of James Stewart
The Founder of Livingstonia, 1874 - 1875
A First LoveThe Burial of
LivingstoneA New Word The First Mission PartyThe Murchison RapidsThe
llalaA Worlds Wonder.
[The best books
to be consulted on this subject, in addition to those of Dr. Stewart, are:
Daybreak in Livingstonia, by the Rev. J. W.
Jack, M.A., and Nyasa, a Journal of Adventures, by E. D. Young,
Low tide is not the best time to
launch the ship. Some influences, as little capable of analysis as an
instinct, seemed to draw or push me on..
Dr. James Stewart.
"The dawn does not come
twice to awaken a man. African Proverb. I can because I ought.
Words carved by Caspari upon his desk.
biography now brings us to a landmark in the
history at once of missionary enterprise and of imperial expansion. After
eight years of unbroken service, he came home, not on furlough, but in
order to raise £10,000 for the enlargement of the buildings at Lovedale,
and also to secure £1500 for the
mission at Blythswood, as he had promised to the Fingoes to raise pound
for pound with them.
A mission in Central Africa was, as
he used to say, his first love, and during his seven years in Lovedale,
he had ardently cherished the hope of planting it. But the founding of
Livingstonia was no part of his programme when he returned to Scotland.
Two months after his arrival he wrote:
When I came home, I had no more
intention of proposing this scheme (Livingstonia) than of proposing a
mission to the North Pole. It seemed, however, to be thrust upon me,
almost to be waiting for me. I feel in one way more at rest and more quiet
since I have taken up this burden.
On April i8, 1874, he took part in
the burial of Livingstones body in Westminster Abbey. At that funeral,
he wrote, four of us met who, thirteen years before, met similarly and
followed Livingstone in sympathetic and respectful silence to the grave of
his wife under the large baobab tree on the Zambesi. These four were Sir
John Kirk, the Rev. Horace Wailer, Mr. E. D. Young, and myself.
Few events in the nineteenth century
have so deeply moved the heart of our nation as the death and burial of
Livingstone. To him we can apply the historians words about Caesar slain
Never was he more alive, more powerful, and also the words of the poet
concerning the hero of Chevy Chase The Douglas dead, his name hath won
the field. The wonderful interest created by his Missionary Travels
had died down in the interval, but it was rekindled by his death.
The man and the hour had come.
Stewart was a true Elisha on whom the inspiring mantle of Elijah had
fallen, and he went straight from that grave to take up his masters work.
He caught, and responded to, the wink of opportunity: the tide was
rising fast, and he must at once launch his long-considered and
Some were proposing to erect a
monument to Livingstone in Westminster Abbey. but he felt that the right
place for it was Nyasaland. Why should not Scotland at once raise such a
memorial to her hero? We must give his own words. In Livingstonia: its
Origin (pp. 45, 46), he says: On my return to Scotland from that
funeral I consulted with some friends as to whether the time had not now
arrived to again take up the idea of the projected mission. The subject
was carefully considered through an entire summer night, and only when
daylight was beginning to appear was the matter finally concluded. But the
resolve was made to reopen the question of the South African Mission, and
give it the name of LIVINGSTONIA. This was in Shieldhall, an old
country-house near Glasgow, then the residence of my brother-in-law, Mr.
John Stephen. The mission would thus be a memorial of Livingstone, and the
one of all others which I knew very well he would have himself preferred.
In the following May Stewart made
his proposal to the General Assembly of his Church. It was after 10 P.M.
when he began to speak, and the crowd had dwindled down. But he had among
his hearers some who were able and willing to help. He threw aside his
prepared speech and spoke with great effect. He closed with these
memorable words: I would humbly suggest, as the truest memorial of
Livingstone, the establishment by this Church, or several Churches
together, of an institution at once industrial and educational, to teach
the truths of the Gospel and the arts of civilised life to the natives of
the country, and which shall be placed in a carefully selected and
commanding spot in Central Africa, where from its position and
capabilities it might grow into a town, and afterwards into a city, and
become a great centre of commerce, civilisation, and Christianity. And
this I would call Livingstonia.' [This
speech secured the valuable services of Dr. Laws. When he read the report
of it in the newspapers, he said: There is the very thing I have been
preparing for all my life. When Stewart first met him, he said to
himself, There is the man for us.]
Describing this speech in a letter
to Mrs. Stewart, he wrote: I said, I am not volunteering for this
service. If some of my friends I now see were to hear me doing so, they
would pull my coat-tails and say: "Remember the little woman at Lovedale."
Ah, I did remember her, and the little ones playing about the door, or
crawling over the floor.
Blessed are the bonds of flesh and
blood! But I would say this for the little woman or little lady at
Lovedale, I never yet found her shrink from duty.
I am not committed. But if by
a few words I can raise a great result, I should be a coward if I did not
say them. If it is not Gods time and work, it will perish. But if it were
to take place, it would lift Lovedale up to a position that has never yet
been dreamt of, and would give it a new importance as a base of
operations. Lovedale will always be our headquarters and our home. Nothing
will be done for worldly fame or honour or name. Ambition of that sort in
me is nearly dead. For the sake of Him who loved us and died for us, for
His sake only and for the furtherance of His kingdom, would I say a word
on this subject.
The name Livingstonia was then
used for the first time in public. He pled that a combined mission should
be begun at once on the same lines as Lovedale. The next day Mr. James
Stevenson of Glasgow promised £1000 for the new mission, and in a day or
two he secured another £1000 from Dr. Young, the lifelong friend of
Livingstone, who used to call him Sir Paraffin Young. The desired sum of
£10,000 was soon secured, and ere long it grew into £20,000. The first
promoters of the mission were Mr. James Stevenson, Mr. J. Campbell White
(afterwards Lord Overtoun), Mr. John Stephen, and the Rev. (now Dr.)
Robert Howie, whose aid in collecting the money Stewart acknowledged in
the warmest terms, describing him as probably the greatest and most
successful raiser of money in Glasgow, if not in Scotland.
The Church had never had a mission
like this before, and Stewart had to do nearly all the preliminary work
Faraday loved to show that water in
crystallising excludes all foreign ingredients, however intimately they
might be mixed with it. Out of acids, alkalis, or saline solutions, the
crystal comes sweet and pure. The founder of Livingstonia had many trying
experiences. But it is fitting that, in harmony with the gentle processes
of nature, they should be excluded from his biography, so that the
purified product alone may remain to refresh and inspire.
When I was with Stewart at Lovedale,
shortly before his death, he vividly recalled an incident of these days
which had given him much pleasure. One day he had met me in the street.
Oh, he said, I was coming to see you. Well soon get the money for
Livingstonia, if we could tell our friends that we had got the right man.
If you will come and conduct a service for me, I said, youll get the
right man at the close. He came, and was introduced to Dr. William Black.
I remember it all, he said, as if it had been yesterday. I asked him if
he were willing to go to Livingstonia. He walked up and down the vestry
with his eyes fixed on the carpet. Then he came in front of me, drew
himself up and said, "Yes, with the help of God, I will."
Dr. Black was one of those who were
baptized for the dead. In the early Church the phrase was understood to
mean one who by baptism or a solemn dedication took the place of another
who had died. The death of Dr. Livingstone created in Dr. Black a desire
to serve Christ in Central Africa. He was chosen as the first medical
missionary for Livingstonia, though Dr. Laws was the first to reach the
field. He was a man of great promise, but he died seven months after his
arrival. His is the first European grave on the shores of Lake Nyasa. It
may remind us of the bones of Joseph which were carried out of the land of
Egypt and buried at Sychar, as a token of his faith that the land would be
given to his seed. The tombs of missionaries are the stepping-stones over
which the Gospel has made progress in Africa, and also the title-deeds of
the Church. Of Dr. Black, Stewart said: He was a man in every way
admirably qualified, by his varied previous training, habits, and
inclinations, for any mission field.
In May 1875, exactly a year after
the inception of Livingstonia, the first party started for Nyasaland. That
year bad been one of the busiest of Stewarts life. In a letter to Mrs.
Stewart, he says:
Livingstonia is the heaviest piece
of business I have undertaken in my life. The responsibility is very great
from the amount of money, life, and credit that is at stake. When we look
back at this, we can only say, "What hath God wrought." Of course it has
taken an immense amount of toil and anxiety, and I think I can truly say
it is two years work condensed into one. . . . Again and again the
longing comes over me to get back to Africa. We at least have nothing to
say against Africa; it has not treated us badly. Africa and its children
are now our life-work. And I am not sorry that Gods Providence has led us
there. Nor, I am sure, are you. We have nailed the flag of Africa to our
mast, and there it must remain till God Himself take it down.
Urgent affairs in Lovedale and the
building of Blythswood hindered Stewart from conducting the party. But he
selected all the men, made all the arrangements for their journey, drew up
the regulations for their guidance, and held himself financially
responsible for the venture. Ere long he joined them with a large staff of
helpers. The Admiralty lent the services of Mr. E. D. Young, R.N., for two
years, to lead the expedition. With Mr. Young were Dr. Laws, four artisan
missionaries, and Mr. Henry Henderson, a representative of the Church of
Scotland. They took with them the Ilala (in sections), a small
steamer which got its name from the place where Livingstone died. Nomen,
Omen. That name was a happy reminder that the great friend of Africa
still lived in the hearts of many whose resolve was, Livingstone shall
not die: Africa shall live.
Under Mr. Youngs skilful
leadership, the party reached the lower end of the Murchison Rapids. Many
delightful surprises awaited them. The natives treated each man as if he
were another Livingstone. Their name for the British was, that tribe that
loves the black man. Their joy was so great that they could hardly
contain themselves. These Makololo had been Livingstones men, and the
reappearance of the British flag drew forth an enthusiasm beyond
description. When the steamer was fairly into their territory, they
crowded to the river-bank in thousands, clapping their hands and shouting
at the return of their fathers, the English. When Mr. Young told them
the purpose of their mission, they were delighted, and promised their help
to the utmost. They were filled with sorrow when they learnt that
Livingstone was dead. Had all our fellow-countrymen in Africa been of the
same spiritual kith and kin as David Livingstone, what might Africa have
The Ilala was taken to
pieces, and about a thousand natives carried it in five days some sixty
miles over a serpentine, roadless mountain track, through long grass and
thorny thickets, under a blazing tropical sun. This marvellous feat was
achieved without a desertion or a dispute, or the loss of a single bolt or
screw. The loads weighed about fifty pounds each, and contained seven
hundred pieces of the Ilala. Among blacks as among whites,
satisfying service is secured only by hearty goodwill between employers
and employed. We had everything delivered up to us, Mr. Young says,
unmolested, untampered with, and unhurt, and every man merry and
contented with his well-earned wages of six yards of calico.
The Ilala was bolted together
on the river-bank, and, after steaming a hundred miles up the Shire, on
October 12,1875, it safely entered Lake Nyasa, four hundred and
fifty miles from the sea.
It was the first steamer ever
launched on an African lake. Its passengers had entered No-Mans Land,
taking their lives in their hands. An unbroken stretch of heathenism,
about the size of Europe, then lay between them and the nearest
The natives were paralysed with
wonder as the big iron canoe, the fireship without oars or sails, a
living, palpitating monster, snorted past their villages, guided by
mysterious men from beyond the seas, with white skins and straight hair.
Many on board had prophesied that
Mr. Young was taking out a number of young fellows to leave their bones on
the Zambesi, and that the Ilala would never reach Nyasa. But the
greatly daring deed had been done without a single mishap. The world owes
much to its daring men who know how to dare wisely.
The entrance of this little steamer
into the sea-like lake was the birth-hour of the greatest era in the
history of Central Africa. Five slave dhows were then on the lake, and one
of them lowered its flag to the British flag flying at the masthead of the
mission steamer. The bell of the Ilala rang out the death-knell of
African slavery. The sight and the sound filled the Arab slavers with
consternation, for they knew that their slaving days would soon be ended.
God speed you, Mr. Young said
reverently as they entered the lake. Amen, his mates responded. The
steam was shut off, the engines ceased to throb, and a hushed silence fell
upon the little party. They assembled on deck and engaged in divine
worship. With awed and rejoicing hearts they sang:
All people that on earth do dwell,
Sing to the Lord with cheerful voice.
Him serve with mirth, his praise forth tell,
Come ye before him and rejoice.
Dr. Laws, the only survivor of that first band of
pioneers, thus describes the feelings of his company:
Looking to the future with its vast
possibilities, they were filled with a sense of awe, for the Nyasa horizon
towards its unknown north end was but a symbol of the work before them.
The rising sun was then gilding with his radiance the western mountains,
and they hailed this as an emblem of the speedy rising of the Sun of
Righteousness upon that long-benighted region, with healing in his wings.
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