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William and Louisa Anderson
Part III - Old Calabar Period, 1849-1889, & Closing Years, 1889-1895
Chapter 15


Return to Calabar and Renewed Labours- Election and Coronation of Archibong II., etc.

Mr. and Mrs. Anderson sailed for Old Calabar on May 20, 1858. The following extracts are from a letter dated July 1858. Of his voyage he says that he had a capital ship, a comfortable berth, an attentive and agreeable captain, most excellent officers, a pleasant set of fellow-passengers, and propitious weather :—

Early on the morning of June 2nd we reached Teneriffe. Landed, and went to the Cathedral and elsewhere. The dismal gloom of Popish heathenism is rampant here. Shortly after leaving Teneriffe, on the evening of the same day, we beheld a striking spectacle. The far-famed Peak reared its majestic summit right between us and the setting sun, and for more than an hour there was the most brilliant appearance of flame, surrounded by thin smoke, as if the volcano were still in full operation. Our captain and several seafaring gentlemen who were our fellow-passengers, all well acquainted with the West African passage, declared that, often as they had seen Teneriffe, they never before had seen such a sublime scene as was then exhibited before us. All on board firmly believed, for a time, that what we beheld was in reality flame and smoke; but as the vision passed entirely away when the sun had fully set, the greater part of us set down the appearance to the account of some cause or causes to us unknown.

When we reached Duke Town on June 29, we found that the brethren and sisters had been enabled to carry on the work of the station during our absence with diligence and success. We found that the old schoolroom erected by Mr. Newhall in 1847-S; had been laid low-by a tornado. The church was standing, but in a very infirm condition. It also is now a total wreck, and for three Sabbaths past we held our p.m. services in Mrs. Edgerley's house, she having the largest apartment at this station. 'We are getting a new church erected. It is of native material, and will be somewhat in native style, but will be much superior to the last. The new erection will cost about £30. The old cost but ^12. I expect that we shall be able to raise at this station the half of the £30, if not more. One young countryman of ours, a merchant resident in the country, has given £5 to the building fund. Two river friends have also given handsome donations. Besides, on the first Sabbath of this month we commenced the plan of Sabbath collections. A box is placed at the church door, and you would be amused to see the motley mass which it contains. Let us look into it for a moment. Here are six brass rods, fifty black coppers, two half-crowns, three shillings, a few smaller coins, an order for money, an obligation to pay on demand several articles of trade, a few U.P. Hymn-Books, a knife, a razor, a comb, a snuff-box, a phial of lavender water, etc. etc.

It was with no small degree of interest that I accompanied Mr. Baillie to the town on the first Sabbath of this month. I found the Sabbath meetings in the different yards pretty much the same as formerly. The first yard we went to was that of Henny Cobham. After catechism, singing, and prayer, I began my address by telling Henny, in Calabar-English—-for I did not wish his people to hear what I was saying—that when I live in white man's country, plenty people ask me about Old Calabar, if people go to church, care for God's word, etc. Then I tell them about your house and your yard, and some things I tell them make them laugh plenty. But I see one thing to-day I never look before ; and suppose I in my country this day and tell my country people, say, I go to Henny Cobham's yard Sabbath morning, and he and his people come hear God's word; but all the time we sing first hymn and pray first prayer for God, Henny Cobham sit in his arm-chair smoking a cigar—all man wonder ; say, "This be strange thing for true." Some laugh and some sorry. Henny exclaimed, "True," and the cigar vanished instanter. At the other meetings all went on in the old way.

Mr. Baillie left us about ten clays ago for another sphere of labour (Ikoneto). He carries with him the best wishes of all parties here. He has fought the good fight nobly during the two years he has been at this station. He is admirably fitted for the post he expects ere long to occupy (Ikorofiong). I trust that there lies before him a wide sphere and a long extended career of usefulness. . . .

My late visit home I found to be very refreshing. The recollection of the interest taken in ourselves by many personal friends, both old and new, and of the deep interest manifested by the Church in general in the Old Calabar Mission, is very cheering. It is not the less so that we have with us such tangible and valuable tokens of interest, both from many private friends and from several congregations. We are almost daily reminded of the liberality of congregations in Dalkeith, Dundee, Ford, Galashiels, Gourock, Kinross, Milnathort, Musselburgh, Nicolson Street, Edinburgh; Paisley, Penicuik, Perth, Selkirk, and Stitchel. The very beautiful Bethel flag which the young ladies connected with Misses Smith's Academy, Kinross, kindly prepared for us, has for four Sabbaths past "floated on the breeze," one of the most prominent objects in the territory of Duke Town.

Since the death of Mr. Sutherland we have had no elder at this station. Feeling the importance of having, as far as possible, a fully organised church, I brought the subject of the eldership before the congregation on the second Sabbath of the month, and proposed that on that day fortnight they should choose two of their number to the office of the eldership. Accordingly, last Sabbath evening the election was made, when Dr. Hewan and Mr. S. H. Edgerley were unanimously and very cordially chosen by the Church to be their ruling elders. I trust that these brethren will see their way clear to acceptance of the office to which they have been chosen, and that they will be instruments of much good, in their sphere, both to the congregation and to the country.

In a brief note, dated Aug. 26, Mr. Anderson intimated the death of the King of Duke Town :—

King Duke of Duke Town died, after a prolonged illness, on the 11th inst, about 5 o'clock P.M. I do not suppose that his death will lead to much change in the administration of the affairs of this town. I suppose that John Archibong will, after King Duke's devil-making, be called King of Duke Town. This is the third interregnum which I have seen since my first arrival here. We are getting quite accustomed to such a state of matters.

Several deaths among the agents of the Mission followed soon after. Mrs. Timson, who had reached Calabar on April 25, died on Sept. 11, leaving a husband and two little children—the younger a babe three months old, born shortly after her arrival. Mr. Robb wrote:—

The event took us by surprise, as she was at the breakfast table forty-eight hours before, and seemed to be in her usual health. She had not been strong since her arrival, and indeed herself and others feared that she would not survive her confinement. . . . Though she was not allowed to live and labour, yet she will not lose the reward of that devotedness which brought her, willingly, with her husband that she might share the toils and dangers of the Mission. It is a comforting thought that her death was not due to the climate, but to other causes, which might have shortened her days in Scotland itself. She was buried on the Lord's day after the first service—Mr. Anderson, Miss Barty, Mr. S. H. Edgerley, Mr. Irvine, etc., having come up the river to be present.

Mr. Henry Hamilton, the carpenter, a coloured man from Jamaica, who accompanied Mr. Waddell to Calabar in 1847, died on Sept. 23, and Mrs. W. C. Thomson died on Sept. 26, four months after reaching Calabar. "From Ikoneto, where she had a slow but severe attack" (of fever), wrote Dr. Hewan, "she was removed to-Duke Town for change of air ; and there, under the foster-care of Mrs. Anderson, she got round a little." From Duke Town she went to be with Mrs. Sutherland, and died there, and was buried at Creek Town, which was the " God's acre" of the Mission at that time.

On Sept. 1 was formed the Presbytery of Biafra, so called from the Bight in which Calabar lies. The following is a portion of the first minutes:—

Duke Town, Old Calabar, September 1, 1858.

The brethren having met here this day, and having finished the business hitherto conducted by them under the designation of the "Old Calabar Mission Committee," then proceeded, in accordance with a resolution come to at the meeting of said Committee, held at Ikoneto, 3rd Aug. 185S, to form themselves into a Presbytery; and Mr. Goldie, at their request, constituted them by prayer accordingly.

The list of members follows:—Rev. Messrs. Anderson, Goldie, Robb, Baillie, and Thomson; and Mr. Archibald Hewan, elder from Duke Town. Mr. Henry Hamilton, elder from Creek Town, was absent through sickness.

The Rev. William Anderson [who was the senior ordained missionary since the departure of Mr. Waddell] was chosen moderator for the next twelve months, and Mr. Robb was appointed Presbytery Clerk. . . .

It was resolved that the congregations and stations united under the superintendence of this Presbytery be designated the "Presbyterian Church in Biafra."

Mr. S. Edgerley read an essay on the subject, "What should be the motives and aims of one looking forward to the gospel ministry?" The members of Presbytery expressed themselves gratified with the essay. At Mr. Anderson's suggestion, Mr. Edgerley was then examined in the Greek Grammar by Mr. Goldie, and encouraged to prosecute his studies ; and he was directed to prepare for examination lines of the ist ch. of John's Gospel in Greek, and the first one hundred lines of the 1st book of the AEneid of Virgil — the examination to take place at the next meeting of Presbytery, to be held at Duke Town.

On Dec. 3, 1858, King Eyo Honesty II. of Creek-Town died suddenly, and his death led to great panic and excitement among his slaves.

In a letter dated Aug. 30, 1859, Mr. Anderson reported an increase in the school, and described the election and coronation of Archibong II. of Duke Town:—

I am very glad to be able to report to you that I have not so much time for writing, by the present mail, as I have had for a good many months back, from the fact that my work has been doubled on my hands during the last two or three weeks. The daily attendance at school has mounted up from thirty-five to eight}'. A number of these new-comers are untrained lads of about twenty years of age ; and, having no assistance in school, for the present, save what I can get from the more advanced scholars, my strength is pretty well taxed in keeping order and endeavouring to communicate instruction. When I last wrote, the town and country in general were in a very unsatisfactory state, occasioned by the capture and detention, by one of the supercargoes in the river, of two of the principal men in Duke Town as hostages for debts, real or alleged. Both of these gentlemen were set at liberty some weeks ago, and matters have assumed a more settled aspect in the country generally.

1 think I mentioned to you some time ago that John Archibong was chosen king by the inhabitants of Duke Town in the month of March. His elevation to the throne appears to be the result of a bond fide popular election. No foreign influence whatever was used with the people in his favour. He does not hold his office by virtue of an appointment thereto by any foreign magistrate. This is, I think, as it ought to be. A great many of us here, whites as well as blacks, are decidedly of opinion that no foreign interference should be tolerated in the election by the Calabarese of their chief magistrate. The coronation of the king elect was deferred for a time, till his brother next to him in rank should be able to take a part in the ceremonial. The Archibong family are a royal family, inasmuch as the late King Archibong I. was one of them, as well as because they are closely related to the family of the great Duke Ephraim. But, in point of fact, royalty is quite a common thing in Old Calabar. There is hardly a free family in Duke Town which is not, more or less, a royal family.

Our new king has assumed the style and title of King Archibong II. His coronation took place on Tuesday. A select company of the river gentlemen, together with Mr. Edgerley and myself, were present, by invitation of the town gentlemen, to witness and attest the proceedings. Of these I shall give you a very brief account. When the deputation waited on me with the invitation to be present at the ceremony, an urgent request was made to me to prepare the papers needful for such an occasion. When I had ascertained what was to be the order of procedure, I offered the church as a place of meeting, as there is not a comfortably seated palaver-house in the town. The offer was gratefully accepted; and it was arranged that blacks and whites should meet, on the morning specified, at the king's house about nine o'clock, and walk thence in procession to the church at ten o'clock. According to agreement, we met at the king's house at nine o'clock ; but heavy and continuous rains prevented us from facing the road towards the Mission Hill. The streets were soon well-filled watercourses. Between ten and eleven o'clock the assembled company proceeded from the king's house to a large new palaver-house belonging to the king. Drummers had been sent round to invite the toivn to be present at the ceremonial, and, notwithstanding the rain, a large concourse speedily assembled. When all the gentlemen were seated, and the crowd had become still, Mr. Thomas Hogan, acting as herald on the occasion, intimated to the meeting, and to us white men in particular, that we had been called together to witness that Duke Town people now make Archibong king for all country i.e. all the territory belonging to Duke Town; and that the Calabar gentlemen begged us white men to put our hands to book, and to send letter to Oueen Victoria, to let her know that Archibong II. now come up to be king for country. One of the white men then asked the assembly if the)' concurred in what Mr. Hogan had said. The response was a hearty affirmative. None of the other white men appearing disposed to do anything in the speech-making line, I rose, congratulated the king on his elevation, and, as I had purposed to do from the moment I received the invitation to be present, delivered a short address, in the Efik language, on the solemn duty and responsibilities of elders, their duty to enact good laws, etc. etc.; and I then suggested that we all unite in solemn prayer to God on behalf of both king and country. I conducted the devotional services both in Erik and English. Whites and blacks then congratulated the new king ; the official documents were read by the part)' who had prepared them, and were duly signed. The second man of the town, Antaro Young, Esq., then came forward and removed the bonnet or cap which the king had hitherto kept on, and completed the coronation by placing on his Majesty s head a very substantial, decent-looking black hat, with gold lace band. One of the supercargoes then proposed "Three cheers for King Archibong the Second," which proposal was heartily responded to. Elags were waving and firearms of various sorts were being discharged in various quarters nearly all day.

About two P.M. about twenty gentlemen, whites and blacks, sat down to dinner with the king. In the course of conversation I suggested to him that he could not inaugurate his reign better than by the immediate and total abolition of the Sabbath market. My suggestion was ably supported by the whites present. After a little conversation with the other gentlemen, and notwithstanding the opposition of one, if not of more, Archibong, much sooner than I could have expected, stated that he was quite willing at once to prevent the market from being held an)' more inside the town, but that he could not at once prevent it from being held on the Qua frontier, outside the town, at the twin mother village. I felt thankful that he was able and willing to do so much, and especially for the prompt and cordial manner in which he agreed to banish the market from the inside of the town, and expressed myself accordingly. The whole affair of the coronation — unlike that of the late Archibong—passed over most pleasantly. The utmost decorum was preserved by all parties during all the proceedings. It was just such an occasion as leaves pleasant reminiscences.

To encourage Archibong in his setting out on his kingly course, the members of the church presented him with a short address a few days after his coronation. As the address is more suitable for juveniles than adults, I have sent a copy of it to Mr. MacGill. [A very interesting letter, entitled "A Coronation without a Crown," containing the address referred to by Mr. Anderson, appeared in {he Juvenile Missionary Magazine, Nov. 1859.] Perhaps it may interest his readers. When at home, I received from my friend Mr. Drummond, jeweller, Perth, a very handsome and richly mounted smtff-mirfl (I think that is what the article is called in Scotland), to be disposed of to the best advantage here. I told Mr. D. that I should keep it till King Duke should pass some good law—such as that lately made by Archibong—or do some good deed, save a slave from death, or something of that sort, and that then I should present it to him as a token of approbation from a friend in Scotland. King Duke did nothing to merit the box ; but I thought that Archibong was somewhat entitled to it, felon Saturday he sent out the Egbo proclamation that henceforth no market is to be held in Duke Town on God's day. So, on the following Monday, 1 went down to the town, and, in Mr. Drummond's name, presented Archibong with the beautiful article referred to; and I need hardly add that "his Majesty was most graciously pleased to accept of the same," and expressed himself highly gratified therewith. Archibong is far from being vigorous in regard to bodily health, and his mind is not of a very bright order ; but, unlike the old Duke, he seems willing to be guided by his counsellors, who have better heads than he. He may be an instrument for good. As we are required to pray for kings and all in authority, my prayer is, that lie who has the hearts of all men in His hand, and who sometimes works wonders through feeble instrumentality, may bless our new ruler, and make him a blessing.

Three Sabbaths have now passed away since the law was made about the Sabbath market, and the change in the aspect of the town is very great. After a ten-years' struggle, Duke Town at length partakes, at least externally, of the hallowed stillness of the sacred clay. Both Mrs. Anderson and Mrs. Edgerley feel the advantage of the change in their Sabbath labours among the women. Formerly the great body of their audiences were usually impatient for the conclusion of their meeting, that they might get away to market. Now, multitudes of market women (and men too), who would attend market were it held in the town, do not go to it at all, and have ample time on hand to await patiently till their instructresses feel it proper to conclude their services. Our Sabbath morning congregation has also considerably increased. It is a matter of great thankfulness to us to see Duke Town gentlemen take even one short step in the right direction.

Since writing the above I have been up at Old Town with Mr. Baillie, seeing our friends there who have been sick. Mrs. Sutherland has had a pretty sharp attack of fever. My wonder is that she has not been utterly knocked up long ago. How she manages to hold meetings on Sabbath, travel so much as she does among the Qua towns and villages, and teach a school of eighty or ninety children, is a mystery to me. I do not consider myself remarkably feeble, but a fortnight of her work would, I feel pretty sure, prostrate me. She much needs a change of climate, but cannot bear the thought of leaving her loved work. She has considerably exceeded the five statute years of labour here. Mr. Baillie has been sufficiently long here at a spell. He has been seized with fever since we came clown from Old Town. When one has an attack of fever weekly, or thereabouts, it is high time—if his life is worth preserving—that he get out of the fever region for a time. . . . He will be much missed by all of us during his absence, and his return will be greatly longed for by many, both blacks and whites.

Mr. Baillie left Calabar soon after, and arrived in Edinburgh on October 15.

After long solicitation, Mr. Anderson got a piece of ground in the centre of the town as a site for a church, 60 feet long by 20 broad. This, it was hoped, would remove the excuses of those who were unwilling to come to the Mission Hill. In his Journal, Mr. Anderson wrote on May 12, 1860:—

Have had a busy week superintending work at new church in town, between school hours. We are now getting the seats erected.

Sabbath, 13.—Well attended meeting in the king's yard; but, owing to the extra labours of the week, connected with the building of the new church, I felt ill prepared for the service.

Previous to this date, in the beginning of April, the Rev. Mr. and Mrs. Ogden of the Corisco Mission (American Presbyterian) had paid a visit to Calabar, and had enjoyed the hospitality of Mr. and Mrs. Anderson.

On April ro, the fourteenth anniversary of the Mission, Mr. Anderson read at a meeting in the church, extracts from the Missionary Record for 1846-7 in reference to the state of both country and people of Calabar during these two years. He remarks:—

The extracts served to refresh the memories of some of us in reference to God's dealings towards the Mission, and were—I was somewhat surprised to hear—deeply interesting, because altogether new to some of our countrymen, members of our Church, too, who were present.

On Saturday, June 2, Mr. Anderson wrote in his Journal, with reference to Miss Edgerley and Dr. Hewan returning from furlough, the latter accompanied by his recently married wife :—

Much delighted to-day to meet on board the mail steamer Dr. Hewan, Mrs. Hewan, and Miss Edgerley. It is a pleasant thing to welcome a new fellow-labourer, from whatever quarter he or she may come ; but it was with peculiar pleasure that I welcomed an old Ford acquaintance, and it added to my enjoyment to see before me a daughter of my late revered and beloved friend and pastor, whose ministry I enjoyed for about sixteen years— the Rev. Andrew Elliot.

For several days Mr. Anderson's time was taken up with a Government Commission :—

Tuesday, June 5.—On board H.M.S. Archer, giving evidence on various public matters before Commodore Edmonstone and Captain Crawford, who are here as a Commission from Government to make inquiries and collect evidence on certain points connected with the administration of affairs in this quarter.

Wednesday, 6.—Obliged to relinquish school duties to-day, from a pressure of other matters. A young man, clerk to one of the supercargoes, who came some days ago to the mission-house for change, died at eight A.M. From ten to twelve I was with the Commission. From twelve to one on business of the Commission with King Archibong. From two to five at Old Town, where was a meeting of Presbytery. At six o'clock, evening, conducted Mr. Harlow's funeral service. Usual weekly prayer meeting at 6.30.

Thursday, 7. —Could not keep school twice to-day. On board the Archer, as a witness, from ten to twelve, and as interpreter between the Commission and the native gentlemen from 3 to 6.30 P.M.

The completion and the opening of the new church are recorded in characteristic fashion. The reference to Webster's Dictionary in justification of the use of the word "levelling" is a curious instance of Air. Anderson's anxiety to be accurate in his choice of words:—

The chief thing that I have to report is the completion and opening of our new church. The edifice is wholly of native material, and in form resembles the church on the Mission Hill. It is 44 feet long by 24 wide. It is at present seated for about 220; but we can easily add seats for 100 more if required. The cost of the building is as follows:—-

Egbo Young I tarn (native contractor), including
dashes,........£35 0 0
Planks for doors and benches, . . . . 10 5 0
Carpenter work, . . . . . . .6 0 0
Labourers — cleaning and "levelling" ground, and making fence {Webster gives levelling), 5 0 0
Total £56 5 0

This amount has been paid as under—

James Irvine, Esq., ...... £20 0 0
John Laughland, Esq.,. . . . . .2 2 0
Samuel Cheetham, Esq.,.....1 1 0
Mrs. Sutherland, : . . . . . .2 0 0
William Hearn, Esq., . . . . . .3 0 0
Officers of H.M.S. Archer,.....2 10 0
Other donations and church-door collections, . 18 12 0
Drawn from Dr. Ferguson, . . . . .6 0 0
Total £56 0 0

A.B.—I drew on Dr. Ferguson for £12; but I have received from our congregational treasurer £6, to refund in part the amount drawn from Mr. Peddie; and we fully expect to be able to repay the other £6 by the end of the year.

We have thus built two churches within the space of two years, and we have paid for them, with the exception of what I may call the loan of the £6 referred to above. The new church occupies a fine commanding position in the most central part of the town. Oh for an outpouring of the Spirit's influences, that when God writes up the people, it may be found that "this man and that man were born there."

Sabbath, 10.—This da)' we opened our new church in the middle of the town. The church was crowded, and a great number were standing in the verandahs. Mr. Robb had engaged to preach the sermon, but sickness prevented his attendance. There was a goodly number of river friends present. Besides the captain and several officers of the man-of-war and the Acting Consul for the Bight of Biafra, there were several supercargoes, captains, surgeons, and seamen. We began the exercises of the day by singing the 100th Psalm. I then read Psalm lxxxiv. and Hebrews x. 19-31. After prayer in English, we sang Psalm lxxxiv. 8-12. I then preached shortly in Efik from Luke viii. 18: "Take heed, therefore, how ye hear." For the sake of our countrymen, I concluded by giving "heads and particulars" in English. Knowing that a few words in favour of church attendance, etc., from a "Queen's captain" would go a far way with King Archibong and gentlemen, I had requested Captain Crawford to give a short address. He kindly complied with my request at the close of the sermon. He apologised for the Commodore's absence on account of indisposition; expressed his gratification at being in Old Calabar on such an interesting occasion; and exhorted King A. and the others present to avail themselves of the opportunities of attending church and hearing the word of God. After prayer in Efik, and singing the 210th Hymn in United Presbyterian Hymn-Book, Dr. Hewan gave an excellent address, which was well interpreted and somewhat enlarged by Henshaw Duke. We then sang an Efik hymn, and separated.

Saturday, 16.—According to a new arrangement, announced last Sabbath, I have kept school each morning this week in the new edifice in town, and in the afternoon, as heretofore, in the church on the Mission Hill.

The attendance in town has been very good, though very fluctuating, and often more like a rabble than anything else.

We keep an abecedarian teacher constantly at his post by the card hanging on the pillar nearest the door, who has now and then fifty or sixty pupils roaring away at full pitch of the voice, "A, B, C," etc., and sometimes he has only five or six. We lock the gate, however, previous to Bible lesson, praise, and prayer; and from sixty to seventy are present during these exercises. This is about double the number in attendance for some time past on the Mission Hill.

Sabbath, 17.—Good meeting in town church. The centricalness of the site has its drawbacks as well as its advantages. We felt one of the former a good deal to-day, viz. the noisiness of passers-by. King A. was a good deal annoyed thereby himself, and promised to take measures to prevent noise in the neighbourhood during the time of public worship.


 


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