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vague rumors into alarming facts, the Boers of the Cashan Mountains,
having heard that Sechéle was possessed of fire-arms (the number of his
muskets was five!) multiplied the number by a hundred, and threatened
him with an invasion. Livingstone, who was accused of supplying these
arms, went to the commandant Krieger, and prevailed upon him to defer
the expedition, but refused point-blank to comply with Krieger's wish
that he should act as a spy on the Bakwains. Threatening messages
continued to be sent to Sechéle, ordering him to surrender himself, and
to prevent English traders from passing through his country, or selling
fire-arms to his people. On one occasion Livingstone was told by Mr.
Potgeiter, a leading Dutchman, that he would attack any tribe that might
receive a native teacher. Livingstone was so thoroughly identified with
the natives that it became the desire of the colonists to get rid of him
and all his belongings, and complaints were made of him to the Colonial
Government as a dangerous person that ought not to be let alone.

All this made it very clear to Livingstone that his favorite plan of
planting native teachers to the eastward could not be carried into
effect, at least for the present. His disappointment in this was only
another link in the chain of causes that gave to the latter part of his
life so unlooked-for but glorious a destination. It set him to inquire
whether in some other direction he might not find a sphere for planting
native teachers which the jealousy of the Boers prevented in the east.

Before we set out with him on the northward journeys, to which he was
led partly by the hostility of the Boers in the east, and partly by the
very distressing failure of rain at Kolobeng, a few extracts may be
given from a record of the period entitled "A portion of a Journal lost
in the destruction of Kolobeng (September, 1853) by the Boers of
Pretorius." Livingstone appears to have kept journals from an early
period of his life with characteristic care and neatness; but that
ruthless and most atrocious raid of the Boers, which we shall have to
notice hereafter, deprived him of all them up to that date. The
treatment of his books on that occasion was one of the most exasperating
of his trials. Had they been burned or carried off he would have minded
it less; but it was unspeakably provoking to hear of them lying about
with handfuls of leaves torn out of them, or otherwise mutilated and
destroyed. From the wreck of his journals the only part saved was a few
pages containing notes of some occurrences in 1848-49:

"_May_ 20, 1848. - Spoke to Sechéle of the evil of trusting in
medicines instead of God. He felt afraid to dispute on the
subject, and said he would give up all medicine if I only
told him to do so. I was gratified to see symptoms of tender
conscience. May God enlighten him!

"_July 10th_. - Entered new house on 4th curt. A great mercy.
Hope it may be more a house of prayer than any we have yet

"_Sunday, August_ 6. - Sechéle remained as a spectator at the
celebration of the Lord's Supper, and when we retired he
asked me how he ought to act with reference to his
superfluous wives, as he greatly desired to conform to the
will of Christ, be baptized, and observe his ordinances.
Advised him to do according to what he saw written in God's
Book, but to treat them gently, for they had sinned in
ignorance, and if driven away hastily might be lost

"_Sept_. 1. - Much opposition, but none manifested to us as
individuals. Some, however, say it was a pity the lion did
not kill me at Mabotsa. They curse the chief (Sechéle) with
very bitter curses, and these come from the mouths of those
whom Sechéle would formerly have destroyed for a single
disrespectful word. The truth will, by the aid of the Spirit
of God, ultimately prevail.

"_Oct_. 1. - Sechéle baptized; also Setefano.

"_Nov_. - Long for rains. Everything languishes during the
intense heat; and successive droughts having only occurred
since the Gospel came to the Bakwains, I fear the effect will
be detrimental. There is abundance of rain all around us. And
yet we, who have our chief at our head in attachment to the
Gospel, receive not a drop. Has Satan power over the course
of the winds and clouds? Feel afraid he will obtain an
advantage over us, but must be resigned entirely to the
Divine will.

"_Nov_. 27. - O Devil! Prince of the power of the air, art
thou hindering us? Greater is He who is for us than all who
can be against us. I intend to proceed with Paul to
Mokhatla's. He feels much pleased with the prospect of
forming a new station. May God Almighty bless the poor
unworthy effort! Mebalwe's house finished. Preparing woodwork
for Paul's house.

"_Dec._ 16. - Passed by invitation to Hendrick Potgeiter.
Opposed to building a school.... Told him if he hindered the
Gospel the blood of these people would be required at his
hand. He became much excited at this.

"_Dec._ 17. - Met Dr. Robertson, of Swellendam. Very friendly.
Boers very violently opposed.... Went to Pilanies. Had large
attentive audiences at two villages when on the way home.
Paul and I looked for a ford in a dry river. Found we had got
a she black rhinoceros between us and the wagon, which was
only twenty yards off. She had calved during the night - a
little red beast like a dog. She charged the wagon, split a
spoke and a felloe with her horn, and then left. Paul and I
jumped into a rut, as the guns were in the wagon."

The black rhinoceros is one of the most dangerous of the wild beasts of
Africa, and travelers stand in great awe of it. The courage of Dr.
Livingstone in exposing himself to the risk of such animals on this
missionary tour was none the less that he himself says not a word
regarding it; but such courage was constantly shown by him. The
following instances are given on the authority of Dr. Moffat as samples
of what was habitual to Dr. Livingstone in the performance of his duty.

In going through a wood, a party of hunters were startled by the
appearance of a black rhinoceros. The furious beast dashed at the wagon,
and drove his horn into the bowels of the driver, inflicting a frightful
wound. A messenger was despatched in the greatest haste for Dr.
Livingstone, whose house was eight or ten miles distant. The messenger
in his eagerness ran the whole way. Livingstone's friends were
horror-struck at the idea of his riding through the wood at night,
exposed to the rhinoceros and other deadly beasts. "No, no; you must not
think of it, Livingstone; it is certain death." Livingstone believed it
was a Christian duty to try to save the poor fellow's life, and he
resolved to go, happen what might. Mounting his horse, he rode to the
scene of the accident. The man had died, and the wagon had left, so that
there was nothing for Livingstone but to return and run the risk of the
forest anew, without even the hope that he might be useful in
saving life.

Another time, when he and a brother missionary were on a tour a long way
from home, a messenger came to tell his companion that one of his
children was alarmingly ill. It was but natural for him to desire
Livingstone to go back with him. The way lay over a road infested by
lions. Livingstone's life would be in danger; moreover, as we have seen,
he was intensely desirous to examine the fossil bones at the place. But
when his friend expressed the desire for him to go, he went without
hesitation. His firm belief in Providence sustained him in these as in
so many other dangers.

Medical practice was certainly not made easier by what happened to some
of his packages from England. Writing to his father-in-law, Mr. Moffat
(18th January, 1849), he says:

"Most of our boxes which come to us from England are opened,
and usually lightened of their contents. You will perhaps
remember one in which Sechéle's cloak was. It contained, on
leaving Glasgow, besides the articles which came here, a
parcel of surgical instruments which I ordered, and of course
paid for. One of these was a valuable cupping apparatus. The
value at which the instruments were purchased for me was £4,
12s., their real value much more.

"The box which you kindly packed for us and despatched to
Glasgow has, we hear, been gutted by the Custom-House
thieves, and only a very few plain karosses left in it. When
we see a box which has been opened we have not half the
pleasure which we otherwise should in unpacking it.... Can
you give me any information how these annoyances may be
prevented? Or must we submit to it as one of the crooked
things of this life, which Solomon says cannot be made

Not only in these scenes of active missionary labor, but everywhere
else, Livingstone was in the habit of preaching to the natives, and
conversing seriously with them on religion, his favorite topics being
the love of Christ, the Fatherhood of God, the resurrection, and the
last judgment. His preaching to them, in Dr. Moffat's judgment, was
highly effective. It was simple, scriptural, conversational, went
straight to the point, was well fitted to arrest the attention, and
remarkably adapted to the capacity of the people. To his father he
writes (5th July, 1848): "For a long time I felt much depressed after
preaching the unsearchable riches of Christ to apparently insensible
hearts; but now I like to dwell on the love of the great Mediator, for
it always warms my own heart, and I know that the gospel is the power of
God - the great means which He employs for the regeneration of our
ruined world."

In the beginning of 1849 Livingstone made the first of a series of
journeys to the north, in the hope of planting native missionaries among
the people. Not to interrupt the continuous account of these journeys,
we may advert here to a visit paid to him at Kolobeng, on his return
from the first of them, in the end of the year, by Mr. Freeman of the
London Missionary Society, who was at that time visiting the African
stations. Mr. Freeman, to Livingstone's regret, was in favor of keeping
up all Colonial stations, because the London Society alone paid
attention to the black population. He was not much in sympathy with

"Mr. Freeman," he writes confidentially to Mr. Watt, "gave us
no hope to expect any new field to be taken up. 'Expenditure
to be reduced in Africa' was the word, when I proposed the
new region beyond us, and there is nobody willing to go
except Mr. Moffat and myself. Six hundred miles additional
land-carriage, mosquitoes in myriads, sparrows by the
million, an epidemic frequently fatal, don't look well in a
picture. I am 270 miles from Kuruman; land-carriage for all
that we use makes a fearful inroad into the £100 of salary,
and then 600 miles beyond this makes one think unutterable
things, for nobody likes to call for more salary. I think the
Indian salary ought to be given to those who go into the
tropics. I have a very strong desire to go and reduce the new
language to writing, but I cannot perform impossibilities. I
don't think it quite fair for the Churches to expect their
messenger to live, as if he were the Prodigal Son, on the
husks that the swine do eat, but I should be ashamed to say
so to any one but yourself."

"I cannot perform impossibilities," said Livingstone; but few men could
come so near doing it. His activity of mind and body at this outskirt of
civilization was wonderful. A Jack-of-all-trades, he is building houses
and schools, cultivating gardens, scheming in every manner of way how to
get water, which in the remarkable drought of the season becomes scarcer
and scarcer; as a missionary he is holding meetings every other night,
preaching on Sundays, and taking such other opportunities as he can find
to gain the people to Christ; as a medical man he is dealing with the
more difficult cases of disease, those which baffle the native doctors;
as a man of science he is taking observations, collecting specimens,
thinking out geographical, geological, meteorological, and other
problems bearing on the structure and condition of the continent; as a
missionary statesman he is planning how the actual force might be
disposed of to most advantage, and is looking round in this direction
and in that, over hundreds of miles, for openings for native agents; and
to promote these objects he is writing long letters to the Directors, to
the _Missionary Chronicle_ to the _British Banner_, to private friends,
to any one likely to take an interest in his plans.

But this does not exhaust his labors. He is deeply interested in
philological studies, and is writing on the Sichuana language:

"I have been hatching a grammar of the Sichuana language," he
writes to Mr. Watt. "It is different in structure from any
other language, except the ancient Egyptian. Most of the
changes are effected by means of prefixes or affixes, the
radical remaining unchanged. Attempts have been made to form
grammars, but all have gone on the principle of establishing
a resemblance between Sichuana, Latin, and Greek; mine is on
the principle of analysing the language without reference to
any others. Grammatical terms are only used when I cannot
express my meaning in any other way. The analysis renders the
whole language very simple, and I believe the principle
elicited extends to most of the languages between this and
Egypt. I wish to know whether I could get 20 or 30 copies
printed for private distribution at an expense not beyond my
means. It would be a mere tract, and about the size of this
letter when folded, 40 or 50 pages perhaps[28]. Will you
ascertain the cost, and tell me whether, in the event of my
continuing hot on the subject half a year hence, you would be
the corrector of the press?... Will you examine catalogues to
find whether there is any dictionary of ancient Egyptian
within my means, so that I might purchase and compare? I
should not grudge two or three pounds for it. Professor Vater
has written on it, but I do not know what dictionary he
consulted. One Tattam has written a Coptic grammar; perhaps
that has a vocabulary, and might serve my purpose. I see
Tattam advertised by John Russell Smith, 4 Old Compton
Street, Soho, London, - 'Tattam (H.), _Lexicon
Egyptiaco-Latinum e veteribus linguae Egyptiacae monumentis;
_ thick 8vo, bds., 10s., Oxf., 1835.' Will you purchase the
above for me?"

[Footnote 28: This gives a correct idea of the length of many of his

At Mabotsa and Chonuane the Livingstones had spent but a little time;
Kolobeng may be said to have been the only permanent home they ever had.
During these years several of their children were born, and it was the
only considerable period of their lives when both had their children
about them. Looking back afterward on this period, and its manifold
occupations, whilst detained in Manyuema, in the year 1870, Dr.
Livingstone wrote the following striking words:

The heart that felt this one regret in looking back to this busy time
must have been true indeed to the instincts of a parent. But
Livingstone's case was no exception to that mysterious law of our life
in this world, by which, in so many things, we learn how to correct our
errors only after the opportunity is gone. Of all the crooks in his lot,
that which gave him so short an opportunity of securing the affections
and moulding the character of his children seems to have been the
hardest to bear. His long detention at Manyuema appears, as we shall see
hereafter, to have been spent by him in learning more completely the
lesson of submission to the will of God; and the hard trial of
separation from his family, entailing on them what seemed irreparable
loss, was among the last of his sorrows over which he was able to write
the words with which he closes the account of his wife's death in the
_Zambesi and its Tributaries_, - "FIAT, DOMINE, VOLUNTUS TUA!"


KOLOBENG _continued_ - LAKE 'NGAMI.

A.D. 1849-1852.

Kolobeng failing through drought - Sebituane's country and the Lake
'Ngami - Livingstone sets out with Messrs. Oswell and Murray - Rivers
Zouga and Tamanak'le - Old ideas of the interior
revolutionized - Enthusiasm of Livingstone - Discovers Lake
'Ngami - Obliged to return - Prize from Royal Geographical Society - Second
expedition to the lake, with wife and children - Children attacked by
fever - Again obliged to return - Conviction as to healthier spot
beyond - Idea of finding passage to sea either west or east - Birth and
death of a child - Family visits Kuruman - Third expedition, again with
family - He hopes to find a new locality - Perils of the journey - He
reaches Sebituane - The chiefs illness and death - Distress of
Livingstone - Mr. Oswell and he go on the Linyanti - Discovery of the
Upper Zambesi - No locality found for settlement - More extended journey
necessary - He returns - Birth of Oswald Livingstone - Crisis in
Livingstone's life - His guiding principles - New plans - The Makololo
begin to practice slave-trade - New thoughts about commerce - Letters to
Directors - The Bakwains - _Pros_ and _cons_ of his new plan - His unabated
missionary zeal - He goes with his family to the Cape - His
literary activity.

When Sechéle turned back after going so far with Livingstone eastward,
it appeared that his courage had failed him. "Will you go with me
northward?" Livingstone once asked him, and it turned out that he was
desirous to do so. He wished to see Sebituane, a great chief living to
the north of Lake 'Ngami, who had saved his life in his infancy, and
otherwise done him much service. Sebituane was a man of great ability,
who had brought a vast number of tribes into subjection, and now ruled
over a very extensive territory, being one of the greatest magnates of
Africa. Livingstone, too, had naturally a strong desire to become
acquainted with so influential a man. The fact of his living near the
lake revived the project that had slumbered for years in his mind - to be
the first of the missionaries who should look on its waters. At
Kolobeng, too, the settlement was in such straits, owing to the
excessive drought which dried up the very river, that the people would
be compelled to leave it and settle elsewhere. The want of water, and
consequently of food, in the gardens, obliged the men to be absent
collecting locusts, so that there was hardly any one to come either to
church or school. Even the observance of the Sabbath broke down. If
Kolobeng should have to be abandoned, where would Livingstone go next?
It was certainly worth his while to look if a suitable locality could
not be found in Sebituane's territory. He had resolved that he would not
stay with the Bakwains always. If the new region were not suitable for
himself, he might find openings for native teachers; at all events, he
would go northward and see. Just before he started, messengers came to
him from Lechulatebe, chief of the people of the lake, asking him to
visit his country, and giving such an account of the quantity of ivory
that the cupidity of the Bakwain guides was roused, and they became
quite eager to be there.

On 1st June, 1849, Livingstone accordingly set out from Kolobeng.
Sechéle was not of the party, but two English hunting friends
accompanied him, Mr. Oswell and Mr. Murray - Mr. Oswell generously
defraying the cost of the guides. Sekomi, a neighboring chief who
secretly wished the expedition to fail, lest his monopoly of the ivory
should be broken up, remonstrated with them for rushing on to certain
death - they must be killed by the sun and thirst, and if he did not stop
them, people would blame him for the issue. "No fear," said Livingstone,
"people will only blame our own stupidity."

The great Kalahari desert, of which Livingstone has given so full an
account, lay between them and the lake. They passed along its northeast
border, and had traversed about half of the distance, when one day it
seemed most unexpectedly that they had got to their journey's end. Mr.
Oswell was a little in advance, and having cleared an intervening thick
belt of trees, beheld in the soft light of the setting sun what seemed a
magnificent lake twenty miles in circumference; and at the sight threw
his hat in the air, and raised a shout which made the Bakwains think him
mad. He fancied it was 'Ngami, and, indeed, it was a wonderful
deception, caused by a large salt-pan gleaming in the light of the sun;
in fact, the old, but ever new phenomenon of the mirage. The real 'Ngami
was yet 300 miles farther on.

Livingstone has given ample details of his progress in the _Missionary
Travels_, dwelling especially on his joy when he reached the beautiful
river Zouga, whose waters flowed from 'Ngami. Providence frustrated an
attempt to rouse ill-feeling against him on the part of two men who had
been sent by Sekomi, apparently to help him, but who now went before him
and circulated a report that the object of the travelers was to plunder
all the tribes living on the river and the lake. Half-way up, the
principal man was attacked by fever, and died; the natives thought it a
judgment, and seeing through Sekomi's reason for wishing the expedition
not to succeed, they by and by became quite friendly, under
Livingstone's fair and kind treatment.

A matter of great significance in his future history occurred at the
junction of the rivers Tamanak'le and Zouga:

"I inquired," he says, "whence the Tamanak'le came. 'Oh! from
a country full of rivers, - so many, no one can tell their
number, and full of large trees.' This was the first
confirmation of statements I had heard from the Bakwains who
had been with Sebituane, that the country beyond was not the
'large sandy plateau' of the philosophers. The prospect of a
highway, capable of being traversed by boats to an entirely
unexplored and very populous region, grew from that time
forward stronger and stronger in my mind; so much so, that
when we actually came to the lake, this idea occupied such a
large portion of my mental vision, that the actual discovery
seemed of but little importance. I find I wrote, when the
emotions caused by the magnificent prospects of the new
country were first awakened in my breast, that they might
subject me to the charge of enthusiasm, a charge which I
deserved, as nothing good or great had ever been accomplished
in the world without it[29].'"

[Footnote 29: _Missionary Travels_, p. 65.]

Twelve days after, the travelers came to the northeast end of Lake
'Ngami, and it was on 1st August, 1849, that this fine sheet of water
was beheld for the first time by Europeans. It was of such magnitude
that they could not see the farther shore, and they could only guess its
size from the reports of the natives that it took three days to go
round it.

Lechulatebe, the chief who had sent him the invitation, was quite a
young man, and his reception by no means corresponded to what the
invitation implied. He had no idea of Livingstone going on to Sebituane,
who lived two hundred miles farther north, and perhaps supplying him
with fire-arms which would make him a more dangerous neighbor. He
therefore refused Livingstone guides to Sebituane, and sent men to
prevent him from crossing the river. Livingstone was not to be baulked,
and worked many hours in the river trying to make a raft out of some
rotten wood, - at the imminent risk of his life, as he afterward found,
for the Zouga abounds with alligators. The season was now far advanced,
and as Mr. Oswell volunteered to go down to the Cape and bring up a boat
next year, the expedition was abandoned for the time.

Returning home by the Zouga, they had better opportunity to mark the
extraordinary richness of the country, and the abundance and luxuriance
of its products, both animal and vegetable. Elephants existed in crowds,
and ivory was so abundant that a trader was purchasing it at the rate of
ten tusks for a musket worth fifteen shillings. Two years later, after
effect had been given to Livingstone's discovery, the price had risen

Online LibraryWilliam Garden BlaikieThe Personal Life of David Livingstone → online text (page 10 of 45)