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William and Louisa Anderson
Part III - Old Calabar Period, 1849-1889, & Closing Years, 1889-1895
Chapter 16

Struggle against Substitutionary Punishment

ANOTHER dramatic episode in Mr. Anderson's career is described in the following narrative:—

Thursday, Nov. 8, 1860.—A melancholy day this. Two gentlemen broke an Egbo law some time ago. The chief offender was heavily fined, and a poor slave—who had no more to do with the breach of Egbo law than I had—was this day butchered in the upper marketplace, as the substitute of his offending master. I did not know what was contemplated till I saw an Egbo runner brandishing his cutlass. On learning the state of matters, I went at once to the king and solemnly protested against the barbarous deed. He defended it on the ground that a slave is only money. I need not jot down all that was said. My last words to him and those around him were these, spoken in Efik: "I cannot fight with you, king ; I have only one word more, and then I am done. If you still allow that man to die—hear what I say—I call upon the great God in heaven to witness that I am free from the guilt of his blood. That must lie on yourself and the other gentlemen of the town." Me expressed his willingness that it should be so, and I left him. I was proceeding to the house of Antaro Young, who is next in influence to the king, in order to renew my protest to him. I met him in the street, however, and at once introduced the subject. Whenever he understood what I was after, he began to vociferate that I want to spoil Egbo, to break down the town, etc. etc. Argument was useless; so I barely repeated my parting statement to the king, and left him on his way to shed the innocent blood. I could not see the poor victim. He was already in the hands of his executioners, or rather murderers.

Friday, 9.—Prepared a circular to-day, inviting my countrymen in the river to co-operate with me in making a stand against the continuance of such murders as that of yesterday.

Sabbath, 11.—Fourteen of the gentlemen of the river responded to my circular of Friday, by attending the native service this morning, and going afterwards in a body, both to King Archibong's and Antaro Young's, to urge the abolition of substitutionary punishments. The river gentlemen spoke very strongly. Most of the native gentlemen seemed disposed to give favourable attention to what was said ; but the two headmen of the town seem strongly conservative, and determined while they live to adhere to the old fashion of the country in this as in other matters. Began Sabbath school exercises this morning by teaching the young people to repeat simultaneously and vigorously, in their own language, these two texts—Deut. xxiv. 16, and Ezek. xviii. 20. The young people, and some oldish people too, proclaimed these texts with a will. Multitudes have heard them this day, and I trust that the good leaven will work efficaciously.

Tuesday, 13.—Acting on the suggestion of two friends, sent another circular round the river to-day, requesting our countrymen to go to-morrow morning to Creek Town, to have a conversation with King Eyo and Creek Town gentlemen on the question of substitutionary punishments.

Wednesday, 14.—There was, as on Sabbath, a capital turn-out of the river gentlemen at Creek Town. The Creek Town gentlemen gave us all much satisfaction. To all appearance, it will not be their blame if our advice be not complied with. All the natives must see, that whatever differences on other points exist among the white men, there is full unanimity among them in reference to the subject which has been under discussion.

Friday, 23.—Have learned that another substitute is to be killed to-morrow. Went down to the king's chop with the view of reporting to, and consulting with, my countrymen who might be present in reference to the projected murder. We all renewed our protest against substitutionary punishment, even were it inflicted on the greatest criminal in the country. Seeing that private remonstrance was unavailing, our friend Mr. Laughland, who is at present H.B.M.'s Acting Consul for this region, interposed officially, and, in our Queen's name, forbade the intended deed of blood. We saw the intended victim in Antaro Young's. He drew his finger across his throat very .significantly, and dumbly invoked our aid. Owing to Mr. L.'s interposition, there has been no execution to-day. I fear that the slave will not ultimately escape, however; so, having free access to him, I began to instruct him in what most concerns a doomed man to know.

Black Davis back to-day from Akuna-kuna quarter. He tells me that his mission has been successful; so that palm oil, yams, fowls, etc., will be more plentiful now than they have been for some years in this neighbourhood. But he did not tell me that, ere the peace be ratified, a freeman, who has had no connection with the palaver between the two places, must be killed, cut in pieces, and buried ; and that over his grave the oath of peace must be sworn :—this I learned from another party.

Sabbath, 25.—Thirty communicants surrounded the table of the Lord this afternoon.

Monday, 26.—Called on several of the gentlemen, and reasoned on the substitution question.

Saturday, Dec. 1.—Have reason to believe that the execution of that poor man is fixed for Monday. Y\ nen in town to-day, 1 did what I could to induce the gentlemen to spare his life, and did what I could to prepare him for his change.

Sabbath, 2.—In the forenoon service to-day I took occasion to condemn the custom of substitutionary punishment, and made the young people proclaim God's law on the subject in the two texts referred to above. Mr. Hogan asked leave to express his views on the matter, which he did thus: " Wc no think it wrong for one man to die for another. It just be what Jesus Christ do. He come to this world, die for all we sins; He die to save we life. So when Calabar slave die for his master, it be same as Jesus Christ do."

In reply I explained that, before anyone could die as a substitute, there must be two things:—1. The will; 2. The power, etc. etc. An addition occurs to me now which did not occur to me at the moment, but which I shall not lose sight of: God did not kill slaves instead of His Son ; Christ asked no substitute to die for Him. The Father gave His Son, the Son gave Himself to die in the room of slaves. Will Calabar gentlemen act thus}

Monday, 3.—Under severe cold. Took Dr. Hewan's advice, and spent the afternoon in bed. This is the first time I have been off work on account of sickness since my return to Old Calabar.

Monday, 10.—The poor man already referred to was executed this day. I visited him yesterday, and was with him this morning till the Egbo messengers came to take him away to die. He seemed quite ready to go with them, and expressed himself rather anxious to get away. He had some glimmerings of gospel truth before his mind, and professed that he was looking to God through Jesus for the pardon of all his sins. He promised to observe my parting advice, which was, that when arrived at the place of death he should shut his eyes on all below, lift up his heart to Christ and pray, "Lord Jesus! Son of God! have pity on me, and receive my spirit!"

Friday, 14.—Gave my scholars the vacation usual at this season of the year.

Sabbath, Jan. 6, 1861.—A very encouraging day, for which I feel deeply thankful. There was a large assemblage of native gentlemen and their attendants in forenoon, and also a good turn-out in the evening, though there were only three persons present from the shipping. After sermon in afternoon, we began to take our part in the general concert of prayer. Mr. Edgerley conducted devotional services.

Sabbath, 13.—The week's concert of prayer brought to a close this evening, after public worship, by an address from Dr. Hewan, who also led our devotions. We have had very good, pleasant, and, 1 think, profitable meetings, during the past week. It is delightful to think that millions of fellow-Christians have been assembled day after day during the week, whose minds have been fixed on one great and important theme—the glory of God in connection with the world's salvation.

Friday, 18.—The native gentlemen attended an important meeting to-day, called by Mr. Acting Consul Laughland, on board H.M.S. Ranger. Creek Town gentlemen entered into a treaty with Mr. L., as representative of H.B.M.'s Government, by which the}' bound themselves to abolish immediately, and for ever, in their dominions, the horrid custom of killing one man to expiate the crime of another. Duke Town gentlemen could not be prevailed upon, though strongly urged, to enter into a similar agreement.

Sabbath, 20.—Twenty-one years to-day since I first preached to a congregation of black men. That was at Carron Hall, Jamaica. So I took occasion to tell my audiences to-day that I had now reached my majority as a preacher to the sons and daughters of Africa.

Friday, Feb. 1.—Delighted, on going on board the mail steamer, to meet two friends whom I had never seen before—Rev. Mr. Bushnell, from Gaboon, and Mrs. B. Glad that they have come with the purpose of spending a few days with us.

Sabbath, 3.—A good da)-. Mr. Bushnell addressed the congregations, both Efik and English. He preached an excellent sermon in the P.M. from Luke x. 42. In my usual rounds yesterday afternoon had a good deal of reasoning with King A. and others on the substitutionary killing system.

Monday, 25.—Gave a reading this evening from Uncle Tom's Cabin, which brought our weekly lectures and readings for the season to a close. We had some good meetings during the past two months, and some good addresses and readings from some of the young men from Sierra Leone and elsewhere.

Tuesday, March 26.—Read this day the last chapter of the MS. of Mr. Robb's translation of the Book of Genesis. Mr. R. has made a capital translation. The sooner we have it in print the better.

Saturday, April 13.— Heard late last evening, and again this morning, that there was to be a substitutionary killing to-day. Mr. Edgerley and I set off to the king about the matter. He told us that there would be such an execution, but not for a long time. He, as usual, began to defend the custom ; and, as usual, we protested against it. I know not whether our visit hastened the butchery; but in the evening a poor fellow was beheaded in the marketplace because his master had broken some Egbo law. It is something, however, to know that the execution, instead of being at noon, as usual, when the market-people are assembled, was effected in a hidden manner in the dusk of the evening.

Sabbath, 14.—At the king's desire, the town bell chimed once more with the church bell in inviting Duke Town people to sanctuary service. The king was present; but- my heart was heavy on account of last evening's bloody deed. But for this I should have congratulated him on his return to church; but I could afford nothing beyond the coldest M'dkom fi— give you compliments—at the close of the service.

Saturday, May 18.—On visiting King Archibong this morning I found a number of the gentlemen with him, evidently discussing Creek Town affairs. They professed to have received information that the missionaries had in some manner instigated the killing of Egbo Eyo. This I at once and strongly denied.

On particular inquiry I learned that they were founding their opinion on two things: ist, The constant palaver which the missionaries make about killing slaves for trifles, or for nothing; and 2nd, information which they had that a person once in the employ of the Mission had lent the Creek Town slaves the basin in which they had mixed the water and the blood with which they had' sealed their covenant. On the latter point I could only say that the person referred to had now no connection with the Mission. In reference to the first point, I felt it my duty to condemn the slave-killing system, as I am in the habit of doing whenever I have an opportunity. Some of the gentlemen then said that they would resume the old fashion of slave-killing on the death of their masters, seeing that Creek Town slaves had killed Egbo Myo for nothing. I stated that I did not think it would be right for them to kill Duke Town slaves because Creek Town slaves had done what they did not like. I felt constrained to add that Creek Town slaves had not killed Egbo Eyo for nothing, because he had killed plenty of them. I was proceeding to narrate a particular case—that of a wife of his, named Iqua, whom he had put to death, and literally chopped into pieces, for no crime save that of having in her possession a cloth label—when I was interrupted by King A. and others jumping up and actually dancing around me, demanding if I thought that the killing of slaves and women by any freeman was a crime worthy of death?

King A. threatened to kill me if I should reply in the affirmative; "for," said he, "I myself kill plenty slaves, then that be all same as say it no be bad thing to kill me." I listened patiently to a good deal of strong mouth, and then said, "King A. and gentlemen, it no use to be vexed with me. I no fit to change God's word. All men, free or slave, stand same same before Him; and His word speak very strong on that point. If one man kill other man for nothing, that man fit to die {i.e. worthy of death,. But I no say it be proper for slaves to kill you. When any man do bad thing in town, it be king's business to do what be proper with that man, and then town will stand quiet."

After a little conversation the)' all seemed pacified, and promised to come to church to-morrow.

Monday, May 20.—Our gentlemen here cannot stomach the doctrine of the American Declaration, that "All men arc equal." Only one of them attended church yesterday. I was informed that at King A.'s chop to the white men on Saturday he referred to the matter, and declared that should Duke Town slaves make any disturbance he will at once shoot me. Slaves equal with freemen! Treason! Treason! If some of our good friends, who suppose that we are not sufficiently zealous in denouncing slavery, were only here just now, what a glorious chance they would have for the crown of martyrdom !

Tuesday, May 21.—Went to King A., and asked him how it was that he had threatened on Saturday, in the presence of the river gentlemen, to shoot me. I told him that I did not much mind what he had said to me on Saturday, for he was angry then, and I was present; but it was a very different thing when he used such language after his head had cooled, and especially in my absence. He was remarkably civil, and said that he had not told the white men that he purposes now to kill me; that what he said was, that when I told him on Saturday that Creek Town slaves had hanged Egbo Eyo because Egbo Eyo kill plenty Creek Town slaves, he was then so vexed that he was on the point of lifting his gun and shooting me. Court etiquette required, it seems, that I should have condoled with the Duke Town gentlemen on the death of Egbo Eyo. King A. assured me that all the river gentlemen had cried plenty about it, and denounced the Creek Town slaves as villains and assassins.


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