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Lot 83: DAVID LIVINGSTONE

Christie's

September 23, 2004
London, United Kingdom

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Description

Autograph letter (signature excised) to James Aspinall Turner MP, River Shire, 17 February 1863, 4 pages, folio (some wear at folds; strip excised from last leaf, approximately six lines in total, including signature); envelope.

'BOWS AND ARROWS CANNOT STAND BEFORE MUSKETS'

AN ANGUISHED TIRADE AGAINST THE SLAVE TRADE. Livingstone writes that 'the system of slavehunting... has followed on the footsteps of our discoveries, and threatens to render all our toils of no avail', describing the depopulation of the entire district of the lower Shire by marauding parties from Tette, and a Portuguese trader named Marianno: 'Flight famine and death were the results... for bows and arrows cannot stand before muskets. In coming up the river we counted thirty dead bodies floating past'. He urges British government intervention, following the policy pursued in West Africa, and argues the benefits in terms of revenue from increased trade; as for the Portuguese, he concedes they have made 'good laws', but accuses the Governors of 'bare faced connivance... anyone who has a few guns & slaves may make a slave foray in any direction... Why the Portuguese should be allowed to make a slave "preserve" of this region... is a mystery to me'; he claims nevertheless to have 'said as much in favour of the Portuguese as truth would warrant and I have recieved [sic] much personal kindness, but I must add that the conduct of the convict population sent out here is an abomination'. His own party is working its way up towards Lake Nyassa, but Livingstone admits that the evidence of the slave trade 'takes the strength out of one's heart... it is impossible to tell you how I feel when I see these fair and fruitful fields depopulated'.

Notes

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September 23, 2004, 12:00 AM EST

London, United Kingdom