Story of H. M. Stanley - Vautier Golding

The Relief of Emin Pasha

On August 29th Stanley set out with a caravan of about four hundred and sixty people to cross the great forest for the third time. Some of the men were put into the canoes and paddled up the Aruwimi, while the rest marched along the bank. By the time they reached the Amiri Falls, on October 18th, Stanley had already lost forty-four men. Some of these had died of smallpox, but many had left camp without leave to raid food from the natives, and had been cut off and killed. Stanley also learnt on the way that ten of the deserters from Banalya had been eaten by natives.

Orders were now given to collect enough food for ten days' march, for there was little or nothing to be had in the country before them. Everybody set to work to gather plantains or bananas, which were peeled, sliced, and dried on wooden grids; and, when enough had been done, the march was continued.

The rainy season came on, and the toils of the journey were increased by the soaking bush, sticky mire, and swollen rivers. In one day the land party crossed thirty-two flooded streams. On October 27th they left their canoes hidden among bushes, and on the following day they came to Avatiko, where bananas grew in plenty. Here they caught two pigmies, a man and a girl, who were soon won over to friendship. Bonny measured the man carefully, and found him 4 feet in height, and 251 inches round the chest, while his foot was 61 inches long. The dwarf promised to guide them where food could be found, and, on November 1st, the caravan came to a banana grove at Andaki.

Two days were spent in drying more fruit, for no one knew when next they would chance upon food. On moving forward the undergrowth of the jungle was so thick that they took ten hours to cut five miles of pathway. Famine soon returned to them, and on November 6th fourteen men broke down with hunger. Next day Stanley sent Uledi with a large foraging party to scour the country in search of supplies; while 200 famished people waited their return to camp, with nothing to eat in the meanwhile but a little gruel of plantain flour.

In three days Uledi returned with food enough for several days, and then the caravan pushed on along the rivers Ihuro and Dui till they came to the banana groves of Indemau. Here they rested a week, while Bonny and sixty men made a wooden bridge eighty yards long over the Dui. For weeks their life seemed little else but famine and bananas by turns; and the state of famine and bananas seemed likely to go on.

On December 8th, thirty-five miles beyond the groves of Ngwetzé, they were in straits from hunger again. There seemed no reason for this; and Stanley, after a searching inquiry, found that nearly half of his followers had thrown their extra supplies away into the bush. The lazy rascals preferred the risk of death for themselves and the whole caravan rather than the trouble of carrying food. Stanley sent two hundred of them back to Ngwetzé to bring bananas, while he and the others waited at the camp they afterwards named Starvation Camp. The famished remnant kept up their spirits as best they could, for the foragers could easily be back on the fourth day, if not on the third; and then there would be fresh hope for the sick and the starving.

But the fourth day passed without the return of the rescue party. All this time Stanley had nothing to give the starving camp but a little broth each day made of equal parts of tinned butter and condensed milk with boiling water. The fifth day, and the sixth day too, were without relief for the sufferers, and Stanley began to fear that evil had befallen his absent men. On the seventh day he mustered seventy-six men who were still a able to walk, and started to meet the missing party, or to learn what had happened to them.

They marched all that day, and lay on the ground all night, but few were able to sleep for the pangs of hunger. At dawn they struggled forward, and soon heard voices in the distance. Presently the foragers appeared with ample food for all, and Stanley found out the cause of their delay. Selfishly feasting in the midst of plenty, they had neglected their friends in Starvation Camp, whom they might have relieved in half the time. All returned to the camp that same day, and then the famished men knew what it was to feel thankful for food.

A few days afterwards, on December 20, Stanley reached Fort Bodo, and joined the party he had left there.

Three days later he pushed on to the Ituri River, and made a new camp at Kandokoré, where he left most of his stores and more than 100 sick men, under the charge of Lieutenant Stairs and Surgeon Parke. He himself went forward with the rest of his men to the Albert Nyanza, and encamped near Kavalli's, on a plateau 2000 feet above the lake. On January 16, just before reaching the lake, news came that Emin's Egyptian soldiery had rebelled, and had made both Emin and Jephson prisoners, intending to hand them over to the chief of the Dervishes, who was known as the Khalifa.

Stanley was prepared to rescue Emin by force, but Emin himself seemed quite unable to make up his own mind whether he really wanted to escape. He could hardly bear to give up the province over which he had been Governor for so many years; and he still hoped to bring his rebels to order and then beat off the Khalifa's attacks. Stanley saw that all this was hopeless, and he told Emin by letter to make up his mind in twenty days, or the relief caravan would start home without him. At last Emin decided to escape; and now came the question how was this to be done?

A new plot made by Emin's rebel officers settled the matter. They thought it would be very nice to get hold of all Stanley's rifles, ammunition, and stores; and in order to gain his goodwill they let the two prisoners go. Jephson reached Kavalli's on February 6, and soon told Stanley all that was going on. Emin followed eleven days later, and with him came some of his officers, whom he believed to be faithful. In reality this was a trick of the rebels to spy out Stanley's strength, and to tempt his men with bribes into rebellion.

Stanley saw there was danger in the place and determined to get away from it as soon as could be. Stairs and Parke brought the invalids and stores from Kandokoré, and on April 10 the homeward march to Zanzibar was begun. The caravan numbered nearly 1100, of whom about 600 were the faithful remnant of Emin's people.

At Mazamboni's village Stanley was struck down with a dangerous illness, which kept the caravan there for nearly a month. One of his followers, named Rehan, took this chance of deserting to the rebels with twenty-two men and some rifles. Stairs with forty riflemen at once gave chase, and in four days brought back most of the fugitives. Rehan, who had shot some of the friendly natives in his way, was tried by court-martial and hanged, and there was no more conspiracy after this.

On May 17 the caravan reached the river Semliki; but here the Awamba natives attacked them and refused to let them cross. Stanley sent several men to search for a canoe, and Uledi quickly found one tied to the opposite bank. Sharpshooters were now placed along the bank to keep the natives back, while Uledi and Saat Tato, Stanley's tracker, swam over the river. They managed to cut away the canoe without being seen; but after climbing on board, they were in full view of the enemy. The two men paddled for their lives, but the natives charged with a yell and showered arrows after them. Saat was struck in the back, but in spite of this the canoe was brought over in triumph. In a short while Bonny and five riflemen had gained a footing on the enemy's side of the river, and a few more canoe loads made them strong enough to drive the natives away.

Next day all were ferried safely across, and the caravan followed up the valley of the Semliki. On their left lay the range known to the ancients as the "Mountains of the Moon," whose highest peak, called Ruwenzori by the natives, rose 19,000 feet into the sky and glittered with sunlit snow. Stairs and a small party of men climbed 10,000 feet up its slope, sleeping one night on the way. Next day they were forced to turn back before reaching the snow-line, for their food was done, and the half-naked men were suffering from the bitter cold air.

On June 16 the caravan reached Russisse, and for the second time Stanley saw the Lake Muta Nzigé, from which the Semliki flows to the Albert Nyanza and thence to the Nile. He had now explored all the Nile sources; and passing round the east shore of the lake, whose name he changed to Albert Edward, he soon came to his former track. Once more he saw the hot springs of Mtagata, the hills of Karagwé, and the uplands of Usambiro. Once more, after fifteen years, the chiefs of Usukuma and Ugogo tried to extort tribute from him, though now they asked three hundred measures of cloth instead of the former fifteen. Once more he crossed the hills of Mpwapwa, the valley of the Mukondokwa, and the Makata swamp, though this time fortunately in the dry season. At last, on December 4, he reached Bagamoyo, and then his share of African travel was done.

Ruwenzori glittered with snow


As soon as he had finished up the affairs of the expedition, he started for England to enjoy a few years' rest after his long time of hardship and toil. In 1890 he married Miss Dorothy Tennant, who, like himself, was of Welsh descent. After the wedding service, which took place in Westminster Abbey, he laid a wreath on the tomb of David Livingstone, whose example and friendship had drawn Stanley to the career that brought him greatness and honour. For though Stanley's life was not so fully noble and heroic as that of the old pioneer, his work was none the less useful to mankind; for between them these two great explorers threw open the whole of Central Africa to the world, and it is now the duty of the nations who have shared the great continent to carry on the work of civilisation. We English, who hope for a great and lasting British Empire, have taken in charge the land belonging to nearly thirty millions of black men. All land, however, is utterly worthless to an Empire without plenty of good, useful, and happy people to work upon it.

If we ever grow careless of the well-being of the natives, if we let them poison themselves with the abuse of rum, if we make them work for next to nothing while we get rich at their expense, then we shall bring both them and our Empire to ruin. But if we freely spend our money and knowledge in teaching them how to make the best use of their lives and to become active, healthy, and joyful in their own land, then there will be a grateful British Empire for our children's children. It was for this that Stanley worked, and for this he was made a knight in 1899, five years before his death on May 10, 1904.