Journal IntirneAt SeaIn Cape
TownDiscouragementsSelf-examinationPreaching - Determination.
I have no other fear in the world
but that I may not know my whole duty or fail to do it.
Epitaph on a Ladys Tomb.
He goes farthest who does not know
how far he means to go. African Proverb.
Prudence eans to the other side,
But deeds condemned by Prudence oft have sped. Lines affixed by Dr.
Stewart to the first page of his
Travel in the younger sort is a
part of education; in the elder, a part of experience.
STEWART left a large and carefully
written Journal, which is a mirror of his soul, between 1861 and 1863. The
greater part of the information in this and the three following chapters
has been gleaned from this Journal Intime, in which he seems to
have collected materials for a book on Africa and its missions.
I am also indebted to Dr. Stewarts
Dawn in the Dark Continent; Livingstonia, its Origin; and four
Articles in the Sunday Magazine of
1874 and 1875
on Recollections of Dr. Livingstone and the Zambesi;
The Narrative of an Expedition to the Zambesi and its Tributaries,
by David and Charles Livingstone; and Dr. Blaikies
Personal Life of Livingstone.
On 6th July, i86r, Mrs. Livingstone
and James Stewart sailed from Southampton in the Royal Mail Steamer
He writes: What shall be the result
of this long journey I know not. I feel already the weight of the many
difficulties that lie before me, and yet I hardly feel as if all this will
go for nought. The Lord alone knoweth. Let me be less anxious about
success than about being faithful. I will commit my way to Him. He will
bring it to pass in His own time. I will stay myself on God, for in a
journey like this there cannot be any other security, any other source of
O God, give Thou the wisdomthe
guidance I need. Thou hast led so far, lead me the rest of the way, and
let such work be done as shall be to the praise of Thy name and Thy grace,
and such as shall make known also Thy purposes of grace and mercy to men
Yesterday I began to see that if my
spiritual life is to be altered in any way for the better, I must be a
"Methodist" in my religion: I must observe rule and method. I must watch
and pray. I must read at stated times, and of a certain quality.
To-day we crossed the linethat momentous passage in
all sea-voyages. Shall I live to cross it again and again, to run to and
fro on my Masters work. Spare me, 0 God, for this if it be Thy will. Give
me days to do Thy work on earthworthless, wild, and wayward though I be.
. . . This evening we commenced worship in the aft
end of the saloon. It is true we had to break up a card party to get at
it, even though it was half-past nine. It has been a cause of satisfaction
to most that this step has been taken. It required a good deal of careful
survey of the ground previously. . . .
I discovered among the many papers at the end of my
Bible a motto in my mothers handwriting. Her affection to me was strong
as death. Lest that precious little fragment should ever be lost, let me
here transcribe it:
"Thou faithful unto death and I will give thee a crown of life."
The conversation at the upper end of the table still
continues to be the most wonderful prattle that grown men with beards can
indulge in. It is most wearisome indeed to listen to.
Prayers were read on the morning of Sunday, and Mr.
Stewart had a service with the sailors in the forecastle. He prepared for
these services very carefully. On 13th August, 1861, he reached Cape Town.
The following is the entry in his Journal for that day
This should be a red-letter day. To-day I first
sighted African landthe probable, or at least the possible, future land
of my labours.
During this voyage he read books of travel, theology,
and general literature. He also studied missions, especially those of the
Moravians, and was attracted by the idea of a self-supporting mission. He
had an eager eye for everything that might help him in mission-work. Now
and again he wrote perdidi diem and dies non.
Mrs. Livingstone and Mr. Stewart had to wait fully
three months in Cape Town before they could arrange for their voyage to
Durban. These three months were in many ways extremely trying to him, for
they brought many bitter experiences. He kept himself occupied in many
ways. He seems to have been almost daily at the Dispensary and the
Hospitals, increasing and using his medical knowledge. One of his
amusements was to practise at the shooting-range. His prophetic spirit
whispered to him that he would need skill as a marksman. He preached in
all the Protestant churches, except the Episcopal, and took part in many
public meetings. His services and addresses were carefully prepared and
often written in full. He thus refers to them: In future put less matter
in my sermons and come sooner to the practical application. Let there be
less thought and more feeling, more home-thrusts to the conscience.
The criticism of the Mail is exceedingly
friendly, but would to God it were intellectual and spiritual fervour
instead of "intellectual fervour" alone. But my motive is pure and there I
must leave the matter. I would rather have one conversion than any amount
of praise, even of the most public kind. But if I cannot do all things, I
can at least do my best.
This evening I preached to a not very large
congregation. I was very thoroughly awake myself but at present I am in
doubt as to the effect produced. The attention was very marked and the
silence considerable. O that God would bless the word. May I serve Him,
soul and body.
On leaving Cape Town he wrote: I have also gained some
confidence in myself, and some experience in the way of speaking, and also
some experience medically, and some knowledge of my own folly and
weakness. There have been drawbacks. I might have done very much more, if
I had lived more carefully, if I had improved my time more
Like Livingstone, he refreshed himself by the study of
Botany and Natural History. He often studied the plants in the Gardens and
explained them to Mrs. Livingstone. I went, according to my wont when
bothered, to the Botanic Gardens to try the cooling effect of a little
Botany. I am glad I have this study to take to at times.
He was astonished to find in the educational room of
the Library a copy of his Botanical Diagrams. What would my good
mother have said, had she known that these would travel to the Cape before
Memories of home often rushed in upon him. This is the
memorable 20th of August. What memories and associations cluster round the
day. O my mother, had I better known the priceless value of that
affection, how different it might have been. The 20th of August last year
too. Does it not seem as if God so far were looking favourably on the
enterprise. With what fear and doubting and with how little knowledge of
the way was I then groping for light. Perhaps another year will have
dispelled much of the present darkness and shown things in a clearer
In Cape Town all sorts of discouragements assailed him
at once. His friends thought that he was likely to die soon of
consumption, and his figure and complexion were then fitted to suggest
such a danger. To-day Mrs. L. spoke of the opinion of some of my friends
in Edinburgh, who thought I should die of consumption before I get back. I
hope, however, I shall live to return to Scotland.
About myself I learned that the opinion of Cape Town
is that my health will not stand the work I have undertaken.
. . . Kirk had heard before he came
ashore of "Mr. Stewart, who was tall and slight and with hollow cheeks,"
but what an excellent preacher! I get my share of public notice.
A brig had been hired to convey from Durban a mission
party to Bishop Mackenzies Universities Mission on the Shire, and it had
been arranged that Mrs. Livingstone and Stewart should get a passage along
with them. Very great efforts were made to prevent Stewart from reaching
the Zambesi. He was assured that he could not gain entrance to Zambesiland,
and he was told that Livingstone would not welcome or help him. The Bishop
of Cape Town urged these views and offered him a free passage to England.
Efforts were made to persuade Mrs. Livingstone to separate from Stewart,
and to proceed to the Zambesi with the Episcopal party; but she declared
she would not go one step unless he accompanied her. He writes: Mrs.
Livingstone spoke in a way not to be mistakenassuring L that if I did
not go on, she would not stir from Cape Town. Here she stood bravely by
me. I will remember her words and how she came to the rescue.
But for her resolution, he should probably have been
stranded at Cape Town. The Episcopalians did not wish him to reach the
Zambesi, as they thought that priority of occupation gave them a right to
the whole of Zambesiland, which within a few months they were to abandon.
Stewart had then his first experience of that amazing arrogance which many
churchmen mistake for catholicity. The Portuguese Consul in Cape Town
spread a rumour that he was a hypocritical trader in the guise of a
missionary, and that he had vast quantities of beads which he wished to
sell among the natives. This monstrous lie found favour in some quarters,
though he was not aware of its existence till he reached Durban. Others
further injured his reputation by circulating scandalous stories about
His financial experiences when laying in his stores
were also very unhappy, and suggested the following entry in his Journal:
Let me try every day to be on my guard, to take, though it is against my
nature sadly, every man for a rogue till I find him an honest man.
Remember also that more is gained in this world by dexterity than by
The endless delays were wearing out his spirit, and his
money was melting away. The sorest trial of all was the fact that from the
time he left Scotland till he reached Livingstone, not one single
individual gave him the slightest encouragement. Even the friends of
missions thought that his quest could bring only failure and disaster. One
esteemed friend frankly declared that he would have nothing to do with
such a scheme, and that the whole thing was a matter of moonshine. Mrs.
Livingstone agreed with them in thinking that the obstacles were
insuperable, and that he should abandon the attempt. Livingstone was the
first man who gave him hearty encouragement, though the friends in Cape
Town had filled his mind with fears about Livingstones attitude to him.
Is it possible that any pioneer missionary has ever had
greater discouragements than these? He dived into his own heart and
thoroughly examined his motives; he faced all the facts; he devoted
himself afresh to the work, and resolved to go forward without hesitation.
His Christian heroism was sublime, and his Journal and his actions reveal
the man, his intense struggles and his victories. We turn again to his
Journal: I do not see how an entrance is to be made into the interior. I
do not see where the door is to be opened. And yet at this time last year,
surely the prospects of the missions were black enough. No man stood by
me. And oh! these miserable weeks. And yet I must confess that it is by
faith only that I can see my way even now. What a whole host of
difficulties lie in the way! "Hells empire vast and grim" is well
defended by all manner of outpost and fortified positions.
In talking with Mrs. Livingstone I said that even to
myself my life is an enigma. I am not such a fool surely as to throw away,
or to have already done so, chances which may never occur again. I might
have been comfortably settled by this time with a snug income and regular
work befitting my taste and agreeing with me. And yet how difficult is my
position! What difficulties I am about to encounter, what disgusts to
become acquainted with, what disappointments to meet. I cannot say
anything till I have seen further into the scheme. Meantime let me go on
in faith. If I had not very much of this I could not go on. I feel safe in
the path until my work in it is done. I have a firm belief in the guiding
providence of God.
In talk with Mr. , I find
the very same wise, significant look, "We know, we would, etc.," which is
intended to signify that my errand is a wild goose chase, that the results
are too far distant, that we shall all be dead men before any fruit
appears, and that there is little to be expected, even after fifteen or
twenty years work. [His
feelings were like those of his friend General Gordon when on the
White Nile. He thought that the storks in the islands were laughing at and
mocking him, as if highly amused at the idea of any body hoping to do good
at Gondokoro.] Let me do this work as for Christ, let me do it with
all my might. So help by the Spirit of grace and wisdom, my great Master,
my blessed Saviour, Lord Jesus. What is there I cannot do if Thou wilt
help me and give me grace to be faithful? In Gods strength I will go
humbly on, resolved to succeed or to lose all in the attempt.
But let me not grumble. It is all the better that I
rise above men and know no master save one, Jesus Christ. Let me strive
and watch till I awake satisfied with His likeness. To-day I have been
feeling the isolation and loneliness of my position very much. As I sat
drawing, I was startled at my own audacity. What! you, J. S., to move the
whole Free Church or even the whole of Presbyterian Scotland to found a
mission in Central Africa, having for its object the enlightenment of a
great part of the east of the Continent! I have been, and am at this
moment, obliged to fall back on my primary supports. I need to look at my
purpose in all its greatness to obtain the necessary standing. My position
is this. The country is undeveloped; I am waiting here for an opportunity
of proceeding, and wait long. Delay is sickening. It seems as if there
were no need. Why not wait till the country is developed? Against this let
me place the fact that if once the boundaries are extended, they will be
filled up. it must be done by some man. I mean the old frontiers must be
extended. If it is to be my lotand it seems to be very clearlylet me
take my work like a man. Let me do it though I die. To-day I have been
obliged to fall back on some strong and never-failing aid. This evening I
had to seek a verse wherewith to fortify myself. I found it. "Commit thy
way unto the Lord, trust also in Him and He shall bring it to pass." When
I read a little and pray, I receive new strength, and the burden becomes
perceptibly lighter. Let me not forget this, but often practise it, for,
J. S., you will yet have great need.
But is there not some very considerable advantage in
thus feeling myself charged with the whole responsibility of this
stupendous piece of work? Aye, surely. If I had not many times felt that
on my own shoulders I carried the fate and fortunes of a possible mission,
I should not have been here today. God give me strength and power for all
my work, whatever that may be.
Writing of many discouragements, he says: If my aim
and purpose were sustained by an earthly motive, or were it for an earthly
master, long since should my purpose have failed. But I look higher, to
the wants of a great proportion of the race and to the will of Christ.
. . . It seems that some appalling charges are
about to be brought against me. I went to bed as one stunned and
confounded. . . . I feel still as if some
strange nightmare were Oppressing me. . . . But
the conclusion to which I have come is this - I must do my work without
minding what any One says. I shall let them all alone. I am Sufficient in
myself. . . . The best thing for me to do is to
go on calling no man master. My trust must be in the fact that, so far as
I can perceive, I am in the way of duty, and that my life is worth only so
much as it is worth to the cause. I may therefore, and ought indeed to
school myself to become perfectly without fear, be as cool in the surging
bar of the Kongoni, as if I were in my bed here or in Grove Street,
Edinburgh. Let me seek after this to face death as a likely thing every
day, and fear will depart. I cannot say that even as it is I am much
troubled. Still let me ever drill myself to thatif I must part with life,
good and well. Its fever will be over. I will then enter into rest, which
I have not known on earth, though I have often longed for it.
. . . But it is enough for me that I
look forward to the rest I shall find when my soul is received by God my
Father into the peace and purity of the other life. If I can but find when
I enter His presence at the moment of departure from this life, that all
my sins are eternally forgotten by Him, that He receives me as a son
returned to His father from his wanderings in the sin and folly of Time to
be eternally with Him, never once to offend or grieve Him, always to serve
Him as I wish to serve Him, but cannot by reason of the evil that lives
within me. I have not for long felt more willingness to leave life
whenever He shall call me. No doubt some of this is due to weariness and
depression, but not all. Oh, surely heaven will be rest indeed when I read
in my Fathers face the signs of full and perfect forgiveness, and am sure
that He will never cast me off, when He receives me as a son whom He will
keep for ever in the light of His presence. Give me strength and grace to
To one of his fellow-clubmen he wrote, I got your
letter before I left Cape Town. Like a draught of water from some cool
fountain hidden in the shadow of a great rock, to the wearied traveller
who has been toiling through burning sands and under a blazing sun, was
that draught of old friendship to my soul.
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