept Africa, that the Baptists, who were in view the object of finding the best also taking part in the evangelisation route into the interior; for I believe of the country, would work from their that if the same amount of effort own base on the western side. It is which is bestowed here were bestowed cheering to one who longs to get upon some inland station, it would inland to know that the sympathy of produce far greater results. This the Society runs in that direction too. station must be sustained, but much. But if anything great is to be accommight radiate from it that is now plished, very considerable aid must centred in it. This view respecting come from home. the greater success of inland missions “I send with this a portion of was confirmed by Mr. Rottman, whom chart, to which I have affixed a rude I entertained a month or so back for sketch. These may help you to under. three days during the stay of the stand what I have already done in steamer here. He is one of the seniors the way of visiting the neighbouring of some forty Europeans constituting people. I have been up all the the Basle Mission, whose headquarters branches of the river as far as a boat are at Christiansborg, near Accra. can go, excepting the one running He said that their coast stations had due north, and which flows into the to contend with almost insuperable Mordecai Creek. All the places difficulties, and made but little pro- marked and named with pen I have gress; while their inland ones were visited. Endokoko, Endokombwang, not only far more prosperous, and Dibongo, and Edea have not been that much better health prevailed visited by any other white man. The among the Europeans. Lieutenant Lungasi towns had never before been Young, of the Livingstonia mission, visited by a white man. Mr. Comber refers to the fact of the coast tribes accompanied me on my second journey being spoiled by their contact with a fortnight ago. We then visited the traders on the east. It is the some other places than those I first same here on the west. It would be saw. a grand thing to be able to push away “The river running north to Abo right beyond the influences that and north-east to Endokobele are operate so adversely, and it can be capital avenues into the country; but done. I am glad to observe in the the people on the banks are very Freeman, dated 6th April, in a para- numerous and very jealous about graph referring to the work of the allowing communication with the Episcopal, Presbyterian, Congrega- tribes beyond. So great are the diffitional, and Wesleyan Societies in culties in these directions that I doubt
whether a small cortege would be able to pass. At the present time the Dido town difficulty stops the way of everybody. No trade has been carried on in these rivers for nearly three months.
“ The river running to Edea is a splendid water-way, but the Qua-Qua, which connects it with our river, is full of shoals, quite impassable in the dry season by the steamer, and only to be navigated by a boat with difficulty. The Borea, when once reached, affords a four-fathom channel right away up to the falls. I made the attempt to pass the bar at Malimba, thinking to find a way for the steamer by going round outside, but even in the best season the surf was such as to render the thing impossible This left the Dibamba branch to be tried. This I find is navigable by the steamer, as far as the beach which leads to the Lungasi towns, for eight inonths during the year. The people itt Yansoki, Bwang, Yapoma, and the Dibamba towns do not seem so prejudiced against our advances inland, and even though they were inclined to stop us, an expedition of a dozen people would overawe the simple popu. lation of the largest town we should pass. On my first journey, at several places the people all fled, leaving their food in the process of being cooked, their guns, their matchets, all to the tender mercies of we invaders, which did not prove so very cruel after all. There is another advantage about this route-that is, in the case of any difficulty with King A'Kwa, or King Bell (not at all a remote contingency if we attempt to go eastward), we can reach Dibamba from Victoria without their being at all acquainted with our movements. These dignitaries have just compelled us to withdraw our teachers froin Kalaki. They say that
the teachers spoiled their trade; they are afraid of the country people's eyes being opened.
“I am taking steps to procure some Kroomen for carriers, so that when the dry season opens, I may be able to make a journey without depending upon Cameroons men, who are so likely to disappoint one. Even in a short journey, such as those I have already made, the bugbears they have conjured up as excuses for not going further have proved them the possessors of wonderfully fertile imaginations. Six Kroomen will cost for hire during one year-wages about £45, food a similar sum, passages from their home here (about 1,200 miles distant), and back again, about £30. All the hard work on this part of the coast is performed by these men; they work all the cargo and boats in the oil trade. There are about 120 of them in our river, all engaged for one year. I think if I can succeed in getting these men and stores, I shall, with two Dualla men whom I can trust, make an attempt to leave here in October next, and go eastwards. At present the rainy season precludes the possibility of travelling, September generally sees the end of the heaviest rains. I shall also try to get a couple of asses from Teneriffe; they will cost about £30, together with passage here. There are four at Victoria rendering very valuable assistance to those going up to our mission station at Bonjongo. They are very fine animals, not at all like the despised donkey of England.
“The journeys I have already made this year have more than exhausted my allowance for this object, and if I am to go farther I must have the assurance that my drafts to cover the expense will be honoured. At present I know our Society is not in a position to authorise increased expenditure,
but I hope something will be done by ourselves as well as the other sections of the Church in this work. At present it would be rash to get together large sums of money and fit out expeditions, even though we were able to do it. What is wanted is a small sum to cover a pioneering effort, so that we may learn something of what is beyond, and what steps it will be best to take. We have no beaten path or caravan route here, as they have on the eastern coast. With my poor achieveinents, I am regarded quite as a marvel by the Cameroons men, because I have been so far beyond where they would not think of going, so that we cannot expect guides from these people. In my two last journeys the paths were so indistinct in many places that I had to 'blaze' the trees, to mark our route, and to guide us coming back. I thus marked about twenty miles myself.
“Mr. Comber, who is now staying with me for awhile, has made a journey on the north-eastern side of the mountain, reaching a place named Bakundu. He did at one time think of settling there, but hearing of the possible opening of the Lungasi country he accompanied me during my last journey; but as we did not find a town large enough to settle down in, he is divided between the idea of reperting to Bakundu, and going on beyond Lungasi and trying in that direction again.
“The head men in the river are anxious to be under Her Majesty's control; they are waiting only for King Bell's sanction and co-operation
to petition the English Government to be included in the British realm. They are evidently getting tired of their attempts to govern themselves. Every dispute leads to war, and often great loss of life. They think that if the strong hand of our law were to interfere, they would be freed from the necessity of going to war to punish a murderer or a thief. If it were not for the terrorism of the secret societies the old customs would not enthral so completely the thoughtful men around us. They are afraid to forsake or expose the absurdities of their heathenish fashions. One man was bold enough, two or three weeks since, to ridicule the famous · Moonge' fashion. At night his house was surrounded and burnt, and he himself paid the penalty with his life. Tim Akwa (virtually king of our town, his father being so old and infirm) is accounted a very bold man, because he comes to chapel twice every Sunday and sometimes wears a shirt. The prejudice against adopting anything like the habits of civilised countries, is jealousy fostered by the Ngambi men or witch.doctors. This state of affairs would be quite altered upon British occupation. Civilisation would be at a premium then, and the people not afraid of mending their habits.
"I trust that better times are coming for our mission in the river. Things look very dark at times, and one is apt to grow despondent. I still pray for strength to labour and to wait."
M HE following letter has been received from Mr. John Landels, from
1 Ardenza, Livorno :
“ The Sunday meetings in Leghorn are but thinly attended. The average attendance during July was as follows:-Morning, at the culto or worship, 22; Afternoon, at the preaching service, 25. Thelargest number present at any morning service was 26, any evening 31. Both forenoon and evening my wife, brother, and self are always present; in the forenoon Mr. Wall's two children also. Confining the computation to Italians, therefore, the averages are—Morning, 17. afternoon, 22. These figures cannot be regarded as satisfactory; how is their lowness to be accounted for ? Not, let me say at once, in my opinion, by any unfitness, of whatever kind, in the evangelist. I am convinced you could notespecially in Italy_easily find a better man for the post than Signor Baratti, of whom I shall have more to say further on. What explanation, then, would I give? Having been so short a time here I feel that it would be worse than absurd for me to speak positively, but I am inclined to think that the explanation is to be found in the bad situation of the meeting-hall. It is true, as I said in my letter to Mr. Baynes, and for the reasons then stated, that the present place of meeting is a vast improvement on the old one. The room is commodious and comfortable (at least in summer), is situated in an open piazza, and is up but one flight of stairs; but the piazza is small and not very much frequented, the houses in it are poor and occupied by the poor, and the neighbourhood is low-very low Guiseppe tells me. Could we but find a place at a moderate rental and otherwise suitable in one of the more respectable piazzas, I am persuaded we should soon know a great change for the better in the size and character of the congregations. I doubt not in the winter the attendance is much larger, but we want to bring in as many as possible at all seasons.
“During the summer months the week-night meetings are discontinued, and therefore I cannot speak of them. I was present at one, on John the Baptist's day, at which the attendance was about the same as on a Sunday evening.
"Owing, I suppose, to their being in the habit of doing the same thing in the Roman Catholic churches, at every one of our services there are some hearers who come in at the beginning but do not stay till the end, others who stay till the end but do not come at the beginning, and yet others who both come and go during the course of the meeting. All alike, however, with but few and occasional exceptions, listen remarkably attentively while they stay.
“Nor do they listen altogether in vain. Three weeks ago, after Guiseppe had been preaching on John üi. 18, some Papists, with whom he has conversed on other occasions, also told him they had at length learned to believe in Jesus as the only Saviour, and one, who is the servant of a priest, professed to be willing to give up all for Christ. Time will show whether or not their professions are sincere, but Guiseppe evidently so regarded them.
“Signor Guiseppe Baratti, your evangelist in Livorno, is a first-rate fellow. The better I know him the better I like him. He is one of the most happy men I ever met, has generally a smiling, always a friendly, countenance. He is evidently happy in his work, moreover ; indeed, it is quite a treat to see and hear him when he is relating some encouraging fact or incident such as that narrated above, he speaks and smiles so joyfully. He is a very energetic speaker, an expressive gesticulation accompanies almost every sentence, or rather every clause. As to the character of the matter of his addresses and discourses, of course I can express no opinion of my own, but my brother says that he usually speaks well. His expression shows that he is thoroughly in earnest, sincerely anxious to lay hold of those to whom he speaks. I am sorry to say that he does not seem to understand the importance of punctuality. The services never begin until at least five minutes after the appointed time, and I have known Giuseppe go out to distribute tracts about ten minutes before the hour of meeting, and remain away more than a quarter of an hour. I fancy this unpunctuality is an Italian failing. (N.B.-My experience in the North taught me that it is also a Scotch failing, at least in respect to religious meetings.)
“Last week Signor Baratti took an evangelistic journey in the direction of Pisa and Florence. The week before last, also, he was away evangelising. He held eight meetings in two small towns, Colle Lalvetti and Rosignano. The former is a junction on the railway between Pisa and Rome, and is about eight miles inland from Livorno; on the occasion of his visit the Gospel in its simplicity was preached there for the first time. The latter is situated among the hills skirting the coast about fifteen miles south of Leghorn. Here Guiseppe was admitted to the military camp, and had the pleasure of preaching both to soldiers and officers. He also reports that in Rosignano there are four applicants for baptism. During the two journeys he sold or otherwise distributed 280 Testaments. Next week my brother and he are to make their way to Lucca, preaching and selling as they go. My brother will probably send an account of this journey to the Baptist or the Herald.
“On Saturday, 14th July, my brother went to Rome, returning on the 24th. He found all things going on well there, the meetings keeping up as well as could be expected in the summer season. On the evening of the second Sunday of his stay he preached in the Sala Cristiana Piazza in Lucina.
“In Livorno he has already preached twice, and will proach again on Sunday week. He takes some part in all the services.
“As for Mrs. Landels and myself, we are studying as diligently as we can, and enjoying first-rate health.”