When David Livingstone, a Scottish missionary turned explorer, returned to England in May 1856 to peddle his book Missionary Travels and Researches in South Africa, Charles Dickens gave it an ecstatic review. Dickens reevaluated his own character and found he didn’t quite live up to his own expectations.
Since arriving in Europe and spending the last month or so in London, I too have found I don’t quite meet my own expectations. If I take Dickens’ review and omit a few lines, it quite literally sums up how I feel. I confess that…
the effect of it on me has been to lower my opinion of my own character in a most remarkable and most disastrous manner. I used to think I possessed the moral virtues of courage, patience, resolution and self control. Since […], I have been driven to the humiliating conclusion that, in forming my own opinion of myself, I have been imposed upon by a false and counterfeit article. […], I find that my much prized courage, patience resolution and self control turn out to be nothing but plated goods.
When will I ever learn?