Dead Level


When the Rev. Willis R. Hotchkiss spoke to would-be missionaries at Silver Bay in July of 1904, he did not sugarcoat his message:

“I have dwelt four years practically alone in Africa. I have been thirty times stricken with the fever, three times attacked by lions, and several times by rhinoceri; a number of times ambushed by natives; for fourteen months never saw a piece of bread, and have eaten everything from ants to rhinoceri; but let me say to you, I would gladly go through the whole thing again if I could have the joy of again bringing that word ‘Saviour’ and flashing it into the darkness that envelops another tribe in Central Africa.”

Perhaps too he left them with a copy of his Sketches from the Dark Continent (1901), in which he wrote:

“We had to resort to the old method of traveling by caravan. Swimming the streams, wading the swamps, blistered by the tropical sun . . . drenched by the rain . . . in danger from savage men, and attacked by wild beasts, winding along the narrow, tortuous native paths, single file, until feet are like lead, heads drooping, tongues swollen, eyes painful – here the romance of missionary life loses its fine outline in the dead level of actual life.”

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