Editorial (from Robert Merry’s Museum, November 1872; p. 240)
The discovery of Dr. Livingstone in a remote region of Africa is one of the most interesting and remarkable events of the year. Most of our readers are undoubtedly acquainted with the name, at least, of the famous explorer, and some of them, perhaps, have read the record of his earlier travels. His career illustrates some of the rarest and most admirable qualities of human nature, and the story of it well deserves the attention of young readers, whom it cannot fail to fascinate. Yet the influence of such an example is not wholly or universally wholesome; indeed, in some cases it may work positive harm. The spirit of adventure is born in every boy; but it is not always accompanied by those qualities of heart and intellect which make its indulgence advantageous, or even safe. In some boys it engenders restlessness and discontent, which result in a purposeless and useless life. Boys who read, with bounding pulses, the marvellous narratives of Du Chailu, Baker, and other African travellers, and feel their bosoms swell with longings to emulate their deeds, should remember that this is a very practical age we live in, and that such achievements are going out of fashion. We would not undervalue the great services of these men to science, or their important contributions to the general stock of human knowledge; but the young who read their books should not forget that there are paths in life more honorable even than those which traverse African jungles—paths upon which they may enter, stepping from their own doors. It is a great thing, no doubt, to discover the source of the Nile; but it is a greater to do one’s duty in whatever station in life one is placed, contributing somewhat, though it be ever so little, to the general happiness of mankind.
In former years few boys attained manhood without attempting to “run away,” or at lest seriously meditating it. The spirit of adventure, born in them, was excited by the narratives of travellers, and to their inexperience it seemed to be the easiest, as well as the pleasantest thing in the world to roam through strange countries, rescue fair damsels from captivity, achieve other deeds of high emprise, and, after long years, to return, laden with riches, to receive the compliments of admiring friends. But the boys of to-day take a more practical view of life; they are well aware that Don Quixote and Robinson Crusoe are simply impossible in the nineteenth century, and, with commendable wisdom, settle down to the conviction that “there’s no place like home.”