Livingstone’s Composition Methods

Livingstone's 1871 Field Diary

This section discusses Livingstone’s methods for composing the main portion of the 1871 Field Diary (Livingstone 1871f), examines the impact of the Nyangwe massacre on these practices, and closes with a look at the composition methods Livingstone used for the additional pages of the diary.

Introduction
Livingstone's Paper
Livingstone's Ink
Entries in the 1871 Field Diary
Page Headers in the 1871 Field Diary
The Nyangwe Massacre, 15 July 1871
Additional Diary Pages

Introduction    Top

As Livingstone traveled in Manyema in 1870 and 1871, he ran short of many supplies, in one instance noting that he needed "Pens = Paper letters ink" (1871f:CLXII). As a result, during this period he resorted to using improvised composition materials for both his letters and diary. This section discusses Livingstone’s methods for composing the main portion of the 1871 Field Diary (Livigstone 1871f), including his practices in using paper and ink, pre-allocating pages for certain kinds of entries, and pre-numbering page headers. The section also examines the impact of the Nyangwe massacre on these practices. The section closes with a look at the composition methods Livingstone used for the additional pages of the diary.

 

Livingstone's Paper    Top

Livingstone wrote the 1871 Field Diary over a series of odd scraps of paper. Some of these scraps contained pre-printed text, while others were notes or letters previously sent to Livingstone by other individuals. The following table sets out Livingstone’s "undertexts."

MS. Item Undertext
1871f A single issue of The Standard (24 Nov. 1869)
1871k An envelope and enclosure dated 12/2/70 by John Kirk and addressed "Dr David Livingstone HRM Consul Ujiji & Elsewhere"
1871l An envelope addressed "Dr Livingstone care of Dr Kirk"
1871m An envelope and enclosure addressed "Dr. Kirk Consulate Zanzibar care of H.M. Commissioner Seychelles"
An image of a page of the 1871 Field Diary (Livingstone 1871f:CLVI), detail. Copyright David Livingstone Centre, Blantyre. As relevant, copyright Dr. Neil Imray Livingstone Wilson. Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/).
An image of a page of the 1871 Field Diary (Livingstone 1871k:[4]), detail. Copyright National Library of Scotland. As relevant, copyright Dr. Neil Imray Livingstone Wilson. Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/).
An image of a page of the 1871 Field Diary (Livingstone 1871l:[1]), detail. Copyright David Livingstone Centre, Blantyre. As relevant, copyright Dr. Neil Imray Livingstone Wilson. Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/).
An image of a page of the 1871 Field Diary (Livingstone 1871m:[4]), detail. Images copyright The Bodleian Library, University of Oxford. Used by permission.
Images of four pages of the 1871 Field Diary (Livingstone 1871f:CLVI, 1871k:[4], 1871l:[1], 1871m:[4]), detail. (First and third images) Copyright David Livingstone Centre, Blantyre. As relevant, copyright Dr. Neil Imray Livingstone Wilson. Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported; (second image) Copyright National Library of Scotland. As relevant, copyright Dr. Neil Imray Livingstone Wilson. Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported; (fourth image) Images copyright The Bodleian Library, University of Oxford. Used by permission. These images show the different undertexts that Livingstone used to create the 1871 Field Diary.

 

Livingstone's Ink    Top

When Livingstone’s supply of iron gall ink dwindled in Nyangwe, the village in which he composed most of the 1871 Field Diary, he used local materials to concoct more ink:

7th April 1871 made this ink with the seeds
of a plant called by the Arabs Zingifure
It is known in India and here is used
by the Manyema to dye virambas and
ornament their faces and heads (1871f:CVII)

As a result, the Nyangwe portion of the 1871 Field Diary contains at least three kinds of inks: iron gall ink, Zingifure ink, and, on one page (1871f:CXLVI), a mixture of the two.

An image of a page of the 1871 Field Diary (Livingstone 1871f:CLIII), detail. Copyright David Livingstone Centre, Blantyre. As relevant, copyright Dr. Neil Imray Livingstone Wilson. Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/). An image of a page of the 1871 Field Diary (Livingstone 1871f:CXLVI), detail. Copyright David Livingstone Centre, Blantyre. As relevant, copyright Dr. Neil Imray Livingstone Wilson. Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/). An image of a page of the 1871 Field Diary (Livingstone 1871f:CXLII), detail. Copyright David Livingstone Centre, Blantyre. As relevant, copyright Dr. Neil Imray Livingstone Wilson. Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/).

Iimages of three pages of the 1871 Field Diary (Livingstone 1871f:CLIII, CXLVI, and CXLII), detail. Copyright David Livingstone Centre, Blantyre. As relevant, copyright Dr. Neil Imray Livingstone Wilson. Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported. These images show the different kinds of inks that Livingstone used to create the 1871 Field Diary: iron gall (left; top in mobile), iron gall-Zingifure mixture (center), Zingifure (right; bottom).

An analysis of the ink spectra for this portion of the diary offers further insights into Livingstone’s writing practices during this period. Imaging scientist Roger L. Easton, Jr. has produced graphs of the relevant ink spectra by mapping the reflectance curves of select ink pixels across the spectral image set of a given folio.

Spectral profile of a page of the 1871 Field Diary (Livingstone 1871f:CVI). Copyright Roger L. Easton, Jr. Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/).

Spectral profile of a page of the 1871 Field Diary (Livingstone 1871f:CXXIX). Copyright Roger L. Easton, Jr. Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/).
Spectral profiles of two pages of the 1871 Field Diary (Livingstone 1871f:CVI, CXXIX). Copyright Roger L. Easton, Jr. Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported. These images show the spectral profiles of Livingstone's iron gall ink (top) and Zingifure ink (bottom).

Collectively these graphs allow us to track the changing chemical composition of Livingstone’s ink from page to page and, when combined with visual examination of the diary pages, can be used to chart Livingstone’s overarching patterns of ink use in this portion of the diary.

MS. Item Diary Page(s) Ink Additional Notes
1871f CII to CVI Iron Gall Livingstone’s first copy-book begins with 1871f:CII. 1871f:CVI contains a small addition in Zingifure ink, apparently introduced some time after this page was written.
1871f CVII to CXLV Zingifure 1871f:CVII begins with the entry for 7 April 1871, in which Livingstone describes making Zingifure ink. Livingstone repeats the numbers CXXXII and CXXXIII. 1871f:CXXXII [v.1] and CXXXIII [v.1], then CXXXII [v.2] and CXXXIII [v.2] is the correct order.
1871f CXLVI Iron Gall-Zingifure (& Zingifure) Livingstone writes the page number and the word “Journal” at the head of this page in Zingifure ink. He appears to use a combination of Zingifure and Iron Gall for the first paragraph, and Iron Gall for the second.
1871f CXLVII to CLVI Iron Gall
(& Zingifure)
Livingstone writes the page number and the word “Journal” at the head of each page in this series in Zingifure ink. He uses iron gall ink for the rest of the text.
1871f

CLVII and CLVIII

Zingifure  
1871f CLIX to CLXI Iron Gall
(& Zingifure)
Again, Livingstone writes the text at the head of these pages in Zingifure ink, then uses iron gall ink for the rest of the page.
1871f CLXII Zingifure,
then Iron Gall
Livingstone writes the “note” which comprises the first half of this page in Zingifure ink. The rest of the page, including the text written over the Zingifure entry at the center of the page, consists of a series of diary entries in iron gall ink.
1871f CLXIII Zingifure  

These patterns, as explained in the following sections, provide a fascinating insight into Livingstone’s objectives and strategies in composing this section of the 1871 Field Diary.

 

Entries in the 1871 Field Diary    Top

Livingstone appears to be consistent in the type of ink he uses for his diary entries. He writes with iron gall ink for the first five pages of the diary (1871f:CII-CVI), switches to Zingifure for 41 pages (1871f:CVII-CXLV), employs an ink that appears to combine Zingifure and iron gall for half a page (1871f:CXLVI), then continues with iron gall for most of the remaining 17½ pages (1871f:CXLVII-CLXIII).

The deviations from Livingstone’s ink use pattern, especially the presence of pages wholly in Zingifure ink near the end of the second copy-book, suggest that Livingstone planned out the overall structure of his copy-books and did not write all his diary pages in a continuous series. Rather, he allocated certain pages for notes and on some of these pages wrote the notes ahead of time, hence the presence of Zingifure ink in those sections of the diary where he was otherwise using iron gall (see 1871f:CLVII, CLVIII, portions of CLXII, CLXIII). Other pages he left blank for notes, but as he came to the end of the diary he ended up using them instead for diary entries in iron gall ink (1871f:CLIX, CLX, portions of CLXII).

A processed spectral image of two pages of the 1871 Field Diary (Livingstone 1871f:CXXXIII [v.2]-CLXIII spectral_ratio). Copyright David Livingstone Centre, Blantyre. As relevant, copyright Dr. Neil Imray Livingstone Wilson. Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/).
A processed spectral image of two pages of the 1871 Field Diary (Livingstone 1871f:CXXXIII [v.2]-CLXIII spectral_ratio). Copyright David Livingstone Centre, Blantyre. As relevant, copyright Dr. Neil Imray Livingstone Wilson. Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported. The deleted area in the upper right-hand corner of the image has four textual layers: the printed text of The Standard in carbon-based ink, the note in Zingifure ink, the diary entries in iron gall ink, and the cancellation in iron gall ink.

These practices help account for the unusual textual configuration of 1871f:CLXII. Livingstone, it seems, designated this page for a note and initially jotted down a few observations as well as a list of supplies needed in Zingifure ink. Later when he had filled the preceding pages with entries in iron gall ink, he returned to this page and wrote across the bottom portion of the page. Next, he turned the page 90 degrees clockwise and wrote additional entries in iron gall ink over the Zingifure note already at the center of the page. Finally, he crossed out the entire central section of the page using iron gall ink. As a result, iron gall and Zingifure ink cover 1871f:CLXII in almost equal proportions, the text contains both "note" and "journal" entries, and the resulting manuscript page presents the reader with no less than four textual layers: the text of The Standard, the note in Zingifure, the diary entries in iron gall, and the cancellation in iron gall.

An image of a page of the 1871 Field Diary (Livingstone 1871f:CLXII), detail. Copyright David Livingstone Centre, Blantyre. As relevant, copyright Dr. Neil Imray Livingstone Wilson. Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/).
A processed spectral image of a page of the 1871 Field Diary (Livingstone 1871f:CLXII spectral_ratio), detail. Copyright David Livingstone Centre, Blantyre. As relevant, copyright Dr. Neil Imray Livingstone Wilson. Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/).
(Left; top in mobile) Natural light and (right; bottom) processed spectral images of a page of the 1871 Field Diary (Livingstone 1871f:CLXII color and spectral_ratio), detail. Copyright David Livingstone Centre, Blantyre. As relevant, copyright Dr. Neil Imray Livingstone Wilson. Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported. These images show a segment of the page where all four textual layers are present.

 

Page Headers in the 1871 Field Diary    Top

The above only applies to Livingstone’s use of ink in the diary entries proper. The inking of his headers (his page number succeeded by the word "Journal" or "Note") follows a different pattern. He uses iron gall for the first six headers (1871f:CII-CVI), then switches to Zingifure for the rest of the diary without exception, even on the later pages that are otherwise composed with iron gall ink or with a combination of Zingifure and iron gall. This pattern indicates that Livingstone began pre-numbering the pages of the diary at some point during its composition.

A processed spectral image of a page of the 1871 Field Diary (Livingstone 1871f:CLI spectral_ratio), detail. Copyright David Livingstone Centre, Blantyre. As relevant, copyright Dr. Neil Imray Livingstone Wilson. Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/).
A processed spectral image of a page of the 1871 Field Diary (Livingstone 1871f:CLI spectral_ratio), detail. Copyright David Livingstone Centre, Blantyre. As relevant, copyright Dr. Neil Imray Livingstone Wilson. Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported. Livingstone wrote the first part of this header with Zingifure ink, then at a later time added the rest of the text with iron gall ink.

At present, however, it is not possible to determine when this happened with any precision. The main run of Livingstone’s headers takes the following form:

Diary Pages Form of Header
1871f:CXXIII-CXXXI, first copy-book Livingstone’s page number & "Journal"
1871f:CXXXII [v.1]-CXXXIII [v.1], first copy-book Livingstone’s page number & "Note"
1871f:CXXXII [v.2]-CLVI, second copy-book Livingstone’s page number & "Journal"
1871f:CLVII-CLVIII, second copy-book Livingstone’s page number & "Note"

This configuration indicates that Livingstone may have begun pre-numbering his pages with the first page of this sequence, 1871f:CXXIII, or with any of the pages up to 1871f:CXLVI. On the latter page, the use of the combination of Zingifure and iron gall ink for the main diary entry first reveals that Livingstone is pre-numbering his pages. (The initial run of headers, 1871f:CII-CXXII, and those at the end of the diary, 1871f:CLIX-CLXIII, take a more complex, but less structured form, as discussed below). Additional study of the inks and their ink spectra may yield further information. Click here to open a page showing all of Livingstone’s headers.

 

The Nyangwe Massacre, 15 July 1871    Top

The observations made above suggest that Livingstone only switched ink twice in the course of composing the Nyangwe Diary. The first switch, to Zingifure on 1871f:CVII, occurred for practical reasons. With his supply of iron gall dwindling, Livingstone created a viable substitute using local materials, a development he notes explicitly in the text.

The second switch, from Zingifure to, briefly, a combination of Zingifure and iron gall (1871f:CXLVI, first paragraph), then to iron gall alone (1871f:CXLVI, second paragraph, ff.), occurs almost imperceptibly and is made without comment. More curiously, the switch coincides with the initial account of the Nyangwe massacre, which itself represents the single longest narrative entry in the Nyangwe Diary (15 July 1871) and is the only diary entry – excepting the four-page “note for letter” (1871f:CXVI-CXIX) – that spans more than two pages.

A processed spectral image of a page of the 1871 Field Diary (Livingstone 1871f:CXLV spectral_ratio). Copyright David Livingstone Centre, Blantyre. As relevant, copyright Dr. Neil Imray Livingstone Wilson. Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/). A processed spectral image of a page of the 1871 Field Diary (Livingstone 1871f:CXLVI spectral_ratio). Copyright David Livingstone Centre, Blantyre. As relevant, copyright Dr. Neil Imray Livingstone Wilson. Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/). A processed spectral image of a page of the 1871 Field Diary (Livingstone 1871f:CXLVII spectral_ratio). Copyright David Livingstone Centre, Blantyre. As relevant, copyright Dr. Neil Imray Livingstone Wilson. Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/).

Processed spectral images of three pages of the 1871 Field Diary (Livingstone 1871f:CXLV, CXLVI, and CXLVII spectral_ratio). Copyright David Livingstone Centre, Blantyre. As relevant, copyright Dr. Neil Imray Livingstone Wilson. Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported. These pages show Livingstone's shift from Zingifure ink (left; top in mobile), to a combination of Zingifure and iron gall inks (center), to iron gall ink (right; bottom).

In other words, this second switch in ink reveals an intimate link between text and material document, a link that is lost in any transcription of the diary not accompanied by images of the folia. It appears – at least in the eyes of the present editor – that Livingstone, as he records the opening stages of the Nyangwe massacre, realizes that he is witnessing an event of singular importance and turns to his remaining reserve of iron gall ink in order to ensure that his words are legible and remain permanently on the page.

 

Additional Diary Pages    Top

Livingstone’s use of ink in the additional diary pages covered by this critical edition is much more complex, due partly to the different kinds of paper employed. In natural light, ink hue across the different folia and between these folia (1871k, 1871l, 1871m) and those under 1871f seems not to be consistent.

Visual examination suggests that Livingstone has covered the folia under 1871k with a variety of inks. The heterogeneous nature of the material here – including diary entries that follow directly from 1871f:CLXIII, astronomical calculations (10 Mar. to 15 July 1871), the summary of "Total Rainfall in Manyema 1870-71" (Oct. 1870 to 15 Nov. 1871), and one brief set of undated notes in pencil – also indicates that Livingstone may have written the text on these folia over a long period of time. The ink spectra for these folia reinforce this point.

Spectral profile of a page of the 1871 Field Diary (Livingstone 1871k:[8]-[1]). Copyright Roger L. Easton, Jr. Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/).
Spectral profile of a page of the 1871 Field Diary (Livingstone 1871k:[8]-[1]). Copyright Roger L. Easton, Jr. Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported. The brown lines represent individual spectra. The blue line shows the mean of the individual spectra.

Conversely, study of the spectral and natural light images, and analysis of the ink spectra of the folia under 1871l shows that Livingstone wrote the diary entries on these folia with Zingifure ink. The single calculation on 1871l:[2] is in iron gall ink, but the seemingly random position of this calculation suggests that it may have been written at an earlier or later date.

Spectral profile of a page of the 1871 Field Diary (Livingstone 1871l:[1]-[2]). Copyright Roger L. Easton, Jr. Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/).

Spectral profile of a page of the 1871 Field Diary (Livingstone 1871l:[3]). Copyright Roger L. Easton, Jr. Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/).
Spectral profiles of three pages of the 1871 Field Diary (Livingstone 1871l:[1]-[2] and [3]). Copyright Roger L. Easton, Jr. Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported. These images show the spectral profiles of Livingstone's iron gall ink (top) and Zingifure ink (bottom).

Finally, the folia under 1871m appear to be in iron gall ink, but without spectral images, a full assessment of these folia is not currently possible.

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