The Paradox of David Livingstone: Did You Know?
Though Livingstone is remembered as a missionary, only one-third of his 30 years in Africa were spent in the service of a mission board. Even during that time, he went his own way, often ignoring the advice and directives of colleagues and superiors.
Livingstone started life as did millions of other children in the industrial revolution: exploited by a society bereft of child labor laws. At age 10, he worked 14-hour days in a cotton factory, followed by two hours of night school. He grew up in a one-room tenement that overlooked the cotton mill where he worked.
With his first week's wages, Livingstone purchased a copy of Ruddiman's Rudiments of Latin. To break the tedium in the factory, he propped the book on the frame of his machine and studied while he worked.
Livingstone was determined to become a missionary to China but was prevented from doing so by the outbreak of the Opium War.
Livingstone closely connected mission work with social and economic progress. The only way to fight the slave trade in Africa, he said, was through "Christianity, Commerce, and Civilization."
From his earliest years in Africa, Livingstone was often critical of fellow missionaries. Soon after he arrived in the Cape Colony, he wrote, "The missionaries in the interior are, I am grieved to say, a sorry set. … I shall be glad when I get away into the region beyond—away from their envy and backbiting." He added that there was no more affection between them and himself than there was between his "riding ox and his grandmother."
Livingstone's penchant for exploring could not help but affect his family life. He and his wife, Mary, lived in the same house together only four of the seventeen years of their marriage.
When Mary Moffat, Livingstone's mother-in-law, ...