CHAPTER XII. LIVINGSTONE'S OWN STORY OF HIS JOURNEYS, HIS TROUBLES, AND DISAPPOINTMENTS.
I respectfully beg to differ with all and each of the above statements. I grant he is not an angel, but he approaches to that being as near as the nature of a living man will allow. I never saw any spleen or misanthropy in him - as for being garrulous, Dr. Livingstone is quite the reverse: he is reserved, if anything; and to the man who says Dr. Livingstone is changed, all I can say is, that he never could have known him, for it is notorious that the Doctor has a fund of quiet humour, which he exhibits at all times whenever he is among friends. I must also beg leave to correct the gentleman who informed me that Livingstone takes no notes or observations. The huge Letts's Diary which I carried home to his daughter is full of notes, and there are no less than a score of sheets within it filled with observations which he took during the last trip he made to Manyuema alone; and in the middle of the book there is sheet after sheet, column after column, carefully written, of figures alone. A large letter which I received from him has been sent to Sir Thomas MacLear, and this contains nothing but observations. During the four months I was with him, I noticed him every evening making most careful notes; and a large tin box that he has with him contains numbers of field note-books, the contents of which I dare say will see the light some time. His maps also evince great care and industry. As to the report of his African marriage, it is unnecessary to say more than that it is untrue, and it is utterly beneath a gentleman to hint at such a thing in connection with the name of David Livingstone.
There is a good-natured abandon about Livingstone which was not lost on me. Whenever he began to laugh, there was a contagion about it, that compelled me to imitate him. It was such a laugh as Herr Teufelsdrockh's - a laugh of the whole man from head to heel. If he told a story, he related it in such a way as to convince one of its truthfulness; his face was so lit up by the sly fun it contained, that I was sure the story was worth relating, and worth listening to.
The wan features which had shocked me at first meeting, the heavy step which told of age and hard travel, the grey beard and bowed shoulders, belied the man. Underneath that well-worn exterior lay an endless fund of high spirits and inexhaustible humour; that rugged frame of his enclosed a young and most exuberant soul. Every day I heard innumerable jokes and pleasant anecdotes; interesting hunting stories, in which his friends Oswell, Webb, Vardon, and Gorden Cumming were almost always the chief actors. I was not sure, at first, but this joviality, humour, and abundant animal spirits were the result of a joyous hysteria; but as I found they continued while I was with him, I am obliged to think them natural.
Another thing which specially attracted my attention was his wonderfully retentive memory. If we remember the many years he has spent in Africa, deprived of books, we may well think it an uncommon memory that can recite whole poems from Byron, Burns, Tennyson, Longfellow, Whittier, and Lowell. The reason of this may be found, perhaps, in the fact, that he has lived all his life almost, we may say, within himself. Zimmerman, a great student of human nature, says on this subject "The unencumbered mind recalls all that it has read, all that pleased the eye, and delighted the ear; and reflecting on every idea which either observation, or experience, or discourse has produced, gains new information by every reflection. The intellect contemplates all the former scenes of life; views by anticipation those that are yet to come; and blends all ideas of past and future in the actual enjoyment of the present moment." He has lived in a world which revolved inwardly, out of which he seldom awoke except to attend to the immediate practical necessities of himself and people; then relapsed again into the same happy inner world, which he must have peopled with his own friends, relations, acquaintances, familiar readings, ideas, and associations; so that wherever he might be, or by whatsoever he was surrounded, his own world always possessed more attractions to his cultured mind than were yielded by external circumstances.
The study of Dr. Livingstone would not be complete if we did not take the religious side of his character into consideration. His religion is not of the theoretical kind, but it is a constant, earnest, sincere practice. It is neither demonstrative nor loud, but manifests itself in a quiet, practical way, and is always at work. It is not aggressive, which sometimes is troublesome, if not impertinent. In him, religion exhibits its loveliest features; it governs his conduct not only towards his servants, but towards the natives, the bigoted Mohammedans, and all who come in contact with him. Without it, Livingstone, with his ardent temperament, his enthusiasm, his high spirit and courage, must have become uncompanionable, and a hard master. Religion has tamed him, and made him a Christian gentleman: the crude and wilful have been refined and subdued; religion has made him the most companionable of men and indulgent of masters - a man whose society is pleasurable.