thoughts from note-books
Civil law is not sufficient by itself for mankind. It is for the protection of men from abuse, and for the punishment of offenders; but religion teaches just intercourse, unselfishness, self-denial, virtue, just dealing, love of our fellow-creatures, compassion, kindness, forbearance, patience, fortitude, lofty indifference to death by spiritual exaltation. While atheists and heathens would regard only their own self-advantage, opposing craft to an opponent's detriment, a religious man would be persuaded that he could not do so without a sense of wrong-doing, and would strive to act so as to ensure his own good opinion and those of other conscientious, just-minded fellow-men. Religion is my invisible shield against moral evil, against the corruption of the mind, against the defilement of the soul. As there are specifics for the preserving of cleanliness of the body, so is religion for the preservation of the mind; and it protects the intelligence from becoming encrusted with layer upon layer of sin. Religion is an invaluable curb on that inner nature of man, which longest remains barbarous and uncivilised.I am not animated by the hope of a heavenly reward, such as has been promised. It is my reason which tells me that I owe a duty to God as my Maker, and that is, not to offend Him. The Bible tells me, through its writers, of certain instructions and certain Laws that those who desire to please Him should follow and obey. Many of these Laws and instructions appeal to my own sense as being His due; and therefore I shall conform to them as closely as my nature will permit. When I perceive that they are too hard for nature, I will pray for His divine help to withstand the temptations of nature; for more power of restraint; for more docile submission  to His will; for more understanding to comprehend what is pleasing to Him, for more gentleness; for moral strength to combat that which my sense assures me is evil, and unworthy of one endowed with such attributes as belong to me, I will keep ever striving to perform acts pleasing to Him, while I have the power, leaving it to Him to judge whether my endeavours to abstain from evil, and perform that which was right, have been according to the intelligence and moral power He entrusted me with. Meantime, I must keep myself open to conviction, so that whenever it shall be my good fortune to light upon that which will clearly inform me as to the exact way to serve and please God, it will be possible for me to conform; and I must by no means offend Him by negligence in doing that which I know ought to be done.
On the influence of religionTo relate a little of the instances in my life wherein I have been grateful for the delicate monitions of an inner voice, recalling me, as it were, to “my true self,” it would be difficult for me to do their importance justice. I, for one, must not, dare not, say that prayers are inefficacious. Where I have been earnest, I have been answered. What have these earnest prayers consisted of, mainly? I have repeated the Lord's Prayer a countless number of times; but, I must confess, my thoughts have often wandered from the purport of the words. But when I have prayed for light to guide my followers wisely through perils which beset them, a ray of light has come upon the perplexed mind, and a clear road to deliverance has been pointed out. In the conduct of the various expeditions into Africa, prayer for patience, which bespoke more than an ordinary desire for patience, has enabled me to view my savage opponents in a humorous light; sometimes, with infinite compassion for their madness; sometimes, with a belief that it would be a pity to punish too severely; and, sometimes, with that contempt which I would bestow upon a pariah dog. Patience has been granted to me, and I have left them storming madly. Without the prayer for it, I doubt that I could have endured the flourish of the spears when they were but half-a-dozen paces off.  When my own people have wilfully misbehaved, after repeated warnings, I have prayed for that patience which would enable me to regard their crimes with mercy, and that my memory of their gross wickedness should be dulled; and, after the prayer, it has appeared to me that their crimes had lost the atrocity that I had previously detected in them. When oft-repeated instances of the efficacy of prayer were remembered, I have marvelled at the mysterious subtleness with which the answer has been delivered. “Lord God, give me my people, and let me lead them in safety to their homes; then do Thou with me as Thou wilt,” was my prayer the night preceding the day the remnant of the Rear-Column was found. True, they were there, they had not moved since July 17th; but I did not know it. “Give my people back to me, O Lord. Remember that we are Thy creatures, though our erring nature causes us to forget Thee. Visit not our offences upon our heads, Gracious God!” And thus that night was passed in prayer, until the tired body could pray no more. But the next dawn, a few minutes after the march had begun, my people were restored to me, with food sufficient to save the perishing souls at the camp. On all my expeditions, prayer made me stronger, morally and mentally, than any of my non-praying companions. It did not blind my eyes, or dull my mind, or close my ears; but, on the contrary, it gave me confidence. It did more: it gave me joy, and pride, in my work, and lifted me hopefully over the one thousand five hundred miles of Forest tracks, eager to face the day's perils and fatigues. You may know when prayer is answered, by that glow of content which fills one who has flung his cause before God, as he rises to his feet. It is the first reward of the righteous act, the act that ought to have been done. When my anticipations were not realised to their fulness, what remained was better than nought; and what is man, that he should quarrel with the Inevitable?
On prayerI have evidence, satisfactory to myself, that prayers are granted. By prayer, the road sought for has become visible, and the danger immediately lessened, not once or twice or  thrice, but repeatedly, until the cold, unbelieving heart was impressed. This much I have derived from many a personal experience. I have forgotten my prayers; my sensibilities have been so deadened by the sordid scenes around me that my soul was not aroused to feel that there was a refuge for distress. Worldly thoughts absorbed my attention; I became a veritable pagan, ever ready, on occasion, to sneer and express utter disbelief. Finally, I have drawn near a danger, and, in its immediate presence, I have understood its character better; every faculty is then brought to bear upon and around it, and a sense of utter hopelessness takes possession of my mind. There is no cowardice, no thought of retreat; rescue or no rescue, I must face it. At first, I believe that it will be possible to confront it, go through with it, emerge from it safely. What is wanting, but light? Next, I am reminded that such a scene occurred before, and that prayer relieved me. Ah! but I have so long refrained from prayer, can I believe that, now, prayer would be answered? I have forfeited the right to be heard. Have I not joined the scoffers, and smiled in contempt at such puerile ideas, and said, “Prayers were well enough when we were children, but not now, when I have lived so long without the sign of a miracle” ? And yet — prayer has saved me. Civilised society rejoices in the protection afforded to it by strong armed law. Those in whom faith in God is strong feel the same sense of security in the deepest wilds. An invisible, Good Influence surrounds them, to Whom they may appeal in distress, an Influence which inspires noble thoughts, comfort in grief, and resolution when weakened by misfortune. I imperfectly understand this myself, but I have faith and believe. I know that, when I have called, I have been answered, strengthened, and assisted. I am prone to forgetfulness, and to much pride; but I cannot forget that, when an accusing thought entered my soul like a sword, I became penitent and responded. Subduing my unbelief, I prayed, and obtained a soothing grace which restored to me a confidence and cheerfulness which was of benefit to myself and others.
On religious educationThe white man's child has a more fertile nature than the savage. The two natures differ as much as the fat-soiled garden near the Metropolis differs from the soil of the grassy plains in Africa, the only manure of which has been the ash of scorched grass. The cultivated garden will grow anything almost to perfection; the African prairie will grow but a poor crop of hardy maize or millet. Religion acts as a moral gardener, to weed out, or suppress, evil tendencies, which, like weeds and nettles, would shoot up spontaneously in the wonderful compost of the garden, if unwatched. The surroundings of the child's mind resemble the fertilising constituents of that garden soil. The demands, by-laws, necessities, of a feverish, yet idle, Society, serve to evolve an abortive man, without truth, honesty, usefulness, or enthusiasm. He has no physical strength, or mental vigour; serious in nothing, not even in the pursuit of variety or frivolity, not a word he utters can be believed, by himself or anybody else; for, simplest words have lost their common meaning, and simplest acts are not to be described by any phrase required by veracity. Religion inspires the moral training requisite to crush these noxious fungi of civilised life. The savage is licensed to kill, to defend his misdeed by simple lying, to steal, in order to supply his daily wants. The white child kills character with his tongue, he robs wholesale where the savage robs by grains.
On Sir Edwin Arnold's “light of the world”After reading a few hundred lines of Edwin Arnold's new poem,1 “The light of the world,” I perceived that he had not hit the right chord. It is “The light of Asia,” in a feeble, vapid style; or, to put it more correctly, it is a Buddhist trying to sing the glories of the Christian's Lord. His soul is not in his song, though there are beautiful passages in it; but it is the tone of an unbeliever. Alas for this! What a poem he could have written, had he but believed in the Saviour of the world!
Mind and soulMy own mind, I know, has been derived from God. Its I capacity, in this existence, is measurable. I feel that, up to  a certain point, it could expand, but, beyond that, is madness. It can descend to a certain point below normal; below that would be ruin. Being measurable, it is just suited to my limited nature. It is marvellously expansible; it can also descend to that pin-point and faint glimmer of reason at zero which guides the brute. The Intangible, Invisible, yet Almighty Intellect conceived, by knowing, the beginnings of the spacious universe and its countless myriad of things; the brutes cannot comprehend this, but, to me, has been given just enough mind to be impressed by the vast and solemn fact of this immeasurable knowledge. As my mind governs me, and all that belongs to me, in the same manner I conceive that every movement of the universe and its myriad of constituents is subject to some Divine Mind. This Divine mind is the power of a Personal Spirit which is God, Who has endowed humanity with the necessary, though limited, portion of His own subtle and all-powerful intelligence. All my instincts warn me that this is so; but that, so long as it is imprisoned by this earthly matter, it cannot give itself that freedom. When freed from it, my spirit will bound to its source. A contracted, insect-mind, it is often. Fancy it groping with its tentacles, stretched almost to snapping, far into yet further spaces; then, suddenly contracting into apparent mindlessness, at the buzz of a fly, the bite of an insect, the pang of small nerve! With aspirations after a seat in the Heaven of Heavens, yet, more often, content to wallow in the mud — thereby proving its relationship to the noblest and the meanest! Without that portion of Divinity it could not imagine its obligation to the Creator, nor be conscious of its affinity with the brutes.
On the fear of deathThe weakness of our number against the overpowering force of savages2 forbade resistance. Against such a multitude, what hope had we? The imminence of death brought with it a strange composure. I did not fear it as I imagined I should; a fortitude to bear anything came to me, and I could actually  smile contemptuously at the former craven fear of its pain and the sudden rupture of life.
On illusionsThough many illusions are of a character we should gladly cherish, yet the sooner we lose some of them, the sooner we gain the power of seeing clearly into things. The one who possesses least has the best chance of becoming wise. The man who travels, and reflects, loses illusions faster than he who stays at home. There are nevertheless some illusions, which, when lost, he bitterly regrets. To-day, I can feel comfortably at home in almost any country; and can fully appreciate the truth of Shakespeare's words, that “ To a wise man, all places that the eye of Heaven visits are ports and happy havens.” Yet I sympathise still with that belief of my youth, that Wales, being my native-land, possessed for me superior charms to any other. Had I seen no other wondrous lands, met no other men and women with whom I could sympathise, it is probable that I should have retained the belief that Wales was the finest country in the world, and the Welsh people the best. I used to believe the Bishop was the holiest man living; the Rev. Mr. Smalley, of Cwm, the biggest man; Sam Ellis, of Llanbach, the strongest man; Hicks Owen, the finest preacher; my cousin Moses, the most scholarly; the Vale of Clwyd, the prettiest; Liverpool, the biggest and most populous town; and the Welsh people, the superior of any in the whole world. Without any effort of mine, or anybody else's, to disabuse me of these illusions, I have seen hundreds just as holy as the Bishop, bigger men than the Cwm rector, stronger men than Sam Ellis, better preachers than Hicks Owen, men more scholarly than Moses Owen, prettier scenery than the Clwyd, richer and more populous towns than Liverpool, and more advanced people than the Welsh!
The training of young men, and educationWhen I was young, a religious and moral training was considered necessary,3 as well as an intellectual education, for the  improvement of youth; but, since the banishment of the Bible from the schools, it has been deemed wise to pay attention to the training of the intellect alone, while the natural disposition of youth has caused attention to be paid to athletics. With a few choice natures this might be sufficient, but I observe that the generality of young men have not that respect for moral obligations it would be desirable to foster. The youth whose word is unimpeachable, whose courage is based on a thorough comprehension of his duty, called moral, whose spirit bends before its dictates, yet is capable of being inspired by honour, and swayed by discipline, is far more useful, valuable, and trustworthy than an athlete with all the intellectual attainments of a Senior Wrangler; but an athlete combining such moral and intellectual gifts would inspire love and admiration wherever he went. When our sons are steady, reliable, and honest, as well as scholars and athletes, this nation will top the list of nations, as there are no excellences superior to these obtainable, and these will lead the world for ages yet. The Presbyterianism of Cromwell did much; but we can beat that, if we aim for the best. The three M's are all that we need — Morals, Mind, and Muscles. These must be cultivated, if we wish to be immortal — we are in danger of paying attention to Mind and Muscle only.
On educationSchools turn out men efficient enough in reading, writing, ciphering, and deportment; they then go forth to face the world, and they find their school education is the smallest part of what they have in future to learn. They are fit for no profession or employment. The average school-boy and college man cannot understand business, cannot build or make anything, cannot command men; only after long and laborious practice can he be entrusted to do rightly any of these things. Three-fourths of those who came to Africa were qualified only in the accomplishments of the school-boy. They were unpractised in  authority, untrustworthy as to obedience, ignorant of self-command; they had apparently never sounded their own virtues or capacities; they appeared surprised and incapable when called upon to think for themselves. The public schools and colleges do not teach young men to think.
On learningLearning, by which is commonly understood the results of assimilation of varied and long years of reading, reflection, and observation, is the capital of intellect, and is an honoured thing. It is composed of literary acquisitions subjected to mental analysis. It certainly contributes to the elevation of man to a lofty sphere; and yet, after all, I am inclined to think that great as a literary man may be from the store of intellectual treasures he may have acquired, he gets an undue proportion of the world's admiration. The master-minds of a nation are many and various. The great statesman, the great administrator, the great inventor, the great man of science, the multitude of nameless, but bold and resolute, pioneers, those, for instance, who made Australasia; our great missionaries, those brave, patient souls who, in distant lands, devote their lives to kindling the fires of Christianity in savage breasts; the missionaries at home, who are unweariedly exhorting and encouraging the poor and despairing, exciting the young and heroic virtue of these, and many more, who go to make the leaders of a civilised nation,--we hear little of these, compared with what we are told of men who write books. But the stones which go to make the palatial edifice have been laid by many hands. Why does most of the honour go to the writer of books?
On real recreation
Joy's Soul lies in the doing,Even rest is found in occupation, and striving. It is labour which kills discontent, and idle repose which slays content; for it creates a myriad of ills, and a nausea of life, it brings congestion to the organs of the body, and muddles the clear spring of intelligence. The heart is heated by our impatience,  while the soul is deflected from its vigorous course by excess of shameful ease. Joy's Soul lies in the doing! The truth which lies in this verse explains that which has caused many a personality to become illustrious. It is an old subject in poetry. Shakespeare, Milton, Wordsworth, Longfellow, and many more have rung the changes, or expressed the idea, in verse. Milton, though troubled with blindness and domestic misery, was happy in the lofty scenes conjured up by his poetic imagination, and therefore he could have said, “Joy's Soul lies in the doing, And the Rapture of pursuing is the prize.” Livingstone was happy in the consciousness that he was engaged in a noble work, and the joy in the grand consequences that would follow. This self-imposed mission banished remembrance of the advance of age, and made him oblivious of the horrors of his position. What supported Gordon during the siege of Khartoum, but this inward joy in his mission which his nature idealised and glorified? Coleridge says:--
And the Rapture of pursuing,
Is the prize.
Joy, Lady! is the spirit and the power
Which wedding Nature to us gives in dower.
On Reviews and reviewersThe Reviews of my books have sometimes been too one-sided, whether for, or against, me. The Reviewer is either fulsome, or he is a bitter savage, striking stupidly because of blind hate. A Review in the “New York Tribune,” for instance, or the “New York independent,” the American “Sun,” the “Times,” “Morning post,” or “ Daily Telegraph,” is, however, the disinterested outcome of study, and is really instructive and worth reading. It was owing to repeated attacks of the Public and Press that I lost the elastic hope of my youth, the hope, and belief, that toil, generosity, devotion to duty, righteous doing, would receive recognition at the hands of my fellow-creatures who had been more happily born, more fortunately endowed, more honoured by circumstances and fate than I. It required much control of natural waywardness to reform the shattered aspirations. For it seemed as though the years of patient watchfulness,  the long periods of frugality, the painstaking self-teaching in lessons of manliness, had ended disastrously in failure. For what was my reward? Resolute devotion to a certain ideal of duty, framed after much self-exhortation to uprightness of conduct, and righteous dealing with my fellow-creatures, had terminated in my being proclaimed to all the world first as a forger, and then as a buccaneer, an adventurer, a fraud, and an impostor! It seemed to reverse all order and sequence, to reverse all I had been taught to expect. Was this what awaited a man who had given up his life fort his country and for Africa? He who initiates change must be prepared for opposition; the strong-willed is bound to be hated. But the object need not be sacrificed for this. A man shall not swerve from his path because of the barking of dogs. Spears in Africa were hurtful things, and so was the calumny of the press here; but I went on and did my work, the work I was sent into the world to do.
On reading the newspapersThat which has to be resisted in reading newspapers is the tendency to become too vehement about many things with which really I have no concern. I am excited to scorn and pity, enraged by narratives of petty events of no earthly concern to me, or any friend of mine. I am roused to indignation by ridiculous partisanship, by loose opinions, hastily formed without knowledge of the facts. Columns of the papers are given up to crime, to records of murder, and unctuous leaders on them. Many newspapers are absolutely wanting in patriotism. A week of such reading makes me generally indulgent to moral lapses, inclines me to weak sentimentalism, and causes me to relax in the higher duty I owe to God, my neighbour, and myself; in short, many days must elapse before I can look into my own eyes, weigh with my own mind, and be myself again. In Africa, where I am free of newspapers, the mind has scope in which to revolve, virtuously content. Civilisation never looks more lovely than when surrounded by barbarism; and yet, strange to say, barbarism never looks so inviting to me as when I am surrounded by civilisation.