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The Personal Life Of David Livingstone by William Garden Blaikie

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at Rio, nor on board ship, nor anywhere, could good be done without the
element of personal character. This was Livingstone's strong conviction
to the end of his life.

In his first letter to the Directors of the London Missionary Society he
tells them that he had spent most of his time at sea in the study of
theology, and that he was deeply grieved to say that he knew of no
spiritual good having been done in the case of any one on board the
ship. His characteristic honesty thus showed itself in his very
first dispatch.

Arriving at the Cape, where the ship was detained a month, he spent some
time with Dr. Philip, then acting as agent for the Society, with
informal powers as superintendent. Dr. Philip was desirous of returning
home for a time, and very anxious to find some one to take his place as
minister of the congregation of Cape Town, in his absence. This office
was offered to Livingstone, who rejected it with no little
emphasis--not for a moment would he think of it, nor would he preach the
gospel within any other man's line. He had not been long at the Cape
when he found to his surprise and sorrow that the missionaries were not
all at one, either as to the general policy of the mission, or in the
matter of social intercourse and confidence. The shock was a severe one;
it was not lessened by what he came to know of the spirit and life of a
few--happily only a few--of his brethren afterward; and undoubtedly it
had an influence on his future life. It showed him that there were
missionaries whose profession was not supported by a life of consistent
well-doing, although it did not shake his confidence in the character
and the work of missionaries on the whole. He saw that in the mission
there was what might be called a colonial side and a native side; some
sympathizing with the colonists and some with the natives. He had no
difficulty in making up his mind between them; he drew instinctively to
the party that were for protecting the natives against the unrighteous
encroachments of the settlers.

On leaving the ship at Algoa Bay, he proceeded by land to Kuruman or
Lattakoo, in the Bechuana country, the most northerly station of the
Society in South Africa, and the usual residence of Mr. Moffat, who was
still absent in England. In this his first African journey the germ of
the future traveler was apparent. "Crossing the Orange River," he says,
"I got my vehicle aground, and my oxen got out of order, some with their
heads where their tails should be, and others with their heads twisted
round in the yoke so far that they appeared bent on committing suicide,
or overturning the wagon.... I like travelling very much indeed. There
is so much freedom connected with our African manners. We pitch our
tent, make our fire, etc., wherever we choose, walk, ride, or shoot at
abundance of all sorts of game as our inclination leads us; but there
is a great drawback: we can't study or read when we please. I feel this
very much. I have made but very little progress in the language (can
speak a little Dutch), but I long for the time when I shall give my
undivided attention to it, and then be furnished with the means of
making known the truth of the gospel." While at the Cape, Livingstone
had heard something of a fresh-water lake ('Ngami) which all the
missionaries were eager to see. If only they would give him a month or
two to learn the colloquial language, he said they might spare
themselves the pains of being "the first in at the death." It is
interesting to remark further that, in this first journey, science had
begun to receive its share of attention. He is already bent on making a
collection for the use of Professor Owen[19], and is enthusiastic in
describing some agatized trees and other curiosities which he met with.

[Footnote 19: This collection never reached its destination.]

Writing to his parents from Port Elizabeth, 19th May, 1841, he gives his
first impressions of Africa. He had been at a station called Hankey:

"The scenery was very fine. The white sand in some places
near the beach drifted up in large wreaths exactly like snow.
One might imagine himself in Scotland were there not a hot
sun overhead. The woods present an aspect of strangeness, for
everywhere the eye meets the foreign-looking tree from which
the bitter aloes is extracted, popping up its head among the
mimosa bushes and stunted acacias. Beautiful humming-birds
fly about in great numbers, sucking the nectar from the
flowers, which are in great abundance and very beautiful. I
was much pleased with my visit to Hankey.... The state of the
people presents so many features of interest, that one may
talk about it and convey some idea of what the Gospel has
done. The full extent of the benefit received can, however,
be understood only by those who witness it in contrast with
other places that have not been so highly favored. My
expectations have been far exceeded. Everything I witnessed
surpassed my hopes, and if this one station is a fair sample
of the whole, the statements of the missionaries with regard
to their success are far within the mark. The Hottentots of
Hankey appear to be in a state similar to that of our
forefathers in the days immediately preceding the times of
the Covenanters. They have a prayer-meeting every morning at
four o'clock, _and well attended_. They began it during a
visitation of measles among them, and liked it so much that
they still continue."

He goes on to say that as the natives had no clocks or watches, mistakes
sometimes occurred about ringing the bell for this meeting, and
sometimes the people found themselves assembled at twelve or one o'clock
instead of four. The welcome to the missionaries (their own missionary
was returning from the Cape with Livingstone) was wonderful. Muskets
were fired at their approach, then big guns; and then men, women, and
children rushed at the top of their speed to shake hands and welcome
them. The missionary had lost a little boy, and out of respect each of
the people had something black on his head. Both public worship and
family worship were very interesting, the singing of hymns being very
beautiful. The bearing of these Christianized Hottentots was in complete
contrast to that of a Dutch family whom he visited as a medical man one
Sunday. There was no Sunday; the man's wife and daughters were dancing
before the house, while a black played the fiddle.

His instructions from the Directors were to go to Kuruman, remain there
till Mr. Moffat should return from England, and turn his attention to
the formation of a new station farther north, awaiting more specific
instructions, He arrived at Kuruman on the 31st July, 1841, but no
instructions had come from the Directors; his sphere of work was quite
undetermined, and he began to entertain the idea of going to Abyssinia.
There could be no doubt that a Christian missionary was needed there,
for the country had none; but if he should go, he felt that probably he
would never return. In writing of this to his friend Watt, he used words
almost prophetic: "Whatever way my life may be spent so as but to
promote the glory of our gracious God, I feel anxious to do it.... _My
life, may be spent as profitably as a pioneer as in any other way_."

In his next letter to the London Missionary Society, dated Kuruman, 23d
September, 1841, he gives his impressions of the field, and unfolds an
idea which took hold of him at the very beginning, and never lost its
grip. It was, that there was not population enough about the South to
justify a concentration of missionary labor there, and that the policy
of the Society ought to be one of expansion, moving out far and wide
wherever there was an opening, and making the utmost possible use of
native agency, in order to cultivate so wide a field. In England he had
thought that Kuruman might be made a great missionary institute, whence
the beams of divine truth might diverge in every direction, through
native agents supplied from among the converts; but since he came to the
spot he had been obliged to abandon that notion; not that the Kuruman
mission had not been successful, or that the attendance at public
worship was small, but simply because the population was meagre, and
seemed more likely to become smaller than larger. The field from which
native agents might be drawn was thus too small. Farther north there was
a denser population. It was therefore his purpose, along with a brother
missionary, to make an early journey to the interior, and bury himself
among the natives, to learn their language, and slip into their modes of
thinking and feeling. He purposed to take with him two of the best
qualified native Christians of Kuruman, to plant them as teachers in
some promising locality; and in case any difficulty should arise about
their maintenance, he offered, with characteristic generosity, to defray
the cost of one of them from his own resources.

Accordingly, in company with a brother missionary from Kuruman, a
journey of seven hundred miles was performed before the end of the year,
leading chiefly to two results: in the first place, a strong
confirmation of his views on the subject of native agency; and in the
second place, the selection of a station, two hundred and fifty miles
north of Kuruman, as the most suitable for missionary operations. Seven
hundred miles traveled over _more Africano_ seemed to indicate a vast
territory; but on looking at it on the map, it was a mere speck on the
continent of heathenism. How was that continent ever to be evangelized?
He could think of no method except an extensive method of native agency.
And the natives, when qualified, were admirably qualified. Their warm,
affectionate manner of dealing with their fellow-men, their ability to
present the truth to their minds freed from the strangeness of which
foreigners could not divest it, and the eminent success of those
employed by the brethren of Griqua Town, were greatly in their favor.
Two natives had likewise been employed recently by the Kuruman Mission,
and these had been highly efficient and successful. If the Directors
would allow him to employ more of these, conversions would increase in a
compound ratio, and regions not yet explored by Europeans would soon be
supplied with the bread of life.

In regard to the spot selected for a mission, there were many
considerations in its favor. In the immediate neighborhood of Kuruman
the chiefs hated the gospel, because it deprived them of their
supernumerary wives. In the region farther north, this feeling had not
yet established itself; on the contrary, there was an impression
favorable to Europeans, and a desire for their alliance. These Bechuana
tribes had suffered much from the marauding invasions of their
neighbors; and recently, the most terrible marauder of the country,
Mosilikatse, after being driven westward by the Dutch Boers, had taken
up his abode on the banks of a central lake, and resumed his raids,
which were keeping the whole country in alarm. The more peaceful tribes
had heard of the value of the white man, and of the weapons by which a
mere handful of whites had repulsed hordes of marauders. They were
therefore disposed to welcome the stranger, although this state of
feeling could not be relied on as sure to continue, for Griqua hunters
and individuals from tribes hostile to the gospel were moving northward,
and not only circulating rumors unfavorable to missionaries, but by
their wicked lives introducing diseases previously unknown. If these
regions, therefore, were to be taken possession of by the gospel, no
time was to be lost. For himself, Livingstone had no hesitation in going
to reside in the midst of these savages, hundreds of miles away from
civilization, not merely for a visit, but, if necessary, for the whole
of his life.

In writing to his sisters after this journey (8th December, 1841), he
gives a graphic account of the country, and some interesting notices of
the people:

"Janet, I suppose, will feel anxious to know what our dinner
was. We boiled a piece of the flesh of a rhinoceros which was
toughness itself, the night before. The meat was our supper,
and porridge made of Indian corn-meal and gravy of the meat
made a very good dinner next day. When about 150 miles from
home we came to a large village. The chief had sore eyes; I
doctored them, and he fed us pretty well with milk and beans,
and sent a fine buck after me as a present. When we had got
about ten or twelve miles on the way, a little girl about
eleven or twelve years of age came up and sat down under my
wagon, having run away for the purpose of coming with us to
Kuruman. She had lived with a sister whom she had lately lost
by death. Another family took possession of her for the
purpose of selling her as soon as she was old enough for a
wife. But not liking this, she determined to run away from
them and come to some friends near Kuruman. With this
intention she came, and thought of walking all the way behind
my wagon. I was pleased with the determination of the little
creature, and gave her some food. But before we had remained
long there, I heard her sobbing violently, as if her heart
would break. On looking round, I observed the cause. A man
with a gun had been sent after her, and he had just arrived.
I did not know well what to do now, but I was not in
perplexity long, for Pomare, a native convert who accompanied
us, started up and defended her cause. He being the son of a
chief, and possessed of some little authority, managed the
matter nicely. She had been loaded with beads to render her
more attractive, and fetch a higher price. These she stripped
off and gave to the man, and desired him to go away. I
afterward took measures for hiding her, and though fifty men
had come for her, they would not have got her."

The story reads like an allegory or a prophecy. In the person of the
little maid, oppressed and enslaved Africa comes to the good Doctor for
protection; instinctively she knows she may trust him; his heart opens
at once, his ingenuity contrives a way of protection and deliverance,
and he will never give her up. It is a little picture of
Livingstone's life.

In fulfillment of a promise made to the natives in the interior that he
would return to them, Livingstone set out on a second tour into the
interior of the Bechuana country on 10th February, 1842. His objects
were, first, to acquire the native language more perfectly, and second,
by suspending his medical practice, which had become inconveniently
large at Kuruman, to give his undivided attention to the subject of
native agents. He took with him two native members of the Kuruman
church, and two other natives for the management of the wagon.

The first person that specially engaged his interest in this journey was
a chief of the name of Bubi, whose people were Bakwains. With him he
stationed one of the native agents as a teacher, the chief himself
collecting the children and supplying them with food. The honesty of the
people was shown in their leaving untouched all the contents of his
wagon, though crowds of them visited it. Livingstone was already
acquiring a powerful influence, both with chiefs and people, the result
of his considerate and conciliatory treatment of both. He had already
observed the failure of some of his brethren to influence them, and his
sagacity had discerned the cause. His success in inducing Bubi's people
to dig a canal was contrasted in a characteristic passage of a private
letter, with the experience of others.

"The doctor and the rainmaker among these people are one and
the same person. As I did not like to be behind my
professional brethren, I declared I could make rain too, not,
however, by enchantments like them, but by leading out their
river for irrigation. The idea pleased mightily, and to work
we went instanter. Even the chief's own doctor is at it, and
works like a good fellow, laughing heartily at the cunning of
the 'foreigner' who can make rain so. We have only one spade,
and this is without a handle; and yet by means of sticks
sharpened to a point we have performed all the digging of a
pretty long canal. The earth was lifted out in 'gowpens' and
carried to the huge dam we have built in karosses (skin
cloaks), tortoise-shells, or wooden bowls. We intended
nothing of the ornamental in it, but when we came to a huge
stone, we were forced to search for a way round it. The
consequence is, it has assumed a beautifully serpentine
appearance. This is, I believe, the first instance in which
Bechuanas have been got to work without wages. It was with
the utmost difficulty the earlier missionaries got them to do
anything. The missionaries solicited their permission to do
what they did, and this was the very way to make them show
off their airs, for they are so disobliging; if they perceive
any one in the least dependent upon them, they immediately
begin to tyrannize. A more mean and selfish vice certainly
does not exist in the world. I am trying a different plan
with them. I make my presence with any of them a favor, and
when they show any impudence, I threaten to leave them, and
if they don't amend, I put my threat into execution. By a
bold, free course among them I have had not the least
difficulty in managing the most fierce. They are in one sense
fierce, and in another the greatest cowards in the world. A
kick would, I am persuaded, quell the courage of the bravest
of them. Add to this the report which many of them verily
believe, that I am a great wizard, and you will understand
how I can with ease visit any of them. Those who do not love,
fear me, and so truly in their eyes am I possessed of
supernatural power, some have not hesitated to affirm I am
capable of even raising the dead! The people of a village
visited by a French brother actually believed it. Their
belief of my powers, I suppose, accounts, too, for the fact
that I have not missed a single article either from the house
or wagon since I came among them, and this, although all my
things lay scattered about the room, while crammed with

It was unfortunate that the teacher whom Livingstone stationed with
Bubi's people was seized with a violent fever, so that he was obliged to
bring him away. As for Bubi himself, he was afterward burned to death by
an explosion of gunpowder, which one of his sorcerers was trying, by
means of burnt roots, to _un_-bewitch.

In advancing, Livingstone had occasion to pass through a part of the
great Kalahari desert, and here he met with Sekomi, a chief of the
Bamangwato, from whom also he received a most friendly reception. The
ignorance of this tribe he found to be exceedingly great:

"Their conceptions of the Deity are of the most vague and
contradictory nature, and the name of God conveys no more to
their understanding than the idea of superiority. Hence they
do not hesitate to apply the name to their chiefs. I was
every day shocked by being addressed by that title, and
though it as often furnished me with a text from which to
tell them of the only true God and Jesus Christ, whom he has
sent, yet it deeply pained me, and I never felt so fully
convinced of the lamentable detoriation of our species. It is
indeed a mournful truth that man has become like the beasts
that perish."

The place was greatly infested by lions, and during Livingstone's visit
an awful occurrence took place that made a great impression on him:

"A woman was actually devoured in her garden during my visit,
and that so near the town that I had frequently walked past
it. It was most affecting to hear the cries of the orphan
children of this woman. During the whole day after her death
the surrounding rocks and valleys rang and re-echoed with
their bitter cries. I frequently thought as I listened to the
loud sobs, painfully indicative of the sorrows of those who
have no hope, that if some of our churches could have heard
their sad wailings, it would have awakened the firm
resolution to do more for the heathen than they have done."

Poor Sekomi advanced a new theory of regeneration which Livingstone was
unable to work out:

"On one occasion Sekomi, having sat by me in the hut for some
time in deep thought, at length addressing me by a pompous
title said, 'I wish you would change my heart. Give me
medicine to change it, for it is proud, proud and angry,
angry always.' I lifted up the Testament and was about to
tell him of the only way in which the heart can be changed,
but he interrupted me by saying, 'Nay, I wish to have it
changed by medicine, to drink and have it changed at once,
for it is always very proud and very uneasy, and continually
angry with some one.' He then rose and went away."

A third tribe visited at this time was the Bakaa, and here, too,
Livingstone was able to put in force his wonderful powers of management.
Shortly before, the Bakaa had murdered a trader and his company. When
Livingstone appeared their consciences smote them, and, with the
exception of the chief and two attendants, the whole of the people fled
from his presence. Nothing could allay their terror, till, a dish of
porridge having been prepared, they saw Livingstone partake of it along
with themselves without distrust. When they saw him lie down and fall
asleep they were quite at their ease. Thereafter he began to speak
to them:

"I had more than ordinary pleasure in telling these murderers
of the precious blood which cleanseth from all sin. I bless
God that He has conferred on one so worthless the
distinguished privilege and honor of being the first
messenger of mercy that ever trod these regions. Its being
also the first occasion on which I had ventured to address a
number of Bechuanas in their own tongue without reading it,
renders it to myself one of peculiar interest. I felt more
freedom than I had anticipated, but I have an immense amount
of labor still before me, ere I can call myself a master of
Sichuana. This journey discloses to me that when I have
acquired the Batlapi, there is another and perhaps more
arduous task to be accomplished in the other dialects, but by
the Divine assistance I hope I shall be enabled to conquer.
When I left the Bakaa, the chief sent his son with a number
of his people to see me safe part of the way to the

On his way home, in passing through Bubi's country, he was visited by
sixteen of the people of Sebehwe, a chief who had successfully withstood
Mosilikatse, but whose cowardly neighbors, under the influence of
jealousy, had banded together to deprive him of what they had not had
the courage to defend. Consequently he had been driven into the sandy
desert, and his object in sending to Livingstone was to solicit his
advice and protection, as he wished to come out, in order that his
people might grow corn, etc. Sebehwe, like many of the other people of
the country, had the notion that if he got a single white man to live
with him, he would be quite secure. It was no wonder that Livingstone
early acquired the strong conviction that if missions could only be
scattered over Africa, their immediate effect in promoting the
tranquillity of the continent could hardly be over-estimated.

We have given these details somewhat fully, because they show that
before he had been a year in the country Livingstone had learned how to
rule the Africans. From the very first, his genial address, simple and
fearless manner, and transparent kindliness formed a spell which rarely
failed. He had great faith in the power of humor. He was never afraid of
a man who had a hearty laugh. By a playful way of dealing with the
people, he made them feel at ease with him, and afterward he could be
solemn enough when the occasion required. His medical knowledge helped
him greatly; but for permanent influence all would have been in vain if
he had not uniformly observed the rules of justice, good feeling, and
good manners. Often ha would say that the true road to influence was
patient continuance in well-doing. It is remarkable that, from the very
first, he should have seen the charm of that method which he employed so
successfully to the end.

In the course of this journey, Livingstone was within ten days of Lake
'Ngami, the lake of which he had heard at the Cape, and which he
actually discovered in 1849; and he might have discovered it now, had
discovery alone been his object. Part of his journey was performed on
foot, in consequence of the draught oxen having become sick:

"Some of my companions," he says in his first book, "who had
recently joined us, and did not know that I understood a
little of their speech, were overheard by me discussing my
appearance and powers: 'He is not strong, he is quite slim,
and only appears stout because he puts himself in those bags
(trousers); he will soon knock up.' This caused my Highland
blood to rise, and made me despise the fatigue of keeping
them all at the top of their speed for days together, and
until I heard them expressing proper opinions of my
pedestrian powers."

We have seen how full Livingstone's heart was of the missionary spirit;
how intent he was on making friends of the natives, and how he could
already preach in one dialect, and was learning another. But the
activity of his mind enabled him to give attention at the same time to
other matters. He was already pondering the structure of the great
African Continent, and carefully investigating the process of
desiccation that had been going on for a long time, and had left much
uncomfortable evidence of its activity in many parts. In the desert, he
informs his friend Watt that no fewer than thirty-two edible roots and
forty-three fruits grew without cultivation. He had the rare faculty of
directing his mind at the full stretch of its power to one great object,
and yet, apparently without effort, giving minute and most careful
attention to many other matters,--all bearing, however, on the same
great end.

A very interesting letter to Dr. Risdon Bennett, dated Kuruman, 18th
December, 1841, gives an account of his first year's work from the
medical and scientific point of view. First, he gives an amusing picture
of the Bechuana chiefs, and then some details of his medical practice:

The people are all under the feudal system of government, the
chieftainship is hereditary, and although the chief is
usually the greatest ass, and the most insignificant of the
tribe in appearance, the people pay a deference to him which
is truly astonishing.... I feel the benefit often of your
instructions, and of those I got through your kindness. Here
I have an immense practice. I have patients now under
treatment who have walked 130 miles for my advice; and when
these go home, others will come for the same purpose. This is
the country for a medical man if he wants a large practice,
but he must leave fees out of the question! The Bechuanas
have a great deal more disease than I expected to find among
a savage nation; but little else can be expected, for they
are nearly naked, and endure the scorching heat of the day
and the chills of the night in that condition. Add to this
that they are absolutely omnivorous. Indigestion, rheumatism,
opthalmia are the prevailing diseases.... Many very bad cases
were brought to me, sometimes, when traveling, my wagon was
quite besieged by their blind and halt and lame. What a
mighty effect would be produced if one of the seventy
disciples were among them to heal them all by a word! The
Bechuanas resort to the Bushmen and the poor people that live
in the desert for doctors. The fact of my dealing in that
line a little is so strange, and now my fame has spread far
and wide. But if one of Christ's apostles were here, I should
think he would be very soon known all over the continent to
Abyssinia. The great deal of work I have had to do in
attending to the sick has proved beneficial to me, for they
make me speak the language perpetually, and if I were
inclined to be lazy in learning it, they would prevent me
indulging the propensity. And they are excellent patients,
too, besides. There is no wincing; everything prescribed is
done _instanter_. Their only failing is that they become
tired of a long course. But in any operation, even the women
sit unmoved. I have been quite astonished again and again at
their calmness. In cutting out a tumor, an inch in diameter,
they sit and talk as if they felt nothing. 'A man like me
never cries,' they say, 'they are children that cry.' And it
is a fact that the men never cry. But when the Spirit of God
works on their minds they cry most piteously. Sometimes in
church they endeavor to screen themselves from the eyes of
the preacher by hiding under the forms or covering their
heads with their karosses as a remedy against their
convictions. And when they find that won't do, they rush out
of the church and run with all their might, crying as if the
hand of death were behind them. One would think, when they
got away, there they would remain; but no, there they are in
their places at the very next meeting. It is not to be
wondered at that they should exhibit agitations of body when
the mind is affected, as they are quite unaccustomed to
restrain their feelings. But that the hardened beings should
be moved mentally at all is wonderful indeed. If you saw them
in their savage state you would feel the force of this
more.... _N.B._--I have got for Professor Owen specimens of
the incubated ostrich in abundance, and am waiting for an
opportunity to transmit the box to the college. I tried to
keep for you some of the fine birds of the interior, but the
weather was so horribly hot they were putrid in a few hours.

When he returned to Kuruman in June, 1842, he found that no instructions
had as yet come from the Directors as to his permanent quarters. He was
preparing for another journey when news arrived that contrary to his
advice, Sebehwe had left the desert where he was encamped, had been
treacherously attacked by the chief Mahura, and that many of his people,
including women and children, had been savagely murdered. What
aggravated the case was that several native Christians from Kuruman had
been at the time with Sebehwe, and that these were accused of having
acted treacherously by him. But now no native would expose himself to
the expected rage of Sebehwe, so that for want of attendants Livingstone
could not go to him. He was obliged to remain for some months about
Kuruman, itinerating to the neighboring tribes, and taking part in the
routine work of the station: that is to say preaching, printing,
building a chapel at an out-station, prescribing for the sick, and many
things else that would have been intolerable, he said, to a man of
"clerical dignity."

He was able to give his father a very encouraging report of the mission
work (July 13, 1842): "The work of God goes on here notwithstanding all
our infirmities. Souls are gathered in continually, and sometimes from
among those you would never have expected to see turning to the Lord.
Twenty-four were added to the Church last month, and there are several
inquirers. At Motito, a French station about thirty-three miles
northeast of this, there has been an awakening, and I hope much good
will result. I have good news, too, from Rio de Janeiro. The Bibles that
have been distributed are beginning to cause a stir."

The state of the country continued so disturbed that it was not till
February, 1843, that he was able to set out for the village where
Sebehwe had taken up his residence with the remains of his tribe. This
visit he undertook at great personal risk. Though looking at first very
ill-pleased, Sebehwe treated him in a short time in a most friendly way,
and on the Sunday after his arrival, sent a herald to proclaim that on
that day nothing should be done but pray to God and listen to the words
of the foreigner. He himself listened with great attention while
Livingstone told him of Jesus and the resurrection, and the missionary
was often interrupted by the questions of the chief. Here, then, was
another chief pacified, and brought under the preaching of the gospel.

Livingstone then passed on to the country of the Bakhatla, where he had
purposed to erect his mission-station. The country was fertile, and the
people industrious, and among other industries was an iron manufactory,
to which as a bachelor he got admission, whereas married men were wont
to be excluded, through fear that they would bewitch the iron! When he
asked the chief if he would like him to come and be his missionary, he
held up his hands and said, "Oh, I shall dance if you do; I shall
collect all my people to hoe for you a garden, and you will get more
sweet reed and corn than myself." The cautious Directors at home,
however, had sent no instructions as to Livingstone's station, and he
could only say to the chief that he would tell them of his desire for a

At a distance of five days' journey beyond the Bakhatla was situated the
village of Sechele, chief of the Bakwains, afterward one of
Livingstone's greatest friends. Sechele had been enraged at him for not
visiting him the year before, and threatened him with mischief. It
happened that his only child was ill when the missionary arrived, and
also the child of one of his principal men. Livingstone's treatment of
both was successful, and Sechele had not an angry word. Some of his
questions struck the heart of the missionary:

"'Since it is true that all who die unforgiven are lost
forever, why did your nation not come to tell us of it before
now? My ancestors are all gone, and none of them knew
anything of what you tell me. How is this?' I thought
immediately," says Livingstone, "of the guilt of the Church,
but did not confess. I told him multitudes in our own country
were like himself, so much in love with their sins. My
ancestors had spent a great deal of time in trying to
persuade them, and yet after all many of them by refusing
were lost. We now wish to tell all the world about a Saviour,
and if men did not believe, the guilt would be entirely
theirs. Sechele has been driven from another part of his
country from that in which he was located last year, and so
has Bubi, so that the prospects I had of benefiting them by
native teachers are for the present darkened."

Among other things that Livingstone found time for in these wanderings
among strange people, was translating hymns into the Sichuana language.
Writing to his father (Bakwain Country, 21st March, 1843), he says:

"Janet may be pleased to learn that I am become a poet, or
rather a poetaster, in Sichuana. Half a dozen of my hymns
were lately printed in a collection of the French brethren.
One of them is a translation of 'There is a fountain filled
with blood;' another, 'Jesus shall reign where'er the sun;'
others are on 'The earth being filled with the glory of the
Lord,' 'Self-dedication,' 'Invitation to Sinners,' 'The soul
that loves God finds him everywhere.' Janet may try to make
English ones on these latter subjects if she can, and Agnes
will doubtless set them to music on the same condition. I do
not boast of having done this, but only mention it to let you
know that I am getting a little better fitted for the great
work of a missionary, that your hearts may be drawn out to
more prayer for the success of the gospel proclaimed by my
feeble lips."

Livingstone was bent on advancing in the direction of the country of the
Matebele and their chief Mosilikatse, but the dread of that terrible
warrior prevented him from getting Bakwains to accompany him, and being
thus unable to rig out a wagon, he was obliged to travel on oxback. In a
letter to Dr. Risdon Bennett (30th June, 1843), he gives a lively
description of this mode of traveling: "It is rough traveling, as you
can conceive. The skin is so loose there is no getting one's great-coat,
which has to serve both as saddle and blanket, to stick on; and then the
long horns in front, with which he can give one a punch in the abdomen
if he likes, make us sit as bolt upright as dragoons. In this manner I
traveled more than 400 miles." Visits to some of the villages of the
Bakalahari gave him much pleasure. He was listened to with great
attention, and while sitting by their fires and listening to their
traditionary tales, he intermingled the story of the Cross with their
conversation, and it was by far the happiest portion of his journey.
The people were a poor, degraded, enslaved race, who hunted for other
tribes to procure them skins; they were far from wells, and had their
gardens far from their houses, in order to have their produce safe from
the chiefs who visited them.

Coming on to his old friends the Bakaa, he found them out of humor with
him, accusing him of having given poison to a native who had been seized
with fever on occasion of his former visit. Consequently he could get
little or nothing to eat, and had to content himself, as he wrote to his
friends, with the sumptuous feasts of his imagination. With his usual
habit of discovering good in all his troubles, however, he found cause
for thankfulness at their stinginess, for in coming down a steep pass,
absorbed with the questions which the people were putting to him, he
forgot where he was, lost his footing, and, striking his hand between a
rock and his Bible which he was carrying, he suffered a compound
fracture of his finger. His involuntary low diet saved him from taking
fever, and the finger was healing favorably, when a sudden visit in the
middle of the night from a lion, that threw them all into consternation,
made him, without thinking, discharge his revolver at the visitor, and
the recoil hurt him more than the shot did the lion. It rebroke his
finger, and the second fracture was worse than the first. "The
Bakwains," he says, "who were most attentive to my wants during the
whole journey of more than 400 miles, tried to comfort me when they saw
the blood again flowing, by saying, 'You have hurt yourself, but you
have redeemed us: henceforth we will only swear by you.' Poor
creatures," he writes to Dr. Bennett, "I wished they had felt gratitude
for the blood that was shed for their precious souls."

Returning to Kuruman from this journey, in June, 1843, Livingstone was
delighted to find at length a letter from the Directors of the Society
authorizing the formation of a settlement in the regions beyond. He
found another letter that greatly cheered him, from a Mrs. M'Robert, the
wife of art Independent minister at Cambuslang (near Blantyre), who had
collected and now sent him L12 for a native agent, and was willing, on
the part of some young friends, to send presents of clothing for the
converts. In acknowledging this letter, Livingstone poured out his very
heart, so full was he of gratitude and delight. He entreated the givers
to consider Mebalwe as their own agent, and to concentrate their prayers
upon him, for prayer, he thought, was always more efficacious when it
could be said, "One thing have I desired of the Lord." As to the present
of clothing, he simply entreated his friends to send nothing of the
kind; such things demoralized the recipients, and bred endless
jealousies. If he were allowed to charge something for the clothes, he
would be pleased to have them, but on no other terms.

Writing to the Secretary of the Society, Rev. A. Tidman (24th June,
1843), and referring to the past success of the Mission in the nearer
localities, he says: "If you could realize this fact as fully as those
on the spot can, you would be able to enter into the feelings of
irrepressible delight with which I hail the decision of the Directors
that we go forward to the dark interior. May the Lord enable me to
consecrate my whole being to the glorious work!"

In this communication to the Directors Livingstone modestly, but frankly
and firmly, gives them his mind on some points touched on in their
letter to him. In regard to his favorite measure--native agency--he is
glad that a friend has remitted money for the employment of one agent,
and that others have promised the means of employing other two. On
another subject he had a communication to make to them which evidently
cost him no ordinary effort. In his more private letters to his friends,
from an early period after entering Africa, he had expressed himself
very freely, almost contemptuously, on the distribution of the
laborers. There was far too much clustering about the Cape Colony, and
the district immediately beyond it, and a woeful slowness to strike out
with the fearless chivalry that became missionaries of the Cross, and
take possession of the vast continent beyond. All his letters reveal the
chafing of his spirit with this confinement of evangelistic energy in
the face of so vast a field--this huddling together of laborers in
sparsely peopled districts, instead of sending them forth over the whole
of Africa, India, and China, to preach the gospel to every creature. He
felt deeply that both the Church at home, and many of the missionaries
on the spot, had a poor conception of missionary duty, out of which came
little faith, little effort, little expectation, with a miserable
tendency to exaggerate their own evils and grievances, and fall into
paltry squabbles which would not have been possible if they had been
fired with the ambition to win the world for Christ.

But what it was a positive relief for him to whisper in the ear of an
intimate friend, it demanded the courage of a hero to proclaim to the
Directors of a great Society. It was like impugning their whole policy
and arraigning their wisdom. But Livingstone could not say one thing in
private and another in public. Frankly and fearlessly he proclaimed
his views:

"The conviction to which I refer is that a much larger share
of the benevolence of the Church and of missionary exertion
is directed into this country than the amount of population,
as compared with other countries, and the success attending
those efforts, seem to call for. This conviction has been
forced upon me, both by a personal inspection, more extensive
than that which has fallen to the lot of any other, either
missionary or trader, and by the sentiments of other
missionaries who have investigated the subject according to
their opportunities. In reference to the population, I may
mention that I was led in England to believe that the
population of the interior was dense, and now since I have
come to this country I have conversed with many, both of our
Society and of the French, and none of them would reckon up
the number of 30,000 Bechuanas."

He then proceeds to details in a most characteristic way, giving the
number of huts in every village, and being careful in every case, as his
argument proceeded on there being a small population, rather to
overstate than understate the number:

"In view of these facts and the confirmation of them I have
received from both French and English brethren, computing the
population much below what I have stated, I confess I feel
grieved to hear of the arrival of new missionaries. Nor am I
the only one who deplores their appointment to this country.
Again and again have I been pained at heart to hear the
question put, Where will these new brethren find fields of
labor in this country? Because I know that in India or China
there are fields large enough for all their energies. I am
very far from undervaluing the success which has attended the
labors of missionaries in this land. No! I gratefully
acknowledge the wonders God hath wrought, and I feel that the
salvation of one soul is of more value than all the effort
that has been expended; but we are to seek the field where
there is a possibility that most souls will be converted, and
it is this consideration which makes me earnestly call the
attention of the Directors to the subject of statistics. If
these were actually returned--and there would be very little
difficulty in doing so--it might, perhaps, be found that
there is not a country better supplied with missionaries in
the world, and that in proportion to the number of agents
compared to the amount of population, the success may be
inferior to most other countries where efforts have been

Finding that a brother missionary was willing to accompany him to the
station he had fixed on among the Bakhatlas, and enable him to set to
work with the necessary arrangements, Livingstone set out with him in
the beginning of August, 1843, and arrived at his destination after a
fortnight's journey. Writing to his family, "in sight of the hills of
Bakhatla," August 21st, 1843, he says: "We are in company with a party
of three hunters: one of them from the West Indies, and two from
India--Mr. Pringle from Tinnevelly, and Captain Steel of the Coldstream
Guards, aide-de-camp to the Governor of Madras.... The Captain is the
politest of the whole, well versed in the classics, and possessed of
much general knowledge." Captain Steele, now General Sir Thomas Steele,
proved one of Livingstone's best and most constant friends. In one
respect the society of gentlemen who came to hunt would not have been
sought by Livingstone, their aims and pursuits being so different from
his; but he got on with them wonderfully. In some instances these
strangers were thoroughly sympathetic, but not in all. When they were
not sympathetic on religion, he had a strong conviction that his first
duty as a servant of Christ was to commend his religion by his life and
spirit--by integrity, civility, kindness, and constant readiness to deny
himself in obliging others; having thus secured, their esteem and
confidence, he would take such quiet opportunities as presented
themselves to get near their consciences on his Master's behalf. He took
care that there should be no moving about on the day of rest, and that
the outward demeanor of all should be befitting a Christian company. For
himself, while he abhorred the indiscriminate slaughter of animals for
mere slaughter's sake, he thought well of the chase as a means of
developing courage, promptness of action in time of danger, protracted
endurance of hunger and thirst, determination in the pursuit of an
object, and other qualities befitting brave and powerful men. The
respect and affection with which he inspired the gentlemen who were thus
associated with him was very remarkable. Doubtless, with his quick
apprehension, he learned a good deal from their society of the ways and
feelings of a class with whom hitherto he had hardly ever been in
contact. The large resources with which they were furnished, in contrast
to his own, excited no feeling of envy, nor even a desire to possess
their ample means, unless he could have used them to extend missionary
operations; and the gentlemen themselves would sometimes remark that the
missionaries were more comfortable than they. Though they might at times
spend thousands of pounds where Livingstone did not spend as many
pence, and would be provided with horses, servants, tents, and stores,
enough to secure comfort under almost any conditions, they had not that
key to the native heart and that power to command the willing services
of native attendants which belonged so remarkably to the missionary.
"When we arrive at a spot where we intend to spend the night," writes
Livingstone to his family, "all hands immediately unyoke the oxen. Then
one or two of the company collect wood; one of us strikes up a fire,
another gets out the water-bucket and fills the kettle; a piece of meat
is thrown on the fire, and if we have biscuits, we are at our coffee in
less than half an hour after arriving. Our friends, perhaps, sit or
stand shivering at their fire for two or three hours before they get
their things ready, and are glad occasionally of a cup of coffee
from us."

The first act of the missionaries on arriving at their destination was
to have an interview with the chief, and ask whether he desired a
missionary. Having an eye to the beads, guns, and other things, of which
white men seemed always to have an ample store, the chief and his men
gave them a cordial welcome, and Livingstone next proceeded to make a
purchase of land. This, like Abraham with the sons of Heth, he insisted
should be done in legal form, and for this purpose he drew up a written
contract to which, after it was fully explained to them, both parties
attached their signatures or marks. They then proceeded to the erection
of a hut fifty feet by eighteen, not getting much help from the
Bakhatlas, who devolved such labors on the women, but being greatly
helped by the native deacon, Mebalwe. All this Livingstone and his
companion had done on their own responsibility, and in the hope that the
Directors would approve of it. But if they did not, he told them that he
was at their disposal "to go anywhere--_provided it be_ FORWARD."

The progress of medical and scientific work during this period is noted
in a letter to Dr. Risdon Bennett, dated 30th June, 1843. In addition to
full details of the missionary work, this letter enters largely into the
state of disease in South Africa, and records some interesting cases,
medical and surgical. Still more interesting, perhaps, is the evidence
it affords of the place in Livingstone's attention which began to be
occupied by three great subjects of which we shall hear much
anon--Fever, Tsetse, and "the Lake." Fever he considered the greatest
barrier to the evangelization of Africa. Tsetse, an insect like a common
fly, destroyed horses and oxen, so that many traders lost literally
every ox in their team. As for the Lake, it lay somewhat beyond the
outskirts of his new district, and was reported terrible for fever. He
heard that Mr. Moffat intended to visit it, but he was somewhat alarmed
lest his friend should suffer. It was not Moffat, but Livingstone,
however, that first braved the risks of that fever swamp.

A subject of special scientific interest to the missionary during this
period was--the desiccation of Africa. On this topic he addressed a long
letter to Dr. Buckland in 1843, of which, considerably to his regret, no
public notice appears to have been taken, and perhaps the letter never
reached him. The substance of this paper may, however, be gathered from
a communication subsequently made to the Royal Geographical Society[20]
after his first impression had been confirmed by enlarged observation
and discovery. Around, and north of Kuruman, he had found many
indications of a much larger supply of water in a former age. He
ascribed the desiccation to the gradual elevation of the western part of
the country. He found traces of a very large ancient river which flowed
nearly north and south to a large lake, including the bed of the present
Orange River; in fact, he believed that the whole country south of Lake
'Ngami presented in ancient times very much the same appearance as the
basin north of that lake does now, and that the southern lake
disappeared when a fissure was made in the ridge through which the
Orange River now proceeds to the sea. He could even indicate the spot
where the river and the lake met, for some hills there had caused an
eddy in which was found a mound of calcareous tufa and travertine, full
of fossil bones. These fossils he was most eager to examine, in order to
determine the time of the change; but on his first visit he had no time,
and when he returned, he was suddenly called away to visit a
missionary's child, a hundred miles off. It happened that he was never
in the same locality again, and had therefore no opportunity to complete
his investigation.

[Footnote 20: See Journal, vol. xxvii. p. 356.]

Dr. Livingstone's mind had that wonderful power which belongs to some
men of the highest gifts, of passing with the utmost rapidity, not only
from subject to subject, but from one mood or key to another entirely
different. In a letter to his family, written about this time, we have a
characteristic instance. On one side of the sheet is a prolonged
outburst of tender Christian love and lamentation over a young attendant
who had died of fever suddenly; on the other side, he gives a map of the
Bakhatla country with its rivers and mountains, and is quite at home in
the geographical details, crowning his description with some sentimental
and half-ludicrous lines of poetry. No reasonable man will fancy that in
the wailings of his heart there was any levity or want of sincerity.
What we are about to copy merits careful consideration: first, as
evincing the depth and tenderness of his love for these black savages;
next, as showing that it was pre-eminently Christian love, intensified
by his vivid view of the eternal world, and belief in Christ as the only
Saviour; and, lastly, as revealing the secret of the affection which
these poor fellows bore to him in return. The intensity of the scrutiny
which he directs on his heart, and the severity of the judgment which he
seems to pass on himself, as if he had not done all he might have done
for the spiritual good of this young man, show with what intense
conscientiousness he tried to discharge his missionary duty:

"Poor Sehamy, where art thou now? Where lodges thy soul
to-night? Didst thou think of what I told thee as thou
turnedst from side to side in distress? I could now do
anything for thee. I could weep for thy soul. But now nothing
can be done. Thy fate is fixed. Oh, am I guilty of the blood
of thy soul, my poor dear Sehamy? If so, how shall I look
upon thee in the judgment? But I told thee of a Saviour;
didst thou think of Him, and did He lead thee through the
dark valley? Did He comfort as He only can? Help me, O Lord
Jesus, to be faithful to every one. Remember me, and let me
not be guilty of the blood of souls. This poor young man was
the leader of the party. He governed the others, and most
attentive he was to me. He anticipated my every want. He kept
the water-calabash at his head at night, and if I awoke, he
was ready to give me a draught immediately. When the meat was
boiled he secured the best portion for me, the best place for
sleeping, the best of everything. Oh, where is he now? He
became ill after leaving a certain tribe, and believed he had
been poisoned. Another of the party and he ate of a certain
dish given them by a woman whom they had displeased, and
having met this man yesterday he said, 'Sehamy is gone to
heaven, and I am almost dead by the poison given us by that
woman.' I don't believe they took any poison, but they do,
and their imaginations are dreadfully excited when they
entertain that belief."

The same letter intimates that in case his family should have arranged
to emigrate to America, as he had formerly advised them to do, he had
sent home a bill of which L10 was to aid the emigration, and L10 to be
spent on clothes for himself. In regard to the latter sum, he now wished
them to add it to the other, so that his help might be more substantial;
and for himself he would make his old clothes serve for another year.
The emigration scheme, which he thought would have added to the comfort
of his parents and sisters, was not, however, carried into effect. The
advice to his family to emigrate proceeded from deep convictions. In a
subsequent letter (4th December, 1850) he writes: "If I could only be
with you for a week, you would goon be pushing on in the world. The
world is ours. Our Father made it to be inhabited, and many shall run
to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased. _It will be increased more
by emigration than by missionaries._" He held it to be God's wish that
the unoccupied parts of the earth should be possessed, and he believed
in Christian colonization as a great means of spreading the gospel. We
shall see afterward that to plant English and Scotch colonies in Africa
became one of his master ideas and favorite schemes.



A.D. 1843-1847.

Description of Mabotsa--A favorite hymn--General reading--Mabotsa
infested with lions--Livingstone's encounter--The native deacon who
saved him--His Sunday-school--Marriage to Mary Moffat--Work at
Mabotsa--Proposed institution for training native agents--Letter to his
mother--Trouble at Mabotsa--Noble sacrifice of Livingstone--Goes to
Sechele and the Bakwains--New station at Chonuane--Interest shown by
Sechele--Journeys eastward--The Boers and the Transvaal--Their
occupation of the country, and treatment of the natives--Work among the
Bakwains--Livingstone's desire to move on--Theological conflict at
home--His view of it--His scientific labors and miscellaneous

Describing what was to be his new home to his friend Watt from Kuruman,
27th September, 1843, Livingstone says: "The Bakhatla have cheerfully
offered to remove to a more favorable position than they at present
occupy. We have fixed upon a most delightful valley, which we hope to
make the centre of our sphere of operations in the interior. It is
situated in what poetical gents like you would call almost an
amphitheatre of mountains. The mountain range immediately in the rear of
the spot where we have fixed our residence is called Mabotsa, or a
marriage-feast. May the Lord lift upon us the light of his countenance,
so that by our feeble instrumentality many may thence be admitted to the
marriage-feast of the Lamb. The people are as raw as may well be
imagined; they have not the least desire but for the things of the
earth, and it must be a long time ere we can gain their attention to the
things which are above."

Something led him in his letter to Mr. Watt to talk of the old monks,
and the spots they selected for their establishments. He goes on to
write lovingly of what was good in some of the old fathers of the
mediaeval Church, despite the strong feeling of many to the contrary;
indicating thus early the working of that catholic spirit which was
constantly expanding in later years, which could separate the good in
any man from all its evil surroundings, and think of it thankfully and
admiringly. In the following extract we get a glimpse of a range of
reading much wider than most would probably have supposed likely:

"Who can read the sermons of St. Bernard, the meditations of
St. Augustine, etc., without saying, whatever other faults
they had: They thirsted, and now they are filled. That hymn:
of St. Bernard, on the name of Christ, although in what might
he termed dog-Latin, pleases me so; it rings in my ears as I
wander across the wide, wide wilderness, and makes me wish I
was more like them--

"Jesu, dulcis memoria, Jesu, spes poenitentibus,
Dans cordi vera gaudia; Quam pius es petentibus!
Sed super mel et omnia, Quam bonus es quaerentibus!
Ejus dulcis praesentia. Sed quid invenientibus!

Nil canitur suavius, Jesu, dulcedo cordium,
Nil auditur jucundius, Fons, rivus, lumen mentium,
Nil cogitatur dulcius, Excedens omne gaudium,
Quam Jesus Dei filius. Et omne desiderium."

Livingstone was in the habit of fastening inside the boards of his
journals, or writing on the fly-leaf, verses that interested him
specially. In one of these volumes this hymn is copied at full length.
In another we find a very yellow newspaper clipping of the "Song of the
Shirt." In the same volume a clipping containing "The Bridge of
Sighs," beginning

"One more unfortunate,
Weary of breath,
Rashly importunate,
Gone to her death."

In another we have Coleridge's lines:

"He prayeth well who loveth well
Both man and bird and beast.
He prayeth best who loveth best
All things both great and small;
For the dear God who loveth us,
He made and loveth all."

In another, hardly legible on the marble paper, we find:

"So runs my dream: but what am I?
An infant crying in the night;
An infant crying for the light:
And with no language but a cry."

All Livingstone's personal friends testify that, considering the state
of banishment in which he lived, his acquaintance with English
literature was quite remarkable. When a controversy arose in America as
to the genuineness of his letters to the _New York Herald_, the
familiarity of the writer with the poems of Whittier was made an
argument against him. But Livingstone knew a great part of the poetry of
Longfellow, Whittier, and others by heart.

There was one drawback to the new locality: it was infested with lions.
All the world knows the story of the encounter at Mabotsa, which was so
near ending Livingstone's career, when the lion seized him by the
shoulder, tore his flesh, and crushed his bone. Nothing in all
Livingstone's history took more hold of the popular imagination, or was
more frequently inquired about when he came home[21]. By a kind of
miracle his life was saved, but the encounter left him lame for life of
the arm which the lion crunched[22]. But the world generally does not
know that Mebalwe, the native who was with him, and who saved his life
by diverting the lion when his paw was on his head, was the teacher whom
Mrs. M'Robert's twelve pounds had enabled him to employ. Little did the
good woman think that this offering would indirectly be the means of
preserving the life of Livingstone for the wonderful work of the next
thirty years! When, on being attacked by Mebalwe, the lion left
Livingstone, and sprang upon him, he bit his thigh, then dashed toward
another man, and caught him by the shoulder, when in a moment, the
previous shots taking effect, he fell down dead. Sir Bartle Frere, in
his obituary notice of Livingstone read to the Royal Geographical
Society, remarked: "For thirty years afterward all his labors and
adventures, entailing such exertion and fatigue, were undertaken with a
limb so maimed that it was painful for him to raise a fowling-piece, or
in fact to place the left arm in any position above the level of the

[Footnote 21: He did not speak of it spontaneously, and sometimes he
gave unexpected answers to questions put to him about it. To one person
who asked very earnestly what were his thoughts when the lion was above
him, he answered, "I was thinking what part of me he would eat first"--a
grotesque thought, which some persons considered strange in so good a
man, but which was quite in accordance with human experience in similar

[Footnote 22: The false joint in the crushed arm was the mark by which
the body of Livingstone was identified when brought home by his
followers in 1873.]

In his _Missionary Travels_ Livingstone says that but for the
importunities of his friends, he meant to have kept this story in store
to tell his children in his dotage. How little he made of it at the time
will be seen from the following allusion to it in a letter to his
father, dated 27th July, 1844. After telling how the attacks of the
lions drew the people of Mabotsa away from the irrigating operations he
was engaged in, he says:

"At last, one of the lions destroyed nine sheep in broad
daylight on a hill just opposite our house. All the people
immediately ran over to it, and, contrary to my custom, I
imprudently went with them, in order to see how they acted,
and encourage them to destroy him. They surrounded him
several times, but he managed to break through the circle. I
then got tired. In coming home I had to come near to the end
of the hill. They were then close upon the lion and had
wounded him. He rushed out from the bushes which concealed
him from view, and bit me on the arm so as to break the bone.
It is now nearly well, however, feeling weak only from having
been confined in one position so long; and I ought to praise
Him who delivered me from so great a danger. I hope I shall
never forget his mercy. You need not be sorry for me, for
long before this reaches you it will be quite as strong as
ever it was. Gratitude is the only feeling we ought to have
in remembering the event. Do not mention this to any one. I
do not like to be talked about."

In a letter to the Directors, Livingstone briefly adverts to Mebalwe's
service on this occasion, but makes it a peg on which to hang some
strong remarks on that favorite topic--the employment of native agency:

"Our native assistant Mebalwe has been of considerable value
to the Mission. In endeavoring to save my life he nearly lost
his own, for he was caught and wounded severely, but both
before being laid aside, and since his recovery, he has shown
great willingness to be useful. The cheerful manner in which
he engages with us in manual labor in the station, and his
affectionate addresses to his countrymen, are truly
gratifying. Mr. E. took him to some of the neighboring
villages lately, in order to introduce him to his work; and I
intend to depart to-morrow for the same purpose to several of
the villages situated northeast of this. In all there may be
a dozen considerable villages situated at convenient
distances around us, and we each purpose to visit them
statedly. It would be an _immense advantage_ to the cause had
we many such agents."

Another proof that his pleas for native agency, published in some of the
Missionary Magazines, were telling at home, was the receipt of a
contribution for the employment of a native helper, amounting to L15,
from a Sunday-school in Southampton. Touched with this proof of youthful
sympathy, Livingstone addressed a long letter of thanks to the
Southampton teachers and children, desiring to deepen their interest in
the work, and concluding with an account of his Sunday-school:

"I yesterday commenced school for the first time at Mabotsa,
and the poor little naked things came with fear and
trembling. A native teacher assisted, and the chief collected
as many of them as he could, or I believe we should have had
none. The reason is, the women make us the hobgoblins of
their children, telling them 'these white men bite children,
feed them with dead men's brains, and all manner of nonsense.
We are just commencing our mission among them."

A new star now appeared in Livingstone's horizon, destined to give a
brighter complexion to his life, and a new illustration to the name
Mabotsa. Till this year (1844) he had steadily repudiated all thoughts
of marriage, thinking it better to be independent. Nor indeed had he met
with any one to induce him to change his mind. Writing in the end of
1843 to his friend Watt, he had said: "There's no outlet for me when I
begin to think of getting married but that of sending home an
advertisement to the _Evangelical Magazine_, and if I get very old, it
must be for some decent sort of widow. In the meantime I am too busy to
think of any thing of the kind." But soon after the Moffats came back
from England to Kuruman, their eldest daughter Mary rapidly effected a
revolution in Livingstone's ideas of matrimony. They became engaged. In
announcing his approaching marriage to the Directors, he makes it plain
that he had carefully considered the bearing which this step might have
on his usefulness as a missionary. No doubt if he had foreseen the very
extraordinary work to which he was afterwards to be called, he might
have come to a different conclusion. But now, apparently, he was fixed
and settled. Mabotsa would become a centre from which native missionary
agents would radiate over a large circumference. His own life-work would
resemble Mr. Moffat's. For influencing the women and children of such a
place, a Christian lady was indispensable, and who so likely to do it
well as one born in Africa, the daughter of an eminent and honored
missionary, herself familiar with missionary life, and gifted with the
winning manner and the ready helping hand that were so peculiarly
adapted for this work? The case was as clear as possible, and
Livingstone was very happy.

On his way home from Kuruman, after the engagement, he writes to her
cheerily from Motito, on 1st August, 1844, chiefly about the household
they were soon to get up; asking her to get her father to order some
necessary articles, and to write to Colesberg about the marriage-license
(and if he did not get it, they would license themselves!), and
concluding thus:

"And now, my dearest, farewell. May God bless you! Let your
affection be towards Him much more than towards me; and, kept
by his mighty power and grace, I hope I shall never give you
cause to regret that you have given me a part. Whatever
friendship we feel towards each other, let us always look to
Jesus as our common friend and guide, and may He shield you
with his everlasting arms from every evil!"

Next month he writes from Mabotsa with full accounts of the progress of
their house, of which he was both architect and builder:

"_Mabotsa, 12th September_, 1844.--I must tell you of the
progress I have made in architecture. The walls are nearly
finished, although the dimensions are 52 feet by 20 outside,
or almost the same size as the house in which you now reside.
I began with stone, but when it was breast-high, I was
obliged to desist from my purpose to build it entirely of
that material by an accident, which, slight as it was, put a
stop to my operations in that line. A stone failing was
stupidly, or rather instinctively, caught by me in its fall
by the left hand, and it nearly broke my arm over again. It
swelled up again, and I fevered so much I was glad of a fire,
although the weather was quite warm. I expected bursting and
discharge, but Baba bound it up nicely, and a few days' rest
put all to rights. I then commenced my architecture, and six
days have brought the walls up a little more than six feet.

"The walls will be finished long before you receive this, and
I suppose the roof too, but I have still the wood of the roof
to seek. It is not, however, far off; and as Mr. E. and I,
with the Kurumanites, got on the roof of the school in a
week, I hope this will not be more than a fortnight or three
weeks. Baba has been most useful to me in making door and
window frames; indeed, if he had not turned out I should not
have been advanced so far as I am. Mr. E.'s finger is the
cause in part of my having no aid from him, but all will come
right at last. It is pretty hard work, and almost enough to
drive love out of my head, but it is not situated there; it
is in my heart, and won't come out unless you behave so as to
quench it!...

"You must try and get a maid of some sort to come with
although it is only old Moyimang; you can't go without some
one, and a Makhatla can't be had for either love or money....

"You must excuse soiled paper, my hands won't wash clean
after dabbling mud all day. And although the above does not
contain evidence of it, you are as dear to me as ever, and
will be as long as our lives are spared.--I am still your
most affectionate


A few weeks later he writes:

"As I am favored with another opportunity to Kuruman, I
gladly embrace it, and wish I could embrace you at the same
time; but as I cannot, I must do the next best to it, and
while I give you the good news that our work is making
progress, and of course the time of our separation becoming
beautifully less, I am happy in the hope that, by the
messenger who now goes, I shall receive the good news that
you are well and happy, and remembering me with some of that
affection which we bear to each other.... All goes on pretty
well here; the school is sometimes well, sometimes ill
attended. I begin to like it, and I once believed I could
never have any pleasure in such employment. I had a great
objection to school-keeping, but I find in that as in almost
everything else I set myself to as a matter of duty, I soon
became enamored of it. A boy came three times last week, and
on the third time could act as monitor to the rest through a
great portion of the alphabet. He is a real Mokhatla, but I
have lost sight of him again. If I get them on a little, I
shall translate some of your infant-school hymns into
Sichuana rhyme, and you may yet, if you have time, teach them
the tunes to them. I, poor mortal, am as mute as a fish in
regard to singing, and Mr. Englis says I have not a bit of
imagination. Mebalwe teaches them the alphabet in the 'auld
lang syne' tune sometimes, and I heard it sung by some youths
in the gardens yesterday--a great improvement over their old
see-saw tunes indeed. Sometimes we have twenty, sometimes
two, sometimes none at all.

"Give my love to A., and tell her to be sure to keep my
lecture warm. She must not be vexed with herself, that she
was not more frank to me. If she is now pleased, all is
right. I have sisters, and know all of you have your
failings, but I won't love you less for these. And to mother,
too, give my kindest salutation. I suppose I shall get a
lecture from her, too, about the largeness of the house. If
there are too many windows, she can just let me know. I could
build them all up in two days, and let the light come down
the chimney, if that would please. I'll do anything for
peace, except fighting for it. And now I must again, my dear,
dear Mary, bid you good-bye. Accept my expressions as
literally true when I say, I am your most affectionate and
still confiding lover,


In due time the marriage was solemnized, and Livingstone brought his
wife to Mabotsa. Here they went vigorously to work, Mrs. Livingstone
with her infant-school, and her husband with all the varied agencies,
medical, educational, and pastoral, which his active spirit could bring
to bear upon the people. They were a very superstitious race, and, among
other things, had great faith in rain-making. Livingstone had a famous
encounter with one of their rain-makers, the effect of which, was that
the pretender was wholly nonplused; but instead of being convinced of
the absurdity of their belief, the people were rather disposed to think
that the missionaries did not want them to get rain. Some of them were
workers in iron, who carried their superstitious notions into that
department of life, too, believing that the iron could be smelted only
by the power of medicines, and that those who had not the proper
medicine need not attempt the work. In the hope of breaking down these
absurdities, Livingstone planned a course of popular lectures on the
works of God in creation and providence, to be carried out in the
following way:

"I intend to commence with the goodness-of God in giving iron
ore, by giving, if I can, a general knowledge of the
simplicity of the substance, and endeavoring to disabuse
their minds of the idea which prevents them, in general, from
reaping the benefit of that mineral which abounds in their
country. I intend, also, to pay more attention to the
children of the few believers we have with us as a class, for
whom, as baptized ones, we are bound especially to care. May
the Lord enable me to fulfill my resolutions! I have now the
happy prospect before me of real missionary work. All that
has preceded has been preparatory."

All this time Livingstone had been cherishing his plan of a training
seminary for native agents. He had written a paper and brought the
matter before the missionaries, but without success. Some opposed the
scheme fairly, as being premature, while some insinuated that his object
was to stand well with the Directors, and get himself made Professor.
This last objection induced him to withdraw his proposal. He saw that in
his mode of prosecuting the matter he had not been very knowing; it
would have been better to get some of the older brethren to adopt it. He
feared that his zeal had injured the cause he desired to benefit, and in
writing to his friend Watt, he said that for months he felt bitter
grief, and could never think of the subject without a pang[23].

[Footnote 23: Dr. Moffat favored the scheme of a training seminary, and
when he came home afterward, helped to raise a large sum of money for
the purpose. He was strongly of opinion that the institution should be
built at Sechele's; but, contrary to his view, and that of Livingstone,
it has been placed at Kuruman.]

A second time he brought forward his proposal, but again without
success. Was he then to be beaten? Far from it. He would change his
tactics, however. He would first set himself to show what could be done
by native efforts; he would travel about, wherever he found a road, and
after inquiries, settle native agents far and wide. The plan had only to
be tried, under God's blessing, to succeed. Here again we trace the
Providence that shaped his career. Had his wishes been carried into
effect, he might have spent his life training native agents, and doing
undoubtedly a noble work: but he would not have traversed Africa; he
would not have given its death-blow to African slavery; he would not
have closed the open sore of the world, nor rolled away the great
obstacle to the evangelization of the Continent.

Some glimpses of his Mabotsa life may be got from a letter to his mother
(14th May, 1845). Usually his letters for home were meant for the whole
family and addressed accordingly; but with a delicacy of feeling, which
many will appreciate, he wrote separately to his mother after a little
experience of married life:

"I often think of you, and perhaps more frequently since I
got married than before. Only yesterday I said to my wife,
when I thought of the nice clean bed I enjoy now, 'You put me
in mind of my mother; she was always particular about our
beds and linen. I had had rough times of it before.'...

"I cannot perceive that the attentions paid to my
father-in-law at home have spoiled him. He is, of course, not
the same man he formerly must have been, for he now knows the
standing he has among the friends of Christ at home. But the
plaudits he received have had a bad effect, and tho' not on
_his_ mind, yet on that of his fellow-laborers. You, perhaps,
cannot understand this, but so it is. If one man is praised,
others think this is more than is deserved, and that they,
too ('others,' they say, while they mean themselves), ought
to have a share. Perhaps you were gratified to see my letters
quoted in the _Chronicle_. In some minds they produced bitter
envy, and if it were in my power, I should prevent the
publication of any in future. But all is in the Lord's hands;
on Him I cast my care. His testimony I receive as it
stands--He careth for us. Yes, He does; for He says it, who
is every way worthy of credit. He will give what is good for
me. He will see to it that all things work together for good.
Do thou for me, O Lord God Almighty! May his blessing rest on
you, my dear mother....

"I received the box from Mr. D. The clothes are all too wide
by four inches at least. Does he think that aldermen grow in
Africa? Mr. N., too, fell into the same fault, but he will be
pleased to know his boots will be worn by a much better
man--Mr. Moffat. I am not an atom thicker than when you
saw me....

"Respecting the mission here, we can say nothing. The people
have not the smallest love to the gospel of Jesus. They hate
and fear it, as a revolutionary spirit is disliked by the old
Tories. It appears to them as that which, if not carefully
guarded against, will seduce them, and destroy their
much-loved domestic institutions. No pro-slavery man in the
Southern States dreads more the abolition principles than do
the Bakhatla the innovations of the Word of God. Nothing but
power Divine can work the mighty change."

Unhappily Mr. and Mrs. Livingstone's residence at Mabotsa was embittered
by a painful collision with the missionary who had taken part in rearing
the station. Livingstone was accused of acting unfairly by him, of
assuming to himself more than his due, and attempts were made to
discredit him, both among the missionaries and the Directors. It was a
very painful ordeal, and Livingstone felt it keenly. He held the
accusation to be unjust, as most people will hold it to have been who
know that one of the charges against him was that he was a
"non-entity"! A tone of indignation pervades his letters:--that after
having borne the heat and burden of the day, he should be accused of
claiming for himself the credit due to one who had done so little in
comparison. But the noble spirit of Livingstone rose to the occasion.
Rather than have any scandal before the heathen, he would give up his
house and garden at Mabotsa, with all the toil and money they had cost
him, go with his young bride to some other place, and begin anew the
toil of house and school building, and gathering the people around him.
His colleague was so struck with his generosity that he said had he
known his intention he never would have spoken a word against him.
Livingstone had spent all his money, and out of a salary of a hundred
pounds it was not easy to build a house every other year. But he stuck
to his resolution. Parting with his garden evidently cost him a pang,
especially when he thought of the tasteless hands into which it was to
fall. "I like a garden," he wrote, "but paradise will make amends for
all our privations and sorrows here." Self-denial was a firmly
established habit with him; and the passion of "moving on" was warm in
his blood. Mabotsa did not thrive after Livingstone left it, but the
brother with whom he had the difference lived to manifest a very
different spirit.

In some of his journeys, Livingstone had come into close contact with
the tribe of the Bakwains, which, on the murder of their chief, some
time before, had been divided into two, one part under Bubi, already
referred to, and the other under Sechele, son of the murdered chief,
also already introduced. Both of these chiefs had shown much regard for
Livingstone, and on the death of Bubi, Sechele and his people indicated
a strong wish that a missionary should reside among them. On leaving
Mabotsa, Livingstone transferred his services to this tribe. The name of
the pew station was Chonuane; it was situated some forty miles from
Mabotsa, and in 1846 it became the centre of Livingstone's operations
among the Bakwains and their chief Sechele.

Livingstone had been disappointed with the result of his work among the
Bakhatlas. No doubt much good had been done; he had prevented several
wars; but where were the conversions[24]? On leaving he found that he
had made more impressions on them than he had supposed. They were most
unwilling to lose him, offered to do anything in their power for his
comfort, and even when his oxen were "inspanned" and he was on the point
of moving, they offered to build a new house without expense to him in
some other place, if only he would not leave them. In a financial point
of view, the removal to Chonuane was a serious undertaking. He had to
apply to the Directors at home for a building-grant--only thirty pounds,
but there were not wanting objectors even to that small sum. It was only
in self-vindication that he was constrained to tell of the hardships
which his family had borne;--

[Footnote 24: When some of Livingstone's "new light" friends heard that
there were so few conversions, they seem to have thought that he was too
much of an old Calvinist, and wrote to him to preach that the remedy was
as extensive as the disease--Christ loved _you_, and gave himself for
_you_. "You may think me heretical," replied he, "but we don't need to
make the extent of the atonement the main topic of our preaching. We
preach to men who don't know but they are beasts, who have no idea of
God as a personal agent, or of sin as evil, otherwise than as an offense
against each other, which may or may not be punished by the party
offended.... Their consciences are seared, and moral perceptions
blunted. Their memories retain scarcely anything we teach them, and so
low have they sunk that the plainest text in the whole Bible cannot be
understood by them."]

"We endured for a long while, using a wretched infusion of
native corn for coffee, but when our corn was done, we were
fairly obliged to go to Kuruman for supplies. I can bear what
other Europeans would consider hunger and thirst without any
inconvenience, but when we arrived, to hear the old woman who
had seen my wife depart about two years before, exclaiming
before the door, 'Bless me! how lean she is! Has he starved
her? Is there no food in the country to which she has been?'
was more than I could well bear."

From the first, Sechele showed an intelligent interest in Livingstone's
preaching. He became a great reader especially of the Bible, and
lamented very bitterly that he had got involved in heathen customs, and
now did not know what to do with his wives. At one time he expressed
himself quite willing to convert all his people to Christianity by the
litupa, _i.e._ whips of rhinoceros hide; but when he came to understand
better, he lamented that while he could make his people do anything else
he liked, he could not get one of them to believe. He began family
worship, and Livingstone was surprised to hear how well he conducted
prayer in his own simple and beautiful style. When he was baptized,
after a profession of three years, he sent away his superfluous wives in
a kindly and generous way; but all their connections became active and
bitter enemies of the gospel, and the conversion of Sechele, instead of
increasing the congregation, reduced it so much that sometimes the chief
and his family were almost the only persons present. A bell-man of a
somewhat peculiar order was once employed to collect the people for
service--a tall gaunt fellow. "Up he jumped on a sort of platform, and
shouted at the top of his voice, 'Knock that woman down over there.
Strike her, she is putting on her pot! Do you see that one hiding
herself? Give her a good blow. There she is--see, see, knock her down!'
All the women ran to the place of meeting in no time, for each thought
herself meant. But, though a most efficient bell-man, we did not like to
employ him."

While residing at Chonuane, Livingstone performed two journeys eastward,
in order to attempt the removal of certain obstacles to the
establishment of at least one of his native teachers in that direction.
This brought him into connection with the Dutch Boers of the Cashan
mountains, otherwise called Magaliesberg. The Boers were emigrants from
the Cape, who had been dissatisfied with the British rule, and
especially with the emancipation of their Hottentot slaves, and had
created for themselves a republic in the north (the Transvaal), in order
that they might pursue, unmolested, the proper treatment of the blacks.
"It is almost needless to add," says Livingstone, "that proper treatment
has always contained in it the essential element of slavery, viz.,
compulsory unpaid labor." The Boers had effected the expulsion of
Mosilikatse, a savage Zulu warrior, and in return for this service they
considered themselves sole masters of the soil. While still engaged in
the erection of his dwelling-house at Chonuane, Livingstone received
notes from the Commandant and Council of the emigrants, requesting an
explanation of his intentions, and an intimation that they had resolved
to come and deprive Sechele of his fire-arms. About the same time he
received several very friendly messages and presents from Mokhatla,
chief of a large section of the Bakhatla, who lived about four days
eastward of his station, and had once, while Livingstone was absent,
paid a visit to Chonuane, and expressed satisfaction with the idea of
obtaining Paul, a native convert, as his teacher. As soon as his house
was habitable, Livingstone proceeded to the eastward, to visit Mokhatla,
and to confer with the Boers.

On his way to Mokhatla he was surprised at the unusual density of the
population, giving him the opportunity of preaching the gospel at least
once every day. The chief, Mokhatla, whose people were quiet and
industrious, was eager to get a missionary, but said that an arrangement
must be made with the Dutch commandant. This involved some delay.

Livingstone then returned to Chonuane, finished the erection of a school
there, and setting systematic instruction fairly in operation under Paul
and his son, Isaac, again went eastward, accompanied this time by Mrs.
Livingstone and their infant son, Robert Moffat[25]--all the three being
in indifferent health. Mebalwe, the catechist, was also with them.
Taking a different route, they came on another Bakhatla tribe, whose
country abounded in metallic ores, and who, besides cultivating their
fields, span cotton, smelted iron, copper, and tin, made an alloy of tin
and copper, and manufactured ornaments. Livingstone had constantly an
eye to the industries and commercial capabilities of the countries he
passed through. Social reform was certainly much needed here; for the
chief, though not twenty years of age, had already forty-eight wives and
twenty children. They heard of another tribe, said to excel all others
in manufacturing skill, and having the honorable distinction, "they had
never been known to kill any one." This lily among thorns they were
unable to visit. Three tribes of Bakhalaka whom they did visit were at
continual war.

[Footnote 25: He wrote to his father that he would have called him Neil,
if it had not been such an ugly name, and all the people would have
called him Ra-Neeley!]

Deriving his information from the Boers themselves, Livingstone learned
that they had taken possession of nearly all the fountains, so that the
natives lived in the country only by sufferance. The chiefs were
compelled to furnish the emigrants with as much free labor as they
required. This was in return for the privilege of living in the country
of the Boers! The absence of law left the natives open to innumerable
wrongs which the better-disposed of the emigrants lamented, but could
not prevent. Livingstone found that the forcible seizure of cattle was a
common occurrence, but another custom was even worse. When at war, the
Dutch forced natives to assist them, and sent them before them into
battle, to encounter the battle-axes of their opponents, while the Dutch
fired in safety at their enemies over the heads of their native allies.
Of course all the disasters of the war fell on the natives; the Dutch
had only the glory and the spoil. Such treatment of the natives burned
into the very soul of Livingstone. He was specially distressed at the
purpose expressed to pick a quarrel with Sechele, for whatever the
emigrants might say of other tribes, they could not but admit that the
Bechuanas had been always an honest and peaceable people.

When Livingstone met the Dutch commandant he received favorably his
proposal of a native missionary, but another obstacle arose. Near the
proposed station lived a Dutch emigrant who had shown himself the
inveterate enemy of missions. He had not scrupled to say that the proper
way to treat any native missionary was to kill him. Livingstone was
unwilling to plant Mebalwe beside so bloodthirsty a
neighbor**(spelling?), and as he had not time to, go to him, and try to
bring him to a better mind, and there was plenty of work to be done at
the station, they all returned to Chonuane.

"We have now," says Livingstone (March, 1847), "been a little more than
a year with the Bakwains. No conversions have taken place, but real
progress has been made." He adverts to the way in which the Sabbath was
observed, no work being done by the natives in the gardens that day, and
hunting being suspended. Their superstitious belief in rain-maiking had
got a blow. There was a real desire for knowledge, though hindered by
the prevailing famine caused by the want of rain. There was also a
general impression among the people that the missionaries were their
friends. But civilization apart from conversion would be but a poor
recompense for their labor.

But, whatever success might attend their work among the Bakwains,
Livingstone's soul was soaring beyond them:

"I am more and more convinced," he writes to the Directors,
"that in order to the permanent settlement of the gospel in
any part, the natives must be taught to relinquish their
reliance on Europe. An onward movement ought to be made
whether men will hear or whether they will forbear. I tell my
Bakwains that if spared ten years, I shall move on to regions
beyond them. If our missions would move onward now to those
regions I have lately visited, they would in all probability
prevent the natives settling into that state of determined
hatred to all Europeans which I fear now characterizes most
of the Caffres near the Colony. If natives are not elevated
by contact with Europeans, they are sure to be deteriorated.
It is with pain I have observed that all the tribes I have
lately seen are undergoing the latter process. The country
is fine. It abounds in streams, and has many considerable
rivers. The Boers hate missionaries, but by a kind and
prudent course of conduct one can easily manage them.
Medicines are eagerly received, and I intend to procure a
supply of Dutch tracts for distribution among them. The
natives who have been in subjection to Mosilikatse place
unbounded confidence in missionaries."

In his letters to friends at home, whatever topic Livingstone may touch,
we see evidence of one over-mastering idea--the vastness of Africa, and
the duty of beginning a new area of enterprise to reach its people.
Among his friends the Scotch Congregationalists, there had been a keen
controversy on some points of Calvinism. Livingstone did not like it; he
was not a high Calvinist theoretically, yet he could not accept the new
views, "from a secret feeling of being absolutely at the divine disposal
as a sinner;" but these were theoretical questions, and with dark Africa
around him, he did not see why the brethren at home should split on
them. Missionary influence in South Africa was directed in a wrong
channel. There were three times too many missionaries in the colony, and
vast regions beyond lay untouched. He wrote to Mr. Watt: "If you meet me
down in the colony before eight years are expired, you may shoot me."

Of his employments and studies he gives the following account: "I get
the _Evangelical, Scottish Congregational, Eclectic, Lancet, British and
Foreign Medical Review_. I can read in journeying, but little at home.
Building, gardening, cobbling, doctoring, tinkering, carpentering,
gun-mending, farriering, wagon-mending, preaching, schooling, lecturing
on physics according to my means, beside a chair in divinity to a class
of three, fill up my time."

With all his other work, he was still enthusiastic in science. "I have
written Professor Buckland," he says to Mr. Watt (May, 1845), "and send
him specimens too, but have not received any answer. I have a great lot
by me now. I don't know whether he received my letter or not. Could you
ascertain? I am trying to procure specimens of the entire geology of
this region, and will try and make a sort of chart. I am taking double
specimens now, so that if one part is lost, I can send another. The
great difficulty is transmission. I sent a dissertation on the decrease
of water in Africa. Call on Professor Owen and ask if he wants anything
in the four jars I still possess, of either rhinoceros, camelopard,
etc., etc. If he wants these, or anything else these jars will hold, he
must send me more jars and spirits of wine."

He afterward heard of the fate of one of the boxes of specimens he had
sent home--that which contained the fossils of Bootchap. It was lost on
the railway after reaching England, in custody of a friend. "The thief
thought the box contained bullion, no doubt. You may think of one of the
faces in _Punch_ as that of the scoundrel, when he found in the box a
lot of 'chuckystanes.'" He had got many nocturnal-feeding, animals, but
the heat made it very difficult to preserve them. Many valuable seeds he
had sent to Calcutta, with the nuts of the desert, but had heard nothing
of them. He had lately got knowledge of a root to which the same virtues
were attached as to ergot of rye. He tells his friend about the tsetse,
the fever, the north wind, and other African notabilia. These and many
other interesting points of information are followed up by the
significant question--

"Who will penetrate through Africa?"


Third Station--Kolobeng.

A.D. 1847-1852.

Want of rain at Chonuane--Removal to Kolobeng--House-building and public
works--Hopeful prospects--Letters to Mr. Watt, his sister, and Dr.
Bennett--The church at Kolobeng--Pure communion--Conversion of
Sechele--Letter from his brother Charles--His history--Livingstone's
relations with the Boers--He cannot get native teachers planted in the
East--Resolves to explore northwards--Extracts from Journal--Scarcity of
water--Wild animals and other risks--Custom-house robberies and
annoyances--Visit from Secretary of London Missionary Society--Manifold
employments of Livingstone--Studies in Sichuana--His reflection on this
period of his life while detained at Manyuema in 1870.

The residence of the Livingstones at Chonuane was of short continuance.
The want of rain was fatal to agriculture, and about equally fatal to
the mission. It was necessary to remove to a neighborhood where water
could be obtained. The new locality chosen was on the banks of the river
Kolobeng, about forty miles distant from Chonuane. In a letter to the
Royal Geographical Society, his early and warm friend and
fellow-traveler, Mr. Oswell, thus describes Kolobeng: "The town stands
in naked 'deformity on the side of and under a ridge of red ironstone;
the mission-house on a little rocky eminence over the river Kolobeng."
Livingstone had pointed out to the chief that the only feasible way of
watering the gardens was to select some good never-failing river, make a
canal, and irrigate the adjacent lands. The wonderful influence which he
had acquired was apparent from the fact that the very morning after he
told them of his intention to move to the Kolobeng, the whole tribe was
in motion for the "flitting." Livingstone had to set to work at his old
business--building a house--the third which he had reared with his own
hands. It was a mere hut--for a permanent house he had to wait a year.
The natives, of course, had their huts to rear and their gardens to
prepare; but, besides this, Livingstone set them to public works. For
irrigating their gardens, a dam had to be dug and a water-course scooped
out; sixty-five of the younger men dug the dam, and forty of the older
made the water-course. The erection of the school was undertaken by the
chief Sechele: "I desire," he said, "to build a house for God, the
defender of my town, and that you be at no expense for it whatever." Two
hundred of his people were employed in this work.

Livingstone had hardly had time to forget his building troubles at
Mabotsa and Chonuane, when he began this new enterprise. But he was in
much better spirits, much more hopeful than he had been. Writing to Mr.
Watt on 13th February, 1848, he says:--

"All our meetings are good compared to those we had at
Mabotsa, and some of them admit of no comparison whatever.
Ever since we moved, we have been incessantly engaged in
manual labor. We have endeavored, as far as possible, to
carry on systematic instruction at the same time, but have
felt it very hard pressure on our energies.... Our daily
labors are in the following sort of order:

"We get up as soon as we can, generally with the sun in
summer, then have family worship, breakfast, and school; and
as soon as these are over we begin the manual operations
needed, sowing, ploughing, smithy work, and every other sort
of work by turns as required. My better-half is employed all
the morning in culinary or other work; and feeling pretty
well tired by dinner-time, we take about two hours' rest
then; but more frequently, without the respite I try to
secure for myself, she goes off to hold infant-school, and
this, I am happy to say, is very popular with the youngsters.
She sometimes has eighty, but the average may be sixty. My
manual labors are continued till about five o'clock. I then
go into the town to give lessons and talk to any one who may
be disposed for it. As soon as the cows are milked we have a
meeting, and this is followed by a prayer-meeting in Secheles
house, which brings me home about half-past eight, and
generally tired enough, too fatigued to think of any mental
exertion. I do not enumerate these duties by way of telling
how much we do, but to let you know a cause of sorrow I have
that so little of my time is devoted to real missionary

First there was a temporary house to be built, then a permanent one,
and Livingstone was not exempted from the casualties of mechanics. Once
he found himself dangling from a beam by his weak arm. Another time he
had a fall from the roof. A third time he cut himself severely with an
axe. Working on the roof in the sun, his lips got all scabbed and
broken. If he mentions such things to Dr. Bennett or other friend, it is
either in the way of illustrating some medical point or to explain how
he had never found time to take the latitude of his station till he was
stopped working by one of these accidents. At best it was weary work.
"Two days ago," he writes to his sister Janet (5th July, 1848), "we
entered our new house. What a mercy to be in a house again! A year in a
little hut through which the wind blew our candles into glorious icicles
(as a poet would say) by night, and in which crowds of flies continually
settled on the eyes of our poor little brats by day, makes us value our
present castle. Oh, Janet, know thou, if thou art given to building
castles in the air, that that is easy work to erecting cottages on the
ground." He could not quite forget that it was unfair treatment that had
driven him from Mabotsa, and involved him in these labors. "I often
think," he writes to Dr. Bennett, "I have forgiven, as I hope to be
forgiven; but the remembrance of slander often comes boiling up,
although I hate to think of it. You must remember me in your prayers,
that more of the spirit of Christ may be imparted to me. All my plans of
mental culture have been broken through by manual labor. I shall soon,
however, be obliged to give my son and daughter a jog along the path to
learning.... Your family increases, very fast, and I fear we follow in
your wake. I cannot realize the idea of your sitting with four around
you, and I can scarcely believe myself to be so far advanced as to be
the father of two."

Livingstone never expected the work of real Christianity to advance
rapidly among the Bakwains. They were a slow people and took long to
move. But it was not his desire to have a large church of nominal
adherents. "Nothing," he writes, "will induce me to form an impure
church. Fifty added to the church sounds fine at home, but if only five
of these are genuine, what will it profit in the Great Day? I have felt
more than ever lately that the great object of our exertions ought to be
conversion." There was no subject on which Livingstone had stronger
feelings than on purity of communion. For two whole years he allowed no
dispensation of the Lord's Supper, because he did not deem the
professing Christians to be living consistently. Here was a crowning
proof of his hatred of all sham and false pretense, and his intense love
of solid, thorough, finished work.

Hardly were things begun to be settled at Kolobeng, when, by way of
relaxation, Livingstone (January, 1848) again moved eastward. He would
have gone sooner, but "a mad sort of Scotchman[26]," having wandered
past them shooting elephants, and lost all his cattle by the bite of the
tsetse-fly, Livingstone had to go to his help; and moreover the dam,
having burst, required to be repaired. Sechele set out to accompany him,
and intended to go with him the whole way; but some friends having come
to visit his tribe, he had to return, or at least did return, leaving
Livingstone four gallons of porridge, and two servants to act in his
stead. "He is about the only individual," says Livingstone, "who
possesses distinct, consistent views on the subject of our mission. He
is bound by his wives: has a curious idea--would like to go to another
country for three or four years in order to study, with the hope that
probably his wives would have married others in the meantime. He would
then return, and be admitted to the Lord's Supper, and teach his people
the knowledge he has acquired, He seems incapable of putting them away.
He feels so attached to them, and indeed we, too, feel much attached to
most of them. They are our best scholars, our constant friends. We
earnestly pray that they, too, may be enlightened by the Spirit of God."

[Footnote 26: Mr. Gordon Cumming.]

The prayer regarding Sechele was answered soon. Reviewing the year 1844
in a letter to the Directors, Livingstone says: "An event that excited
more open enmity than any other was the profession of faith and
subsequent reception of the chief into the church."

During the first years at Kolobeng he received a long letter from his
younger brother Charles, then in the United States, requesting him to
use his influence with the London Missionary Society that he might be
sent as a missionary to China. In writing to the Directors about his
brother, in reply to this request, Livingstone disclaimed all idea of
influencing them except in so far as he might be able to tell them
facts. His brother's history was very interesting. In 1839, when David
Livingstone was in England, Charles became earnest about religion,
influenced partly by the thought that as his brother, to whom he was
most warmly attached, was going abroad, he might never see him again in
this world, and therefore he would prepare to meet him in the next. A
strong desire sprang up in his mind to obtain a liberal education. Not
having the means to get this at home, he was advised by David to go to
America, and endeavor to obtain admission to one of the colleges there
where the students support themselves by manual labor. To help him in
this, David sent him five pounds, which he had just received from the
Society, being the whole of his quarter's allowance in London. On
landing at New York, after selling his box and bed, Charles found his
whole stock of cash to amount to L2, 13s. 6d. Purchasing a loaf and a
piece of cheese as _viaticum_, he started for a college at Oberlin,
seven hundred miles off, where Dr. Finney was President. He contrived to
get to the college without having ever begged. In the third year he
entered on a theological course, with the view of becoming a missionary.
He did not wish, and could never agree, as a missionary, to hold an
appointment from an American Society, on account of the relation of the
American Churches to slavery; therefore he applied to the London
Missionary Society. David had suggested to his father that if Charles
was to be a missionary, he ought to direct his attention to China.
Livingstone's first missionary love had not become cold, and much though
he might have wished to have his brother in Africa, he acted
consistently on his old conviction that there were enough of English
missionaries there, and that China had much more need.

The Directors declined to appoint Charles Livingstone without a personal
visit, which he could not afford to make. This circumstance led him to
accept a pastorate in New England, where he remained until 1857, when he
came to this country and joined his brother in the Zambesi Expedition.
Afterward he was appointed H. M. Consul at Fernando Po, but being always
delicate, he succumbed to the climate of the country, and died a few
months after his brother, on his way home, in October, 1873. Sir Bartle
Frere, as President of the Royal Geographical Society, paid a deserved
tribute to his affectionate and earnest nature, his consistent Christian
life, and his valuable help to Christian missions and the African cause

[Footnote 27: Journal of the Royal Geographical Society, 1874, p.

Livingstone's relations with the Boers did not improve. He has gone so
fully into this subject in his _Missionary Travels_ that a very slight
reference to it is all that is needed here. It was at first very
difficult for him to comprehend how the most flagrant injustice and
inhumanity to the black race could be combined, as he found it to be,
with kindness and general respectability, and even with the profession
of piety. He only came to comprehend this when, after more experience,
he understood the demoralization which the slave-system produces. It was
necessary for the Boers to possess themselves of children for servants,
and believing or fancying that in some tribe an insurrection was
plotting, they would fall on that tribe and bring off a number of the
children. The most foul massacres were justified on the ground that they
were necessary to subdue the troublesome tendencies of the people, and
therefore essential to permanent peace. Livingstone felt keenly that the
Boers who came to live among the Bakwains made no distinction between
them and the Caffres, although the Bechuanas were noted for honesty, and
never attacked either Boers or English. On the principle of elevating
vague rumors into alarming facts, the Boers of the Cashan Mountains,
having heard that Sechele was possessed of fire-arms (the number of his
muskets was five!) multiplied the number by a hundred, and threatened
him with an invasion. Livingstone, who was accused of supplying these
arms, went to the commandant Krieger, and prevailed upon him to defer
the expedition, but refused point-blank to comply with Krieger's wish
that he should act as a spy on the Bakwains. Threatening messages
continued to be sent to Sechele, ordering him to surrender himself, and
to prevent English traders from passing through his country, or selling
fire-arms to his people. On one occasion Livingstone was told by Mr.
Potgeiter, a leading Dutchman, that he would attack any tribe that might
receive a native teacher. Livingstone was so thoroughly identified with
the natives that it became the desire of the colonists to get rid of him
and all his belongings, and complaints were made of him to the Colonial
Government as a dangerous person that ought not to be let alone.

All this made it very clear to Livingstone that his favorite plan of
planting native teachers to the eastward could not be carried into
effect, at least for the present. His disappointment in this was only
another link in the chain of causes that gave to the latter part of his
life so unlooked-for but glorious a destination. It set him to inquire
whether in some other direction he might not find a sphere for planting
native teachers which the jealousy of the Boers prevented in the east.

Before we set out with him on the northward journeys, to which he was
led partly by the hostility of the Boers in the east, and partly by the
very distressing failure of rain at Kolobeng, a few extracts may be
given from a record of the period entitled "A portion of a Journal lost
in the destruction of Kolobeng (September, 1853) by the Boers of
Pretorius." Livingstone appears to have kept journals from an early
period of his life with characteristic care and neatness; but that
ruthless and most atrocious raid of the Boers, which we shall have to
notice hereafter, deprived him of all them up to that date. The
treatment of his books on that occasion was one of the most exasperating
of his trials. Had they been burned or carried off he would have minded
it less; but it was unspeakably provoking to hear of them lying about
with handfuls of leaves torn out of them, or otherwise mutilated and
destroyed. From the wreck of his journals the only part saved was a few
pages containing notes of some occurrences in 1848-49:

"_May_ 20, 1848.--Spoke to Sechele of the evil of trusting in
medicines instead of God. He felt afraid to dispute on the
subject, and said he would give up all medicine if I only
told him to do so. I was gratified to see symptoms of tender
conscience. May God enlighten him!

"_July 10th_.--Entered new house on 4th curt. A great mercy.
Hope it may be more a house of prayer than any we have yet

"_Sunday, August_ 6.--Sechele remained as a spectator at the
celebration of the Lord's Supper, and when we retired he
asked me how he ought to act with reference to his
superfluous wives, as he greatly desired to conform to the
will of Christ, be baptized, and observe his ordinances.
Advised him to do according to what he saw written in God's
Book, but to treat them gently, for they had sinned in
ignorance, and if driven away hastily might be lost

"_Sept_. 1.--Much opposition, but none manifested to us as
individuals. Some, however, say it was a pity the lion did
not kill me at Mabotsa. They curse the chief (Sechele) with
very bitter curses, and these come from the mouths of those
whom Sechele would formerly have destroyed for a single
disrespectful word. The truth will, by the aid of the Spirit
of God, ultimately prevail.

"_Oct_. 1.--Sechele baptized; also Setefano.

"_Nov_.--Long for rains. Everything languishes during the
intense heat; and successive droughts having only occurred
since the Gospel came to the Bakwains, I fear the effect will
be detrimental. There is abundance of rain all around us. And
yet we, who have our chief at our head in attachment to the
Gospel, receive not a drop. Has Satan power over the course
of the winds and clouds? Feel afraid he will obtain an
advantage over us, but must be resigned entirely to the
Divine will.

"_Nov_. 27.--O Devil! Prince of the power of the air, art
thou hindering us? Greater is He who is for us than all who
can be against us. I intend to proceed with Paul to
Mokhatla's. He feels much pleased with the prospect of
forming a new station. May God Almighty bless the poor
unworthy effort! Mebalwe's house finished. Preparing woodwork
for Paul's house.

"_Dec._ 16.--Passed by invitation to Hendrick Potgeiter.
Opposed to building a school.... Told him if he hindered the
Gospel the blood of these people would be required at his
hand. He became much excited at this.

"_Dec._ 17.--Met Dr. Robertson, of Swellendam. Very friendly.
Boers very violently opposed.... Went to Pilanies. Had large
attentive audiences at two villages when on the way home.
Paul and I looked for a ford in a dry river. Found we had got
a she black rhinoceros between us and the wagon, which was
only twenty yards off. She had calved during the night--a
little red beast like a dog. She charged the wagon, split a
spoke and a felloe with her horn, and then left. Paul and I
jumped into a rut, as the guns were in the wagon."

The black rhinoceros is one of the most dangerous of the wild beasts of
Africa, and travelers stand in great awe of it. The courage of Dr.
Livingstone in exposing himself to the risk of such animals on this
missionary tour was none the less that he himself says not a word
regarding it; but such courage was constantly shown by him. The
following instances are given on the authority of Dr. Moffat as samples
of what was habitual to Dr. Livingstone in the performance of his duty.

In going through a wood, a party of hunters were startled by the
appearance of a black rhinoceros. The furious beast dashed at the wagon,
and drove his horn into the bowels of the driver, inflicting a frightful
wound. A messenger was despatched in the greatest haste for Dr.
Livingstone, whose house was eight or ten miles distant. The messenger
in his eagerness ran the whole way. Livingstone's friends were
horror-struck at the idea of his riding through the wood at night,
exposed to the rhinoceros and other deadly beasts. "No, no; you must not
think of it, Livingstone; it is certain death." Livingstone believed it
was a Christian duty to try to save the poor fellow's life, and he
resolved to go, happen what might. Mounting his horse, he rode to the
scene of the accident. The man had died, and the wagon had left, so that
there was nothing for Livingstone but to return and run the risk of the
forest anew, without even the hope that he might be useful in
saving life.

Another time, when he and a brother missionary were on a tour a long way
from home, a messenger came to tell his companion that one of his
children was alarmingly ill. It was but natural for him to desire
Livingstone to go back with him. The way lay over a road infested by
lions. Livingstone's life would be in danger; moreover, as we have seen,
he was intensely desirous to examine the fossil bones at the place. But
when his friend expressed the desire for him to go, he went without
hesitation. His firm belief in Providence sustained him in these as in
so many other dangers.

Medical practice was certainly not made easier by what happened to some
of his packages from England. Writing to his father-in-law, Mr. Moffat

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