The Exploration Diaries of H. M. Stanley: Now First Published from the Original Manuscripts

The Exploration Diaries of H. M. Stanley: Now First Published from the Original Manuscripts

The Exploration Diaries of H. M. Stanley: Now First Published from the Original Manuscripts

The Exploration Diaries of H. M. Stanley: Now First Published from the Original Manuscripts

Excerpt

When H. M. Stanley died in 1904 his fame reposed four- square on spectacular achievements set out in his principal published works. Some unpublished material remained in the guarded care of his family, in particular a diary relating to the explorer's pursuit and identification of the River Congo.

When examination revealed the diary to be an incomplete record covering no more than the first nine months of a thousand- day expedition, and when further search failed to reveal any other diaries, the missing original documents of the Congo Expedition were presumed irretrievably lost, destroyed by the explorer himself perhaps, mislaid beyond recall or swept away amongst the bomb damage during the war.

It was only, and highly appropriately, at the time of the Congo Independence celebrations to which the explorer's grandson was invited as official representative of 'Bula Matari, Breaker of Rocks' -- as his grandfather, the creator of the original Free State, was known -- that Richard Stanley lighted on four closely-written reporter's pads in a box-file, among other box-files of neatly labelled bills, receipts, and so forth in the explorer's hand, at Furzehill Place, Pirbright, his country seat and last home.

These undistinguished-looking pads proved to be manuscripts of the deepest interest. They were the tara-tara, the fetish-papers so rightly dreaded by the Chiefs of Mowa in May, 1877, the contents of which were to revolutionise the lives of millions in the Congo and in Belgium. The pads were the day- to-day account of an astounding journey, entered in forest camp or collapsible boat, fair or foul weather, poorly fed or downright starving, by the explorer in days before the course of the River Congo was more than a myth or its known waters charted fifty miles beyond the Atlantic coast of Africa.

These little books held the raw record of a resolution, an effort, an achievement in the order of Xenophon's march from . . .

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