Page:The slave trade of east Africa.djvu/29

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Society sailed for the Rio Pongas, and subsequently to the Bulloms, a tribe near Sierra Leone. Eleven years passed away, and seven of the ten Missionaries lay in their early graves, and but slight encouragements were manifested. Churches, schools, and mission stores were destroyed by fire, and our Missionaries were at last compelled to take refuge in Sierra Leone. If any lesson had been learned, it was this, that European Missionaries could not, save under exceptionally favourable conditions, endure the pestilential climate of that West Coast; and that, instead of wasting their energies upon comparatively few and savage tribes along the coast, it would be better and wiser to take advantage of the means almost ready to hand for meeting the negro under more favourable conditions, and from among them to raise up a native agency. The records of the East Coast teach the same lesson. There, too, have Missionaries been sent forth in the track of travel, but without results. The history of the Central Africa Mission is but a record of death succeeding death; and even our own Mission at Kisuludini, with the devoted Rebmann labouring at his post, what has it effected? How many can we point to as brought even within the civilizing effects of the Gospel? If we find the parallel to the condition of missionary effort prior to 1816 on the West Coast, in the present condition and results of similar efforts on the East Coast, let us continue the parallel, with God's help, and reproduce on the East, by the use of similar means, those happy results which are manifest on the West Coast. On the West Coast, the Missionaries having failed to make any marked impression by their labours, had been driven into Sierra Leone, at that time a colony, which, from being at first a settlement for freed negroes, in 1808 became a depot for negroes released by British cruisers, and had, in 1811, a rapidly increasing population of 4500, of whom 2500 were liberated slaves.

In 1816 the Rev. E. Bickersteth visited Africa; and, having spent many months upon the coast, returned to consult with the Committee of the Church Missionary Society on the measures to be adopted. The result was, that a suggestion of Sir C. M'Carthy, Governor of Sierra Leone in 1814, was acted upon. Instead of wasting their energies upon a few inconsiderable tribes of savages along the coast, they resolved to concentrate them upon the colony itself, with its increasing population of liberated negroes, gathered from upwards of 100 different tribes in various parts of Africa, speaking widely-distinct languages. Were Sierra Leone to become a centre of light, and these representatives of so many nations to receive the Gospel, how widely would it be diffused over the vast continent when they should return to their several homes, so many Christian evangelists, speaking in 100 different tongues the wonderful works of God. To avail themselves of the wide means of usefulness thus providentially prepared for them (through the very Slave Trade which seemed an unmitigated curse), they felt to be a bounden duty.

Our Missionaries were accordingly located in Sierra Leone in 1816. According to a plan formed by Governor M'Carthy, the whole colony