Stanley Meets Livingstone- page 7 | History | Smithsonian

Stanley Meets Livingstone

The American journalist's harrowing 1871 quest to find England's most celebrated explorer is also a story of newfound fascination with Africa, the growing power of newspapers and the United States' emergence as a world power

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(Continued from page 6)

 

Livingstone pushed through the crowd and saw a tanned, gaunt man. His boots were worn and his sun-beaten helmet clean. The man had such a formal bearing that, despite the Stars and Stripes, Livingstone assumed he was French. He hoped the traveler spoke English, for Livingstone didn’t speak a word of French. He thought that they would be “a pretty pair of white men in Ujiji if neither one spoke the other’s language.”

 

What Stanley saw was a pale white man wearing a faded blue cap and patched clothing. The man’s hair was white, he had few teeth, and his beard was bushy. He walked, Stanley wrote, “with a firm and heavy tread.”

 

Stanley stepped up crisply to the old man, removed his helmet and extended his hand. According to Stanley’s journal, it was November 10, 1871. With formal intonation, representing America but trying to affect British gravity, Stanley spoke, according to later accounts, the most dignified words that came to mind: “Dr. Livingstone, I presume?”

 

“Yes,” Livingstone answered simply.

 

“I thank God, doctor,” Stanley said, appalled at how fragile Livingstone looked, “I have been permitted to see you.”

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