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David Livingstone, missionary and traveller, was born at Blantyre, in Lanarkshire, March 19, 1813. His parents, who were in humble life, were of devout and exemplary character; his father in particular being a great reader, especially of travels and missionary intelligence, and much interested in the enterprise of the nineteenth century. At the age of ten David became a worker in a cotton-factory at Blantyre, and continued in that laborious occupation for fourteen years. His thirst for knowledge led him to read all that he could lay his hands on; he used also to attend a night-class, after the long hours of the factory, for the study of Latin. The reading of Dick's "Philosophy of a Future State" was not only the means of a profound impression on his mind, but kindled the desire to devote his life as a missionary to the service of Christ.
At home Livingstone had two objects--to expose the atrocious deeds of the Portuguese slave-traders, and to find means of establishing a settlement for missions and commerce somewhere near the head of the Rovuma, or wherever a suitable locality could be found. His second book, "The Zambesi and its Tributaries" (1865), was designed to further these objects. He was again received with every demonstration of honor and regard. A proposal was made to him, on the part of the Royal Geographical Society, to return to Africa and settle a disputed question regarding the water-shed of Central Africa and the sources of the Nile. He said he would go only as a missionary, but was willing to help to solve the geographical problem.
He set out in August, 1865, via Bombay and Zanzibar. On March 19, 1866, he started from the latter place, first of all trying to find a suitable settlement, then striking westward in order to solve the geographical problem. Through the ill-behavior of some of his attendants a report of his death was circulated, but an expedition, headed by Mr. E. D. Young, R. N., ascertained that the report was false. Livingstone pressed westward amid innumerable hardships, and in 1869 discovered Lakes Meoro and Bangweolo. All the while he was doing what he could for the religious enlightenment of the natives. Obliged to return for rest to Ujiji, where he found his goods squandered, he struck westward again as far as the river Lualaba, thinking it might possibly be the Nile, but far from certain that it was not, what it proved afterward to be, the Congo. Returning after severe illness once more to Ujiji, Livingstone found there, Mr. H. M. Stanley, who had been sent to look for him by the proprietor of the New York Herald. But no consideration would induce him to return home till he had made one more effort to solve the geographical problem.
He returned to Lake Bangweolo, but fell into wretched health. His sufferings always increasing, when he reached Chitambo's village in Ilala, he was obliged to give in. On the morning of May 1, 1873, he was found by his attendants on his knees, dead. His faithful people embalmed his body as best they could, carried it amid the greatest perils to the shore, where it was put on board a British cruiser, and on April 18, 1874, it was buried in Westminster Abbey.
Among the remains brought home were his "Last Journals," brought down to within a few days of his death; these were published in 1874. Stanley suggested the name of Livingstone for the main stream of the Congo (hence the Baptist Mission on the Lower Congo was called the "Livingstone Inland Mission"), and Mr. H. H. Johnston proposed that part of the East African territory acquired by Britain in 1890--the lower drainage area of the Zambesi--should be called Livingstone Land.
The following letter, written by him to his children in 1853, during his first exploring tour, gives the character of the man, and shows his deep religious feeling:
"Sekeletu'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 Scipone, 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, 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 care 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 chains for 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."
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