Single-Malt Whiskies of Scotland

How I found Livingstone

David Livingstone,
page 8 of 13

and civilising commerce. In addition to the length and the perils of the route, the opposing Portuguese influence was too strong along its line. He, therefore, bravely decided to turn eastwards, and go right across the continent of Africa to the mouth of the Zambesi on the other side. With quite a little army of carriers and camp-followers he left Linyanti on 8th November, 1855, and a fortnight afterwards he made the great discovery with which his name, in the popular imagination, is more intimately associated than with anything else he did, the famous “Victoria Falls” of the Zambesi. These falls were like another Niagara, but grander and more awe-inspiring in every respect. “Right aoross the channel of the river was a deep fissure only eighty feet wide, into which the whole volume of water, 1800 yards broad, tumbled to a depth of 320 feet, the fissure being continued in zig-zag form for thirty miles, so that the stream had to change its course from right to left, and from left to right, and went through the hills boiling and roaring, sending up columns of steam, formed by the compression of the water falling into its narrow wedge-shaped receptacle.” Such was the marvellous scene which suddenly came upon the wonder-stricken traveller as the greatest revelation in the physical world in all his extraordinary experience. Livingstone had already formed a correct idea of Africa as a great hollow or basin-shaped plateau, surrounded by a ring of mountains. As may well be imagined, the results of these wonderful discoveries quite overturned our preconceived notions of the geography of Central Africa. The map had henceforth to be reconstructed according to Livingstone’s measurements and drawings, and what was formerly represented by blank stretches of sand was now illumined by mountains, forests, rivers, and mighty lakes.

After an absence of sixteen years, Livingstone arrived in England in December, 1856, and was received with unbounded enthusiasm. On the 15th of that month a special convocation of the Royal Geographical Society was held in his honour. His life-long friend, the president of that learned body, Sir Roderick Murchison, took the chair on the auspicious occasion, and referred with pride to the achievements of their fellow-countryman in the interests of humanity and science. His winged words were indeed a noble, yet deserved tribute to Livingstone: “He had determined, by astronomical observations, the site of numerous hills, rivers, lakes, and native towns not previously known. He had seized every opportunity of describing the physical structure, geology, and climatology of the countries traversed, and making known their natural products and capabilities. He had ascertained by experience, what had only been conjectured previously, that the interior of Africa was a plateau intersected by various lakes and rivers, the waters of which escaped to the eastern and western oceans by deep rents in the flanking hills. Great though these achievements were, the most honourable of all Livingstone’ s acts had yet to be mentioned, the fidelity that kept his promise to the natives, who, having accompanied him to St. Paul de Loanda, were safely re-conducted by him from that city to their own homes.”

When Sir Roderick, in the midst of the great enthusiasm of this learned assembly, amongst whom were many of the leading savants of Europe, put the Society’s gold medal into the great traveller’s hands, Livingstorie’s reply was characteristic of the man. He modestly said that he had only done his duty as a Christian missionary in opening up a portion of that dark continent, to clear the way for the elevating power of Christianity. With a genuine unconsciousness of his own heroism, he seemed to think that he had as yet done


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