Meeting of the British Association—Address by a New York Herald Reporter—Livingstone in Africa
The British Association met this year at Brighton, on August 14, 1872, on the next day Dr. Carpenter, the newly elected President, delivered his inaugural oration. But the great feature of a following meeting was the address of Mr. Henry M. Stanley, a correspondent of the New York Herald, who has suddenly achieved fame, if not fortune, by a successful adventure in Africa in search of the famous traveller, Dr. Livingstone. The Doctor had not been heard from for nearly three years, and much anxiety was felt in England in regard to his safety. The public interest in his health reached such a pitch that the Government finally organized an expedition for a search after the missing explorer, while a voluntary contribution for supplies and other assistance, amounting to some $25,000 was gathered. The starting point for these relief expeditions was Zanzibar, a well-known settlement and steam packet post on the east coast of Africa, six degrees south of the equator. On this parallel, the width of the African continent from the Indian Ocean to the Atlantic is only about eighteen hundred miles. The headquarters of Livingstone were known to be somewhere in the vicinity of a collection of native huts, designated as Ujiji, on the banks of a great lake, discovered by previous travellers, and called Lake Tanganyika. The route from Zanzibar to Ujiji is well known, distance about seven hundred miles, the first four hundred of which are very difficult to pass on account of the marshy nature of the ground and the extreme warmth of the climate.
The newspaper discussion, preparations and movements connected with the sending of the relief expedition excited much interest in Great Britain, and it occurred to Mr. James Gordon Bennett, proprietor of the New York Herald, who was in England at this time, that it would not be a bad idea to dispatch one of his reporters to Zanzibar, and if possible send him on ahead of the relief party to interview Dr. Livingstone, and bring back news of the celebrated traveller in advance of other newspapers. No sooner thought of than done. A reporter was selected in the person of a young American rover, named Henry M. Stanley, who at once started for Zanzibar, where he engaged guides and men to accompany him, and then pushed on through the forest for Ujiji, which place they reached after some difficulties, and here they found Dr. Livingstone, waiting for long expected supplies.
The reporter was enabled to relieve the Doctor's immediate necessities; and after procuring from him letters giving an outline of his discoveries, with messages for friends at home, the enterprising Stanley posted back to the sea coast, then on to England with the great news, first directing further supplies to be sent from Zanzibar to Dr. Livingstone, who will proceed with his explorations. Stanley's recent arrival in England produced, as might have been expected, an immense sensation. His pluck in walking six hundred miles through the woods and mires, under a broiling sun, to interview Livingstone, and the enterprise of the New York Herald in sending him, have formed the subject of many columns of laudation in the various British papers.
At the meeting of the British Association, Mr. Stanley, by special invitation, gave an account of his African march before a very large and distinguished audience, composed of the members of the Association and their invited guests, among whom the nobility were strongly represented. The Ex-Emperor Napoleon, Eugenie and son were among the most interested auditors.
In the discussion which followed, some of the geographers pointed out the improbability of certain deductions made by Livingstone in respect to the source of the Nile, while other places, reported by Stanley as the discoveries of Livingstone, were declared to have been visited by other travellers, among them Dr. Schweinfurth, the celebrated German savant. One of the reports says that Stanley "did not content himself with refuting Dr. Beke or Sir Henry Rawlinson; he abused them in a rhetorical way for differing from his friend Dr. Livingstone. Every one was glad to see the brave and absent and ancient explorer have so stout a champion present at the meeting. The Doctor must have charmed and inspired Stanley, or Stanley, with the generous heroism of youth and sympathy for common danger and suffering, resolutely liked the Doctor, and took his part against all adversaries and critics. Sometimes he answered by a dramatic grimace alone, and anon by a thundering denunciation of those who sat at home and criticized maps to contradict those who, by travel and peril and patience, have penetrated the dangerous lands and seen for themselves. When he referred to Schweinfurth, he exclaimed, 'I never heard the name of that German Doctor before. Ladies and gentlemen, there never was an Englishman who discovered anything, lake or land, river or mountain, or went anywhere, but immediately arises some red haired German and says he has been there before.' This thrust at the Germans delighted the Imperial party beyond measure. The Emperor shook with merriment. The Empress contrived to understand it, and for the first time was convulsed with laughter, in which her son also joined."