18 – Historic Meeting With Stanley

On October 23rd, Livingstone reached Ujiji.  He was reduced to a skeleton and further distressed by many other things.  The third whole shipment that had been sent to him from Zanzibar had been stolen with three thousand yards of calico and several hundred pounds of beads.  This last blow just about crushed the spirits of the now old man, for he was now just about reduced to begging. 

     In the midst of his trial, there was sunshine at hand, though.  The following is his own explanation of what happened that caused courage and high resolve to come to his heart again.

     “But when my spirits were at their lowest ebb the good Samaritan was close at hand, for one morning Susi [his faithful servant] came running at  the top of his speed, and gasped out, ‘An Englishman! I see him!’  and off he darted to meet him.  The American flag at the head of a caravan told of the nationality of the stranger.  Bales of goods, baths of tin, huge kettles, cooking pots, tents, etc., made me think, ‘This must be a luxurious travelers, and not one at his wit’s end like me.’

     It was Henry Moreland Stanley, the traveling correspondent of the New York Herald, sent by James Gordon Bennett, Jr., at an expense of more than $20,000 to obtain accurate information about Dr. Livingstone, if living, and if dead to bring home my bones.  The news he had to tell to one who had been two full years without any tidings from Europe, made my whole frame thrill.  The terrible fate that had befallen France – the telegraphic cables successfully laid in the Atlantic – the election of General Grant – the death of good Lord Clarendon, my constant friend – the proof that Her Majesty’s Government had not forgotten me in voting  $5,000 for supplies, and many other points of interest, revived emotions that had lain dormant in Manyuema.  Appetite returned; and instead of the spare, tasteless two meals a day, I ate four times daily, and in a week began to feel strong.  I am not of a demonstrative turn – as cold, indeed, as we islanders are usually reputed to be – but this disinterested kindness of Mr. Bennett, so nobly carried into effect by Mr. Stanley, was simply overwhelming.  I really do feel extremely grateful, and at the same time I am a little ashamed at not being more worthy of the generosity.  Mr. Stanley has done his part with untiring energy; good judgment, in the teeth of very serious obstacles.  His helpmates turned out depraved blackguards, who, by their excesses at Zanzibar and elsewhere, had ruined their constitutions and prepared their systems to be fit provender for the grave.  They had used up their strength by wickedness, and were of next to no service, but rather down-drafts and unbearable drags to progress”. 

     Dr. Livingstone had on a previous occasion written from the interior of Africa that Lake Tanganika poured its waters into the Albert N’yanza lake of Baker.  At the time he didn’t realize the interest that this announcement would spark.  Stanley now showed him the importance of actually knowing whether the junction really existed, and they set out together to find out if the Arabs had been telling the truth about the matter. 

     They bought a canoe and coasted along the shores of the lake until they reached the mouth of the Rusizi river.  They paddled up it for some distance, and found that it flowed into the lake instead of out of it, as Livingstone had previously supposed.  This proved that Lake Tanganika had no connection with Lake Albert, and therefore settled the question of the Nile’s sources.  Livingstone still believed, though, that the Nile had its sources in certain fountains or lakes south and west of Lake Tanganika, and that the large river flowing to the northwest in the Manyuema country was the Nile.  This river actually turned out to be the Congo River, though.  The river was renamed, though, in honor of Livingstone.

     Stanley tried to persuade Livingstone to go with him to England and recuperate before completing his explorations of the Nile sources, but the Doctor thought it best that he should completely finish his work and then return permanently to England.  Since he couldn’t persuade him, they parted in Ujiji and he made sure that supplies were sent back to Livingstone. 

     During the waiting time for the supplies to arrive from Zanzibar, he employed his time in visiting various chiefs and tribes who inhabited the country near Unyanyembe.  He also made notes for his final exploration.  He also wrote things in his journal about what the natives thought about the hereafter.  They believed in departed spirits, but believed that if the body was burnt after death they could have no further contact with their relatives.  They believed they would lose the power of doing good to those they have loved, and evil to those who deserved their revenge. 

     In many parts of Africa, Livingstone was struck by the fact that the children had few games that they played.  Life was a serious business to the people, and they derived their amusement from imitating the vocations of their parents – hut-building, making little gardens, bows and arrows, shields and spears.  They small boys learned to have very good aim and learned how to kill prey at an early age. 

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God has radically changed my life, and I want to share the awesome things I am learning with you. I have found that the Holy Spirit is an awesome teacher when I listen to, obey, and apply what He teaches to my life.


About Cathy Deaton


My name is Cathy Deaton, Owner of Fan the Flame Ministries. God has radically changed my life, and He has shown me that I am to share the awesome things I am learning especially with the Millennial Generation (1981 – 1996), but I love connecting with Christians of all ages. I have found that the Holy Spirit is an awesome teacher when I listen to, obey, and apply what He teaches to my life. You truly can make a difference for God in an uncertain world.