Format: Global Grey free PDF, epub, Kindle ebook
Pages (PDF): 580
Publication Date: 1889
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The news rang through the world that Stanley was safe. For more than a year he had been given up as lost in African wilds by all but the most hopeful. Even hope had nothing to rest upon save the dreamy thought that he, whom hardship and danger had so often assailed in vain, would again come out victorious.
The mission of Henry M. Stanley to find, succor and rescue Emin Pasha, if he were yet alive, not only adds to the life of this persistent explorer and wonderful adventurer one of its most eventful and thrilling chapters, but throws more light on the Central African situation than any event in connection with the discovery and occupation of the coveted areas which lie beneath the equatorial sun. Its culmination, both in the escape of the hero himself and in the success of his perilous errand, to say nothing of its far-reaching effects upon the future of “The Dark Continent,” opens, as it were, a new volume in African annals, and presents a new point of departure for scientists, statesmen and philanthropists. Space must be found further on for the details of that long, exciting and dangerous journey, which reversed all other tracks of African travel, yet redounded more than all to the glory of the explorer and the advancement of knowledge respecting hidden latitudes. But here we can get a fair view of a situation, which in all its lights and shadows, in its many startling outlines, in its awful suggestion of possibilities, is perhaps the most interesting and fateful now before the eyes of modern civilization.
It may be very properly asked, at the start, who is this wizard of travel, this dashing adventurer, this heroic explorer and rescuer, this pioneer of discovery, who goes about in dark, unfathomed places, defying flood and climate, jungle and forest, wild beast and merciless savage, and bearing a seemingly charmed life?
Who is this genius who has in a decade revolutionized all ancient methods of piercing the heart of the unknown, and of revealing the mysteries which nature has persistently hugged since “the morning stars first sang together in joy?”
The story of his life may be condensed into a brief space—brief yet eventful as that of a conqueror, moved ever to conquest by sight of new worlds. Henry M. Stanley was born in the hamlet of Denbigh, in Wales, in 1840. His parents, who bore the name of Rowland, were poor; so poor, indeed, that the boy, at the age of three years, was virtually on the town. At the age of thirteen, he was turned out of the poor-house to shift for himself. Fortunately, a part of the discipline had been such as to assure him the elements of an English education. The boy must have improved himself beyond the opportunities there at hand, for in two or three years afterwards, he appeared in North Wales as a school-teacher. Thence he drifted to Liverpool, where he shipped as a cabin-boy on a sailing-vessel, bound for New Orleans. Here he drifted about in search of employment till he happened upon a merchant and benefactor, by the name of Stanley. The boy proved so bright, promising and useful, that his employer adopted him as his son. Thus the struggling John Rowland became, by adoption, the Henry M. Stanley of our narrative.
Before he came of age, the new father died without a will, and his business and estate passed away from the foster child to those entitled at law. But for this misfortune, or rather great good fortune, he might have been lost to the world in the counting-room of a commercial city. He was at large on the world again, full of enterprise and the spirit of adventure.
The civil war was now on, and Stanley entered the Confederate army. He was captured by the Federal forces, and on being set at liberty threw his fortunes in with his captors by joining the Federal navy, the ship being the Ticonderoga, on which he was soon promoted to the position of Acting Ensign. After the war, he developed those powers which made him such an acquisition on influential newspapers. He was of genial disposition, bright intelligence, quick observation and surprising discrimination. His judgment of men and things was sound. He loved travel and adventure, was undaunted in the presence of obstacles, persistent in every task before him, and possessed shrewd insight into human character and projects. His pen was versatile and his style adapted to the popular taste. No man was ever better equipped by nature to go anywhere and make the most of every situation. In a single year he had made himself a reputation by his trip through Asia Minor and other Eastern countries. In 1866 he was sent by the New York Herald, as war correspondent, to Abyssinia. The next year he was sent to Spain by the same paper, to write up the threatened rebellion there. In 1869 he was sent by the Herald to Africa to find the lost Livingstone. A full account of this perilous journey will be found elsewhere in this volume, in connection with the now historic efforts of that gallant band of African pioneers who immortalized themselves prior to the founding of the Congo Free State. Suffice it to say here, that it took him two years to find Livingstone at Ujiji, upon the great lake of Tanganyika, which lake he explored, in connection with Livingstone, and at the same time made important visits to most of the powerful tribes that surround it. He returned to civilization, but remained only a short while, for by 1874 he was again in the unknown wilds, and this time on that celebrated journey which brought him entirely across the Continent from East to West, revealed the wonderful water resources of tropical Africa and gave a place on the map to that remarkable drainage system which finds its outlet in the Congo river.
Says the Rev. Geo. L. Taylor of this march: “It was an undertaking which, for grandeur of conception, and for sagacity, vigor, and completeness of execution, must ever rank among the marches of the greatest generals and the triumphs of the greatest discoverers of history. No reader can mentally measure and classify this exploit who does not recall the prolonged struggles that have attended the exploration of all great first-class rivers—a far more difficult work, in many respects, than ocean sailing. We must remember the wonders and sufferings of Orellana’s voyages (though in a brigantine, built on the Rio Napo, and with armed soldiers) down that “Mediterranean of Brazil,” the Amazon, from the Andes to the Atlantic, in 1540.