William and Louisa
Anderson Part III -
Old Calabar Period, 1849-1889, & Closing Years, 1889-1895
Another VictoryRight of Sanctuary
for the Innocent Vindicated Egbo Blown upon the MissionConsular Intervention
THE events which led up to the important victory
gained in June 1856 took place in the end of 1854, and were duly chronicled by
Mr. Anderson at the time. Writing on 28th November 1854, Mr. Anderson mentioned
that three persons had been killed by the poison nut at Henshaw Town:
Sad doings here again. On Friday last a boy died
at Henshaw Town. The boy's father, who is one of the blood - covenant men,
declared that someone had killed his son with freemason (ifot)\ a number of the
plantation people were called in, and these, joined by a number of Duke Town
gentlemen, went on Saturday to Henshaw Town to find out who had killed the boy.
On their return to Duke Town on Saturday evening, Mr. Sutherland counted them as
they passed our gate, and their number was 548 men, armed with guns, swords,
sticks, etc. We then learned that the abia-idiong had charged a poor harmless
old man with having ifot for the boy who had died. He and his family were kept
under guard all night. I spoke to several of the Duke Town gentlemen about the
matter, as also to Henshaw Town people, condemning the ordeal by the esere
(poison bean, but I could not learn whether they really intended to administer
it. On Sabbath morning we went to the town at our usual hour, seven o'clock, and
held four meetings. At the close of the meetings, and just as I was about to go
on board the Lady Head to preach, I learned that while we had been at our
meetings the plantation people, accompanied by a number of Duke Town gentlemen,
had gone to Henshaw Town and administered the nut to the old man, one of his
sons, and one of his daughters. Mrs. A., accompanied by Mr. Sutherland, the
Sierra Leone people, and a number of the school children, hurried off to Henshaw
Town, Mrs. A. carrying with her a supply of tartar emetic. As the boat did not
immediately appear, I followed them, and, like Ezekiel (iii. 14), "I went in
bitterness, in the heat of my spirit," fully expecting to have to cope with the
548 armed murderers; but to my surprise, on entering the town, all was still. We
were too latethe father and the son were dead ; they would not show us their
bodies. After some search, we discovered the poor female, attended only by her
weeping daughter; she was in death's agonies. We could do nothing for either
body or soul. The murderers had previously dispersed, all save five or six, who
gazed on us sulkily as they leaned on their muskets.
On Monday morning I went round among the Calabar
gentlemen, protesting against the murders of the previous day, and remonstrating
as strongly as I could against the ordeal of the poison bean. The most of them
listened patiently to my reproofs and exhortations, and I thought I could see
that some of them, for their own safety's sake, would hail the abolition of the
horrid practice. I feel assured that a stern remonstrance in the Queen's name,
through any of the man-of-war captains on the coast, would be of immensely
beneficial influence at present for the abolition of the poison ordeal here.
The crisis which arose in the end of May and
beginning of June 1856 is fully described in a letter of Mr. Anderson's of date
We have had rather stirring times at this station
since I last wrote you. The occurrences which have taken place are of
considerable interest and importance, and will probably exercise no small
influence on the future of the Mission, and also of the country. I proceed to
give you some of the details.
After referring to the poisonings that took place
in November 1854, he goes on to say:
In November last year, 1855, the Pale Horse and
his rider Death revisited the household of Oko Odiong, and another of his sons
then sickened and died. As usual here, several persons were suspected of having
killed him, also, by freemason, and were doomed to take the ordeal of the esere.
Three persons in particular were thus suspected, and thus doomed. These were(1)
Okunya, a half-brother of Oko Odiong, a young man of about twenty-four or
twenty-five years of age; (2) a half-sister of Okunya, named Iquaya, a comely
damsel of eighteen or twenty years of age; (3) a decent-looking matronly lady of
from forty to fifty years of age. The two young people call her "mother," but I
believe she is their aunt.
These three persons, dreading the too frequently
fatal ordeal of the esere, fled to the mission-house for protection. As I was
confident that they had committed no crime, protection was at once afforded
them. Time passed on; it was well known that they were on the mission premises,
but they were never demanded from me, in any manner, by the gentlemen of the
town. A band of the "blood-people" did indeed come to Henshaw Town one morning,
and took off as prisoners several of the relatives of the refugees, in the
expectation that either they would deliver themselves up, or that I should give
them up, to take the esere. I went, accompanied, if I remember rightly, by Mr.
Goldie, both to the headman of Henshaw Town, and to the Duke, about the matter,
as we had strong grounds ot suspicion that both of them not only connived at,
but encouraged, the blood-people in their violent proceedings.
I went repeatedly to the Duke, requesting him to
allow the refugees to return to their home, under his protection; to cause Oko
Odiong to restore their property, of which he had unjustly taken possession ;
and to have done with the freemason nonsense at once and for ever. The Duke,
both when drunk and when sober, was very surly when spoken to on the subject,
and represented that, as Oko Odiong was a headman among the blood-people, he
could do nothing to protect the three refugees from these people; and finally,
on my last application, he got very insolent, and charged me never to mention
the thing again in his hearing.
When Mr. Consul Hutchinson visited this river
officially in January last, I reported the matter to him, and requested his good
offices on behalf of the refugees, whom I presented to him. He approved of my
having afforded them an asylum, and wrote a letter to the Duke, intimating that,
as they had been guilty of no crime, and had sought protection under the British
flag, he (Consul H.) took them under his protection, and that they were not to
be molested till he should return to the river.
After this the refugees remained undisturbed for
a time. They were afraid to leave the mission premises, but wrought
industriously at any work which was going on at the station, and were thus
entitled to their food. But a storm was impending.
In the end of April or beginning of May, Oko
Odiong himself died in the plantation, between io and 20 miles from the mission
premises. For five months the deceased and the refugees had not been within
several miles of each other ; yet, strange to say, they were pitched on as
having killed Oko Odiong by ifbt or witchcraft. It began to be rumoured that the
Duke and the blood-people between them were resolved to administer the cscrc to
the refugees. They were greatly affrighted, but I endeavoured to assure them, by
representing to them that they were fully under the protection of the white
people, and that they should not be given up. I could scarcely bring myself to
believe that the Duke would be either so rash or so ill-advised as to molest
them. In this, however, I was disappointed.
Tuesday, May 27.Yesterday and to-day a number of
"blood-men" are coming into the town armed, to demand the supposed murderers of
Oko Odiong, that they may take the escre.
Wednesday, 28.At Old Town during the greater
part of the day. On my return, was informed that the Duke had sent for me three
times. I could not conjecture for what, for up till this time I never imagined
that they would trouble our refugees.
Thursday, 29.Was sent for by the Duke early this
morning, and immediately went off to see what were his demands. I found him with
all his gentlemen in council assembled. After the usual compliments, there was
an ominous silence for two or three minutes, during which several of the more
intelligent of the gentlemen seemed sitting on thorns, and then the Duke stated
that "Them blood-men and all we gentlemen wait for you to bring down them man
and woman to chop nut in market, for they kill Oko Odiong for freemason? I at
once replied that if they would convince me that the man and the two women whom
they wanted had killed Oko Odiong with sword, or gun, or poison, or with a
stick, or in any other way by their hands, I would at once give them up, but
that I knew it was an utter impossibility for them to have killed that man, as
they had been in my yard for five mouths, and he had died only four or five
weeks ago, a long way from them. I had then to listen to a lecture from the Duke
explanatory of ifot, which, it appears, is far superior as an instrument of
death to all other "long ranges" ever heard of, seeing that it enables its
possessor to kill at any distance. This led to a rejoinder in reference to the
folly of representing any human being as invested with the attributes of Deity.
I then reminded the gentlemen assembled that
H.B.M.'s Consul had taken the people under his protection, and that I should be
incurring the displeasure of my country if I gave up people "to die for
nothing," and that they had better allow the matter to lie over till the Consul
should return, seeing he had been daily looked for for some time past. They were
inexorabledid not want "talk" about the matterthey must have the refugees. The
Duke swore most lustily that the Consul had never sent him a "book" about thema
declaration which some of the gentlemen present knew to be untrue, but they
ivisely said nothing.
I told them that, come what might, I could not
give up innocent people to die; but, I added, "This is a big matteryou must
give me a little time to call the white gentlemen together, and then we can hear
what they all say about it." This was opposed by them; however, I left the
meeting under promise to be back in a little, to give them my ultimatum on the
subject. There were, to all appearance, several hundreds of "blood-men" lounging
about in all directions. I had every reason to suppose that the Duke had brought
them into the town, and was, indeed, at the bottom of all the mischief. I was
not sure, however, but that they might get excited beyond the Duke's control,
and perhaps attempt to capture the refugees by force. To place them utterly out
of the reach of the bloodthirsty rabble who were longing for their destruction,
I gave Mr. Haddison a hint as to what he might do, and in a few minutes he had
them safely on board one of the ships.
I wrote a short circular to the river gentlemen,
requesting them to meet immediately and take measures to ensure the safety of
the refugees, sent it off, and, accompanied by Mr. Edgerley, went off to attend
the meeting. I could now breathe freely, knowing that the refugees were safe.
The rain was falling heavily, but we did not mind it. We observed the
palaver-house full of the blood-men, some of them looking ferociously enough on
us. We met Captain Davies in the marketplace. We all three went to the Duke's,
and had a long talk with him about the matter. Captain Davies took a noble stand
on the side of humanity, and joined us in condemning the abominable "chop nut."
He attempted to show the Duke that it was simply impossible for any white man to
give up any person who had gone to him for protection, on such a foolish charge
as that of freemason. The Duke would listen to no argument, however. He said
that he had just one word more to say. "What is that?" Fixing his eyes on me; "I
ask you last time if you will to make them man chop nut?" My response was, "No."
He shook his head in quite a threatening manner, and uttered, "Very well."
We left him, and went off to the ship Africa,
where all the supercargoes save one, who was not very well (who also had the
refugees on board his ship, under his protection, soon met. .After consultation,
it was considered that the best way to deal with the Duke was to impress on his
mind the fact that a British magistrate had taken the refugees under his
protection, and that he might expect "big palaver" ere long if he should trouble
them. A copy of the letter sent him lies before me, and I may as well transcribe
it for you as report its substance:
29th May 1856.
Sir,We whose names are at the end of this
letter, hold meeting here this clay, and unite in giving you our best advice
about them three people who live at the mission-house, that you better let them
alone till Consul Hutchinson come back to the river.
You know very well that the Consul see them
people that time he live here, and he say no man must trouble them. He send you
book say they can't take esere. You be king for town, and we know veiy well that
them blood-people no fit to do anything if you no will. Also we hear it be you
send for them blood-men to come into town. We want to know if that be true. So
if any thing trouble them men it be your palaver. Better wait till Consul comes,
then that palaver can be set.
This no be missionalso it be no palaver for ship
captain. It be Consul's palaver, so you better take care what you do.We are,
sir, your friends,
Signed EDWARD DAVIES.
J. A. Allcroft.
I was deputed to carry this letter to the Duke,
which I did. I also read it, and explained it to him. He would not take it into
his hands, however, so I pocketed it, and left him, after having a few words
with him in reference to Egbo.
While we were holding our meeting on board the
Africa, the Duke had sent out his Egbo messengers and drums to put the Mission
under ban. The first sound that Mr. Edgerley and I heard when we landed was that
of the Egbo drums and messengers issuing some proclamation, we knew not what;
but we were soon informed. We learnt first from Henry Cobham, and I afterwards
learned from the Duke himself (when I took the above letter to him, as well as
from Mrs. A., and others on the Mission Hill; for the proclamation was made very
loudly on the public road, within a few yards of the mission-house, that on
account of my refusal to give up the refugees to take the escre
1. No person is to go to any of the Mission
premises with provisions of any kind whatever, for sale or clash.
2. All gentlemen who have children or slaves
living on the Mission premises must take them away to the town at once.
3. No Calabar person must go to visit the
4. No child must be sent or allowed to go to
5. No gentleman must allow meeting in his yard on
Sabbath for the hearing of God's word ; and no one belonging to the town must go
to church on Sabbath, or to meetings of any kind, with the Mission people.
Some declare that there was a sixth article,
forbidding all who live on the Mission Hill from going to the town market to
obtain provisions. The Duke declares, however, that he did not blow to stop our
people from going to market, so that I have not inserted that item among the
things acknowledged to have been blozvn. The result of the proclamation was that
our people were excluded from market. It was verging on the market hour when it
was made; and our young people, who were on their way to exchange coppers and
buy country provisions, as well as those belonging to Mrs. Goldie, Mr. Edgerley,
Mr. Haddison, and the Sierra Leone people, were all turned back by the town
people, and not allowed to go near the market. The case of the Sierra Leone
people is one of peculiar hardship. We in the Mission can manage to get on for a
time without country provisions (Vegetables, yams, fowls, etc.), but they cannot
do so as yet. To prohibit their access to market is to sentence them to
Friday, 30.Our market people again' prevented
from buying or selling. They are told that they may buy for black coppers, but
that they must not sell anything. It is only by selling European goods that the
black coppers can be obtained.
Saturday, 31.Sierra Leone women driven back from
market to-day, and not allowed to purchase supplies, even though they have black
Having an opportunity of sending to Fernando Po,
I took the opportunity of forwarding the substance of the above statement to Mr.
Went round the town in the evening to announce
the Sabbath as usual. No prospect of meeting anywhere in town, except in Henry
Cobham's. Henry seems inclined to let the Duke see that he "be king for Cobham
Town." Went to the Duke's. I found a number of native gentlemen assembled in his
house. Some of them were very sulky, others very saucy, and others very silent.
The Duke very furious, and gave me a good deal of insulting language. He and one
or two others asked me how many coppers the Mission had paid for the Mission
groundstated that Eyamba had only lent the ground, and that I had broken
country law and Egbo law, and that by and by they would want their ground, and
that the Mission must leave the country, etc. I stated to them that the Mission
had plenty of books to show how the case stands about the ground we occupy, that
we can attend to that by and bythat I had broken no country fashion or Egbo law
in protecting the refugees. I reminded them that on King Archibong's death, the
late Mr. Young and his brother (sitting among them!), and also Eyamba's
daughter, all fled to Creek Town to escape the esere, and were protected there
till the palaver was set; that King Eyo had told me I had done "quite right" in
refusing to give up the people ; and that they themselves had broken country
fashion and their own Egbo law in troubling people who run to the mission-house,
and in blowing Egbo on me, and trying to stop me from speaking God's word in the
town. I concluded by giving the Duke a formal invitation to come to me for
lodging and protection, should the day come when he himself might wish to escape
the "chop nut."
The more intelligent people of Duke Town admit
that I have only done what is right, and in accordance with their own customs,
in protecting the refugees, and seem glad at the stand I have taken on the
subject. At this very time the Duke himself has a refugee from one of the Efut
villages. He is charged with having killed one of the Efut with ifot. His
neighbours wished to subject him to the ordeal of the bean; he fled to the Duke
for protection, and he (the Duke) very properly refuses to give him up.
Wishing to suggest suitable subjects of
meditation to the young people who can read, and who will be afraid to venture
out to church or Sabbath school, I cut a number of slips of paper and jotted
down a few texts on each. These I distributed as I had opportunity. I give you a
Read Dan. iii.; Matt. x. 28; Luke x. 16; Acts iv.
18, 19; Acts v. 28, 29, 38, 39.
Sabbath, June 1.Went my usual Sabbath rounds.
Had a pretty good meeting in Henry Cobham's. Read and commented in Efik; on Dan.
iii. Afterwards I called at other five houses, where meetings are frequently
held. Three of the gentlemen were "not at home"; the other two were at home, but
seemed as much afraid as if they had seen a spectre when I made my appearance.
One of them vanished into his inner yard, after having begged of me not to bring
him into trouble ; and the other set a jar of mimbo and a tumbler on the table
before me, which seemed all he durst do in the way of showing me his friendly
regards, and then bolted, leaving me in undisturbed possession of his yard and
the mimbo. I learned afterwards that on leaving me he hurried towards the
Duke's, with the view, I suppose, of showing that he was observing the recent
Having plenty of time before me, 1 walked the
length of Qua. The headman was absent; but I got a small meeting in the house of
one of the gentlemen (who was a refugee in my house for several weeks about two
years ago), and repeated the discourse on Dan. iii.
On return home, I found that Airs. Goldie, Mrs.
Anderson, and Miss Darty had attempted their usual meetings in the women's
yards; butexcept at H. Cobham'sthe ladies were all as afraid of them as the
gentlemen were of me.
Mr. Edgerley preached the English sermon at four
p.m. in the church. At the close of the service I made the following statement:
"Present circumstances seem to require a few
words from me ere we separate. The war is still going on between the seed of the
woman and the seed of the serpent, according to the ancient oracle, Gen. iii.
15. The same spirit which animated the chief priests and rulers when they
apprehended the apostles and cast them into prison, actuates many in authority
around us. We cannot be too grateful for our privileges as British subjects. The
authorities here would cast the apostles into the inner prison (if there were
one) if they dared ; but, situated as we are, they find it easier to put their
whole country under interdict than to use violence towards any one of us. For
this we should be grateful to the King of nations. Those of us who suffer most
from the proclamation made the other day have this consolation, that we suffer
in a good cause. I trust that every member of the church that everyone
presentwould be willing to suffer anything and everything rather than be
accessory to the shedding of innocent blood. We must observe the laws of
hospitality at whatever expense.
"Considering what has occurred as a manifestation
ot hostility to the progress of religion and civilisation, I think we should
feel encouraged to prosecute our work with increased vigour ; for the opposition
shows that Satan is beginning to feel alarmed about this portion of his
dominions, and is struggling hard to retain possession of it. I have every
confidence that the things which seem to be against us shall soon be found to
have tended rather to the furtherance of the gospel than to its obstruction. We
have the 2nd Psalm to cheer us: 'Why do the heathen rage?' etc. We can say, if
we will, as well as Luther: 'Come, and in spite of the devil and all his
children we shall sing the 46th Psalm.' In respect to the poor deluded ones all
around us, what can we do but pray for them that they may be rescued from the
destroyer? We can adopt this prayer in reference to them: 'Father, forgive them,
for they know not what they do.' They allow us not to speak to them about God ;
let us earnestly and constantly speak to God about them. Let us now, brethren,
before parting, pray for them."
All the young men who have joined the Church,
except one, are and have been for some weeks absent from town, being at the
distant oil markets, so that I do not know how they would have stood the trial
had they been within reach of the church to-day. The one at present in town did
not show face. He has been for some time suspended from Communion. Not one
belonging to the town attended Sabbath school or service in English. The
attendance was between forty and fifty notwithstanding. We had a comfortable
meeting. Mr. Edgerley preached a seasonable and encouraging discourse from 2
Thess. i. 10.
Monday 2 till Saturday 7.A quiet week on the
Mission Hill. No scholars from town. From the mission-houses and Sierra Leone
people's settlements, however, we muster a school of fourteen or fifteen. Market
operations not interfered with this week. Took usual rounds on Saturday evening
to announce the Sabbath.
Sabbath, 8.Good meeting in Henry Cobham's. Could
not manage to get a meeting elsewhere. Scattered a few handfuls of the good seed
by the wayside among passers-by as opportunity presented. Preached in the
evening to our usual English congregation from Ps. exxvi. 5. Two young lads not
connected with the church braved the Egbo ban, and attended both Sabbath school
Thursday, 12.Not being able to do much in town
at present, I have for the past ten days been busy transcribing for the press a
translation into Efik of Paul's Epistle to the Romans, and chapters 8,9, and 15
of 1st Corinthians. Finished this work to-day. May the Master accept of the
feeble attempt to serve Him, and bless the translation, in making it
instrumental in advancing His glory!
Friday, 13.About noon, H.M.S.
Scourge made her appearance. Mr. Edgerley and I went on board to pay our
respects to Mr. Consul Hutchinson and Commodore Adams. The Consul summoned a
meeting of the native gentlemen on board to-morrow, that he may learn why Egbo
has been blown on the Mission.
Saturday, 14.An important meeting held on board
H.M.S. Scourge. Being called on by the Consul, I narrated as above the
circumstances which led to the "blowing of Egbo," intimating my conviction that
by thus acting the native gentlemen had broken the arrangements entered into at
the commencement of the Mission, both in the attempt to stop the work of the
Mission and in trying to do away with the right of sanctuary on the Mission
premises for runaways who are guilty of no crime. I could appeal to all present
that the right of sanctuary had never been abused by me; that while I had often
sheltered the innocent, I had never protected any really guilty person further
than this, that before giving up a criminal I always stipulate that he is not to
be killed, and, if a slave, beg his master not to flog him "too much." I
referred the Consul to Rev. Mr. Waddell for information as to the grant of land
to, and arrangements made with, the Mission at the commencement of operations
here. Mr. Waddell, having been called on for this information, showed most
satisfactorily that while it was true (as Duke Town people had been saying) that
the land had not been sold to the Mission, nevertheless it had been made over to
the Mission Board for mission purposes "for ever" by King Eyamba and all his
gentlemen, and that the present procedure of King Duke and his gentlemen was a
violation of the stipulation entered into with the missionaries on their
arrival, as well as of the promises made to them before they came. The Duke Town
people being asked for their statement of the case, had nothing new to add to my
version of the matter. Mr. Hogan, who had to act as their chief speaker, seemed
ashamed to refer to the root of the matter, freemason, but confined himself
chiefly to the declaration that the Egbo ban was never meant to prevent the
Mission people or the Sierra Leone people from buying and selling in the market
as they had been accustomed to do, etc. The Duke, however, was dissatisfied with
the line of argument pursued, and stated that "when man kill other man with
freemason, he must chop nut." To the questions, Why does the Duke himself
protect at this moment an Efut gentleman from the esere ordeal? and why did he
disregard the letter of the Consul in reference? I do not think that there was
any answer given.
Both the Consul and the Commodore strongly
condemned their present procedure, and, to cut matters short, I need only add
that in a very few minutes after the Duke and gentlemen reached the beach, Egbo
messengers, with their drums, were traversing the town, publishing to all that
the proclamation of May 29 was reversed, and that liberty to visit the
missionaries, to attend school, to go to church, to carry provisions to the
mission-houses, etc. etc., was fully granted.
Sabbath, 15.-Usual meetings held in both Cobham
Town and Duke Town to-day. The Consul, the Commodore, and a number of the
officers of the Scourge set a good example to our countrymen in the river, by
attending divine service in the evening.
Monday, 16.Some "trade palavers" on board the
man-of-war with which I had nothing to do. But, looking at the religious state
of the country (rather its irreligious state), I could not help remarking to the
Consul at the tea-table this evening, that I feel convinced that till there be
more of the fear of God, both in the country and in the river, Calabar will
never be a prosperous country; its trade regulations and other laws may be drawn
up by a legislator as wise as Solomon, but so long as the Almighty is defied,
the Bible unread, the Sabbath unsanctified, the house of God unattended, His
blessing, which makcth rich and addeth no sorrow, cannot be expected to rest on
Tuesday, 17.Last public meeting on the Scourge.
The Duke, I have since learned, had no idea that he was required to go on board
again, so that, when the Kru-boys went with a boat for him, he declined to go on
board without some formal notice. The Consul, considering that he had given due
notice of the meeting, thought, as was very natural, that the Duke was getting
contumacious, and a little warlike demonstration was made in the way of pointing
guns towards the town, etc., to bring him to his senses. The demonstration
referred to seemed somewhat to alarm King Eyo and others who were on board. The
supercargoes and some others present entered into the spirit of the feint, and
urged King Eyo to despatch some of his brothers at once to hurry off the Duke.
This he did in double-quick time, and speedily the Duke and his people were on
deck of the Scourge, and were severely rebuked for their trifling. Ignorance,
and not obstinacy (as I have since learned), was the cause of the delay.
At this meeting the Consul reprobated strongly
and justly the pernicious practice of private persons, whether black or white,
taking law into their own hands when they consider themselves aggrieved. All
such matters should be brought before some lawful authority. He gave the natives
to understand that they had full right and liberty to complain to him should any
British subject injure them, just as British subjects have a right to appeal to
him for redress when they feel aggrieved; and he obtained a written declaration
from the native authorities that for the future "British subjects coming to,
trading at, or residing in the Old Calabar territory, shall not be maltreated,"
etc. etc. It was explained to the natives that should any missionary do what
they dislike, they must report the matter to him, but no more blowing of Egbo
must be resorted to.
In reference to the three refugees, the Consul
stated to King Eyo, King Duke, and Henry Cobham, that they were under his (the
Consul's) protection, and that they must not be further molested. The decision
in this case appears to me to be almost, if not altogether, the deathblow to the
esere ordeal in Duke Town.
I may add that the man and the elder lady are
with us here. The young woman has been with Mrs. Sutherland since Mr. S.'s
death, and gives great satisfaction.
We have gained three points by the prompt
interference of the Consul in this matter:1st, There will, I should suppose, be
no more misunderstanding on the minds of the present generation of Calabar
gentlemen as to the validity of the tenure by which the Mission Board holds the
ground occupied by the Mission premises, and a small tract of land around them.
2nd, The Mission premises and mission work will no more be put under Egbo ban,
during the present reign at all events. The anti-progress party were evidently
determined to try their strength, but they find that they have gone a little too
far. They have been made to feel that they are somewhat under check, and cannot
carry all before them. And 3rd, The Mission premises have been more publicly
than at any former time recognised as a sanctuary for refugees who are guilty of
no crime. What has taken place is in fact equivalent to a public proclamation
that anyone doomed to the ordeal of the escre on the charge of ifot or
freemason, will be protected from it if he can only reach the mission-house.
I have information that a great number of the
so-called blood-men are quite glad that the refugees were not given up.
Doubtless some of them are looking forward to their own day of danger, and
inwardly rejoicing that a city of refuge is open to them. I regret to be obliged
to add, however, that some of the headmen among them, on their return to the
plantations, seized on the wife of Okunya (The male refugee with us), and
compelled her to take the fatal bean, under the influence of which she died.
Oh! how much innocent blood cries to heaven for
vengeance from Old Calabar! "When I fe maketh inquisition for blood," who of its
guilty inhabitants shall stand? Oh that they would attend to the message of
mercy, and apply to that blood which cleanseth from all even from scarlet and
crimson-dyedsin, ere their day of grace shall for ever pass away!
The consular intervention did good, for on 24th
July Mr. Anderson wrote of the better feeling among the chief men:
You will be glad to learn that no bad feeling
appears to be cherished among the natives on account of the "man-of-war
palaver," which I reported last month. The Duke never seemed so cordial to the
missionaries as at present ; he was telling Mr. Baillie and me the other day
that he is brother for all God men now, and cannot make any more palaver with
them. About three weeks ago, a fellow who appeared to have been somewhat
deranged, took it into his head to stab two of his neighbours with a knife. When
brought to the Duke for judgment, the first step taken was to ascertain from the
missionaries what God's law or English law would say about the matter. Neither
of the parties being then dead, I sent word to the Duke that the man ought to be
kept in confinement till the result of the wounds should make it appear whether
he was a murderer or not. The poor wretch had, however, stabbed himself also (in
the abdomen) and fearing lest he should escape punishment by dying, my
objections to his execution were overruled. One of his victims died the day
after, so that I was obliged to admit to the Duke Town gentlemen that, in this
case, "Calabar had not killed a man for nothing."
I was convinced in my own mind, and I expressed
the conviction to Mr. Consul Hutchinson, when he was here, that the course he
had taken in reference to the three refugees from HenshawTown would prove the
death-blow to the poison-bean ordeal in the whole of this portion of Old Calabar.
And I am glad to be able to report that, on the death of a person of some
standing in Henshaw Town, about a fortnight ago, and when several of the
relatives went, as usual, with a charge of freemason against some of their
neighbours to the Duke, he would not hear their story, scolded them for bringing
such a story to him, and then, like Gallio of the olden time (Acts xviii. 16),
"he drave them from the judgment-seat."
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