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Lot 17: LIVINGSTONE, David (1813-1873). 8 autograph letters signed ("David Livingstone") and an autograph

Est: $15,000 USD - $20,000 USDSold:
Christie'sFebruary 26, 2004New York, NY, US

Item Overview


LIVINGSTONE, David (1813-1873). 8 autograph letters signed ("David Livingstone") and an autograph letter fragment to his chief assistant John Kirk (one to Kirk's mother), Murchison's Cataracts, Newstead Abbey, Hamilton and Bombay, 17 December 1863-15 November 1865. Together approximately 34 pages, various 8vo sizes, on various paper stocks, the final letter incomplete with losses at bottom, occasional marginal wear.

A VERY FINE SERIES OF LETTERS TO JOHN KIRK, LIVINGSTONE'S CHIEF ASSISTANT ON THE SECOND ZAMBEZI EXPEDITION. The present series of letters is written principally upon his return from this expedition, at which time Livingstone was writing his account of it. The letters discuss numerous things encountered including the botany ("What is the name of the stinking plant we so often encountered?" [7 Nov 1864]) and zoology of the region. Livingstone's earliest letter is to Kirk's mother, 17 December 1863, and honors her son: he hopes that when this letter reaches her "the long absent son will have returned once more to his home. He has been extremely useful on this Expedition and was always kind & obliging to every one-- He was my right hand man and you may be proud of such a son. I recommended him as strongly as I could to Earl Russell..." Livingstone at the time of this letter from Murchison's Cataracts had been recalled by Russell, a development which infuriated Livingstone (see lot 15).

Livingstone next writes to tell Kirk that he has submitted the application for Kirk's salary "for three or four years," but that he is unsure if that will be acceptable since Kirk's last letter only says that he "would not like an unpaid job." His next letter discusses Kirk's future plans again: "if you would call upon me to testify to your abilities & my recommendation might do you no harm, and it would delight me if it could do you any good." He mentions in his letter of 11 February 1865 that Sunley has not given up the Consulate but that there is no Consulate overlooking Mozambique. Kirk would later become Consul to Zanzibar.

A most interesting letter is that of 21 March 1865 discussing Victoria Falls, which includes a MANUSCRIPT SKETCH by Livingstone: "Do you remember how many promontories exist on the S-E side below or beyond the falls. My recollection is that I went on the first till I found it too narrow & then went after getting my book on after you & C. to the second... should like to know if your recollections are the same as mine..."

He angrily discusses what his been written about him in some papers: "The London Advertiser was 'much exercised' on my orthodoxy, a Scotch paper says, after bishop Colenso drank my health--and accused me of ingratitude to the London missionary society because of having received some theological training--He says 'all my education'--I do not continue its slave for ever!" (9)

Auction Details

Printed Books and Manuscripts

February 26, 2004, 12:00 AM EST

20 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, NY, 10020, US