Livingstone's 1871 Field Diary

A Multispectral Critical Edition

The Nyangwe Massacre, 15 July 1871
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 297c/107, 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 (297b/146, first par.), then to iron gall alone (297b/146, second par., 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” (297b/116-19) – that spans more than two pages.
Figures 1, 2, 3. Livingstone 1871, Field Diary, 297b/145, 146, 147.
These pages show Livingstone's switch from Zingifure ink,
297b/145 (left), to a combination of Zingifure and iron gall,
297b/146 (center), to iron gall, 297b/147 (right).
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
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 and those with the DLC297c and DLC297b file prefixes seems not to be consistent.
Visual examination suggests that Livingstone has covered the folio under file prefix NLS10703 with a variety of inks. The heterogeneous nature of the material here – including diary entries that follow directly from DLC297b/163, astronomical calculations (10 March to 15 July 1871), the summary of "Total Rainfall in Manyema 1870-71" (October 1870 to 15 November 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.
Figure 4. Ink Spectra: 10703/36r. 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 DLC1120b shows that Livingstone wrote the diary entries on these folia with Zingifure ink. The single calculation on 1120b/v 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.
Figures 5, 6. Ink Spectra: Zingifure ink,
1120b/r (top), and iron gall ink, 1120b/v (bottom).
Finally, the folia with the file prefix RHOLAfrs16-1 appear to be in iron gall ink, but without spectral images, a full assessment of this material is not currently possible.
Manuscript Structure