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Henry M. Stanley
Two white men, one from America and the other from England, met in the heart of Equatorial Africa, on the shores of Lake Tanganyika, November 10, 1871. This was their first meeting. The Englishman had been lost to the outside world for more than two years, and the American had been looking for him since the early part of 1871. Finally, after many great difficulties and perils, the American found the lost explorer, surrounded by his black guards, friends, and companions. They had dimly heard of each other through the vague rumors of the natives for months past, and now meeting face to face, the American lifting his cap, said, "Dr. Livingstone, I presume." The Englishman nodded an affirmative reply, and the other said, "I am Henry M. Stanley."
Stanley shooting the Rapids of the Congo.
It was at this time that Stanley, resting after a long and arduous campaign in Spain, received from James Gordon Bennett, who was then in Paris, a telegram summoning him to an interview in that city. Arriving at the French capital early in the morning, Stanley went straight to Mr. Bennett's lodgings, before that gentleman had risen from his bed. In answer to his knock a voice commanded him to enter. The two men had not met in many years. Stanley was bronzed and aged by sun and storm, and Bennett, surprised, abruptly asked, "Who are you?"
"I am Stanley, and I have come to answer your message," was the reply.
Bennett motioned Stanley to a seat, and after a moment's pause, asked:
"Will you go to Africa and find Livingstone?"
Stanley was startled. For a moment he reflected; then he replied, "I will;" and before he left the room his agreement with Bennett was practically concluded, and some of the larger details of the expedition were mapped out, and Stanley left the hotel clothed with a commission to find Livingstone, and promised all needed funds for expenses and for the relief of the great African explorer, should he be in need, as it was expected he would be found, if at all.
Stanley first went to the east coast of Africa, where he arrived in the early part of 1871. Months were consumed at Zanzibar in making ready the expedition with which he was to penetrate into the interior. Several caravans or trains were despatched, one after the other, loaded with ammunition, arms, provisions, and the necessaries of life, and with a large supply of goods with which to purchase a right of way through hostile or unfriendly kingdoms and states.
Bringing up the rear of these various trains, Stanley and his armed force left the coast of Africa, March 21, 1871. He had with him 192 persons, negroes and Arabs, and as he launched out into the untravelled places of Africa, two words rang in his ears, "Find Livingstone." Enduring many hardships, sometimes fighting and sometimes coaxing the natives, Stanley pressed on his way, his general course being in a northwesterly direction, signs, rumors, and perhaps instincts, leading him to believe that Livingstone, if found alive, would be discovered somewhere in the region of Lake Tanganyika. It would be impossible to describe the vagueness and mysteriousness of the rumors which float to and fro in an untravelled and savage country, but as the intrepid adventurer pressed on he heard more and more credible reports of the lost white man. His first convincing intimation of his being near Livingstone was when a black met him, and, speaking to him in tolerably good English, told him that a white man was said to be in a village near by. This man was one of Dr. Livingstone's servants, and soon the two, one from America and the other from England, met at Ujiji, on the shores of the lake.
Stanley remained with Livingstone until March 14th of the following year, busied with explorations of the fascinating region into which he had penetrated. He supplied Livingstone with all of the goods that he could spare, and on his return to Zanzibar he sent him a caravan with men, supplies, and such articles as he needed, fulfilling the orders of Mr. Bennett. Stanley never again saw Livingstone in life.
Livingstone died of malarial fever contracted in the African marshes, and his faithful blacks embalmed his body and carried it to the coast, hundreds of miles, bringing with them every article belonging to the faithful missionary, even to the smallest scraps of paper on which were penned the last notes of his journey which he ever wrote. Livingstone was buried with grand ceremony in Westminster Abbey, and Stanley was one of those who bore him to his grave.
Stanley's early life was a romance. He was born in Wales, near the little town of Denbigh, and his parents were so poor that when he was about three years of age he was sent to the poor-house of St. Asaph to be brought up and educated at the expense of the parish. At the age of thirteen he was his own master, and though young, he was ambitious, well informed, and well poised. He taught school while yet a lad in the village of Mold, Flintshire, North Wales. Tiring of this uncongenial occupation, he made his way to Liverpool when he was about fourteen years of age, and shipped as cabin-boy on board a sailing vessel bound to New Orleans. Like other British-born youths, America was to him the promised land, and thither he turned his steps in pursuit of fortune and fame. In New Orleans he fell in with a kindly merchant, a Mr. Stanley, who adopted him and gave him his name, for the youngster's real name was John Rowlands. His protector dying without leaving a will, the boy was once more turned adrift, but he managed to live and sustain himself, and when twenty-one years of age, in 1861, the great Civil War having broken out, Stanley went into the Confederate service then recruiting at New Orleans. He was subsequently taken prisoner by the Federal forces, and being allowed his liberty, he volunteered in the United States Navy. He did his work well, and was in due time promoted to be acting ensign on the iron-clad Ticonderoga. He made friends wherever he went, for he was brave, modest, and of a frank disposition. The war over he was discharged from the naval service, went to Asia Minor, where he saw many strange countries, wrote letters to the American newspapers, and in 1866 revisited his native village in Wales. Returning to the United States, he entered the service of the New York Herald, and went to Abyssinia as war correspondent, as before stated.
Stanley returned to Europe after his discovery of Livingstone, in July, 1872, and published his narrative, but many people in Europe and in America refused to believe his story. Some persons who thought themselves expert in knowledge of African travel proved to their entire satisfaction that he never had been far from the coast, never had seen Livingstone, and that his wonderful tale was a tissue of romance. The Queen of England showed her belief and confidence in him by sending him a box of gold set with jewels, and the Royal Geographical Society of Great Britain, a very high and mighty body, showed him great honor.
The attention of geographers and scientific men was now turned to the great Lake Tanganyika, about which very little was known. The outlet of the lake was as yet undiscovered. The secret sources of the Nile were unknown, and the great river that reaches the Congo coast from the interior was then, so far as men knew, lost in the foam of the cataracts above. Even the already famous lake known as the Victoria Nyanza was indistinctly sketched on the maps, and people familiar with African exploration were uncertain whether that great body of water was a lake or a chain of lakes.
Stanley was asked by the editor of the London Daily Telegraph if he could settle these great questions if he were commissioned to go to Africa. He replied, "While I live there will be something done. If I survive the time required to perform all the work, all shall be done." James Gordon Bennett was asked by cable if he would join in the new expedition. His sententious reply flashed under the ocean was: "Yes. Bennett." And Stanley's second great work was already determined upon.
Only six weeks were allowed for preparation, and when it was noised abroad that Stanley was taking another expedition into the heart of Africa, he was overwhelmed with offers of volunteer assistants, and with a great variety of strange contrivances to help him on his journey. Finally, all preparations being concluded, he left England August 15, 1874, accompanied by only three white men, Frank and Edward Pocock and Frederick Barker. These men, with the goods and other needed articles for the expedition, were sent on ahead, and twenty months after his last previous departure from Zanzibar, Stanley was once more at that point of departure, ready to begin his preparations for another plunge into the heart of the Dark Continent.
Some of the black men who had been with him on his previous journey, when he searched for Livingstone, were found at Zanzibar, and they were all eager to go with him again, and when he was ready to depart he had in his company 224 persons, some of the black men taking their wives with them. The company after leaving Zanzibar landed at Bergamoyo, on the mainland, November 13, 1874, and five days later his column boldly advanced into the heart of the Dark Continent. The general direction of the expedition was at first nearly westerly, then turning to the north it was aimed for Victoria Nyanza. The march was obstructed by marshy regions, overflowing with recent rains. Moist exhalations and poisonous vapors prevailed, and the first month was a gloomy one. Stanley's own weight in thirty-eight days fell from 180 pounds to 130 pounds, and the three young Englishmen with him were greatly reduced in strength and flesh. One of these, Edward Pocock, was prostrated, and though he was carried back to the high, dry table land nearer the coast, he died and was buried in that lonely region.
By January 21, 1875, 20 of the black men of the expedition had died, many were sick and disabled, and 89, discouraged by their misfortunes, deserted. They were now in a hostile region, and were attacked by natives day after day in succession, but after much hard fighting they got away and labored onward toward the Victoria Nyanza, which they reached on January 27th, near its southern shore. This event was celebrated with great joy and cheerfulness; they felt that they were out of the wilderness. Six weeks were now consumed in a voyage around Victoria Nyanza.
During the absence of the exploring party, Frederick Barker, who had been left in the camp on the lake, died of fever, leaving Pocock and Stanley the only white men in the party. It was here that Stanley met King Mtesa, the King of Uganda, a benevolent and mild-mannered Pagan, who had previously been converted to Mohammedanism, and now accepted the Christian religion with equal cheerfulness and good-nature.
On his way westward Stanley passed through the regions of King Rumanika, an eccentric character, at whose court the white man heard many strange stories of unknown regions in the heart of the continent. From this point Stanley went southwardly to explore that part of Lake Tanganyika which lies south, and this he found to be three hundred and twenty miles long, averaging a width of twenty-eight miles. It has no known outlet, and a sounding line of two hundred and eighty feet found no bottom.
His next march from Tanganyika to the River Lualaba was toilsome and perilous and beset with dangers almost incredible. At Nyangwe Stanley touched the most distant point in Central Africa ever reached before by white man. Here he met with Tippoo Tib, the famous Arab trader. This man, who has always seemed to be master of the destinies and fortunes of the wild, roving tribes in the interior, agreed to accompany Stanley on his exploration of the Lualaba or Great River. If it had not been for this agreement with Tippoo Tib, it is most likely that Stanley's expedition would have ended then and there, and we never should have known, as we now know, that the Congo and the Lualaba are one river, the second largest in the world. Its line extends from its month on the west coast of Africa more than half-way across the continent, and it has its rise in the great lakes of the interior. To this vast stream Stanley has given the name of Livingstone.
The object of Stanley's journey now was to throw light on the western half of the continent, which was then represented on the maps by a blank, through which meandered a few vague and uncertain lines representing rivers, guessed at but not known. Stanley got on better with the natives than did any of those who had gone before him, for he was wise, patient, and gentle, and yet so firm and decided that he was held in great awe and respect by the black men wherever he was known. Leaving the river and deflecting to the westward, he struggled on through a forest matted and interlaced with vines, swarming with creeping things, damp and reeking with vapors, and dripping with moisture. It was a most intolerable and horrid stage of the journey. When again he struck the great river he resolved to go by land no further. Here he was abandoned by Tippoo Tib, who refused to go on. Stanley resolutely set himself to work building and buying canoes, and led by his own English-built boat, the Lady Alice, his expedition started finally down the river, which here flows due north. The fleet was twenty-three in number, and was loaded with stores, goods, and supplies.
It was a wonderful voyage. The explorers were harassed at times by savage tribes, some of them believed to be cannibals, who attacked the strangers from shore, or in pure wantonness, as they drifted down the stream. Sickness and hunger were often their lot, and they were overtaken by tropical storms. In some places, too, they encountered rapids and cataracts, around which their fleet had to be dragged through paths cut in the primeval forest while the savages hovered around them. The forests were populous with wild beasts; chimpanzees and gorillas, monkeys, and all manner of four-footed things infested the clambering vines that festooned the trees. They were once attacked by an hippopotamus, and elephants and rhinoceroses were never far away. At a point below where the great river turns from its great northerly course and flows westward, just above the equator, was discovered a series of cataracts, seven in all, the first of which was named Livingstone Falls and the seventh Stanley Falls. The natives from this point downward to the mouth of the Congo had lost something of their natural ferocity, as they had been tamed by trade from the west coast, and great was the rejoicing of Stanley's Zanzibar men when they encountered native warriors with firearms in their hands, for this showed that they had reached a people supplied by traders from the Congo coast.
The passing of the last group of cataracts was attended by numerous dangers. In spite of all their efforts, canoes were sometimes carried over the falls and wrecked, and on June 3d, Frank Pocock, the last of Stanley's white companions, was drowned in the Congo by the upsetting of a boat. Pocock was a brave, faithful, and devoted follower of Stanley, who has paid a touching tribute to the manliness, affection, and courage of the young Englishman who lies buried in the savage wilderness of the Congo.
Very soon, as they drew nearer to the west coast, in the latter part of the summer of 1877, sickness, distress, and famine pressed hard upon the way-worn travellers. They were destitute of nearly everything that could sustain nature. The natives refused to sell supplies, and starvation stared them in the face. Knowing that a trading-post was established at Embomma, a two days' journey down the river, Stanley wrote on an old piece of cotton cloth a letter asking for help, which was sent to the trading-post by his swiftest runners. This letter was written in Spanish, French, and also in English, Stanley in his anxiety and despair leaving no means untried to reach the unknown traders whom he heard were at Embomma. The men into whose hands this three-fold message fell were English and Portuguese. Their response was prompt and generous. The messengers were sent back, followed by a small caravan laden with ample supplies of food and the necessaries of life, greatly to the relief of the starving people who, on the arrival of this timely aid, had eaten nothing for thirty hours. On August 9, 1877, the nine hundred and ninety-ninth day from the date of their departure from Zanzibar, Stanley's company, now numbering one hundred and fourteen blacks and one white man, met the generous traders and merchants of Embomma, who received the way-worn voyagers that had crossed the Dark Continent. From the mouth of the Congo the expedition was carried by steamer to Kabinda, a seaport a short distance up the coast, whence they were taken to the port of San Paolo de Loanda, where they embarked on board a British man-of-war and were taken to Cape Town; thence, touching at Port Natal, they steamed to Zanzibar, where they arrived on November 20, 1877. Long since given up for dead, the Zanzibar men were greeted by their kindred with signs of thanksgiving, tears and cries of joy. They had crossed the heart of the continent, doubled the great Cape, and were again at home.
Stanley returned to England from Zanzibar, arriving in December, 1877. The King of the Belgians had been planning an expedition to open up the Congo country to trade, and now requested Stanley to take command of his expedition. Stanley undertook the management of the new organization and returned to Africa in 1879, where he remained nearly six years, hard at work on the Congo, making roads, establishing stations, and opening the way for commerce. The Congo Free State, founded by King Leopold, lies chiefly south of the great bend of the river, and contains an area of 1,508,000 square miles, with a population of more than 42,000,000. The articles collected from the African trade at points along the great river, are ivory, palm-oil, gum, copal, rubber, bees-wax, cabinet woods, hippopotamus teeth and hides, monkey skins, and divers other things. Stanley now made brief visits to Europe and the United States. While he was in this country, in the winter of 1886 and 1887, he was summoned back to Europe to take once more command of an African expedition to rescue Emin Pasha, governor of the province of Equatorial Africa. Emin is the Egyptian name of Dr. Schnitzler. He has been generally known throughout Africa as Emin Pasha, and was governor of the province which is one of the outlying posts of the Egyptian government, when the revolt in the Soudan took place. When General Gordon was besieged in Khartoum, the province of Emin Pasha was cut off from the rest of Egypt, and Emin was shut up in the region north of the Albert Nyanza, whose capital is Lado, on one of the minor branches of the White Nile.
To relieve him in his isolation and necessity, a subscription was started in England, and once more, equipped with men, arms, ammunition, and other supplies, Stanley sailed for Africa in January, 1887, making his head-quarters as before at Zanzibar. The supplies for the expedition were shipped directly to the Congo and carried up stream by steamers. At Zanzibar, Stanley's old friend Tippoo Tib was met, and he signed an agreement making him Governor of Stanley Falls to defend that post against all comers, a salary being guaranteed him. Then, accompanied by Tippoo Tib, Stanley went to the mouth of the Congo by the way of the Cape of Good Hope, reaching the river March 18, 1887; then, ascending the stream on which he had met so many hardships and endured so much suffering, he carried his force of nearly one thousand men, and his supplies, arms, and ammunition, to the relief of Emin Pasha, an enormous quantity altogether. The white companions of Stanley on this expedition were Major Barttelot, who had served with distinction under General Wolseley in Egypt, Major Sir Andrew Clarke, Lieutenant Stairs, Captain Nelson, Dr. Park, Rose Troup, Mountjoy Jephson, William Bonny, and Mr. Jameson. Of these, two returned to England before the termination of the journey, and three perished during the wanderings of the expedition through forty-five hundred miles of trackless wilderness, pestilential marshes, and regions populous with hostile savages. From June, 1887, to December, 1889, the party was lost to the world and no definite news from it reached civilization.
The expedition, which had been divided into two parts, generally pursued its way in a northeastward course. Major Barttelot was left on the Aruwimi, at Yambuya, with 257 men and the main part of the stores, to await the coming of the promised reinforcements from Tippoo Tib. A long delay ensued, and troubles broke out in consequence (it is said) of the rash and imperious demeanor of Major Barttelot, and finally Barttelot was murdered and the entire rear-guard was broken down by desertion and pillage. Jameson collected the remains of the party, but he soon after died, and Mr. Bonny succeeded to the command and collected and kept the men together. Meanwhile, Stanley's march ahead was made with many difficulties, and he encountered rapid streams and other obstacles unforeseen and unexpected. Toward the end of December, 1887, Stanley's expedition having reached the Albert Edward Nyanza, and still being unable to open communications with Emin Pasha, it was decided to return to the forest and build a fort, and, after resting the forces, make a new start toward the lake. This fortification, known as Fort Bodo, was inhabited until April, 1888, when Stanley pressed on, and finally found Emin Pasha and his companion, Dr. Casati. They had passed through the country of the dwarfs, nearly perishing with hunger, and when they reached the lake, Emin's soldiers had mutinied and he was a prisoner. Emissaries from the Mahdist Dervishes had stirred up the camp of Emin and caused inextricable confusion. Emin was reluctant to leave the province, and when Stanley and his white companions determined to attempt to reach Zanzibar by an unexplored route, Emin refused to depart. Four months were spent in an effort to overcome the reluctance of Emin Pasha and Captain Casati, who were unwilling to leave their people.
Emin's plea was that ten thousand of his people would have to be extricated from the province and carried to the coast. After many and exasperating discussions, Stanley refused to wait longer, and Emin, who had become nearly blind, brought away with him about five hundred persons. The expedition then, over a southeasterly route, made its way toward the coast.
The course of march from Albert Edward Nyanza was nearly in a direct line to the Uzinja country, on the southwest shore of the Victoria Nyanza. The party passed south of Victoria Lake and reached the east coast December 4, 1889. The caravan, since it left Albert Edward Nyanza, had dwindled from fifteen hundred to one-half that number. This latest journey of Stanley lasted one thousand and twelve days, of which hardly twenty were without tragical and perilous incidents. The story of the annihilation that overcame his rear-guard has been often told. It will probably never be settled exactly where shall be placed the blame for that frightful disaster.
On his return from the Emin relief expedition, Stanley revisited the United States, accompanied by his bride whom he had lately married. He gave lectures in several of the larger cities of the country on his surprising adventures in Africa. He was now prematurely aged by his terrible experiences, and though his eye was still bright and his frame alert, care and privation had whitened his hair, exposure had darkened his skin and left its wrinkled impress on his forehead. Everywhere he was received with the greatest enthusiasm and followed by eager thousands, who gazed upon his face and hung with rapture on his words. In 1892 he returned to England, and availing himself of his British nationality, stood for Parliament in the District of Lambeth, City of London, as a Conservative candidate. Much to the surprise and grief of his friends he was defeated and since then he has remained in private life.
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