Letter regarding Dr. Livingstone sent to Daily Telegraph

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
DR. LIVINGSTONE.
To the Editor of the Daily Telegraph.

Sir, Will you spare me a little space in your columns to do a service to Dr. Livingstone, by calling attention to Lucenda or Lunda City, the capital of the African chief, known as the Muata (king) Cazembe ?

He is not the least important of the eight negro monarchs namely, the Muata Ya Noo, vulgarly 'Matiamoo,' in the south; in the eastern tropic, the despots of Karagwah, of Uganda, and of Unyoro; and, in the western regions, the sanguinary tyrants of Benin, of Dahome, and of Asiante or Ashantee. And the name of this somewhat obscure potentate has, during the last few weeks, come prominently before the Royal Geographical Society of London.

Not long ago Sir Roderick Murchison suggested in the Times that Dr. Livingstone, having found a discrepancy between the levels of the ' Albert Nyanza' and the Tanganyika lakes, probably turned westward, and attempted to trace the drainage of the latter into the Atlantic Ocean. My husband, Captain Burton, objected to this view of his revered Chief, after whose image to use the words of the late Lord Strangford our modern geographers are, so to speak, created. The hydrography of the West African coast is now well known, and it shows no embouchure capable of carrying off so vast an expanse of water as the Tanganyika. The Congo mouth may suggest itself to some, more especially as the north-eastern branch has long been reported to issue from a lake. But the north-eastern is the smaller arm of the two. Moreover, Captain Burton, during his visit to the Yellalah or Rapids, in 1863, ascertained, by questioning the many slaves driven down from the far interior to the Angolan coast, that the Congo lake is distinct from the Tanganyika, and is probably that which figures in old maps as Lake Aquilonda or Achelunda. It will not be forgotten that our good friend Paul du Chaillu made sundry stout-hearted attempts to reach that mysterious basin, concerning which he is also of opinion that it is wholly independent of the Nile Valley.

The latest intelligence touching Dr. Livingstone suggests the possibility of his having been detained in the capital of the Cazembe, and at once explains the non-appearance of the traveller, and the want of communications, so heartrending to his host of friends. Why are we whispering this to one another as a secret? The report, if we believe in its truth, should be published throughout the length and breadth of England, whose great heart will readily supply men and means to rescue one of her favourite sons from a precarious and perhaps perilous position.

Unhappily for himself, Dr. Livingstone, unlike Captain Burton, has never made a friend of the Moslem. He has openly preferred to him the untutored African in other words, the vile and murderous Fetisheer and his published opinions must be known even at Zanzibar to the religion of the State. The Maskat Arabs are, as my husband reported long ago, all-powerful at the city of Cazembe ; and if Dr. Livingstone be detained there, it is doubtless at their instigation.

I should not have ventured to trouble you with this letter, but Captain Burton is en route for Damascus, and I have written to him to supply the public with a complete account of the scene of Dr. Livingstone's supposed captivity, which may tend to suggest the properest measures for securing the safety of a Christian hero who has offered up the flower of his days to the grand task of regenerating the Dark Continent.

I have the honour to be, Sir,

Yours obediently,

ISABEL BURTON.
October 23, 1869.