Mr. Murray in 1825; and has been so generally read (having gone through three editions), that it is hardly necessary to say, the mission consisted, besides Colonel (then Major) Denham, of Dr. Oudney, and Captain (then Lieutenant) Clapperton: the former of whom died at Murmur near Katagum, in Soudan, in January 1824; the latter, though having suffered most severely from climate in the former enterprise, embarked on a second expedition in November, 1825, with the view of penetrating from the southern coast to Sackatoo, in Soudan; at which place he unhappily perished, in April, 1827.* Thus firmly established as the most successful traveller in those hitherto-unexplored regions, Colonel Denham became an object of peculiar favour and deep interest in the highest circles at home; and his pleasing exterior, manly affability, and travelled air, were such, that he was at no loss to sustain his pretensions in any society. To Earl Bathurst's discriminating and unostentatious kindness he was much indebted: he was an invited guest both in London and at Oakley; and his Lordship's desire to mark his approbation of the zeal and intelligence which the traveller had evinced, led him to offer to his acceptance a new and experimental appointment to Sierra Leone, just then decided on at the suggestion of General Turner, then Governor of the Colony. The lamented death of that zealous officer, however, deprived him of the gratification of seeing his recommendation adopted, and Colonel Denham of the advantage of his co-operation. No sooner, therefore, had Colonel Denham performed his duty to his fellow-travellers and himself, in presenting to the public his simple narrative of their discoveries (for the death of Dr. Oudney in Africa, and the departure of Captain Clapperton on his second journey to Sockatoo, necessarily left this duty in his hands), than, anxious for enterprise, he was appointed Superintendant, or Director-General, of the liberated African department at Sierra Leone and the coasts of Africa, * See the Memoir of Captain Clapperton in Volume XIII. of the " Annual Biography and Obituary." and became a member of Council. Major-General Sir Neil Campbell had in the interim assumed the government of the colony, on the death of General Turner; and Colonel Denham cheerfully entered on the preparation for his mission. He embarked accordingly, on the 8th of December, 1826, on board the Cadmus, Captain Hallowell, at Plymouth, where was then also lying the British armament about to sail for Portugal, and just ready to put to sea. This could not fail to excite his military ardour, and recal soul-stirring recollections of his old campaigns in the Peninsula; and he says in a letter written at the time:—

"Here are troops going out to Portugal. I think I should have had a good chance for being now employed, but 'Che sam sara ,-' and no doubt all is for the best." In twenty-eight days from the date of this letter he landed at Sierra Leone. His early duty was to visit the villages surrounding Free Town, in which the liberated Africans are located; and the following description will show his simple and characteristic manner of conveying his impressions : —

"I am now, and have been for these five days, among the mountain villages, with superb scenery, a fresh breeze, and a warm sun, in a cool house with a large piazza of wood, in the midst of a population of eleven hundred liberated Africans, and discharged black soldiers. In the market are daily different kinds of fish; bananas and pine-apples are in the garden of the manager's house; oranges, nuts, red peppers, tomatoes, ochroes (as good as asparagus), and excellent water from a brook that runs down the mountain side. My evening rides to the neighbouring villages, where I am endeavouring to establish order, and encourage industry, are quite delightful. What does one want more? Why, I will tell you,— society." From May to October the wretchedly unhealthy wet season continues; and although Colonel Denham observed in the beginning, that "the rains were nothing when compared to those of the Bornou country,":' in a subsequent letter he admitted that the debilitating effects of the rainy-season fever at Sierra Leone were dreadful in the extreme; and that the VOL. XIV. D

European women suffered from them still more severely than the men. In December, 1827, he embarked on board the Sybille, Commodore Collier, on a voyage of inspection to Fernando Po; and it is not a little singular that he should have fallen in with Lander, the faithful servant of his former fellow-traveller, Clapperton, on the coast; and that he was the first to transmit to England the intelligence of the fatal termination of poor Clapperton's journey. On landing at Accra, he described the climate of that place as in some respects superior to that of Sierra Leone. Colonel Denham returned to Free Town early in May, 1828, in the highest health and confidence, His Majesty's warrant, appointing him Lieutenant-Governor of the Colony (the appointment of Governor being abolished), having arrived out during his absence. He landed under the usual salute, with military honours, and was accompanied to the government house by many of the principal people, and the general congratulations of the inhabitants. How soon, alas! were those sounds of joy and welcome to be changed to lamentation! In three short weeks the same voices were sunk in sorrow for his death, and those very footsteps followed him to the silent grave!The feelings of the writer of this sad narrative would lead him to close it here; but the indulgence of mere sorrow for sorrow's sake is irreconcilable with the dictates of duty, or the precepts of religion; and is, perhaps, as reprehensible in principle as any other selfish and wilful indulgence. Having paid the tribute of affection, and poured out the heart's deep grief, we ought willingly to receive that consolation which the true Christian ever can command by seeking: — and shall we not soon find pleasure in dwelling on the subject of our admiration and regret? Thus disciplined, the acute suffering, which under its first pressure seemed insupportable, will be assuaged, and we shall exult in the value of the treasure that was once our own; deriving many and high consolations from the reflections which cannot fail to present themselves to the religious mind on the removal of those we love to that region of purity and joy to which we ourselves ardently, yet humbly and fearfully, aspire. Strengthened, then, by these considerations, we proceed to finish our painful task with feelings of pride and gratitude;—proud of our relationship to one of Nature's highly-gifted children; and truly grateful, as he himself was, for the ample measure of approbation and kindness with which his talents and successes were appreciated and rewarded. That Colonel Denham entered upon the duties of his government with zeal and spirit, may be best gathered from his own expressions; for he says in a letter, dated Government House, a very few days after his landing from Fernando Po: —

[ocr errors]

"I have just held my first levee, which has been attended by the Members of Council, Chief Justice, King's Advocate, Colonial Secretary, and the Officers of the Garrison and Commissariat, — fifty-eight persons; High Sheriff, Mayor and Aldermen, and, lastly, the principal merchants who had served the office of sheriff, and were in the commission of the peace. The clergy, and several members of the Church Missionary Society, were also presented." In his own happy vein of pleasantry, he adds, —

"We are in perfect health, and well pleased with our government: so are our people. They flocked round me in hundreds when I landed; and many of my free-labour boys came down from the mountains, and wanted to carry me up with them, on their return, on their shoulders. The liberated Africans are a class of the population the most interesting to me; therefore there is no fear of their not being brought forward as much as possible. You say, 'Would it were a better kingdom !' — So say I too; but rest assured that, after completing my three years, it shall be so. Pray send me some one of the shortest and best pamphlets on the subject of Savings' Banks." He still retained enough of early professional predilections to take pleasure also in acting, as he did, ex officio, as Com missary Judge of the mixed Commission Court, there being none appointed; and in that capacity he pronounced judgment on some captured slave-vessels, sailing under Dutch and Brazilian colours. On the 27th of May he writes for the last time : — " I am as well as ever I was any where;" and on the 31 st he was attacked by the fatal fever of the country. On the 2d of June he appeared better; and it is stated that until the sixth day no decidedly-alarming symptoms manifested themselves. He then expressed the most anxious desire to return to England; but it is presumed that it was too late. He became immediately intractable, then delirious, and, the vital powers being gradually exhausted, he expired in the morning of the 9th of June. We have seen a copy of the notes of Dr. Boyle, of whose professional skill the Lieutenant-Governor had spoken in terms of high commendation, from which no doubt can exist for a single moment that every care and attention was paid to him which art and anxiety could suggest. Dr. Boyle says, " I was never absent from Government House for more than an hour at a time, during the last eight days of my lamented patient's suffering. The fatal symptom to be traced throughout this case is the absence of ptyalism ,■ for the state of the tongue, and other appearances, were calculated to justify our hopes of a recovery until the eighth day of the attack." It was a striking excellence in the character of Colonel Denham, that the service on which he was employed always appeared to his ardent and fearless mind the best of all possible services; and, from this short narrative, it will be seen how entirely he had converted all things to the colour of his own imaginings. Such confidence had he in his own resources, that, walking as he did, surrounded by the most fatal dangers, even that of death itself, he seemed to have persuaded himself that to will was to perform, and that an enterprise once determined upon was already half achieved. This surely was the spirit and the frame of mind most happily adapted for succeeding in a perilous service; but

« ElőzőTovább »