“Lost” Undecipherable Letter from David Livingstone Revealed for First Time

Teresa Neumann

Letter reveals the great missionary’s humanity and anti-slavery zeal while stranded as a "virtual prisoner" in the heart of the Congo.

Lost Letter(United Kingdom)—The BBC reports that the contents of an "indecipherable" letter written in 1871 from Bambarre in the Congo by the great Scots explorer and missionary David Livingstone have been revealed for the first time by researchers at the University of London. Until now, the Letter from Bambarre had been impossible to decipher because the iron gall ink used in the writing had faded so badly, but thanks to the use of spectral imaging, the text is now readable.

Livingstone hated the slave trade, as noted in his letter, but he also reveals details of his poor health. He suffered greatly from a variety of diseases while he was "stranded as a virtual prisoner" in the Congo, including dysentery, pneumonia and "horrific" tropical ulcers on his feet and legs. He had been searching for the source of the Nile River.

According to the report, the unveiling of the letter’s content marks the start of a major project looking at Livingstone’s final diary from 1870-71 which has never been published in its original, unabridged form. The report also notes that Livingstone’s letter "includes some of his thoughts on the ‘awful traffic’" of the slave trade, which he said could be ‘congenial only to the Devil and his angels.’

"If our statesmen stop the frightful waste of human life in this region and mitigate the vast amount of human woe that accompanies it they will do good on the large scale and cause joy in Heaven," he wrote.

The prospects for commerce and Christianity in the African interior, and details of the lakes and rivers of Central Africa are also reportedly included in the letter.


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2 comments for ““Lost” Undecipherable Letter from David Livingstone Revealed for First Time

    October 17, 2010 at 6:38 pm

    I believe Love and compassion are the most important values of Christians

  2. Mukusu Christopher
    January 26, 2012 at 7:30 pm

    David,you had a human heart||| You opened the eyes of many to the evil of the slave trade and its serfering. Many small bodied people perished on the way to the destinations of the traders. That explains the strong and well developed bodies of our present brothers nnd sisters in America and Uk. It was servival for the fitest.

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