The Personal Life of David Livingstone/CHAPTER VII
FROM THE CAPE TO LINYANTI.
Unfavorable feeling at Cape Town--Departure of Mrs. Livingstone and children--Livingstone's detention and difficulties--Letter to his wife--To Agnes--Occupations at Cape Town--The Astronomer-Royal--Livingstone leaves the Cape and reaches Kuruman--Destruction of Kolobeng by the Boers--Letters to his wife and Rev. J. Moore--His resolution to open up Africa _or perish_--Arrival at Linyanti--Unhealthiness of the country--Thoughts on setting out for coast--Sekelétu's kindness--Livingstone's missionary activity--Death of Mpepe, and of his father--Meeting with Ma-mochisane--Barotse country--Determines to go to Loanda--Heathenism unadulterated--Taste for the beautiful--Letter to his children--to his father--Last Sunday at Linyanti--Prospect of his falling.
When Livingstone arrived at the Cape, he found the authorities in a state of excitement over the Caffre War, and very far from friendly toward the London Missionary Society, some of whose missionaries--himself among the number--were regarded as "unpatriotic." He had a very poor opinion of the officials, and their treatment of the natives scandalized him. He describes the trial of an old soldier, Botha, as "the most horrid exhibition I ever witnessed." The noble conduct of Botha in prison was a beautiful contrast to the scene in court. This whole Caffre War had exemplified the blundering of the British authorities, and was teaching the natives developments, the issue of which could not be foreseen. As for himself, he writes to Mr. Moffat, that he was cordially hated, and perhaps he might be pulled up; but he knew that some of his letters had been read by the Duke of Wellington and Lord Brougham with pleasure, and, possibly, he might get justice. He bids his father-in-law not to be surprised if he saw him abused in the newspapers.
On the 23d April, 1852, Mrs. Livingstone and the four children sailed from Cape Town for England. The sending of his children to be brought up by others was a very great trial, and Dr. Livingstone seized the opportunity to impress on the Directors that those by whom missionaries were sent out had a great duty to the children whom their parents were compelled to send away. Referring to the filthy conversation and ways of the heathen, he says:
"Missionaries expose their children to a contamination which they have had no hand in producing. We expose them and ourselves for a time in order to elevate those sad captives of sin and Satan, who are the victims of the degradation of ages. None of those who complain about missionaries sending their children home ever descend to this. And again, as Mr. James in his _Young Man from Home_ forcibly shows, a greater misfortune cannot befall a youth than to be cast into the world without a home. In regard to even the vestige of a home, my children are absolutely vagabonds. When shall we return to Kolobeng? When to Kuruman? _Never_. The mark of Cain is on your foreheads, your father is a missionary. Our children ought to have both the sympathies and prayers of those at whose bidding we become strangers for life."
Was there ever a plea more powerful or more just? It is sad to think that the coldness of Christians at home should have led a man like Livingstone to fancy that, because his children were the children of a missionary, they would bear the mark of Cain, and be homeless vagabonds. Why are we at home so forgetful of the privilege of refreshing the bowels of those who take their lives in their hands for the love of Christ, by making a home for their offspring? In a higher state of Christianity there will be hundreds of the best families at home delighted, for the love of their Master, to welcome and bring up the missionary's children. And when the Great Day comes, none will more surely receive that best of all forms of repayment, "Inasmuch as ye did it unto the least of these my brethren, ye did it unto Me."
Livingstone, who had now got the troublesome uvula cut out, was detained at the Cape nearly two months after his family left. He was so distrusted by the authorities that they would hardly sell powder and shot to him, and he had to fight a battle that demanded all his courage and perseverance for a few boxes of percussion-caps. At the last moment, a troublesome country postmaster, to whom he had complained of an overcharge of postage, threatened an action against him for defamation of character, and, rather than be further detained, deep in debt though he was, Livingstone had to pay him a considerable sum. His family were much in his thoughts; he found some relief in writing by every mail. His letters to his wife are too sacred to be spread before the public; we confine ourselves to a single extract, to show over what a host of suppressed emotions he had to march in this expedition:
"_Cape Town, 5th May_, 1852.--MY DEAREST MARY,--How I miss you now, and the children! My heart yearns incessantly over you. How many thoughts of the past crowd into my mind! I feel as if I would treat you all much more tenderly and lovingly than ever. You have been a great blessing to me. You attended to my comfort in many, many ways. May God bless you for all your kindnesses! I see no face now to be compared with that sunburnt one which has so often greeted me with its kind looks. Let us do our duty to our Saviour, and we shall meet again. I wish that time were now. You may read the letters over again which I wrote at Mabotsa, the sweet time you know. As I told you before, I tell you again, they are true, true; there is not a bit of hypocrisy in them. I never show all my feelings; but I can say truly, my dearest, that I loved you when I married you, and the longer I lived with you, I loved you the better.... Let us do our duty to Christ, and He will bring us through the world with honor and usefulness. He is our refuge and high tower; let us trust in Him at all times, and in all circumstances. Love Him more and more, and diffuse his love among the children. Take them all round you, and kiss them for me. Tell them I have left them for the love of Jesus, and they must love Him too, and avoid sin, for that displeases Jesus. I shall be delighted to hear of you all safe in England...."
A few days later, he writes to his eldest daughter, then in her fifth year:
"_Cape Town, 18th May_, 1852.--MY DEAR AGNES,--This is your own little letter. Mamma will read it to you, and you will hear her just as if I were speaking to you, for the words which I write are those which she will read. I am still at Cape Town. You know you left me there when you all went into the big ship and sailed away. Well, I shall leave Cape Town soon. Malatsi has gone for the oxen, and then I shall go away back to Sebituane's country, and see Seipone and Meriye, who gave you the beads and fed you with milk and honey. I shall not see you again for a long time, and I am very sorry. I have no Nannie now. I have given you back to Jesus, your Friend--your Papa who is in heaven. He is above you, but He is always near you. When we ask things from Him, that is praying to Him; and if you do or say a naughty thing ask Him to pardon you, and bless you, and make you one of his children. Love Jesus much, for He loves you, and He came and died for you. Oh, how good Jesus is! I love Him, and I shall love Him as long as I live. You must love Him too, and you must love your brothers and mamma, and never tease them or be naughty, for Jesus does not like to see naughtiness.--Good-bye, my dear Nannie,
Among his other occupations at Cape Town, Livingstone put himself under the instructions of the Astronomer-Royal, Mr. (afterward Sir Thomas) Maclear, who became one of his best and most esteemed friends. His object was to qualify himself more thoroughly for taking observations that would give perfect accuracy to his geographical explorations. He tried English preaching too, but his throat was still tender, and he felt very nervous, as he had done at Ongar. "What a little thing," he writes to Mr. Moffat, "is sufficient to bring down to old-wifeishness such a rough tyke as I consider myself! Poor, proud human nature is a great fool after all." A second effort was more successful. "I preached," he writes to his wife, "on the text, 'Why will ye die?' I had it written out and only referred to it twice, which is an improvement in English. I hope good was done. The people were very attentive indeed. I felt less at a loss than in Union Chapel." He arranged with a mercantile friend, Mr. Rutherfoord, to direct the operations of a native trader, George Fleming, whom that gentleman was to employ for the purpose of introducing lawful traffic in order to supplant the slave-trade.
[Footnote 35: The manuscript of this sermon still exists. The sermon is very simple, scriptural, and earnest, in the style of Bishop Ryle, or of Mr. Moody.]
It was not till the 8th of June that he left the Cape. His wagon was loaded to double the usual weight from his good nature in taking everybody's packages. His oxen were lean, and he was too poor to provide better. He reached Griqua Town on the 15th August, and Kuruman a fortnight later. Many things had occasioned unexpected delay, and the last crowning detention was caused by the breaking down of a wheel. It turned out, however, that these delays were probably the means of saving his life. Had they not occurred he would have reached Kolobeng in August. But this was the very time when the commando of the Boers, numbering 600 colonists and many natives besides, were busy with the work of death and destruction. Had he been at Kolobeng, Pretorius would probably have executed his threat of killing him; at the least he would have been deprived of all the property that he carried with him, and his projected enterprise would have been brought to an end.
In a letter to his wife, Livingstone gives full details of the horrible outrage perpetrated shortly before by the Boers at Kolobeng:
"_Kuruman, 20th September_, 1852.--Along with this I send you a long letter; this I write in order to give you the latest news. The Boers gutted our house at Kolobeng; they brought four wagons down and took away sofa, table, bed, all the crockery, your desk (I hope it had nothing in it--Have you the letters?), smashed the wooden chairs, took away the iron ones, tore out the leaves of all the books, and scattered them in front of the house, smashed the bottles containing medicines, windows, oven-door, took away the smith-bellows, anvil, all the tools,--in fact everything worth taking; three corn-mills, a bag of coffee, for which I paid six pounds, and lots of coffee, tea, and sugar, which the gentlemen who went to the north left; took all our cattle and Paul's and Mebalwe's. They then went up to Limaüe, went to church morning and afternoon, and heard Mebalwe preach! After the second service they told Sechéle that they had come to fight, because he allowed Englishmen to proceed to the North, though they had repeatedly ordered him not to do so. He replied that he was a man of peace, that he could not molest Englishmen, because they had never done him any harm, and always treated him well. In the morning they commenced firing on the town with swivels, and set fire to it. The heat forced some of the women to flee, the men to huddle together on the small hill in the middle of the town; the smoke prevented them seeing the Boers, and the cannon killed many, sixty (60) Bakwains. The Boers then came near to kill and destroy them all, but the Bakwains killed thirty-five (35), and many horses. They fought the whole day, but the Boers could not dislodge them. They stopped firing in the evening, and then the Bakwains retired on account of having no water. The above sixty are not all men; women and children are among the slain. The Boers were 600, and they had 700 natives with them. All the corn is burned. Parties went out and burned Bangwaketse town, and swept off all the cattle. Sebubi's cattle are all gone. All the Bakhatla cattle gone. Neither Bangwaketse nor Bakhatla fired a shot. All the corn burned of the whole three tribes. Everything edible is taken from them. How will they live! They told Sechéle that the Queen had given off the land to them, and henceforth they were the masters,--had abolished chieftainship. Sir Harry Smith tried the same, and England has paid two millions of money to catch one chief, and he is still as free as the winds of heaven. How will it end? I don't know, but I will tell you the beginning. There are two parties of Boers gone to the Lake. These will to a dead certainty be cut off. They amount to thirty-six men. Parties are sent now in pursuit of them. The Bakwains will plunder and murder the Boers without mercy, and by and by the Boers will ask the English Government to assist them to put down rebellion, and of this rebellion I shall have, of course, to bear the blame. They often expressed a wish to get hold of me. I wait here a little in order to get information when the path is clear. Kind Providence detained me from falling into the very thick of it. God will preserve me still. He has work for me or He would have allowed me to go in just when the Boers were there. We shall remove more easily now that we are lightened of our furniture. They have taken away our sofa. I never had a good rest on it. We had only got it ready when we left. Well, they can't have taken away all the stones. We shall have a seat in spite of them, and that, too, with a merry heart which doeth good like a medicine. I wonder what the Peace Society would do with these worthies. They are Christians. The Dutch predicants baptise all their children, and admit them to the Lord's Supper...."
Dr. Livingstone was not disposed to restrain his indignation and grief over his losses. For one so patient and good, he had a very large vial of indignation, and on occasion poured it out right heartily over all injustice and cruelty. On no heads was it ever discharged more freely than on these Transvaal Boers. He made a formal representation of his losses both to the Cape and Home authorities, but never received a farthing of compensation. The subsequent history of the Transvaal Republic will convince many that Livingstone was not far from the truth in his estimate of the character of the free and independent Boers.
But while perfectly sincere in his indignation over the treatment of the natives and his own losses, his playful fancy could find a ludicrous side for what concerned himself, and grim enjoyment in showing it to his friends. "Think," he writes to his friend Watt, "think of a big fat Boeress drinking coffee out of my kettle, and then throwing her tallowy corporeity on my sofa, or keeping her needles in my wife's writing-desk! Ugh! and then think of foolish John Bull paying so many thousands a year for the suppression of the slave-trade, and allowing Commissioner Aven to make treaties with Boers who carry on the slave-trade.... The Boers are mad with rage against me because my people fought bravely. It was I, they think, who taught them to shoot Boers. Fancy your reverend friend teaching the young idea how to shoot Boers, and praying for a blessing on the work of his hands!"
In the same spirit he writes to his friend Moore:
"I never knew I was so rich until I recounted up the different articles that were taken away. They cannot be replaced in this country under £300. Many things brought to our establishment by my better-half were of considerable value. Of all I am now lightened, and they want to ease me of my head.... The Boers kill the blacks without compunction, and without provocation, because they believe they have no souls.... Viewing the dispensation apart from the extreme wickedness of the Boers, it seemed a judgment on the blacks for their rejection of the gospel. They have verily done despite unto the Spirit of grace.... Their enmity was not manifested to us, but to the gospel. I am grieved for them, and still hope that the good seed will yet vegetate."
[Footnote 36: This letter to Mr. Moore contains a trait of Livingstone, very trifling in the occasion out of which it arose, but showing vividly the nature of the man. He had promised to send Mr. Moore's little son some curiosities, but had forgotten when his family went to England. Being reminded of his promise in a postscript the little fellow had added to a letter from his father, Livingstone is "overwhelmed with shame and confusion of face." He feels he has disappointed the boy and forgotten his promise. Again and again Livingstone returns to the subject, and feels assured that his young friend would forgive him if he knew how much he suffered for his fault. That in the midst of his own overwhelming troubles he should feel so much for the disappointment of a little heart in England, shows how terrible a thing it was to him to cause needless pain, and how profoundly it distressed him to seem forgetful of a promise. Years afterward he wrote that he had brought an elephant's tail for Henry, but one of the men stole all the hairs and sold them. He had still a tusk of a hippopotamus for him, and a tooth for his brother, but he had brought no curiosities, for he could scarcely get along himself.]
But while he could relax playfully at the thought of the desolation at Kolobeng, he knew how to make it the occasion likewise of high resolves. The Boers, as he wrote the Directors, were resolved to shut up the interior. He was determined, with God's help, to open the country. Time would show which would be most successful in resolution,--they or he. To his brother-in-law he wrote that he would open a path through the country, _or perish_.
As for the contest with the Boers, we may smile at their impotent wrath. It is a singular fact, that while Sechéle still retains the position of an independent chief, the republic of the Boers has passed away. It is now part of the British Empire.
The country was so unsettled that for a long time Dr. Livingstone could not get guides at Kuruman to go with him to Sebituane's. At length, however, he succeeded, and leaving Kuruman finally about the end of December, 1852, in company with George Fleming, Mr. Rutherfoord's trader, he set out in a new direction, to the west of the old, in order to give a wide berth to the Boers. Traveling rapidly he passed through Sebituane's country, and in June, 1858, arrived at Linyanti, the capital of the Makololo. He wrote to his wife that he had been very anxious to go to Kolobeng and see with his own eyes the destruction wrought by the savages. He had a great longing, too, to visit once more the grave of Elizabeth, their infant daughter, but he heard that the Boers were in the neighborhood, and were anxious to catch him, and he thought it best not to go. Two years before, he had been at Linyanti with Mr. Oswell. Many details of the new journey are given in the _Missionary Travels_, which it is unnecessary to repeat, It may be enough to state that he found the country flooded, and that on the way it was no unusual thing for him to be wet all day, and to walk through swamps, and water three or four feet deep. Trees, thorns, and reeds offered tremendous resistance, and he and his people must have presented a pitiable sight when forcing their way through reeds with cutting edges. "With our own hands all raw and bloody, and knees through our trousers, we at length emerged." It was a happy thought to tear his pocket-handkerchief into two parts and tie them over his knees. "I remember," he says in his Journal, referring to last year's journey, "the toil which our friend Oswell endured on our account. He never spared himself." It is not to be supposed that his guides were happy in such a march; it required his tact stretched to its very utmost to prevent them from turning back. "At the Malopo," he writes to his wife, "there were other dangers besides. When walking before the wagon in the morning twilight, I observed a lioness about fifty yards from me, in the squatting way they walk when going to spring. She was followed by a very large lion, but seeing the wagon, she turned back." Though he escaped fever at first, he had repeated attacks afterward, and had to be constantly using remedies against it. The unhealthiness of the region to Europeans forced itself painfully on his attention, and made him wonder in what way God would bring the light of the gospel to the poor inhabitants. As a physician his mind was much occupied with the nature of the disease, and the way to cure it. If only he could discover a remedy for that scourge of Africa, what an invaluable boon would he confer on its much-afflicted people!
"I would like," he says in his Journal, "to devote a portion of my life to the discovery of a remedy for that terrible disease, the African fever. I would go into the parts where it prevails most, and try to discover if the natives have a remedy for it. I must make many inquiries of the river people in this quarter. What an unspeakable mercy it is to be permitted to engage in this most holy and honorable work! What an infinity of lots in the world are poor, miserable, and degraded compared with mine! I might have been a common soldier, a day-laborer, a factory operative, a mechanic, instead of a missionary. If my faculties had been left to run riot or to waste as those of so many young men, I should now have been used up, a dotard, as many of my school-fellows are. I am respected by the natives, their kind expressions often make me ashamed, and they are sincere. So much deference and favor manifested without any effort on my part to secure it comes from the Author of every good gift. I acknowledge the mercies of the great God with devout and reverential gratitude."
[Footnote 37: Livingstone's Remedy for African fever. See Appendix No. II.]
Dr. Livingstone had declined a considerate proposal that another missionary should accompany him, and deliberately resolved to go this great journey alone. He knew, in fact, that except Mr. Moffat, who was busy with his translation of the Bible, no other missionary would go with him. But in the absence of all to whom he could unburden his spirit, we find him more freely than usual pouring out his feelings in his Journal, and it is but an act of justice to himself that it should be made known how his thoughts were running, with so bold and difficult an undertaking before him:
[Footnote 38: Dr. Moffat informs us that Livingstone's desire for his company was most intense, and that he pressed him in such a way as would have been irresistible, had his going been possible. But for his employment in translating, Dr. Moffat would have gone with all his heart.]
_28th September,_ 1852.--Am I on my way to die in Sebituane's country? Have I seen the end of my wife and children? The breaking up of all my connections with earth, leaving this fair and beautiful world, and knowing so little of it? I am only learning the alphabet of it yet, and entering on an untried state of existence. Following Him who has entered in before me into the cloud, the veil, the Hades, is a serious prospect. Do we begin again in our new existence to learn much by experience, or have we full powers? My soul, whither wilt thou emigrate? Where wilt thou lodge the first night after leaving this body? Will an angel soothe thy fluttering, for sadly flurried wilt thou be in entering upon eternity? Oh! if Jesus speak one word of peace, that will establish in thy breast an everlasting calm! O Jesus, fill me with Thy love now, and I beseech Thee, accept me, and use me a little for Thy glory. I have done nothing for Thee yet, and I would like to do something. O do, do, I beseech Thee, accept me and my service, and take Thou all the glory...."
"_23d January_, 1853,--I think much of my poor children...."
"_4th February_, 1853.--I am spared in health, while all the company have been attacked by the fever. If God has accepted my service, then my life is charmed till my work is done. And though I pass through many dangers unscathed while working the work given me to do, when that is finished, some simple thing will give me my quietus. Death is a glorious event to one going to Jesus. Whither does the soul wing its way? What does it see first? There is something sublime in passing into the second stage of our immortal lives if washed from our sins. But oh! to be consigned to ponder over all our sins with memories excited, every scene of our lives held up as in a mirror before our eyes, and we looking at them and waiting for the day of judgment!"
"_17th February_.--It is not the encountering of difficulties and dangers in obedience to the promptings of the inward spiritual life, which constitutes tempting of God and Providence; but the acting without faith, proceeding on our own errands with no previous convictions of duty, and no prayer for aid and direction."
"_22d May_.--I will place no value on anything I have or may possess, except in relation to the kingdom of Christ. If anything will advance the interests of that kingdom, it shall be given away or kept, only as by giving or keeping of it I shall most promote the glory of Him to whom I owe all my hopes in time and eternity. May grace and strength sufficient to enable me to adhere faithfully to this resolution be imparted to me, so that in truth, not in name only, all my interests and those of my children may be identified with his cause.... I will try and remember always to approach God in secret with as much reverence in speech, posture, and behavior as in public. Help me, Thou who knowest my frame and pitiest as a father his children."
When Livingstone reached the Makololo, a change had taken place in the government of the tribe. Ma-mochisane, the daughter of Sebituane, had not been happy in her chiefdom, and had found it difficult to get along with the number of husbands whom her dignity as chief required her to maintain. She had given over the government to her brother Sekelétu, a youth of eighteen, who was generally recognized, though not without some reluctance, by his brother, Mpepe. Livingstone could not have foreseen how Sekelétu would receive him, but to his great relief and satisfaction he found him actuated by the most kindly feelings. He found him, boy as he was, full of vague expectations of benefits, marvelous and miraculous, which the missionaries were to bring. It was Livingstone's first work to disabuse his mind of these expectations, and let him understand that his supreme object was to teach them the way of salvation through Jesus Christ. To a certain extent Sekelétu was interested in this:
"He asked many sensible questions about the system of Christianity in connection with the putting away of wives. They are always furnished with objections sooner than with the information. I commended him for asking me, and will begin a course of instruction to-morrow. He fears that learning to read will change his heart, and make him put away his wives. Much depends on his decision. May God influence his heart to decide aright!"
Two days after Livingstone says in his Journal:
"_1st June_.--The chief presented eight large and three small tusks this morning. I told him and his people I would rather see them trading than giving them to me. They replied that they would get trade with George Fleming, and that, too, as soon as he was well; but these they gave to their father, and they were just as any other present. They asked after the gun-medicine, believing that now my heart would be warm enough to tell them anything, but I could not tell them a lie. I offered to show Sekelétu how to shoot, and that was all the medicine I knew. I felt as if I should have been more pleased had George been amassing ivory than I. Yet this may be an indispensable step in the progress toward opening the west. I must have funds; and here they come pouring in. It would be impossible to overlook his providence who has touched their hearts. I have used no undue influence. Indeed I have used none directly for the purpose Kindness shown has been appreciated here, while much greater kindness shown to tribes in the south has resulted in a belief we missionaries must be fools. I do thank my God sincerely for his favor, and my hearty prayer is that He may continue it, and make whatever use He pleases of me, and may He have mercy on this people!"
Dr. Livingstone was careful to guard against the supposition that he allowed Sekelétu to enrich him without recompense, and in his Journal he sets down a list of the various articles presented by himself to the chief, including three goats, some fowls, powder, wire, flints, percussion-caps, an umbrella and a hat, the value of the whole being £31, 16s. When Sekelétu knew Dr. Livingstone's plans, he undertook that he should be provided with all requisites for his journey. But he was most anxious to retain him, and for some time would not let him go. Livingstone had fascinated him. Sekelétu said that he had found a new father. And Livingstone pondered the possibility of establishing a station here. But the fever, the fever! could he bring his family? He must pass on and look for a healthier spot. His desire was to proceed to the country of the Barotse. At length, on the 16th June, Sekelétu gives his answer:
"The chief has acceded to my request to proceed to Barotse and see the country. I told him my heart was sore, because having left my family to explore his land, and, if possible, find a suitable location for a mission, I could not succeed, because detained by him here. He says he will take me with him. He does not like to part with me at all. He is obliged to consult with those who gave their opinion against my leaving. But it is certain I am permitted to go. Thanks be to God for influencing their hearts!"
Before we set out with the chief on this journey, it will be well to give a few extracts from Livingstone's Journal, showing how unwearied were his efforts to teach the people:
"_Banks of Chobe, Sunday, May 15th_.--Preached twice to about sixty people. Very attentive. It is only divine power which can enlighted dark minds as these.... The people seem to receive ideas on divine subjects slowly. They listen, but never suppose that the truths must become embodied in actual life. They will wait until the chief becomes a Christian, and if he believes, then they refuse to follow,--as was the case among the Bakwains. Procrastination seems as powerful an instrument of deception here as elsewhere."
"_Sunday, 12th June_.--A good and very attentive audience. We introduce entirely new motives, and were these not perfectly adapted for the human mind and heart by their divine Author, we should have no success."
"_Sunday, 19th June_.--A good and attentive audience, but immediately after the service I went to see a sick man, and when I returned toward the Kotla, I found the chief had retired into a hut to drink beer; and, as the custom is, about forty men were standing singing to him, or, in other words, begging beer by that means. A minister who had not seen so much pioneer service as I have done would have been shocked to see so little effect produced by an earnest discourse concerning the future judgment, but time must be given to allow the truth to sink into the dark mind, and produce its effect. The earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord--that is enough. We can afford to work in faith, for Omnipotence is pledged to fulfill the promise. The great mountains become a plain before the Almighty arm. The poor Bushman, the most degraded of all Adam's family, shall see his glory, and the dwellers in the wilderness shall bow before Him. The obstacles to the coming of the Kingdom are mighty, but come it will for all that;
"Then let us pray that come it may, As come, it will for a' that, That man to man the world o'er Shall brothers be for a' that.'
"The hard and cold unbelief which distinguished the last century, and which is still aped by would-be philosophers in the present, would sneer at our faith, and call it superstition, enthusiasm, etc. But were we believers in human progress and no more, there must be a glorious future for our world. Our dreams must come true, even though they are no more than dreams. The world is rolling on to the golden age.... Discoveries and Inventions are cumulative. Another century must present a totally different aspect from the present. And when we view the state of the world and its advancing energies, in the light afforded by childlike, or call it childish, faith, we see the earth filling with the knowledge of the glory of God,--ay, all nations seeing his glory and bowing before Him whose right it is to reign. Our work and its fruits are cumulative. We work toward another state of things. Future missionaries will be rewarded by conversions for every sermon. We are their pioneers and helpers. Let them not forget the watchmen of the night--us, who worked when all was gloom, and no evidence of success in the way of conversion cheered our paths. They will doubtless have more light than we, but we served our Master earnestly, and proclaimed the same gospel as they will do."
Of the services which Livingstone held with the people, we have the following picture;
"When I stand up, all the women and children draw near, and, having ordered silence, I explain the plan of salvation, the goodness of God in sending his Son to die, the confirmation of his mission by miracles, the last judgment or future state, the evil of sin, God's commands respecting it, etc.; always choosing one subject only for an address, and taking care to make it short and plain, and applicable to them. This address is listened to with great attention by most of the audience. A short prayer concludes the service, all kneeling down, and remaining so till told to rise. At first we have to enjoin on the women who have children to remain sitting, for when they kneel, they squeeze their children, and a simultaneous skirl is set up by the whole troop of youngsters, who make the prayer inaudible."
When Livingstone and Sekelétu had gone about sixty miles on the way to the Barotse, they encountered Mpepe, Sekelétu's half-brother and secret rival. It turned out that Mpepe had a secret plan for killing Sekelétu, and that three times on the day of their meeting that plan was frustrated by apparently accidental causes. On one of these occasions, Livingstone, by covering Sekelétu, prevented him from being speared. Mpepe's treachery becoming known, he was arrested by Sekelétu's people, and promptly put to death. The episode was not agreeable, but it illustrated savage life. It turned out that Mpepe favored the slave-trade, and was closely engaged with certain Portuguese traders in intrigues for establishing and extending it. Had Sekelétu been killed, Livingstone's enterprise would certainly have been put an end to, and very probably likewise Livingstone himself.
The party, numbering about one hundred and sixty, proceeded up the beautiful river which on his former visit Livingstone had first known as the Seshéke, but which was called by the Barotse the Liambai or Leeambye. The term means "the large river," and Luambeji, Luambesi, Ambezi, Yimbezi, and Zambezi are names applied to it at different parts of its course. In the progress of their journey they came to the town of the father of Mpepe, where, most unexpectedly, Livingstone encountered a horrible scene. Mpepe's father and another headman were known to have favored the plan for the murder of Sekelétu, and were therefore objects of fear to the latter. When all were met, and Mpepe's father was questioned why he did not stop his son's proceedings, Sekelétu suddenly sprang to his feet and gave the two men into custody. All had been planned beforehand. Forthwith they were led away, surrounded by Sekelétu's warriors, all dream of opposition on their part being as useless as interference would have been on Livingstone's. Before his eyes he saw them hewn to; pieces with axes, and cast into the river to be devoured by the alligators. Within two hours of their arrival the whole party had left the scene of this shocking tragedy, Livingstone being so horrified that he could not remain. He did his best to show the sin of blood-guiltiness, and bring before the people the scene of the Last Judgment, which was the only thing that seemed to make any impression.
Farther on his way he had an interview with Ma-mochisane, the daughter of Sebituane who had resigned in favor of Sekelétu. He was the first white man she had ever seen. The interview was pleasing and not without touches of womanly character; the poor woman had felt an _embarras de richesses_ in the matter of husbands, and was very uncomfortable when married women complained of her taking their spouses from them. Her soul recoiled from the business; she wished to have a husband of her own and to be like other women.
So anxious was Livingstone to find a healthy locality, that, leaving Sekelétu, he proceeded to the farthest limit of the Barotse country, but no healthy place could be found. It is plain, however, that in spite of all risk, and much as he suffered from the fever, he was planning, if no better place could be found, to return himself to Linyanti and be the Makololo missionary. Not just immediately, however. Having failed in the first object of his journey--to find a healthy locality--he was resolved to follow out the second, and endeavor to discover a highway to the sea. First he would try the west coast, and the point for which he would make was St. Paul de Loanda. He might have found a nearer way, but a Portuguese trader whom he had met, and from whom he had received kindness, was going by that route to St. Philip de Benguela. The trader was implicated in the slave-trade, and Livingstone knew what a disadvantage it would be either to accompany or to follow him. He therefore returned to Linyanti; and there began preparations for the journey to Loanda on the coast.
During the time thus spent in the Barotse country, Livingstone saw heathenism in its most unadulterated form. It was a painful, loathsome, and horrible spectacle. His views of the Fall and of the corruption of human nature were certainly not lightened by the sight. In his Journal he is constantly letting fall expressions of weariness at the noise, the excitement, the wild savage dancing, the heartless cruelty, the utter disregard of feelings, the destruction of children, the drudgery of the old people, the atrocious murders with which he was in contact. Occasionally he would think of other scenes of travel; if a friend, for example, were going to Palestine, he would say how gladly he would kiss the dust that had been trod by the Man of Sorrows. One day a poor girl comes hungry and naked to the wagons, and is relieved from time to time; then disappears to die in the woods of starvation or be torn in pieces by the hyenas. Another day, as he is preaching, a boy, walking along with his mother, is suddenly seized by a man, utters a shriek as if his heart had burst, and becomes, as Livingstone finds, a hopeless slave. Another time, the sickening sight is a line of slaves attached by a chain. That chain haunts and harrows him.
Amid all his difficulties he patiently pursued his work as missionary. Twice every Sunday he preached, usually to good audiences, the number rising on occasions so high as a thousand. It was a great work to sow the good seed so widely, where no Christian man had ever been, proclaiming every Lord's Day to fresh ears the message of Divine love. Sometimes he was in great hopes that a true impression had been made. But usually, whenever the service was over, the wild savage dance with all its demon noises succeeded, and the missionary could but look on and sigh. So ready was he for labor that when he could get any willing to learn, he commenced teaching them the alphabet. But he was continually met by the notion that his religion was a religion of medicines, and that all the good it could do was by charms. Intellectual culture seemed indispensable to dissipate this inveterate superstition regarding Christian influence.
A few extracts from his Journal in the Barotse country will more vividly exhibit his state of mind:
"_27th August_, 1853.--The more intimately I become acquainted with barbarians, the more disgusting does heathenism become. It is inconceivably vile. They are always boasting of their fierceness, yet dare not visit another tribe for fear of being killed. They never visit anywhere but for the purpose of plunder and oppression. They never go anywhere but with a club or spear in hand. It is lamentable to see those who might be children of God, dwelling in peace and love, so utterly the children of the devil, dwelling in fear and continual irritation. They bestow honors and flattering titles on me in confusing profusion. All from the least to the greatest call me Father, Lord, etc., and bestow food without recompense, out of pure kindness. They need a healer. May God enable me to be such to them....
"_31st August_.--The slave-trade seems pushed into the very centre of the continent from both sides. It must be profitable....
"_September 25, Sunday_.--A quiet audience to-day. The seed being sown, the least of all seeds now, but it will grow a mighty tree. It is as it were a small stone cut out of a mountain, but it will fill the whole earth. He that believeth shall not make haste. Surely if God can bear with hardened impenitent sinners for thirty, forty, or fifty years, waiting to be gracious, we may take it for granted that his is the best way. He could destroy his enemies, but He waits to be gracious. To become irritated with their stubbornness and hardness of heart is ungodlike....
"_13th October_.--Missionaries ought to cultivate a taste for the beautiful. We are necessarily compelled to contemplate much moral impurity and degradation. We are so often doomed to disappointment. We are apt to become either callous or melancholy, or, if preserved from these, the constant strain on the sensibilities is likely to injure the bodily health. On this account it seems necessary to cultivate that faculty for the gratification of which God has made such universal provision. See the green earth and blue sky, the lofty mountain and the verdant valley, the glorious orbs of day and night, and the starry canopy with all their celestial splendor, the graceful flowers so chaste in form and perfect in coloring. The various forms of animated life present to him whose heart is at peace with God through the blood of his Son an indescribable charm. He sees in the calm beauties of nature such abundant provision for the welfare of humanity and animate existence. There appears on the quiet repose of earth's scenery the benignant smile of a Father's love. The sciences exhibit such wonderful intelligence and design in all their various ramifications, some time ought to be devoted to them before engaging in missionary work. The heart may often be cheered by observing the operation of an ever-present intelligence, and we may feel that we are leaning on his bosom while living in a world clothed in beauty, and robed with the glorious perfections of its maker and preserver. We must feel that there is a Governor among the nations who will bring all his plans with respect to our human family to a glorious consummation. He who stays his mind on his ever-present, ever-energetic God, will not fret himself because of evil-doers. He that believeth shall not make haste."
"_26th October_.--I have not yet met with a beautiful woman among the black people, and I have seen many thousands in a great variety of tribes. I have seen a few who might be called passable, but none at all to be compared to what one may meet among English servant-girls. Some beauties are said to be found among the Caffres, but among the people I have seen I cannot conceive of any European being captivated with them. The whole of my experience goes toward proving that civilization alone produces beauty, and exposure to the weather and other vicissitudes tend to the production of deformation and ugliness....
"_28th October_.--The conduct of the people whom we have brought from Kuruman shows that no amount of preaching or instruction will insure real piety.... The old superstitions cannot be driven out of their minds by faith implanted by preaching. They have not vanished in either England or Scotland yet, after the lapse of centuries of preaching. Kuruman, the entire population of which amounted in 1853 to 638 souls, enjoys and has enjoyed the labors of at least two missionaries,--four sermons, two prayer-meetings, infant schools, adult schools, sewing schools, classes, books, etc., and the amount of visible success is very gratifying, a remarkable change indeed from the former state of these people. Yet the dregs of heathenism still cleave fast to the minds of the majority. They have settled deep down into their souls, and one century will not be sufficient to elevate them to the rank of Christians in Britain. The double influence of the spirit of commerce and the gospel of Christ has given an impulse to the civilization of men. The circulation of ideas and commodities over the face of the earth, and the discovery of the gold regions, have given enhanced rapidity to commerce in other countries, and the diffusion of knowledge. But what for Africa? God will do something else for it; something just as wonderful and unexpected as the discovery of gold."
It needs not to be said that his thoughts were very often with his wife and children. A tender letter to the four little ones shows that though some of them might be beginning to forget him, their names were written imperishably on his heart:
"_Sekelétu's Town, Linyanti, 2d October_.--MY DEAR ROBERT, AGNES, AND THOMAS AND OSWELL,--Here is another little letter for you all. I should like to see you much more than write to you, and speak with my tongue rather than with my pen; but we are far from each other--very, very far. Here are Seipone, and Meriye and others who saw you as the first white children they ever looked at. Meriye came the other day and brought a round basket for Nannie. She made it of the leaves of the palmyra. Others put me in mind of you all by calling me Rananee, and Rarobert, and there is a little Thomas in the town, and when I think of you I remember, though I am far off, Jesus, our good and gracious Jesus, is ever near both you and me, and then I pray to Him to bless you and make you good.
"He is ever near. Remember this if you feel angry or naughty. Jesus is near you, and sees you, and He is so good and kind. When He was among men, those who heard Him speak said, 'Never man spake like this man,' and we now say, 'Never did man love like Him.' You see little Zouga is carried on mamma's bosom. You are taken care of by Jesus with as much care as mamma takes of Zouga. He is always watching you and keeping you in safety. It is very bad to sin, to do any naughty things, or speak angry or naughty words before Him.
"My dear children, take Him as your Guide, your Helper, your Friend, and Saviour through life. Whatever you are troubled about ask Him to keep you. Our God is good. We thank Him that we have such a Saviour and Friend as He is. Now you are little, but you will not always be so, hence you must learn to read and write and work. All clever men can both read and write, and Jesus needs clever men to do his work. Would you not like to work for Him among men? Jesus is wishing to send his gospel to all nations, and He needs clever men to do this. Would you like to serve Him? Well, you must learn now, and not get tired learning. After some time you will like learning better than playing, but you must play, too, in order to make your bodies strong and be able to serve Jesus.
"I am glad to hear that you go to the academy. I hope you are learning fast. Don't speak Scotch. It is not so pretty as English. Is the Tau learning to read with mamma? I hope you are all kind to mamma. I saw a poor woman in a chain with many others, up at the Barotse. She had a little child, and both she and her child were very thin. See how kind Jesus was to you. No one can put you in chains unless you become bad. If, however, you learn bad ways, beginning only by saying bad words or doing little bad things, Satan will have you in the chains of sin, and you will be hurried on in his bad ways till you are put into the dreadful place which God hath prepared for him and all who are like him. Pray to Jesus to deliver you from sin, give you new hearts, and make you his children. Kiss Zouga, mamma, and each other for me.--Your ever affectionate father,
A letter to his father and other relations at Hamilton, 30th September, 1853, is of a somewhat apologetic and explanatory cast. Some of the friends had the notion that he should have settled somewhere, "preaching the simple gospel," and converting people by every sermon:
"You see what they make of the gospel, and my conversation on it, in which my inmost Heart yearned for their conversion. Many now think Jesus and Sebituane very much the same sort of person. I was prevented by fever and other matters from at once following up the glorious object of this journey: viz., while preaching the gospel beyond every other man's line of things made ready to our hands, to discover a healthy location for a mission, and I determined to improve the time by teaching to read. This produced profound deliberation and lengthened palavers, and at length the chief told me that he feared learning to read would change his heart and make him content with one wife like Sechéle. He has four. It was in vain I urged that the change contemplated made the affair as voluntary as if he would now change his mind from four to thirty, as his father had. He could not realize the change that would give relish to any other system than the present. He felt as the man who is mentioned by Serles as saying he would not like to go to heaven to be employed for ever singing and praising on a bare cloud without anything to eat or drink....
"The conversion of a few, however valuable their souls may be, cannot be put into the scale against the knowledge of the truth spread over the whole country. In this I do and will exult. As in India, we are doomed to perpetual disappointment; but the knowledge of Christ spreads over the masses. We are like voices crying in the wilderness. We prepare the way for a glorious future in which missionaries telling the same tale of love will convert by every sermon. I am trying now to establish the Lord's kingdom in a region wider by far than Scotland. Fever seems to forbid; but I shall work for the glory of Christ's kingdom--fever or no fever. All the intelligent men who direct our society and understand the nature of my movements support me warmly. A few, I understand, in Africa, in writing home, have styled my efforts as 'wanderings.' The very word contains a lie coiled like a serpent in its bosom. It means traveling without an object, or uselessly. I am now performing the duty of writing you. If this were termed 'dawdling,' it would be as true as the other.... I have actually seen letters to the Directors in which I am gravely charged with holding the views of the Plymouth Brethren, So very sure am I that I am in the path which God's Providence has pointed out, as that by which Christ's kingdom is to be promoted, that if the Society should object, I would consider it my duty to withdraw from it....
_"P.S._--My throat became well during the long silence of traveling across the desert. It plagues again now that I am preaching in a moist climate."
Dr. Livingstone now began his preparations for the journey from Linyanti to Loanda. Sekelétu was kind and generous. The road was impracticable for wagons, and the native trader, George Fleming, returned to Kuruman, The Kuruman guides had not done well, so that Livingstone resolved to send them back, and to get Makololo men instead. Here is the record of his last Sunday at Linyanti:
"_6th Nov., 1853_.--Large audience. Kuruman people don't attend. If it is a fashion to be church-going, many are drawn into its observance. But placed in other circumstances, the true character comes out. This is the case with many Scotchmen. May God so imbue my mind with the spirit of Christianity that in all circumstances I may show my Christian character! Had a long conversation with Motlube, chiefly on a charm for defending the town or for gun medicine. They think I know it but will not impart the secret to them. I used every form of expression to undeceive him, but to little purpose. Their belief in medicine which will enable them to shoot well is very strong, and simple trust in an unseen Saviour to defend them against such enemies as the Matebele is too simple for them. I asked if a little charcoal sewed up in a bag were a more feasible protector than He who made all things, and told them that one day they would laugh heartily at their own follies in bothering me so much for gun medicine. A man who has never had to do with a raw heathen tribe has yet to learn the Missionary A B C."
On the 8th he writes:
"Our intentions are to go up the Leeba till we reach the falls, then send back the canoe and proceed in the country beyond as best we can. Matiamvo is far beyond, but the Cassantse (probably Cassange) live on the west of the river. May God in mercy permit me to do something for the cause of Christ in these dark places of the earth! May He accept my children for his service, and sanctify them for it! My blessing on my wife. May God comfort her! If my watch comes back after I am cut off, it belongs to Agnes. If my sextant, it is Robert's. The Paris medal to Thomas. Double-barreled gun to Zouga. Be a Father to the fatherless, and a Husband to the widow, for Jesus' sake."
The probability of his falling was full in his view. But the thought was ever in his mind, and ever finding expression in letters both to the Missionary and the Geographical Societies, and to all his friends,--"Can the love of Christ not carry the missionary where the slave-trade carries the trader?" His wagon and goods were left with Sekelétu, and also the Journal from which these extracts are taken. It was well for him that his conviction of duty was clear as noonday. A year after, he wrote to his father-in-law:
[Footnote 39: This Journal is mentioned in the _Missionary Travels_ as having been lost (p. 229). It was afterward recovered. It contains, among other things, some important notes on Natural History.]
I had fully made up my mind as to the path of duty before starting. I wrote to my brother-in-law, Robert Moffat: 'I shall open up a path into the interior, or perish.' I never have had the shadow of a shade of doubt as to the propriety of my course, and wish only that my exertions may be honored so far that the gospel may be preached and believed in all this dark region."