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Of the permanent results of the labours of the committee in which Hannah Kilham took so active a share it would be difficult to say much. The miseries and the wants of Ireland are not even yet fully before the view of the British public; and some of the hints which the above-cited correspondence contains refer to measures which present experience proves to be highly useful.
Her first Voyage to Africa--Arrival at Bathurst
Engagements whilst there, and at Birkow.
The preceding pages show the gradual growth in the mind of Hannah Kilham of that deep interest on behalf of the people of Africa, and more especially the children at Sierra-Leone, which was attended with the conviction that it was an individual duty to devote herself to their improvement.
Two native Africans, one a Jaloof, the other a Mandingo, but both speaking the Jaloof language, had been taken under care originally with a view of acquiring from them a familiar knowledge of their language. During their residence in this country much pains had been taken to instruct them in the truths of the Christian religion, and qualify them for teaching others; but it was thought that neither the lessons prepared in the native languages nor the use of them would prove of much avail without European superintendence:-the conclusion on the part of the committee who associated to promote Hannah Kilham's concern grew out of these efforts, and the part she undertook in directing the settlement on the coast of Africa did not originate with herself. Her own primary concern was the reducing of the native languages to writing, and making them the medium of communicating with the people, whilst the committee were
anxious, in addition, to promote school-instruction and a knowledge of agriculture.
The little company of settlers, consisting of Hannah Kilham, Richard Smith, John Thompson, and his sister, Ann Thompson, and the two natives, embarked at Gravesend, on board the James, bound for St. Mary's, in the Gambia, on 26th of 10th mo., 1823.
Great pains had been taken to supply all their wants, and to make arrangements for the prosecution of the undertaking, and the work was entered upon under very favourable circumstances, and with a fair prospect of success; but, in the ordering of Divine Providence, all was frustrated by the death of Richard Smith, upon whom the care of the concern devolved on Hannah Kilham's return to England in 1824.
We now return to her own journal:
London, 5th mo. 19th, 1823. There has been a meeting of the African Instruction Committee, to take into consideration the applications of such friends as have offered themselves to go out in the autumn with Sandanee, Mahmadee, and myself, and to conclude on some other subjects connected with preparations for the engagement. A letter has been received from the governor of St. Mary's, (to which station we are intending to proceed,) kindly expressing his desire to see the cause prosper, and his disposition to afford every assistance that can be wanted from his influence.
“ 9th mo. 16th. General M‘Carthy has appropriated a house for our reception, which government have built, but not yet put into use.
to have it until we can fix our own plans. It is at Birkow, and it is offered free of expense, except keeping it in repair, and with the promise that it shall not be withdrawn, without such notice as shall prevent inconvenience. This kind offer has opened our way so as to call for thankfulness. When we received this intelligence we could not but be impressed with the feeling that Infinite Goodness was graciously shining on our path, and going before us. Ah! how consoling is this feeling! May we dwell under the sense of it, and our eye be to Him from day to day, in whom are all the springs of our hope, and of every enjoyment of which our immortal nature thirsts to partake. Our present position in preparing for a great undertaking is very serious, but not sad. An anchor is felt, and an assurance that in Him who reigns over all is 'everlasting strength.'
“ Our company will consist of Richard Smith, sincere, solid, active, persevering, and disinterested man. He goes at his own expense, having a small independent property. J. and A. Thompson, with whom I am much pleased, Sandanee, Mabmadee, and myself.
Gravesend, 25th of 10th mo. Last evening we had a sweet and solemn parting with our beloved friends in London, and are now waiting for the vessel which is expected to be here in a few hours. Several friends are with us, and we have been again favoured to feel the evidence of heavenly goodness, affording a consoling hope, that His presence will be near to guide in this arduous undertaking : this
1 The two young men from whom she had been learning the languages.
evidence still rests with me, and is as a light to our path. Let the will of the Most High be done, and may all we have, and all we love, be resigned to His all-wise and beneficent disposal.
“A few days since I had a conversation with Major Grant, late governor of the island of St. Mary's; he has kindly given us a letter of introduction to the governor, requesting bim to recommend us to the Alcaide of Birkow. One of our ship's company understands Mandingo, and, if we are enabled to surmount the sea-sicknes, we propose to pursue the study of both Jaloof and Mandingo. The vessel is arrived, and the captain intends to go down the river with the afternoon's tide. Every preparation has been made for us, that our friends could think of.
“We went in the evening on board the ship, which lay at anchor, and waiting for the tide. As we sat down together in the cabin we were again mercifully favoured with such an overshadowing sense of heavenly love and goodness, that I could not well forbear expressing the sense I tben felt, that, although the waves of the sea are mighty, the Lord God who dwelleth on high is mightier.' Our beloved friends, R. F. and A. S. left us, and after we had watched them for a time sailing towards the shore, we retired to our cabins. It was comforting to have had these dear friends with us. I think we had been consoled together in the feeling with which it had pleased Divine goodness to favour us, and believing our separation was in His will, we parted peacefully. The next morning being first day we held our little meeting together, and were permitted to feel that we were not forsaken. I informed the captain that it was our