CORRECTION: Livingstone, not Henry M. Stanley, was 53 when he disappeared. Self got the ages mixed up, a result perhaps of juggling too many books at the same time!
David Livingstone was one of Britain’s greatest explorers. He disappeared in Africa — in 1866? Self isn’t too clear about that date, she’s only about 30 pages in.
Truthfully, she began the book a week ago, but then spent two full days re-reading The Hunger Games and The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. That is how absolutely she inhabited the world of Katniss, Gale and Peeta, after watching Francis Lawrence’s rousing movie.
Anyhoo, self is now back to Earth. Yesterday afternoon’s trek to a less-than-cheery San Francisco most definitely cured her. She is once again able to resume reading How I Found Livingstone in Central Africa.
Henry M. Stanley, who was recruited to go to Africa and ascertain what happened to Livingstone, began his quest from Zanzibar in March of 1871. He managed to force his way deep into central Africa, after an exhausting trek of some 700 miles. And he did, of course, find Livingstone.
Here is how Stanley’s book begins:
“On the sixteenth day of October, in the year of our Lord one-thousand eight-hundred and sixty-nine, I was in Madrid . . . “
At 10 a.m. on that day, Stanley was handed a telegram from James Gordon Bennett, “the young manager of the New York Herald,” requesting Stanley meet him in Paris regarding a matter of great importance. Stanley went. Following is his account of how the meeting unfolded. Bennett begins with a question: “Do you think he is alive?” (“He” meaning Livingstone)
“He may be, and he may not be,” I answered.
“Well, I think he is alive, and that he can be found, and I am going to send you to find him.”
“What!” said I, “do you really think I can find Dr. Livingstone? Do you mean me to go to Central Africa?”
“Yes, I mean that you shall go; and find him wherever you may hear that he is, and to get what news you can of him, and perhaps” – delivering himself thoughtfully and deliberately — “the old man may be in want. Take enough with you to help him should he require it. Of course you will act according to your own plans, and do what you think best, but find Livingstone!“
Said I, wondering at the cool order of sending one to Central Africa to search for a man whom I, in common with almost all other men, believed to be dead, “Have you considered seriously the great expense you are likely to incur on account of this little journey?”
“What will it cost?” he asked abruptly.
“Barton and Speke’s journey to Central Africa cost between 3,000 and 5,000 pounds, and I fear it cannot be done under 2,500 pounds.”
“Well, I will tell you what you will do. Draw a thousand pounds now; and when you have gone through that, draw another thousand, and when that is spent, draw another thousand, and when you have finished that, draw another thousand, and so on; but, find Livingstone.”
Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.