PERHAPS one of the greatest trials of Maples' life came to him at this time. For his parents were not only very averse to his becoming a missionary, but also actively strove to prevent the accomplishment of his purpose. His mother did not and would not recognize his vocation, and many years passed before she was fully reconciled to his choice of work. "There is so much to be done in England," she would say; "why could he not have taken up mission work in our own 'Black Country?'"
In his letters it will be seen how cheerfully and sensibly he bore this--an added trial to the already great one of leaving home and kindred for the Master's sake. Also, like many mothers, his mother could not forget the illnesses of her children. Chauncy nearly died as a baby, and then he suffered long and greatly from the ear affection already mentioned; therefore she considered that he was physically unfit to cope with the unhealthy climate of East Africa.
His father sought an interview with Bishop Steere, and for the above and other reasons begged him not to accept his son's offer of himself for the work of the mission. But Bishop Steere remained firm; the doctors had passed his new recruit, who himself was eager, nay, anxious, to go, and unshaken in his resolve, even by his parents' opposition. However, a promise was extracted from the Bishop that Chauncy should not be sent into the interior of Africa until a year after his arrival in Zanzibar, his mother fondly hoping, that to keep him within the bounds of civilization would be a preservative of life--that at Zanzibar he would better become accustomed to the unhealthy climate of East Africa, and knowing also that he would be within reach of doctors there. It must be remembered, however, that we are speaking of the Africa of 20 years ago. Exploration and civilization have advanced with rapid strides since then.
Afterwards it seemed as if this promise, asked for and obtained, was a doubtful privilege, for Chauncy's health was worse during that first year in Zanzibar, when ha had more attacks of fever than any other member of the mission, than probably during the whole of the rest of his life in Africa.
He did good work, however, in Zanzibar, holding a theological class for some of the young laymen in the mission who were hoping to take holy orders, and superintending the boys' school, besides the usual work in church services, &c.
During the course of that year at Zanzibar he accompanied the Bishop on a visit to Magila, the first inland station of the mission, situated between 30 and 40 miles from the coast at Pangani, and now in German territory. This was Chauncy's first experience of travelling in Africa.
In September, 1876, he was ordained priest by Bishop Steere at Zanzibar, while at the same time and place W. P. Johnson entered the diaconate.
But, as Chauncy writes to his mother, his eyes were turned longingly across the sea to the blue mountains of the mainland, and it was with real joy that at last, in July, 1877, he found himself starting for Masasi, near the Rovuma river, and about 120 miles inland southwest from Lindi, to take charge of the station which Bishop Steere had planted nine months previously. It was in fact a colony of released slaves whom the Bishop had taken back to the mainland from Zanzibar, where they had been under the care of the mission since their rescue by the British bluejackets from the Arab slave traders. Mr. W. P. Johnson was already there, having travelled with the Bishop in the pioneer party of the previous year.
Chauncy threw himself heart and soul into the work of establishing on a firm basis the first Christian village in Yao and Makua-land, and in starting direct missionary work in the neighbourhood. He was a born pioneer and organizer, and here truly was pioneer work before him. The Bishop had accomplished wonders in the short period--a few weeks only--of his stay at Masasi. He had planned out the village. A broad road was made, with the native houses, built of bamboo and thatch, on each side; while ten feet of stone wall were already rising as a beginning of the church. This church was soon completed after Maples' arrival. It cost five pounds, that is to say for the material of fabric and cost of labour, and, of course, exclusive of the fittings, &c. But when Maples, at his missionary lectures in England, said that he could build and had built a church in Central Africa for five pounds the statement brought him several other five pound notes for possible churches at new stations.
In November, 1877, he took a short missionary journey in the Rovuma valley and the Makonde country. It was on this occasion that he first met Matola, chief of Newala, whom he always looked upon as the greatest of his African friends. I give some extracts from an account of this journey which he read at a meeting of the Royal Geographical Society in the spring of 1880 'First, with regard to Matola, he says:--"From the spot where the valley first opened out before us signs of cultivation again began to show themselves, and in another two hours we had arrived at the town of the Yao chief we had come to visit. He came out at once to salute us, and gave us a most hearty welcome. We were told by every one that this man is beloved as no other chief could be loved, and certainly we ourselves were fain to acknowledge that he had quite come up to our expectations. He is without exception the most intelligent and the most pleasing African I know. He has many excellent qualities, and withal an amount of energy that is rare in that part of the world. He has a fund of information about the country, the people, and the languages, of which he can speak six. He is decidedly handsome, has a fine figure, and is considerably taller than any of his people. Perhaps the most remarkable thing about him is the fact that he is a total abstainer. He became an abstainer on principle, and has for many years never touched the native beer or any other intoxicating liquor. Those who know the habits of African chiefs, and their universal beer-drinking propensities, will at once allow that great praise is due to our excellent friend Matola for his temperance. The result of our visit to him, which we prolonged to four days, was that he promised to welcome and help any English clergyman whom I should send to Newala to teach him and his people. . . . "While staying with Matola I was told there was a man who specially wanted to see his English visitors, because he had known something of a white man in old days, and if we were at all like him he should like to make our acquaintance. I desired that he might be presented to us. Forthwith he came--a pompous old man, who spoke in a dignified manner, and who had evidently some information to communicate. Over his right shoulder there hung an old coat, mouldy, partially eaten away, but still to be recognized as of decidedly English make and material. 'Whose was it?' I thought, as he began with much mystery to tell of a white man who ten years ago had travelled with him to Mataka's town--a white man, he said, whom to have once seen and talked with was to remember for ever--a white man who treated black men as his brothers, and whose memory would be cherished all along that Rovuma valley after we were all dead and gone. Then he described him--a short man with a bushy moustache and a keen, piercing eye, whose words were always gentle and whose manners were always kind, whom as a leader it was a privilege to follow, and who knew the way to the hearts of all men. This was the description this African savage (as men speak) gave of Dr. Livingstone. Then he showed me the coat; it was ragged now, he knew, but he had kept it those ten years in memory of the giver, from whom it had been a legacy when they parted at Mataka's. To no one but an Englishman would he part with it; but he let me have it as one of Livingstone's brothers (he said), and it now lies in the museum at Charterhouse School--a precious relic of one whose heart bled for Africa, and whose life was laid down in efforts for her redemption."
In a Makonde village they "met with a very strange reception. The simple villagers would have it we were ghosts. . . . 'Who ever heard,' they said, 'of human beings with white skins?' Fortunately, however, to a pretty urgent appeal for food they responded, and I have always hoped that the way in which we caused to disappear the supply of dried fish they put before us on 'that hungry evening may have persuaded them that *here was bulk and substance about us after all."
His account of his visit to Machemba, a powerful and cruel Yao chief, is interesting as an illustration of the ready tact required by an African traveller. Only a short extract can be given here. "The guns had attracted the attention of Machemba's people, and they came swarming down the hill to see us. It was a critical moment, for it was doubtful what reception we should get; and as I looked into the countenances of the men who surrounded us I could not help feeling a little anxious. "We were at a disadvantage, knowing nothing at that time of the Yao language, but I felt there was no time to be lost in showing them that we had come on a peaceful errand; and so, happily bethinking myself of a famous Yao word for expressing surprise and admiration, I came out with it all on a sudden with as loud a voice and as much emphasis as possible, imitating as closely as I could the peculiar intonation with which a Yao would sound it. The word was 'u-u-ugwe.' It had the desired effect. They stared for a second in utter amazement, and then, as I began to smile, they positively roared with delight. They clapped their hands, they cheered, they repeated the word over and over again, they declared I was a Yao born and bred, and it was clear we had won a great victory. The crowd swelled round us, and by the time we had reached the middle of the town it was almost impossible to estimate the numbers of the multitude that thronged us. We found that our names were well known, though they had undergone considerable corruption in the process of becoming naturalized in the Yao language. I was not a little surprised, for instance, at hearing myself greeted as 'Sita Pepo.' As we knew it to be Machemba's custom to keep any visitor four whole days in his town before going near him we were agreeably surprised at being told that he would be glad to wait on us whenever we were ready to see him. Accordingly, by our desire, he came at once. He shuffled towards us rather shyly, and it was evident that his first interview with his European guests had deprived him of his usual savoir faire. However, he came up to us and sat down by our side, and after an exchange of smiles he gave me a nudge which nearly upset me, and raised a laugh at our expense. I waited my opportunity, and then returned the nudge with interest. This, of course, turned the laugh against him, and soon we were all laughing together! "
In this journey Maples with his companion completed a circuit of 250 miles, being absent from Masasi just three weeks.
In June, 1879, he returned to England on leave. But the life of a missionary "on a holiday" in England is hard work. So long as he has a voice to speak with or legs to carry him about he is sent north, south, east, and west to lecture or preach "for the mission." A missionary must be as ready to lecture to an audience of a half-a-dozen people in a poky room as to a crowded assemblage of six or eight hundred people in a town hall. Chauncy Maples was a first-rate lecturer; whether speaking to adults or to children he arrested and kept the close attention of his audience. "I want him to begin again at the beginning and say it all over again," said a little girl at the close of one of his speeches. And another simple listener remarked, "When I look at his 'beautiful face I believe every word that he says." He was not exactly eloquent, though never at a loss for a word, but his single-minded earnestness penetrated into the hearts and minds of his hearers, carried them with him to far-off Africa, and aroused a temporary if not permanent interest in missions to the heathen. Then there was the charm of a bright smile and a clear He always seemed to talk to his than lecture to them--to talk to them confidently appealing to their higher nature. And his discourses were seasoned with the salt of humour--needless to say, a great point in their favour.
And so with his sermons; they were no studied orations, but they were thoughtfully written, and they were real. In the winter of this year in England he had a sharp attack of bronchitis, which cut short by two months "deputation work," though as soon as he had sufficient voice again he spoke and preached at Torquay, where he had gone to recruit his health. It was during this first return visit to England that he read a paper on the Makua language before the Philological Society. His was no mere empiric knowledge of African languages; he strove to learn them, and put them, for the benefit of succeeding students, on a scientific basis. His excellent ear for music was an immense help in his study of African languages, as they have to be learnt, to a great extent, by sound.
Maples reached his African home at Masasi again in September, 1880. As may readily be imagined, the conduct of affairs at Masasi was no easy task. Here was a colony of released slaves planted out in the heart of Africa, of which the missionaries had not only the spiritual, but, of necessity, also the temporal headship. The chiefs of the surrounding villages ruled their own people, and in questions arising between their people and the villagers of Masasi were called on by the missionaries to give judgment. But in questions of law and discipline, in the colony of released slaves itself, the missionaries alone were the judges. A serious accusation was brought against a man in the village, and Maples, with his fellow-workers, Janson and Porter, decided to hold an inquiry or trial on the matter. He describes this trial in one of his letters, and says that it was in their eyes successful, as the evidence, or rather want of it, proved the innocence of the man against whom the accusation was brought. But this trial had far-reaching consequences, for Bishop Steere took exception to some of the proceedings, and wrote strong letters to Masasi on the subject; thus a difference arose between him and Maples, which was further accentuated by the Bishop's action with regard to some articles which Maples had written for a periodical called "Mission Life "on the subject of released slave communities in Africa, including questions of discipline, and so on. These articles were, as Chauncy himself said, intended to invite criticism and discussion, for there are usually two sides to a question, and is it an Irishism to say sometimes two right sides? Probably if the Bishop and his workers at Masasi could have met and talked the matter over they would have come to an agreement. "Do not think I can differ from you without pain," he wrote. But they never did meet again, for the Bishop died in the following year. In the summer of 1881 Maples took the longest journey of an exploring nature he ever made in Africa. The journey was, for the most part, through land unknown to Europeans, lying between Masasi and the coast at Mozambique. It was undertaken for missionary purposes, but from that point of view the results were negative, the people through whose country he passed for the most part refusing to receive teachers. This journey, however, was an important one from a geographical point of view. The diary he kept during this journey, and which has not yet been printed, will probably now be published. But Maples also wrote a short account for the Royal Geographical Society, which is printed in their magazine of February, 1882. He was a Fellow not only of this Society, but also of the Geographical Societies of Manchester, and of Edinburgh. During this journey, which occupied two and a half months, he walked 900 miles. In the next year, 1882, a great disaster fell on Masasi, when the warrior tribe of Gwangwara swooped down on the village, burnt it, and carried away many of the people into captivity. Maples wrote a graphic account of this raid, which we reprint amongst his letters. It will be seen from this recital that it was the difficult and humiliating policy of non-resistance which probably saved the lives of the little colony of Masasi. But the Gwangwara raid gave the death blow to the plan, not too well considered, of planting a colony of released slaves in the heart of Central Africa. You cannot in justice lead out a people into a savage and warlike country and then deny them the power of self-defence. And yet missionaries must not shed blood.
Necessity solved the problem, for the released slaves were for the most part sent back to Zanzibar, while the few couples who remained removed with the missionaries to the safer retreat of Newala, higher up in the hills, where the Gwangwara are afraid to go, and where the missionaries also had the advantage of living close to the friendly chief Matola. In the summer of 1884 Maples returned to England for the second time. His return had become imperative, on account of a large and persistent ulcer on the shin of his leg, which had refused to be healed during the space of seventeen months. There is one redeeming point about these bad African ulcers--they ward off fever, or, in other words, if you have ulcers as a rule you do not have fever at the same time. He took a little rest in the country with his family during the months of August and September, and then plunged into "deputation" work. "Writing from Cambridge, he says, "I have three meetings to-day, and then my work at Cambridge will be over. Altogether I shall have spoken and preached twelve times."
Once he was preaching to children in a country church, and from the pulpit, moreover, when, in the course of his address--afraid of being led off into a side issue--he said, "But I will tell you about that presently." However, the sermon was evidently drawing to a close, and the story--I suppose it was a story--had not been told. One of his small listeners could stand the suspense no longer. "Please, sir," said a little boy, addressing the preacher in the pulpit, "you said you would tell us------" "And so I will, my boy," responded Maples instantly, and forthwith related the story. On each of his visits to England he never failed to go down to Charterhouse to "talk to the boys" at his old school. Modern schoolboys become blasé with regard to entertainments, lectures, &c., but Maples was much pleased when he was told that there were two entertainers at Charterhouse who never failed to draw a "crowded house," namely, the late Corney Grain and--himself. For, as one of his friends says, "Chauncy Maples was never so happy as when he was among children. Whether here, 'at home,' as we count it, or there 'at home,' as he counted it, in Africa, young people were his great ddight. He understood them, and they felt it. It was one of his greatest charms that 'the child-heart held him yet.'"
On March 18th, 1885, Chauncy sailed again for Africa, reaching Newala in June. In the August of that same year he took down four boys from Newala to Zanzibar for education in the school at Kiungani.
In June of the next year he started with Bishop Smythies for the shores of Lake Nyasa, where it was decided that he was to join his friend W. P. Johnson, and take the headship of the station on Likoma island. Before leaving his workers on Nyasa, in order to return to Zanzibar, Bishop Smythies appointed Maples Archdeacon of Nyasaland.
As Chauncy Maples had built up materially and spiritually the station of Masasi, so he proceeded to develop the new station of Likoma. He could not do anything in a half-hearted way, but threw his whole self into the work of the moment, whether it were the holding a class for catechumens, the building of a church, or the making of a pudding!
In 1890 he came to England specially to see his mother, whose health was failing fast. Mother and son both knew that they were together thus for the last time on earth. But they were happy. He was very happy with his family, and his mother, ill as she was, and little as she cared for or appreciated humour as a rule, would smile, nay, even laugh, at his stories and bright conversation, for he was truly witty and humorous, though with never a trace of cynicism.
In August, 1891, Chauncy Maples returned to Africa for the fourth time, and in the autumn of the following year the station at Likoma was burnt down by two successive fires--within a fortnight of each other. The first fire took place on Sunday, when eleven houses were reduced to smouldering heaps of ashes. But the Archdeacon writes cheerfully, as was his wont. "Well, let us reckon up our losses. First, what we didn't lose--no human lives and no tempers." Then he goes on to say that the library and the dispensary with their valuable contents were destroyed. "As to the origin of this fire. Briefly it was a 'crow '--a miserable carrion crow--set fire to our village, a kind of set off in these last days to that other bird of better omen that in Rome's palmy days, we are told, saved the Capitol. 'Tis a pity that birds meddle in the fortunes of cities or villages, though it is a great satisfaction to reflect that no human incendiary of malice prepense deposited the tiny bits of live charcoal that wrought all this mischief." And of the second fire he writes:--"Another great fire, and eight more of our houses burnt to the ground! However, we have lost only the lives of two or three of our swine and a duck or two. Our old sow frizzled away, poor creature! We could not save it, but, like Charles Lamb's famous roast pig that Bo-Bo licked his chops over, it proved excellent eating, and, to be honest with you, I do think our exertions of Saturday earned us this dainty and toothsome Sunday dinner! Ah! but let us not joke. This fire No. 2 is very serious. We are left now with nine houses out of thirty that formed our station three weeks ago. How did this fire originate? Ah! who knows? Is it possible, we are asking, that the fire may have originated spontaneously in the roof? The sun's heat just now is intense, and our grass is as tinder." With characteristic energy Archdeacon Maples goon roused himself to re-build the station. "Anyhow," he determines, "we mean, having been made uncomfortable by circumstances over which we have had no control, to take good care not to make ourselves uncomfortable, but to put a bold face on our disasters, and raise a palace for the new Bishop, if he wishes one, out of the charcoal by which we are now surrounded on all sides."
The division of the diocese of Nyasaland from Zanzibar having been effected, Dr. Hornby started early in 1893 for British Central Africa, having been consecrated in the previous winter at St. Paul's Cathedral as the first Bishop of Nyasaland. But his health failed even before he arrived at Likoma, and after struggling on for six months he was obliged to return to England, nor would the doctors sanction his return to Central Africa. In the month of May, 1894, Chauncy Maples' mother died after a long illness; the news reached him in August. This sorrow had long been hovering over him. In a letter written to his sister in the November of the previous year, when from the accounts he had recently received from home he thought that his mother must have already passed away, he says--"A vision haunts me of about thirty-five years ago: a garden small but massed with flowers, bees humming in the peach blossoms, the sound of the scythe on the fresh mown lawn and the scent of the dewy grass, and a pervading sense of some one near whom one loved more than all others; and then a voice calling one to those early lessons. And I shut my eyes and am there again, and I see her and hear her, and it was my world--so we were, I and some of you in the old garden! So may we be again some day. 'Except ye become as little children ye shall in no wise enter into the kingdom of heaven.'"
In the summer of 1894 Bishop Hornby resigned, and then it was unanimously felt, both by the Committee and the other friends of the Mission, that Chauncy Maples was the man for the difficult and arduous post. Bishop Hornby had come to the same conclusion while at Likoma. As Canon Scott Holland put it, "The one message he (Bishop Hornby) had to give us when he came back was,' There is only one thing you can do. There is only one thing that is absolutely right. This one thing I learned in the six months in which I was there, and it is something if I bring that back to you. There is only one man who can be Bishop of Likoma, and that is Chauncy Maples.' "And so in August the Archbishop of Canterbury's offer of the bishopric was telegraphed to Archdeacon Maples. His first impulse was to refuse; indeed he would have done so but for the advice of his true and trusted friend William Johnson, who persuaded him not to be hasty in the matter, but to wait and take counsel of others. And so the Archdeacon wrote to the Committee, neither accepting nor absolutely refusing the offer, and saying that he proposed to return to England to ask the advice of a friend; but he also begged them not to wait many months, as it must be, on the very great uncertainty of his final answer being "Yes," if they thought it advisable to name another successor to Dr. Hornby meanwhile. One reason for Chauncy Maples' wish to refuse the bishopric is a coincidence with Bishop Steere's similar hesitation, namely, that he, like Dr. Steere, had advised his predecessor to resign.
However, all scruples were finally overcome, and in April, 1895, it was announced that Archdeacon Maples had accepted the bishopric. But a cloud hung over his usual brightness; he was full of misgiving. A little incident, which he related himself, illustrates this feeling. In the early morning of June 29th, the day of the consecration, he had prayed that even at the last moment, if it were not God's will that he should be consecrated Bishop, it might be shown to him. And as he was driving in a hansom to St. Paul's Cathedral the horse stumbled and fell. In a flash came the thought "here is the sign." But he was not thrown out, the horse recovered itself, and the Archdeacon arrived at the Cathedral without further mishap.
It was a beautiful and solemn service in the Cathedral of our great metropolis on that lovely summer day when five Bishops were consecrated, of whom only one was to work in the home country, namely, Bishop Awdry, and he has since accepted a bishopric in Japan, for the English Church goes forth with, nay, often in advance of, her Empire.
Not long after Chauncy's arrival in England he received disquieting news from Likoma. He had intended to remain in England till October, but on receipt of the letters containing these discouraging reports he decided to return to Africa as soon as possible; in fact, he was in a fever of impatience to get back. His people wanted him; that was quite enough. And so on July 11th he left England for the last time. On the journey out he seemed to recover his spirits, and was full of plans and hopes for future work. His letters home were bright, and brimming over with life. At Port Herald, on the Shiré river, he was asked to consecrate the cemetery--strange, in view of what was so soon to happen, that this was almost the only occasion on which he exercised his episcopal office! On the steamer going up the Shire river, having heard of the death of a valued friend in British Central Africa, the Bishop remarked to his companion, Joseph Williams, "Well, Williams, you and I have lived nearly twenty years in Africa. We cannot expect to be allowed to work here much longer."
The travellers stayed two or three days at Blantyre, where the Bishop preached in the church on Sunday. He also went over to the Residency at Zomba in order to pay the Commissioner a little visit, and they had a long talk together. At Matope, on the Upper Shire, the Bishop was detained two days waiting for a boat to take him on to the Lake. An officer of the Administration, Mr. Edward Alston, who has since died of fever at Blantyre, speaks of meeting him here, and says--"The Bishop, Phillips, and I dined together, and I may say that I conceived a great liking for him at once; and during the next two or three days, while at Mpimbi, he and I were constantly together. ... He was so simple, kind-hearted, and so unlike what one generally expects a Bishop to be; and yet in another sense he was a Bishop all over. As I say, we became very intimate, and I used to find myself wondering at the things we talked about. He always wore a long white cassock, but when I suggested going to see if we could shoot anything for dinner in the woods he said he must come with me, though he admitted he was no sportsman; and he took off his coat and appeared with his shirt sleeves rolled up; however, it was too late and too dark to shoot. ... I was very sorry indeed to have to say good-bye to Maples, as I really, if I may say so, had conceived quite an affection for him, and I do not think it is one of my characteristics to conceive an affection for any man--at least in so short a space of time. ... On reaching Fort Johnston I again met Bishop Maples, who had arrived the night before. . . . I asked him when he was going on; he said at once almost--in about an hour's time. I told him that I thought it rather breezy; but he had great faith in his boat, and went so far as to ask me to come too, he could make for Fort Maguire and drop me. . . . Fort Johnston is some little way from the Lake, and about four miles from where the steamers always lie, so that, though it was blowing very hard when Maples and I were talking, we couldn't see the Lake itself. However, Maples seemed very intent on not being dissuaded from his purpose of proceeding, and I was not the only one to try to do so. ... I saw them off (this was on the 2nd September). The boat was a steel one with two masts. Besides the Bishop and Williams there were eleven black boys, ten of whom formed the crew, . . . and in addition there was a fair amount of boxes and baggage. . . . Well, we all said good-bye. ... I went out afterwards to have luncheon on board H.M.S. Adventure, and could just see the little boat scudding along in a terrific sea; and we all made the remark that We hoped they would get to Monkey Bay all right that afternoon, and if they were wise they wouldn't go on until the sea calmed down."
'Thus Chauncy Maples sailed away on the Lake for Kota Kota in the boat he was least accustomed to use.
'He generally cruised about in the Charlotte, a centreboard delta metal boat, and very seaworthy. The Sheriff in this last voyage was not properly ballasted; she had too light a cargo. Moreover, the native crew were utterly unaccustomed to sailing her in bad weather, for when the wind begins to blow at all stiffly they always run in for shelter. "There were such heaps of things waiting for his decision and advice," Dr. Hine (the present Bishop of Likoma) wrote; "why, oh! why did he persist in pushing on on that fatal night in the storm? I can fancy it all. 'Let's push on'--that familiar expression. I can think of nothing else, night and day, than the one thought, 'Maples is dead; what shall we do?'" It was a strange coincidence that Joseph Williams should have been travelling with Chauncy Maples on this his last journey in Africa as when he started first for missionary work nineteen years before. Williams joined the Bishop at Zanzibar.
But the story of that fatal voyage comes from the lips of the native crew, and chiefly from Ibrahimu, the captain. The following are principally extracts from Mr. W. P. Johnson's recital of the story:--"We were all looking for our Bishop," he wrote, "not without some fears, some doubts, but any such only the birth of knowledge of the difficulties before him; no one doubted we were beginning an era! No one so thoroughly sympathised with the natives, no one so social a power amongst Europeans! So much life, so much independence, such ready, too ready, sympathy--one had fear in the very width and beauty of hope! We were all looking for his coming to the hills the route by Unangu." The Bishop had intended to travel overland from Lindi, but was not able to get porters owing to the disturbed state of the country. "I had arranged for the A. L. Company's steamer to meet him at Mluluka, the Unangu port, on the 20th." The Charles Janson was laid up for repairs. "Our Bishop had come from England and caught each steamer, avoided each invitation to delay; Likoma seemed nearer and nearer to him--those he loved and who loved him. So he took our boat and started north from Fort Johnston. . . . The captain was our best, the boat had just been done up, the sails were in good condition. Alas! that boat had been made without water-tight compartments! They landed, had food and prayers at one village (Nkope), but Likoma, perhaps Atlay's face in particular, drew him on." Only two days before this storm on the Lake the Rev. George Atlay, the priest in charge at Likoma, who had gone to the mainland on a few days' shooting expedition, fell beneath the spears of the Gwang-wara, a small party of whom were on the war-path near Chitesi's village. Bishop Maples had not, however, heard of this sad event. "In spite of the wind they went on soon after six p.m., passed Monkey Bay--would God they had been driven in there!--on past the long line of rock and hills to Cape Maclear; but still Likoma and Nkotankota acted like a spell. The south wind became so boisterous that Captain Cullen, of the Adventure, had his fires in, though under a lee shore. The Bishop sat up; Williams lay down asleep; the Bishop called for a rug or some wraps and a book--the boy says a New Testament. The crew wanted to go into Monkey Bay, and, failing that, straight before the wind, but the Bishop held on the course towards Leopard Bay. Then the mainsail was lowered--how strange it seems and how sad! How could they have gone at all with mizen and jib, and that, as the men assure me, boomed out? Then, as the boat shipped water, the Bishop bade them reef the mizen. The captain gave another the tiller to do this, and the boat almost at once broached to. What can we say to all this, and knowing as I do that the Bishop had had some little experience in sailing? We can only lay our hand on our mouth! "Yes, we who write this story so far from the scene of action must also only echo these words of Mr. Johnson's; we cannot understand; therefore, we will not try to explain. "Joseph Williams was asleep in the house of boughs made over the stern; he sank with the boat." The Bishop, though a good swimmer, was hampered by his cassock, but the crew--the natives swim like fish--bore him up, using an empty box to support him, but the box soon sank. "They wished to tear off his heavy clothing. Why did . he refuse? I believe he kept wonderfully calm, and thought it was hopeless, as the land was doubtfully visible. The waves broke over them." Then the Bishop told them to leave him. "Do not let me cause your death," he said in Chinyanja. "It was my fault--save yourselves. Go to the Europeans--to Mr. Johnson--and tell them I have died." And so he sent them from him and sank in the deep waters.
"Please do not doubt these main facts," Rev. W. P. Johnson; "Ibrahimu and another as simply as I should Chauncy's own account."
The only thing saved from the wreck was the Bishop's bag of Communion vessels; one of the crew saw it floating in the water, and brought it safe to land.
The crew were in the water over two hours, but at last reached a small island, where they remained till the daylight. It must have been soon after midnight that the boat sank. Next day, when the crew reached the mainland, Ibrahimu and another man were arrested and "tied up" by a European at a village near Eifu, for it was thought strange that the Europeans should have been drowned while all the crew were saved. But after some days' imprisonment they were allowed to go free, and proceeded to Kota Kota, where they told their story to Mr. Sim, of the Universities' Mission. Rumours of the disaster had already reached him; these were now sadly confirmed. A fortnight afterwards the body of the Bishop was found in a small creek not far from the scene of the accident, by William Kanyopolea, a native teacher, who carried it to Kota Kota wrapped in a flag marked with a red cross. Mr. Sim buried the body in a spot where he hoped to place the altar of a church he intended to build. But not two months had passed before he too was called to leave his work on earth, and his body laid in a grave by the side of his Bishop.
When the sad news of the fatal accident reached Likoma "it was nothing but a great mourning," they say; for above all else Chauncy Maples was loved by Europeans and Africans alike.
Mention has been made of the Bishop's love and knowledge of music. He composed a great many hymn tunes of varying merit; we print one called Mvanu (Faith) No. 1. It was set to "Art thou weary?" in the Chinyanja version of Hymn 254 of Ancient and Modern.
He also composed several gavottes, minuets, marches, and so on. He was of a distinctly literary turn of mind, and wrote some tuneful hymns and several sonnets. Two on Lake Nyasa seem to be among his most happy efforts. He considered the second of these his best sonnet.
SONNETS. "LAKE NYASA," No. 1.
Thy lonely waters, as they gently swing
And murmur 'neath the cloudless azure sky,
Full many a lofty message, through the eye
That rests upon th' impressive scene, do bring
To minds attuned to high imagining,
And spirits yearning for eternity.
Such messages, I ween, can never die:
From Heaven they come, despatched by Heaven's King.
Cerulean lake, let this thy mission be,
To speak to us of Him who in His hand
Thy waters broad uplifts; and so may we,
"While lingering on our pilgrimage, a land
Not bounded by earth's limits ever see,
But far above her mists--the Heavenly strand!
"LAKE NYASA," No. 2.
A gloom is on the lake, and overhead
Dark sullen clouds, obscuring every trace
Of sunshine in the storm-disturbed space
Above the billows, surging high, are spread.
Discord prevails! Though peace awhile hath fled,
Yet such a hurly of the elements
For aye endureth not: e'en now are rents
In night-black clouds through which a ray is sped.
Thus thou dost image forth, O changeful lake!
By different aspect, both the gleam and gloom
That, each in turn, do occupy that room
In hearts of men which God will one day make
His own for ever with the radiance bright
Of His High Presence--Earth's Eternal Light!
In copying this last sonnet, now necessarily fraught with the memory of that other Storm on the Lake on the 2nd of September, 1895, a characteristic little incident comes into my mind which was told me by a Manchester friend of Bishop Maples. They were talking together of his work, and in the course of conversation something must have been said on the subject of marriage, for the friend remarked, "A bishop must be the husband of one wife." "Yes," replied Maples, with a merry twinkle in his eye, "I have married Lake Nyasa." "And now," writes the friend, "Lake Nyasa is widowed."
Outside his direct missionary work the most important "venture," as he calls it, which Chauncy Maples started in these last years of his life was a magazine for British Central Africa. Though edited, published, printed by himself, a missionary, it was intended to appeal to the colonists and officials in British Central Africa outside the missionary interest, and thus, in his own words, to form "a uniting bond between the heterogeneous medley of people in British Central Africa." The two Scotch Missions each had their magazine, but Archdeacon Maples was the first to publish a newspaper or magazine--for it partook of both characters--in Central Africa for the European residents generally. The "Nyasa News," as after the first two numbers it was called, appeared once a quarter, and contained, besides local news and notes on local subjects, articles of a high standard on geographical and scientific topics connected with Africa. As to the missionary element, we must confess that it was rather like King Charles's head in Mr. Dick's memorial --it would come in. Still, the paper was popular in British Central Africa, and maintained its existence until the death of its originator. With the exception of the last three numbers, Maples was the sole editor of this magazine.
He superintended the details of the printing also. In fact it was so entirely the work of his own amazing energy that when he died no one else thought of continuing it. Certainly the "Nyasa News" reflected great credit on all who had to do with it, whether as contributors to the literary department or actual printers of the paper. These last were native boys trained by an English printer.
Come, hearken, ye gallants of British C. A.,
To "The Plaint of an African fowl;"
Be generous for once as ye list to a lay
That should make you ashamed of your howl.
It is true I'm despised, and a much abused bird,
That you roast and you boil and you fry,
And in other ways cook me (the best is the third),
Such as vol au vent, curry, and pie.
You say I'm all bones, that I'm stringy and tough,
So different from some of my kin,
And yet you can never quite gobble enough
Of my flesh when once you begin.
I am bartered for, haggled for, everywhere;
Beads, calico go in exchange;
To buy me you'll send many miles here and there:
It is not quite consistent--it's strange!
'Tis true that the climate's not suited to me;
"Chicken cholera "oft it will bring,
And the verdicts of doctors and gourmets agree
That my liver's a delicate thing.
Yet you who abuse me as sickly and spare
Don't scruple my body to truss;
There's that on my bones for which you must care
Or you wouldn't be treating me thus.
Oh, 'tis cruel to think how my limbs all are fixed
When for table my flesh you prepare;
Legs, wings, back, and breast--these get horribly mixed
Which is which I scarce know, I declare!
For you split me right open--most shocking of sights!
And flatten my legs and my wings;
Run a spit through my liver, my heart, and my lights:
Choice morsels you deem thorn--these things!
Then you baste me, and broil me, till I'm done brown,
While you turn me both this side and that,
And afterwards eat me to the bone down,
Leaving this to be gnawed by the cat.
Thus treated, I'm "spatchcock"--'tis flippant to jest
At the shape my poor carcase assumes
When for dinner you've ordered that I'm to be dressed
In this fashion, when stripped of my plumes.
You've devices full many, confess, when you like,
To render me toothsome and nice;
If fricassee palls, when I'm stewed if you strike,
Then you serve me as pilau--with rice.
Ah! it's all very well to grumble and growl,
And say you have nothing to eat;
Though I'm skinny, perhaps, and only a fowl,
There are times when you find me a treat.
What with mustard, and pepper, and salt, too, and sage,
Though "devilled," I'm monstrously good;
If no chicken--('tis rude to allude to my age)--
Yet I'm never too ancient for food.
Then with raisins, you bet, and with sauces and lard
I'm a savoury mess in a bowl;
Oh! 'tis mean, all this talk about "stringy and hard,"
And "beastly old African fowl."
Come, bid all your calumny to the winds fly,
And cease at me sourly to gird;
Just allow that in spite of the popular cry
I'm not such a very bad bird.
In this monograph I have refrained from giving details of the Bishop's missionary work, nor do I make the attempt to give an estimate of his character. My chief aim has been to relate facts briefly--do not facts speak for themselves?--and thus to stand as short a time as possible between the reader and "those old leaves which keep their green--the noble letters of the dead," for the letters of Chauncy Maples are his true biography.