Uitgever: Createspace
  • Engels
  • Paperback
  • 9781496131522
  • maart 2014
  • 162 pagina's
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About the middle of January 1897, England was startled by the news that an expedition of English officials in the territory of Benin, in northern or almost in Equatorial Africa, had ended in the capture or the massacre of nearly all the members of the force, British and native. Later news were a little, just a little, more satisfactory. Some two or three Englishmen and a very few natives had escaped. But the bulk of the force was undoubtedly captured or massacred, and capture and massacre would in that case certainly be synonymous terms. The King of Benin is one of the savage sovereigns who might have been the horror of a boy's story-book. He, who is a fetish-worshipper, still keeps up the practice of human sacrifice, and his capital town, Benin, is commonly known as the 'city of blood.' The territory of Benin is near the Gold Coast and Dahomey, and is washed by that stretch of the sea which is called the Bight of Benin. 'Bight' is a word taken from (he Anglo-Saxon which signifies a bend, or round, of any kind which is soft, spreading, and gradual—signifies amongst other things a woman's breast—and is not geographically or otherwise any sharp or sudden indentation. The English occupation of the Niger Coast Protectorate brought on some hope of dealing on fair terms of trade with the murderous savage who is called the sovereign of Benin. Apparently it was thought a reasonable thing to send a sort of peaceful deputation to wait upon the King of Benin, and to request for permission to pass freely through his territory for the purposes of peaceful trade. The expedition was not armed except in the sense that one or two of its members carried the revolver, which is habitually borne by all foreign travelers within an uncivilized country.The expedition, in fact, disappeared but for Captain Boisragon and Mr. Locke, who managed somehow to escape. For the rest, with the exception of some natives, and very few even of these, the jaws of darkness did devour it up. These two men were wounded and had six days of wandering in the pestilential marshes of that terrible country. But they managed to pull through somehow with safety of their lives. Mr. Phillips, the head of the party, Major Crawford, Captain Maling, Mr. Campbell, Dr. Elliot, Mr. Powis, and Mr. Gordon were blotted out of existence. It unfortunately happened that Mr. Moor, the Consul-General of the Niger Coast Protectorate, was in England when the expedition was made and when the destruction of its members took place. No blame whatever could be attached to Mr. Moor. Despite of some modern medical theories which insist that a well-nurtured Englishman can stand any tropical and pestilential climate better than a native can, there is still found a great deal of force in the old-fashioned idea that an Englishman stationed in some poisonous region of Africa must have an occasional visit to a happier climate if he wishes to live at all. Mr. Moor came home for rest and change of air ; but as a London paper, the Daily News, observed, 'one of the strange circumstances surrounding this unlucky enterprise, and one which will have to be fully explained, is why the march was made in the Consul-General's absence from the coast on leave.' Then, again, the question full of mystery which astonished people in England was why the expedition should have been strong in numbers and absolutely defenseless or almost defenseless in arms. If it was meant merely to impress the sovereign of Benin with the idea that some friendly Englishmen were coming to consult with him on a purely peaceful mission, the fewer the number of the party the better. Two or three men must of course have taken their lives in their hands, as Englishmen have done at all times and in all places, and they might thus have impressed the King of Benin with the idea that they meant him no harm. Two or three men unarmed could not have captured even the mud-built capital of Benin....



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162 pagina's


R H Bacon W. H. Overend
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