Reading this week:
- Funafuti by Mrs. Edgeworth David
- After Livingstone by the Reverend David Picton Jones
Loyal readers, to avoid the embarrassment of being late once again I need an easy entry. As you can see above, I have just finished reading After Livingstone, which is the sort of autobiography of Rev. D.P. Jones of the London Missionary Society. It is largely an anthropological-type look at the people that he lived with while a missionary with LMS, which was mostly the Mambwe and Lungu people. It was only published in 1968 by his daughter, and I think is a bit less known in the field of LMS studies. It was a pretty good read with some new tid-bits I hadn’t heard. He is a very straightforward writer but an interesting guy, and was most notably probably the first linguist (though untrained) in the LMS and published the first Mambwe-English dictionary. His book is worth a read for sure, but unfortunately I think you’ll have to buy a copy.
Anyways, in a chapter titled “Personalities,” he talks about some of the notable people he met and worked with in Central Africa not otherwise described in the book. One of those people is the popular-to-this-blog Captain Edward Hore. I hadn’t seen this description of Capt. Hore referenced elsewhere, and since Rev. Jones’ book isn’t available online as far as I can tell, please find below and enjoy the relevant excerpt. My favorite part is the one-man committee meeting; truly a man after my own heart:
“Among my fellow-laborers in the mission field one in particular stands out – Capt. Hore of the L.M.S., every inch a sailor. He could turn his hand to almost anything, but he was first and foremost a ship’s captain. His ambition was to settle at Ujiji and establish there the Marine Department, so that he could keep up communication with, and between, the various stations that would be opened up on the lake shore. Unfortunately for his plans, nearly all the missionaries of whom the party consisted at the start either died or went home to England, or returned to their old stations in South Africa. Capt. Hore and Mr. Hutley alone remained. And they were looked upon with suspicion by the Arabs and thwarted in every attempt to carry on missionary work. Eventually Capt. Hore went over to Uguha and established the Marine Department on the island of Kavala.
“He was a peculiar person in some respects and ‘gey ill’ to get on with. While he was very sincere, highly industrious, nobly conscientious, and capable of doing good work, he was withal officious and laid too great stress upon small things.
“When we were about to embark on the Morning Star he looked at our boots with a severe eye and expected us at once to change into slippers or canvas shoes. Much more was that the case when the little steamer replaced it. He then warned us, by letter beforehand, that we must bring with us a pair of light canvas shoes for use on the deck.
“His knowledge of Swahili was imperfect but nevertheless he expected the natives to understand what he said instantly, even though his expressions were atrociously ungrammatical.
“I remember he shook a man furiously one day because he did not understand what he meant by saying ‘Mekwenda mjini, eh?’ Literally it meant, ‘You have been to the village, eh?’ What he wished to say was, ‘Go to the village.’ And the poor fellow wondered what he had done amiss.
“He was very insistent that his orders should be obeyed literally and immediately. Because his servant failed to do so one day, he told him in a loud voice to go out and fetch a plateful of stones. When the man hesitated he shook him well. When at last he brought the stones the Captain apostrophized the act and ordered him to throw the stones away again. His motto evidently was, ‘Yours not to reason why: yours but to do and fly.’
“But with all his eccentricities and provoking ways he was a good man. And inside the Marine Department a good servant of the Society. He lived for that.
“One year it was arranged to hold the District Committee meetings at Kavala, and the date of holding them had to correspond with the arrival of reinforcements – the Revs. J. Harris and Bowen Rees. For weeks before the event Capt. Hore was busy making preparations. He built special huts for the various men and saw that each man should have a room of some kind for himself. Our surprise, therefore, may be imagined, when we arrived, and saw nailed over the door of one building a board with these words on: ‘Office of the Marine Department’; over another building a board bearing the name ‘Rev. J. Harris’; over a third building a board bearing the name ‘Rev. Bowen Rees’, and so on. As I was one of the senior missionaries I was to be the guest of Capt. Hore himself. We quarreled with him in almost every meeting. It was practically unavoidable, but nevertheless we retained our friendship.
“There is a unique entry in the Secretary’s book, which is read by every newcomer to this day. It happened that year that Capt. Hore was the Secretary of the District Committee and that he was the only member who was able to be present. One had gone home, one or two had died, and one (or more) was unable to come. But, nothing daunted, Capt. Hore met himself and carried on the business of committee in three different names. As he was the Secretary of the District Committee, he recorded the proceedings in the official minute-book thus: ‘Capt. Hore and the Secretary of the District Committee asked the Chief Officer of the Marine Department if he could furnish such-and-such information, and the Chief Officer of the Marine Department replied to Capt. Hore and to the Secretary of the District Committee that he would be pleased to draw up a report as soon as his duties would allow him, and would present it to the Secretary’, and other similar items.
“As another example of what might have been his eccentricity, but was not in this instance, I may mention the following incident.
“He and I were heavy smokers. In order to lessen expenses we decided to order a case of tobacco (gold leaf) from Bonded Stores. The smallest case was 80 lb., in which quantity it was sold for a shilling a pound. An order was sent by the Captain to the Mission House, and it included little else but the tobacco, for we had been able to buy provisions that year form the stock of those who had either left the country or died. When they read the order at Headquarters the various officials had a consultation together and decided at once that Capt. Hore must have lost his reason. They did not therefore send out the tobacco until they had confirmation of the order from another source.
“After years of life in Central Africa the Captain retired and tried to make a livelihood by lecturing on Central Africa and later by opening a Central Africa Exhibition. The latter contained specimens and models of innumerable things to be seen in the homes and gardens of the natives. Thereafter, having failed in both attempts to secure a permanent livelihood, he went to Tasmania and bought a fruit-farm, where he grew apples of various kinds. And there, a short time ago, he died.”