Dr. Livingstone; A Glass Half-full Kind of Guy!


Dr. Livingstone, as you know, was a missionary/explorer into Africa in the 1800’s. I knew a few stories about him, but sadly not much. I am now reading a biography called, The Life and Explorations of Dr. Livingstone, by John S. Roberts. It is an interesting read. For example, did you (solitary reader of my blog) know that David Livingstone spent his early life working in a factory. By early life, I mean at 10 years old he became a ‘piecer’ in a mill and worked from 6am-8pm. He then studied on his own from 8-10pm and did personal reading from 10-midnight. Six days a week! 10 years old!! He would put his book on the spinner at the mill so he could read while working. At nineteen, he was promoted to cotton-spinner which was much harder work, but paid better. He used his wages to attend University and medical school (a daily walk of nine miles!) and became a medical doctor. His hopes were to become a missionary to China and he knew that being a doctor would be a practical and helpful profession in mission work.

Circumstances (opium war in China) caused him to redirect his work and he was led to South Africa.

While on an early journey into the interior of Africa, Dr. Livingstone describes the following ‘adventure’ with a lion…

“Starting, and looking half round, I saw the lion just in the act of springing upon me. I was upon a little height. He caught my shoulder as he sprang; and we both came to the ground below together. Growling horribly close to my ear, he shook me as a terrier dog does a rat. The shock produced a stupor similar to that which seems to be felt by a mouse after the first shake of the cat. It caused a sort of dreaminess, in which there was no sense of pain, nor feeling of terror, though quite conscious of all that was happening. This singular condition was not the result of any mental process. The shake annihilated fear, and allowed no sense of horror in looking round at the beast. This peculiar state is probably produced in all animals killed by the carnivora; and, if so, is a merciful provision by our benevolent Creator for lessening the pain of death. Turning round to relieve myself of the weight, as he had one paw on the back of my head, I saw his eyes directed to Mebalwe (a native schoolmaster), who was trying to shoot him at a distance of ten or fifteen yards. His gun, a flint one, missed fire in both barrels: the lion immediately left me, and, attacking Mebalwe, bit his thigh. Another man, whose hip I had cured before, after he had been tossed by a buffalo, attempted to spear the lion while he was biting Mebalwe: he left Mebalwe, and caught this man by the shoulder; but at that moment the bullets he had received took effect, and he fell down dead… Besides crunching the bone into splinters, he left eleven teeth-wounds in my arm.”

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