Doctor Livingstone, I presume?

The famous Victorian explorer  Henry Morton Stanley, and his wife Dorothy stayed at the Midland Hotel on the 14th and 15th of May 1891.   On the 14th of May, Morton Stanley, gave a lecture at St George’s Hall.


Bradford Daily Telegraph, May 15, 1891


In St. George’s Hall last night Mr H. M. Stanley, the African explorer, delivered the above lecture. The hall was by no means crowded, but the audience, fascinated by the explorer’s graphic description of the many scenes he had visited in equatorial Africa and the great sufferings he and his followers underwent in his many journeyings into and across the dark continent, was very liberal in the bestowal of applause.

The Rev. T. Campbell, of Laisterdyke, presided. Mr. Stanley has an exceedingly good delivery, and his fund of anecdote, and his descriptions of how he escaped many perils, interested the audience greatly. After explaining how he first received his instructions from the “New York Herald” to go.


He said difficulties beset their path at every step, and at last after fighting a severe battle they at last reached the shores of Lake Tanganyika. Among the earliest to greet them were two black men, who said, in English, “Good morning, sir.” Astonished at the welcome sound of the English Language in the middle of Africa, he asked who they were, and they answered, “We are servants of Dr. Livingstone.” (Applause.) He could scarcely realise that they were so near the object of their search; but the caravan was brought to a halt under a group of palms, and a vast concourse of people gathered round them. Amongst the assembly was an elderly European, upon whose head was a blue consular cap with a gold band. He (Mr Stanley) bowed, and said “Dr. Livingstone, I presume?” He smiled, held out his hand and gave him a kindly welcome, and in a few minutes they were


(Applause). The old traveller was almost destitute; his old stores had long been exhausted, and he was living upon the supplies of his Arab friends. He (Mr. Stanley) stayed with him four months, and they parted on the 14th March 1872, he having a strong conviction that they would never meet up again. Fourteen months later, soon after forming his camp on the shores of the lake, Livingstone was called to his rest. He made a last effort one night to get to his knees to perform a last act of worship, and while in that reverent posture he died. He was a true Christian man, with an earnest, loyal and upright soul; his life was mostly spent in meditation in the African desert, and he was consumed with a desire to assist the despised natives. (Applause)

After an interesting account of the exploration of the big waters of the interior, and the interest associated with the sources of the Nile, Mr. Stanley referred to the work accomplished in


Mainly through the instrumentality of the King of the Belgians. A railway was now being rapidly pushed forward from the Atlantic to Stanley Pool; there was a flotilla of thirty steamers on the Upper Congo, and a police force of over 3,800 men recruited from the fierce tribes which in 1877 chased them day and night in their voyage on the Congo. (Applause). By 1894 he hoped that the railway would be open to the Pool, and then would arrive the time for consummating the last purposes which the founders of the Free State had in view – viz, the complete suppression of slavery within its borders(applause) – the diffusion of fair trade principled along the 16,000 miles of river bank, and the planting of garrisons for the repression of savage excesses, the preservation of order, and the administration of law. (Applause) Mr Stanley also referred to the work he had done in his.


But left out of his narrative all controversial matter. He contrasted the state of Africa when Livingstone first went thither and its condition today. A thousand military and civil white officers represent civilised government, and are to guarantee law and order.

There is a flotilla of thirty steamers on the Upper Congo, the waters of the Lake Nyassa and Tanganyika are cleft by the sharp prows of steam steer launches, and in four months from now a small steel navy will be riding on the waves of the Victoria Nyanza. Over fifty missionary stations dot the late dark heart of Africa, that precept and example may not be wanting for the regeneration of the pageant. To prevent the relapse into darkness which has been predicted by the timid and despairing, Africa is being fettered to civilisation by rigid bars of metal which form


Mr. Stanley concluded his lecture by remarking that the old continent will never become the home of the white man in the same sense that America has become, but it is bound to become a nursery of dark nations infinitely superior to any yet seen there. There were children in this city who would live to hear the good news that millions of Africans have learned to love the summons of the Christian church bells, and to join in the refrain first heard under the stars over Bethlehem, “Glory to God in the Highest, peace on earth and good will toward men.”

On the conclusion of his address Mr Stanley was loudly cheered.


Sir Henry Morton Stanley, GCB, born John Rowlands (28 January 1841 – 10 May 1904), was a Welsh journalist and explorer famous for his exploration of Africa and his search for David Livingstone. Stanley is often remembered for the words uttered to Livingstone upon finding him: “Dr. Livingstone, I presume?”

Henry Morton Stanley was born at Denbigh in North Wales, the illegitimate son of John Rowlands and Elisabeth Parry – on the birth register of St. Hilary’s Church he was entered as “John Rowlands, Bastard”.  Stanley’s father died in a potato field in 1846; he was seventy-five. Abandoned by his mother, Stanley spent his early years in the custody of his two uncles and his maternal grandfather. After his grandfather died, he was consigned at the age of six to the St. Asaph Workhouse, where male adults “took part in every possible vice,” as an investigative commission reported in 1847. However, Stanley received a fair education and he became a voracious reader. At fifteen, Stanley left St. Asaph’s and stayed some years with his relatives. At seventeen, he ran away to sea and landed in New Orleans. There Stanley gave himself a new name. First he was known as “J. Rolling”, but eventually he settled on Henry Morton Stanley after the cotton broker Henry Stanley, for whom he worked in New Orleans.

After the outbreak of the American Civil War in 1861, Stanley joined the Confederate Army, but later he enlisted in the Union Army. In 1864 he served as a clerk at the frigate Minnesota. During the following years, Stanley led a roving life in America, working mostly as a free-lance journalist. He also went to Turkey and Asia Minor as a newspaper correspondent. In 1867-1868 he was a special correspondent for the New York Herald.

In 1871 Stanley started his expedition to East Africa. To Katie Gough-Roberts, a young woman living in Denbigh, he sent a number of letters, and planned to marry her after the journey. However, she married an architect. Although he was deserted by his bearers, plagued by disease and warring tribes but he found Livingstone near Lake Tanganyika in Ujiji on November 10, 1871. Together they explored the northern end of Lake Tangayika – Richard Francis Burton claimed Lake Tangayika as the source of the River Nile. Livingstone had journeyed extensively in central and southern Africa from 1840 and fought to destroy the slave trade. Livingstone died in 1873 on the Shores of Lake Bagweulu. His body was shipped back to England and buried in Westminster Abbey – Stanley was one of the pall-bearers.

On hearing of his hero’s death, Stanley decided to follow up Livingstone’s researches on the Congo/Zaire and Nile systems, and at the same time examine the discoveries of Burton, Speke and Grant. “Two weeks were allowed me for purchasing boats – a yawl, a gig, and a barge – for giving orders for pontoons, medical stores, and provisions; for making investments in gifts for native chiefs; for obtaining scientific instruments, stationery, &c., &c. The barge was an invention of my own” (from Through the Dark Continent, 1878). Before the journey, Stanley fell in love with Alice Pike, a seventeen year old American heiress. She married Albert Barney in 1876.

Then sing, O friends, sing the journey is ended;
Sing aloud, O friends, sing to the great sea.

On his second African adventure, which started in 1874, Stanley journeyed into central Africa. Stanley’s three white companions, Frederick Barker and Francis and Edward Pocock, died during the expedition – Stanley himself was nicknamed Bula Matari, “the rock breaker”. Stanley circumnavigated Victoria Nyanza, proving it to be the second-largest freshwater lake in the world, and discovered the Shimeeyu River. After sailing down the Livingstone (Congo) River, he reached the Atlantic Ocean on August 12, 1877.

When David Livingstone combined geographical, religious, commercial, and humanitarian goals in his exploration journeys, Stanley created the direct link between exploration and colonization, especially in the service of Leopold II of Belgium. Stanley represented Leopold in signing treaties with bewildered African chiefs. The first expeditions of the Belgians he led to “prove that the Congo natives were susceptible of civilization and that the Congo basin was rich enough to repay exploitation”. Stanley’s revelation of the commercial possibilities of the region resulted in the setting up of a large trading venture and led to the founding of the Congo Free State in 1885. Leopold II’s ruthless exploitation of the country’s natural resources – “the rubber atrocities” – were protested by the international community and the Belgian parliament forced the king to give up personal control of the region.

In 1877 Stanley made the first complete traverse of the Iruri River, whose waters flow some 800 miles before joining the Congo in the vicinity of present-day Kisangani. By the time he abandoned the river to go directly for Lake Edward, fifty-two of his men were so crippled by leg ulcers and malnutrition, that he had to leave them on the riverbank at a place he named Starvation Camp.

Stanley made in 1886 a successful lecturing tour in the United States. The writer Mark Twain introduced him to the audience in Boston in November by comparing Stanley to Columbus: “Now, Columbus started out to discover America. Well, he didn’t need to do anything at all but sit in the cabin of his ship and hold his grip and sail straight on, and America would discover itself. Here it was, barring his passage the whole length and breadth of the South American continent, and he couldn’t get by it. He’d got to discover it. But Stanley started out to find Doctor Livingstone, who was scattered abroad, as you may say, over the length and breadth of a vast slab of Africa as big as the United States. It was a blind kind of search. He was the worst scattered of men.” Stanley organized the relief expedition in search of Emin Pasha, an adventurer, whom he met on the Albert Nyanza in 1888. During this disastrous mission one of Stanley’s subordinates bought a slave girl and gave her to cannibals.

In 1890 Stanley was in England. His story about his struggle to find Emir Pasha was published in 1890, the year that Joseph Conrad went to Congo, and later returned to his experiences in Heart of Darkness. Stanley visited in the following year the United States and Australia on lecturing tours. In 1899 Stanley was knighted and in 1895-1900 he sat in Parliament. He died in London on May 10, 1904.

Stanley’s publications include fiction and nonfiction. His diary, How I found Livingstone, and his account of his journey to the sources of the Nile, THROUGH THE DARK CONTINENT (1878), has been reprinted several times. IN DARKEST AFRICA (1890) is a story of Stanley’s 1887-89 expedition, and depicts among others pygmies who were still mysterious to the outside world. In adventure books of the nineteenth century, they were usually pictured as dwarfs. Stanley also wrote about the slave trade, but on the other hand he believed in the superiority of the white race. KALULU, PRINCE, KING, AND SLAVE (1874), Stanley’s only novel, has been called “an exotic homosexual romance”. The story, set in Central Africa, was about Selim, a young Arab boy from Zanzibar. Selim is taught to accept slavery, but on his journey in the Central Africa Selim himself is captured as a slave. He escapes, befriends an African prince, Kalulu. During his adventures he learns a new, critical view of his family’s values and attitudes to slavery. – The story was based on Stanley’s observation made during his historical search for Livingstone. In true-life Kalulu, ex-slave acquired in this journey, visited the US and Britain but was drowned on Stanley’s second expedition in 1874.