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Bishop, who should be furnished with as efficient a staff of clergy and lay-helpers as could be obtained ; a band of heroic men at once to preach the Christian faith and to exhibit its practical power ; to “civilize as well as to evangelize.” The first Bishop chosen to encounter the perils of this new mission, a mission to the dark places of the earth, was the Rev. Charles Frederick Mackenzie, who proved himself, as is well known, “ faithful unto death.”
As we purpose to deal only with the later years of the Universities' Mission, we do not enter at all on the history of this saintly missionary
Bishop Mackenzie was accompanied by a band of ten to twelve clerical and lay assistants, all of them men ready, if need be, to hazard their lives so that they might preach the "glad tidings."
The first news of the Mission was that of sore distress, and to crown all with sorrow, news shortly reached England that the Bishop himself and one of his clergy had fallen sacrifices to the burning terrors of the climate. Charles Frederick Mackenzie lies in the deep shadow of African foliage, bis resting-place marked by a cross planted there by Dr. Livingstone himself.
“ Just as the Douglas,” we read in the Mission Annals, “ carrying the Bruce's heart to the Holy Land, desperately threw it into the thick of the fight, knowing well that his knights would be sure to follow where it led the way, so the grave of the martyred Mackenzie, the first Missionary Bishop sent forth by the English Church, has been the lure for the heroic efforts which have ever since been made to reach the tribes for which he laid down his life.”
So greatly was Mackenzie loved ! Who was now to head the Mission ? Where would another shepherd so faithful, so courageous, so loving, and devoted be found as the one who had been called away? Bishop Gray, of Cape Town, who was about to visit England on pastoral matters, undertook to find another Bishop for the Universities' Mission if possible. At this time the present Bishop, then known as the Rev. Edward Steere, rector of a small parish in Lincolnshire, received a visit from a fellow clergyman with whom he had long been very intimate. He came to ask counsel of him concerning a letter he held in his hand.
“Shall I accept this appointment ?” he asked.
Edward Steere, on reading the letter, quickly perceived that the appointment in question was no brilliant worldly promotion; but a
call to perilous duty; an appeal to courage and self-devotion to which none of the clergy but those whose whole hearts are in their chosen career can dare to respond. The two clergymen consulted sadly and seriously together, and in the end Edward Steere advised his friend to accept the sacred work offered to him. This friend was Mackenzie's successor, Bishop Tozer. Edward Steere was not one to send forth another into the thick of the battle while he himself remained safely at home. “It seemed to me,” he said, in a speech delivered at Oxford, (1875,)“ an unworthy thing to send one's best friend into the middle of Africa and to stay comfortably at home oneself, so I volunteered to go with him for a year or two, and see him settled.” The missionary zeal spread beyond the little rectory; another friend of Edward Steere's offered to join the rector and the future Bishop, and so the three set out together for the burning plains of Central Africa. They went by mail to Cape Town, and luckily found a man-of-war going up the coast, which landed them at the mouth of the Zambesi, where they were greeted by the depressing news that two more of the forlorn hope, namely another clergyman and the Mission surgeon, had died in the midst of their work; moreover, that all of the little band of missionaries remaining in Africa were ill with fever, while others had been ordered to England for their lives.
Thus had the first Mission party vanished almost as if it had never been. “It was clear,” writes the present Bishop, “ that without great care, no Mission could hope to maintain itself. The first necessity for a missionary is that he should live, and it had been proved abundantly that that might be difficult.”
What then was to be done? How should the new Bishop recommence the work ?
It seemed that no European, for the present, could live in the climate of South Central Africa. With many misgivings and regrets, therefore, it was resolved not to attempt what, in the dangerous conditions then existing there, seemed madly hazardous, and indeed impossible. Acting therefore on the undeniable principle that “the first necessity of a missionary is that he should live,” Bishop Tozer, after making an unsuccessful experiment on the Marumbala mountains, which for a time seemed to promise safety, resolved on travelling to Zanzibar and renewing the attack from thence. The following words from Dr. Steere's speech at Oxford will enlighten us further as to the motives which actuated Bishop Tozer in departing from his original destina
tion, and selecting Zanzibar as the central home of the Universities' Mission :
“When Dr. Livingstone first visited the country south-east of the Lake Nyassa, he found it densely peopled by men who had many of the arts which go with civilization flourishing among them. . . It seemed that they wanted little to make them worthy members of our great community. When we arrived at the river Shiré, all was changed : roughly speaking, we found there no people and no food; war and famine had swept over the country, many were dead, many had sought refuge elsewhere, some had died by violence, some had been carried away as slaves. The few people who remained would have welcomed us for our own sakes, but very decidedly objected to our eating up any part of their little stock of food. Already the Mission had suffered severely for want of communication, and now the only means of communication with our depôt at Cape Town, the men-of-war calling at the mouth of the Zambesi, had ceased.
Dr. Livingstone had fondly hoped that the Zambesi river might become a great highway of commerce, and so, in spite of its dangerous bars, it may some day be ; when it is, we shall hope to use it, but meanwhile we had to go elsewhere. Bishop Tozer was unwilling either to leave the Shiré without an effort, or to plunge into an untried country, difficult of access, where he might destroy the last hopes of the Mission by settling his party in some spot which should promise health and give disease. We made our experiment on the Marumbala mountain, where we found a freshness that seemed like a breath from home, and yet after a while all the old African sicknesses began to fasten upon us.”
We have dwelt somewhat at length on the reasons which led to the selection of Zanzibar as the central station, because we believe it has not at all times been fully understood. As we proceed in our narrative the wisdom of this decision will more and more clearly appear. Meantime Bishop Steere has said:
“Neither Bishop Tozer nor I have ever lost sight of the old country though I should refuse to think of our work as limited to any one specia spot, when all Africa has to be evangelised. I only ask you now to remember that ' Livingstonia' depends for its hope of success upon its communications through Zanzibar.”
And now, Bishop Tozer began his work in good earnest, being assisted at the outset by a fortunate circumstance which occurred just at this time. His prevailing idea was that of training up a native ministry, and he began immediately to look around for the means of accomplishing this object,- he must have a supply of little dusky pupils who would from the beginning be trained up in the way they should go. While he was yet pondering, news reached him that the
Sultan of Zanzibar, remembering his treaty with the English regarding the iniquitous slave trade, had seized a vessel which had, against his laws, brought to his dominions a cargo of slaves. The vessel he burnt, the slaves he divided as presents among his friends. Very opportunely Colonel Playfair, the English Consul at that time, and a good friend to the Mission, suggested to him that it would be a graceful act to give some of the boys into the charge of the Bishop, who had just been to pay him a complimentary visit.
The Sultan was gracious; he sent to the Mission five boys; and thus began the Zanzibar schools. We suppose the little strangers were received by Dr. Steere, for it is to him that we are indebted for the following descriptive paragraph :
“Now, if you can imagine yourself standing opposite to five little black boys, with no clothing save the narrowest possible strip of calico, .... with their hands clasped round their necks, looking up into your face with an expression of utter apprehension that something much more dreadful than even they had experienced would surely come upon them now that they had fallen into the hands of the dreaded white men, you will feel our work somewhat as we felt it. And then—how are we to speak, or they to answer ? You have not one word in common,-get these are the Missionaries of the future.”
These helpless little castaways were taught the English alphabet, they were gradually instructed further by “school reading cards," pictures, &c.
“We found them sharp enough,” writes the Bishop, “and soon began to make some way towards a mutual understanding. Then we added others from vessels taken by the English men-of-war, and a few brought us by their friends. . . . . Thus our school grew on, and soon we were joined by some lady helpers, and a girls school was formed after the same manner. It was not long before even the natives perceived that our boys had an air and bearing such as their old companions never had,—it was their Christianity beginning even so soon to show itself, as sound religion must, in their ordinary speech and bearing. We had taught our children that white men might sometimes be trusted. They have told us since that their impression was the first night they spent in our house that they were meant to be eaten ; and so the town thought generally. But some four or five years after, several boys came to us in the same way from the Sultan, and they told us that they had often seen us walking with our boys, and longed that some accident might give them a place amongst us. So we had done something to redeem our English character.”
Some of our readers might be inclined to incredulity as to the words, "and so the town thought generally,” but in this there is nothing in
credible, for in the comparatively obscure Zanzibar of those days, as Bishop Steere testifies, no African could be found to trust his child to a European; every word uttered by a European was listened to with suspicion :
“The more one professes benevolent intentions," writes the Bishop, “the less one word of it is believed ; in Africa everything bad is white, just as it is black in England. So settled,” he adds, “is the belief that white men must be selfish and treacherous, that sometimes the thought comes over one, is it possible to do anything for a people who seem incapable of understanding that there can be such a thing as real goodness ?”
It was on Ascension Day that another influx of children came to the Zanzibar school; on that festival, by the request of the Captain of an English man-of-war, Bishop Tozer gladly chose some orphan children to train up in company with the five original pupils ; he selected nine boys and five girls, who under his teachings, as also those of his sister, who had come to help him, Dr. Steere, and a lady worker named Miss Jones, were prepared for baptism.
On S. Bartholomew's Day these fourteen young children, rescued from a life of slavery, and carefully prepared for the first Christian rite, were baptized by the Bishop, who thus, after many sorrows and discouragements, beheld the beginning of a Central African Church. Henceforward the Festival of S. Bartholomew has been observed as one of special joy by the members of the Universities' Mission. The children are named after unseen friends of theirs across the sea,English people who had sent over money and help for them in their new career of Christian liberty.
Passing over sad records of death, illness, over-fatigue, and, above all, the story of a disastrous hurricane, we hasten on to the present condition of this work in Central Africa. And here we find ourselves in brighter times.
In May, 1871, by the desire of Bishop Tozer, a meeting was held at Winchester House, the late Bishop Wilberforce presiding, to consider the state of the Slave Trade at that time in Central Africa. The Bishops of Ely and Carlisle were present, but the chief speaker on that occasion was Sir Bartle Frere. After much discussion, a resolution was drawn up containing an offer from Bishop Tozer to undertake the care and instruction of such slave children as might be set free at Zanzibar, if the Government would defray the cost of food and clothing; the result of this resolution, which was by the late Bishop