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Pioneers and Founders - or, Recent Workers in the Mission field
by Charlotte Mary Yonge
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It was on the 4th of January, 1862, that they started with a few Malokolo and the interpreter Charles, and it was six weeks before the colony at Magomero heard any tidings. There the stores were all but exhausted, and having hardly any goods left for barter, there was little food to be obtained but green corn and pumpkin, most unsuited to the Englishmen's present state of health.

Meanwhile, in constant rain and through swollen streams, Mackenzie and Burrup had made their way down to the river, and there with much difficulty obtained a canoe. On the first night of the voyage all the party, except the Bishop, wished to go on, because the mosquitoes rendered rest impossible. He thought moving on in the dark imprudent, but gave up his own will, and even wrote jestingly afterwards on the convenience of making the mosquitoes act as a spur. The consequence was that they came suddenly upon a projecting bend; the boat upset, and everything they had was in the water. They spent more than an hour in recovering what could be brought up; but their powder and their provisions were spoilt, and, what was still worse, their medicines: including the quinine, almost essential to life, and that when they were thoroughly drenched in the middle of an African night.

Making sure, however, of speedily meeting Dr. Livingstone, they pushed on; but when they came to Malo, the isle at the confluence of the Ruo and Shire, they learnt from the natives that the Pioneer had gone down the stream. The negroes could give no clear account of how long ago it had been. If they had known that it had been only five days, they would probably have put forth their speed and have overtaken her, but they thought that a much longer time was intended, and that waiting for the return would be not only more prudent, but might enable them to make friends with the chief, and prepare for a station to be established on the island. A hut was given them, and there was plenty of wholesome food on the island.

Inaction, is, however the most fatal curse in that land of fever. There is a cheerful letter written by the Bishop to his home friends, on the 14th and 15th of January; but his vigour was flagging. He spoke with disappointment of the inability of Dr. Livingstone to bring up stores to Chibisa's, and longed much for his sisters' arrival, telling his companion it would break his heart if they did not now come. He also wrote a strong letter to the Secretary of the Universities' Mission, begging for a steam launch to keep up the supplies, where the Pioneer had failed. Soon after this, both became grievously ill; the Bishop's fever grew violent, he perceived his danger, and told the Malokolo that JESUS would come to take him, but he presently became delirious and insensible, in which condition he lay for five days, the Malokolo waiting on him as well as they could under Burrup's superintendence.

The negro tribes have an exceeding dread of death, and a hut which has had a corpse in it is shut up for three years. Probably for this reason the chief begged that the dying man might be carried to another hut less needful to himself, and as he had been kind and friendly throughout Mr. Burrup thought it right to comply. Shortly after, on the afternoon of the 31st of January, the pure, gentle, and noble spirit passed away. The chief, from superstitious fear, insisted that the body should be immediately interred, and not on the island, and Mr. Burrup and the Malokolo therefore laid it in their canoe, and paddled to the mainland, where a spot was cleared in the bush, the grave dug, and as it was by this time too dark to see to read, Mr. Burrup said all that he could remember of the burial service, the four blacks standing wondering and mournful by.

He saw that for himself the only hope was in a return to Magomero. The canoe was tried, but the current was so strong that such small numbers could not make head against it. He therefore proceeded on foot, but fell down repeatedly from weakness, and was only dragged on by his strong will and the aid of the Malokolo. They behaved admirably, and when he reached Chibisa's, and could walk no longer, they and the villagers contrived a palanquin of wood, and carried him on in it. The chief, finding that his store of cloth (i.e. coin) was expended, actually offered him a present of some to carry him on.

On the 14th of February, one of the Malokolo appeared before the anxious colonists at Magomero. His face was that of a bearer of evil tidings, and when they asked for the Bishop, he hid his face in his hands. When they pressed further, he said, "wafa, wafa" (he is dead, he is dead). And while they stood round stunned, he made them understand that Burrup was at hand, so ill as to be carried on men's shoulders.

There was nothing to be done but to hurry out to meet him, taking the last drop of wine remaining. He had become the very shadow of himself, but even then he slightly rallied, and could he have had nourishing food, wine or brandy, the strength of his constitution would probably have carried him through; but the stores were exhausted, there was nothing to recruit his powers, and on the 23rd of February he likewise died.

Meantime, his young wife, with Miss Mackenzie and Mrs. Livingstone, had sailed in December in a wretchedly uncomfortable little craft, called the Hetty Ellen. On reaching the Kongone they saw no token of the Pioneer, but after waiting in great discomfort, tossing at the mouth of the river, the vessel made for Mozambique. There they fell in with H.M.S. Gorgon. Captain Wilson, resolved to render them every service in his power, took the ladies on board, the vessel in tow, and carried them to Quillinane, where they presently fell in with Dr. Livingstone and the Pioneer.

His little lake steamer, the Lady Nyassa, had been packed on board the Hetty Ellen, and had formed the only shelter Miss Mackenzie had from the sun, and the transference of this occupied some time. Then the unhappy Pioneer began to proceed at her snail's pace, one day on a sand- bank, another with the machinery out of order, continually halting for supplies of wood, and thinking a couple of miles a good day's work. Captain Wilson, shocked at the notion of women spending weeks in labouring up that pestiferous stream, beset with mosquitoes by night and tsetse flies by day, offered to man his gig and take them up himself. So desperate a journey was it for a frail invalid like Miss Mackenzie, that one of the sailors took a spade to dig her grave with; and in fact she was soon prostrated with fever. None of the party knew who lay sleeping in his grave under the trees. The natives on the island entirely denied having seen or heard anything of the Bishop, and never gave Mr. Burrup's letter, fearing perhaps that some revenge might fall on them. Baffled by not meeting him, Captain Wilson still would not leave the ladies till he should have seen them safe among their friends, and pushed on his boat with speed very unlike that of the tardy Pioneer, and thus, in a day and a half, arrived at Chibisa's, where the Malokolo came down to the boat, with tidings that, though their language was but imperfectly understood, were only too certain. The brave and tender-hearted leader of the mission was dead! Still there was hope of Mr. Burrup; but Captain Wilson would not allow the young wife to take the difficult journey only to find desolation, but went on by land himself, leaving her with Miss Mackenzie, under charge of his ship's surgeon, Dr. Ramsay. He came back after a few days, having become too ill by the way to get further than Soche, where he had been met by three of the mission party, who now returned with him to Chibisa's, with the tidings in all their sad fulness; and the mournful party set forth upon their return. On coming to the island, he demanded Mr. Burrup's letter, and the negroes looked at one another, saying, "It is all known." They gave him the letter, but it was with very great difficulty that they could be persuaded to show him the grave, over which he set up a cross of reeds, and then continuing this sad voyage, placed the ladies on board his ship, and carried them back to Capetown.

Bishop Mackenzie had executed a will not six weeks before his death, bequeathing to the Additional Bishoprics Fund his property, and to the mission his books, except those specially connected with his personal devotions, which were to go to his family, and which Captain Wilson brought down with him, the Bible, Prayer-book, and "Christian Year," bearing tokens of that immersion in the water which, by the destruction of the medicines, may be believed to have been the chief cause of his death. Until the arrival of a new Bishop, or of instructions from the Metropolitan of Capetown, the headship of the mission was to remain with the senior clergyman, or failing him, of the senior layman. Thus the little colony had their instructions to wait and carry on the work: but further difficulties soon arose. Stores were still wanting, fever prevailed even among the negroes. All the class of little children whom the Bishop used to teach had died under it, each being baptized before its death, and the Ajawa began to threaten again. The lessened force, without a head, decided that, though their advance might drive the enemy back, it was better to avoid further warfare, and relinquish the post at Magomero. With the long train of helpless natives, then, the few white men set forth, and after several days' tedious and weary march came to Chibisa's, where they founded a new station on a hill-side, above the native village, and tried to continue their old system; but by Christmas Mr. Scudamore had become fatally ill, and he died on the morning of New Year's Day, 1863, greatly lamented, not only by the remnant of his own party, but by all the negroes; and on the 17th of March he was followed by Dr. Dickinson.

We do not deal with those still living, therefore we will only further mention that on the 26th of June following Bishop Tozer arrived at Chibisa's. He decided on removing to a place called Morumbala, a station nearer Quillinane, which he hoped might prove healthier, and out of the reach of the Ajawa. The remaining clergy of the mission were greatly concerned at this, for they had hopes of influencing the Ajawa, and besides, the negroes whom they had rescued, who had been now more than a year under their care, could not for the most part be taken to Morumbala; for, though grieving much at losing their "English fathers," they would be placed at a distance from their own tribe, among strangers and possible enemies.

The families who could provide for themselves were left at Chibisa's, Mr. Waller making the best terms in his power for them. It was sad to leave them without having more thoroughly Christianized them, but the frequent sicknesses of the clergy, the loss of the chief pastor, and the want of some one to take the lead, had prevented their instruction from being all that could have been hoped. They had become warmly attached to the English, and had in many respects much improved, and it is hoped that they may keep alive the memory of the training they have received, and prepare the way for better things.

There were about twenty orphan boys, for whom Bishop Tozer undertook to provide; but there were also ten or twelve women and girls, the former old and infirm, the latter orphans, and these Mr. Waller could not bear to abandon, so he carried them with him to Morumbala, and supported them at his own expense, until at the end of five months it was decided to give up Morumbala, and fix the head-quarters of the Central African Mission at Zanzibar. Then, as it was not easy to convey the boys, or provide for them there, Mr. Waller took the charge of them likewise, and, with Dr. Livingstone's assistance, conveyed both them and the women and children to Capetown, where he succeeded in procuring homes for them in different families and mission schools or stations. All are now Christians, and show themselves gentle, and susceptible of training and education; nor have they much of that disposition so familiar to us in the transplanted negroes of Western Africa. Four boys were brought to England, but the climate would soon have been fatal to them, and it is evident that Capetown or Natal and its dependencies must be the meeting ground of the English and African races, since there alone can both retain their vigour in the same climate.

Thus ended the first venture of the University mission, in the sacrifice of four lives, which may be well esteemed as freely laid down in the cause of the Gospel. Such lives and such deaths are the seed of the Church. It is they that speak the loudest in calling for the fresh labourers; and though the Zanzibar Mission has drifted far away from the field of Mackenzie's labours, and has adopted a different system, and though his toils in Natal never were allowed to continue long enough in a single spot for him personally to reap their fruits upon earth, not only has his name become a trumpet call, but out of his grave has sprung, as it were, a mission in the very quarter where, had he been permitted, he would have spent his best efforts, namely, the free Zulu country, Panda's kingdom, to the north of the Tugela.

It has been already mentioned that Mr. and Mrs. Robertson had removed thither, from their station upon the Umlazi, taking with them a selection of their Christian Kaffirs, and settling, with the king's permission, at a place called Kwamagwaza. At first they lived in a waggon and tents, for, delicate and often ill as was Mrs. Robertson, she shrank from no hardship or exertion. She writes, "My own health has been wonderful, in spite of much real suffering from the closeness of the waggon, and exposure to rain or hot sun, which is even more trying. I often have to sleep with the waggon open, and a damp foggy air flowing through to keep me from fainting, and I have often told myself, 'You might be worse off in the cabin of a steamer,' that I might not pity myself too much."

A hut was soon raised, and Mrs. Robertson here ruled in her own peculiarly dignified and tender way as the mother of the whole station, keeping guard there while her husband went on expeditions to visit the king and his son Ketchewayo, the chief executive authority. Another hut was raised to serve as a church, and the days were arranged much as those on the Umlazi had been. Children were born to the Christian couples, and Mrs. Robertson spent much time and care in teaching the mothers how to deal with them after a civilized and Christian fashion. Other children were sometimes brought to her to be adopted, and when entirely made over by their parents were baptized and bred up as Christians. The general trust in Mr. Robertson's skill as a doctor brought many people under his influence, and likewise gave some, though very slight assistance, in combating the belief in witchcraft, the worst enemy with which Christianity has to contend.

Whenever a person falls sick or meets with an accident, a conjurer is sent for, who attributes the disaster to some other person, on whom revenge must be taken. In the British territory, no more can be done than to treat the supposed wizard with contumely, such as to render his life a burthen to him, and he can generally escape this by entering some white man's service, or attaching himself to a mission-station; but in independent Zululand, any disaster to prince or great chief was sure to be followed by a horrible massacre of the whole family of the supposed offender, unless he had time to escape across the border. Many a time did wounded women and children fly from the slaughter to Kwamagwaza, and Mr. and Mrs. Robertson protect them from the first fury of the pursuers, and then almost force consent from Ketchewayo to their living under the protection of the umfundisi.

Visits to Ketchewayo formed a very important part of the work, since they gradually established his confidence in Mr. Robertson, and obtained concessions that facilitated the Christianizing of his people. One of his great objections was the fear of losing their services as warriors. The regiments still assemble at his camp as in the days of Dingarn, go through their exercises and sing their war-songs, into some of which are introduced lines in contempt of the Kaffirs who have passed the Tugela to live under British law:—

"The Natal people have no king, They eat salt; To every tag-rag white man they say, 'Your Excellency!'"

Mrs. Robertson's niece, Miss Fanny Woodrow, who had come out to join her, arrived at Durban, and was there met by Mrs. Robertson herself, in her waggon, after the long and perilous journey undertaken alone with the Kaffirs. Her residence at Kwamagwaza was a time of much interest and prosperity; she threw herself into the work, and much assisted in the training of the women and children, and one or two visits she made to Ketchewayo greatly delighted the prince. She came in June 1861, but she had become engaged on her way out to the Rev. Lovell Procter, and when the mission at Chibisa's was given up, he was in such a state of health as not to be able to continue with the University Mission. Therefore he set out on his return, and, coming to Natal by the way, arrived at Kwamagwaza early in 1864. He was the first brother clergyman Mr. Robertson had seen since coming into Zululand, and the mingling of joy at the meeting, and of sorrow for Bishop Mackenzie, were almost overwhelming. At Easter Mr. Procter and Miss Woodrow were married, in the little mission church, built of bricks made by Mr. Robertson's own hands and those of his pupils; and soon after Mr. and Mrs. Robertson set out in their waggon to escort the newly-married pair to Durban, taking with them several of their converts, and all their flock of adopted children.

The stay in Durban, and Pieter Maritzburg, among old friends, was full of comfort and pleasure; but the indefatigable missionary and his wife were soon on their way home, their waggon heavily loaded with boxes sent by friends in England, containing much that they had longed for—among other things, iron-work for fitting their church. On the 18th of June, when they were three days' journey across the Tugela, while Mr. Robertson was walking in front of the waggon to secure a safe track for it, the wheels, in coming down a descent, slid along on some slippery grass, and there was a complete overturn, the waggon falling on its side with the wheels in the air, and Mrs. Robertson, and a little Kaffir boy of three years old, under the whole of the front portion of the load.

Her husband and the Kaffirs cut away the side of the waggon with axes, and tried to draw her out, but she was too fast wedged in. She said in a calm voice, "Oh, remove the boxes," but before this could be done she had breathed her last, apparently from suffocation, for her limbs were not crushed, and her exceeding delicacy of frame and shortness of breath probably made the weight and suffocation fatal to her. The little boy suffered no injury.

The spot was near a Norwegian mission station, where the kindest help was immediately offered to the husband. A coffin was made of plank that had been bought at Durban to be made into church doors, and when her husband had kept lonely vigil all night over her remains, Henrietta Robertson was laid in her grave, where the Norwegians hope to build their church, Mr. Robertson himself reading the service over her.

But her work has not died with her. Mr. Robertson returned to his lonely task, helped and tended by the converted man and his wife, Usajabula and Christina, whom she had trained, and whose child had been with her in the fatal overturn. A clergyman returning from the Zanzibar Mission came to him and aided him for a while; other helpers have come out from time to time, and meantime, Miss Mackenzie exerted herself to the utmost, straining every nerve to obtain funds for the establishment of a Missionary Bishopric in Zululand, as the most fitting memorial to her brother, since it was here that, had he chosen for himself, his work would have lain. After several years of endeavour she has succeeded, and, even as these last pages are written, we hold in our hands the account of the arrival of the new Bishop at Kwamagwaza.

So it is that the work never perishes, but the very extinction of one light seems to cause the lighting of many more; and thus it is that the word is being gradually fulfilled that the Gospel shall be preached to all nations, and that "the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea."



Footnotes:

{f:6} At first sight this seems one of the last misfortunes likely to have befallen a godly gentleman of Charlestown; but throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the Algerine pirates swept the seas up to the very coasts of England, as Sir John Eliot's biography testifies. Dr. James Yonge, of Plymouth, an ancestor only four removes from the writer, was at one time in captivity to them; and there was still probability enough of such a catastrophe for Priscilla Wakefield to introduce it in her "Juvenile Travellers," written about 1780.

{f:130} Articles of dress.

{f:133} The Judsons always use the universal prefix Moung, which we omit, as evidently is a general title.

{f:137} All along in these letters, written journal fashion, it is to be observed how careful and even distrustful Mr. Judson is.

{f:221} Merino sheep, so called in Spain because the breed came from beyond the sea (Mer), having been introduced from England by Constance, daughter of John of Gaunt, and wife of Juan II.

LONDON: R. CLAY, SONS, AND TAYLOR, PRINTERS, BREAD STREET HILL.

THE END

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