Guide to Discovering Your Scottish Ancestors

David Livingstone

David Livingstone,
page 10 of 13

among the natives of the vilest iniquity and cruelty, he became more than ever resolved to do everything in his power to rouse the civilised world to put down for ever that “blot on God’s earth” — the slave trade.

After having finished his exploration of Lake Nyassa, he worked his way eastwards, and on 30th January, 1862, arrived at the mouth of the Zambesi, where he met his wife and other members of the mission. With these were the loose sections of the steamer “Lady Nyassa,” a river boat which Livingstone had ordered to be constructed at his own expense. Here he received the sad tidings of the death of Bishop Mackenzie. He spent the next two years in taking geographical and scientific observations in the large and hitherto unknown region watered by the Zambesi and its tributaries, and returned to England in July, 1864, thus completing, after six years of incessant research and discovery, his second great geographical journey.

His return to his native land the first time in 1856, after an absence of sixteen years, had been clouded by a great sorrow — the death of his father during his absence. His return on this the second occasion, in 1864, was saddened by the loss of his beloved wife, which had taken place at Shupanga two years before. He never got over her loss. How often he reverts to that lone grave on the shores of Lake Bangweolo. On the 25th June, 1868, he visited that sacred spot, and pathetically enters this note in his journal: “This is the sort of grave I should prefer; to be in the still, still forest, and no hand ever to disturb my bones; but I have nothing to do but wait till He who is over all decides where I have to lay me down and die. Poor Mary lies on Shupanga brae, ‘and beeks fornent the sun.’”

After being in England for about a year Livingstone set out on his third, and what proved to be his last, great African journey. The object of this journey can be best stated in his own words, which he prefixes to his book describing the Zambesi expedition: “Our Government have supported the proposal of the Royal Geographical Society made by my friend, Sir Roderick Murchison, and have united with that body to aid me in another attempt to open Africa to civilising influences, and a valued private friend (James Young of Kelly) has given £1,000 for the same object. I propose to go inland, north of the territory which the Portuguese in Europe claim, and endeavour to commence that system on the east which has been so eminently successful on the west coast, a system combining the repressive efforts of Her Majesty’s cruisers with lawful trade and Christian missions, the moral and material results of which have been so gratifying. I hope to ascend the Rovuma, or some other river north of Cape Delgado, and, in addition to my other work, shall strive, by passing along the northern end of Lake Nyassa, and round the southern end of Tanganyika, to ascertain the watershed of that part of Africa.”

It must be confessed that in this expedition Livingstone was not very liberally treated. Although the Government bestowed on him the nominal rank of Consul to Central Africa, they declined to give him a salary or to contribute at the outset more than £500 to the cost of an expedition which was destined to be a blessing to tens of thousands, and bring honour to the British name. Livingstone, nevertheless, in his heroic and unselfish way, resolved to go on with his task. The Geographical Society contributed another £500, and the remainder of the necessary funds was subscribed by private friends, Mr. James Young of Kelly giving £1,000 as his contribution. At a later period,


:: Previous Page :: Next Page ::

Books & articles appearing here are modified adaptations
from a private collection of vintage books & magazines.
Reproduction of these pages is prohibited without written permission. © Laurel O'Donnell, 1996-2006.