David Livingstone (1813-1873)

An autograph letter signed ("David Livingstone"), to "My Dear Sir" [the master of the Ragged School, Stockport], thanking him for the message from his boys.

Date: 1857

4 pages, 4to, Mission House, Blomfield Street, London, 23 January 1857.

Livingstone writes thanking the master for the message from his boys "who so generously expressed their approbation of my labours in Africa" and assuring him that "that nothing has delighted me more since my return to England than their honest spontaneous deed"; he gives them his warmest thanks "from a heart overflowing with emotion and wishing that God may abundantly bless them with his favour and love". Livingstone continues his letter: "I have very little time to write to any one as I am engaged in the preparation of a narrative of my late explorations and must keep my word with one hundred and ten poor naked Africans who accompanied me from the centre of the country to the East coast and now await the fulfillment of my promise at Tete. I ought to be back to them in April but fear after all I can do I must be about 2 months later than my appointed time in April. Were it not for this I should try and visit the boys and speak with them". He concludes by commending his boys to "the care of our Blessed Lord Jesus" and by asking them "to try him as their friend and guide through life they may make him their confidant for he listens to every prayer wafted up to him from the lowliest bosom", for "In Him we live and move and have our being and he is as tender and compassionate to everyone of them and knows all their cases and cares as if they were the only persons in the world"; concluding with a paraphrase of Coleridge's prayer: "He prayeth best who loveth best all things both great & small for the dear Lord to whom we pray he made and loveth all"; inscribed at the head in another hand "Dr D Livingstone". The promise he refers to in this letter was one made to his Makololo followers upon leaving them behind at Tete in April 1856 that he would return a year later and lead them back to their own country; a timetable he still thought possible when he set down to write the book in late January. In the event it took him six months to write – in itself a remarkable achievement for a book of some 300,000 words – and came out that November.

Weak at folds, dust-staining especially on last page.



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