|CHAPTER XXXIII. -- EMIGRATION TO LIBERIA--SCHOOLS OF LIBERIA--MISSION SCHOOLS -- --FALSE IMPRESSIONS--IGNORANCE AND HELPLESSNESS OF -- EMIGRANTS--AFRICAN ARISTOCRACY.|
This was agreed to, without a word of dissent from anyone. The old women used to come and get down at Bishop Taylor's feet, and say:
"Oh! Daddy, you be fine. You be fine too much."
Mr. Pratt had told them a year before the Bishop came, that he was coming; and so they watched with eager hope; and when they saw the Bishop and Mr. Pratt, the old women would get down and take hold of the Bishop's feet, and then they would turn to Pratt, and say;
"Oh! Daddy, you mouth no lie this time. You mouth no lie. You got true mouth."
One town we went to, we had not been there two hours before they brought us two goats, as a present. Oh, how glad they were. My heart ached when I saw their kindness, and I wept. Poor things!
We came down the river. There was not a word. When Bishop Taylor's missionaries arrived at Cape Palmas, Mr. Pratt was a week in getting their things taken down to the mouth of the Cavalla river from Cape Palmas; then the natives from their stations were to come down in their canoes, and take the things up to the stations.
After he got the things all down, then he took the missionaries themselves. When they got down to Cavalla, as they were going up the river, nine in number, three men with their families, they were stopped by the natives, at one of the Episcopal Mission stations, and not allowed to proceed up the river. They had told the natives that it meant war; that these white missionaries were only coming to take the country away from them. That was the pretext.
In their contention and spirit they threw over a large box of tools in the river, that I think they never got; and if it had not been that the women were with them, they would have had a more serious time than they had. They were terribly hostile. They drove the natives back that had come down.
Strange to say, these people that live on the river, many of them, don't want the natives in the interior to be enlightened. So Bishop Taylor's parties were turned back, and did not get back for a week. Oh! it was terrible. Poor things, how much they suffered. Finally they all came back to Cape Palmas, and it was weeks before they got to their stations.
Mr. Pratt had to send them overland, and had to pay four dollars a load for carriers; and during that time, many of them had the fever, and some of them died.
The day that they came back across the bar, the bar was rough, and it rained, and most of them got soaking wet, which they should not have done, and that was the cause of so much of their fever and sickness so early. Two families that stopped for a week with Mr. Gibson, a member of the Episcopal Church, Mr. Pratt had to pay ninety-nine dollars for; one man had a wife and two children, and the other a wife and three children, all small children.
At the place where Miss McNeil and Miss Whitfield, and Miss Bowers stayed for a week, they were more reasonable; they only charged forty dollars. And where Miss Wallace and Miss Meeker stayed for a week, they charged, I think it was thirty-five dollars.
Oh! I never went through such a siege in all my life. Bishop Taylor was not there; but I was there through it all, and haven't borrowed a word. This was pioneer work. It is not so, now, I think, for Miss McNeil has nice headquarters at Cape Palmas, and there are several of the missionaries there, so that those who go now have a home till they can go up the river. It was very different at that time; and there's more to follow.
So one can see why the Liberians should feel that establishing schools among the natives by Bishop Taylor, was going to bring them the same trouble. But now since he has got the schools opened, and teachers for the Liberians, as well as natives, they will think differently, and, I trust, feel differently.
During the eight years I spent in Liberia, there were four emigrations to the republic. Three went to Brewerville, and the fourth to Cape Calmas. I went to the receptacle where they were quartered when they first landed, and saw them all, and talked with them; and then visited them at their stations after they were settled.
Some had gone to Cape Mount, and after they had been there a year, I visited several of the families there. I visited others at Brewerville, and at Mount Tubman, Cape Palmas, and at Philadelphia, about three miles from Mount Tubman. I never saw greater suffering and need in my life than there was among these poor new-comers. The only comfortable thing (and that was uncomfortable) was the warm climate; they didn't need much fire,
At Philadelphia was a very pretty settlement, and it was thickly and well settled at one time; good land all round about, some very good houses, and things were going on pretty well. Mr. Allen Yancy, and his brother, who was killed in the Cape Palmas war, were the leading men who founded that settlement; and at one time it flourished; but was broken up at the time of the Gredebo war, and has never since been what it was before.
When people in Africa are routed by war, they do not settle down quickly to their old homesteads. Poor things! War is not elevating in any country; its effect, morally and socially, and religiously, is not helpful. I think, with the exception of about four out of forty odd, there could not have been found a more helpless and ignorant set of men, women and children, than these emigrants that came while I was there. There were several young men and boys, and girls, ranging in age, I suppose, from ten to eighteen years.
I was down with fever when they arrived, so didn't go to see them for three days. It was quite a little distance from where I was, to the receptacle where they were quartered until they would get their land given them. I had heard a great deal from one and another, for the people called to see them, of course, and talked with them, so as to cheer them, and make them feel at home as much as possible; and when I went, I took a lot of papers, and tracts, and cards, for the children; and, to my surprise, as I went from room to room, and in the hall, as I met young people, and asked them to have a tract or paper, they would say, "I can't read:" so also, the fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters.
There were two old men among them that were preachers. I went into one room, and the old man was sitting on a stool, with the Bible on an old trunk reading aloud, evidently for me to hear; so I went up and stood by him and listened.
"Well, Pa," I said, in a familiar way, "you seem to be enjoying yourself reading the good book."
He looked up, kind of dignified, as though I had broken the charm that was upon him; then went on reading again.
"Sit down," a woman said,
"I have called to see you," I said, "you have had many calls, I suppose, but I have not been here before."
The old man read on. But of all the murdering of the king's English you ever heard, that old man was guilty of it. "Dat's my husband. He's a preacher," said the old lady, with a smile of comfort. "I can't read myself, but I likes to hear him when he reads."
Then I said to the old man, "Pa, how long have you been preaching?"
"I has been preaching de Gospel near 'bout forty years," said he, looking up.
"Yes," I said, "so long? Well, I just came in to see you a little while. I would like to sing a little song for you, and pray; then I must go."
So I began to sing, and a number of others came in; and I prayed, and went on to the next point.
After I had spent about two hours this way, I went home, crying all the way; knowing the need, as I did, both of the Liberians and the natives, I knew that this lot of people could not help any of them, but would certainly need help themselves; for I saw they knew but little about how to manage at home; and now what would they do in this strange country among strangers.
Of course, they would meet kindness; that goes so far; but that would not feed them, or clothe them; and those that were able to work, and willing, could not get the work to do, perhaps, the kind that they would do in this country; for men and women in this country can turn their hand to most anything, and there is almost everything to turn their hand to; but there, there is no driving, and trucking, and farming, like there is here; and making roads and building bridges, and harvesting, and hod carrying, nothing like there is in this country, that they had been used to; and the most of the work that is done there, is done by the natives, and native wages are paid, in trade--cloth, tobacco, fish, or rice. And there is not a black man at Cape Palmas, I mean a Liberian man, (without it is Bishop Ferguson, he might), who could have hired six of these new emigrants, and paid them fifty cents a day in good money, not Liberian currency, but good, American money, and fed them three meals a day for six months.
This may seem strange; but I don't fear the slightest contradiction from any real upright, honest, man or woman.
Now here were these poor men with their families. The Colonization Society gives them what they call "rations," for six