Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 2.djvu/343

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DAVID LIVINGSTONE was born at Glasgow early in the present century. His grandfather was originally the occupier of a small farm in Ulva, one of the Hebrides, but, owing to the requirements of a large family, found himself obliged to quit his island home to seek employment at the Blantyre cotton works on the Clyde, above Glasgow. Livingstone's father and uncles having been fairly educated, easily obtained situations as clerks at the factory, though the former appears to have relinquished his employment with the pen, and to have occupied himself during the later years of his life in keeping a shop as a tea dealer in Glasgow. He died a member of the Independents in 1856, but brought up his children in connection with the old Kirk of Scotland.

At ten years of age, David Livingstone was put to work as a "piecer" at the Blantyre factory. Even at this early date his character was remarkable for a gravity, and steady, plodding earnestness. Reading took the place of ordinary amusements; and, after a hard day's work, the boy would often sit at his studies so far into the night as to call for his mother's peremptory interference. To economize time, he accustomed himself while at work to place an open book on a portion of the spinning jenny, and catch sentence after sentence as he passed backward and forward in front of it, quite undisturbed by the noise of the machinery. An evening-school was made to help in his education, and it may well be supposed no leisure time was wasted. While still a youth, the truths of religion took a deep hold of his mind; and under the feeling thus produced, "in the glow of love," as he says, "which Christianity inspires, I soon resolved to devote myself to the alleviation of human misery." "Turning this idea over in my mind," he adds, "I felt that to be the pioneer of Christianity in China might lead to the material benefit of some portions of that immense empire; and therefore set myself to obtain a medical education, in order to be qualified for that enterprise." Being promoted at nineteen to higher work in the factory, the increased wages he received enabled him, by working during the greater part of the year, to support himself at Glasgow while attending the medical, Greek, and divinity classes, which were held in the winter. By the advice of friends, he was induced, though reluctantly, to offer himself for the service of the London Missionary Society, and was accepted. His admission as a "Licentiate of Faculty of Physicians and Surgeons" completed his preparatory labors. Just at the time, however, the opium war broke out in China, and this presented an obstacle so great as to render it