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William and Louisa Anderson
Part III - Old Calabar Period, 1849-1889, & Closing Years, 1889-1895
Introduction & Chapter 1


Mr. and Mrs. Anderson spent only a few months in Scotland before leaving for Old Calabar. Mr. Anderson was busily employed along with Mr. Waddell in pleading the claims of the African Mission, and had very little time to spend with his old friends, or to revisit the scenes of his youth.

He and Mrs. Anderson were now about to enter on the most important period of their career. Mrs. Anderson was spared to labour for thirty-three years in connection with the Calabar Mission. Though known as "the silent woman," her recorded deeds are eloquent of self-sacrifice on behalf of native and European without distinction, and, like the ointment of spikenard poured forth, their sweet odour reveals their character to all. But the best portion of a good woman's as of a good man's life are "the little nameless unremembered acts of kindness and of love" done so that the left hand knows not what the right has done. The records of her work are scanty and fragmentary, but there remains enough to show the manner of woman she was.

Mr. Anderson for forty years did yeoman service in Calabar. The following pages tell the story almost wholly in his own words, and reveal his character and describe his labours better than any other pen could do. Further introduction is needless.


Voyage and Arrival at Old Calabar

Mr. and Mrs. Anderson left Liverpool for Old Calabar in the Elizabeth Bibby, on Thursday the 23rd November 1848. Messrs. Wilson & Dawson, the owners of the vessel, kindly granted them a free passage.

The following letter, dated 17th February 1849, describes the voyage and the arrival:—

After a passage of eighty-one days from Liverpool, we reached Duke Town on Monday the 12th inst. During the early part of our voyage the weather was very stormy. We were tossed up and down for about three weeks, at no great distance from the south-west coast of Ireland. I may give you a few items from my Journal while on the deep. . . .

"Monday, 25.—This being Christmas Day, was kept as a sort of holiday on board. Between two and three o'clock visited a sick cooper in the forecastle. Prayed with him, and talked to him about eternal things. About four o'clock the surgeon of the ship tapped at our berth door, and intimated that the sick man had just died. About five o'clock we were called on to witness what we have often heard described as a most melancholy affair— 'a funeral at sea.' The body having been sewed up in a sort of bag made of canvas, with some heavy shot at the heels, was laid on a board, the end of which was placed so as to project a little over the bulwarks. I read a few passages of Scripture, gave a few words of exhortation, and prayed. At the close of prayer, the inner end of the plank was elevated, and the corpse dropped into the passing billow.

'There was one dull splash, and all was o'er;
The sea rolled on as it rolled before.'

"Sabbath, 31.— . . . We began the year at our much-loved Rose Hill, and we have been much there in spirit to-day.

"Monday, Jan. 1, 1849.—In so far as externals are concerned, this has been to us a comfortless day. We have had strong head winds and head sea since Saturday. We have been out thirty-eight days, and are only twelve or fourteen days' usual sail from England. Surely our friends at home are forgetting us in their intercessions!

"Sabbath, 7.—We are once more in the torrid zone. In lat. N. 22° at noon. Glad to be at my work to-day for a little. Preached and distributed tracts.

"Monday, 22.—Had a touch of a squall, or rather a tornado, about midnight. The scene was grand, but had a mixture of the terrific. At one moment the heavens seemed to be wrapt in impenetrable darkness, in the next they seemed to be on fire, while, far as the eye could reach, every billow of the ocean was crested with flame. Loud thunders rolled, and the winds raged all around. The good ship groaned and quivered at every joint; but all sail having been in in good time, she sustained no injury. In an hour all was calm.

"Saturday, 27.—Off Baddu (in Liberia) this morning. This is the first land we have seen since we sailed. A number of fishermen came off in their canoes. They bartered their newly-caught fish for biscuit, tobacco, and rum. Towards evening we approached Grand Sesters, from which place from fifty to sixty Krumen came off for the purpose of offering themselves to go with our captain to Old Calabar. All the palm-oil ships employ a number of these men to do the heavy work, which the white seamen cannot do in such a climate. Many of them had numerous recommendations from captains whom they had previously served, and others had large ivory rings on their arms, bearing sundry inscriptions. I was introduced to them as one of the 'God-men.' They appeared deeply interested in Mrs. Anderson; and one of them declared his readiness to give me 'plenty bullock ' for her if I would dispose of her to him. Several of them were much offended by the captain calling them in jest 'niggers.' They stated that they had been 'always free—never slaves; then why call we niggers?' About twenty of them were retained for the ship, the rest returned to their homes.

"Sabbath, 28.—After the usual service and tract distribution, had a conversation with some of the Krumen, who understand English a little. One man said he 'know there be one God who make all things; also he know that white people say that good people when them dead go up to God, and that bad people when them dead go down to the devil; but his countrymen no believe all this. They believe that when man buried him done.' According to this man's representations, his tribe of Krumen have a king, a black man called Charlie, and their laws are of a very simple kind. I asked what they do with a man who steals. 'They make him pay back.' 'But suppose he cannot pay back?' 'Then say, "Oh, he be but a poor fellow," and just let him go.' 'If one man kill another?' 'They send him out of the country a far way.' They seem to know little, and to believe less, of the doctrines of the Christian religion. They are strong, hardy, industrious fellows, and are frequently denominated the Scotchmen of Africa.

"Monday, 29.—Off Cape Palmas during the night. This evening the Krumen amused themselves and others by practising their wild-looking native dances.

"Tuesday, Feb. 6.—In lat. N. 30, long. E. 6° 3', just opposite the principal estuary of the Niger. We are about a hundred miles from land, and sailing on water quite discoloured by the flow from the above-named river. We fully expect to sight Fernando Po to-morrow.

"Wednesday, 7.—We have not got on so quickly as we expected. Are now (noon) sixty miles from Fernando Po, and there is hardly a breath of wind.

"Thursday, 8.—Quite near Fernando Po this morning. Fully expected to get ashore to leave letters, and obtain yams, fowls, etc.; but just as we approached the island the wind came from its shores with considerable strength, so that we had to face about and move towards Old Calabar.

"Friday, 9.—Cast anchor near the bar of the Old Calabar River, in six fathoms water, this morning, at half-past five o'clock. The Windermere, which left Liverpool the day before we sailed, was lying a mile or two distant. Her boat had been sent for a pilot, so we could do nothing but lie till he should arrive.

"Saturday, 10.—The pilot came to-day—was glad to hear that my brethren, Messrs. Goldie and Edgerley, are well. Were informed by the pilot that all the gentlemen of Duke Town had gone to the country to settle a palaver about palm oil. Was surprised to hear, too, that a few days ago the aspect of affairs had been rather threatening between Duke Town and Creek Town. (Learned after coming here that some false report had been circulated in Duke Town about King Eyo being about to claim some degree of sovereignty over that town. The people turned out armed, and brought their cannons down to the beach to prevent the suspected usurpation.)

"Weighed anchor about four o'clock, and proceeded onwards a few miles.

"Sabbath, 11.—Weighed anchor this morning about five o'clock. Kept sounding all clay. Seldom above six fathoms water. Entered Old Calabar River in the afternoon. The day was so misty that we could not see land plainly. Anchored between seven and eight evening, betwixt Parrot Island and James's Island.

"Monday, 12.—Weighed anchor about five A.M., but had not proceeded far when the ship got aground on James's flat. The Windermere was also aground, but not being so deep in the water, she got more easily off. As the tide was ebbing, there was no hope of getting off for ten or twelve hours. The captain, accompanied by Mrs. Anderson and myself, came up to Duke Town in a boat. Without intimation of any kind being given beforehand, we went direct to the mission-house. We were glad to find Mr. Goldie there. He and Mr. Edgerley were quite well, but Mrs. Edgerley had been, and was, very poorly. After eleven and a half weeks of sea life, we were grateful to our kind Father in heaven for permitting us to set foot on dry land once more."


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