Livingstone's 1871 Field Diary

A Multispectral Critical Edition

The Date of the Livingstone-Stanley Meeting (cont)
In the 1871 Field Diary, the 11 June and 10 July entries correspond to the 1872 Journal, and so confirm that Livingstone was about 20 to 21 days out during these two months. Another passage from 3 April in the 1871 Field Diary, however, helps fill out the critical discussion. This passage shows that in April Livingstone was 21 – not 20 – days out. The passage also confirms Bridges's suggestion that Livingstone was three months off in identifying the Arab month.
In the entry, Livingstone writes, "This morning 4th of avil time […]" (1871a:297c/106). On first reading, contextual evidence suggests that Livingstone has made a mistake and written "avil" instead of "April." The entry follows the beginning of the 3 April 1871 entry and precedes the 5 April 1871 entry. There is also no separate reference to 4 April 1871. Horace Waller – who used C.A. Alington's transcription of this passage (see The Manuscript) – proceeds on this basis and gives this as the opening of the 4 April 1871 entry in the Last Journals.
Figure 1. Livingstone, 1871 Field Diary, 297b/109, detail,
spectral ratio. A portion of the entries for 3-5 April 1871.
The phrase "4th of avil time" appears in the third line here.
However, there is reason not to accept this reading. Livingstone concludes the entry in which the passage appears with an additional statement: "3rd Arab month 4th will appear in two or three days" (Livingstone 1871a:297c/106). An entry made a week later confirms the details of the previous statement: "12 April 1871 New [moon] last night of 4th Arab month" (Livingstone 1871a:297c/109).
Figure 2. Livingstone, 1871 Field Diary, 297b/109,
detail, spectral ratio. The reference to "4th of avil time."
The concluding statement on 297c/106 merits attention for two reasons. First, spectral imaging reveals that this statement has been written in Zingifure ink, while the rest of the page is in iron gall ink. This suggests that Livingstone added the statement at a later date, as, in fact, 297c/106 is the last page Livingstone wrote in iron gall ink until 297b/146 (see Manuscript Composition).
Figure 3. Livingstone, 1871 Field Diary, 297b/109, detail, spectral
ratio. Livingstone's addition at the end of the 3 April 1871 entry.
The processed image highlights the use of Zingifure ink here,
which appears blue while the surrounding text is closer to black.
Second, given these points, it is reasonable to suppose that the after-the-fact addition, which Livingstone took the trouble to make, has reference to the context in which it was made. In other words, in this reading, one possibility is that "4th" in the Zingifure ink addition refers to the prior "4th of avil time" passage, and is a correction of it.
If so, then the "avil" of the latter passage might also be read – not as "April" – but as Livingstone's transliteration of "awwal," or, more fully, "Shahr Al-awwal," an Arabic phrase that means first month of the lunar year. Livingstone's use of this phrase, however, suggests that "avil time" is his way of referring to the Islamic calendar as a whole and so that he initially meant that it was the fourth Arab month, then corrected it to the third.
The first day of the fourth Arab month (Rabi II) in 1871 was 20 June. In other words, when Livingstone wrote 12 April 1871 in his Field Diary and stated that it was the fourth Arab month, the date was in fact 20 June 1871. He was behind in his dates by no less than 69 days! Obviously something is amiss if the text is interpreted in this way. The error is easily rectified if we follow Bridges's suggestion, noted earlier, that Livingstone was counting the months from the last Ramadan rather than from the beginning of the Islamic year (Bridges 1982).
The fourth Arab month on this reading would be the fourth since Ramadan, but the first of the Islamic year, which brings us back to Livingstone's "avil." The first day of the first Arab month (Muharram) in 1871 fell on 23 March. The difference between 23 March and 12 April is 20 days. This calculation in turn supports Cunningham's argument that Livingstone is 20 days out. Yet the matter is not quite put to rest. By this same calculation, 11 June and 10 July (the two other dates in the 1871 Field Diary and 1872 Journal on which Livingstone records the appearance of a new moon) are, respectively, 21 and 20 days out. Over the three months a slight fluctuation remains, accounted for by the fact that new moons at times go unspotted until one or two days after their first phase.
The Livingstone-Stanley Meeting (cont)