CHAPTER XII. LIVINGSTONE'S OWN STORY OF HIS JOURNEYS, HIS TROUBLES, AND DISAPPOINTMENTS.
I have often heard our servants discuss our respective merits. "Your master," say my servants to Livingstone's, "is a good man - a very good man; he does not beat you, for he has a kind heart; but ours - oh! he is sharp - hot as fire" - "mkali sana, kana moto." From being hated and thwarted in every possible way by the Arabs and half-castes upon first arrival in Ujiji, he has, through his uniform kindness and mild, pleasant temper, won all hearts. I observed that universal respect was paid to him. Even the Mohammedans never passed his house without calling to pay their compliments, and to say, "The blessing of God rest on you." Each Sunday morning he gathers his little flock around him, and reads prayers and a chapter from the Bible, in a natural, unaffected, and sincere tone; and afterwards delivers a short address in the Kisawahili language, about the subject read to them, which is listened to with interest and attention.
There is another point in Livingstone's character about which readers of his books, and students of his travels, would like to know, and that is his ability to withstand the dreadful climate of Central Africa, and the consistent energy with which he follows up his explorations. His consistent energy is native to him and to his race. He is a very fine example of the perseverance, doggedness, and tenacity which characterise the Anglo-Saxon spirit; but his ability to withstand the climate is due not only to the happy constitution with which he was born, but to the strictly temperate life he has ever led. A drunkard and a man of vicious habits could never have withstood the climate of Central Africa.
The second day after my arrival in Ujiji I asked the Doctor if he did not feel a desire, sometimes, to visit his country, and take a little rest after his six years' explorations; and the answer he gave me fully reveals the man. Said he:
"I should like very much to go home and see my children once again, but I cannot bring my heart to abandon the task I have undertaken, when it is so nearly completed. It only requires six or seven months more to trace the true source that I have discovered with Petherick's branch of the White Nile, or with the Albert N'Yanza of Sir Samuel Baker, which is the lake called by the natives `Chowambe.' Why should I go home before my task is ended, to have to come back again to do what I can very well do now?"
"And why?" I asked, "did you come so far back without finishing the task which you say you have got to do?"
"Simply because I was forced. My men would not budge a step forward. They mutinied, and formed a secret resolution - if I still insisted upon going on - to raise a disturbance in the country, and after they had effected it to abandon me; in which case I should have been killed. It was dangerous to go any further. I had explored six hundred miles of the watershed, had traced all the principal streams which discharge their waters into the central line of drainage, but when about starting to explore the last hundred miles the hearts of my people failed them, and they set about frustrating me in every possible way. Now, having returned seven hundred miles to get a new supply of stores, and another escort, I find myself destitute of even the means to live but for a few weeks, and sick in mind and body."
Here I may pause to ask any brave man how he would have comported himself in such a crisis. Many would have been in exceeding hurry to get home to tell the news of the continued explorations and discoveries, and to relieve the anxiety of the sorrowing family and friends awaiting their return. Enough surely had been accomplished towards the solution of the problem that had exercised the minds of his scientific associates of the Royal Geograpical Society. It was no negative exploration, it was hard, earnest labor of years, self-abnegation, enduring patience, and exalted fortitude, such as ordinary men fail to exhibit.
Suppose Livingstone had hurried to the coast after he had discovered Lake Bangweolo, to tell the news to the geographical world; then had returned to discover Moero, and run away again; then went back once more only to discover Kamolondo, and to race back again. This would not be in accordance with Livingstone's character. He must not only discover the Chambezi, Lake Bangweolo, Luapula River, Lake Moero, Lualaba River, and Lake Kamolondo, but he must still tirelessly urge his steps forward to put the final completion to the grand lacustrine river system. Had he followed the example of ordinary explorers, he would have been running backwards and forwards to tell the news, instead of exploring; and he might have been able to write a volume upon the discovery of each lake, and earn much money thereby. They are no few months' explorations that form the contents of his books. His `Missionary Travels' embraces a period of sixteen years; his book on the Zambezi, five years; and if the great traveller lives to come home, his third book, the grandest of all, must contain the records of eight or nine years.