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Livingstone, David (1813 – 1873)

‘I pray that the Almighty may so guide my stepss as that it shall never be forced upon me to fight with either black or white’

A fabulous two-page autograph letter signed by David Livingstone, first and third pages of a large folded sheet, with additional writing along the edges of both pages. He writes on November 28th 1860 from Tette in modern-day Mozambique.

Livingstone opens by referring to his correspondent’s letter of the previous year in which he’d provided ‘an account of the decease of our much esteemed friend Joseph Sturge… I may be allowed to explain that he favoured me with a letter while I was engaged with several very trying public meetings in Glasgow… I just opened it and saw that it was on the subject of Peace. Then put it aside in the hope of attending to what was said the first time I had leisure. Unfortunately I never saw it again. I have no idea how it was lost. It however remained on my mind that I had not treated him as I ought to have done and to get rid of that feeling I wrote stating some difficulties that seem to stand in the way of the adoption of peace principles. You appear to have answered them very fairly and I thank you and Mrs. Sturge for the trouble you have taken.’

Livingstone goes on, ‘I pray that the Almighty may so guide my steps as that it shall never be forced upon me to fight with either black or white, but I cannot but believe that war in some cases is both necessary and just. At best it is a monstrous evil – and never to be resorted to except under the gravest necessity. In African forays we have the worst evils of war and I think that Christians ought to exert themselves to establish lawful intercourse with the degraded heathen. It seems certain that intercourse will be established and the good ought to forestall the advances of the bad. Some of the friends ought to put their principles to the test of practise and appear among us the harbingers of peace.’

Livingstone then ends his letter with a flourish: ‘I lately marched 600 miles up this river on foot. People all friendly except those near the Portuguese. I carried a stick only until passing through a tangled forest alone a rhinoceros made a charge and stopped short when within 3 yards of me. Ever after I carried a revolver. My kind regards to Mrs. Sturge, David Livingstone.’

An letter of extraordinary content written in the throes of his Zambesi expedition. A small hole to the second page of writing, and overall age-toning and staining. Otherwise in fine condition.