Severe gales occurred during our stay on the Coast, and many small sea- birds (Prion Banksii, Smith) perished: the beach was strewn with their dead bodies, and some were found hundreds of yards inland; many were so emaciated as to dry up without putrefying. We were plagued with myriads of mosquitoes, and had some touches of fever; the men we brought from malarious regions of the interior suffered almost as much from it here as we did ourselves. This gives strength to the idea that the civilized withstand the evil influences of strange climates better than the uncivilized. When negroes return to their own country from healthy lands, they suffer as severely as foreigners ever do.
On the 31st of January, 1861, our new ship, the "Pioneer," arrived from England, and anchored outside the bar; but the weather was stormy, and she did not venture in till the 4th of February.
Two of H.M. cruisers came at the same time, bringing Bishop Mackenzie, and the Oxford and Cambridge Mission to the tribes of the Shire and Lake Nyassa. The Mission consisted of six Englishmen, and five coloured men from the Cape. It was a puzzle to know what to do with so many men. The estimable Bishop, anxious to commence his work without delay, wished the "Pioneer" to carry the Mission up the Shire, as far as Chibisa's, and there leave them. But there were grave objections to this. The "Pioneer" was under orders to explore the Rovuma, as the Portuguese Government had refused to open the Zambesi to the ships of other nations, and their officials were very effectually pursuing a system, which, by abstracting the labour, was rendering the country of no value either to foreigners or to themselves. She was already two months behind her time, and the rainy season was half over. Then, if the party were taken to Chibisa's, the Mission would he left without a medical attendant, in an unhealthy region, at the beginning of the most sickly season of the year, and without means of reaching the healthy highlands, or of returning to the sea. We dreaded that, in the absence of medical aid and all knowledge of the treatment of fever, there might be a repetition of the sorrowful fate which befell the similar non-medical Mission at Linyanti.
On the 25th of February the "Pioneer" anchored in the mouth of the Rovuma, which, unlike most African rivers, has a magnificent bay and no bar. We wooded, and then waited for the Bishop till the 9th of March, when he came in the "Lyra." On the 11th we proceeded up the river, and saw that it had fallen four or five feet during our detention. The scenery on the lower part of the Rovuma is superior to that on the Zambesi, for we can see the highlands from the sea. Eight miles from the mouth the mangroves are left behind, and a beautiful range of well-wooded hills on each bank begins. On these ridges the tree resembling African blackwood, of finer grain than ebony, grows abundantly, and attains a large size. Few people were seen, and those were of Arab breed, and did not appear to be very well off. The current of the Rovuma was now as strong as that of the Zambesi, but the volume of water is very much less. Several of the crossings had barely water enough for our ship, drawing five feet, to pass. When we were thirty miles up the river, the water fell suddenly seven inches in twenty-four hours. As the March flood is the last of the season, and it appeared to be expended, it was thought prudent to avoid the chance of a year's detention, by getting the ship back to the sea without delay. Had the Expedition been alone, we would have pushed up in boats, or afoot, and done what we could towards the exploration of the river and upper end of the lake; but, though the Mission was a private one, and entirely distinct from our own, a public one, the objects of both being similar, we felt anxious to aid our countrymen in their noble enterprise; and, rather than follow our own inclination, decided to return to the Shire, see the Mission party settled safely, and afterwards explore Lake Nyassa and the Rovuma, from the Lake downwards. Fever broke out on board the "Pioneer," at the mouth of the Rovuma, as we thought from our having anchored close to a creek coming out of the mangroves; and it remained in her until we completely isolated the engine-room from the rest of the ship. The coal-dust rotting sent out strong effluvia, and kept up the disease for more than a twelvemonth.
Soon after we started the fever put the "Pioneer" almost entirely into the hands of the original Zambesi Expedition, and not long afterwards the leader had to navigate the ocean as well as the river. The habit of finding the geographical positions on land renders it an easy task to steer a steamer with only three or four sails at sea; where, if one does not run ashore, no one follows to find out an error, and where a current affords a ready excuse for every blunder.
Touching at Mohilla, one of the Comoro Islands, on our return, we found a mixed race of Arabs, Africans, and their conquerors, the natives of Madagascar. Being Mahometans, they have mosques and schools, in which we were pleased to see girls as well as boys taught to read the Koran. The teacher said he was paid by the job, and received ten dollars for teaching each child to read. The clever ones learn in six months; but the dull ones take a couple of years. We next went over to Johanna for our friends; and, after a sojourn of a few days at the beautiful Comoro Islands, we sailed for the Kongone mouth of the Zambesi with Bishop Mackenzie and his party. We reached the coast in seven days, and passed up the Zambesi to the Shire.
The "Pioneer," constructed under the skilful supervision of Admiral Sir Baldwin Walker and the late Admiral Washington, warm-hearted and highly esteemed friends of the Expedition, was a very superior vessel, and well suited for our work in every respect, except in her draught of water. Five feet were found to be too much for the navigation of the upper part of the Shire. Designed to draw three feet only, the weight necessary to impart extra strength, and fit her for the ocean, brought her down two feet more, and caused us a great deal of hard and vexatious work, in laying out anchors, and toiling at the capstan to get her off sandbanks. We should not have minded this much, but for the heavy loss of time which might have been more profitably, and infinitely more pleasantly, spent in intercourse with the people, exploring new regions, and otherwise carrying out the objects of the Expedition. Once we were a fortnight on a bank of soft yielding sand, having only two or three inches less water than the ship drew; this delay was occasioned by the anchors coming home, and the current swinging the ship broadside on the bank, which, immediately on our touching, always formed behind us. We did not like to leave the ship short of Chibisa's, lest the crew should suffer from the malaria of the lowland around; and it would have been difficult to have got the Mission goods carried up. We were daily visited by crowds of natives, who brought us abundance of provisions far beyond our ability to consume. In hauling the "Pioneer" over the shallow places, the Bishop, with Horace Waller and Mr. Scudamore, were ever ready and anxious to lend a hand, and worked as hard as any on board. Had our fine little ship drawn but three feet, she could have run up and down the river at any time of the year with the greatest ease, but as it was, having once passed up over a few shallow banks, it was impossible to take her down again until the river rose in December. She could go up over a bank, but not come down over it, as a heap of sand always formed instantly astern, while the current washed it away from under her bows.
On at last reaching Chibisa's, we heard that there was war in the Manganja country, and the slave-trade was going on briskly. A deputation from a chief near Mount Zomba had just passed on its way to Chibisa, who was in a distant village, to implore him to come himself, or send medicine, to drive off the Waiao, Waiau, or Ajawa, whose marauding parties were desolating the land. A large gang of recently enslaved Manganja crossed the river, on their way to Tette, a few days before we got the ship up. Chibisa's deputy was civil, and readily gave us permission to hire as many men to carry the Bishop's goods up to the hills as were willing to go. With a sufficient number, therefore, we started for the highlands on the 15th of July, to show the Bishop the country, which, from its altitude and coolness, was most suitable for a station. Our first day's march was a long and fatiguing one. The few hamlets we passed were poor, and had no food for our men, and we were obliged to go on till 4 p.m., when we entered the small village of Chipindu. The inhabitants complained of hunger, and said they had no food to sell, and no hut for us to sleep in; but, if we would only go on a little further, we should come to a village where they had plenty to eat; but we had travelled far enough, and determined to remain where we were. Before sunset as much food was brought as we cared to purchase, and, as it threatened to rain, huts were provided for the whole party.
Next forenoon we halted at the village of our old friend Mbame, to obtain new carriers, because Chibisa's men, never before having been hired, and not having yet learned to trust us, did not choose to go further. After resting a little, Mbame told us that a slave party on its way to Tette would presently pass through his village. "Shall we interfere?" we inquired of each other. We remembered that all our valuable private baggage was in Tette, which, if we freed the slaves, might, together with some Government property, be destroyed in retaliation; but this system of slave-hunters dogging us where previously they durst not venture, and, on pretence of being "our children," setting one tribe against another, to furnish themselves with slaves, would so inevitably thwart all the efforts, for which we had the sanction of the Portuguese Government, that we resolved to run all risks, and put a stop, if possible, to the slave- trade, which had now followed on the footsteps of our discoveries. A few minutes after Mbame had spoken to us, the slave party, a long line of manacled men, women, and children, came wending their way round the hill and into the valley, on the side of which the village stood. The black drivers, armed with muskets, and bedecked with various articles of finery, marched jauntily in the front, middle, and rear of the line; some of them blowing exultant notes out of long tin horns. They seemed to feel that they were doing a very noble thing, and might proudly march with an air of triumph. But the instant the fellows caught a glimpse of the English, they darted off like mad into the forest; so fast, indeed, that we caught but a glimpse of their red caps and the soles of their feet. The chief of the party alone remained; and he, from being in front, had his hand tightly grasped by a Makololo! He proved to be a well-known slave of the late Commandant at Tette, and for some time our own attendant while there. On asking him how he obtained these captives, he replied he had bought them; but on our inquiring of the people themselves, all, save four, said they had been captured in war. While this inquiry was going on, he bolted too. The captives knelt down, and, in their way of expressing thanks, clapped their hands with great energy. They were thus left entirely on our hands, and knives were soon busy at work cutting the women and children loose. It was more difficult to cut the men adrift, as each had his neck in the fork of a stout stick, six or seven feet long, and was kept in by an iron rod which was riveted at both ends across the throat. With a saw, luckily in the Bishop's baggage, one by one the men were sawn out into freedom. The women, on being told to take the meal they were carrying and cook breakfast for themselves and the children, seemed to consider the news too good to be true; but after a little coaxing went at it with alacrity, and made a capital fire by which to boil their pots with the slave sticks and bonds, their old acquaintances through many a sad night and weary day. Many were mere children about five years of age and under. One little boy, with the simplicity of childhood, said to our men, "The others tied and starved us, you cut the ropes and tell us to eat; what sort of people are you?—Where did you come from?" Two of the women had been shot the day before for attempting to untie the thongs. This, the rest were told, was to prevent them from attempting to escape. One woman had her infant's brains knocked out, because she could not carry her load and it. And a man was dispatched with an axe, because he had broken down with fatigue. Self-interest would have set a watch over the whole rather than commit murder; but in this traffic we invariably find self-interest overcome by contempt of human life and by bloodthirstiness.
The Bishop was not present at this scene, having gone to bathe in a little stream below the village; but on his return he warmly approved of what had been done; he at first had doubts, but now felt that, had he been present, he would have joined us in the good work. Logic is out of place when the question with a true-hearted man is, whether his brother man is to be saved or not. Eighty-four, chiefly women and children, were liberated; and on being told that they were now free, and might go where they pleased, or remain with us, they all chose to stay; and the Bishop wisely attached them to his Mission, to be educated as members of a Christian family. In this way a great difficulty in the commencement of a Mission was overcome. Years are usually required before confidence is so far instilled into the natives' mind as to induce them, young or old, to submit to the guidance of strangers professing to be actuated by motives the reverse of worldly wisdom, and inculcating customs strange and unknown to them and their fathers.
We proceeded next morning to Soche's with our liberated party, the men cheerfully carrying the Bishop's goods. As we had begun, it was of no use to do things by halves, so eight others were freed in a hamlet on our path; but a party of traders, with nearly a hundred slaves, fled from Soche's on hearing of our proceedings. Dr. Kirk and four Makololo followed them with great energy, but they made clear off to Tette. Six more captives were liberated at Mongazi's, and two slave-traders detained for the night, to prevent them from carrying information to a large party still in front. Of their own accord they volunteered the information that the Governor's servants had charge of the next party; but we did not choose to be led by them, though they offered to guide us to his Excellency's own agents. Two of the Bishop's black men from the Cape, having once been slaves, were now zealous emancipators, and volunteered to guard the prisoners during the night. So anxious were our heroes to keep them safe, that instead of relieving each other, by keeping watch and watch, both kept watch together, till towards four o'clock in the morning, when sleep stole gently over them both; and the wakeful prisoners, seizing the opportunity, escaped: one of the guards, perceiving the loss, rushed out of the hut, shouting, "They are gone, the prisoners are off, and they have taken my rifle with them, and the women too! Fire! everybody fire!" The rifle and the women, however, were all safe enough, the slave-traders being only too glad to escape alone. Fifty more slaves were freed next day in another village; and, the whole party being stark-naked, cloth enough was left to clothe them, better probably than they had ever been clothed before. The head of this gang, whom we knew as the agent of one of the principal merchants of Tette, said that they had the license of the Governor for all they did. This we were fully aware of without his stating it. It is quite impossible for any enterprise to be undertaken there without the Governor's knowledge and connivance.
The portion of the highlands which the Bishop wished to look at before deciding on a settlement belonged to Chiwawa, or Chibaba, the most manly and generous Manganja chief we had met with on our previous journey. On reaching Nsambo's, near Mount Chiradzuru, we heard that Chibaba was dead, and that Chigunda was chief instead. Chigunda, apparently of his own accord, though possibly he may have learnt that the Bishop intended to settle somewhere in the country, asked him to come and live with him at Magomero, adding that there was room enough for both. This hearty and spontaneous invitation had considerable influence on the Bishop's mind, and seemed to decide the question. A place nearer the Shire would have been chosen had he expected his supplies to come up that river; but the Portuguese, claiming the river Shire, though never occupying even its mouth, had closed it, as well as the Zambesi.
Our hopes were turned to the Rovuma, as a free highway into Lake Nyassa and the vast interior. A steamer was already ordered for the Lake, and the Bishop, seeing the advantageous nature of the highlands which stretch an immense way to the north, was more anxious to be near the Lake and the Rovuma, than the Shire. When he decided to settle at Magomero, it was thought desirable, to prevent the country from being depopulated, to visit the Ajawa chief, and to try and persuade him to give up his slaving and kidnapping courses, and turn the energies of his people to peaceful pursuits.
On the morning of the 22nd we were informed that the Ajawa were near, and were burning a village a few miles off. Leaving the rescued slaves, we moved off to seek an interview with these scourges of the country. On our way we met crowds of Manganja fleeing from the war in front. These poor fugitives from the slave hunt had, as usual, to leave all the food they possessed, except the little they could carry on their heads. We passed field after field of Indian corn or beans, standing ripe for harvesting, but the owners were away. The villages were all deserted: one where we breakfasted two years before, and saw a number of men peacefully weaving cloth, and, among ourselves, called it the "Paisley of the hills," was burnt; the stores of corn were poured out in cartloads, and scattered all over the plain, and all along the paths, neither conquerors nor conquered having been able to convey it away. About two o'clock we saw the smoke of burning villages, and heard triumphant shouts, mingled with the wail of the Manganja women, lamenting over their slain. The Bishop then engaged us in fervent prayer; and, on rising from our knees, we saw a long line of Ajawa warriors, with their captives, coming round the hill-side. The first of the returning conquerors were entering their own village below, and we heard women welcoming them back with "lillilooings." The Ajawa headman left the path on seeing us, and stood on an anthill to obtain a complete view of our party. We called out that we had come to have an interview with them, but some of the Manganja who followed us shouted "Our Chibisa is come:" Chibisa being well known as a great conjurer and general. The Ajawa ran off yelling and screaming, "Nkondo! Nkondo!" (War! War!) We heard the words of the Manganja, but they did not strike us at the moment as neutralizing all our assertions of peace. The captives threw down their loads on the path, and fled to the hills: and a large body of armed men came running up from the village, and in a few seconds they were all around us, though mostly concealed by the projecting rocks and long grass. In vain we protested that we had not come to fight, but to talk with them. They would not listen, having, as we remembered afterwards, good reason, in the cry of "Our Chibisa." Flushed with recent victory over three villages, and confident of an easy triumph over a mere handful of men, they began to shoot their poisoned arrows, sending them with great force upwards of a hundred yards, and wounding one of our followers through the arm. Our retiring slowly up the ascent from the village only made them more eager to prevent our escape; and, in the belief that this retreat was evidence of fear, they closed upon us in bloodthirsty fury. Some came within fifty yards, dancing hideously; others having quite surrounded us, and availing themselves of the rocks and long grass hard by, were intent on cutting us off, while others made off with their women and a large body of slaves. Four were armed with muskets, and we were obliged in self-defence to return their fire and drive them off. When they saw the range of rifles, they very soon desisted, and ran away; but some shouted to us from the hills the consoling intimation, that they would follow, and kill us where we slept. Only two of the captives escaped to us, but probably most of those made prisoners that day fled elsewhere in the confusion. We returned to the village which we had left in the morning, after a hungry, fatiguing, and most unpleasant day.
Though we could not blame ourselves for the course we had followed, we felt sorry for what had happened. It was the first time we had ever been attacked by the natives or come into collision with them; though we had always taken it for granted that we might be called upon to act in self- defence, we were on this occasion less prepared than usual, no game having been expected here. The men had only a single round of cartridge each; their leader had no revolver, and the rifle he usually fired with was left at the ship to save it from the damp of the season. Had we known better the effect of slavery and murder on the temper of these bloodthirsty marauders, we should have tried messages and presents before going near them.
The old chief, Chinsunse, came on a visit to us next day, and pressed the Bishop to come and live with him. "Chigunda," he said, "is but a child, and the Bishop ought to live with the father rather than with the child." But the old man's object was so evidently to have the Mission as a shield against the Ajawa, that his invitation was declined. While begging us to drive away the marauders, that he might live in peace, he adopted the stratagem of causing a number of his men to rush into the village, in breathless haste, with the news that the Ajawa were close upon us. And having been reminded that we never fought, unless attacked, as we were the day before, and that we had come among them for the purpose of promoting peace, and of teaching them to worship the Supreme, to give up selling His children, and to cultivate other objects for barter than each other, he replied, in a huff, "Then I am dead already."
The Bishop, feeling, as most Englishmen would, at the prospect of the people now in his charge being swept off into slavery by hordes of men- stealers, proposed to go at once to the rescue of the captive Manganja, and drive the marauding Ajawa out of the country. All were warmly in favour of this, save Dr. Livingstone, who opposed it on the ground that it would be better for the Bishop to wait, and see the effect of the check the slave-hunters had just experienced. The Ajawa were evidently goaded on by Portuguese agents from Tette, and there was no bond of union among the Manganja on which to work. It was possible that the Ajawa might be persuaded to something better, though, from having long been in the habit of slaving for the Quillimane market, it was not very probable. But the Manganja could easily be overcome piecemeal by any enemy; old feuds made them glad to see calamities befall their next neighbours. We counselled them to unite against the common enemies of their country, and added distinctly that we English would on no account enter into their quarrels. On the Bishop inquiring whether, in the event of the Manganja again asking aid against the Ajawa, it would be his duty to accede to their request,—"No," replied Dr. Livingstone, "you will be oppressed by their importunities, but do not interfere in native quarrels." This advice the good man honourably mentions in his journal. We have been rather minute in relating what occurred during the few days of our connection with the Mission of the English Universities, on the hills, because, the recorded advice having been discarded, blame was thrown on Dr. Livingstone's shoulders, as if the missionaries had no individual responsibility for their subsequent conduct. This, unquestionably, good Bishop Mackenzie had too much manliness to have allowed. The connection of the members of the Zambesi Expedition, with the acts of the Bishop's Mission, now ceased, for we returned to the ship and prepared for our journey to Lake Nyassa. We cheerfully, if necessary, will bear all responsibility up to this point; and if the Bishop afterwards made mistakes in certain collisions with the slavers, he had the votes of all his party with him, and those who best knew the peculiar circumstances, and the loving disposition of this good-hearted man, will blame him least. In this position, and in these circumstances, we left our friends at the Mission Station.
As a temporary measure the Bishop decided to place his Mission Station on a small promontory formed by the windings of the little, clear stream of Magomero, which was so cold that the limbs were quite benumbed by washing in it in the July mornings. The site chosen was a pleasant spot to the eye, and completely surrounded by stately, shady trees. It was expected to serve for a residence, till the Bishop had acquired an accurate knowledge of the adjacent country, and of the political relations of the people, and could select a healthy and commanding situation, as a permanent centre of Christian civilization. Everything promised fairly. The weather was delightful, resembling the pleasantest part of an English summer; provisions poured in very cheap and in great abundance. The Bishop, with characteristic ardour, commenced learning the language, Mr. Waller began building, and Mr. Scudamore improvised a sort of infant school for the children, than which there is no better means for acquiring an unwritten tongue.
On the 6th of August, 1861, a few days after returning from Magomero, Drs. Livingstone and Kirk, and Charles Livingstone started for Nyassa with a light four-oared gig, a white sailor, and a score of attendants. We hired people along the path to carry the boat past the forty miles of the Murchison Cataracts for a cubit of cotton cloth a day. This being deemed great wages, more than twice the men required eagerly offered their services. The chief difficulty was in limiting their numbers. Crowds followed us; and, had we not taken down in the morning the names of the porters engaged, in the evening claims would have been made by those who only helped during the last ten minutes of the journey. The men of one village carried the boat to the next, and all we had to do was to tell the headman that we wanted fresh men in the morning. He saw us pay the first party, and had his men ready at the time appointed, so there was no delay in waiting for carriers. They often make a loud noise when carrying heavy loads, but talking and bawling does not put them out of breath. The country was rough and with little soil on it, but covered with grass and open forest. A few small trees were cut down to clear a path for our shouting assistants, who were good enough to consider the boat as a certificate of peaceful intentions at least to them. Several small streams were passed, the largest of which were the Mukuru-Madse and Lesungwe. The inhabitants on both banks were now civil and obliging. Our possession of a boat, and consequent power of crossing independently of the canoes, helped to develop their good manners, which were not apparent on our previous visit.
There is often a surprising contrast between neighbouring villages. One is well off and thriving, having good huts, plenty of food, and native cloth; and its people are frank, trusty, generous, and eager to sell provisions; while in the next the inhabitants may be ill-housed, disobliging, suspicious, ill-fed, and scantily clad, and with nothing for sale, though the land around is as fertile as that of their wealthier neighbours. We followed the river for the most part to avail ourselves of the still reaches for sailing; but a comparatively smooth country lies further inland, over which a good road could be made. Some of the five main cataracts are very grand, the river falling 1200 feet in the 40 miles. After passing the last of the cataracts, we launched our boat for good on the broad and deep waters of the Upper Shire, and were virtually on the lake, for the gentle current shows but little difference of level. The bed is broad and deep, but the course is rather tortuous at first, and makes a long bend to the east till it comes within five or six miles of the base of Mount Zomba. The natives regarded the Upper Shire as a prolongation of Lake Nyassa; for where what we called the river approaches Lake Shirwa, a little north of the mountains, they said that the hippopotami, "which are great night travellers," pass from one lake into the other. There the land is flat, and only a short land journey would be necessary. Seldom does the current here exceed a knot an hour, while that of the Lower Shire is from two to two-and-a-half knots. Our land party of Makololo accompanied us along the right bank, and passed thousands of Manganja fugitives living in temporary huts on that side, who had recently been driven from their villages on the opposite hills by the Ajawa.
The soil was dry and hard, and covered with mopane-trees; but some of the Manganja were busy hoeing the ground and planting the little corn they had brought with them. The effects of hunger were already visible on those whose food had been seized or burned by the Ajawa and Portuguese slave-traders. The spokesman or prime minister of one of the chiefs, named Kalonjere, was a humpbacked dwarf, a fluent speaker, who tried hard to make us go over and drive off the Ajawa; but he could not deny that by selling people Kalonjere had invited these slave-hunters to the country. This is the second humpbacked dwarf we have found occupying the like important post, the other was the prime minister of a Batonga chief on the Zambesi.
As we sailed along, we disturbed many white-breasted cormorants; we had seen the same species fishing between the cataracts. Here, with many other wild-fowls, they find subsistence on the smooth water by night, and sit sleepily on trees and in the reeds by day. Many hippopotami were seen in the river, and one of them stretched its wide jaws, as if to swallow the whole stern of the boat, close to Dr. Kirk's back; the animal was so near that, in opening its mouth, it lashed a quantity of water on to the stern-sheets, but did no damage. To avoid large marauding parties of Ajawa, on the left bank of the Shire, we continued on the right, or western side, with our land party, along the shore of the small lake Pamalombe. This lakelet is ten or twelve miles in length, and five or six broad. It is nearly surrounded by a broad belt of papyrus, so dense that we could scarcely find an opening to the shore. The plants, ten or twelve feet high, grew so closely together that air was excluded, and so much sulphuretted hydrogen gas evolved that by one night's exposure the bottom of the boat was blackened. Myriads of mosquitoes showed, as probably they always do, the presence of malaria.
We hastened from this sickly spot, trying to take the attentions of the mosquitoes as hints to seek more pleasant quarters on the healthy shores of Lake Nyassa; and when we sailed into it, on the 2nd September, we felt refreshed by the greater coolness of the air off this large body of water. The depth was the first point of interest. This is indicated by the colour of the water, which, on a belt along the shore, varying from a quarter to half a mile in breadth, is light green, and this is met by the deep blue or indigo tint of the Indian Ocean, which is the colour of the great body of Nyassa. We found the Upper Shire from nine to fifteen feet in depth; but skirting the western side of the lake about a mile from the shore the water deepened from nine to fifteen fathoms; then, as we rounded the grand mountainous promontory, which we named Cape Maclear, after our excellent friend the Astronomer Royal at the Cape of Good Hope, we could get no bottom with our lead-line of thirty-five fathoms. We pulled along the western shore, which was a succession of bays, and found that where the bottom was sandy near the beach, and to a mile out, the depth varied from six to fourteen fathoms. In a rocky bay about latitude 11 degrees 40 minutes we had soundings at 100 fathoms, though outside the same bay we found none with a fishing-line of 116 fathoms; but this cast was unsatisfactory, as the line broke in coming up. According to our present knowledge, a ship could anchor only near the shore.
Looking back to the southern end of Lake Nyassa, the arm from which the Shire flows was found to be about thirty miles long and from ten to twelve broad. Rounding Cape Maclear, and looking to the south-west, we have another arm, which stretches some eighteen miles southward, and is from six to twelve miles in breadth. These arms give the southern end a forked appearance, and with the help of a little imagination it may be likened to the "boot-shape" of Italy. The narrowest part is about the ankle, eighteen or twenty miles. From this it widens to the north, and in the upper third or fourth it is fifty or sixty miles broad. The length is over 200 miles. The direction in which it lies is as near as possible due north and south. Nothing of the great bend to the west, shown in all the previous maps, could be detected by either compass or chronometer, and the watch we used was an excellent one. The season of the year was very unfavourable. The "smokes" filled the air with an impenetrable haze, and the equinoctial gales made it impossible for us to cross to the eastern side. When we caught a glimpse of the sun rising from behind the mountains to the east, we made sketches and bearings of them at different latitudes, which enabled us to secure approximate measurements of the width. These agreed with the times taken by the natives at the different crossing-places—as Tsenga and Molamba. About the beginning of the upper third the lake is crossed by taking advantage of the island Chizumara, which name in the native tongue means the "ending;" further north they go round the end instead, though that takes several days.
The lake appeared to be surrounded by mountains, but it was afterwards found that these beautiful tree-covered heights were, on the west, only the edges of high table-lands. Like all narrow seas encircled by highlands, it is visited by sudden and tremendous storms. We were on it in September and October, perhaps the stormiest season of the year, and were repeatedly detained by gales. At times, while sailing pleasantly over the blue water with a gentle breeze, suddenly and without any warning was heard the sound of a coming storm, roaring on with crowds of angry waves in its wake. We were caught one morning with the sea breaking all around us, and, unable either to advance or recede, anchored a mile from shore, in seven fathoms. The furious surf on the beach would have shivered our boat to atoms, had we tried to land. The waves most dreaded came rolling on in threes, with their crests, driven into spray, streaming behind them. A short lull followed each triple charge. Had one of these seas struck our boat, nothing could have saved us; for they came on with resistless force; seaward, in shore, and on either side of us, they broke in foam, but we escaped. For six weary hours we faced those terrible trios. A low, dark, detached, oddly shaped cloud came slowly from the mountains, and hung for hours directly over our heads. A flock of night-jars (Cometornis vexillarius), which on no other occasion come out by day, soared above us in the gale, like birds of evil omen. Our black crew became sea-sick and unable to sit up or keep the boat's head to the sea. The natives and our land party stood on the high cliffs looking at us and exclaiming, as the waves seemed to swallow up the boat, "They are lost! they are all dead!" When at last the gale moderated and we got safely ashore, they saluted us warmly, as after a long absence. From this time we trusted implicitly to the opinions of our seaman, John Neil, who, having been a fisherman on the coast of Ireland, understood boating on a stormy coast, and by his advice we often sat cowering on the land for days together waiting for the surf to go down. He had never seen such waves before. We had to beach the boat every night to save her from being swamped at anchor; and, did we not believe the gales to be peculiar to one season of the year, would call Nyassa the "Lake of Storms."
Distinct white marks on the rocks showed that, for some time during the rainy season, the water of the lake is three feet above the point to which it falls towards the close of the dry period of the year. The rains begin here in November, and the permanent rise of the Shire does not take place till January. The western side of Lake Nyassa, with the exception of the great harbour to the west of Cape Maclear, is, as has been said before, a succession of small bays of nearly similar form, each having an open sandy beach and pebbly shore, and being separated from its neighbour by a rocky headland, with detached rocks extending some distance out to sea. The great south-western bay referred to would form a magnificent harbour, the only really good one we saw to the west.
The land immediately adjacent to the lake is low and fertile, though in some places marshy and tenanted by large flocks of ducks, geese, herons, crowned cranes, and other birds. In the southern parts we have sometimes ten or a dozen miles of rich plains, bordered by what seem high ranges of well-wooded hills, running nearly parallel with the lake. Northwards the mountains become loftier and present some magnificent views, range towering beyond range, until the dim, lofty outlines projected against the sky bound the prospect. Still further north the plain becomes more narrow, until, near where we turned, it disappears altogether, and the mountains rise abruptly out of the lake, forming the north-east boundary of what was described to us as an extensive table-land; well suited for pasturage and agriculture, and now only partially occupied by a tribe of Zulus, who came from the south some years ago. These people own large herds of cattle, and are constantly increasing in numbers by annexing other tribes.
The Lake tribes—The Mazitu—Quantities of elephants—Distressing journey—Detention on the Shire.
Never before in Africa have we seen anything like the dense population on the shores of Lake Nyassa. In the southern part there was an almost unbroken chain of villages. On the beach of wellnigh of every little sandy bay, dark crowds were standing, gazing at the novel sight of a boat under sail; and wherever we landed we were surrounded in a few seconds by hundreds of men, women, and children, who hastened to have a stare at the "chirombo" (wild animals).
During a portion of the year, the northern dwellers on the lake have a harvest which furnishes a singular sort of food. As we approached our limit in that direction, clouds, as of smoke rising from miles of burning grass, were observed bending in a south-easterly direction, and we thought that the unseen land on the opposite side was closing in, and that we were near the end of the lake. But next morning we sailed through one of the clouds on our own side, and discovered that it was neither smoke nor haze, but countless millions of minute midges called "kungo" (a cloud or fog). They filled the air to an immense height, and swarmed upon the water, too light to sink in it. Eyes and mouth had to be kept closed while passing through this living cloud: they struck upon the face like fine drifting snow. Thousands lay in the boat when she emerged from the cloud of midges. The people gather these minute insects by night, and boil them into thick cakes, to be used as a relish—millions of midges in a cake. A kungo cake, an inch thick, and as large as the blue bonnet of a Scotch ploughman, was offered to us; it was very dark in colour, and tasted not unlike caviare, or salted locusts.
Abundance of excellent fish is found in the lake, and nearly all were new to us. The mpasa, or sanjika, found by Dr. Kirk to be a kind of carp, was running up the rivers to spawn, like our salmon at home: the largest we saw was over two feet in length; it is a splendid fish, and the best we have ever eaten in Africa. They were ascending the rivers in August and September, and furnished active and profitable employment to many fishermen, who did not mind their being out of season. Weirs were constructed full of sluices, in each of which was set a large basket-trap, through whose single tortuous opening the fish once in has but small chance of escape. A short distance below the weir, nets are stretched across from bank to bank, so that it seemed a marvel how the most sagacious sanjika could get up at all without being taken. Possibly a passage up the river is found at night; but this is not the country of Sundays or "close times" for either men or fish. The lake fish are caught chiefly in nets, although men, and even women with babies on their backs, are occasionally seen fishing from the rocks with hooks.
A net with small meshes is used for catching the young fry of a silvery kind like pickerel, when they are about two inches long; thousands are often taken in a single haul. We had a present of a large bucketful one day for dinner: they tasted as if they had been cooked with a little quinine, probably from their gall-bladders being left in. In deep water, some sorts are taken by lowering fish-baskets attached by a long cord to a float, around which is often tied a mass of grass or weeds, as an alluring shade for the deep-sea fish. Fleets of fine canoes are engaged in the fisheries. The men have long paddles, and stand erect while using them. They sometimes venture out when a considerable sea is running. Our Makololo acknowledge that, in handling canoes, the Lake men beat them; they were unwilling to cross the Zambesi even, when the wind blew fresh.
Though there are many crocodiles in the lake, and some of an extraordinary size, the fishermen say that it is a rare thing for any one to be carried off by these reptiles. When crocodiles can easily obtain abundance of fish—their natural food—they seldom attack men; but when unable to see to catch their prey, from the muddiness of the water in floods, they are very dangerous.
Many men and boys are employed in gathering the buaze, in preparing the fibre, and in making it into long nets. The knot of the net is different from ours, for they invariably use what sailors call the reef knot, but they net with a needle like that we use. From the amount of native cotton cloth worn in many of the southern villages, it is evident that a great number of hands and heads must be employed in the cultivation of cotton, and in the various slow processes through which it has to pass, before the web is finished in the native loom. In addition to this branch of industry, an extensive manufacture of cloth, from the inner bark of an undescribed tree, of the botanical group, Caesalpineae, is ever going on, from one end of the lake to the other; and both toil and time are required to procure the bark, and to prepare it by pounding and steeping it to render it soft and pliable. The prodigious amount of the bark clothing worn indicates the destruction of an immense number of trees every year; yet the adjacent heights seem still well covered with timber.
The Lake people are by no means handsome: the women are very plain; and really make themselves hideous by the means they adopt to render themselves attractive. The pelele, or ornament for the upper lip, is universally worn by the ladies; the most valuable is of pure tin, hammered into the shape of a small dish; some are made of white quartz, and give the wearer the appearance of having an inch or more of one of Price's patent candles thrust through the lip, and projecting beyond the tip of the nose.
In character, the Lake tribes are very much like other people; there are decent men among them, while a good many are no better than they should be. They are open-handed enough: if one of us, as was often the case, went to see a net drawn, a fish was always offered. Sailing one day past a number of men, who had just dragged their nets ashore, at one of the fine fisheries at Pamalombe, we were hailed and asked to stop, and received a liberal donation of beautiful fish. Arriving late one afternoon at a small village on the lake, a number of the inhabitants manned two canoes, took out their seine, dragged it, and made us a present of the entire haul. The northern chief, Marenga, a tall handsome man, with a fine aquiline nose, whom we found living in his stockade in a forest about twenty miles north of the mountain Kowirwe, behaved like a gentleman to us. His land extended from Dambo to the north of Makuza hill. He was specially generous, and gave us bountiful presents of food and beer. "Do they wear such things in your country?" he asked, pointing to his iron bracelet, which was studded with copper, and highly prized. The Doctor said he had never seen such in his country, whereupon Marenga instantly took it off, and presented it to him, and his wife also did the same with hers. On our return south from the mountains near the north end of the lake, we reached Marenga's on the 7th October. When he could not prevail upon us to forego the advantage of a fair wind for his invitation to "spend the whole day drinking his beer, which was," he said, "quite ready," he loaded us with provisions, all of which he sent for before we gave him any present. In allusion to the boat's sail, his people said that they had no Bazimo, or none worth having, seeing they had never invented the like for them. The chief, Mankambira, likewise treated us with kindness; but wherever the slave-trade is carried on, the people are dishonest and uncivil; that invariably leaves a blight and a curse in its path. The first question put to us at the lake crossing- places, was, "Have you come to buy slaves?" On hearing that we were English, and never purchased slaves, the questioners put on a supercilious air, and sometimes refused to sell us food. This want of respect to us may have been owing to the impressions conveyed to them by the Arabs, whose dhows have sometimes been taken by English cruisers when engaged in lawful trade. Much foreign cloth, beads, and brass-wire were worn by these ferrymen—and some had muskets.
By Chitanda, near one of the slave crossing-places, we were robbed for the first time in Africa, and learned by experience that these people, like more civilized nations, have expert thieves among them. It might be only a coincidence; but we never suffered from impudence, loss of property, or were endangered, unless among people familiar with slaving. We had such a general sense of security, that never, save when we suspected treachery, did we set a watch at night. Our native companions had, on this occasion, been carousing on beer, and had removed to a distance of some thirty yards, that we might not overhear their free and easy after-dinner remarks, and two of us had a slight touch of fever; between three and four o'clock in the morning some thieves came, while we slept ingloriously—rifles and revolvers all ready,—and relieved us of most of our goods. The boat's sail, under which we slept, was open all around, so the feat was easy.
Awaking as honest men do, at the usual hour, the loss of one was announced by "My bag is gone—with all my clothes; and my boots too!" "And mine!" responded a second. "And mine also!" chimed in the third, "with the bag of beads, and the rice!" "Is the cloth taken?" was the eager inquiry, as that would have been equivalent to all our money. It had been used for a pillow that night, and thus saved. The rogues left on the beach, close to our beds, the Aneroid Barometer and a pair of boots, thinking possibly that they might be of use to us, or, at least, that they could be of none to them. They shoved back some dried plants and fishes into one bag, but carried off many other specimens we had collected; some of our notes also, and nearly all our clothing.
We could not suspect the people of the village near which we lay. We had probably been followed for days by the thieves watching for an opportunity. And our suspicions fell on some persons who had come from the East Coast; but having no evidence, and expecting to hear if our goods were exposed for sale in the vicinity, we made no fuss about it, and began to make new clothing. That our rifles and revolvers were left untouched was greatly to our advantage: yet we felt it was most humiliating for armed men to have been so thoroughly fleeced by a few black rascals.
Some of the best fisheries appear to be private property. We found shelter from a storm one morning in a spacious lagoon, which communicated with the lake by a narrow passage. Across this strait stakes were driven in, leaving only spaces for the basket fish-traps. A score of men were busily engaged in taking out the fish. We tried to purchase some, but they refused to sell. The fish did not belong to them, they would send for the proprietor of the place. The proprietor arrived in a short time, and readily sold what we wanted.
Some of the burying-grounds are very well arranged, and well cared for; this was noticed at Chitanda, and more particularly at a village on the southern shore of the fine harbour at Cape Maclear. Wide and neat paths were made in the burying-ground on its eastern and southern sides. A grand old fig-tree stood at the north-east corner, and its wide-spreading branches threw their kindly shade over the last resting-place of the dead. Several other magnificent trees grew around the hallowed spot. Mounds were raised as they are at home, but all lay north and south, the heads apparently north. The graves of the sexes were distinguished by the various implements which the buried dead had used in their different employments during life; but they were all broken, as if to be employed no more. A piece of fishing-net and a broken paddle told where a fisherman lay. The graves of the women had the wooden mortar, and the heavy pestle used in pounding the corn, and the basket in which the meal is sifted, while all had numerous broken calabashes and pots arranged around them. The idea that the future life is like the present does not appear to prevail; yet a banana-tree had been carefully planted at the head of several of the graves; the fruit might be considered an offering to those who still possess human tastes. The people of the neighbouring villages were friendly and obliging, and willingly brought us food for sale.
Pursuing our exploration, we found that the northern part of the lake was the abode of lawlessness and bloodshed. The Mazite, or Mazitu, live on the highlands, and make sudden swoops on the villages of the plains. They are Zulus who came originally from the south, inland of Sofalla and Inhambane; and are of the same family as those who levy annual tribute from the Portuguese on the Zambesi. All the villages north of Mankambira's (lat. 11 degrees 44 minutes south) had been recently destroyed by these terrible marauders, but they were foiled in their attacks upon that chief and Marenga. The thickets and stockades round their villages enabled the bowmen to pick off the Mazitu in security, while they were afraid to venture near any place where they could not use their shields. Beyond Mankambira's we saw burned villages, and the putrid bodies of many who had fallen by Mazitu spears only a few days before. Our land party were afraid to go further. This reluctance to proceed without the presence of a white man was very natural, because bands of the enemy who had ravaged the country were supposed to be still roaming about; and if these marauders saw none but men of their own colour, our party might forthwith be attacked. Compliance with their request led to an event which might have been attended by very serious consequences. Dr. Livingstone got separated from the party in the boat for four days. Having taken the first morning's journey along with them, and directing the boat to call for him in a bay in sight, both parties proceeded north. In an hour Dr. Livingstone and his party struck inland, on approaching the foot of the mountains which rise abruptly from the lake. Supposing that they had heard of a path behind the high range which there forms the shore, those in the boat held on their course; but it soon began to blow so fresh that they had to run ashore for safety. While delayed a couple of hours, two men were sent up the hills to look for the land party, but they could see nothing of them, and the boat party sailed as soon as it was safe to put to sea, with the conviction that the missing ones would regain the lake in front.
In a short time a small island or mass of rocks was passed, on which were a number of armed Mazitu with some young women, apparently their wives. The headman said that he had been wounded in the foot by Mankambira, and that they were staying there till he could walk to his chief, who lived over the hills. They had several large canoes, and it was evident that this was a nest of lake pirates, who sallied out by night to kill and plunder. They reported a path behind the hills, and, the crew being reassured, the boat sailed on. A few miles further, another and still larger band of pirates were fallen in with, and hundreds of crows and kites hovered over and round the rocks on which they lived. Dr. Kirk and Charles Livingstone, though ordered in a voice of authority to come ashore, kept on their course. A number of canoes then shot out from the rocks and chased them. One with nine strong paddlers persevered for some time after all the others gave up the chase. A good breeze, however, enabled the gig to get away from them with ease. After sailing twelve or fifteen miles, north of the point where Dr. Livingstone had left them, it was decided that he must be behind; but no sooner had the boat's head been turned south, than another gale compelled her to seek shelter in a bay. Here a number of wretched fugitives from the slave-trade on the opposite shore of the lake were found; the original inhabitants of the place had all been swept off the year before by the Mazitu. In the deserted gardens beautiful cotton was seen growing, much of it had the staple an inch and a half long, and of very fine quality. Some of the plants were uncommonly large, deserving to be ranked with trees.
On their trying to purchase food, the natives had nothing to sell except a little dried cassava-root, and a few fish: and they demanded two yards of calico for the head only of a large fish. When the gale admitted of their return, their former pursuers tried to draw them ashore by asserting that they had quantities of ivory for sale. Owing to a succession of gales, it was the fourth day from parting that the boat was found by Dr. Livingstone, who was coming on in search of it with only two of his companions.
After proceeding a short distance up the path in which they had been lost sight of, they learned that it would take several days to go round the mountains, and rejoin the lake; and they therefore turned down to the bay, expecting to find the boat, but only saw it disappearing away to the north. They pushed on as briskly as possible after it, but the mountain flank which forms the coast proved excessively tedious and fatiguing; travelling all day, the distance made, in a straight line, was under five miles. As soon as day dawned, the march was resumed; and, after hearing at the first inhabited rock that their companions had passed it the day before, a goat was slaughtered out of the four which they had with them, when suddenly, to the evident consternation of the men, seven Mazitu appeared armed with spears and shields, with their heads dressed fantastically with feathers. To hold a parley, Dr. Livingstone and Moloka, a Makololo man who spoke Zulu, went unarmed to meet them. On Dr. Livingstone approaching them, they ordered him to stop, and sit down in the sun, while they sat in the shade. "No, no!" was the reply, "if you sit in the shade, so will we." They then rattled their shields with their clubs, a proceeding which usually inspires terror; but Moloka remarked, "It is not the first time we have heard shields rattled." And all sat down together. They asked for a present, to show their chief that they had actually met strangers—something as evidence of having seen men who were not Arabs. And they were requested in turn to take these strangers to the boat, or to their chief. All the goods were in the boat, and to show that no present such as they wanted was in his pockets, Dr. Livingstone emptied them, turning out, among other things, a note-book: thinking it was a pistol they started up, and said, "Put that in again." The younger men then became boisterous, and demanded a goat. That could not be spared, as they were the sole provisions. When they insisted, they were asked how many of the party they had killed, that they thus began to divide the spoil; this evidently made them ashamed. The elders were more reasonable; they dreaded treachery, and were as much afraid of Dr. Livingstone and his party as his men were of them; for on leaving they sped away up the hills like frightened deer. One of them, and probably the leader, was married, as seen by portions of his hair sewn into a ring; all were observed by their teeth to be people of the country, who had been incorporated into the Zulu tribe.
The way still led over a succession of steep ridges with ravines of from 500 to 1000 feet in depth; some of the sides had to be scaled on hands and knees, and no sooner was the top reached than the descent began again. Each ravine had a running stream; and the whole country, though so very rugged, had all been cultivated, and densely peopled. Many banana-trees, uncared for patches of corn, and Congo-bean bushes attested former cultivation. The population had all been swept away; ruined villages, broken utensils, and human skeletons, met with at every turn, told a sad tale. So numerous were the slain, that it was thought the inhabitants had been slaughtered in consequence of having made raids on the Zulus for cattle.
Continuing the journey that night as long as light served, they slept unconsciously on the edge of a deep precipice, without fire, lest the Mazitu should see it. Next morning most of the men were tired out, the dread of the apparition of the day before tending probably to increase the lameness of which they complained. When told, however, that all might return to Mankambira's save two, Moloka and Charlie, they would not, till assured that the act would not be considered one of cowardice. Giving them one of the goats as provision, another was slaughtered for the remainder of the party who, having found on the rocks a canoe which had belonged to one of the deserted villages, determined to put to sea again; but the craft was very small, and the remaining goat, spite of many a threat of having its throat cut, jumped and rolled about so, as nearly to capsize it; so Dr. Livingstone took to the shore again, and after another night spent without fire, except just for cooking, was delighted to see the boat coming back.
We pulled that day to Mankambira's, a distance that on shore, with the most heartbreaking toil, had taken three days to travel. This was the last latitude taken, 11 degrees 44 minutes S. The boat had gone about 24 minutes further to the north, the land party probably half that distance, but fever prevented the instruments being used. Dr. Kirk and Charles Livingstone were therefore furthest up the lake, and they saw about 20 minutes beyond their turning-point, say into the tenth degree of south latitude. From the heights of at least a thousand feet, over which the land party toiled, the dark mountain masses on both sides of the lake were seen closing in. At this elevation the view extended at least as far as that from the boats, and it is believed the end of the lake lies on the southern borders of 10 degrees, or the northern limits of 11 degrees south latitude.
Elephants are numerous on the borders of the lake, and surprisingly tame, being often found close to the villages. Hippopotami swarm very much at their ease in the creeks and lagoons, and herds are sometimes seen in the lake itself. Their tameness arises from the fact that poisoned arrows have no effect on either elephant or hippopotamus. Five of each were shot for food during our journey. Two of the elephants were females, and had only a single tusk apiece, and were each killed by the first shot. It is always a case of famine or satiety when depending on the rifle for food—a glut of meat or none at all. Most frequently it is scanty fare, except when game is abundant, as it is far up the Zambesi. We had one morning two hippopotami and an elephant, perhaps in all some eight tons of meat, and two days after the last of a few sardines only for dinner.
One morning when sailing past a pretty thickly-inhabited part, we were surprised at seeing nine large bull-elephants standing near the beach quietly flapping their gigantic ears. Glad of an opportunity of getting some fresh meat, we landed and fired into one. They all retreated into a marshy piece of ground between two villages. Our men gave chase, and fired into the herd. Standing on a sand hummock, we could see the bleeding animals throwing showers of water with their trunks over their backs. The herd was soon driven back upon us, and a wounded one turned to bay. Yet neither this one, nor any of the others, ever attempted to charge. Having broken his legs with a rifle-ball, we fired into him at forty yards as rapidly as we could load and discharge the rifles. He simply shook his head at each shot, and received at least sixty Enfield balls before he fell. Our excellent sailor from the north of Ireland happened to fire the last, and, as soon as he saw the animal fall, he turned with an air of triumph to the Doctor and exclaimed, "It was my shot that done it, sir!"
In a few minutes upwards of a thousand natives were round the prostrate king of beasts; and, after our men had taken all they wanted, an invitation was given to the villagers to take the remainder. They rushed at it like hungry hyenas, and in an incredibly short time every inch of it was carried off. It was only by knowing that the meat would all be used that we felt justified in the slaughter of this noble creature. The tusks weighed 62 lbs. each. A large amount of ivory might be obtained from the people of Nyassa, and we were frequently told of their having it in their huts.
While detained by a storm on the 17th October at the mouth of the Kaombe, we were visited by several men belonging to an Arab who had been for fourteen years in the interior at Katanga's, south of Cazembe's. They had just brought down ivory, malachite, copper rings, and slaves to exchange for cloth at the lake. The malachite was said to be dug out of a large vein on the side of a hill near Katanga's. They knew Lake Tanganyika well, but had not heard of the Zambesi. They spoke quite positively, saying that the water of Lake Tanganyika flowed out by the opposite end to that of Nyassa. As they had seen neither of the overflows, we took it simply as a piece of Arab geography. We passed their establishment of long sheds next day, and were satisfied that the Arabs must be driving a good trade.
The Lake slave-trade was going on at a terrible rate. Two enterprising Arabs had built a dhow, and were running her, crowded with slaves, regularly across the Lake. We were told she sailed the day before we reached their head-quarters. This establishment is in the latitude of the Portuguese slave-exporting town of Iboe, and partly supplies that vile market; but the greater number of the slaves go to Kilwa. We did not see much evidence of a wish to barter. Some ivory was offered for sale; but the chief traffic was in human chattels. Would that we could give a comprehensive account of the horrors of the slave-trade, with an approximation to the number of lives it yearly destroys! for we feel sure that were even half the truth told and recognized, the feelings of men would be so thoroughly roused, that this devilish traffic in human flesh would be put down at all risks; but neither we, nor any one else, have the statistics necessary for a work of this kind. Let us state what we do know of one portion of Africa, and then every reader who believes our tale can apply the ratio of the known misery to find out the unknown. We were informed by Colonel Rigby, late H.M. Political Agent, and Consul at Zanzibar, that 19,000 slaves from this Nyassa country alone pass annually through the Custom-house of that island. This is exclusive of course of those sent to Portuguese slave-ports. Let it not be supposed for an instant that this number, 19,000, represents all the victims. Those taken out of the country are but a very small section of the sufferers. We never realized the atrocious nature of the traffic, until we saw it at the fountain-head. There truly "Satan has his seat." Besides those actually captured, thousands are killed and die of their wounds and famine, driven from their villages by the slave raid proper. Thousands perish in internecine war waged for slaves with their own clansmen and neighbours, slain by the lust of gain, which is stimulated, be it remembered always, by the slave purchasers of Cuba and elsewhere. The many skeletons we have seen, amongst rocks and woods, by the little pools, and along the paths of the wilderness, attest the awful sacrifice of human life, which must be attributed, directly or indirectly, to this trade of hell. We would ask our countrymen to believe us when we say, as we conscientiously can, that it is our deliberate opinion, from what we know and have seen, that not one-fifth of the victims of the slave-trade ever become slaves. Taking the Shire Valley as an average, we should say not even one-tenth arrive at their destination. As the system, therefore, involves such an awful waste of human life,—or shall we say of human labour?—and moreover tends directly to perpetuate the barbarism of those who remain in the country, the argument for the continuance of this wasteful course because, forsooth, a fraction of the enslaved may find good masters, seems of no great value. This reasoning, if not the result of ignorance, may be of maudlin philanthropy. A small armed steamer on Lake Nyassa could easily, by exercising a control, and furnishing goods in exchange for ivory and other products, break the neck of this infamous traffic in that quarter; for nearly all must cross the Lake or the Upper Shire.
Our exploration of the Lake extended from the 2nd September to the 27th October, 1861; and, having expended or lost most of the goods we had brought, it was necessary to go back to the ship. When near the southern end, on our return, we were told that a very large slave-party had just crossed to the eastern side. We heard the fire of three guns in the evening, and judged by the report that they must be at least six-pounders. They were said to belong to an Ajawa chief named Mukata.
In descending the Shire, we found concealed in the broad belt of papyrus round the lakelet Pamalombe, into which the river expands, a number of Manganja families who had been driven from their homes by the Ajawa raids. So thickly did the papyrus grow, that when beat down it supported their small temporary huts, though when they walked from one hut to another, it heaved and bent beneath their feet as thin ice does at home.
A dense and impenetrable forest of the papyrus was left standing between them and the land, and no one passing by on the same side would ever have suspected that human beings lived there. They came to this spot from the south by means of their canoes, which enabled them to obtain a living from the fine fish which abound in the lakelet. They had a large quantity of excellent salt sewed up in bark, some of which we bought, our own having run out. We anchored for the night off their floating camp, and were visited by myriads of mosquitoes. Some of the natives show a love of country quite surprising. We saw fugitives on the mountains, in the north of the lake, who were persisting in clinging to the haunts of their boyhood and youth, in spite of starvation and the continual danger of being put to death by the Mazitu.
A few miles below the lakelet is the last of the great slave-crossings. Since the Ajawa invasion the villages on the left bank had been abandoned, and the people, as we saw in our ascent, were living on the right or western bank.
As we were resting for a few minutes opposite the valuable fishery at Movunguti, a young effeminate-looking man from some sea-coast tribe came in great state to have a look at us. He walked under a large umbrella, and was followed by five handsome damsels gaily dressed and adorned with a view to attract purchasers. One was carrying his pipe for smoking bang, here called "chamba;" another his bow and arrows; a third his battle-axe; a fourth one of his robes; while the last was ready to take his umbrella when he felt tired. This show of his merchandise was to excite the cupidity of any chief who had ivory, and may be called the lawful way of carrying on the slave-trade. What proportion it bears to the other ways in which we have seen this traffic pursued, we never found means of forming a judgment. He sat and looked at us for a few minutes, the young ladies kneeling behind him; and having satisfied himself that we were not likely to be customers, he departed.
On our first trip we met, at the landing opposite this place, a middle- aged woman of considerable intelligence, and possessing more knowledge of the country than any of the men. Our first definite information about Lake Nyassa was obtained from her. Seeing us taking notes, she remarked that she had been to the sea, and had there seen white men writing. She had seen camels also, probably among the Arabs. She was the only Manganja woman we ever met who was ashamed of wearing the "pelele," or lip-ring. She retired to her hut, took it out, and kept her hand before her mouth to hide the hideous hole in the lip while conversing with us. All the villagers respected her, and even the headmen took a secondary place in her presence. On inquiring for her now, we found that she was dead. We never obtained sufficient materials to estimate the relative mortality of the highlands and lowlands; but, from many very old white- headed blacks having been seen on the highlands, we think it probable that even native races are longer lived the higher their dwelling-places are.
We landed below at Mikena's and took observations for longitude, to verify those taken two years before. The village was deserted, Mikena and his people having fled to the other side of the river. A few had come across this morning to work in their old gardens. After completing the observations we had breakfast; and, as the last of the things were being carried into the boat, a Manganja man came running down to his canoe, crying out, "The Ajawa have just killed my comrade!" We shoved off, and in two minutes the advanced guard of a large marauding party were standing with their muskets on the spot where we had taken breakfast. They were evidently surprised at seeing us there, and halted; as did also the main body of perhaps a thousand men. "Kill them," cried the Manganja; "they are going up to the hills to kill the English," meaning the missionaries we had left at Magomero. But having no prospect of friendly communication with them, nor confidence in Manganja's testimony, we proceeded down the river; leaving the Ajawa sitting under a large baobab, and the Manganja cursing them most energetically across the river.
On our way up, we had seen that the people of Zimika had taken refuge on a long island in the Shire, where they had placed stores of grain to prevent it falling into the hands of the Ajawa; supposing afterwards that the invasion and war were past, they had removed back again to the mainland on the east, and were living in fancied security. On approaching the chief's village, which was built in the midst of a beautiful grove of lofty wild-fig and palm trees, sounds of revelry fell upon our ears. The people were having a merry time—drumming, dancing, and drinking beer—while a powerful enemy was close at hand, bringing death or slavery to every one in the village. One of our men called out to several who came to the bank to look at us, that the Ajawa were coming and were even now at Mikena's village; but they were dazed with drinking, and took no notice of the warning.
Crowds of carriers offered their services after we left the river. Several sets of them placed so much confidence in us, as to decline receiving payment at the end of the first day; they wished to work another day, and so receive both days' wages in one piece. The young headman of a new village himself came on with his men. The march was a pretty long one, and one of the men proposed to lay the burdens down beside a hut a mile or more from the next village. The headman scolded the fellow for his meanness in wishing to get rid of our goods where we could not procure carriers, and made him carry them on. The village, at the foot of the cataracts, had increased very much in size and wealth since we passed it on our way up. A number of large new huts had been built; and the people had a good stock of cloth and beads. We could not account for this sudden prosperity, until we saw some fine large canoes, instead of the two old, leaky things which lay there before. This had become a crossing-place for the slaves that the Portuguese agents were carrying to Tette, because they were afraid to take them across nearer to where the ship lay, about seven miles off. Nothing was more disheartening than this conduct of the Manganja, in profiting by the entire breaking up of their nation.
We reached the ship on the 8th of November, 1861, in a very weak condition, having suffered more from hunger than on any previous trip. Heavy rains commenced on the 9th, and continued several days; the river rose rapidly, and became highly discoloured. Bishop Mackenzie came down to the ship on the 14th, with some of the "Pioneer's" men, who had been at Magomero for the benefit of their health, and also for the purpose of assisting the Mission. The Bishop appeared to be in excellent spirits, and thought that the future promised fair for peace and usefulness. The Ajawa having been defeated and driven off while we were on the Lake, had sent word that they desired to live at peace with the English. Many of the Manganja had settled round Magomero, in order to be under the protection of the Bishop; and it was hoped that the slave-trade would soon cease in the highlands, and the people be left in the secure enjoyment of their industry. The Mission, it was also anticipated, might soon become, to a considerable degree, self-supporting, and raise certain kinds of food, like the Portuguese of Senna and Quillimane. Mr. Burrup, an energetic young man, had arrived at Chibisa's the day before the Bishop, having come up the Shire in a canoe. A surgeon and a lay brother followed behind in another canoe. The "Pioneer's" draught being too much for the upper part of the Shire, it was not deemed advisable to bring her up, on the next trip, further than the Ruo; the Bishop, therefore, resolved to explore the country from Magomero to the mouth of that river, and to meet the ship with his sisters and Mrs. Burrup, in January. This was arranged before parting, and then the good Bishop and Burrup, whom we were never to meet again, left us; they gave and received three hearty English cheers as they went to the shore, and we steamed off.
The rains ceased on the 14th, and the waters of the Shire fell, even more rapidly than they had risen. A shoal, twenty miles below Chibisa's, checked our further progress, and we lay there five weary weeks, till the permanent rise of the river took place. During this detention, with a large marsh on each side, the first death occurred in the Expedition which had now been three-and-a-half years in the country. The carpenter's mate, a fine healthy young man, was seized with fever. The usual remedies had no effect; he died suddenly while we were at evening prayers, and was buried on shore. He came out in the "Pioneer," and, with the exception of a slight touch of fever at the mouth of the Rovuma, had enjoyed perfect health all the time he had been with us. The Portuguese are of opinion that the European who has immunity from this disease for any length of time after he enters the country is more likely to be cut off by it when it does come, than the man who has it frequently at first.
The rains became pretty general towards the close of December, and the Shire was in flood in the beginning of January, 1862. At our wooding- place, a mile above the Ruo, the water was three feet higher than it was when we were here in June; and on the night of the 6th it rose eighteen inches more, and swept down an immense amount of brushwood and logs which swarmed with beetles and the two kinds of shells which are common all over the African continent. Natives in canoes were busy spearing fish in the meadows and creeks, and appeared to be taking them in great numbers. Spur-winged geese, and others of the knob-nosed species, took advantage of the low gardens being flooded, and came to pilfer the beans. As we passed the Ruo, on the 7th, and saw nothing of the Bishop, we concluded that he had heard from his surgeon of our detention, and had deferred his journey. He arrived there five days after, on the 12th.
After paying our Senna men, as they wished to go home, we landed them here. All were keen traders, and had invested largely in native iron- hoes, axes, and ornaments. Many of the hoes and spears had been taken from the slaving parties whose captives we liberated; for on these occasions our Senna friends were always uncommonly zealous and active. The remainder had been purchased with the old clothes we had given them and their store of hippopotamus meat: they had no fear of losing them, or of being punished for aiding us. The system, in which they had been trained, had eradicated the idea of personal responsibility from their minds. The Portuguese slaveholders would blame the English alone, they said; they were our servants at the time. No white man on board could purchase so cheaply as these men could. Many a time had their eloquence persuaded a native trader to sell for a bit of dirty worn cloth things for which he had, but a little before, refused twice the amount of clean new calico. "Scissors" being troubled with a cough at night, received a present of a quilted coverlet, which had seen a good deal of service. A few days afterwards, a good chance of investing in hoes offering itself, he ripped off both sides, tore them into a dozen pieces, and purchased about a dozen hoes with them.
We entered the Zambesi on the 11th of January, and steamed down towards the coast, taking the side on which we had come up; but the channel had changed to the other side during the summer, as it sometimes does, and we soon grounded. A Portuguese gentleman, formerly a lieutenant in the army, and now living on Sangwisa, one of the islands of the Zambesi, came over with his slaves, to aid us in getting the ship off. He said frankly, that his people were all great thieves, and we must be on our guard not to leave anything about. He next made a short speech to his men, told them he knew what thieves they were, but implored them not to steal from us, as we would give them a present of cloth when the work was done. "The natives of this country," he remarked to us, "think only of three things, what they shall eat and drink, how many wives they can have, and what they may steal from their master, if not how they may murder him." He always slept with a loaded musket by his side. This opinion may apply to slaves, but decidedly does not in our experience apply to freemen. We paid his men for helping us, and believe that even they, being paid, stole nothing from us. Our friend farms pretty extensively the large island called Sangwisa,—lent him for nothing by Senhor Ferrao,—and raises large quantities of mapira and beans, and also beautiful white rice, grown from seed brought a few years ago from South Carolina. He furnished us with some, which was very acceptable; for though not in absolute want, we were living on beans, salt pork, and fowls, all the biscuit and flour on board having been expended.
We fully expected that the owners of the captives we had liberated would show their displeasure, at least by their tongues; but they seemed ashamed; only one ventured a remark, and he, in the course of common conversation, said, with a smile, "You took the Governor's slaves, didn't you?" "Yes, we did free several gangs that we met in the Manganja country." The Portuguese of Tette, from the Governor downwards, were extensively engaged in slaving. The trade is partly internal and partly external: they send some of the captives, and those bought, into the interior, up the Zambesi: some of these we actually met on their way up the river. The young women were sold there for ivory: an ordinary-looking one brought two arrobas, sixty-four pounds weight, and an extra beauty brought twice that amount. The men and boys were kept as carriers, to take the ivory down from the interior to Tette, or were retained on farms on the Zambesi, ready for export if a slaver should call: of this last mode of slaving we were witnesses also. The slaves were sent down the river chained, and in large canoes. This went on openly at Tette, and more especially so while the French "Free Emigration" system was in full operation. This double mode of disposing of the captives pays better than the single system of sending them down to the coast for exportation. One merchant at Tette, with whom we were well acquainted, sent into the interior three hundred Manganja women to be sold for ivory, and another sent a hundred and fifty.
Arrival of H.M.S. "Gorgon"—Dr. Livingstone's new steamer and Mrs. Livingstone—Death of Mrs. Livingstone—Voyage to Johanna and the Rovuma—An attack upon the "Pioneer's" boats.
We anchored on the Great Luabo mouth of the Zambesi, because wood was much more easily obtained there than at the Kongone.
On the 30th, H.M.S. "Gorgon" arrived, towing the brig which brought Mrs. Livingstone, some ladies about to join their relatives in the Universities' Mission, and the twenty-four sections of a new iron steamer intended for the navigation of Lake Nyassa. The "Pioneer" steamed out, and towed the brig into the Kongone harbour. The new steamer was called the "Lady of the Lake," or the "Lady Nyassa," and as much as could be carried of her in one trip was placed, by the help of the officers and men of the "Gorgon," on board the "Pioneer," and the two large paddle-box boats of H.M.'s ship. We steamed off for Ruo on the 10th of February, having on board Captain Wilson, with a number of his officers and men to help us to discharge the cargo. Our progress up was distressingly slow. The river was in flood, and we had a three-knot current against us in many places. These delays kept us six months in the delta, instead of, as we anticipated, only six days; for, finding it impossible to carry the sections up to the Ruo without great loss of time, it was thought best to land them at Shupanga, and, putting the hull of the "Lady Nyassa" together there, to tow her up to the foot of the Murchison Cataracts.
A few days before the "Pioneer" reached Shupanga, Captain Wilson, seeing the hopeless state of affairs, generously resolved to hasten with the Mission ladies up to those who, we thought, were anxiously awaiting their arrival, and therefore started in his gig for the Ruo, taking Miss Mackenzie, Mrs. Burrup, and his surgeon, Dr. Ramsay. They were accompanied by Dr. Kirk and Mr. Sewell, paymaster of the "Gorgon," in the whale-boat of the "Lady Nyassa." As our slow-paced-launch, "Ma Robert," had formerly gone up to the foot of the cataracts in nine days' steaming, it was supposed that the boats might easily reach the expected meeting- place at the Ruo in a week; but the Shire was now in flood, and in its most rapid state; and they were longer in getting up about half the distance, than it was hoped they would be in the whole navigable part of the river. They could hear nothing of the Bishop from the chief of the island, Malo, at the mouth of the Ruo. "No white man had ever come to his village," he said. They proceeded on to Chibisa's, suffering terribly from mosquitoes at night. Their toil in stemming the rapid current made them estimate the distance, by the windings, as nearer 300 than 200 miles. The Makololo who had remained at Chibisa's told them the sad news of the death of the good Bishop and of Mr. Burrup. Other information received there awakened fresh anxiety on behalf of the survivors; so, leaving the ladies with Dr. Ramsay and the Makololo, Captain Wilson and Dr. Kirk went up the hills, in hopes of being able to render assistance, and on the way they met some of the Mission party at Soche's. The excessive fatigue that our friends had undergone in the voyage up to Chibisa's in no wise deterred them from this further attempt for the benefit of their countrymen, but the fresh labour, with diminished rations, was too much for their strength. They were reduced to a diet of native beans and an occasional fowl. Both became very ill of fever, Captain Wilson so dangerously that his fellow-sufferer lost all hopes of his recovery. His strong able-bodied cockswain did good service in cheerfully carrying his much-loved Commander, and they managed to return to the boat, and brought the two bereaved and sorrow-stricken ladies back to the "Pioneer."
We learnt that the Bishop, wishing to find a shorter route down to the Shire, had sent two men to explore the country between Magomero and the junction of the Ruo; and in December Messrs. Proctor and Scudamore, with a number of Manganja carriers, left Magomero for the same purpose. They were to go close to Mount Choro, and then skirt the Elephant Marsh, with Mount Clarendon on their left. Their guides seem to have led them away to the east, instead of south; to the upper waters of the Ruo in the Shirwa valley, instead of to its mouth. Entering an Anguru slave-trading village, they soon began to suspect that the people meant mischief, and just before sunset a woman told some of their men that if they slept there they would all be killed. On their preparing to leave, the Anguru followed them and shot their arrows at the retreating party. Two of the carriers were captured, and all the goods were taken by these robbers. An arrow-head struck deep into the stock of Proctor's gun; and the two missionaries, barely escaping with their lives, swam a deep river at night, and returned to Magomero famished and exhausted.
The wives of the captive carriers came to the Bishop day after day weeping and imploring him to rescue their husbands from slavery. The men had been caught while in his service, no one else could be entreated; there was no public law nor any power superior to his own, to which an appeal could be made; for in him Church and State were, in the disorganized state of the country, virtually united. It seemed to him to be clearly his duty to try and rescue these kidnapped members of the Mission family. He accordingly invited the veteran Makololo to go with him on this somewhat hazardous errand. Nothing could have been proposed to them which they would have liked better, and they went with alacrity to eat the sheep of the Anguru, only regretting that the enemy did not keep cattle as well. Had the matter been left entirely in their hands, they would have made a clean sweep of that part of the country; but the Bishop restrained them, and went in an open manner, thus commending the measure to all the natives, as one of justice. This deliberation, however, gave the delinquents a chance of escape.
The missionaries were successful; the offending village was burned, and a few sheep and goats were secured which could not be considered other than a very mild punishment for the offence committed; the headman, Muana-somba, afraid to retain the prisoners any longer, forthwith liberated them, and they returned to their homes. This incident took place at the time we were at the Ruo and during the rains, and proved very trying to the health of the missionaries; they were frequently wetted, and had hardly any food but roasted maize. Mr. Scudamore was never well afterwards. Directly on their return to Magomero, the Bishop and Mr. Burrup, both suffering from diarrhoea in consequence of wet, hunger, and exposure, started for Chibisa's to go down to the Ruo by the Shire. So fully did the Bishop expect a renewal of the soaking wet from which he had just returned, that on leaving Magomero he walked through the stream. The rivulets were so swollen that it took five days to do a journey that would otherwise have occupied only two days and a half.
None of the Manganja being willing to take them down the river during the flood, three Makololo canoe-men agreed to go with them. After paddling till near sunset, they decided to stop and sleep on shore; but the mosquitoes were so numerous that they insisted on going on again; the Bishop, being a week behind the time he had engaged to be at the Ruo, reluctantly consented, and in the darkness the canoe was upset in one of the strong eddies or whirlpools, which suddenly boil up in flood time near the outgoing branches of the river; clothing, medicines, tea, coffee, and sugar were all lost. Wet and weary, and tormented by mosquitoes, they lay in the canoe till morning dawned, and then proceeded to Malo, an island at the mouth of the Ruo, where the Bishop was at once seized with fever.
Had they been in their usual health, they would doubtless have pushed on to Shupanga, or to the ship; but fever rapidly prostrates the energies, and induces a drowsy stupor, from which, if not roused by medicine, the patient gradually sinks into the sleep of death. Still mindful, however, of his office, the Bishop consoled himself by thinking that he might gain the friendship of the chief, which would be of essential service to him in his future labours. That heartless man, however, probably suspicious of all foreigners from the knowledge he had acquired of white slave-traders, wanted to turn the dying Bishop out of the hut, as he required it for his corn, but yielded to the expostulations of the Makololo. Day after day for three weeks did these faithful fellows remain beside his mat on the floor; till, without medicine or even proper food, he died. They dug his grave on the edge of the deep dark forest where the natives buried their dead. Mr. Burrup, himself far gone with dysentery, staggered from the hut, and, as in the dusk of evening they committed the Bishop's body to the grave, repeated from memory portions of our beautiful service for the Burial of the Dead—"earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust; in sure and certain hope of the resurrection of the dead through our Lord Jesus Christ." And in this sad way ended the earthly career of one, of whom it can safely be said that for unselfish goodness of heart, and earnest devotion to the noble work he had undertaken, none of the commendations of his friends can exceed the reality. The grave in which his body rests is about a hundred yards from the confluence of the Ruo, on the left bank of the Shire, and opposite the island of Malo. The Makololo then took Mr. Burrup up in the canoe as far as they could, and, making a litter of branches, carried him themselves, or got others to carry him, all the way back to his countrymen at Magomero. They hurried him on lest he should die in their hands, and blame be attached to them. Soon after his return he expired, from the disease which was on him when he started to meet his wife.