Ultima Thule

In ancient times the northernmost region of the habitable world - hence, any distant, unknown or mysterious land.

Friday, November 10, 2006

"Doctor Livingstone, I presume?"

By Aussiegirl

Here is today's Fact of the Day column from Scotsman.com:
On this day in 1871 journalist Henry M Stanley found David Livingstone and said the famous line "Doctor Livingstone, I presume?". The missing missionary was born in Blantyre, Lanarkshire, and was famously the first European to discover the Zambezi River and the Victoria Falls in 1855.

What follows is the brief biography of Livingstone that Scotsman.com also published:

Scotsman.com Heritage & Culture - Great Scots - A to Z - Doctor David Livingstone

DAVID Livingstone, missionary and explorer, was born one of seven children in Blantyre, Lanarkshire, on 19 March 1813. He went on to become the man responsible for unlocking the secrets of 19th century erstwhile unexplored Africa.

Sent to work in a cotton mill at the age of ten, Livingstone used his first wages to purchase a book of Latin grammar. This attitude towards learning was to shape and influence the life of the young man, and coupled with a strict Calvinistic upbringing led to a life in the church. He joined a strict independent Christian congregation and answered an appeal for qualified medical missionaries to explore China.

Armed with recently acquired knowledge of Greek, theology and medicine that he had acquired in two years studying at Glasgow University, Livingstone was accepted by the London Missionary Society, where he was convinced by Robert Moffat that Africa, and not China, was his calling. He was ordained as a minister in 1840, and was posted to his first position in Cape Town in 1841.

He spent the next 15 years in southern Africa, building his reputation as a man of honour and action, cementing relations with local people and councils, and pursuing with zeal his vocation as a missionary. He also developed an interest in the lesser-explored parts of southern Africa, and a dislike for the Boers and the Portuguese settlers whom he saw as exploiting the natives and treating the Africans with little respect. He was a fervent campaigner for anti-slavery and African rights.

By forming a good rapport with the native tribesman, and by learning their language and cultures, Livingstone managed to explore further into central Africa than any European had ever ventured. Early in his travels he had been attacked by a lion which had left him without the use of most of his left arm. This did not stop the determined and trepidatious explorer, who by this time had been awarded a gold medal by the Royal Geographic Society for the discovery of Lake Ngami in 1849. Livingstone made his most famous discovery of the Zambezi River and the Victoria Falls in 1855.

After having returned home a national hero in 1856, Livingstone set out to find the source of the Nile. In 1867 he discovered Lake Mweru and Lake Bangweule. He found the Lualaba River, which flows into the Congo River, which was further west than any European had traveled through Africa.

But his life of exploration had taken its toll, and when Henry M Stanley met up with Livingstone in 1871, the doctor's health was failing fast. Refusing to travel back to England with Stanley, Livingstone pushed on south to find the source of the Nile, but he was denied his ultimate goal. In May 1873, Livingstone's servants found him dead, slumped as if in prayer at his bedside. His body was taken back to Britain a year later, where was laid to a hero's rest in Westminster Abbey.


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