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CHAPTER VII
When Livingstone arrived in Bombay in September, Sir Bartle Frere was Governor. They were old friends, and the Governor became his very sympathetic host. His immediate purpose was to dispose of the “Lake Nyassa” for what she would fetch. This proved to be £2,600, for a steamer that had cost him £6,000. It was a poor bargain, but he was not in a position to refuse it, and as things turned out he got no good out of it. He deposited the money in an Indian bank which in a few weeks failed miserably, and Livingstone’s money was seen no more. As he cared for money less than any man, he did not allow himself to be unduly depressed by this misfortune. “The whole of the money she cost,” he wrote, “was dedicated to the great cause for which{139} she was built: we are not responsible for results.” His preparations in Bombay for the forthcoming expedition were, for him, quite elaborate; and we may add at once gave little satisfaction in the sequel. There is a training school under Government for Africans at Nassick. Nine of the men volunteered to go with him. Besides these, he was supplied with sepoys from the “Marine Battalion.” He was assured that they had been accustomed to rough it in various ways. In practice they would only march five miles a day, were “notorious skulkers,” and disgusted Livingstone by their cruelty to the brute beasts. It was not long before he dismissed them to their homes. The Nassick “boys” were not much more manageable. The expedition included ten Johanna men who were only a moderate success, two Shupanga men—including Susi—and two Wayaus—including Chumah. Susi and Chumah, it will be remembered, were with him at the last. Chumah was a liberated slave who owed his freedom to Livingstone and Bishop Mackenzie in 1861. The expe{140}dition was further distinguished by a number of animals imported by Livingstone from India: six camels, three buffaloes and a calf, two mules and four donkeys. He was anxious to prove that camels were immune from the bites of the tsetse flies, and he expected to acclimatise the other beasts, and teach some native chief to breed them. The Sultan of Zanzibar was cordial, and armed Livingstone with a letter to be used as a passport. Then he took his leave, and on the 22nd of March he is at the mouth of the Rovuma with all his caravan complete. The navigation of the shallow river proved unexpectedly difficult, and occasioned tedious delay and some anxiety; so at last he sails north again and gets all his animals landed in Mikindany Bay. He is too old a traveller not to realise that his troubles are all in front of him; but he does not anticipate them; and writes in high spirits of the joy of setting out once more into wild and unexplored country.

As David Livingstone is now starting on his last and greatest march, which was to be{141} lengthened out year after year, and to be signalised by unparalleled sufferings and heroic endurance, it will be well to acquaint ourselves with such plans as he had somewhat vaguely laid down. He realised that there are three great main waterways into the African interior: the Congo, the Zambesi, and the Nile. He was satisfied that no future exploration could do other than confirm his conclusions as to the watershed which he had traversed, from which certain rivers flowed north to the Congo, and certain others south to the Zambesi. But from earliest times the scientific imagination had been captured by the problem of the sources of the Nile. This was the greatest of all unsolved geographical problems; and to it Livingstone was attracted irresistibly, not only by his own native curiosity, but by that interest in classical questions which was a very marked characteristic of his mind. To this problem he knew that the system of inland lakes was the clue, and that whoever could completely explore them would settle the question for all time and “make himself{142} an everlasting name.” That he would have numberless opportunities of proclaiming Christ to the scattered peoples of the interior, and would cut across the slave routes and perhaps be able to scheme out how to defeat the devilish purposes of the slavers, were motives with him even more powerful. So he got his caravan under way, marched south to Rovuma, and then south-west across the four hundred miles of country that lay between the coast and Lake Nyassa.

The first stages were made miserable to Livingstone by the brutality of the sepoys to the dumb beasts. They were overloaded and overstrained and cruelly maltreated. Some of them die of sores, which the sepoys insist are caused by tsetse or by accidents. Meanwhile progress is depressingly slow; the district through which the expedition passes is famine-stricken, and food is most difficult to obtain. The sepoys go from bad to worse, and in two months are openly mutinous. They kill one camel, beating it over the head; and set themselves to corrupt{143} the Nassick boys so as to tire Livingstone out. For weeks together it is nothing but one endless struggle on the part of the leader against this conspiracy to defeat his plans. Sometimes he tries the offer of increased wages; sometimes the threat of corporal punishment, but the indolence, cruelty, and illwill of the sepoys threaten the success of the expedition, and the spirit of disaffection spreads to the Nassick boys.

It is the 19th of June: “We passed a woman tied by the neck to a tree and dead. The people of the country explained that she had been unable to keep up with the other slaves in a gang.... I may mention here that we saw others tied up in a similar manner, and one lying in the path, shot or stabbed, for she was in a pool of blood.” They were on the red trail now, and Livingstone’s feet never left it till death brought him release.

On the 27th of June they found “a number of slaves with slave-sticks on, abandoned by their masters from want of food; they were too weak to be able to{144} speak or to say where they had come from; some were quite young.”

The middle of July found them in Mataka’s country, with whom Livingstone made fast friends. The town lay in an elevated valley surrounded by mountains; and food was plentiful, so that they were able to make up for many privations. It was here that Livingstone resolved to send the sepoys back. They had become quite intolerable—shirking work, stealing, and infecting all the company with their ill-nature. One of the incidents that most pleased Livingstone during his stay with Mataka was the release by the chief of a large company of slaves. The expedition left for Lake Nyassa on July 28th. It was mountainous travelling now, but the country between them and the lake was under Mataka, and his guides were sworn to take them safely. Progress was still slow, though decidedly more pleasant in the absence of the sepoys. Sometimes they came on Arab encampments, where the slaves were herded in great pens—from 300 to 800 form a gang, according to Livingston{145}e’s estimate. As they drew near the lake, food was plentiful and game abundant. On August 8th, “we came to the lake at the confluence of the Misinjé, and felt grateful to that Hand which had protected us thus far on our journey. It was as if I had come back to an old home I never expected again to see; and pleasant to bathe in the delicious waters again, hear the roar of the sea, and dash in the rollers ... I feel quite exhilarated.” It had taken four months to reach Lake Nyassa from the coast.

Livingstone’s plan had been to cross the lake by means of Arab dhows, and resume explorations on the west side. But the Arabs fled from him as from the plague, and took every care that no dhows were at his disposal; so he was driven to march round to the foot of the lake, where he was again on familiar ground, and utters anew his lamentations over the untimely end of the Universities’ Mission, which he had always seen in his mind’s eye standing sentinel over this great inland sea, and holding the country for Christ and freedom.{146}

The end of September finds the expedition on the Shiré; and now rumour reaches them of wars and troubles ahead, which causes the Johanna men to desert in a body, and Livingstone does not indulge in many regrets. They were “inveterate thieves;” but he is left with a party inconveniently small. The sequel to this treachery on the part of the Johanna men was that, to justify themselves, they invented and circulated a most plausible and circumstantial story of Livingstone’s murder—a story which imposed upon many of his friends and produced a crop of laudatory obituary notices in the papers. The story was as thoroughly disbelieved by Livingstone’s old friend, Mr. E. D. Young, who well knew how the leader of these men could lie. Mr. Young came out to Africa at once, bringing with him a steel boat, the “Search,” which, by the aid of some Makololo men, was successfully transported to Lake Nyassa and floated there. Mr. Young effectually disproved the Johanna legend, and in eight months was back{147} again in England, having discovered that Livingstone had passed safely on toward the north-west.

The depleted expedition found itself now in very mountainous regions, and enjoyed the noble prospects afforded from many of the high plateaux which they reached. Their faces were to the north, towards the Loangwa River and the distant Lake Tanganyika. No opportunity is lost by the way of preaching to all the tribes “our relationship to our Father; His love for all His children; the guilt of selling any of His children—the consequence: e.g., it begets war, for they don’t like to sell their own, and steal from other villages, who retaliate.” Going west from the lake they followed a very zigzag course, crossing many rivers which flow into the Lintipé, which is one of the main supplies of Lake Nyassa. They kept to the north of the fine Zalanyama range, and pushed on in a north-westerly direction. All the while a state of fear existed in regard to the dreaded Mazitu, who were reported to be{148} making forays, and whom Livingstone compared to the Highland Celts in the twelfth century in the Border country. By the middle of December they had reached the Loangwa, and crossed it in search of food. Christmas Day was spent wretchedly, the goats having been stolen, and Livingstone’s favourite milk-diet being at an end. A ridge of mountain country has to be crossed, after which they are compelled to bear to the east in search of food, which has become very scarce again, and all the party are suffering. The last day of 1866 is sacred to some new resolutions: “Will try to do better in 1867, and be better—more gentle and loving; and may the Almighty, to Whom I commit my way, bring my desires to pass and prosper me. Let all the sin of ’66 be blotted out for Jesus’ sake.”

January 1st, 1867.—“May He who was full of grace and truth impress His character on mine. Grace—eagerness to show favour; truth—truthfulness, sincerity, honour—for His mercy’s sake.{149}”

The year opens with “a set-in rain.” He records that he feels always hungry, and is constantly dreaming of better food when he should be sleeping. On the 10th he takes his belt up three holes to relieve hunger. On the 15th he suffers the loss of his “poor little dog, Chitané,” to which he was greatly attached. Everywhere it is famine, and famine prices for wretched food. They boil grain and pretend it is coffee. The ground is all sloppy—feet constantly wet. The natives are living on mushrooms and leaves. Then comes the crowning disaster. Two men who had joined the expedition deserted, and absconded with the medicine chest. It was in the midst of the forest and there was not the shadow of a chance of recovering it. There is little doubt that the lack of any proper medicines to counteract the fever poison was a main contributory cause to Livingstone’s serious loss of health. “I felt as if I had now received sentence of death, like poor Bishop Mackenzie,” he writes. Yet even in the hour of despair he searches for some support for optimism, and the Pro{150}vidential order which he knows to exist. “This may turn out for the best by taking away a source of suspicion among more superstitious, charm-dreading people further north.” On January 23rd he remarks that “an incessant hunger teases us ... real, lasting hunger and faintness.” Yet next day it was a case of “four hours through unbroken, dark forest.” But they have reached the Chambezé now, lean and starved and desperate, and there is prospect of food on the other side. They found the food a little later, but “in changing my dress this morning I was frightened at my own emaciation.”

The expedition made a lengthy stay with the chief, Chitapangwa, who on the whole treated them well, and sent men to set them on their way to Lake Tanganyika. The same steady tramp, tramp continues. Always we seem to hear what Dr. Isaac Taylor described as “the forward tread ... which means getting there”; but it is terrible work. He has had rheumatic fever again; and no medicine! On March 10th he writes: “I {151}have been ill of fever ... every step I take jars in the chest, and I am very weak; I can scarcely keep in the march though formerly I was always first.... I have a constant singing in the ears, and can scarcely hear the loud tick of the chronometers.” Still he will go on with the rest; and at last, on the first day of April, they are at Tanganyika, or, as it is called at the southern end, Lake Liemba. It has been good marching under the most trying conditions. The veteran traveller has gone from the south of Lake Nyassa to the south of Lake Tanganyika in six months. Ill as he is, he is deeply impressed by the loveliness of the scenery. Mountains running up to 2,000 feet surround the southern portion, “and there, embosomed in tree-covered rocks, reposes the lake peacefully in the huge cup-shaped cavity.” Again he writes: “It lies in a deep basin whose sides are nearly perpendicular, but covered well with trees: the rocks which appear are bright red argillaceous schist: the trees at present all green: down some of these rocks come beautiful cascades, and buffaloes, elephants, and antelopes wander and graze on{152} the more level spots.” It is an enchanted country; but the getting there has, in the absence of medicines, nearly killed him. “I feel deeply thankful at having got so far. I am excessively weak and cannot walk without tottering, and have constant singing in the head. But the Highest will lead me further.” After a few days spent at the lake, Livingstone’s illness assumes a most alarming form. He has “a fit of insensibility,” finds himself “floundering outside the hut and unable to get in,” and finally falls back heavily on his head. The boys carried him in, but hours passed before he could recognise where he was.

He is a little better a fortnight later, and anxious to move on. But whither? He had intended to follow the lake to the north-west; but the road seems barred by the Mazitu, who are out for plunder. He has heard of Lake Moero, which lies to the west some two hundred, or two hundred and fifty miles. Is it not possible that this lake may be the common source of the Congo and the Nile? The geographical problem is{153} most persistent, and he cannot be satisfied to leave Lake Moero unexplored. On the first day’s march he has another fit of insensibility, but this does not constitute an argument for delay. He reached the village of a chief Chitimba, only to find that the country between him and Lake Moero is the scene of a small war, which would involve “a long détour round the disturbed district.” He decides to wait events, which turns out to be a tedious business; but the Arabs are kind to him, and the enforced leisure is probably beneficial. His diary is full of descriptions of the cruelties inflicted by the slave-trade. In all, he was detained at Chitimba’s village nearly three months and a half. In his onward march he visits the famous Nsama, with whom the war has been waged, and is again laid up with illness in that neighbourhood. After this, he crosses the Chisera and the Choma, and then ascends the high lands between the rivers and the northern part of the lake. It is exhilarating travelling here, for Livingstone is always pleasantly excited by beautiful and hilly{154} scenery which brings back memories of Scotland. But, alas! “the long line of slaves and carriers” is a frequent incident in the march. On the 8th of November, he reaches Lake Moero, “which seems of goodly size, and is flanked by ranges of mountains on the east and west.” There he sleeps in a fisherman’s hut, for the lake abounds in fish, the fishermen enumerating thirty-nine varieties. The end of November finds him at the town of Casembe, where he meets an Arab trader, Mohamad Bogharib, “with an immense number of slaves,” who gives him a meal—the first honey and sugar he had tasted for fourteen months—and is useful to him in many ways. The chief also is civil to Livingstone; but has been guilty of hateful barbarities, as the mutilated arms and ears of many of his people bear witness. Livingstone looks with disgust on the executioner who carries sword and scissors for his horrible work. The people generally are more savage than any he has seen.

The results of extended explorations of Lake Moero, lasting for some months, are set{155} forth in a despatch to Lord Clarendon, dated the 10th of December, 1867. From this despatch we can see that Livingstone had been misled by a similarity of name to imagine that Lake Bemba, of which he had heard years before, was the same as Lake Liemba. He now knows that Lake Liemba is only the southern portion of Lake Tanganyika; and that Lake Bemba is the lake otherwise called Lake Bangweolo; and that on his northern travels from Lake Nyassa, when he crossed the River Chambezé, he had been less than a hundred miles from this latter lake, and might have saved himself many a hundred miles of trudging had he explored it first of all. He had discovered also, that a great river, the Luapula, flows from Lake Bangweolo into the south of Lake Moero, and that at the north the waters flow out in what is called the River Lualaba. He is uncertain in his own mind what this great river Lualaba is, and whither it goes. It may be the Nile; it seems more probable that it is the Congo. It may flow into the northern portion of Lake Tan{156}ganyika, or it may flow away to the north-west. Livingstone is assured by the natives that Lake Bangweolo is only ten days distant. But he adds, “I am so tired of exploration without a word from home or anywhere else for two years, that I must go to Ujiji on Tanganyika for letters before doing anything else. Besides, there is another reason—I have no medicine.” He is satirical on the subject of the published maps, one of which tacks on 200 miles to Lake Nyassa, and another makes a river—“the new Zambesi”—flow 4,000 feet up hill! “I have walked over both these mental abortions and did not know that I was walking on water till I saw them in the maps.”

The year 1868 finds him still interested in Lake Moero. His New Year’s prayer is: “If I am to die this year, prepare me for it.”

It was towards the end of March that the idea of going south and exploring Lake Bangweolo took hold on him. His reason was that at least two more months must be passed at Lake Moero before a passage could{157} be made to Ujiji. There were many difficulties in the way, notably that his stores were nearly done and he could not give presents to chiefs on the way. What was more serious was that those on whose help he counted were in open revolt against his plan. Mohamad Bogharib, who intended to accompany him to Ujiji, was incensed at Livingstone for making a proposal so mad; and the latter expresses the fear that he must give up Lake Bangweolo for the present. Next day, however, he is bent on going, but his own carriers have been corrupted by the Arabs, and refuse to accompany him. Only five of his men remain loyal; but Livingstone’s blood is up now, and he starts out at the head of this meagre escort to find Lake Bemba or Bangweolo. “I did not blame them very severely in my own mind for absconding,” he writes; “they were tired of tramping, and so verily am I.” They might well resent Livingstone’s decision, for at the time it was taken they were at the north end of Lake Moero, where Livingstone had gone to look at Lualaba, examine the country,{158} and draw his conclusions as to whether this great river was the Congo or the Nile. The way to Tanganyika and Ujiji was now open, and this sudden turn south was almost more than flesh and blood could stand. However, the leader was obdurate, and early in May, with his faithful few, he is back at Casembe’s, to the south of Moero, with his mind fully made up for Bangweolo. Again there were tedious delays, and it is the second week in June before he is definitely off for the south. A month’s travelling brings him to Lake Bangweolo. A Babisa traveller asked him why he had come so far, and he answered that he wished to make the country and people better known to the rest of the world; that we were all children of one Father, and that he was anxious that we should know each other better, and that friendly visits should be made in safety. He began exploring the islands of the lake. It was bitterly cold on one of them, and the shed where he slept was decidedly airy, but he tells us that he was soon asleep and dreamed that he had apartments in Mivart’s Hotel!{159} At the end of July he started back, and at Kizinga he deviated from his former route and struck out to the north for the Kalongosi River. All goes well, and by the first of November be is back again at the north of Moero, preparing to march to Ujiji, and intently preoccupied with the problem of the Nile. The men who had deserted him when he went south are now pleading to be taken back. He reflects that “more enlightened people often take advantage of men in similar circumstances,” and adds characteristically, “I have faults myself.” So all the runaways are reinstated.

The expedition would have got away now without further delay but that the slave raids of Mohamad Bogharib’s men roused the countryside against him, and Livingstone found himself at the very centre of a small war, and literally in the zone of fire. Stockades were hastily erected, and the perpetrators of the outrage had to stand a siege. Horrible scenes were witnessed, and Livingstone comments on the miseries which this devilish traffic entails. The country is now very{160} disturbed and unsafe, and it is not till December 11th that a start can be made. Mr. Waller describes the “motley group” that now set out for Tanganyika: “Mohamad and his friends, a gang of Unyamwezi hangers-on, and strings of wretched slaves yolked together in their heavy slave-sticks. Some carry ivory, others copper or food for the march, whilst hope, and fear, misery and villainy may be read off the various faces.” Livingstone is now an actual eye-witness of a slave march. The slaves constantly escape. Sickness and accidents pursue the miserable cavalcade, and make progress slow. Food for so many mouths is difficult to obtain. Christmas Day passes in a land of scarcity. The weather is very damp and cheerless; and on New Year’s Day Livingstone, as he says, got wet through once too often. Yet he is so anxious to be on the far side of the Lofuko that he wades through, though it is waist deep and very cold. This is the last straw. He breaks down utterly, is “very ill all over; cannot walk; pneumonia of right lung, and I cough all day and all night; sputa rust of iron, and bloody; distressing weakness.” He chronicles the illusions that come and go; sees himself lying dead on the way to Ujiji, and all the letters waiting for him useless. It seems as if he is near the end. Mohamad Bogharib constructs a kind of litter for the helpless veteran, and in this litter he is carried forward four hours a day. It is the best that can be done; but Livingstone tells of the pain he endured as he was jolted along, sometimes through steep ravines and sometimes over volcanic tufa, the feet of the carriers being at times hurt with thorns, and the sun beating down on Livingstone’s face and head, which in his weakness he could not even shelter with a bunch of leaves. For six endless weeks the sufferer was borne onward thus, and on February 14th all that is left of him is deposited on the shore of Lake Tanganyika, and canoes are sought to transport the party up the lake to Ujiji. It was stormy weather on the lake, and the canoes had to creep along the western shore from village to village—“Patience was never needed more than now,{163}” writes the sick man in his extremity—then across the lake to the east, and at last, March 14th, the heroic traveller reaches his goal, and does actually stand for the first time in the streets of Ujiji. He had fixed so many hopes on this Arab settlement, and had lived for so long on the anticipation of letters and journals, stores and medicines, that the disappointment awaiting him was heartrending. He had reached a den of thieves, the vilest he had ever known. His stores were plundered—only eighteen pieces of cloth out of eighty remained, and what was harder to bear, only one old letter out of all that had been sent to him. As for the medicines, he is told they are at Unyanyembe, thirteen days to the east. He knew quite well that there was a conspiracy to thwart him, and if possible to drive him out of the country or compass his death. He was fighting the slave trade single-handed, and was ringed around by cruel and unscrupulous enemies, whose dark deeds had only him to fear. He is almost beaten in the unequal strife; almost, but never quite. No man was ever yet quite beaten who is as{164} sure of Christ as he was. He has one thing to rely on, as he said before—“the word of a Gentleman of the strictest honour”—and it is enough. So he will remain and outwit the slave-traders if he can. And yet it is a misnomer to call it a “trade”; “it is not a trade, but a system of consecutive murders.”

He did not know, though he suspected, how helpless he was in the hands of the Arabs. His bitter cry could not reach England. Forty letters he wrote, and paid handsomely for their delivery, but the Arabs took care they should never reach the coast. He was literally “cut off” in the interior. He heard nothing from Europe, and Europe heard nothing of him. A few weeks at Ujiji were enough. Then, all unfit as he was, he starts out again for the country in the north-west, the land of the Manyuema, and the great river Lualaba, the direction of which it is his main purpose now to determine. He still believes it is the Nile.


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