Memories of Glasgow

Stanley and Livingstone and the Exploration of Africa

David Livingstone,
page 12 of 13

with us; but it pleases me, here in the wilds, to place, as it were, my poor little garland of love on their tombs.”

Livingstone was now reduced to the direst straits. Through deliberate robbery all his supplies were systematically intercepted on their way from Zanzibar, and not one letter of twelve sent ever reached him. His goods were stolen from his camp; he was robbed of his medicine chest; heavy floods frequently stopped his march and destroyed his stores; and, lastly, to put a grim, crowning disaster to his troubles, most of his followers deserted him, only Chuma and Susi, his two faithful native adherents, remaining loyal to him in the midst of all this distress. Little wonder, with this dark outlook, that the heart of the lonely, forsaken traveller became sad, and hope burned low. But, in the midst of this gloom, Heaven was preparing a dawn for him, though he knew it not. This was in October, 1871, the date at which Stanley reached that spot in Central Africa where Livingstone was sitting almost without food and nearly giving up hope. Everyone knows of the dramatic nature of that meeting, and of Stanley’s cool, matter-of-fact greeting — “Dr. Livingstone, I presume?” Livingstone himself says of this meeting: “When my spirits were at their lowest ebb the Good Samaritan was close at hand, for one morning Susi 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, large kettles, tents, etc., made one think ‘This must be some luxurious traveller, and not one at his wits’ end like me!’ It was Henry Moreland Stanley, the travelling correspondent of the New York Herald, sent by James Gordon Bennett, at an expense of more than £4,000, to obtain accurate information of me, if living, and, if dead, to bring home my bones. The news he had to tell me, who had been two full years without any tidings from Europe, made my whole frame thrill. I was much gratified with the proof that Her Majesty’s Government had not forgotten me in voting £1000 for supplies; and many other points of interest revived emotions that had long lain dormant. Appetite returned, and instead of a spare, tasteless two meals a day, I ate four times daily, and in a week began to feel strong.”

Stanley would have liked to have seen Livingstone go home to recruit, and then return to Africa to finish his great work; but the sturdy American’s stronger feeling was, that all Livingstone’s friends would like him to make a complete work of the exploration of the sources of the Nile before he retired. Even his daughter Agnes wrote, “Much as I wish you to come home, I would rather that you finished your work to your own satisfaction than return merely to gratify me.” On reading this Livingstone, with pardonable pride, exclaimed, “Rightly and nobly said, my darling Nannie. Vanity whispers loudly, ‘She is a chip of the old block.’ My blessing on her and all the rest!”

The time at last came round for Stanley to say “Goodbye,” after having spent four months with his great and gifted host. Stanley says of that last memorable morning they spent together: “We had a sad breakfast together. I could not eat, my heart was too full; neither did my companion seem to have an appetite. We found something to do to keep us together longer. At 8 A.M. I was not gone, and I had thought to have been off at 5. We walked side by side; the men lifted up their voices in a song. I took long looks at him, to impress his features on my memory. At last I said, ‘Now, my dear Doctor, the best of friends must part. You have come far enough; let


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