Sir Harry Johnston & the Scramble for Africa

By Roland Oliver | Go to book overview

Chapter 5
WORSE ON LAND THAN AT SEA

Johnston did not have the opportunity of directing for long the new phase of British policy which he had initiated in the Oil Rivers Protectorate. Two and a half years on the West Coast of Africa was a considerable spell for any European in the insalubrious conditions of the eighteen-eighties, and when Hewett was at last ready to return to his post in May 1888, his deputy was at once given leave of absence.

It was a different homecoming, this, from the last two. Then he had been an adventurer, charged with experience it is true, but with no certain future, his only assets the wasting ones of his memory and his notebooks. Now he had the security of an official position, the right to a fixed period of rest on full pay, the certainty of employment at the end of it. Then he had had to seek his audiences, to accept with gratitude the invitations of a few learned societies, to fashion and refashion his wares to suit the varying tastes of editors and public. Now he could think more of reputation and less of guineas. He could turn his many talents to the cultivation of a more limited but also a more influential circle. Curiously enough, he was still painfully lacking in self-assurance. 'I do believe in myself,' he had written to his father only a year before, 'more because of my strong will and intense ambition than for any particular qualities I imagine myself to possess. Indeed I am saddled with many disadvantages—my insignificant appearance, my poverty, my lack of family interest in Government circles. I have to fight the world alone. I must creep when I would fly. But if I live, I will be great some day, and may you live to see me so.'1

He had, however, an unusually friendly base in the African Department of the Foreign Office, which did not under Anderson's kindly rule regard Vice-Consuls on leave as unwanted strangers who had best keep away until their next assignments were near. He spent much time at the Office and he also made his home near it. He had struck up an enduring friendship with Oswald Crawfurd, who when not in London occupied the delectable post of British Consul at Oporto, and

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1
Alex Johnston, op. cit., p. 115.

-124-

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Sir Harry Johnston & the Scramble for Africa
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page v
  • Introduction vii
  • Contents xi
  • Plates xiii
  • Drawings in Text *
  • Maps in Text *
  • Chapter 1 Twenty-One Years 1
  • Chapter 2 Angola and the Congo 18
  • Chapter 3 the Mountain with the Unrememberable Name 52
  • Chapter 4 a Resolute but Singularly Lawless Personage 89
  • Chapter 5 Worse on Land Than at Sea 124
  • Chapter 6 a Frightful Menagerie 173
  • Chapter 7 King Johnston Over the Zambezi 197
  • Chapter 8 a Most Valuable Life 245
  • Chapter 9 a Little Disenchanted with Imperialism 272
  • Chapter 10 the God-Given Task of Subduing the Earth 287
  • Chapter 11 Twenty-Six Years 338
  • Location of Manuscript Sources 358
  • Index 359
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