ROBERT HAMILL NASSAU   1835 - 1921
PRESBYTERIAN PIONEER MISSIONARY
TO EQUATORIAL WEST AFRICA
 
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A Thesis
Presented to
The Faculty of the
Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary
 
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In Partial Fulfillment
of the Requirements for the Degree
Master of Theology
 
 
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by
Raymond W. Teeuwissen
May 1973
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
III
 
TABLE OF CONTENTS
 
                                                Page
        
Preface                                          VII
Chapter  
        I. PREPARATION, SERVICE, AND RETIREMENT
OF ROBERT HAMILL NASSAU                 1
INTRODUCTION                             1
CHILDHOOD, YOUTH, AND SCHOOLING                                             (1835-1861)                                 2
Birth and Family                             2
Lawrenceville, New Jersey                     5
Princeton University                         7
Princeton Theological Seminary                11
University of Pennsylvania Medical School             13
Licensure, Ordination, and Appointment            15
Summary                                 16                                      
CAREER IN CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER (1861-1906)    16  
  Corisco Island and Marriage (1861-1864)            16                                    
Benita and Death of Mary Cloyd Latta Nassau
(1865-1871)                                21
First Furlough (1871-1874)                    26
Ogooué: Belambla and Kângwe (1874-1880)            27
Second Furlough and Second Marriage  (1880-1881)    31
Ogooué: Talaguga and Death of Mary
Brunette Foster Nassau (1881-1891)                32
 
 
 
 
 
IV
 
 
Chapter                                               Page
 
            Third Furlough (1891-1893)                    37
            Baraka at Libreville (1893-1899)                    38
            Fourth Furlough (1899-1900)                    40
            Batanga and Baraka Again (1900-1903)                41
            Fifth and Unplanned Furlough (1903-1904)            42
            Final Stay at Batanga (1904-1906)                    43
 
        RETIREMENT ( 1906 -1921)                        45
            Florida (1907-1908)                            45
                Ambler, Pennsylvania (1908-1921)                46
            Death (1921)                                50
 
II MANY-SIDED ACTIVITIES OF R. H. NASSAU                 52
 
INTRODUCTION                                    52
    DR. R. H. NASSAU, M. D.                    54
    NASSAU, THE LINGUIST                    60
    THE WOULD-BE EXPLORER                    65
    FRIEND OF SCIENTISTS                         71
    HISTORIAN, CHRONICLER, AND BIOGRAPHER        78
            TELLER OF AFRICAN TALES                    83
            AUTHOR OF FETICHISM IN WEST AFRICA        88
            PLEADER FOR INDUSTRIAL SCHOOL            94
            SUMMARY                                 98
 
III. THEOLOGY, ATTITUDES. AND BELIEFS OF R. H. NASSAU        99
 
            INTRODUCTION                             99
            RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCES AND THEOLOGY         99
 
 
 
 
V
 
 
Chapter                                               Page
 
        PRESBYTERIAN CHURCHMANSHIP                    105            AVERSION TO ROMANISM                        108
        INTERDENOMINATIONAL FELLOWSHIP                 117                                                      
        NASSAU AND THE AMERICAN BLACKS                120
        NASSAU AND THE AFRICANS                    125
        CAPTAINS AND TRADERS                        131
        SUMMARY                                    135
 
    IV. MISSIONARY COLLEAGUES AND BOARD SECRETARIES        137
        INTRODUCTION                                137
            UP TO THE 1891 TURNING POINT                    138
            The Turning Point                            141
 
        ANYENTYUWE                                142
    Early Contacts and Anyentyuwe’s Letter of 1881        143
    The Intervening Years                        147
    A Governess not a Servant                    150
    Trips to Liverpool and Last Contacts                153
 
    CHARGES AND ATTACKS                        156
    Sources of Information                        160
            Dr. Good’s Letter and the 1893 Mission Meeting        161
            The 1895 and 1899 Letters of Secretaries
                Gillespie and Brown                    167
            Mission Actions of 1899 and 1900                170
            Forced Out and Allowed Back                    175
 
 
 
            
 
 
 
VI
 
    Chapter                                    Page
            Resignation Tendered                        182
            The Sequel                                183
 
        SUMMARY                                    184
    
    V. CONCLUSION                                    186
 
 
APPENDIX A. WORKS BY ROBERT HAMILL NASSAU                190
 
APPENDIX B. HISTORICAL AND GEOGRAPHICAL NOTES            196
 
MAP                                                201
 
BIBLIOGRAPHY                                        202
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
VII
 
PREFACE
 
 
         During 1959-1963. while the author was the Commission Representative for West Africa, of the Commission on Ecumenical Mission and Relations of the United Presbyterian Church in the United States of America, his travels brought him one day to what is now Equatorial Guinea.
 
          Submitting to the West African health rule calling for an afternoon siesta, he went upstairs to rest in an ancient mission house. There he found a two-inch thick, coverless, old volume. The first and last pages had disappeared, but there were enough left of the original seven hundred and eight,  to occupy the siesta time. That day, a desire was born to know more about Robert Hamill Nassau: this thesis is the result of
that search.
 
                  How was it possible that a mission field executive to  West Africa had never before seen a copy of  My Ogowe 1 and had virtually never heard of Dr. Nassau? In his book, The Words of God in an African Forest, W. Reginald Wheeler devoted a dozen pages to Nassau, and gave him the same attention he gave to George Paull and Adolphus C. Good.2 Books, however, have been written about the latter two.3 Why none on Dr. Nassau? Was it
 
 
1 Robert Hamill Nassau, My Ogowe (New York: Neal Publishing Co., 1914).
 
2 W. Reginald Wheeler, The Words of God in an African Forest (New York: Fleming H. Revell Co., 1931), pp. 56-104 .
 
3  Samuel Wilson, George Paull of Benita (Philadelphia: Presbyterian Board of Publication, 1872), and Ellen C. Parsons, A Life for Africa (2 nd ed. New York: Fleming H. Revell Co., 1900).
 
 
         VIII
 
 
because Paull and Good died young, and Nassau lived to be eighty-five? The more this writer found out about his subject, the more he discovered was still to be learned. The question kept coming back, “Why is Nassau the forgotten pioneer?”
 
         One world famous figure, however, did not forget Nassau.
When this writer first visited Lambaréné, where Robert Hamill Nassau pioneered, he approached Dr. Albert Schweitzer, “Docteur, I did not come here because of you.” And in answer to the surprised look the visitor continued, “I came here because of Dr. Nassau!” Schweitzer’s humble reply was, “Ah, you are an American who knows about Nassau!” A guide was provided to help climb up Kângwe Hill where Nassau had built a house.4 A prized possession now is a letter, discovered after the death of “Le Grand Docteur,” containing the words, “I have always considered myself to be, somewhat, the successor to Dr. Nassau.”5
 
               It was Schweitzer’s election as honorary Fellow of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia in 1962, that prompted Dr. Fred B. Rogers, M.D., to present an excellent paper on Dr. Nassau before the Section on Medical history of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia. The study was published in a scientific journal.6 It remains, to date, the only detailed
 
 
4 Charles R. Joy and Melvin Arnold, The Africa of Albert Schweitzer (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1948), p. 20.
5 Letter from Dr. Albert Schweitzer, dated 29 November, 1949 to Miss Esther Foster (The writer’s private collection). The French original reads, “Toujours , je me sens un peu le successeur du Dr. Nassau.”
 6 Fred B. Rogers, “Robert Hamill Nassau (1835-1921): Apostle to Africa,” Transactions & Studies of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, 30: 150-56, January, 1963.
 
 
 
 
IX
 
 
 
writing dealing with Dr. Nassau to have appeared in print. After Dr. Schweitzer’s first visit to the United States in the summer of 1949, Werner K. Gottstein, wrote an article on Schweitzer in which he claims that the famous doctor modestly expressed his regret that the name of Nassau was forgotten by American biographers. Mr. Gottstein concluded by expressing the hope that some poet would dramatize the story of the American and Alsatian pioneers.7 For Schweitzer this has been done, time and again.
 
           When the occasion of a study furlough, approved by the Commission on Ecumenical Mission and Relations, finally gave this writer time to try to answer the questions: “Who was Nassau? Why is he not better known?” the Louisville Presbyterian  Theological Seminary accepted the subject for a thesis for the Master of Theology degree. It was then learned, in the fall of 1969, that an African pastor had become engaged in writing a doctoral dissertation on Nassau’s philosophy of mission.8 Only in 1968 had the attention of this Cameroun professor of theology been drawn to R. H. Nassau by  Dr. Andrew E. Murray of Lincoln University, Pennsylvania.9 Long conversations
 
 
 
7 Werner K. Gottstein, “Albert Schweitzer and America,”
American-German Review, XVI (April, 1950), pp. 5-8 and 31.
 
8 David J. Mandeng, “The Philosophy of Mission of Robert Hamill Nassau in the Contemporary World.” (Unpublished Doctor’s dissertation, Temple University, 1970. Published on demand by University Microfilms, Ann Arbor, Michigan.
9 Op. cit., p. 3 of unnumbered Preface.
 
 
 
 
 
X
 
 
 
with David Mandeng, and friendly exchange of information, enhanced
the desire to make a thorough study centered on the questions stated above.
        
          The limitations placed upon a Master of Theology thesis leave the author with the unpleasant knowledge that every aspect treated still contains unexplored avenues to additional information. New documents  are still being discovered.10 It was only a dozen years ago that the two thousand-page manuscript of Nassau’s autobiography and thirty-three volumes of his private diaries from 1880-1919) were given to Speer Memorial Library in Princeton. It is possible that still earlier diaries may yet be discovered. To our knowledge only Dr. David J. Mandeng and the present writer have been able to give time to a study of these primary sources.
 
    Nassau’s several published books have become collector’s items but can be found in a few libraries.11 His numerous articles, however, appeared in such a wide variety of periodicals, during six decades, that it has not, as yet, been possible to compile a complete bibliography of these.
 
 
10 Letter from Mrs. Lois Johnson McNeill, dated April 14, 1970 to the writer. She had just obtained, “...the original handwritten Minutes of the Corisco, and the Corisco-Gaboon, Mission 1856-71, 72-77, 85-95, 95-02. Much of it is in Dr. Nassau’s handwriting. ...we are to deliver them to the Historical Society.”
 
11 Few indeed. Only Speer  Memorial Library and Vail Memorial Library at Lincoln University have complete collections of all of Nassau’s printed publications since he regularly presented copies to those libraries. The most complete collection in private hands is probably that of the author. It is destined for a library in West Africa. In order to help other researchers, a complete list of Nassau’s published works is given in Appendix A.
 
 
 
XI
 
 
    The records of the Presbyterian Board of Foreign Missions covering the period during which Nassau served are available on microfilm at the Presbyterian Historical Society in Philadelphia. Unfortunately, so this researcher discovered, some important items either were not preserved or were deliberately removed. This will necessitate further, intricate, investigation.
    A time extension for additional research, beyond the year of residence spent at Louisville and in the United States, enabled the author to locate valuable letters written by Dr. Nassau in the archives of the Paris Evangelical Missions Society and the John Holt & Company, Liverpool, England.
    For this thesis sufficient material has been found to present the long and unique career of Robert Hamill Nassau, (Chapter I); his amazing variety of talents and interests, (Chapter II); his beliefs and attitudes, which set him apart from his contemporaries,  (Chapter III); his conflict with his colleagues and the Board secretaries leading to his  resignation, (Chapter IV); and his passing into oblivion (Conclusion).
 
    This pursuit of knowledge, and the results brought together here, could never have been achieved without the friendly help of those who have carried on where Nassau labored: from the concerned fraternal workers, at Benita, urging me to take a siesta,to the retired missionary at Swarthmore,  responding to my request for information, and many others. Some statements could not have been included without the information provided by African friends and scholars, at work or themselves engaged in study, in Africa, Europe, or the
 
 
 
 
 
XII
 
United States of America.
 
 
    An expression of gratitude should go to the staffs of the Speer Memorial Library of Princeton Theological Seminary, the Presbyterian Historical Society, to librarians at Lincoln University, Princeton University, and the University of Pennsylvania. I enjoyed the help of Monsieur E. Kruger of the Paris Mission, and Mademoiselle M.-A. Menier of the Archives Nationales Section Outre-mer in Paris, where the Brazza researchers Henri Brunschwig, Catherine Coquery-Vidrovitch and Jean-Claude Nardin graciously answered questions. In Liverpool, Mr. J. I. Holt himself took the trouble to carry boxes containing archives, and displayed to this American the same kindness his grandfather and grand-uncle so often extended to their friend Dr. Nassau.
 
    
    How, however, can a writer express his feeling toward the grandchildren, relatives-in-law, and other descendants of Robert Hamill Nassau, who so warmly welcomed the unknown visitor and then shared with him their memories, manuscripts, and mementos ? Perhaps he may say that at times he feels he has become part of the great Nassau tribe.
 
 
    Finally, respectful thanks are due to the Committee which allowed me “free rein” during what one of the gentlemen called “your  year with Nassau,” but which, with their indulgence, lasted several years.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
                                              
CHAPTER I
 
PREPARATION, SERVICE, AND RETIREMENT OF ROBERT HAMILL NASSAU
 
INTRODUCTION
    
    Extensive research would probably confirm that few, if any, of Robert Hamill Nassau’s contemporaries who were sent to Africa by the Presbyterian Board of Foreign Missions took with them, by the fact of birth and family ties, such prestigious heritage and training. To these qualifications should be added the fact that he attended some of the best schools of his time. Twice, through marriage, he augmented the Nassau and Hamill family honors with those of the Latta and Foster families. That this heritage and training were apparent in Nassau can be confirmed from a statement made to him many years later by a layman who had long served as a captain on mission vessels, “You are of gentle birth.”l No doubt Nassau appreciated this heritage and was proud of the families to which he belonged, and the schools he had attended.
 
         Having determined in advance to do everything he could to survive in Africa, where his friends anticipated his early death,
 
 
    l Robert Hamill Nassau, “My Retirement from the West Africa Mission”
(unpublished typescript, 1915; document in private collection
of Miss Dorothy Patten Nassau, Philadelphia), p. 24.
 
 
 
 
 
2
 
 
Nassau came to be proud also of his long record of service.  In 1915 he wrote, “... when I left Africa in 1906 there were only two white missionaries in that entire continent who had a longer record than I:  one in South Africa, the other in  Egypt; both of them located climatically better than I.” 2  Nassau had fourteen additional years of life in America, after his  forced withdrawal from the field where he had hoped to be able to die at his task in Africa; and these years provided him the occasion to produce some of his finest writing. In literary output he surpassed all of his colleagues.
    This first chapter purports to give the basic data concerning the three major divisions of the long life of R. H. Nassau: preparation, service, and retirement.
 
CHILDHOOD, YOUTH, AND SCHOOLING (1835-1861)
 
Birth and Family
 
    Robert Hamill was born at Montgomery Square, Pennsylvania, near Philadelphia, on the Sabbath day, October 11, 1835. At the time of his birth, his parents already had five children. Five more were to be born later. All but one of these eleven children grew into adulthood.3 He was ten years
 
2 Robert Hamill Nassau, “A Medical Course that was Worth While,” The Alumni Register, University of Pennsylvania, 17: 588,May, 1915.
3 Information giving names and birth dates is taken from a genealogical chart of the family of Robert Hamill of Bush Mills, Country Antrim, Ireland. (Possession of Miss Ruth Foster of Bay Head, New Jersey ).
 
 
 
 
 
3
 
 
 
of age when one of his brothers died at birth. Robert Hamill was usually called Hamill by his relatives.
 
 
    One of Hamill’s sisters was two years older than he; another two years younger. Apparently because of this, Hamill had less association with his brothers. Of the brothers, Charles was seven years younger than Hamill, while William was three and one half years older. William became a doctor. Another brother, Joseph, was nearly nine when Robert Hamill was born. Joseph was a senior in Princeton Seminary when Nassau entered Princeton University.4
 
 
    The second child in the family was Isabella Ann, Hamill’s senior by six years. She was almost forty when she went to Africa as a missionary and had a remarkable career there until her death.5 She often resided at the same station with her brother.
 
 
    Another sister, Mary Elizabeth, died at the age of twenty-seven and was unmarried. The other seven brothers and
 
 
 
 
4 Robert Hamill Nassau, “Personal Recollections of Princeton Undergraduate Life, II. The College in the Fifties,” The Princeton Alumni Weekly, 16: 457, February 23, 1916.
5 Samuel McLanahan, Isabella A. Nassau of Africa (Philadelphia: The Woman’s Foreign Missionary Society of the Presbyterian Church, (n.d.)), p. 6. Miss Nassau can be considered as a pioneer in theological training in West Africa. The 16-page booklet mentioned above contains her life story and was published after she died at Batanga in 1906.
 
 
 
4
 
 
 
sisters all married; and they provided the two members of the family who labored in Africa with numerous in-laws, nieces, and with whom they could visit during furloughs or to whom they might write. Two of Hamill’s sisters married Presbyterian ministers.
 
    The father of this family was the Reverend Charles William Nassau, D.D. He was a graduate of Princeton Seminary and a descendant of the elder branch of the German von Nassau family. On one occasion, when Dr. Nassau was showing an African the chapter on William the Silent, in a history of the Netherlands, he claimed kinship to the most illustrious of all Nassaus.6
 
    On his mother’s side R. H. Nassau descended from the Scotch-Irish O’ Hamill family of County Antrim, Ireland. His parents married in 1826. Father Hamill was an Elder. His mother’s maiden name was Hannah Hamill. Hannah’s three living brothers became Presbyterian ministers, and one of her sisters married a minister! The other sister married a Benjamin Davis, and their son, who was about Hamill’s age, became a United States Army General.7 Since Dr. Nassau himself had wanted to be a soldier,8 Charles Lukens Davis became his favorite cousin. Another very special cousin, who was also on the Hamill side, was Hugh Henderson Hamill. This man was a lawyer; and, although he was
 
 
 
 
6 Robert Hamill Nassau, My Ogowe (New York: Neale Publishing Co., 1914), p. 273.
7 Genealogical chart.
8 Nassau, My Ogowe, p. 12.
 
 
5
 
 
 
sixteen years younger than Nassau, was to play an important role when
Nassau was having difficulties with his career.9
 
    Shortly before his twenty-first birthday, and after he spent his first week at Princeton Theological Seminary, Hamill wrote to his father, “... I can never love you sufficiently for your good, and venerate you for your great qualities. This is my regret.” The letter continues with a moving poem addressed his mother. Hamill may have venerated his father, but his mother he loved intensely. The strong mother-son attachment is expressed in the fifth couplet:
 
        You taught my lips prayer, Mother,
            And, your “missionary son”
        Remembers Bible tales, Mother
            Oft told when day was done.
        And, with your holy words, you were
            My prayerful Mother.
 
and in the closing couplet:
 
        Led heav’nward by you, Mother,
            I must lead others there,
        And I will bless you, Mother,
            If God my life shall spare,
        In the walks of Heav’n, I’ll meet you,
            My dear good Mother. 10
 
Lawrenceville, New Jersey
    The influence of the maternal side on Hamill was increased by two brothers of his mother. These uncles, who were ministers, had become educators in charge of the Lawrenceville Schools at
 
9 Nassau, “My Retirement”, p. 4.
10 Robert Hamill Nassau, “Autobiography” (MS, Speer Memorial Library, Princeton, N. J.), pp. 83- 84.
 
 
6
 
 
 
 
Lawrenceville, New Jersey, and they provided the opportunity for the Rev. C. W. Nassau to acquire a Female Seminary there.11
 
    Father Nassau had not been able to remain long in the ministry because of illness. For a while he was associated with Marion College in Hannibal, Missouri, as professor of Hebrew. When things did not work out the family returned East after two years. Since he was gifted in languages, Dr. Charles W. Nassau was asked, two years later, to become professor of ancient languages at Lafayette College. Consequently, Hamill also lived in  Easton, Pennsylvania from 1841-1850. His schooling had been at home and in the family; but he enrolled as a Freshman at Lafayette College on his fourteenth birthday. It was the same year  in which his father assumed the Presidency of the College; a position he only maintained during one year.12
 
    When the family settled at Lawrenceville, Hamill was sent for one year to his uncles’ Lawrenceville School. This was a new experience, because the young President’s son had had little contact with other boys. At Lafayette, he recalled, “My playmates had been girls ... Even there, [at Lawrenceville]  I had made chums with but few; and had only one fight.”13
 
 
 
 
11  “Nassau, Charles William, D. D.”, Encyclopaedia of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America, Alfred Nevin (ed.)(Philadelphia: Presbyterian Encyclopaedia Publishing Co., 1884), p. 560.
12 David Bishop Skillman, The Biography of a College, Vol. I(Easton, Pa,: Lafayette College, 1932), pp. 190-96.
13 Robert Hamill Nassau, “Personal Recollections of Undergraduate life, II-The College in the Fifties,” The Princeton Alumni Weekly, 16: 457, 23 February 1916.
 
 
 
7
 
 
 
He did so well scholastically, however, that he was selected to deliver the valedictory at the end of September, 1851; and for that he postponed his entry into Princeton University two months.14
 
    After Nassau graduated from the University in 1854, and before entering the Seminary, he taught for two years in his uncles’ school.15 Nassau was a lad of fifteen when he arrived in  Lawrenceville. During all his years away at school he was far from there, and he came to consider it as home. It was the place in America to which he was most attached. It is there that he was buried, in the Nassau family plot.
 
Princeton University
 
    It was a mother’s boy, wearing a jacket which caused other students to twit him about his dress, who at the age of sixteen enrolled as a sophomore at Princeton University, in the fall of 1851. But his anxious parents had arranged for his protection, Hamill was granted permission to room with his older brother, Joseph, then a senior at the nearby Seminary.16
 
This however, does not appear to have resulted in a deep
 
 
 
 
14 Ibid.
15 Robert Hamill Nassau file. Information in Nassau’s own hand, p. 3. Central file; deceased missionaries.
(United Presbyterian Church, U. S. S., The Program Agency, New York).
16 Nassau, “Personal Recollections,”loc. cit.
 
 
 
 
 
8
 
 
 
relationship between the two. Later Nassau revealed that he was closest to his brother, William, the one who did not profess to be an active Christian. 17
 
    Since he lived at the Seminary during his first year at the University, Nassau found more friends among future ministers than among college students. During the years that followed, while a junior and senior, he lived at the University, but maintained his Seminary friendships. Later while he himself attended the Seminary he added new friendships. But when he taught at Lawrenceville, he also kept close contacts with the Seminary. The result was that he could pride himself in knowing scores of Presbyterian ministers personally; and it has already been mentioned how he was related to many through family ties. These student friendships contributed greatly to making Dr. Nassau a well-known figure in the Presbyterian Church.
 
    Brought up in an academic environment and by nature interested  in studies, Nassau developed a strong loyalty to the schools he attended and he remained active as an alumnus. As often as possible he attended homecomings or class reunions. Hamill was glad he escaped hazing by arriving late at Princeton  University.18 Though he sought most of his friends among Seminarians, Nassau nevertheless developed a close friendship with a limited number of  university classmates, and for some
 
 
 
 
17 Nassau, My Ogowe, p. 675.
 
18 Nassau, “Personal Recollections,” loc. cit.
 
 
 
 
9
 
 
 
he had a profound admiration. Fifty years after graduation he was so thrilled at leading the Commencement parade in June 1904, that he called the experience a rejuvenation. He wrote an amusing and touching description of the event, and when friends asked him to publish it he did so.19
 
    Nassau was a good student, but only one man ever made mathematics even slightly attractive to him. 20 It was in a class of astronomical mathematics that he had a most bitter experience. The incident is worth relating, because it is typical of the unbending spirit he was to reveal:
 
    The lesson that day was unusually difficult; two others of our best men fumbled. “They afterward asked the professor to grant them a second trial, by which to reinstate themselves. He consented. I was too proud to ask and accepted my failure. (Italics mine.)
As a result, in the year’s average I was listed almost halfway down the class. ...The final class standing was made by taking an average of each one’s grades during the entire college course. Under that rule, notwithstanding my excellent grades in all other branches, that one dreadful failure in mathematics in my junior year brought me down to fifteenth in the Class of eighty members.21
 
    At the age of eighty he was still smarting under the disappointment which his proud spirit had kept him from averting. Later in life that same inflexible spirit again and again darkened his days.
        Languages came easily to Nassau and he had ambition for
 
    19 Robert Hamill Nassau,  “My Rejuvenation,” The Westminster, June 24, 1905. pp. 9-11.
    20 Nassau, “Personal Recollections,” p. 458.        21 Ibid., p. 459.
10
 
 
 
oratory and composition. Since the age of twelve, he had attempted essays and even poetry. The joy which he experienced in attending the college lectures on belles lettres and the English classics helped to develop his variety of styles and contributed to his prolific writing. He wrote some articles for the Nassau Lit under the pseudonym of “Amiot.”22
 
    He was probably one of those who during his sophomore year secretly engaged in printing a humorous paper, “The Nassau Rake”. For he states that the best men of the class were on the editorial  committee.23 Sports in those days were not developed to the extent they were later, but Hamill was good at jumping; and he claimed that his skill at it, twenty-five years later in Africa, once saved his life.24
 
 
    During his student days Nassau was well aware that there existed something known as feminine beauty. His close relationship to his mother, and the fact that his playmates had been girls did not lead him to seek male friends. He admits there were few men he ever loved.25 But he remembered that one of the older students, “brought his beautiful sister to my father’s female seminary” and he noticed that when the Maryland gentlemen brought their sisters and other female relatives, “those ladies were always the belles of the occasion.”26  Hamill had
 
 
 
 
22 Ibid.  23 Ibid., p. 458.   24 Ibid.
25 Nassau, “My Retirement,” p. 3.
26 Nassau, “Personal Recollections,” p. 459.
 
 
 
 
11
 
 
 
an advantage over his classmates, for he could write “When I wished female society I walked the five miles to my home in Lawrenceville where I could spend the evening with my sisters and some of the pupils of my father’s ...”27 During the two years that followed his college graduation while he taught his uncles’ pupils he probably continued to observe those attending the female seminary. It was with one of the young teachers, however that Nassau became infatuated. In his “Autobiography” he speaks movingly of the one he only designates as “The Lady of Worship.” She was older and she may never have realized the intensity of the young man’s feelings for her. While working as a student in Missouri during the summer of 1857, Hamill was informed of her wedding. Extremely downcast, he wrote a poem expressing his feelings of utter hopelessness and despair.28 It may have been as a result of this deception that he accepted going out as a single missionary.
 
    All during the remainder of his life, in his books, and diaries, Nassau never ceased to pay tribute to female beauty encountered or observed, at receptions, on ships, or in church gatherings!
 
Princeton Theological Seminary
 
Hamill probably realized that upon graduation from
    
 
 
 
27 Ibid.
28 Nassau, “Autobiography,” pp. 78-79 and pp. 104-5.
 
 
 
12
 
 
 
Princeton University he was too young to enter the Seminary. Yet, the decision to teach at Lawrenceville had not been his own. It may have been because of the Southern beauty he had observed among his friends’ sisters that he had accepted the suggestion of one of his professors to teach in the South as a private tutor. He had forgotten, however, that he was still only nineteen and he had failed to consult his father about the job!29 So it was arranged for him to teach at Lawrenceville instead.
 
    Two years later, in October 1856, he began his seminary career which followed a normal course. It was spent in an environment with which Hamill and his family were familiar, and to which he would, in later years, return again and again: Princeton Theological Seminary. Its professors and presidents, during his lifetime, were to be close personal friends. The academic work was not difficult for him and by the time he graduated in May 1859, he had meanwhile also obtained the Master of Arts degree from Princeton University in 1857.30
 
    In addition to his class work, during the first year, he writes that, “My growing interest in the Negro Race took me to the Sabbath School of the colored church, the Witherspoon Presbyterian.”31 Nassau’s roommate was his cousin R.
 
 
 
 
    29 Nassau, “Personal Recollections,” p. 459.
    30 Mentioned in a curriculum vitae in his own hand. Robert Hamill
Nassau file, Alumni Records, University Archives. University of Pennsylvania.
    31 Nassau, “Personal Recollections,” p. 460.
 
 
 
 
13
 
 
 
 
Hamill Davis and together during one summer they set out for Western Missouri and adjacent parts of Kansas to engage in door to door selling of  religious literature for the Presbyterian Board of Publications.32
 
    After his second year in the seminary, he served as a missionary of the Philadelphia Sabbath Association operating on the Pennsylvania  Canal between Columbia and Harrisburg.33 In addition to showing interest in the Foreign Missionary Society of the Seminary, his interest in the Blacks made him join a group of inquiry on “Sailors, Soldiers, and Negroes.” He regretted that the group was quite neglected.34
 
University of Pennsylvania Medical School
 
    One might have expected young Nassau, confident of his academic record, and remembering that he had spent two years in teaching and had given two summers to worthwhile home mission service, to be impatient and anxious to sail at once for Africa. Here, however, we encounter one of his particular traits: his determined thoroughness in preparation. Considering the taunts of acquaintances, suggesting that he was a fool to go to Africa because of the health hazards there, he “... quietly
 
 
 
32 Nassau, “Autobiography,” pp. 93-94. It was while applying for this position that he asked to be sent to the “most difficult field”. Dr. Rodgers was under the impression that this referred to Africa, but Dr. Mandeng, in Appendix B of his doctoral dissertation, pp. 335-338 makes the matter clear that it did not.
33 Ibid., p. 116.    
34 Ibid., p. 114.
 
 
 
 
14
 
 
 
determined not to die.”35 Self-assured, he wrote, looking back in 1915:
 
I had obtained the impression that the excellent men and women who had died, after only a year or two of work in Africa, while worthy of all praise for their zeal and devotion, had sadly erred in failing to recognize and obey
the first law of physical life, i.e., adaptation to one’s environment
...I thought that my life would be more useful and would accomplish more in a long service by a cautious tread than by a spectacular rush that would end in a tragic death in a few years.36
 
 
    In order to achieve such long service Nassau also determined to study medicine. So without wasting any time, the very next day after graduation at Princeton he began daily lessons in medicine with Dr. White, the Lawrenceville, N. J. village doctor.37 By fall 1859 he enrolled at the University of Pennsylvania Medical School, and in view of his previous training which included Latin and Greek, obtained permission to graduate with the M.D. degree in less than two years in 1861. He was not, however, to practice medicine in the United States. 38 There is every reason to believe he abided by this rule.
 
    Nassau extended to the University of Pennsylvania the same loyalty as to the other schools he attended, and in due time contributed numerous scientific specimens to the Philadelphia institution. In turn, during a furlough in 1891, the University
 
 
35 Robert Hamill Nassau, “A Medical Course that was Worth While” Alumni Register, University of Pennsylvania, 17:1586, May 1915.
36 Ibid., pp. 586-87.
37 Ibid., p. 587.
38 Ibid., p. 588.
15
 
 
 
honored him with the degree of Doctor of  Sacred Theology.39
 
Licensure, Ordination and Appointment
 
    Meanwhile, the young Presbyterian candidate for foreign service had also followed correct ecclesiastical procedure. Robert Hamill had been taken under the care of the Presbytery of New Brunswick and was licensed at the First Presbyterian Church of Shrewsbury, New Jersey, on April 29, 1859. 40 Two years later, on April 17, 1861, he was ordained to the ministry at the First Presbyterian Church of Cranbury, New Jersey. 41
 
    Secretary J. L. Wilson of the Presbyterian Board of Foreign Missions at first hoped to send Hamill to pioneer in a new field, in East Africa. So Nassau at once undertook a study of the area. Then financial difficulties made the plan impossible, and a letter came from the Mission House in New York announcing his appointment to the Corisco Mission.42 There remained only the material  preparations for the ocean voyage, the packing of goods and the breaking of the many ties.
 
 
 
 
 
39 Robert Hamill Nassau file, Alumni Records, University Archives University of Pennsylvania.
Often the letters D.D. were placed after his name, but whenever he could Nassau would correct these to S. T. D. as his degree appears in the University of Pennsylvania General Alumni Catalogue.
40 Nassau, “Autobiography,” p, 129.     
41 Ibid., p, 151.
42 Ibid., pp, 141 and 150.
 
 
 
16
 
 
 
Summary
 
    Robert Hamill Nassau, bound for Equatorial West Africa at the age of twenty-five took with him, not only a mother’s prayers for her “missionary son,” but the finest and most complete training to be had in the United States at that time, in addition to the cultural heritage and Christian affection of two prominent Presbyterian families and scores of friends. He was determined to put to use each talent and gift that his family, youth, and training had given him, for the people he was setting out  to encounter.
 
 
CAREER IN CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER (1861-1906)
 
Corisco Island and Marriage (1861-1864)
 
    Nassau sailed directly for Africa from New York City on Tuesday 2 July 1861 on the little brig, the “Ocean Eagle.” The young and eager missionary at once continued his training. One  of his fellow-passengers was a senior missionary, the Rev. James L. Mackey, who began to teach him the Benga language. Upon arrival on little Corisco Island 43 near the equator on Thursday, 12 September, Nassau could converse so well with the natives that they at once enthusiastically accepted him as an “interested friend”. 44
 
 
 
 
43 See Appendix B and Map.
44 Robert Hamill Nassau, Fetichism in West Africa (New York, Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1907), p.V.
 
 
 
17
 
 
 
    Less than a year before, on 1 August 1860, a young lady teacher had set sail for the same place on the same ship.45 It is likely that she was on hand to greet the young minister she had but casually met the eve before leaving New York.46 Contacts were inevitable between Robert Hamill Nassau and Miss Mary Cloyd Latta. She and some others were assigned as teachers to the school for girls at Evangasimba,47 to which the new arrival was assigned as superintendent. His additional duties were to teach candidates for the ministry, to preach at Ugobi,48 and last but not least, to visit the mainland out-stations.49 These had been gradually established since the work began in 1850. No missionaries, however, had ever resided permanently at any one of them.
 
    Mary Latta’s father, who died before she was five, had been a medical doctor. He was the son of a Presbyterian minister and the grandson of the Rev. James Latta, D.D.50 who came from Ireland as a youth. Dr. Latta was a member of the First General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church, and its fifth Moderator in 1793.51 So, like Robert Hamill Nassau, Mary Cloyd Latta had
 
 
 
 
 
45 Robert Hamill Nassau, Crowned in Palm-Land (Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott
& Co., 1874). p. 650
44 Ibid., p. 106. 47 See Appendix B and Map.
48 See Appendix B and Map.
49 Nassau, “Autobiography,” pp. 198-9.
50 Nassau, “Crowned”, pp. 13-14.
51 “Latta, James, D.D.”, Encyclopaedia of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America, Alfred Nevin (ed.)
( Philadelphia:Presbyterian Encyclopaedia Publishing Co., 1884), p. 417.
 
 
 
 18
 
 
 
numerous ministerial relatives.52 They soon discovered that they had other common interests, not the least of which was a burning  desire to leave Corisco in order to establish work on the mainland. 53 They were married on Wednesday, 17 September 1862 by the Rev. William Walker, who came from Gabon to perform the ceremony. 54
 
    Like many of their older colleagues, the Nassaus soon realized that in Equatorial Africa the price of parenthood in those days would mean long and painful separations from each other.55 Before they celebrated their first anniversary Mary returned to the United States. When Nassau first saw his son William Latta the baby was already seven months old.56
 
    During his wife’s absence, the husband established a unique friendship. Unfortunately it was tragically brief. In May 1864 a new missionary arrived on the island, a twenty-seven year old fellow Pennsylvanian: the Reverend George Paull.57  This welcome reinforcement allowed the weakened Mackey to leave at once for a sorely needed rest.58 The two young colleagues
 
 
 
 
 
52 “Latta, Rev. James,” “Latta, Rev. John Ewing,” “Latta, William, D.D.,” and “Latta, Rev. William Wilson,” Ibid.,
53 Nassau, Crowned, pp. 118-19 54 Ibid., p. 108
55 Ibid., p, 121.
56 Ibid., p. 146 and p, 157.
57 Samuel Wilson, George Paull of Benita, West Africa ( Philadelphia:
Presbyterian Board of Publication, 1872) , p. 5 and p.101.
58 Nassau, op. cit., p, 146.
 
 
 
19
 
 
 
 
were the only male missionaries on the island, and their friendship grew stronger and stronger during the weeks and months that followed. Dr. Nassau cared for George Paull during his attacks of fever.59 He invited him to take part in the outings he organized for the girls’ school.60
 
    Together, while on a trip to the mainland, they selected the site for the first Presbyterian station on the Equatorial Coast.61  The idea of this advance excited Nassau greatly, the more so because he knew his eagerness to move to the mainland was shared by Mary. Yet, when on 4 January 1865 the Mission Meeting took the final decision for the move, he had to overcome a bitter deception. There were just not enough missionaries and  funds available to allow both young men to go. And so the one with a wife and baby had to remain on Corisco.62 Nassau saw the honor of being first go to his younger friend. He felt no jealousy, but how he had longed to share that honor.
 
    Three months later his friend was brought back to the island sick, and died on 14 May.63 Nassau could not help but think that if he had only been able to persuade the Mission to allow him to go along, Paull would not have died.64 It
 
 
 
 
59 Wilson, op. cit., p. 117   60 Ibid., p. 135.
61 Ibid., pp. 224-250    62 Nassau, Crowned, pp. 169-70.
63 Wilson, op. cit., p. 280
64 Robert Hamill Nassau, “A History of the West Africa Mission,”
 (MS,Presbyterian Historical Society, Philadelphia), p. 39.
 
 
 
 
20
 
 
 
convinced him that no new station should be opened by one man alone. Yet he himself, because of the constant failure of the Church to send enough help - all the while insisting on advance - was also to be alone, on three occasions, while establishing new stations.
 
    Nassau wrote that his friend was “...a most noble character, with a rare combination of strength and amiability, of apostolic labor and deep spirituality.” 65 and in an article sent to The Foreign Missionary he cried out:
Oh ! Why did the Lord break down our pleasant vine?
I have asked many time. I have heard only one answer -
“what I do thou knowest not now, but thou shalt know
hereafter.” 66
 
Then continued:
 
 It was my lot to go a week afterward and close the mission premises, and gather our dead brother’s personal effects. The people were in sorrow’s darkness. The inquirers and Christians seemed stricken numb with dumb astonishment at their loss. They followed my steps as if expecting in some unlooked for way help, and for the hundreth [sic] time asked - “Would another white man come?” I hoped so: “When would he come?” I could not tell. 67
 
 
65 Robert Hamill Nassau, Historical Sketch of the Missions in Africa
(Philadelphia Women’s Foreign Missionary Society of the Presbyterian
Church, 1881), p. 18.
66 Robert Hamill Nassau, “Geography of Corisco Mission Stations.
VI. Benita Station,” The Foreign Missionary,  24: 297, May, 1866.
67 Ibid.
 
 
21
 
 
 
 
Benita and Death of Mary Cloyd Latta Nassau (1865-1871)
    Five months later Nassau was himself at work on the mainland teaching a class for “... those who had been awakened by my beloved predecessor’s preaching; to which others were constantly added.”68
 
    Four years after his arrival in Africa, Robert Hamill Nassau was now in charge of his own station which came to be known as Benita.69 At Mbâde,70 not far from the original bamboo house,  built for George Paull, a sturdier addition had been built for the Nassaus.71 Though Paull had only lived there three months Nassau never ceased to refer to the work at Benita as that of his predecessor. When on 12 July 1866 a second Nassau son was born he was named George Paull.72 Whatever dreams his father may have had of that boy some day preaching the Gospel in Africa, replacing the friend for whom he was named, they were shattered seventeen months later when baby Paull died in 1867.73
 
    Before moving from Corisco Hamill and Mary had accepted the customary necessity of sending Willie to the United States. Colleagues had taken the sixteenth-month old child with them. 74
 
 
 
68 Robert Hamill Nassau, Corisco Days (Philadelphia: Allen, Lane & Scott, 1892), p. 123.
69 See Appendix B and Map.
70 See Appendix B and Map.
71 Nassau, Crowned, p. 234.
72 Ibid., pp. 233-34.
73 Ibid., p. 247.  
74 Ibid., p. 174.
 
 
 
22
 
 
 
 
This enabled Mrs. Nassau at their arrival at Benita to take a large part in the development and growth of the work, especially translating hymns into Benga.75 On 11 December 1865 a church had been formed with Nassau as pastor; it was the second organized congregation in the Mission, the first one on the mainland.76
 
    The need for more missionaries was constant. As early as the end of 1865, Mary Nassau had written home, “We occasionally speak  of going to America at some future time; Hamill thinks in two years or less, but does not want to leave until this station can be supplied with one or two families.” 77
 
    Miss Isabella A. Nassau, Hamill’s older sister, who had arrived on Corisco earlier that year, joined the work at Benita in the fall of 1868.78 A second house was built for her some two miles distant; 79 it became known as Bolondo.80 Much as the arrival of his sister was appreciated it still was not what Nassau had been hoping for. True, the Mission was now established on the mainland and the work was progressing but what of the people inland? When would someone be available to go upstream? Early in 1869 hopes ran high due to the arrival
 
 
 
 
 
75 Nassau, Historical Sketch, p, 19.
76 Robert Hamill Nassau, A History of the Presbytery of Corisco (Trenton: Albert Brandt, Jr.,1888), pp. 8-9.
77 Nassau, Crowned, p. 211.
78 Ibid., p. 271.
79 Ibid., pp. 275-76.
80 See Appendix B and Map.
 
 
23
 
 
 
 
at Benita of the Rev, and Mrs. Solomon Reutlinger.81 Those hopes, however, were dashed in July, when Nassau’s colleague was brought back from a trip up the Rio Benito,82 dying of erysipelas. They were to have made the exploratory trip together, but again shortage of missionaries had made that impossible.83
 
    On 12 November 1868 a third son was born; 84 and there followed a very happy time in February when the Rev. and Mrs. William Walker came from Gabon 85 to baptize Charles Francis.86
 
        The work at Libreville 87 had been established in 1842 by the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions of Boston. So Walker was a Congregationalist, but most of the missionaries serving that Board in Gabon had been, or were, Presbyterian.88 Cordial relationships existed between the Corisco and Gabon Missions. In September 1870 when Mrs. Nassau became very ill and weak, her husband decided to attempt to send her to England, he tried first to take her by sailboat to Libreville, in order to leave her and Charley with the Gabon friends until she could embark.89 Before they reached Baraka,90
 
 
 
 
    81 Op. cit., p. 2850
    82 See Appendix B under Benita and Map.
    83 Nassau, Corisco Days, pp. 113-21.
    84 Genealogical chart.            
85 See Appendix B.
86 Nassau, Crowned, p. 287.
87 See Appendix B and Map.
    88 Nassau, Historical Sketch, p. 9
    89 Nassau, Crowned, pp. 337-54.    
90 See Appendix B and Map.
 
 
24
 
 
 
however, on 10 September at night in the small boat Mary Nassau died.91 Two days later her husband conducted her funeral, and with their little son nearby, “... drove the twelve nails to their places.”92
 
    Meanwhile, the Walkers needed desperately to go home for a rest. Their associates, the Rev. and Mrs. Albert Bushnell, on furlough in the United States, were not due back soon. There was real danger that with the Walker’s departure the Mission might be lost. The French were in control of the territory and it was not beyond imagination to consider a take-over of the “abandoned property” by French Jesuits, if left unattended.93 Early in 1871 Dr. Nassau realized there was little hope for advance inland, at that time, because of lack of men. He also faced the problem of what to do with his motherless Charley. He considered the importance of “holding” Baraka and knew that the A. B. C. F. M. work in Gabon was soon to unite with the Presbyterian Corisco Mission. So Nassau suggested to the Walkers that, if they would leave and take Charles with them to America, he and Sister Bella, would move to Baraka, temporarily closing Benita.94 There was no other solution.
 
    For several months, until the return of Dr. and Mrs. Bushnell to Baraka in June 1871, Hamill and Isabella Nassau
 
 
 
 
 
 
91 Op. cit., p. 346.
92 Ibid., pp. 353-54.
93 Nassau, “History,” p. 45.
94 Ibid.
 
 
 
 
25
 
 
 
were the only protestant missionaries, where at one time there had been as many as ten residing on Corisco; as many as five stationed at Benita; and usually half a dozen assigned to Baraka.95
 
    Nassau was now thirty-five years old, and had been in Africa nearly a decade, he had lost his closest friend and the son he named for him, he had lost the wife who shared his love for the Africans and who had urged him on from the island to the mainland, and who would have rejoiced to push forward with him to the interior. A page was being turned.
 
    At Libreville, Nassau was charmed by the advanced civilization there: the French military presence and the well-developed Baraka station appealed to him, he became impressed with the superiority of the Mpongwe people living there who had had long contacts with Europeans, he observed the well-known beauty of the Mpongwe women, particularly of two sisters, now in their teens, and who he had come to know when they were about five and seven years old. That was in 1861 when he had first visited Baraka.96 From now on Libreville, and the two sisters, were to become more and more part of his life. Above all else, however, he learned at Libreville that to the south there was a river: the Ogooué. One day he would
 
 
 
 
 
 
95 Nassau, Corisco Days, p. 154.
96 Robert Hamill Nassau, “Two Women, the Lives of Two African Christians,”MS (Vail Memorial Library, Lincoln University, 1911), p. 3.
 
 
 
26
 
 
refer to it as “My Ogowe.”97
 
First Furlough (1871-1874)
 
    When the Bushnells returned and Nassau could leave he had been away from America for more than ten years. He spent his furlough learning to know his two small sons and visiting his numerous relatives; he frequently spoke on Africa and wrote the life-story of his wife.
 
    A most significant conversation took place in New York during the furlough when Nassau listened to Secretary Ellinwood urge:
 
All these thirty years you missionaries have been hanging on only to the edge of the continent. Why don’t You go ahead inland? ... The Church at home will not be satisfied with that explanation, [ i.e. that tribal trade monopolies would result in boycott of travel ], nor will it cordially support the work, unless a demonstration is made to prove progress.98
 
These words were like offering candy to a child. Nassau continues:
 
A spirit of adventure that, from boyhood, had made me wish to be a soldier, had always quickened my pulses at thought of the interior. I enjoyed the idea of itineration, and forest-travel, and camp-fires. And I replied, “Dr. Ellinwood, the Gaboon, the Muni and Benito rivers have been tried in vain, as pathways to the Interior. When my furlough is ended, I am willing to attempt a route by the Ogowe River but, I do not think the Mission will permit me.”99
 
 
97 See Appendix B, and Map. Except for direct quotations this paper uses for geographical names the spelling as used today, hence Ogooué, and not Ogowe. Names no longer current are spelled as they were by Nassau.
98 Nassau, My Ogowe, p.12      
99 Ibid.
 
 
27
 
 
 
    By the time he sailed back to Africa, in the Spring of 1874, he was assured of both Board and Mission approval for his great adventure. His sons remained behind in the care of two separate families. On that score too he was free to give himself to his pioneering plans.
 
Ogooué: Belambla and Kângwe (1874-1880)
 
    It is well to remember that the pace of mission activities in Nassau’s time was slower than in the early twentieth century. By the end of his first year back in Africa, Nassau had still not been able to select a definite site for his new station. He had spent the latter part of 1874 exploring the river beyond Lambaréné,100 but had been unable to decide
on a location. He also gave some time to helping his sister at Benita.
 
    Finally, in September 1875. Dr. Nassau could leave Chief Kama’s place, where he had been living.101 He had purchased a piece of land from the Chief on the river bank one hundred and thirty miles up the Ogooué. The place was called Belambla. 102
 
    He had selected the site because it was located among the Bakele. Nassau had been told that the Dikele tribal language had much in common with Benga which language he knew
 
 
 
 
 
100 See Appendix B and Map.
101 Nassau, op. cit., p. 100.
102 See Appendix B and Map.
 
 
 
 
28
 
 
 
well.103 On the other hand, he did not believe he had learned sufficient Mpongwe, the Libreville language used up and down the river. During all this time the pioneering missionary could not have carried on the work he did, had it not been for faithful Kombe helpers who had come with him from the Benita coast.104 He was able to recruit Galwas from the local river tribes to help with his building plans. As soon as he was
installed in a temporary hut of his own, his procedure was to start, at once, with the construction of something more permanent. There were many interruptions, however. Trips to the coast were time-consuming but imperative in order to secure supplies. Happily they also brought him -- at work alone -- back into contact with fellow missionaries, at Libreville and Corisco, during Presbytery and Mission meetings.
 
    Nassau’s joy at the completion of his second Ogooué house was saddened at the thought that one of the doors he used had been the front door of his first African home at Evangasimba.
 
    Removal of the missionaries from the island to the mainland had resulted in the tearing down of many buildings; materials were too scarce to be left behind.105 The new house, however, contained so many attractive items that it proved to be too much of a temptation to the Bakele people. Though, during his forced absences, Nassau left the house in care of
 
 
 
 
 
103 Nassau, op. cit., p. 39.
104 Ibid., p. 87.
105 Ibid., p. 144.
 
 
 
29
 
 
 
trusted natives, it was first plundered, and on a second occasion was nearly torn down. Reluctantly the pioneer had to convince himself that he had made a mistake; the site was not ideal.106
 
    As he traveled up and down the river, Nassau had often looked longingly at a certain hilltop.107 To his regret it was twenty-five miles less inland from where he had attempted to settle.108 On the other hand, it was near several trading houses. The place was called Kângwe 109 near Lambaréné. When he moved to that hilltop in 1876, however, there was a more important reason for locating there than the proximity of traders. For some reason Nassau had come to believe that the Galwa people of Kângwe would respond better to the Gospel than had the Bakele. The latter, after more than two years, were still not showing much response. 110
 
    The work developed well during the three years that followed. Nassau had the joy of seeing his sister come to live with him. All the while continuing her special task of training men for the ministry she opened a girls’ school.111 Her brother supervised the start of a boys’ school and regularly returned to Belambla, which he did not want to give up completely. He also visited scores of other villages up and down the river and along the shores of the lakes. To his delight and comfort, one
 
 
 
106 Ibid., Chapters XIV-XV.        
107 Ibid., pp. 52. 156, 159.
108 Ibid., p. 167.                
109 See Appendix B and Map.
110 Nassau, op. cit., p. 167.        
111 Ibid., p. 231.
 
30
 
 
 
of the two Mpongwe sisters he had learned to know at Baraka, came to live at one of the trading posts where her husband was at work.112 One year after Nassau started pioneering along the Ogooué, Count Savorgnan de Brazza, the French explorer, made his first trip to the area. The two men became friends and exchanged visits.113
 
    Best of all, there were converts. Nassau, the missionary, was able to accompany several converts to Baraka for baptism; in July 1879 Presbytery authorized the establishment of the  First Ogooué Church. At last there was a group Nassau could consider as his  own. He wrote:
 
        A written request to Presbytery, “signed by four members of Gaboon Church and two of Benita Church, residing permanently in the Ogove,” was granted at meeting of July 21st, 1879. The organization of the church,
    ... was affected November 28th, 1879, with those six
    applicants, and H. M. Bacheler, D.D., ... who offered his
    certificate of membership ... and who accepted the office
    of Ruling Elder, ... next day, ten candidates for baptism
    were examined, [ no longer at the Coast ] of whom three
    were received. Five of those six who signed ... were
    the first Ogove converts, ... 114
 
    The arrival of Dr. and Mrs. Henry M. Bacheler meant more than just the acquisition of an Elder for the young church. Robert Hamill Nassau and his sister Isabella could now begin to think seriously of a furlough, especially when Mrs. Jennie Lush Smith came to carry on Miss Nassau’s work. 115 As they
 
 
112 Ibid., p. 272.
113 Ibid., Chapter XVIII, passim.
114 Nassau, Corisco Days, pp. 169-70.
115 Nassau, My Ogowe p. 326.
 
31
 
 
 
prepared to leave, construction was underway on a good-sized church building at Andende,116 as the lower part of the station was called.
 
Second Furlough and Second Marriage (1880-1881)
 
    Rarely was a furlough filled with such multiplicity and variety of activities. During the some eighteen months Nassau remained in the United States, he delivered nearly two hundred addresses, considered an undisclosed number of ladies as possible wives, finally married one, and during many months suffered greatly due to a physical ailment necessitating medical attention.  All this is extensively recorded in My Ogowe.117
 
    Fortunately, the long ocean voyage back to Africa, via Europe, allowed him some time for a honeymoon. His bride, Mary Brunette Foster, was thirty years old, fifteen years younger than her husband. They sailed two days after the wedding took place at Lakewood, New Jersey. The day after the wedding, on their way to Philadelphia to embark, they crowded a speaking engagement at a New Jersey Synodical meeting into their schedule.118
 
    Mary Foster’s father, the Reverend Julius Foster, had been pastor of the Presbyterian Church of Towanda, Pennsylvania.
 
 
 
 
 
116 See Appendix B and Map.
117 Nassau, op. cit., Chapter XIX.
118 Robert Hamill Nassau The Path She Trod (Philadelphia: Allen, Lane & Scott, 1909), p. 42.
 
 
32
 
 
 
Nassau remembered having once seen him at the family home at Easton. And he could “... recall the urbanity that softened the dignity and the courteous smile that prevented ...” his boyish fear. 119 When Mary was seven she had lost her mother and when she was fourteen, her father. She had but one older brother. For a while she lived at the home of an uncle, the Rev. Isaac Todd; he performed the wedding ceremony on Monday, October 10, 1881. 120 During her years as a young teacher Miss Foster had been active in church, and had several ministers as close friends. She was a talented person, who had herself been considering missionary service before Dr. Nassau proposed to her. The Woman’s Board had decided to appoint her to Persia.121 With her at his side Nassau now looked forward to a new time of service and to moving still farther up the Ogooué.
 
Ogooué: Talaguga and Death of Mary Brunette Foster Nassau (1881-1891)
 
    Now that others had followed Nassau at Kângwe and Andende, the pioneer delighted in being able to push on inland again. He set about looking for a new site beyond his first location at Belambla. Sixty-five miles up river still farther into the Fang area he found Talaguga.122 Mary remained at Kângwe and learned the pain of long weeks of separation.
 
 
 
 
 
119 Ibid., p. 9.
120 Ibid., p. 39
121 Ibid., p. 29.
122 See Appendix B and Map, Nassau, My Ogowe, Chapter XXI.
 
 
 
33
 
 
 
Nassau, as he had done twice before, first directed the construction of a  temporary hut; and, when it was finished, he brought his wife to live where no white person had ever resided. His thoughts, however, were already preoccupied with a more worthy house. He hoped to install Mary there before the birth of the first white child in the Ogooué.123
 
    Unfortunate delays kept him from completing what he called “Mary’s House,” and on 8 August 1884, after she gave birth to a little girl, Mrs. Nassau died.124 Not a single white woman colleague had been able to come to their aid, during the final days of her confinement. Nobody was present to comfort Nassau. Not quite fifty years old, a widower for the second time, he was left with an infant girl in his arms. One idea now became an obsession: he would not part with the child. Together with his wife, he had talked about his sons. They had been handed over to others at such a tender age that when he met them during furloughs they hardly knew their father. He had promised his second wife that he would never do that again. Nassau then determined very resolutely to keep his daughter with him till she reached the age of seven.125 Moreover, he had decided to prove that in his beloved tropics both motherhood and infant-survival were not impossible for white missionaries and their children. The births of George
 
 
 
 
123 Nassau, Path, p. 123  
124 Ibid., p. 177.
125 Ibid. and Nassau, My Ogowe, p. 639.
 
 
 
 
 
34
 
 
 
Paull, Charles Francis, and now Mary Brunette had shown that birth was possible; and now he would show that white babies could also be reared in Equatorial Africa!126
 
    With his habitual determination Dr. Nassau now gave himself to the double task: pioneer up the river and care for his child. He had always thought of Talaguga as but a midway station to a far more important one to be built later, still farther inland.
 
    As at Benita and then at Kângwe, sister Bella was once again assigned to her brother’s station. She was no help, however, with his mother-task. Unmarried and fifty-six years old, Miss Nassau had many gifts, but, in the opinion of her brother, “... knew nothing about babies.”127 She became the hostess in the new house that was to have been Mary’s.
 
    Nassau was caught in the dilemma of having committed himself to keep his child with him and unable to procure white help, he naturally turned to Africans for assistance. Like in everything else, he sought for the best, though not necessarily succeeding. By the time little Mary was four her father had obtained for her care, at first, the help of a very competent Benga person and then in two years’ time eight successive Galwa young women which he considered very incompetent.128
 
 
 
 
 
126 Nassau, “A Medical Course,” pp. 588-89.
127 Nassau, My Ogowe, p. 472.
128 Ibid., pp. 515-516.
 
 
 
35
 
 
 
 
    At last, he found what seemed an ideal solution. During the service of the incompetent ones, Nassau had often given thought to calling on one of the two Mpongwe sisters which he had known for years. At first this did not succeed but when it did, it brought him tremendous relief and a new lease on life. Anyentyuwe came to Talaguga to be Mary’s governess. She brought her daughter Iga, about the age of little Mary, with her. She was not married. In December 1889 his sister was compelled to leave on furlough. Nassau could not hope for a replacement for her and would have to carry on by himself at Talaguga. What about the governess? After he gave the question much careful thought he decided to maintain Anyentyuwe in his employ.129 This grave decision and his subsequent treatment of her  created, for years to come, alienation between him and many colleagues.
 
    Meanwhile, other difficulties, were building up for the entire work in the French occupied territory. Severe restrictions were being enforced against the use of anything but French in teaching the natives. No non-French were allowed to go beyond the N’Djolé 130 government post, up the river from Talaguga.131 This latter measure hurt Nassau more than the school restrictions since it severely curtailed his pioneering plans.
 
 
 
 
129 Ibid., pp. 639-40.
130 See Appendix B and Map.
131 Nassau, op. cit., p. 450.
 
 
 
 
 
36
 
 
 
 
    Halfway measures had been tried, for several years, by the Presbyterian Mission to meet the French demands; one was the hiring of French Protestants to assist with teaching.132 Gradually a strong sentiment developed in favor of handing the work over to the French Protestant Mission Society.133
 
    One of the most ardent promoters of this plan was an energetic young colleague named Adolphus Clemens Good. Nassau had first met him while he was still a student at Western Theological Seminary in Pittsburgh. He had started his missionary work at Baraka, in 1882, and then replaced Dr. Nassau at Kângwe. Dr. Good was twenty years younger than the Ogooué Pioneer and as eager for his “own” field as Nassau had been when he left Corisco for Benita and Baraka for the Ogooué.134 For young Good the future of the mission - there was no doubt in his mind - lay inland from Batanga,135 the new station north of Benita. There, in Cameroun,136 the Germans - Protestants! - were in control.137 They would certainly be more tolerant of American Presbyterians. Jesuit influence and French
 
 
 
 
 
132 Ellen C. Parsons A Life for Africa (2nd, ed. New York: Fleming H. Revell, 1900), p. 115.
133 Ibid., p. 98.
134 Ibid., pp. 168-69.
135 See Appendix B and Map.
136 See Appendix B and Map.
137 W. Reginald Wheeler,  The Words of God in An African Forest (New York: Fleming H. Revell Co., 1931, p. 79.
 
 
 
37
 
 
 
restrictions made advance up the Ogooué less and less likely. Good’s zeal for advance, so much like Nassau’s a generation before, soon revealed that the two men were too much alike, in many ways, to get along well.
 
    Two French missionaries had already arrived to inspect the field, and were temporarily helping the mission at Kângwe, as a weary Nassau prepared for furlough.138 He had witnessed ten years of advance and growth on the Ogooué. Would he return there? His term which began as he brought his young bride up the river he loved ended with the selling of his Talaguga household goods. Nassau dreaded the long sea-voyage because of his proneness to seasickness,139 and wanted his girl to be well attended to during the trip. So he arranged for Anyentyuwe and Iga to accompany him and his daughter as far as England.140
 
Third Furlough (1891-1893)
 
    The first news Dr. Nassau received upon his arrival in Philadelphia in May 1891 was that of the death of his favorite brother William, a doctor in Iowa.141 Nassau had been thinking of leaving his daughter Mary with him.142 Much had changed during his ten-year absence. His eldest son was
 
 
 
138 Nassau, My Ogowe, p. 587.        
139 Ibid., p. 272.
140 Ibid., p. 693.       
141 Ibid., p. 699.    
142 Ibid., p. 675.
 
 
 
 
38
 
 
 
now married, and his second son about to finish medical school. Although Nassau did not lack for relatives and friends, he appears to have been long in deciding, and oft disappointed, in his plans for finding a home for Mary. Finally, he decided to leave her with a cousin of her mother, the Rev. Frank Todd, Presbyterian minister in Monroeton, Pa.143 His years of loneliness in Africa seem to have made it hard for him to find advisers; he himself admitted having but few intimate friends when needing to discuss personal matters.144
 
    As during the previous furloughs, he was in constant demand as a speaker and found time to work on a revision of Mackey’s Benga grammar. For a while he was in doubt about his return to Africa. His return was delayed for six months.145 Then the problems, however, were resolved and a date was set for his return.
 
Baraka at Libreville (1893-1699)
 
    The Mission assigned Dr. Nassau to Baraka, the oldest American station in the area. Its nearness to the Ogooué reminded him frequently of the fact that others had taken over his work; at least he had the satisfaction of being able to revisit the river stations and of being welcomed there by the
 
 
 
 
 
143 Nassau, “Autobiography”, pp. 920, 924, and 940.
144 Nassau, “My Retirement”, p. 3.
145 Nassau,”Autobiography”, p. 947.
 
 
 
 
39
 
 
 
 
French missionaries.146 During the years of his stay at Baraka he was the principal missionary but Baraka was no longer the principal station. Some of the French teachers engaged to help teach in their language lived there, but Nassau’s knowledge of French was not enough for him to have close contacts. Moreover, some of the Frenchmen were not always of the same opinion as to conduct (wine) as the Americans.147 Nassau obtained much enjoyment from his pastoral work among the Mpongwe; and Anyentyuwe had found work in Libreville. At Angom,148 the Rev. and Mrs. Arthur W. Marling were at work among the Fang, and his contacts with them were pleasant, but in 1896 Mr. Marling died.149 He was delighted, in 1895, when the British explorer and traveler, Mary H. Kingsley, was in and out of Libreville during several months, and he was able to assist her.150 He carried on translation work, and was usually called upon to act as Stated Clerk of Presbytery.151
 
    Yet, unmistakably, “The missions’ tide of interest had turned to its northern end at Batanga.”152 Even his sister
 
    
 
 
 
 
 
146 Nassau, My Ogowe, p. 700.
147 Parsons, A Life, p. 116.
148 See Appendix B and Map.
149 Nassau, “History,” p. 66. Information concerning years of service, Christian names, etc., pertaining to Presbyterian missionaries has been taken from Arthur Judson Brown, One Hundred Years. (New York: Fleming H. Revell Co., 1936), pp. 1097-98.
150 Mary H. Kingsley, West African Studies  (London Macmillan and Co., 1899), p. 89.
151 Nassau, History Corisco, p. 26.
152 Nassau “History,” p. 68.
 
 
40
 
 
 
Isabella had been assigned there, and was to remain there till her death in 1906.153
 
Fourth Furlough (1899-1900)
 
    Early in 1899 Nassau arrived back in the United States. He was anxious to see his fourteen-year old daughter. Moreover, he had conceived a delightful plan. During the summer he intended to take Mary on a trip to Europe. There she would meet her former governess Anyentyuwe. This African woman, after all, was the only “mother” Mary had known, and, at Baraka, Anyentyuwe had often expressed to Nassau her desire to see Mary again.154 Sad news, however, awaited father and daughter upon their arrival in Liverpool. The dentist who had been caring for Anyentyuwe while she awaited the Nassaus, had discovered that she had leprosy. Instead of going on the proposed trip through Europe with Mary and Dr. Nassau she had to hasten back to Libreville.155
 
    The furlough, however, did not bring only sadness. Miss Kingley’s writings placed Dr. Nassau’s name before many who had paid little attention to him. Robert E. Speer, a new Board secretary, urged the veteran missionary to write a  book, or books, in order to share with others his vast knowledge
 
 
 
 
153 McLanahan, Isabella, p. 8.
154 Robert Hamill Nassau, “Two Women: The Lives of Two Native African Christians (Unpublished MS, Lincoln University, 1911), p. 34.
155 Ibid., p. 35.
 
 
 
 
41
 
 
 
of Africa.156 When Nassau sailed back to that continent, it was his understanding that this writing would be his major responsibility.
 
Batanga and Baraka again (1900-1903)
 
    During his furlough, however, the missionaries had decided at the powerful annual Mission Meeting that Dr. Nassau should take on pastoral responsibility for the church at Batanga. The work in the interior was demanding more and more workers, and some expressed dismay at the fact that Nassau was being urged to spend time in writing a book on African “folk-lore.” Nevertheless, after moving his belongings from Baraka to Batanga and bidding farewell to his Mpongwe friends, Nassau was able to settle down to work on his book on fetichism. He was not averse to assuming the pastoral assignment at Batanga, as well, and engaged willingly with the African elders in the tedious work of correcting the membership rolls.157 It was the largest church in the Mission.
 
    He watched, more or less passively, as wave after wave of new, young missionaries arrived, heading for the interior, to Bulu-land in Cameroun. He could never get himself to follow the overland road, opened up by Dr. A. C. Good’s pioneering
 
 
 
 
156 Nassau, “Autobiography,” p. 1244 1/2, a letter from Robert E. Speer, dated 4 November 1899.
 
157 Nassau’s personal report, for 1900. Microfilm Series, Africa: Reports 1900-05 Presbyterian Church, U. S. A. Board of Foreign Missions, vol. 10 (part 1), Reel 239.
(Presbyterian Historical Society, Philadelphia). Hereafter this series is cited as PCUSABFM.
 
 
42
 
 
 
and there is no record of his ever having gone there.
 
    In December, Mission Meeting invited him to spend some months at Baraka, where his ministry was needed. During a siege of illness, however, tensions between him and the other missionaries resulted in his being forcibly sent home for alleged medical reasons.158
 
Fifth and Unplanned Furlough (1903-1904)
 
    Much as he did not desire this furlough, it, nevertheless, brought Nassau  some special enjoyment. His ill health was quickly restored, and he saw his book, Fetichism in West Africa, come from the press. Also, it was during this furlough that he was able to participate in the fiftieth reunion of his Princeton University Class, leading the parade. It was one of the happiest experiences of his life.159
 
    Sad news, however, came from Baraka. Toward the end of 1903 a letter arrived informing him of the death of his longtime friend Anyentyuwe.160 Through an unfortunate move made by Secretary A. J. Brown, the question of his return to Africa became a matter of long and painful discussion.161
 
 
 
 
 
158 Nassau, “Autobiography,” pp. 1451-58.
159 See p. 9.    
160 Op. cit., p. 1483.
161 Letter from Secretary A. J. Brown to R. H. Nassau dated 7 October 1903. PCUSABFM. Africa letters Vol. 8 (part 2), Reel 238, letter 10.
 
 
 
 
43
 
 
 
 
When he finally sailed in the fall of 1904, he took with him a third set of grave stones to cover a woman’s resting place. After delivering these to Baraka, he again settled at Batanga.162
 
Final Stay at Batanga (1904-1906)
 
    Shortly after Nassau’s return to Cameroun, an unusual event took place. For the first time since the Presbyterian Board of Foreign Missions commenced sending missionaries to Equatorial West Africa in 1850, a Secretary from the New York office was sent to inspect the field.163 The attitude of Dr. A. W. Halsey, however, and his presence and interventions at the Mission Meeting held in February 1905, were such that Dr. R. H. Nassau felt himself obligated to tender his resignation. It was accepted by the West Africa Mission. 164
 
    While he awaited action from New York, after his proffered withdrawal, Nassau continued his pastoral work at Batanga. At the end of the year he had still not heard from the Board and attended the Mission Meeting at Baraka, but did not participate.165 Early in 1906, more than thirty years after he had pioneered there, Robert Hamill Nassau made his
 
 
 
 
162 Letters from Dr. Nassau to daughter Mary. Letter dated 4 Nov. 1904.
(Collection of Miss D.P. Nassau, Philadelphia).
163 Nassau, “History”, p. 109.
164 Nassau, “My Retirement,” pp. 9-10.
165 Nassau, “Autobiography,” p. 1593.
 
 
 
 
44
 
 
 
 
last trip up the Ogooué. He wrote that, “... those French brethren converted [it] into a continuous ovation.”166 In the spring he finally returned to America, still not having heard from the Presbyterian Board whether or not his resignation had been accepted. So he considered himself on furlough and hoped against hope that it would not be accepted, but that he would again be allowed to return.167
 
    On 3 December 1906, nearly two years after Dr. Nassau’s resignation had been presented at Batanga, it was accepted in New York. After a formal statement of that fact the letter he received continued, quoting the action:
 
    The Committee and Council wish to place on record
their appreciation of Dr. Nassau’s long and eminent service. Going to Africa in 1861, he has labored with single-hearted and self-sacrificing devotion. He has done much and suffered much in the cause of Christ. We assure him of our high personal regard, our confidence
in his Christian character, ...168
 
    Thus ended, against Dr. Nassau’s desire, the longest relationship any one missionary ever sent to Africa during the nineteenth century, had with the Presbyterian Board of Foreign Missions. It had lasted over forty-five years. 169 When he first sailed to Africa, the work had been confined to one small island, five miles long, and a few outposts on the mainland.
 
 
166 Nassau, My Ogowe, p. 700.
167 Nassau, “My Retirement,” p. 29.
168 Ibid., p. 31.
169 Brown, One Hundred Years, pp. 1096-97.
45
 
 
 
When he left he had seen the work extend more than two hundred miles into the interior, along the Ogooué; and several hundred miles along the coast, from Baraka to Batanga. From there its penetration into Cameroun was still continuing. Corisco Presbytery had grown from one organized church to a dozen. He witnessed and was part of the beginnings of what are today autonomous churches in three different independent countries.170
 
RETIREMENT (1906-1921)
 
    The septuagenarian who had pleaded in vain to be allowed to return to Africa, where he felt he could have served “... at least five, and probably ten more years,”171 was in no mood to sit down and relax. Dr. Nassau applied to the Board of Home Missions, asking that he be sent to Porto Rico; but he was turned down, for fear that he would be unable to learn Spanish.172
 
Florida (1907-1908)
 
    Although the Reverend R. H. Nassau had never served as a pastor in the United States, he was at once ready to
 
 
 
 
170 The Iglesia Evangélica Presbyteriana en Guinea Equatorial; the Eglise Evangélique du Gabon and the Eglise Presbytérienne Camerounaise. See also Appendix B.
    
171 Nassau, “My Retirement,” p. 29.
 
172 Nassau, “Autobiography,” p. 1697 and insert 1697A.
 
 
 
 
46
 
 
 
 
accept a call to serve under the Board of Home Missions in Florida.173  The principal church was in Starke, and there were two smaller ones in Waldo and Hawthorne.174 After some seven months, however, Dr. Nassau felt that he was perhaps not the man to build up those small churches. In his “Autobiography” he listed for himself a number of reasons for leaving and mentioned last, but not least the problem of racism. Citing the unpleasant remarks he had to listen to, he wrote:
 
One day, one of my prominent members told me, with
apparent approbation, of the lynching of a Negro, in the
town, some years before. I could not remain there, and
be true to myself.175
 
 
Ambler, Pennsylvania (1908-1921)
 
    In 1910 Robert Hamill Nassau entered the Mercer Home for Presbyterian Ministers at Ambler, Pennsylvania; a move he had already been contemplating for some years.176 Before going to the Home he may have thought of other possibilities. His daughter Mary was still unmarried and working in New York City; but he must have considered himself unable to make a home for her. He had, during furloughs, spent months at a time with his eldest son; but he had also experienced the inconveniences of such arrangements. He wrote in a letter to his daughter, that he could not again consider marriage for
 
 
 
173 Ibid., p. 1718.    
174 Ibid., pp. 1724-25.
175 Ibid., p. 1766.
176 Rogers, “Robert Hamill Nassau,” p. 154.
 
 
47
 
 
financial reason.177
 
    Robert Hamill Nassau, who, as a young student at Princeton University learned the enjoyment of female companionship when  he visited with the girls of his father’s school, still felt the need for such friendship, also in retirement. After the death of Anyentyuwe, his diaries frequently mention his visits to Miss Isabella Gummere.178 He sent her the first copy of his book, Fetichism in West Africa, to come off the press.179 Happily, Ambler was not far from Trenton, New Jersey, where Miss Gummere lived at the home of her widowed sister. During the decade he spent at Mercer Home, he was constantly traveling to Philadelphia for he was ever glad to leave the institution.180 His two sons were living there. There were many Presbyterian events to attend, such as the annual meetings of the Presbyterian Historical  Society, monthly ministerial meetings, and many others.181
 
 
177 Letter from Dr. Nassau to daughter Mary, dated 24
April 1907. (Collection of Miss D. P. Nassau, Philadelphia).
178 Miss Isabella Gummere (1854-1927) was a younger sister of Elizabeth Drinker Gummere who married Dr. Nassau’s cousin Hugh H. Hamill. Her brother, Samuel René Gummere, was American Minister to Morocco. Information from a letter to the writer from Mr. Barker Gummere, dated 6 December 1972.
179 Nassau, “Autobiography,” p. 1521.
180 Robert Hamill Nassau, “diary,” 33 Vols. (1880-1919). (MS, Speer Memorial Library, Princeton Theological Seminary) Vol. 33. p. 23.
181 Ibid., passim.
 
 
48
 
 
    At the Broad Street station, in Philadelphia, he could purchase flowers, and upon arrival, in Trenton, before checking in at the hotel deliver them to the address, where later he would spend hours visiting with Miss Gummere and reading to her.182 She belonged to a prominent Trenton family, and she had traveled to North Africa, and made long visits to Europe and England.183
 
    Nassau had first met Miss Gummere at the home of his cousin in 1893, during a furlough after the death of his second wife.184 He had been charmed by her singing of Scotch ballads.185 Nowhere, in all his writings, does he mention that she became nearly totally blind at the age of nineteen.186
 
    After the years of suffering and personal tragedy, Nassau found companionship, affection, and intellectual stimulation during the visits to Trenton. He needed courage to remain in the confining retirement home and to produce the several volumes he wrote after retirement.
 
    Visits, speaking engagements, attendance at meetings,
 
 
 
 
182 Ibid., pp. 31, 39.
183 Letter from Mr. Barker Gummere.
184 Nassau, “Diary,” Vol. 9, p. 80 (1893).
185 Nassau, “Autobiography,” p. 1471.
186 Information about her blindness given to the writer by Mrs. Bruce Bedford, niece of Miss I. Gummere, in a conversation in Princeton, New Jersey, in 1970, and confirmed in the letter from Mr. Barker Gummere.
 
 
 
49
 
 
 
 
 
writing, and each year the Princeton University and Seminary Commencements kept Nassau filling page after page of his diaries. He read books and papers and noted it all. He wrote numerous letters and recorded those he received.187 Several times he traveled to Battle Creek, Michigan to attend the Conventions of the Medical Missionary Conference.188 In the Philadelphia area it must have become known that there was no person more willing than Dr. Nassau to deliver a stirring address on Africa, be it for a Sunday School Primary Class, midweek prayer group, or vacant pulpit.189
 
    Did the wounds caused by his forced resignation ever heal? In part. Early in 1915 he wrote about those who had forced him out of the Mission. “... most of the laymen ... have themselves left it, for various reasons; and three others, still in the Mission, have told me that they regretted their vote, and are my sincere friends.”190
 
    Dr. Charles R. Erdman, an intimate friend, had written to him on the day after the Board accepted his resignation instead of rejecting it, as Nassau requested, “You know that you are only the dearer to your true friends. They are glad you are to be nearer home, and are to be free from the unkindness which has been shown you, and might await you in Africa.”191
 
 
 
 
187 Nassau, “Diary,” Vol. 33, passim. (1918-1919).
188 Ibid., Vols. 25-33. passim.
189 Ibid., Vol. 33. pp. 32, 34.
190 Nassau, “My Retirement,” p. 31.
191 Ibid., p. 30.
 
 
50
 
 
 
 
The Board expressed its “... cordial hope that in his declining  years in the homeland, he [might]... enjoy ... quiet opportunity for literary work, for which he [was] ... richly qualified ...”192
 
    Those “declining” years stretched to fourteen. Though he wrote several books during those years, the Board of Foreign Missions does not seem to have taken particular notice of these. At the request of the board he wrote “The History of the West Africa Mission” in 1919. He considered this as his last contribution to Foreign Missions. 193 But it was not published.
 
    One of the last letters Nassau placed in his scrapbook came less than two months before his death. The outstanding Dr. John Timothy Stone wrote, “Thank you for all you wrote, and more still for what you are.” He also added a Bible reference: Philippians l:3-6, the passage which ends with, “.... he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion .....”194
 
Death (1921)
 
    When death brought completion to Robert Hamill Nassau, on Friday, 6 May 1921, the Philadelphia papers announced a service to be held the following Tuesday, at the Oliver H. Bair Building;
 
 
 
192 Ibid., p. 31.
193 Nassau, “History” p. l.
194 Letter from Dr. J. T. Stone to R. H. Nassau, dated 17 March 1921. R.H. Nassau, Scrapbook, (Speer Memorial Library, Princeton Theological Seminary), p. 246.
 
 
 
51
 
 
 
 
 
and his body was put to rest at Lawrenceville Cemetery.195 There one can read the inscription which says, in part, “... for 45 Years a Faithful Missionary ... at Corisco, Benita, Gaboon, Batanga on the Coast and pioneer of the Ogowe River at Kângwe  and Talaguga.” Then follows what this writer surmises Nassau himself suggested, “He preached unto them Jesus and the Resurrection.”196
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
195 University of Pennsylvania, University Archives. Unidentified newspaper clipping. Robert Hamill Nassau file in Alumni Records.
 
196 Observed by the writer at Lawrenceville, New Jersey, cemetery.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
CHAPTER II
 
MANY-SIDED ACTIVITIES OF R. H. NASSAU
 
INTRODUCTION
 
 
 
 
    Robert Hamill Nassau’s preparation and training were of the very best, and he spent an unusual number of years in missionary service followed by more than a decade of activities during retirement. He also made amazing use of his talents and interests. True, in all of this there was, in addition to the desire to serve God, a search for personal satisfaction; but there was also a large measure of altruism and joy in helping others.
 
    Though a doctor, he was not sent out as a medical missionary but he used his skill to heal many, once he began learning an African language, he never stopped until his knowledge became useful through Bible translations, grammars, or primers. When given the chance to pioneer, he felt the urge to explore and might have become famous; but he subordinated that impulse to the work required of him. His inquisitive mind was always gathering facts to share with others, and he made scores of scientists happy with the many specimens he sent to Europe or America.
 
    The literary interests he had as a student were put to work. A sense of history compelled him to put into writing,
 
 
 
 
 
53
 
 
 
 
with amazing detail, thousands of facts about people, places, and events, a wealth of material for today’s researchers. He felt that he owed the tribute of a book to both his first and second wives in order to comfort relatives and friends. He wrote the story of Anyentyuwe and Ekakise, another African woman, so that what happened to them would not be forgotten. At last he told his own story in an autobiography of more than two thousand pages.
 
    His interest in the Africans made him a listener to their tales and then a careful recorder of their ways and thoughts. Back home he used it all to fascinate hundreds of audiences, and thousands of readers. He let his imagination roam over Africa, and the result was the tenderly moving story of The Youngest King. Urged to do so by others, he extracted out of his lifelong experience a book on fetichism, revealing in it an approach to the African and his religion that only now is coming to be generally accepted.
 
    Once he was gripped by an idea or plan, he pursued it with every effort, at home and abroad, such as the founding of an Industrial School in West Africa.
 
    Having looked at the vastness of his career, the present chapter aims to show the wide scope of Dr. Nassau’s interests and activities. At the close the question again is pressed upon us, “How come this man passed into seeming oblivion?”
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
54
 
 
 
DR. R. H. NASSAU, M. D.
 
 
 
    All during his career, the Reverend R. H. Nassau was referred to as doctor, and this was not because of his honorary doctorate of sacred theology, but because of his medical degree; yet, he neither was nor wished to be known as a medical missionary. His major activities were always evangelistic and Pastoral, but his medical training, interest, and occasional activities gave the impression, to some, especially after he had left Africa, that he had been sent out as a doctor.
 
    The most prominent of those who had this mistaken understanding was Dr. Albert Schweitzer. Under the impression that Dr. Nassau had been primarily engaged in medical work, Schweitzer upon his arrival in Africa in 1913 wrote a letter to his aged predecessor. He wrote in order to inform him that there was again a doctor at Lambaréné. And he reports, “Great was the joy of Dr. Nassau.”l No trace, to date, has been found in Nassau’s papers or writings of a reference to that letter or to Dr. Schweitzer. Dr. Nassau, of course, died before the one who claimed to be somewhat his successor became world-famous. Dr. Schweitzer, in going to Africa, had assured the Paris Evangelical Missions Society, “... that [he] only wanted to be a doctor.”2 He actually went out with the understanding
 
 
 
 
 
1 Albert Schweitzer, Out of My life and Thought (New York: Henry Holt and Co.),
pp. 114, 137.
 
2 Ibid., p. 138.
 
 
55
 
 
 
 
 
that he would not preach.3 The contrary is true of R. H. Nassau, and with all the two may have had in common, there lies the essential difference; Nassau went to preach Christ and the resurrection.4
 
    The impression that Nassau went to Africa to carry on a work of healing is enhanced by the fact that the one person, who in recent years drew attention to him and his work, was Professor Dr. Fred B. Rogers, M. D. of Temple University School of Medicine. Dr. Rogers speaks of Nassau’s “... forty-five years’ service as a medical missionary.”5 In the title of his work he used a better word, he calls him: Apostle to Africa. That would have flattered and embarrassed the missionary, but it is more descriptive of the truth. Even C. P. Groves in his monumental work, The Planting of Christianity in Africa, mistakenly writes that Nassau pioneered in medical work.6 We believe the meticulous Nassau would appreciate this correction. He was a careful writer and author and one gets the impression that he often read with a pen in his hand in
 
 
 
 
 
 
3 Ibid.
 
4 As indicated on his grave. See p. 51.
 
5 Fred B. Rogers, “Robert Hamill Nassau (1835-1921) Apostle to Africa,”Transactions & Studies of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, 30:150, January, 1963.
 
6 Charles Pelham Groves, The Planting of Christianity in Africa, 4 vols. (London: Lutterworth Press, 1948-1959), Vol. IV, p. 48.
 
 
56
 
 
 
 
 
order to correct errors in printed materials.7 Among his private papers is a 1914 issue of The Medical Missionary. The magazine contains an editorial with the sentence, “The second meeting was presided over by Dr. Robert H. Nassau, for fifty years a medical missionary of the Presbyterian Board in Western Africa.” A less careful person might have reasoned; there is not much difference between forty-five and fifty. Not so Nassau; no matter how proud he was that he had served longer than any other, he had to correct the error, he crossed out the fifty, and put “45” in the margin. Likewise, with a strong stroke of his pen he struck out “medical,” so that the corrected sentence reads, “... for 45 years a missionary of the Presbyterian  Board.”8
 
    Nassau’s not wanting to be listed as a medical missionary did not exclude an active interest in medical missions especially as the emphasis on these developed during the years of his retirement. He enthusiastically participated in several yearly meetings of The Medical Missionary Conference, at Battle Creek, Michigan. It was at one of those that he felt he had
 
 
 
 
 
 
7 The writer has a copy of My Ogowe in which Dr. Nassau corrected scores of factual and typographical errors by hand before presenting it to a friend. Among his private papers are numerous articles and books containing small corrections.
 
8 Editorial, The Medical Missionary, December 1914, p. 355. Uncatalogued papers at Speer Memorial Library, Princeton Theological Seminary.
 
 
 
57
 
 
 
 
obtained most honor.9
 
    R. H. Nassau often expressed the need for missionary doctors, since he did not consider himself as such. He was proud of his M.D. and saw to it that it was placed after his name, along with the S. T. D. He paid tribute to his medical training in “A Medical Course that was Worth While,” an auto-biographical essay in The Alumni Register of the University of Pennsylvania. In it he claims that it was his medical training that kept him alive during so many years of living in hazardous health regions. 10 He also explains that he did not wish to infringe upon the medical profession, and adds that when he was sent out there were no physicians on the field to which he was being sent. 11 In 1892, during one of his furloughs, he was invited to read a paper at the annual meeting of the Academy of Surgery of Philadelphia on, “Observations Upon Native Diseases Seen During Thirty Years’ Residence in Equatorial Africa.” 12 Though his training did not allow him to practice in the United States, he made use of his furloughs to keep
 
 
 
 
 
9 Letter from Dr. R. H. Nassau to his daughter Mary, dated February 11, 1910. Private collection of Miss Ruth Foster, Bay Head, New Jersey.
He wrote: “I think I have never been honored as much or by as many people or in such a variety of ways as during those ten days.”
10 Robert Hamill Nassau, “A Medical Course that was Worth While,” The Alumni Register, University of Pennsylvania, 17: 586-589, May, 1915.
11 Ibid., p. 587.
 12 Robert Hamill Nassau, “Observations Upon Native Diseases Seen During Thirty Years’ Residence in Equatorial Africa,” The Times and Register, 14: 109-11, January 30, 1892.
 
 
58
 
 
 
 
 
informed medically, and on occasion requested permission to observe operations.13 His name appears in the New York Academy of Medicine Library Portrait Catalog.14
 
    He had a particular concern for the health of fellow-missionaries. In Corisco Days, he deplores the number of missionary parents in good health who had to remain in the United States because good health and medical conditions could not be guaranteed for their children.15 As a doctor he was convinced, already in the 1860’s when his boys were born, and in the 1880’s when his wife gave birth to Mary, that medically this was possible in tropical Africa. That he was unable to spare the lives of three loved ones must have been very hard on Nassau, the doctor. He never admitted that he may have been too sure of himself. When his second wife died, he expressed regret that he had not taken training as a surgeon as well.16
 
    Interspersed in his writings, there are numerous references to Nassau’s use  of his medical skill. In Crowned in Palm-Land he tells how  the island of Corisco suffered far less from a small-pox epidemic than the surrounding areas because
 
 
13 Robert Hamill Nassau, “Diary,” 33 vols. (1880-1919). (MS, Speer Memorial Library, Princeton Theological Seminary), Vol. 9
 
14 New York Academy of Medicine Portrait Catalog, 5 vols. (Boston: G. K. Hall, 1960), vol. 4, p. 2903.
 
15 Robert Hamill Nassau, Corisco Days (Philadelphia Allen, Lane & Scott, 1892), pp. 160-61.
 
16 Robert Hamill Nassau, The Path She Trod (Philadelphia:
Allen, Lane & Scott, 1909), p. 178.
 
59
 
 
 
 
 
he had been able to begin vaccinating the inhabitants early with lymph obtained from the arms of the mission boatmen.  These had been sent to Gabon to be vaccinated at the mission there.17 At Baraka he regularly treated Anyentyuwe, after she became leprous.18 In My Ogowe he tells of treating Njivo’s ulcerated breast.19 He operated on a trader suffering from gun-shot wounds and saved his life.20
 
    His medical training helped him to make his scientific contributions, and kept him alert to learning about African cures. These he treated with the respect he had toward native customs and beliefs.
 
    Mary Latta Nassau’s father had also been a doctor, and Dr. Nassau encouraged her in the use of certain medical skills she had acquired from making use of his medical library.21 The understandable regret of a pastor-father that neither son went into the ministry was compensated in part when the younger, Charles, became a distinguished Philadelphia surgeon.22
 
 
17 Robert Hamill Nassau, Crowned in Palm-Land (Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott & Co., 1874), p. 167.
 
18 Robert Hamill Nassau, “Two Women, the Lives of Two African Christians,” (MS, Vail Memorial Library, Lincoln University 1911).
 
19 Robert Hamill Nassau, My Ogowe (New York: Neale Publishing Co., 1914), p. 276.
 
20 Nassau, Crowned, pp. 226-31.        
 
21 Ibid., p. 383.
 
22 Rogers, “Robert Hamill Nassau,” p. 153. On one occasion Dr. Charles F. Nassau operated on his father.
60
 
 
 
 
NASSAU, THE LINGUIST
 
 
    The first language R.H. Nassau learned to use, and to use well, was English. He used it carefully and graciously. His respect for good grammar, correct spelling, and careful punctuation is found even in his most ordinary writing. Elsewhere  reference is made to the varieties of his style, both of prose and of poetry. When he reread his own diaries he made slight corrections, added commas, or retraced letters that might be misread. Even letters to his daughter display a careful choice of words. Only when he has reached a very high age does he occasionally skip a word. English and literature were among his favorite subjects.
 
    As was customary during the nineteenth Century, young Hamill was taught Latin and his medical thesis was presented in that language.23 Later he mastered Greek and Hebrew, and he was sufficiently interested in the former to preserve some of his translations from classic authors.24 While in seminary, he took an optional course in Arabic.25 These dead languages,” however, cannot serve as means to communicate, and there are
 
 
 
 
23 Robert Hamill Nassau, “De Officiis Adipis,” [The Functions of Fat] (MS, University of Pennsylvania, 1861).
 
24 These are among his papers at Speer Memorial Library, Princeton Theological Seminary.
 
25 Robert Hamill Nassau, “Autobiography,” (MS, Speer Memorial Library, Princeton Theological Seminary), p. 129.
 
61
 
 
 
 
few references to them in Nassau’s writings.
 
    The African languages, he realized, even before arriving on the field, would be the key to opening the hearts of the natives. Already while selling Bibles, as a student-colporteur in the West, he learned to imitate the speech of the simple folk with which he came into contact.26
 
    He put much ardor into the study of his first African language, Benga, which he had studied on the ship with Mackey. He even became so expert in its use that thirty years later the Mission asked him to publish a revision of his teacher’s grammar. Though he revised it extensively, he had it published as Mackey’s Grammar.27 The Benga hymnbook, Lembo La Benga, contains two hymn translations signed Nassau.28 Most of the New Testament had already been translated into Benga by several different missionaries. After Nassau had become familiar with the  language, he was asked to harmonize the Gospels and the Book of Acts for a new edition.29 During many years, he also worked on
 
 
 
 
 
26 Ibid., p. 99.
 
27 Mackey’s Grammar of the Benga-Bantu Language. American Tract Society, 1892), Preface, [p. 1].
 
28 Lembo La Benga. Hymns in the Benga Language. American Tract Society, [n.d.]).
 
29 Historical Catalogue of the Printed Editions of Holy Scripture in the Library of the British and Foreign Bible Society. Compiled by T.H. Darlow and H.F. Moule. 2 vols. ( London Bible House, 1903-1911), Vol. 1, entries 2038-42, p. 125.
 
62
 
 
 
 
translations of a number of Old Testament books.30 The Benga language remained his first love, and he made an outstanding contribution to it.
 
    Dr. Nassau’s respect for the Africans and their languages was such that he saw no reason why their literary production should be limited to hymnbooks, translated from English, Bibles, and catechisms. He persuaded the first Benga-speaking pastor, the Rev. Ibia J’Ikenge, to write a book in Benga for the people to read. He arranged for it to be printed and published in the United States during his first furlough, under the title The Benga Customs. In order to do so Nassau personally, sought the funds necessary for this novel experiment, and obtained them from the family of his good friend George Paull.31 A second edition, in memory of the author, contains a sketch of his life by Nassau.32 In all likelihood that book was the first ever to be published in an African language in the United States. According to Professor Pierre Alexandre, of the University of Paris, Dr. Nassau was decades ahead of others in
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
30 Ibid., entries 2037, 2044, 2045. p. 124.
Entry 2036 mentions Romans-Revelation as apparently translated by R. H, Nassau; nowhere, however, have we found reference to this in his writings.
 
31 Nassau, My Ogowe, p. 105.
 
32 Ibia J’Ikenge , The Benga Customs (2nd ed., New York: American Tract Society, 1902). The first edition was dated 1872, I have never seen a copy. It may have had the title: Customs of the Benga and Neighboring Tribes.
 
63
 
 
 
 
encouraging such writing in an African language.33
 
    Next, Dr. Nassau learned the Mpongwe speech of the coastal tribe of the Libreville region in Gabon. This language could also be used inland, up the Ogooué river, because of the Mpongwe trade-monopoly. The missionaries could easily find helpers to translate it into the lesser tribal languages. Since Mpongwe is as different from Benga as German from English Nassau selected the Bakele tribe among which to begin his work on the Ogooué. Their language, called Dikele, is cognate to Benga.34 The foremost translator of Scriptures into Mpongwe was Dr. Adolphus C. Good. Yet, Nassau became so skilled in that language as well, that he was asked to correct Mpongwe scripture proofs while on furlough during 1891-1893. This he accepted to do, even though he was in disagreement with Good’s orthography and pronunciation marks.35
 
    As mission work developed in the Ogooué interior, the Fang were correctly estimated to be the most numerous, and Nassau felt he had to acquire their language as well. This he did, and it allowed him to write, “... when I left Africa, I was the only one of over forty missionaries who could preach
 
    
 
 
 
 
 
33 Letter from Professor P. Alexandre to the writer, dated 20 March 1972.
Professor Alexandre who is a specialist in West African languages mentions that a few African texts in Yoruba were printed in Lagos and Abeokuta before 1872, among them a
weekly paper, but nothing that could be called literary, like Benga Customs.
 
34 Nassau, My Ogowe, pp. 14, 39.
 
35 Nassau, “Autobiography,” p. 948.
 
64
 
 
 
in each of the three dialects recognised in our field.”36 In 1881, while on his first furlough after having pioneered in the Ogooué, he compiled a Fang primer.37 He carefully gives credit in the preface to the painstaking work of colleagues who worked on Fang word lists and phrases before him, but had not seen their efforts published.38 Perhaps they had not used as much energy to find funds. Nassau obtained the necessary means from the Women’s Foreign Mission Societies in churches in Troy and Albany, N. Y. 39
 
    Nassau realized that his University French and German were insufficient. He spent part of one ocean-voyage, which was his honeymoon with Mary Foster Nassau, in studying French with her.40 During his third furlough he attended French classes in Philadelphia. 41 and when the Mission assigned him to Batanga, where the Germans were in control, he went back to German lessons at the age of sixty-five! 42 He does not, however, appear to have become very fluent in those languages. Or, since he was a perfectionist, he may have preferred not to mention his limited use.
 
 
 
 
36 Ibid., pp. 1697-98.
 
37 Robert Hamill Nassau, Fañwe Primer and Vocabulary
(New York: Edward 0. Jenkins, 1881).
 
38 Ibid., pp. 3-5.
 
39 Ibid., p. 6.
 
40 Nassau, My Ogowe, p. 360.
 
41 Nassau, “Autobiography”, p. 614.    
      
 42  Ibid., p. 918.
65
 
 
 
 
    Perhaps Nassau was somewhat excessive in his love for African speech, the correct pronunciation of which he tried to teach the readers of his My Ogowe.43 He was an outstanding linguist and it was unpleasant for him that when he applied for assignment to work in Porto Rico, at the age of seventy, some Board official suggested that perhaps he was too old to acquire Spanish!44
 
 
THE WOULD-BE EXPLORER
 
 
 
    Dr. Nassau’s medical activities were possible because of his formal medical training and directly related to his missionary work. His study of languages had prepared him for his linguistic endeavors, and these too were of direct worth to the Mission enterprise. The boy, however, whose playmates had been mostly girls, could not claim any special preparation in his youth toward exploring regions of Africa hitherto untraveled by white men. Yet, he had that “spirit of adventure”45 which, coupled to his inquisitive mind made Robert Hamill Nassau profoundly interested in everything taking place on the African Continent. There are three outstanding names among the 19th Century explorers and travelers in Equatorial West Africa. Nassau is not one of these, but according to one of the three, he might well have been!
 
 
 
43 Nassau, My Ogowe, [p.3].
 
44 Nassau, “Autobiography,” p. 1697.
 
45 Nassau, My Ogowe, p. 12.
 
 
66
 
 
 
    The first name is that of the French-born Paul Belloni Du Chaillu who became a United States Citizen.46 Born the same year as Nassau, he accompanied his father to Gabon while still a boy. He was not a political explorer out to establish territorial claims  for his adopted country. Du Chaillu was primarily a naturalist and collected thousands of ornithological specimens as he traveled through the Muni, Ogooué, and Rembo river basins.47 He amazed the world by his accounts of gorillas, and Nassau became an interested reader of his books.48 Du Chaillu’s second great voyage took place from 1863 to 1865,49 when Nassau was already in Africa. At that time, however, the missionary was still largely confined in his travels to Corisco and the nearby mainland  stations. Though Du Chaillu speaks of Baraka,50 Nassau never met him during his occasional visits there during that period, else he would certainly have mentioned it in his auto-biography. No doubt, Du Chaillu fascinated and probably inspired the young missionary.
 
    The second famous name is that of the Italian-born Count Pierre Savorgnan de Brazza, who served the French flag. When the explorer and those accompanying him came up the
 
 
 
    46 Adolphus Washington Greely, Explorers and Travellers. (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1893), p. 331.
 
    47 Ibid.            
    
    48 Nassau, op. cit., p. 13.
 
    47 Greely, op. cit., pp. 338-47.
 
    50 Paul Belloni Du Chaillu, Adventures in the Great Forest Equatorial Africa and the Country of the Dwarfs (New York:  Harper & Brothers, 1890), p. 2.
 
 
67
 
 
 
 
Ogooué in 1875, Nassau was already established there and had himself gone over some of the terrain, though the French team went much farther inland.51 Brazza was seventeen years younger than Dr. Nassau, but they became friends, exchanged visits, gifts, and messages.52  Brazza became known as the conqueror without sword, and his generally kind attitude toward the Africans must have appealed to the missionary. In a report written by Brazza in 1879. but which remained undiscovered until a few years ago and was published in 1966 we read:
 
    There Mr. Sinclair, representative of the [Hatton & Cookson] trading house, offered us hospitality at the factory. There too we found doctor Nassau and Miss Nassau his sister, protestant missionaries who had established their mission in the lower Ogooué which leads to lake Azingo. They welcomed us with great friendship and lavished on us all the cares needed by the condition of our health.53
 
    In spite of his isolation, or perhaps because of it, Dr. Nassau was unwilling, as opposed to some missionaries, to allow himself to be cut off from what was going on in the world. There were certain areas about which he kept himself well-informed. And so it was that on the occasion of welcoming Brazza, he was first to inform the French explorer of the success of Sir H. M. Stanley’s second great journey, across Africa, from east to west.
 
 
 
51”Brazza,” Grand Larousse Encyclopédique en Dix Volumes,
II, p. 343.
52 Nassau, My Ogowe, pp. 693, 698 and passim.
53 Henri Brunschwig, Brazza Explorateur; L’Ogooué 1875-1879 (Paris and the Hague: Mouton and Co., 1966) , p. 194. The original is in French, the translation mine.
 
68
 
 
 
Brazza wrote: “It was there that I learned from Doctor Nassau about the marvelous trip of Stanley and his descent from the Congo across Africa.” 54
 
    Brazza and Nassau frequently met, also, during later years. On one occasion the explorer gave him a dog.55 After he became Governor and resided in Libreville, he reported to Paris, concerning Mary Nassau, that it was possible for a white baby, born on the equator, to be reared there.56
 
    The third name, among famous explorers, to be mentioned in connection with Nassau is that of a spirited British traveler, Mary Henrietta Kingsley. She was the niece of an Anglican Bishop, but cared little for missionaries.57 Yet, when she landed in Gabon in 1895. she met Nassau in Libreville and they at once became great friends.58 She compared her observations with Nassau’s vast experience,59 and he, in turn, was delighted to be of service to the lady by providing her with a little schooner
 
54 Pierre Savorgnan De Brazza, A transcribed MS in Carton
13 A, uncatalogued Archives of De Brazza. (Paris: Archives
Nationales Collections France Outre-mer), p. 213. Translation
mine. The original French reads: “C’est là que j’appris du
Docteur Nassau le merveilleux voyage de Stanley et sa descente
du Congo à travers l’Afrique.”
 
 
 
55 Nassau, My Ogowe, p. 276.
 
56 Ibid., p. 694.  No trace has been found to date of that report.
 
57 Stephen Gwynn, The Life of Mary Kingsley (London: Macmillan and Co., 1932), p. 127.
 
58 Cecil Howard, Mary Kingsley (London: Hutchinson, 1957), p. 84.
 
59 Ibid., p. 158.
69
 
for her trips.60 In her first book she wrote of him:
 
        . . . the Doctor . . . made some wonderful journeys hundreds of miles into the interior, where no white man has been since. . . . I deeply regret he has not done more for science and geography. Had he but had Livingstone’s  conscientious devotion to taking notes and publishing them,  we should know far more than we do at present about the hinterland from Cameroons to the Ogowé,
    ... Dr. Nassau’s fame would be among the greatest of the few great African explorers  - not that he would care a row of pins for that.61 (Italics mine. )
 
    Miss Kingsley had correctly sensed that Nassau was not in search of an explorer’s fame. Nevertheless, he was proud of the fact that in December 1874 he became the first white man to make the overland trip from the Ogooué to Lake Azingo, from there on to Libreville.62
 
    Nassau was also aware that one of his plans might have made him famous. He had befriended the English trader R. B. Walker.63  This man was a member of the Royal Geographical
 
60 Ibid., p. 159.
61 Mary Henrietta Kingsley, Travels in West Africa (London: Macmillan and Co., 1897), p, xxx.
 
62 Nassau, “Autobiography,” pp. 437-40.
        Nassau claims to have presented the French with a map of the area, and says it was published in Paris. To date we have been unable to locate this in any French geographic archives. Dr. Mandeng’s reference in his bibliography to a map of the Ogooué in 1869 cannot possibly have been the one Nassau refers to.
 
63 Nassau, My Ogowe, p. 116.
        This agent of Hatton & Cookson had a son by an African wife who became a Roman Catholic priest, and died in 1971, over 90 years of age. Abbé Rapondo-Walker is considered to have been one of the outstanding authorities on Gabon customs, culture,
and beliefs. Nassau probably knew him as a lad. See Bibliography. Also Brunschwig, op. cit., p. 95, note 1.
70
 
 
 
 
Society and before leaving Africa, in the seventies, wished to undertake one final explanatory trip. He invited the missionary to accompany him. In his autobiography Nassau writes:
 
        My zeal was fired at the thought of adventure, exploration, and probable missionary extension. Awaiting  the consent of my Board, I assented to accompany Mr. Walker.
    [ Sec’y Lowrie, of the Board, in his reply to my request, received in April 1876, for a temporary leave of absence ( at no expense to the Board ) refused. I was exceedingly disappointed. Livingstone was none the less a missionary when he took up the role of an explorer. Had  I gone on that journey, the Kongo would have been opened, in advance of Stanley; and the Mission might have been the first to enter the region of the (present) Kongo Free State. ] Mr. Walker then gave up his plan, and remained as a trader on the Coast.64
 
    In order to make the position of the Board in New York clear, Secretary John C. Lowrie had written both to  Dr. Nassau 65 and to the Gabon and Corisco Mission 66 about  Livingstone’s great failure as to spiritual results. The would-be  explorer never got over his disappointment, and years later  lamented:
        O! I thought, science and commerce and politics can
 
 
 
 
 
64 Nassau, “Autobiography”, pp. 475-76. Brackets and parentheses are Nassau’s; italics mine.
65 Ibid. In box 2 of the MS of the autobiography, Nassau preserved the letter sent to him by Secretary John C. Lowrie dated 30 August 1876.
66 Letter from Secretary John C. Lowrie to Gaboon and Corisco Mission, dated 30 August 1876. PCUSABFM. Africa: Outgoing letters. Vol. 3, Reel 219, letter 72.
71
 
 
 
send De Brazza and Ballay and Lenz; why could not my Church have consented to let me go? He [a man telling about the Interior] told me much about the customs of those Interior tribes. I might have been a pioneer to them! Years afterward, other men traveled there, and wrote books, and told of things new to them and to the world, things of which I had known, but had been allowed no opportunity to verify! 67
 
    Nassau found a measure of consolation in being a corresponding member of the American Geographical Society,68 and was delighted when a London friend once invited him to attend a meeting of the Royal Geographical Society.69 Several chapters of his Fetichism in West Africa first appeared in the Bulletin of the American Geographical Society.70
 
 
FRIEND OF SCIENTISTS
 
 
 
    Dr. Nassau struck out the word “medical” in front of the word missionary, after his name, lest people get the wrong impression about his work. He would have been even quicker to remove the word “scientist” if added to his name. Others, however, were so impressed by his contributions to science that some attention should be given to this aspect of his life, though to him it was always incidental.
 
    Though he dreamed of a literary career and never forgot
 
 
 
67 Nassau, My Ogowe, p. 143.
68 Nassau, “Autobiography,” p. 370.
69 Ibid., p. 379.
70 Robert Hamill Nassau, Fetichism in West Africa (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1907) , p. xii.
72
 
 
 
having longed for West Point, the missionary nowhere expresses having had the desire to become a scientist. Nassau’s interest was in people; not in animals, flora, or rock. Still, his ever alert mind did not turn away from these. It was his love for people, this author believes, that led him to make his scientific  contributions; he was a friend of scientists. How could it have been otherwise? Among the many people he met in the academic circles of Princeton and Philadelphia there were also numerous men of science. Others, he befriended in England; and he showed an interest in those who crossed his path in Africa.
 
To please these men he took great pains to provide them with African specimens.
 
    A magazine clipping was found among the papers of the late Miss Mary B. F. Nassau, perhaps of more interest to her than it would have been to her father. The editors used the title “Dr. Nassau as a scientist” and reproduced the following letter:
 
 
 
        All the biographies that I have read of Dr. Nassau have neglected the most important part of his labors. I have a long remembrance of him from my school-boy days at Lawrenceville, N. J. This side of his career . . . best known by me was the scientific. . . . His speeches, addresses and sermons were interesting from a scientific point of view. His many published works show the importance of science in his labors. . . . In my contact with him science seemed to be the significant domain of his labors. Take, for instance, his book, entitled “Fetichism in West Africa,” which in quoted by all the modern writers on universal religion as Prof. Irving Fisher, Prof. William James, Prof. Frazier, and others. . . . There are other
 
 
 
 
73
 
 
 
 
books by him as a scientist in the domain of anthropology, as, Where Animals Talk, etc. His autobiography is completed, and will be published later. [It was not.l I thought I would call your attention to this side of his great learning, so that the man may be presented by you in one neglected part of his studies and labors.71
 
    W. C. S., who signed the letter, however, does not prove in any way that Nassau was a genuine scientist. His interests were too varied. His learning in anthropology, for instance, was not acquired through precise scientific research, but accumulated from personal contacts with and interest in the African people, as he states.72
 
    At no time, unlike David Livingstone, did Nassau take time out from direct missionary work, in order to engage in pursuit of science. In this he differed from his younger colleague, Dr. Adolphus Good, engaged scientifically and methodically in collecting entomological specimens.73 Still, the requests and desires of his friends in England and America kept him alert to their needs, and he provided what he could.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
71 W. C. S., “Dr. Nassau as a scientist,” The Presbyterian, 91:29, May 26, 1921.
 
72 Nassau, Fetichism in West Africa, p. X.
 
73 Ellen C. Parsons, A Life for Africa (2nd ed., New York: Fleming H. Revell, 1900), pp. 291.-98: this Appendix A by W. J. Holland gives a long list of scientific articles based
on entomological specimens sent to the U. S. A. by Dr. Good, and indicates that he did so scientifically, and that money was paid to the Board for this.
 
 
 
 
74
 
 
 
In his diaries Nassau frequently mentions the difficulties in arranging for such scientific items to be packed for shipping but there are no references to funds being turned over to him for his work in exchange for what he sent. Only on one occasion, it seems, did he try to make some “profit” on what he brought back from Africa. Apparently left with more elephant and hippo skulls and ivory carvings than necessary for his friends, he went to Wanamaker’s in Philadelphia to offer them for sale; he does not mention the outcome! 74
 
    Like Du Chaillu before him, and others after him, even until modern times,75 Dr. Nassau realized there was great interest in gorillas, awakened by the former’s accounts. He was the first to send an entire skeleton of an adult gorilla to his friend Dr. Norton of Philadelphia.76 He also sent him the first gorilla brains available for microscopic study in this country. For Drs. Joseph Leidy and Thomas H. Montgomery of the University of Pennsylvania, he gathered tropical parasites, insects and reptiles. Among these was the first specimen of an “eyeworm” (Loa loa) to be scientifically studied in the United
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
74 Nassau, “Diary,” (1892), Vol. 9, p. 64.
 
75 The Rev. and Mrs. Albert Whiley of the United Presbyterian Church’s mission in Cameroun, in recent years, obtained money for their work among lepers, by raising and
selling baby gorillas to zoos in the U.S.A.
 
76 “Rev~ R. H. Nassau to Return to Africa,” The Telegraph,[Philadelphia], 1 June 1900.
 
 
75
 
 
 
 
States;77 and along with the minute worm also two live mandrill monkeys.78 Rogers writes:
 
        A large collection of anthropological specimens gathered in West Africa by Dr. Nassau were exhibited at the Chicago Exposition in 1893. Botanical specimens from Africa were also displayed at Horticultural Hall in Philadelphia’s Fairmount Park. Today one can see items contributed by Dr. Nassau at Guyot Hall of Princeton University, the University of Pennsylvania Museum, and the Philadelphia Academy of Natural Sciences.79
 
    On one of the sheets of a note-pad, preserved at Speer Memorial Library, he wrote: “On return to Africa, observe cases of Hair-Lip (sic) for Dr. AIlis of Presb. Hospital. . . . send tragelaph’s head & horns, to Dr. Abbott at University.”80 The number of persons he attempted to please in such a way is countless.
 
    There is still an unsolved problem related to Robert Hamill Nassau’s contribution to science. In 1893, on the eve of his return to Africa, he was requested to deliver an address on “What Commerce and Science Owe to Missionaries.”81 In that talk, published the following year, he mentions three medicinal
 
 
 
77 Rogers, “Robert Hamill Nassau,” p. 155.
78 Nassau, My Ogowe, p. 146.
79 Rogers, loc. cit.
80 Among the uncatalogued items at Speer Memorial Library,
Princeton Theological Seminary.
81 Robert Hamill Nassau, “What Commerce and Science Owe to Missionaries,”
 The Missionary Review of the World, April,1894, pp. 285-90.
 
 
 
 
76
 
 
 
plants of which he had observed the use during his early career in Africa. Though Nassau does not expressly say so some readers obtained the impression from his remarks that he was the first to introduce these valuable plants to American pharmacopoeia.
 
    In 1906, Dr. W. W. Keen, M. D., LL.D., delivered the Presidential Address before the American Baptist Missionary Union, and in it claims: “. . . [the] Calabar bean, the Kola nut, and Strophantus, valuable remedies, we owe to Dr. Nassau, an African missionary.”82 Frederick Perry Noble who was secretary of the Chicago Congress on Africa at the Columbian Exposition of 1893, wrote the same in 1899 in his The Redemption of Africa.83 At least two other reputable authors printed the same statement, while Nassau was still living.84
 
    To date no scientific nor historic document has been found to establish the truth of their claim on behalf of Dr. Nassau. A careful reading of that particular section of his address, in this writer’s opinion, does not allow the conclusion to be drawn that Nassau was actually the first person to introduce these plants to America. Then, however, the question
 
 
 
 
82 W. W. Keen, The Service of Missions to Science and Society (Boston: American Baptist Foreign Missions Society,1908), p.10.
83 Frederick Perry Noble, The Redemption of Africa (2 vols., New York: F. H. Revell Co., 1899 , Vol. 1, p. 709.
84 William Herbert Perry Faunce, The Social Aspects of Foreign Missions (New York: Missionary Education Movement, 1914)
   James Shepard Dennis, Christian Missions and Social Progress (3 vols., New York F. H. Revell Co., 190 , Vol. III, p. 435.
 
 
 
 
77
 
 
arises why the meticulous Nassau, who read so much and can hardly have escaped noticing the claim, did not somewhere, in his autobiography for instance, try to correct the wrong impression given? Was he too flattered to refuse the unearned praise?
 
Or, was he too modest, in the original address, and should he have claimed more clearly the honor of scientific recognition?
 
Here are his own words:
 
        Twenty-five years ago I saw my natives at Benita, when they were starting out on a journey to places where they would not expect to obtain hospitality, . . . I observed that they carried with them a certain nut.  That nut is the kola, comparatively recently introduced to medicine, and which your druggist will furnish you as a nervine in the form of kola-wine. The nut is gathered in my own forest, canoe-loads of it passing my own door. I knew long ago of the onai poison with which our natives smeared the tips of their little bamboo arrows, but I did not then know what the poison was. ... We found that that onai was a long pod of a vine, which we now know to be strophantus, whose extract within the last few years your physicians have found to be a valuable substitute for or associate with digitalis in its action on the heart. We knew of the bean used in the Calabar region as a test in the native witchcraft ordeal. Introduced to the examination of medical experts in England, an extract has been prepared from it, which in ocular surgery is found as valuable for contracting the pupil of the eye as belladonna is for enlarging it.85
 
    Just before mentioning the three plants, Dr. Nassau specifically gives the name of his friend, Dr. J. L. Wilson, as the one to be thanked for rubber. Since his entire address is a tribute to missionaries, why does he not give the specific names of those who introduced the plants he was talking about? or did he mean that he did?
 
85 Nassau, op. cit., pp. 286-87.
78
 
 
 
Perhaps the reason why Nassau was not more explicit in stating his role can be found in the rhetoric he used. He requested his audience to pretend they were non-Christians. He then tried to convince them of the worth of Missions on the ground of what they had added to commerce, to science, to civilization, and finally to philanthropy. Then, in closing, he asked permission: “...to fling aside the covering of  Unchristianity, which I cast over you and myself, and emerging from this shameful hour, gladly again open this blessed Bible, joyfully read again the Redeemer’s great command, and appeal to you as Christians.”86 For Nassau, the missionary, no scientific gain or interest could surpass in worth the spreading of the Light of the Gospel.
 
 
 
HISTORIAN, CHRONICLER, AND BIOGRAPHER
 
 
 
 
    Nassau, as historian, was not the kind that delights in delving into the remote past. He had a chronicler’s concern for recording the present for the future. The present which he described was restricted; it did not take into account what was happening all over, but mainly events and situations related to Robert Hamill Nassau. The charge of self-centeredness cannot be refuted. The positive side, however, of this negative aspect is that Nassau’s accounts are first-hand; they contain a wealth of informative details of great value to the researcher
 
 
 
 
86 Ibid., p. 290.
 
 
79
 
 
 
when cleared of the chaff of an excessive personal approach. At some unknown date in his life Nassau decided to accept the discipline of keeping a diary. Diaries commencing at the year 1880 through part of 1919, two years before his death, are now preserved at Speer Memorial Library. These notebooks do not contain lengthy soliloquies nor introspective descriptions, but short notices concerning events and places, and above all, names of people he met, wrote to, or who sent him letters.
 
    The way in which two of Nassau’s books, The Path She Trod and My Ogowe, are based on the events and details recorded in the diaries from 1880 on, would seem to indicate that similar diaries existed covering the first two decades of his career.
 
Those notes probably served him when writing Corisco Days and Crowned in Palm-Land. If these could some day, still come to light they would, with the existing ones, provide an incomparable source of information on the early days of the Presbyterian and Evangelical Churches in Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, and Cameroun. There would be enough information to give church historians work for years to come.87
 
    Nassau’s published books alone total more printed page than the combined output of all other West African Presbyterian missionary writers; from John Leighton Wilson’s Western Africa,
 
 
 
 
87 Confirmation that these diaries did at one time exist
has come to the attention of the writer after the above was
written. Their location, however, is still not known.
 
 
 
80
 
 
 
published in 1856, 88 to Lois Johnson McNeill’s story of her father, The Great Ngee, which came off the press more than a century later, in 1959.89 A complete tabulation of Nassau’s articles -- a still unfinished task -- would probably indicate that his writings for periodicals, also, outnumber by far those of any other African missionary colleague. An early article appeared in The Foreign Missionary in 1862,90 and one of the last in 1918,91 spanning nearly sixty years of literary productivity.
 
    At the request of the Women’s Foreign Missionary Society of the Presbyterian Church, Nassau wrote a clear and concise Historical Sketch of the Missions in Africa (under the care of the Presbyterian Board).92 Ever since it was published in 1881 it has helped anyone endeavoring to write on that subject.
 
A History of the Presbytery of Corisco, which he published privately seven years later,93 is an objective account by one
 
 
 
 
 
 
88 John Leighton Wilson, Western Africa (New York: Harper Brothers, 1856).
89 Lois Johnson McNeill., The Great Ngee ([New York]: Commission on Ecumenical Mission and Relations of the United Presbyterian Church in the United States of America, 1959).
90 Robert Hamill Nassau, “Mourning for the Dead on Corisco,” The Foreign Missionary, 21:149-51, October 1862.
91 Robert Hamill Nassau, “Looking Back on Sixty Years of Christian Life,” The Westminster Teacher, 46: 474-75, September 1918.
92 See Appendix A.
93 See Appendix A.
 
 
 
 
81
 
 
 
who was for many years the Presbytery’s stated clerk. When he wrote a more personal account of his first ten years in Africa, in Corisco Days,94 he included, in the back of the book, that same history with a few updated figures. In 1919, many years after he had retired, someone at the Board of Foreign Missions, in New York, asked him to compile a History of the West Africa Mission.95 It was never printed. This writer’s guess is that it was not published because a more appropriate title would have been, Robert
 
 
Hamill Nassau’s History of the West African Mission. It was too much to ask of an octogenarian that he relate, with historic objectivity, what he had personally experienced.
 
    The seven hundred and eight pages of My Ogowe contain the names of 64 foreign traders, 33 African chiefs, 25 Nassau relatives, 79 workmen, etc., etc.96 In spite of the many seemingly superfluous details the book received many good reviews when published in 1914. The critic of the New York City Post, however, wrote: “The volume is a portentous example of the necessity of vigorous sifting and sorting of material.”97 One can hardly disagree, but the reviewer in the Portland, Oregon Telegram was also correct, in writing, “In after years this book
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
94 See Appendix A.  95 See Appendix A.
96 Nassau, My Ogowe, pp.703-08. There they are all listed in the index.
97 Clipping from the New York City Post, August, 1914. Robert Hamill Nassau’s files (Speer Memorial Library, Princeton Theological Seminary).
 
 
 
 
82
 
 
 
will be one that writers on African subjects will study.”98
    The handwritten manuscript of his autobiography ends unfinished on page 2163 with a reference to Nassau’s 84th birthday, celebrated on October 11, 1919.99 Dr. Nassau intended that the manuscript be given to his close friend, Professor William Libbey, of Princeton University.100 This did not happen, the manuscript found its way to Speer Memorial Library.101
    Dr. Nassau, so oft cut off so long from friends and relatives, felt a compulsion to tell others how things had happened, and how he had experienced them. Two books were tributes to his wives: Crowned in Palm-Land was written in 1874, during his furlough after Mary Latta’s death. The Path She Trod was compiled in 1909, so his twenty-five year old
 
    98 Clippings from The Telegram, Portland, Oregon, 27 February, 1915. Ibid.
    99 Robert Hamill Nassau, “Autobiography,” p. 2163.
    100 This is indicated on shipping labels attached to the six boxes.
    101 Professor Libbey did not die till 1927, six years after Dr. Nassau. What may have happened is that Miss Mary B. F. Nassau did not have room for her father’s papers in her New York apartment. She left things in storage, in Trenton, N. J., but when she felt she could no longer afford to pay for this she had them stored in Princeton, at the home of her cousin Walter B. Foster, probably without ever noticing the labels requesting  the manuscript go to Professor Libbey. After the death of Mr. Foster his widow requested Mary to dispose of the papers. When she obtained no reply she handed them over to Speer Memorial Library in 1964 with the tacit consent of Mary, still living at the time. Information obtained from Mrs. Walter B. Foster.
 
 
 
 
83
 
 
 
Mary could have a picture of her mother.102 And for his daughter he later penned a manuscript recounting the first years of her life.103
 
TELLER OF AFRICAN TALES
 
    It is certainly true, as Dr. D. J. Mandeng writes in an appendix to his dissertation on Nassau, that he took an apologetic stand in his writings.104 This defensiveness may have marked his chronicling and his biographical writing. It is far less apparent when he is storytelling. Nassau never ceased to tell others about Africa. He did so by mouth and by pen; in articles sent home from the field and through talks and addresses when on furlough. After his retirement it became nearly a full-time occupation. He told about the people he had met, their tragic life stories, their joys; he told about the animals around them; and above all, the stories they had told him, and to which he listened so
avidly and carefully.
 
    One of Dr. Nassau’s grandchildren recalls her painful embarrassment, when her aged grandfather used to come to a
 
 
 
 
    102 Nassau, The Path She Trod, p. 7.
    103 Nassau, “Autobiography,” p. 1750.
    104 David Jonathan Mandeng, “The Philosophy of Mission of Robert Hamill Nassau in the Contemporary World,” (Unpublished
Doctor’s dissertation, Temple University, 1970. Published on demand by University Microfilms, Ann Arbor, Michigan), p. 385.
 
 
 
 
 
84
 
 
Philadelphia school, to entertain the little pupils by telling them tales of Africa and, to her horror, put on a lifelike imitation of the gorillas he was describing.105
 
    Nassau’s African stories are very different from the missionary conversion accounts which more pious authors of an earlier, or later, period produced. The closest any one story comes to that style is his book Mawedo, 106 published in 1882, and which he wrote during his second furlough. It is based on real incidents, artfully woven into one fictitious person’s experience. It describes some of the horrible cruelties still practiced during the early years of the Mission on Corisco.
 
    After his retirement, in 1911, he wrote Tales out of School, telling about people he had known at Baraka. He was perhaps aware that people would miss the traditional missionary pathos, so he explains:
 
        Mission Reports are written . . . extracts are printed . . . for             information of friends of the cause. Those extracts are true,             interesting, and instructive. But they are incomplete. They represent     the foreign workers’ point of view. They are like the official circular         of the principal of any institution . . . if a visitor could privately meet     the pupils . . . he might be given another report -- the pupil’s point         of view . . . these Tales give an aspect of occurrences . . . not usually
    presented in missionary letters.107
 
    The American Tract Society, however, was not convinced
 
 
 
    105 Told to the writer.    106 See Appendix A.
 
    107 Robert Hamill Nassau, Tales out of School (Philadelphia:
Allen, Lane & Scott, 1911), p. 21.
 
 
 
 
85
 
that its reading public cared for that other point of view. The stories of two African women would have to be removed, for they “would injure the cause of Foreign Missions.”108 Nassau then arranged for the book to be published at his own expense and left out the two stories, but entrusted them to posterity and to a time when criticism of missionary conduct might no longer be taboo.109
 
    Some harrowing experiences of his own and of others were brought to light when he published In an Elephant Corral, in 1912. It contains the accurate account of what happened to Nguva.110 He was captured because he exposed the lies of a secret society, Yasi. An armed expedition set out to free him and succeeded. Later the young man became the first African elder, of the first Ogooué church. Reference is made to the same incident in the book Trader Horn, a best-seller a few years after Nassau’s death.111
 
    The care with which Nassau wrote Where Animals Talk, also printed in 1912, was rewarded by a London edition two years later,112 but he himself felt the book had not been
 
 
 
    108 Robert Hamill Nassau, “Two Women,” (MS, Vail Memorial Library, Lincoln University), Unnumbered Preface.
 
    109 Nassau, My Ogowe, p. 614.
 
    110 Robert Hamill Nassau, In an Elephant Corral (New York: Neale Publishing Co., 1912), pp, 15-35.
    111 Alfred Aloysius Horn, pseud., Trader Horn (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1927), p. 193.
    112 See Appendix A.
 
 
 
 
86
 
well-received.113 It was ahead of its time, and is now sought after by Africanists, because of its careful transcription of the native way of speaking. This style of writing made the volume perhaps difficult to understand for buyers who thought they had purchased a book primarily for children. Instead, it contains profound Bantu wisdom, not always grasped by a superficial reader.
 
    An entirely different style was used by Nassau when he wrote the delightful fantasy, The Youngest King. It was elegantly published in 1911 by The Westminster Press, and intended for the Christmas trade. In this story he did not feel himself torn between historical events and his personal understanding of them; nor was he writing in defense of himself or anyone. Nassau had read in a poem the statement, “I know not where he dwelt, or how He fared to Bethlehem,” concerning the Black King, Gasper.114 This inspired Nassau and he found occasion to pour out his love for the African people. Describing East Africa, where he first thought he would labor, he sends a prince from there to Bethlehem, to place his spear at the feet of the Child. The young man returns to his people, speaking of Peace. But he is rejected by chiefs and priests and he goes
 
 
 
 
 
 
    113 Nassau, “Autobiography,” p. 1952.
 
    114 Robert Hamill Nassau, The Youngest King. (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1911), p. 7.
 
 
 
 
87
 
 
 
to die on the snow covered peaks of the Ruwenzori.115 Before his death, however, the prince’s teaching of the existence of a “Great Spirit, the Creator of all things,” had been firmly taken hold of by his people, though only dimly understood.116
 
    A number of poems which Nassau wrote on various occasions are included in My Ogowe, and though they are not without worth, he can not be called a poet. Nevertheless, he arranged for the publication, in 1911, of an essay written in verse forty years earlier. It is a poetic summary of what he had to tell about the geography, the people, and the problems of Africa and that is its title: Africa. He gives a vision of a freed people on a freed continent (in 1872!) -- freed from superstition. But he also hopes for material progress for the Africans through “forge and rail,” and concludes with the invitation:
 
        “As guests of mine, some day retrace
            The Ocean path I’ve come,
        A stranger here. You’ll find a place
            In Africa, my home.”117
 
    Indeed, once Dr. Nassau left his parents’ home, in 1861, he never had any other home than Africa. That is where he had hoped to die. During his furloughs he never had a
 
 
 
    115 Ibid., p. 92.
 
    116 Ibid. Thus Nassau expressed his profound belief that
the African “heathen” were not without the gift of Revelation.
 
    117 Robert Hamill Nassau, Africa (Philadelphia: Allen, Lane
& Scott, 1911), pp. 34-35.
 
 
 
 
88
 
 
 
home of his own. Throughout the many years he lived at Ambler, he always referred in his diaries to this home. That is why he never stopped telling about Africa which was his home.
 
 
AUTHOR OF FETICHISM IN WEST AFRICA
 
 
    When Robert Hamill Nassau completed his Fetichism in West Africa in 1904, many of his friends thought the book would bring him lasting fame. The work brought him international acclaim. Strangely enough, the initiative to write the book came from the agnostic Mary Kingsley. She revealed to the English-speaking world his vast knowledge of Fetichism, and his friend William Libbey obtained the interest of Secretary A. W. Halsey.118 It did not, however, come about without difficulty.
 
    A young secretary of the Board of Foreign Missions, “a lover of books,”119 had been reading Miss Kingsley’s work, and her praise of Nassau, as an exceptional missionary. When Nassau’s forced furlough in 1899 brought him to the United States he received a letter from Dr. Robert E. Speer, who urged him to consider writing a book as suggested by the British traveler. 120
 
The enthusiasm engendered for this project in New York,
 
    118 Nassau, Fetichism, pp. x-xi.
 
    119 Mentioned on the dedicatory plaque of the Robert E.
Speer Memorial Library, Princeton, New Jersey.
 
    120 Nassau, “Autobiography,” pp. 1243-44 and inserted p. 1244 1/2, which is a letter from Robert E. Speer dated 4 November 1899.
 
 
89
 
 
however, was not shared by Nassau’s colleagues in the Mission.
The Board
        “. . . requested Dr. Nassau to prepare a volume
    or volumes on the subject [of African fetichism]; and it
    directed the West Africa Mission to assign him, on his
    return from his furlough to such a form of missionary
    work as will give him the necessary leisure and
    opportunity.” 121
 
    Nassau had decided that the place where he could best find the conditions required for the task would be Baraka. The Mission, on the contrary, was determined that he return to Batanga. The following was sent to New York:
 
        Without underestimating the value of a book on the West         African folk-fore, we suggest that, in this Mission, where the climatic     conditions are such that only the minority remain long enough to         acquire the language of the people, the Mission being manned for         the most part with new missionaries, and that almost every year         there is some Station nearly depleted of its force of workers, it is             doubtful propriety for a missionary of experience, who has acquired         more than one of the native languages, to sit down in the midst of         the perishing heathen to write their folklore as his main business.         (Italics mine.) We think that this work might be done as an accessory     to missionary and religious work,  or even after a missionary has         retired from the field.122
 
    Dr. Nassau, of course, accepted the assignment to Batanga, but it did not improve his relationship with his colleagues to know that they looked down on his non-pastoral activities. Moreover, during the time he was writing the book,
 
 
 
    121 Nassau, Fetichism, p. xi.
 
    122 Nassau, “Autobiography,” p. 2 of a 3-page typed copy of a letter sent from the field to Dr. A. J. Brown, dated 1 March 1900, and kept by Dr. Nassau with the manuscript.
 
 
 
90
 
 
other charges from his colleagues hung over him.123
    Would the book have been better had he been able to work on it at Baraka? Maybe he would have tried to document certain statements more carefully, and he might have been able to present things more scientifically. One may also think that the negative and shortsighted attitude of his fellow missionaries spurred him on to produce his master-piece. In it he reveals the essence of his attitude toward African heathenism, or paganism, or superstition, or idolatry, or by whatever name it may be called. He felt that few of the new missionaries shared his point of view.
 
    Nassau was convinced that back of all the heathenism, underneath it all, there is still the African belief in the Creator. The overgrowth must be cleared away, and then there will be found a prepared soil, responsive to the message of the Gospel.124 For Nassau this is not syncretism not pantheism, but an approach of Christian openness and love toward those who are to be freed from fear. The motivation for the proclamation of the Truth of Christ is not primarily the aggrandizement of Mission, or even of the Church. Its purpose is the saving, not exclusively of souls for eternal life, but also a saving deliverance of the African person.
 
    The book drew the attention of reviewers in several
 
    123 see Chapter IV.
 
    124 Nassau, Fetichism, Chapter II, pp. 26-41.
 
 
91
 
 
 
lands. He was praised for the information he shared from his vast experience, but criticized for his unscientific method and religious presuppositions.125 In spite of this criticism writers dealing, with primitive religions kept quoting from Fetichism in West Africa during the quarter century that followed its publication.126
 
    Nassau’s approach to fetichism as expressed in the book, had not been generally accepted. A British theologian wrote to Dr. Nassau indicating that Andrew Lang, in his Gifford Lectures on the making of religion had been lead “. . . to take the view of Fetichism that you advocate.”127 A letter from the Rev. Samuel J. Lowrie gives a penetrating analysis and a keen understanding of Nassau’s position:
 
        . . . I was glad to meet with several printed notices
    of it [the book] that were warmly appreciative of its
    value . . . at the sales room . . . I had to wait until
    they procured more. . . I was in the class that you
    found entertaining views of the religion of the African
    races that needed such correction as you have given.
    Those notions were too purely contemptuous. (Italics mine.)
    You teach us that Fetichism is religion radically deep,
    & all pervasive in its surface growth. We must dismiss
    our contempt. But by what adversative shall we name
    the regard that takes the place of it ? I cannot call it
 
    125 In a review signed M. M. in Année Sociologique 1904-1905,
Emile Durkheim (ed.) (Paris: F. Alcan, 1905), pp. 191-9..
    126 Among others: Alfred Cort Haddon, George Washington
Ellis, Friedrich Heiler, Mgr. A. Le Roy, Lucien Lévy-Bruhl,
Geoffrey Parrinder, William I. Thomas. See Bibliography.
    127 Nassau, Files containing clippings and letters
Letter to Dr. Nassau from J. E. H. Thompson, Stirling, England,
dated 11 December 1904. (Speer Memorial Library, Princeton
Theological Seminary).
 
92
 
 
 
    respect, except by a stretch of expression. I am also reluctant to use         that word, because those who must exploit what is called                 comparative religion use it in a sense that accords false religions a         respectability that Christianity denies. Paul had no respect for the         idolatrous religions of the Gentiles, and conceded no respectability to     them. But he was far from treating them with contempt, he treated         them with the utmost seriousness; & that is incompatible with             contempt. 128
 
    We know of no specific name given by Nassau to his position. To him it seemed to be the only right one and needed no special name. It was consistent with his understanding of the Gospel and his respect and love for the Africans. Dr. D. J. Mandeng, in his doctoral dissertation, makes frequent use of the expression, “The Right Attitude.” Over against the Western individual relationship which is exclusive; the Eastern which is universal, hence inclusive; and the African relationship which he calls communal, and therefore relational, Mandeng advances that Nassau’s “. . . relationship is a relationship of right attitude.”129
 
    Mandeng’s entire Chapter IV is devoted to “Right Attitude Toward Life.”130 He defines right attitude as “. . . a mental disposition through which one sees things as they are, it is a skillful perception to discern the value of these things,
 
 
 
 
 
    128 Ibid., Letter from Rev. Samuel J. Lowrie, Philadelphia, dated 5 June 1905.
 
    129 Mandeng, “The Philosophy of Mission of Robert Hamill Nassau,” p. 15.
 
    130 Ibid., pp. 177-245.
 
 
 
93
 
 
 
and a sympathetic feeling to appreciate their worth.” He then suggests that, “Right attitude toward life consists in right attitude toward nature, . . . toward culture, . . . toward people, and grounds of right attitude.”131 While in general agreement with all that Dr.Mandeng advances to show that Robert Hamill Nassau had the “right attitude” one can still ask, “What is  the right attitude?” Lowrie, in his letter quoted above, tried to place it between contempt and religious respect. Nassau did not define it.
 
    This writer would like to suggest calling Nassau’s “right attitude,” that of “person-acceptance.” The complete lack of contempt, on the one hand, and the appreciation, on the other hand, which Nassau displayed toward African culture, beliefs, religious forms, language, etcetera, was not the result of a philosophical approach, arrived at during abstract study or scientific laboratory research. It was not a proof-text backed, biblical, take-it-or-leave-it theological position. He had encountered fetichism in people ; his love, concern, and respect for persons, caused him to seek what he could appreciate. All through this chapter we have endeavored to show that his main concern was people.
 
    Once Dr. Nassau had, as it were, “witnessed” to his understanding of fetichism, he did not feel the need to pursue the matter further. For instance, by taking up the subject
 
 
    131 Ibid., p. 177.