3 June 2009
LIVINGSTONE, David (1813-1873). Autograph letter signed (twice, 'David Livingstone' and 'D. Livingstone') to an unidentified correspondent [the Prime Minister, Henry Temple, 3rd Viscount Palmerston], River Shire [i.e. Zambesi], 12 November 1861, 12 pages, 4to, on blue paper.
A REPORT FROM THE ZAMBESI EXPEDITION OF 1858-1864. 'We have just returned from the exploration of Lake Nyassa [i.e. Lake Malawi] in a boat which we carried past about 35 miles of the cataracts'; Livingstone describes the dimensions of the lake, its surrounding populations and the activities of an Arab slaving dhow; the dangers of the journey included a robbery and an overland exploration which almost resulted in the starvation of the party when they lost touch with the boat. The letter continues with vehement criticisms of the Portuguese, whose conduct, in particular their pursuit of slaving, 'has a more depressing influence than scorching suns, long marches, hunger or thirst -- or Fever'. He describes his association with the newly-established British mission, to whose flock he has been adding some freed slaves, and relates in particular one incident in which 'some foolish Manganja called out that one of their great sorcerers had come and deprived us of the protection of our English name. We were at once surrounded -- and showers of poisoned arrows shot at us'. Having sent compliments to Lady Palmerston, Livingstone curiously refers to the unattractiveness of local women: 'the ladies on the Lake were unusually plain. The lips which in all conscience are big enough naturally are enlarged by the insertion of quartz stones till "hideous" becomes a mild term for their appearance. We may have appeared ugly to them'. A postscript recommends the potential of the cotton trade on the Zambesi, and urges its immediate exploitation.
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