Transcript of letter from Eugene Van Cooten to Major H. Straich.
Item in Church Missionary Society archives held by University of Birmingham Cadbury Research Library
CMS/B/OMS/C A2 O86/1-11
Nigeria: Yoruba Mission 1844—1934
Mission surgeon and evangelist: Badagry 1850-1851
/1-6 Letters 1850-1851;
/7-10 Quarterly journal extracts: Mar 1850 – 6 Mar 1851;
/11 Account of C.’s last journey [to Porto Novo] by William Marsh, his interpreter Mar 1851
Transcribed by Merle Van Cooten, 2023.
Rec. Nov 18/50. H.V.
19th Answered H.S.
Badagry 24th August, 1850
In consequence of almost continual illness since last I wrote I have not been able to make up any journal. I have it in the rough & had intended sending it by this vessel, but she starts some days earlier than I was led to expect. I hope to be able to send it with the present quarter’s by the next opportunity. I have suffered very much but I am thankful to say that for the past few days I have been much better and able to get about a little. I am sorry to say that things do not wear a bright aspect at this station. We appear to be under the Divine displeasure. All is darkness & gloom. The people dead to tracts – their cry is “Hungry hungry” but as for the bread of life, they reject it and cast it from them. Pay them and they will come and hear what we have to say—refuse them cowries & they will not trouble you with their presence. Such is the sad state of this poor people, slaves to their own lusts—degraded and debased to the lowest degree. I could wish that our own people around us partook less of this species of worldliness—they seem to be going back instead of forward, tis painful to see the difference even of them in church or in class with the Abbeokuta people. The former are listless and inattentive – the latter appear all attention. Oh that we could take up Abbeokuta, and the towns around us as we ought – would that at least 3 or 4 fresh men could at once enter upon this delightful field, the harvest is ripe, it [?] leads the sickle to be put in. May we not be backward in doing so. If I am to come about, it would be much if one had a supply of native agents on hand that we might avail ourselves of the openings as they occur. Africa’s cry is loud and long. Would that it could sound into many Christians hearts. May it be heard by the church at large & a noble army spring forth to rescue her from the chains of satan in which she is so fast bound. I long to go and tell the people of Abbeokuta the story of redeeming love.
When I have gained a little strength, I hope /DV/ to go and see the various towns around here Porto Novo first and if the path opens to Lagos. In these two places I purpose staying a short time & when I have been to all near me & have formed an opinion of each, I will come on to Abbeokuta, which I think, will be in accordance with my instructions. I am now alone and I desire to give myself up wholly to the work before a void is left in my heart which I would have filled with supreme love to God and His work. I feel I am unworthy of the high and Holy trust reposed in me by the committee. It will ever be my aim to carry out their views as far as I have grace and ability to do so.
I am thankful for the clear instructions given & I trust no misunderstanding may arise. At present all is plain & my dear brethren are anxious to assist me – I hope I may soon be able to travel about.
The home had a great deal of sickness. Mrs Gollmer is much better & Mrs Smith quite well, they have both had a long & serious illness requiring constant attention & care. Mrs Gollmer, I believe, will give all particulars relative to Badagry – the depressed state in which we are, trys us much. I hope my application for native help for Africa, will be duly considered. I feel it of much importance to have such assistance & wish he was now with me.
I sincerely hope that Mrs Straith & yourself are well, as also Mr Venn, and each member of committee.
I remain dear Sir,
Your obt. Servt.
E. van Cooten
P.S. Pray excuse this note — as tis written at the eleventh hour.