CHAPTER XII. LIVINGSTONE'S OWN STORY OF HIS JOURNEYS, HIS TROUBLES, AND DISAPPOINTMENTS.
In Livingstone I have seen many amiable traits. His gentleness never forsakes him; his hopefulness never deserts him. No harassing anxieties, distraction of mind, long separation from home and kindred, can make him complain. He thinks "all will come out right at last;" he has such faith in the goodness of Providence. The sport of adverse circumstances, the plaything of the miserable beings sent to him from Zanzibar - he has been baffled and worried, even almost to the grave, yet he will not desert the charge imposed upon him by his friend, Sir Roderick Murchison. To the stern dictates of duty, alone, has he sacrificed his home and ease, the pleasures, refinements, and luxuries of civilized life. His is the Spartan heroism, the inflexibility of the Roman, the enduring resolution of the Anglo-Saxon - never to relinquish his work, though his heart yearns for home; never to surrender his obligations until he can write Finis to his work.
But you may take any point in Dr. Livingstone's character, and analyse it carefully, and I would challenge any man to find a fault in it. He is sensitive, I know; but so is any man of a high mind and generous nature. He is sensitive on the point of being doubted or being criticised. An extreme love of truth is one of his strongest characteristics, which proves him to be a man of strictest principles, and conscientious scruples; being such, he is naturally sensitive, and shrinks from any attacks on the integrity of his observations, and the accuracy of his reports. He is conscious of having laboured in the course of geography and science with zeal and industry, to have been painstaking, and as exact as circumstances would allow. Ordinary critics seldom take into consideration circumstances, but, utterly regardless of the labor expended in obtaining the least amount of geographical information in a new land, environed by inconceivable dangers and difficulties, such as Central Africa presents, they seem to take delight in rending to tatters, and reducing to nil, the fruits of long years of labor, by sharply-pointed shafts of ridicule and sneers.
Livingstone no doubt may be mistaken in some of his conclusions about certain points in the geography of Central Africa, but he is not so dogmatic and positive a man as to refuse conviction. He certainly demands, when arguments in contra are used in opposition to him, higher authority than abstract theory. His whole life is a testimony against its unreliability, and his entire labor of years were in vain if theory can be taken in evidence against personal observation and patient investigation.
The reluctance he manifests to entertain suppositions, possibilities regarding the nature, form, configuration of concrete immutable matter like the earth, arises from the fact, that a man who commits himself to theories about such an untheoretical subject as Central Africa is deterred from bestirring himself to prove them by the test of exploration. His opinion of such a man is, that he unfits himself for his duty, that he is very likely to become a slave to theory - a voluptuous fancy, which would master him.
It is his firm belief, that a man who rests his sole knowledge of the geography of Africa on theory, deserves to be discredited. It has been the fear of being discredited and criticised and so made to appear before the world as a man who spent so many valuable years in Africa for the sake of burdening the geographical mind with theory that has detained him so long in Africa, doing his utmost to test the value of the main theory which clung to him, and would cling to him until he proved or disproved it.
This main theory is his belief that in the broad and mighty Lualaba he has discovered the head waters of the Nile. His grounds for believing this are of such nature and weight as to compel him to despise the warning that years are advancing on him, and his former iron constitution is failing. He believes his speculations on this point will be verified; he believes he is strong enough to pursue his explorations until he can return to his country, with the announcement that the Lualaba is none other than the Nile.
On discovering that the insignificant stream called the Chambezi, which rises between 10 degrees S. and 12 degrees S., flowed westerly, and then northerly through several lakes, now under the names of the Chambezi, then as the Luapula, and then as the Lualaba, and that it still continued its flow towards the north for over 7 degrees, Livingstone became firmly of the opinion that the river whose current he followed was the Egyptian Nile. Failing at lat. 4 degrees S. to pursue his explorations further without additional supplies, he determined to return to Ujiji to obtain them.
And now, having obtained them, he intends to return to the point where he left off work. He means to follow that great river until it is firmly established what name shall eventually be given the noble water-way whose course he has followed through so many sick toilings and difficulties. To all entreaties to come home, to all the glowing temptations which home and innumerable friends offer, he returns the determined answer: -
"No; not until my work is ended."