John Lord.

Beacon Lights of History, Volume 14 The New Era; A Supplementary Volume, by Recent Writers, as Set Forth in the Preface and Table of Contents online

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him as a pale, thin, retiring young man, but frank and most
kind-hearted, ready for any good and useful work, even for chopping the
University fuel and grinding wheat for the bread. In 1838, when he was
twenty-five years old, he went to London to be examined as a candidate
for the African missionary service. Two years later he was sent to South
Africa, where for eight or nine years he labored among the natives
earnestly and unostentatiously north of the place now famous as the site
of the Kimberley diamond mines. It was here that he became intimately
acquainted with the celebrated missionary, Robert Moffatt, whose
daughter he married. His devoted wife accompanied him in some of his
later travels, but long before he finished his work her body was laid to
rest under the shade of a tree that for years was pointed out to all
visitors to the Lower Zambesi.

In 1849, began the series of explorations that continued till his
death. "The end of geographical discovery is the beginning of missionary
enterprise," he wrote. Burning with zeal to reveal Africa to the world,
Livingstone never forgot the main aim of his life, - to open ways for the
planting of mission stations among all the scores of tribes he visited.
"I hope God will in mercy permit me to establish the Gospel somewhere in
this region," he wrote from the land of the Barotse, on the Upper
Zambesi. Does he now look down from his eternal home upon that very land
whose churches and schools are the fruition of the labors of French
Protestants; whose king, in London to attend the coronation of Edward
VII., said he wanted more teachers and more men to train his people to
build houses and work iron? He prayed that he might live to see "the
double influence of the spirit of commerce and Christianity employed to
stay the bitter fountain of African misery." The glowing zeal of the
Christian philanthropist and the untiring ardor of the born explorer
were perfectly blended in the spirit of the great pioneer of modern
African discovery.

Livingstone's routes through Africa would extend about seven times
between New York City and San Francisco; and in his almost endless
marches over plain, through jungle, across mountains and wide rivers,
the natives met him almost without exception in a generous and
hospitable spirit. Love was the secret of his success. He won his way by
kindness. Give the barbarous African time to see that you wish him well,
that you would do him good in ways he knows are helpful, and his
affection is evoked.

It was said that the British could never establish their rule over the
great Wabemba tribe, southwest of Tanganyika, without a military
campaign. In 1894, two humble Catholic fathers entered Lobemba, walked
straight to the chief town, and were told that if they did not leave the
country in one day they would be killed. As the stern message was
delivered, they saw an old woman on the ground in great pain from a
severe wound. The news soon spread that these unwelcome strangers had
washed and dressed the wound, and made the old woman comfortable. "These
people love men," was the word that passed from lip to lip, as the sick
and suffering came out from the town to be treated, while thousands of
natives looked on. At nightfall the white men were told they might
remain another day; they ministered for eleven days to those who needed
help, and were then invited to remain the rest of their lives. The
mission stations of the White Fathers are to-day scattered all over
Lobemba; the country is open in every corner to the whites, and in 1899
British rule was established. The victory was won, not with guns, but
by gentle, helpful kindness.

Livingstone never believed that the sympathies of our common humanity
are extinct even in the bosom of a savage. Enfolded in the panoply of
Christian kindness, he passed unscathed among the most warlike tribes.
No memory of wrong or pain rankled in the heart of any man, woman, or
child he ever met. He is known to-day as "the good old man" wherever his
path led him in those twenty years.

When explorers began to study the healthful highlands of the Akikuyu
tribe in East Africa a few years ago, the natives rushed to arms. "Keep
away from us," they said. "One of your white men came through the land,
stealing food from our gardens, and killing all who said he ought to pay
us for our vegetables. We want nothing to do with thieves and murderers
like you."

But no vengeance fell on the head of any white traveller who ever
followed in the footsteps of Livingstone. Those explorers have achieved
most who adhered to his example of unfailing kindness, mercy, and
justice. The brutal German, whose crimes made the Akikuyu hostile to all
whites, marked his path with blood from the Indian Ocean to Victoria
Nyanza. Serpa Pinto, renowned for the scientific value of his work,
aroused condemnation and disgust because he fought his way through many
tribes, among whom Livingstone and Arnot had wandered almost alone and
in perfect safety. Fortunately, there have not been many explorers
militant. The brilliant discoveries of Grenfell, Delcommune, Lemaire,
and others, who are in the first rank of African pioneers, were made
without harming a native.

Let us glance at a few of Livingstone's discoveries and form our own
conclusions as to whether his sublime faith in the future of Africa has
thus far been justified by events. In the depths of the wilderness he
discovered the large lake, Mweru, through which the Upper Congo flows.
Though white influences have reached that remote region only within the
past two or three years, a little steamboat now plies those waters. A
photograph of Mpweto, one of the white settlements on the lake, shows
the commodious quarters of the Europeans, two long lines of cabins in
which the native workmen live, and well-tilled gardens extending for a
half-mile along the shore. Livingstone brought to light the coal fields
of the Zambesi, the only coal yet known in tropical Africa. While these
lines are being written, the British of Rhodesia are preparing to open
mines along these deposits. He told the world of the Victoria Falls of
the Zambesi, the largest known, a mile wide and twice as high as
Niagara. The installation of an electrical plant at this great source of
power is now in progress, and it is hoped within three years to
transmit electrically all the power required to work the large copper
mines in the north, the coal fields in the east, and to move trains on
the Cape to Cairo Railroad for a distance of three hundred miles. The
recent improvements in long-distance transmission of power encourages
the belief that the Victoria Falls may some day possess large industrial
utility for a wide region around them. Coffee plantations on the hills
overlooking the long expanse of Nyassa, the splendid freshwater sea
which Livingstone revealed in its setting of mountains, are selling
their superior product in London at a high price. The town of Blantyre,
among the Nyassa highlands which Livingstone first described, has a
newspaper, telegraphic and cable communication with all the world, and
industrial schools in which the manual arts are taught to hundreds of
natives. Here is the large brick church, now famous, built by native
craftsmen, who before Livingstone's time had never seen a white man, and
lived in a state of barbarism; an edifice that would adorn the suburbs
of any American city, and of which the explorer, Joseph Thomson, said:
"It is the most wonderful sight I have seen in Africa." The natives made
the brick, burned the lime, sawed and hewed the timbers, and erected the
building to the driving of the last nail. They had the capacity, and it
was evoked by the genius of one of the most remarkable men in Africa,
Missionary Scott of Blantyre. Steamboats are afloat on five of the six
important seas of the great lake region of Central Africa; on two of the
three which Livingstone discovered. Only a beginning has been made, for
the field stretches from ocean to ocean; but the man who, in 1873 - the
year of Livingstone's death, - should have predicted one-half of the
achievement of the present generation would have been laughed at as a
crack-brained visionary.

Even the surface of Africa is changing, and the truth of Livingstone is
not always the truth of to-day. In his first journey, in which he braved
the perils of the South African thirst lands, he reached the broad and
placid expanse of Lake Ngami, covering an area of three hundred square
miles. In the gradual desiccation of that region, the lake has now
entirely disappeared. Its place is wholly occupied by a partly marshy
plain covered with reeds, and no vestige of water surface is to be seen.
He found the little Lake Dilolo so exactly balanced on a flat plain
between two great river systems that one stream from the lake flowed
north to the Congo and another south to the Zambesi; but for years past
there has been no connection between the lake and the Congo. He sought
in vain, like many explorers after him, for the outlet to Lake
Tanganyika. The mystery was not solved till, more than twenty years
after, Burton discovered the lake; the solution came when the explorer
Thomson and Missionary Hore found the waters of Tanganyika pouring in a
perfect torrent down the valley of the Lukuga to the Congo. The
explanation of the strange phenomenon is that for a series of years the
evaporation exceeds the water receipts, the level of the lake steadily
falls, and the valley of the Lukuga becomes choked with grass; then a
period follows when the water receipts exceed the evaporation, and the
waters rise, burst through the barriers of vegetation in the Lukuga, and
are carried to the Congo once more.

It was his second and third journeys that established Livingstone's fame
as a great explorer. In those journeys (1853-56) his routes were from
the Upper Zambesi to Loanda in Portuguese West Africa, and then from
Loanda to the mouth of the Zambesi, nearly twelve thousand miles of
travel. The third journey was the first crossing of the continent; and
while traversing the wide savannas of the uplands and revealing the
Zambesi, the fourth largest river of Africa, from source to delta, he
was able to verify one of the most brilliant generalizations ever made
by a geologist. Sir Roderick Murchison, President of the Royal
Geographical Society, in 1852, deducing his conclusions from the very
fragmentary and imperfect knowledge of Africa then extant, evolved his
striking hypothesis as to the physical conformation of the continent,
which has been briefly mentioned above and is the accepted fact of
to-day. Livingstone was able to prove the accuracy of this hypothesis,
and he dedicated his "Missionary Travels" to its distinguished author.

The Makalolo chief, Sekeletu, on the Zambesi River, supplied Livingstone
with men, ivory, and trading commissions, that helped the humble and
unknown white man, lacking all financial resources except his slender
salary, to make the two great journeys which kindled the world's
interest and led to the wonderful achievements of our generation. In
this noteworthy incident we see the human agencies through which Africa
will attain the full stature allotted to her. The Caucasian and the
Negro each has his onerous part in the work of bringing the civilized
world and Africa into touch and accord.

When Livingstone went home, after his third journey, his
fellow-countrymen crowded to see and hear the explorer, who had added
more facts to geographical knowledge than any other man of his time.
They saw a person of middle age, plainly and rather carelessly dressed,
whose deep-furrowed and well-tanned face indicated a man of quick and
keen discernment, strong impulses, inflexible resolution, and habitual
self-command. They heard a speaker whose command of his mother tongue
was imperfect, and who apologized for his broken, hesitating speech by
saying that he had not spoken the English language for nearly sixteen
years. In no public place did he ever allude to his personal sufferings,
though fever had brought him to death's door and the years had been
crowded with the most harrowing cares. The work he had done and would
carry on to the end, the new Africa he alone could describe, the faith
that had grown and strengthened in every week of his long pilgrimage
that the world needed Africa, its resources and peoples, were the burden
of every utterance. The great London meeting where he first appeared
took practical measures to support him in the work he had begun unaided;
and one of the resolutions adopted, declaring that "the important
discoveries of Dr. Livingstone will tend hereafter greatly to advance
the interest of civilization, commerce, and freedom among the numerous
tribes and nations of that vast continent," was prophetic of all the
best fruits of the colossal work that has been done to the present time.

During his two years at home, Livingstone wrote his "Missionary
Travels." He returned to England once more (1864-65), when he published
"A Narrative of an Expedition to the Zambesi," and in 1866 went back to
Africa to resume the explorations which ended only with his death.
Between 1849 and 1873 he was four years in Europe and twenty years in
the field, eating native food, sleeping in straw huts (in one of which
he died), lost to view for many years at a time because he had no means
of communication with the coasts. It was this fact that led to Stanley's
successful search for Livingstone in 1871. Perhaps no other explorer
ever gave so many years to continuous field-work. In this respect he far
surpassed the record of any other of the African pioneers.

The discoveries in his last journeys, covering the periods from 1858 to
1864, and from 1866 to 1873, were as brilliant and fruitful as his
earlier work, but not so astonishing, because his first years were given
to revealing the broader aspects of Africa and its tribes, while his
later labors were devoted to more detailed research in a smaller field.
This region, about as large as Mexico and Central America, extends north
and south, from Tanganyika to the Zambesi, and covers the wide region of
the Congo sources between Nyassa and Lake Bangweolo. The greatest
results were the discovery of Lake Nyassa and the Shire River, now the
water route into East Central Africa; Lakes Bangweolo and Mwero; and the
mapping of the eastern part of the sources of the Upper Congo, which
Livingstone believed to the day of his death were the ultimate fountains
of the Nile. Livingstone's "Last Journeys" was published from the
manuscript which his faithful servants brought to the seacoast with the
mortal remains of their gentle master.

Not far from the south coast of Bangweolo stands a wooden construction
to which is affixed a bronze tablet bearing the simple inscription,
"Livingstone died here. Ilala, May 1, 1873." It has taken the place of
the tree under which he died, and where his heart, which had been so
true to Africa, was buried. As the tree was nearly dead, the section
bearing the rude inscription cut by one of his servants was carefully
removed and is now in London.

Livingstone's geographical delineations were remarkably accurate,
considering the inadequate surveying instruments with which he worked.
Dr. Ravenstein, one of the greatest authorities on African cartography,
has said: "I should be loath to reject Livingstone's work simply because
the ground which he was the first to explore has since his death been
gone over by another explorer." It would be marvellous, however, if in
the course of twenty years of exploration he had not made some blunders.
His map of Lake Bangweolo, for example, was very inaccurate. The Lokinga
Mountains, which he mapped to the south of the lake, have not been found
by later explorers. These imperfections resulted from the fact that his
map of Bangweolo and its neighborhood was largely based upon native
information. He knew that his map was inadequate, and as soon as he was
able to travel he returned to Bangweolo to complete his survey. He was
making straight for the true outlet of the lake, and was within
thirty-five miles of it when one morning his servants found him in his
lowly straw hut, dead on his knees. If Livingstone had lived a few weeks
longer and been able to travel, he and not Giraud would have given us
the true map of Bangweolo.

As a whole, Livingstone's work in geography, anthropology, and natural
history, stands the test of time. No river in Africa has yet been laid
down with greater accuracy than the Zambesi as delineated by
this explorer.

The success of Livingstone was both brilliant and unsullied. The apostle
and the pioneer of Africa, he went on his way without fear, without
egotism, without desire of reward. He proved that the white man may
travel safely through many years in Africa. He observed richness of soil
and abundance of natural products, the guarantees of commerce. He
foretold the truth that the African tribes would be brought into the
community of nations. The logical result of the work he began and
carried so far was the downfall of the African slave-trade, which he
denounced as "the open sore of the world." What eulogy is too great for
such a work and such a man?

In 1898, twenty-one journeys had been made by explorers from sea to sea.
Livingstone completed the first journey, from Loanda to the mouth of the
Zambesi, in one year, seven months, and twenty-two days. Nineteen years
elapsed before Central Africa was crossed again, when Cameron gave two
years and nearly eight months to the journey. It took Stanley two years
and eight months to cross Africa, when he solved the great mystery, the
course of the Congo; and when he went to the relief of Emin Pasha, in
1887, he was almost exactly the same time on the road. When Trivier
crossed from the Atlantic to the Indian Ocean, in 1888-89, in nine days
less than a year, the event was held as a remarkably rapid performance.
A little later the journey was made by several travellers in from twelve
to fifteen months. In 1898, the Englishman, Mr. Lloyd, crossed from Lake
Victoria to the mouth of the Congo in three months, about thirteen
hundred miles of the journey being by Congo steamboat and railroad. In
1902, the journey from the Indian Ocean to Lake Victoria is made by rail
in two and one-half days, - a journey that occupied Speke for nine, and
Stanley for eight months. With the present facilities, the continent may
be crossed by way of the lake region and the Congo in about three
months. The era of long and weary foot-marches has nearly ended; now
succeeds travel by steam.

No influence has been so potent in improving the art of the explorer, or
in raising the standard of the work required of him, as the enormous
interest that for thirty years past has centred in African exploration.
The larger part of the best achievements of the explorers of the present
generation in scientific investigation, and in an approach to scientific
map-making, are found in tropical Africa. Many of the hundreds of the
route surveys are not unworthy to be compared with those of Pogge and
Wissmann, when they laid down on their map every cultural and
topographic feature for two miles on both sides of their route, from
Angola to the Upper Congo. The extreme care with which some of the best
explorers have performed their tasks is illustrated by the remarkable
achievement of the late Dr. Junker along the Mobangi River. After years
of service, his scientific equipment had become practically worthless.
He started on his four-hundred-mile journey down the river through the
jungle, with absolutely no instrument except a compass to aid him in
determining his positions. Endeavoring, by the most scrupulous care, to
make up as far as possible for his lack of scientific outfit, he trudged
through the grass, compass in hand, counting every step. Every fifteen
minutes he jotted in his notebook the distance and the mean direction
travelled. At night he used these accumulated data to lay down on his
route map the journey of the day. For many weeks he kept up this trying
routine till he reached his furthest west, and again till he had
returned to his starting-point, whose latitude and longitude he had
previously determined. When he returned to Europe, Dr. Hassenstein and
he made a map from the data Junker had collected, and fixed the position
of his furthest west. This position was found later by the astronomical
observations of Lieutenant Le Marinel to be less than two miles out
of the way.

One of the latest to win a large prize in African discovery is Dr. A.
Donaldson Smith, a young physician of Philadelphia, in the northeastern
region known as Somaliland and Gallaland. His method may be mentioned
here as an illustration of the kind of work that geographers now
require. Before he began his explorations, he took a thorough course in
the use of surveying instruments and the methods of accurately laying
down his positions and making a route map. Many a cartographer, burning
with desire to draw a good map of a newly explored region, has been
driven to despair by the inadequacy of the route surveys in his hands.
Not a few of these surveys have been unworthy of reproduction in the
books of the explorers who made them, and the best that could be done
was to generalize their information on maps of comparatively small
scale. But Donaldson Smith's route-maps appear in his book on the
comparatively large scale of 1:1,000,000 (about sixteen statute miles to
the inch), and they are worthy of that treatment, for his surveys and
observations for geographical positions were recorded in such a way
that their value might be easily ascertained by any one familiar with
such computations. His route-maps have been found to be admirable
map-making material; thus, he has not only traversed a new region of
great extent, but has given in his map ample materials which may be
employed by any atlas-maker in the production of good maps of all the
territory that came under his observation. When Sir Clements Markham
presented to Dr. Smith the Patrons' Medal of the Royal Geographical
Society, he said: "You have not, like an ordinary explorer, made a
common route survey, but you have made a scientific survey, a
triangulation frequently checked by astronomical observations with
theodolite and chronometer."

Most African explorers have been painstaking, conscientious workers,
eager in their quest for the truth, desirous to report nothing but the
truth, and treating the lowly and ignorant they have met as men, with
sensibilities like their own, capable of gratitude for a kindness and
keenly sensitive to an outrage. The world has recognized and applauded
such heroes of discovery, - the men who faced hardship and peril,
enduring and sacrificing much that knowledge might grow; who had to
conquer not only unkind Nature, but to overcome the ignorant violence of
man. And not a few of the leaders in this work have carried it out with
a degree of tactfulness, humanity, gentleness, and kindliness of spirit
amounting to genius. Some of them spent months in disguise, collecting
facts of the highest scientific value among fanatical Mohammedans who
would have killed them if they had known their secret. Such men were
Burton in Harrar, Dr. Lenz in Timbuctoo, and De Foucauld and Harris in
Morocco, who, in stained skins and borrowed costumes, personated
merchants and devotees and doctors and Jews; and most of whom have
enriched the literature of discovery with valuable books. Men also such
as Dr. Junker, who, rich as he was, left his home to spend eight years
alone among the savages of the Welle Makua basin in Central Africa,
living on their food and in their huts that he might minutely study the
people in their country; or Grenfell, who has travelled far more widely
in the Congo basin than Stanley or any of his followers except
Delcommune, and revealed to the world more river systems and unknown
peoples than they, and who, in his long career as an explorer, never
fired a shot upon a native, though his life was often threatened. These
men, and others like them, have exemplified the manysidedness of human
resources against a great variety of peril and obstacle, as no other
explorers in any other part of the world have had an opportunity to do
in equal measure. Their work, with its environment of almost
overwhelming difficulty, should be known to our youth as most forceful
illustrations of what good men may dare and do in good causes and in a
worthy manner.

There have been some exceptions to this rule. A few men have been less
anxious to perform useful service than to figure in the newspapers and


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Online LibraryJohn LordBeacon Lights of History, Volume 14 The New Era; A Supplementary Volume, by Recent Writers, as Set Forth in the Preface and Table of Contents → online text (page 17 of 26)