Posts Tagged ‘people’
Casanova (1725-1798) was not mere sex machine any more than Franz Lizst in another time was. Sensual and libertine Casanova was man of many parts. Rising from his humble origins he required the pleasure seeking and essentially conservative aristocracy. In contrast to his contemporary Marquis de Sade his sexual escapades were not meant to shock the society in which he moved and he was careful not to challenge conventional morality of the times. His egocentric Memoirs though padded with amorous jousts but on the evidence of contemporary documents they are fundamentally truthful.
Sad was his last years having survived the French Revolution he was a misfit for living in obscurity and boredom under the rule of hoi polloi
Irony of his life was that he wished to be taken as a serious thinker but his books on philosophy and history sank into the sea of oblivion unnoticed leaving only his Memoirs as a titillating record of the 18th century.
David Livingstone (1813-1873)
Perhaps one of the most popular national heroes of the late 19th century in Victorian Britain, Livingstone had a mythic status, which operated on a number of interconnected levels: that of Protestant missionary martyr, that of working-class “rags to riches” inspirational story, that of scientific investigator and explorer, that of imperial reformer, anti-slavery crusader, and advocate of commercial empire.
His fame as an explorer helped drive forward the obsession with discovering the sources of the River Nile that formed the culmination of the classic period of European geographical discovery and colonial penetration of the African continent. At the same time his missionary travels, “disappearance” and death in Africa, and subsequent glorification as posthumous national hero in 1874 led to the founding of several major central African Christian missionary initiatives carried forward in the era of the European “Scramble for Africa”.
He was the second of seven children born to Neil and Agnes Livingstone., David was at the age of ten employed in the cotton mill of H. Monteith & Co. in the village of Blantyre Works on the banks of River Clyde. David and his brother John worked twelve-hour days as “piecers,” tying broken cotton threads on the spinning machines.
Livingstone hoped to go to China as a missionary, but the First Opium War broke out in September 1839 and the London Mission Society suggested the West Indies instead. In 1840, while continuing his medical studies in London, Livingstone met LMS missionary Robert Moffat, on leave from Kuruman, a missionary outpost in South Africa, north of the Orange River. Excited by Moffat’s vision of expanding missionary work northwards, and influenced by abolitionist T.F. Buxton’s arguments that the African slave trade might be destroyed through the influence of “legitimate trade” and the spread of Christianity, Livingstone focused his ambitions on Southern Africa. He was deeply influenced by Moffat’s judgment that he was the right person to go to the vast plains to the north of Bechuanaland, where he had glimpsed “the smoke of a thousand villages, where no missionary had ever been.”
Dr.Livingstone’s exploration in the African heartland is too well known to be repeated here.
Livingstone was an inept leader incapable of managing a large-scale project. He was also said to be secretive, self righteous, moody and could not tolerate criticism which severely strained the expedition and which led to his physician, John Kirk, writing in 1862, “I can come to no other conclusion than that Dr. Livingstone is out of his mind and a most unsafe leader”.
Livingstone and slavery
“And if my disclosures regarding the terrible Ujijian slavery should lead to the suppression of the East Coast slave trade, I shall regard that as a greater matter by far than the discovery of all the Nile sources together.” – Livingstone in a letter to the editor of the New York Herald.
“We passed a slave woman shot or stabbed through the body and lying on the path. [Onlookers] said an Arab who passed early that morning had done it in anger at losing the price he had given for her, because she was unable to walk any longer”.1.
Livingstone’s letters, books, and journals did stir up public support for the abolition of slavery-2; however, he became humiliatingly dependent for assistance on the very slave-traders whom he wanted to put out of business. Because he was a poor leader of his peers, he ended up on his last expedition as an individualist explorer with servants and porters but no expert support around him. (ack:wikipedia)
1.Stanley Henry M., How I Found Livingstone; travels, adventures, and discoveries in Central Africa, including an account of four months’ residence with Dr. Livingstone. 1871.
2.David Livingstone (2006). “The Last Journals of David Livingstone, in Central Africa, from 1865 to His Death-Echo Library-p.46