Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

our noble selves and ask the world to re- in the fifteenth century they commenced mark the glorious work we have accom- that marvellous career of discovery which plished. We speak as if the good to the stopped not till they had crept with evernative had been enormous, and our inter- growing boldness and experience to the course with him an unmitigated benefit southernmost point of the continent, and, and blessing. We look back with pride rounding the Cape, pushed on to the conto our sacrifices in the suppression of the quest of the Indies. But it was a career slave trade, and point to our West Coast inspired by no mere sordid motives. The settlements as centres of secular light and desire to do noble and worthy deeds, to leading, to our numerous missionary sta. extend the Portuguese empire, and with tions as stars twinkling in the night of it the kingdom of God, were the underheathendom with a heaven-sent light, to lying exciting causes. Each new discovery the returns of our trade, increasing with of heathen Jands gave a new iinpetus to every new entrance to the heart of the the vigorous missionary enthusiasun of the country, as showing the spread of our time, till it rose to a pitch never surbeneficent influence.

passed. We see clearly that the work of other No outward bound ship was complete nations bas been pernicious in the extreme, without its complement of ardent missionthat they have been brutal in their deal- aries vowed to the cause of Christ, and ings with native races, and have thought before the close of the sixteenth century only of their own sordid interests and na- a chain of missionary posts surrounded tional aggrandizement all in marked con- almost the entire coast line of Africa, and, trast, we think, to our own aims and especially in the Congo and Zambesi remethods. That they resent this, however, gions, extended far into the interior. may be seen in any daily paper, each That was the glorious period of Portuguese being equally well convinced of the purity history, when, still animated by the highof its motives and the disinterestedness of est Christian and chivalrous notives, and its ends.

untainted by the frightful national diseases Among no people have the magic words, which soon afterward attacked her, Porprogress and civilization, been inore per- tugal carried on a noble work among the sistently used than among the French. It African natives. has been in their interests, too, that the That period unhappily was short. BeGermans have levelled every town on the tween Philip II. of Spain by land, and East Coast, and bespattered the ruins and the Dutch and ourselves at sea, Portugal the jungles with the life-blood of their in- as a nation was nearly extinguished. With habitants. It was under tbeir banner that her political glory and lustre went all else Major Serpa Pinto advanced up the Shire that was great and noble, till, lagging beand slaughtered the Makololo, who did hind in the current of life, she was isonot perceive he came for their good. In lated from its healthy movement, and in fact, it is the same with all the European Africa became the noxious malaria-breedpations. Whatever has been done by ing backwater we have so long known her them in Africa, has been at the dictates to be. of civilization and for the good of the With the fall of Portugal from her high negro, while, as if pot content with that. estate there occurs a significant blank in inore than one leader of African enter the brighter aspect of European interprise, on looking back over his blood and course with Africa.

Of such aspect, in ruin marked path, has seen the evidence fact, there was not a glimmer, for England, of a guidance and support more than Spain, Portugal, France and Holland were human,

hard at work in perpetrating upon Africa But we must not suppose that this spirit one of the most gigantio crimes that has of philanthropy, Christian chivalry and ever stained al nation's history. For two altruism, of which we now hear so much, centuries that crime grew in magnitude and is of entirely modern growth, and that the far-reaching consequences of the most diregood of the African was never thought of ful description. Government, churches, previous to our day. Quite the contrary, and people alike seemed unconscious of in fact. It was the Portuguese who alike the frightful wrongs that were being cominstituted African exploration and Chris- mitted—wrongs far exceeding any in the tian enterprise among the natives. Early annals of Roman despots or Eastern tyrants.

[ocr errors]

Happily, the conscience of Europe was During that long period, European comonly masked, not dead. The end of the merce has exercised its influence with ever. last century heard the awakening voice, widening etfect, while more directly hunand, once made conscious of the national dieds of lives, and untold sums of mouey, sin, Britain arose and ended its connection have been spent in the single-ininded hope with the traffic in huinan flesh and blood. that the heathen might be brought within

Meanwhile an Association was being or- the educating sphere of Christianity. In ganized, which was destined to commence addition to all this active agitation we a new chapter in African history. This have to take into consideration the incalwas the African Association, whose object culable effect of mere example ; of simple was the exploration of the interior of the contact with the European ; the sight of continent, which till the end of last cen- his mode of life ; his dress, houses, and tury bad lain an almost absolutely un. all the amenities of civilized life. known land to Europe. Their first suc- And now let us ask, wbat has been the cessful man was Mungo Park, and to him net result of all this ? these direct and inbelongs the honor of pioneering the way, direct efforts and sacrifices, and all this and starting that marvellous series of ex- intercourse between the European and the peditions, the last of which is even now African ? filling the daily papers.

The impression to be acquired from our The end of last and the beginning of daily papers, our missionary magazines, this century was a period fraught with and from pulpit and platforin oratory is, great things for the future of Africa. It that the beneficent effects are enormous. saw not only the abolition of the slave- Unhappily, my conclusions on the subtrade and the commencement of the ex- ject have not been obtained from such ploration of the continent, but also the sources, and I cannot share this rose-collanding of the first Protestant missionaries. ored view. Over the whole of East CenIt seemed, indeed, as if Europe was de tral Africa, from north of the equator to termined to pay off the moral debt it bad Mozambique, from the Indian Ocean to incurred.

the Congo, and along the whole of the Traveller followed traveller, each more West Coast from the Gambia to the Cameager than the other to open up the dark eroons, I have been enabled to see for myplaces of the continent. Ninety out of the self the nature of those effects, and to hundred became martyrs to their zeal, but draw iny own conclusions. The result there was no dearth of volunteers ; fifty has been, as it were, to put a pin into the were ready where one fell. In each one's beautiful iridescent bubble I had blown instructions were the magic words,“ open- for myself in common with the rest of the ing up of Africa to commerce and civiliza. world, from the materials supplied by the

The benefit of the natives was al- ignorant, the interested, the color-blind, ways mentioned alongside the prospective and the hopelessly biassed. good to the traveller's country, if such Taking a bird's-eye view of the whole and such objects were achieved. Each situation in time and space, so that each narrative of successful exploration breathed factor may assume its proper relative posithe same spirit, telling how the traveller tion and proportion, I unhesitatingly affirm had not toiled and suffered in vain if he in the plainest langnage that, so far, our had done something in the interests of intercourse with African races, instead of civilization and the common cause of being a blessing, has been little better than humanity.

an unmitigated curse to them. A closer Nor was missionary enterprise behind in and more detailed examination reveals this race to do deeds worthy of a Christian many bright points in the night-like darkpeople. Long and terrible has been the ness, full of promise undoubtedly, and death-roll of those who have perished in capable of bursting into sunlike splendor, its cause ; but it has illustrated the saying but as yet little more than potential, mere that “the blood of martyrs is the seed of promise of the may be—not of what is, the Church.'

or has been. Thus, almost from the first, now four These are strong statements, and require bundred years ago, to the last, the good confirmation. If true, what can possibly of the negro has ever held a foremost place have caused this frightful miscarriage of in the programıne of African expeditions. the noblest aspirations of a Christian peo

tion.»;

[ocr errors]

ple? The answer is simply, the nature of into the beasts of burden, hewers of wood our commerce with Africa in the past and and drawers of water of Europeans. The present. To the slave-trade, the gin-trade, whole land was transformed into an arena and that in gunpowder and guns may be of murder and bloodshed that our markets ascribed the frightful evils we have brought might be supplied, our plantations tilled. upon the negro race, beside which the Chiefs were tempted to sell their subjects, good we have tried to achieve is hardly mothers their children, men their wives ; discernible.

tribe was set against tribe, and village We have already seen with what high against village. Between Portugal, Spain, and noble objects the first Portuguese ex- France and Britain many millions of peoplorers set forth on their career of con- ple were transported to the American quest and discovery. Their motto might plantations. Before that number could be be said to be for God and King. Only landed in America several millions more too soon, however, the lust for gold fol. must bare succumbed en route, and untold lowed that of conquest. The people who myriads been shot down in the raids in had gone forth to the reaping of souls which they were captured. soon commenced a harvest of a very differ- Twenty millions of human beings probent kind. As early as the year 1503 they ably underestimates the number of killed despatched their first batch of human and captured for European gain, and his beings to work in the Spanish plantations was not the most fortunate fate who lived of South America. Once started, the to become a slave. For him was reserved traffic grew by leaps and bounds. By the spectacle of slaughtered relatives and 1511 the Spaniards had joined in the a ruined home ; for him the slave-path, profitable business, though there were not with all its horrors-chains, the slavewanting enlightened men who fought con- stick, the lash, the killing load and toilsistently against it as alien to the Christian some march, the starvation fare, and every spirit. Among these was Cardinal Xim species of exposure and hardship. For enes, the regent during the minority of him also were all the horrors of the midCharles V. The French Government, with ale passage in European ships, and but Louis XIII. at its head, was duped by slight was the improvement in his experiassurances that the main object of the ences when, knocked down in auction to traffic was to facilitate the conversion of the highest bidder, he was transferred to the poor Africans to Christianity, and, the plantation. thus imposed upon, gave its sanction. It may be urged that this is now an old

Queen Elizabeth, inore incredulous, even story, that the slave trade is a thing of the after being assured that the traffic was for past, and that we at least, as a nation, the welfare of the negroes, and for the have atoned for our participation in it hy most part rescuing them from a cruel enormous sacrifices of money. death, while they themselves were eager If compensating the slave-holders means to emigrate to happier lands, expressed atonement, then we may rest in peace. her concern lest

any the Africans But where is the compensation to Africa should be carried off without their free for the frightful legacy of crime and deg. consent, declaring that it would be detes- radation we have left behind ? Where is table, and call down the vengeance of the reparation and atonement for the millHeaven

upon
its undertakers.

ions torn from their homes, and the millThe slave trade was thus not started in ions massacred, for a land laid waste, for absolute ignorance or absence of a con- the further warping of the rudimentary sciousness of its frightfully criminal na- moral ideas of inyriads of people, and the ture. Enlightened opinion was against it, driving of them into tenfold lower depths but it was an opinion easily hoodwinked of savagery than they had ever known and overruled, and, once started, the trade before ? increased at an enormous rate.

For answer, it will no doubt be said For quite three hundred years the un- that“ legitimate commerce” has replaced fortunate natives were treated as wild the vile traffic in human Hesk and blood. beasts intended for the use of higher Still the same old story - legitimate com

As wild beasts and things accursed merce-magic words which give such an they were shot down in myriads that attractive glamour to whatever can creep others might be enslaved and transformed under their shelter--words which have too NEW SERIES. – VOL. LI., No. 4.

32

of

races,

was

[ocr errors]

saine,

often blinded a gullible public to the

most different. To push it was a slow and lashameful and criminal transactions. There borious task, and the profits were uncerare still those who believe that every trad- tain, which did not suit men who wanted ing station, once the slave traffic to make money rapidly. stopped, became a beacon of light and The result of this state of matters is that leading, beneath whose kindling beams the diabolical work commenced by the the darkness of heathen barbarisın was slave-trade has been effectually carried on bound to disappear. The truth of the and widened by that in spirits. I for one matter is that, taken as a whole, our trad- am inclined to believe that the latter is ing stations on the greater part of the producing greater—and what are likely to West Coast of Africa, instead of being be quite as lasting-evils than the former. centres of beneficent and elevating influ- The spirit traffic has a more brutalizing ences, have been in the past disease-breed- effect; it more effectually blights all the ing spots which bave infected with a blight Dative's energies, it ruins his constitution, ing and demoralizing poison the whole and, through the habits it gives rise to, country around. They have been sources his lands are left as desolate as after a of corruption where men have coined slave raid. money ont of the moral and physical ruin What are the most characteristic Euroof the nations and tribes they bave sup- pean imports into West Africa ? Gin, plied.

rum, gunpowder and guns. What EuroWhat has been the character of this so- pean articles are most in demand ? The called legitimate commerce ? It consisted, In what light do the natives look to an enormous extent, of a traffic in vile upon the Europeans ? Why, as makers spirits and weapons of destruction, the and sellers of spirits and guns. What one ruining the buyers, the other enabling largely supports the Governmental mathem to slaughter their neighbors. It is chinery of that region ? Still the same a trade which commenced in congenial articles. ndion with that in slaves. In exchange for The ships which trade to Africa arc Africa's human flesh and blood, the best loaded with gin ont of all proportion to England could give was gin, rum, gun- more useful articles ; the warebouses along powder, gurs and tobacco. With these the coast are filled with it. The air seems combined we intensified every barbarous to reek with the vile stuff, and every but and bloodthirsty propensity in the negro's is redolent of its fumes. Gin-bottles and nature, while arousing new bestial appe- boxes meet the eye at every step, and in tites calculated to land him in a lower some places the wealth and importance of depth of squalor and degradation.

the various villages are measured by the With the stoppage of the slave-trade size of the pyramids of empty gin-bottles the gin-traffic only received a more power which they erect to their own honor and ful stimulus. To its propagation all the glory and the envy of poorer districts. energies of the traders were devoted. For Over large areas it is almost the sole curspirits there was already a huge demand, rency, and in many parts the year's wages and it was increasing out of all proportion of the negro factory workers is paid in to the taste for better things. It required spirits, with which they return home to no exertions on the part of the merchants enjoy a few days of fiendish debauch. to set it agoing, and once started it grew Outside such towns as Sieria Leone and and spread of itself without any danger of Lagos, which, thanks to special circumits stopping. The profits, too, were enor- stances, form small oases in the wild wastes mous and certain, because the appetite for of barbarisin, not the slightest evidence is drink had to be assuaged, no matter what to be found that the natives have been inthe price. Yet in all conscience the pleas- Auenced for good by European intercourse. nres of intoxication are not expensive in Everywhere the tendency is seen to be in West Africa. Over the doorway of hun- the line of deterioration. Instead of a dreds of traders' houses might be hung people “white unto harvest" crying to the signboard of Hogarth's picture, the Churches, “ Come over and help us ;' “Drunk for a penny, dead drunk for two- to the merchant,

66 We have oil and rubpence,” only the “ clean straw for noth- ber, grain and ivory-give us in exchange ing” would have to be left out. With your cloth and your cutlery ;'' or to the the traffic in useful articles it was entirely philanthropist, " We are able and willing

1

to work, only come and show us the way": as ours, while considerably behind us in in place of such appeals, the one outcry their views as to native rights ; and when, is for more gin, tobacco, and gunpowder. in addition, it is remembered that at the To walk through a village on the Kru Berlin Conference was the Germans who Coast is like a horrible nightmare—the ab- strenuously opposed the prohibition of the solute squalor of the huts, tlie uncultivated liquor traffic on the Congo and the Niger, lands—the brutality and vice of their we cannot by any means be hopeful of owners, is without a parallel in the un- their future action in their newly acquired touched lands of the interior. There, territories. women and children, with scarcely a rag It is indeed almost certain that, as soon on their filthy besotted persons, follow one as they have pacified the natives by means about eagerly beseeching a little gin or of copious blood letting, they will continue tobacco. Eternally gin and tobacco, their work of civilization by the introduchardly the slightest evidence of a desire tion of the gin-traffic which the late Mofor anything higher.

hamnedan ruler prohibited. They will Our West African settlements instead find a ready market, for palm wine bas of being, as they should, bright jewels in already inoculated the inhabitants with a the crown of England, are at this day – taste for intoxicating liquors. In a few thanks to our methods of dealing with years the work of the Fatherland will be them--standing monuments to our dis- made manifest to the world by a great degrace. Everything tending to the eleva velopment in the value of the imports to tion of the unbappy people who inhabit their new conquest, which, to those who them has been blighted. We have done can read between the lines, will be a measeverything in our power to suppress all ure of the rate at which the ruin and dehabits of industry and stop the develop. moralization of the natives is proceeding. ment of the resources of the country. As a nation we have a moral duty laid We have made sure that no healthy tastes, on us to prevent this same European crime. no varied wants, should be aroused. The We ourselves assisted the Germans to take result is now seen in the backward condi- the Sultan of Zanzibar's territories, and tion of the settlements, and the fact that therefore we are in some measure responthe West Coast negro has been transformed sible for what they do. In East Africa into the most villainous, treacherous, and there is no vested interest in the trade to vicious being in the whole of Africa. consider. As yet it has got no footing.

That a similar downgrade result is likely There is not even any demand for it. It to be the outcome of the opening up and would be well if some action could be exploration of East Africa is only 100 ap- taken which would insure that it never parent. Some three years ago, in lectur- did get a footing. If the Germans are ing on Africa and the liquor traffic, I had wise they will not sacrifice the future welloccasion to draw a happy contrast between being of their new settlements to any conthe beneficial results on the East Coast sideration of present and immediate profit. under the Mohammedan rule of the Sultan But that is almost too much to expect. of Zauzibar, and the deleterious effects of Certainly we have seen nothing in the past European rule on the west side of the con- methods of the Germans to make us hope tinent. Since that time a great political much, and, unhappily, we cannot come to change has come over the Eastern region. them with clean bands to offer them advice. The Germans, after shamefully setting It may be urged that in this survey of aside the rights of the Sultan, have com- the results of European intercourse with inenced their civilizing career. Towns the African I am only showing the dark have been demolished and hundreds of side of the picture. Perfectly true, beJives sacrificed. Our mission stations and cause there is no bright one as seen in the all the carefully nurtured germs of thirty bird's-eye view I have been taking. What years of unselfish work have been more or is a missionary here and there compared less blighted.

with the thousand agents of cominerce It would be something if we could think who, with untiring and unscrupulous inthat we had seen the worst; but we can- dustry, dispense wholesale the deadly.prodnot forget that the Germans are almost the ucts in such great demand ? sole manufacturers of gin, that their mer- Bible, or a bale of useful goods, in oppochants are quite as keen to make money sition to the myriad cases of gin, the thon

What is a

« VorigeDoorgaan »