Who Were Stanley and Livingstone?
One day in 1871, a man hobbled from his hut in a small village in East Africa to see what all the excitement outside was about. He was only fifty--eight, but his gray beard and rough skin, worn and wrinkled from many years of working outdoors in harsh conditions, made him look much older. He moved slowly, too, because he had been sick for a very long time. To the people in the village of Ujiji, he was almost a member of their family. To the rest of the world, he was the famous Scottish explorer Dr. David Livingstone. But the rest of the world had not seen Dr. Livingstone in more than five years. Most people assumed that he was probably dead.
The excitement was created by the arrival of a younger man who had brought dozens of people with him—-native Africans who helped him on his journey. They carried enough supplies to last for years. They blew their horns and waved an American flag. The younger man was Henry Morton Stanley, a thirty--year--old journalist who had traveled to Africa to search for Dr. Livingstone. Stanley, and all the people who read his newspaper articles, wanted to know for sure if Dr. Livingstone was dead or alive.
Stanley walked forward, took off his helmet, and reached his hand toward the older man.
“Dr. Livingstone, I presume?” he asked.
Of course it was Dr. Livingstone! They were the only two European men present. But Stanley couldn’t think of anything else to say. He was nervous. At the time, Dr. Livingstone was one of the most famous people in the world. Stanley wanted Livingstone to like him. He had traveled for nearly eight months into the middle of the African continent looking for Livingstone. But he never imagined what he might say if he ever found him. So he said the first thing that came to his mind: a very proper greeting.
Stanley didn’t need to be nervous. Dr. Livingstone was happy to see him. The older man needed the medicine and supplies that Stanley had carried with him or he wouldn’t live much longer.
Over the next several months, the two men became good friends. They enjoyed long talks about many subjects. After Dr. Livingstone got better, the two men even explored parts of Africa together.
And then Henry Morton Stanley left Africa. The two men were together for just over four months. But they have been linked ever since. It’s almost as if “Stanley and Livingstone” was one name.
But who was Stanley? And who was Livingstone? Did they ever see each other again? Why are they such important figures in world history? And why did “Dr. Livingstone, I presume?” become such a famous line? Let’s explore their story! Chapter 1: Young Livingstone
As a child, David Livingstone shared a single room with his family in an apartment house in Blantyre, Scotland, a country in the United Kingdom, which also includes England, Wales, and Northern Ireland.
It wasn’t too crowded in that room when David was born on March 19, 1813—-just him, his mother, Agnes, his father, Neil, and his brother, John, who was almost two years older. Over the next several years, though, Agnes and Neil had several more children—two girls and another boy —and it became very crowded! Two other children died when they were still babies.
The entire family did everything in their one room. They cooked, ate, cleaned, studied, and slept there. There was enough room for the beds because they fit underneath each other—-smaller ones on wheels tucked under larger ones. At night, the family rolled out the beds, which took up much of the space in the room.
The Livingstones’ room was one of eight on their floor of the building. One family lived in each of the eight rooms. And the building had three floors. So twenty--four families lived in the building!
Some of the families kept chickens or other animals in their rooms, even though it was against the rules. All of them threw their garbage down holes cut into the building’s staircases. And all of them used an old--fashioned toilet that was simply a pail they kept covered with dirt.
The building smelled. It was dirty. And there were far too many people living there. David did not have a comfortable life while growing up.
David’s father traveled door--to--door selling tea. But most of the families in the building had someone who worked in the local cotton mill, where yarn and cloth were made. The owner of the cotton mill made a lot of money and lived in a big house in the town. But he paid his workers very little.
Neil Livingstone didn’t have a job at the mill, but he didn’t make very much money selling tea, either. So the boys of the Livingstone family went to work in the cotton mill when they were still children.
David was just ten when he began his first job at the mill as a piecer. Working as a piecer meant fixing the threads that broke on the spinning machines. Piecers were often children because the job meant crawling under machinery or climbing on top of it. They were better at this than adults, and their size was more suited to the job, which was hard, dangerous work!
The hours at the mill were long and the building was hot. Mill workers, including the children, worked from six o’clock in the morning until eight at night. The mill was almost ninety degrees inside because the heat was good for the cotton. Sometimes the piecers had a bucket of water poured over them. It wasn’t to cool off, though. It was to wake them up if they were getting tired near the end of a long day. Still, that was better than the other punishment they received if they didn’t spot threads that broke: a beating with a leather strap.
By the end of the day, many of the piecers were too tired to do anything but go home and sleep so they could do it all again the next day. Not David, though. After he got off work, he went to an evening school. Lessons were taught for two hours beginning at eight o’clock at night. The teacher was a man hired by the mill. Then, after David was done at ten o’clock, he went home to read. Often, he read books about science and geography. He read until at least midnight, and sometimes later. Then his mother would take the book out of his hands and tell him to sleep. After all, he had to be back at work again by six o’clock in the morning! It was a tough life, but David wasn’t unhappy.
The first time David got paid, most of what he earned went straight to his parents. But with the little bit left over, he bought a book to learn Latin. When David wasn’t studying Latin, he especially liked to read books on travel. He dreamed of seeing the world outside Scotland and of visiting the places he read about. They were far, far away from the cotton mill of Blantyre.
David’s father, however, wanted him to read books about religion. The Livingstones were Christian. Neil didn’t like it when David read books about science. He thought that sometimes science tried to take the place of God.
Every Sunday, the family walked more than two miles to the town of Hamilton to attend church. David agreed with his father about Christianity, but he disagreed with him about science. David looked around at the beauty of nature and felt as if science proved that there is a God.
When David was in his late teens, he became a spinner in the mill. That was a more important job. It also meant that he wasn’t always standing, like the piecers did. It allowed him to read even while he was at the mill. He would set a book on his machine and read while he worked. The cotton mill was a noisy place. There were many people moving around. The frames of the machines clanged together. Iron wheels moved back and forth on iron rails. But David learned to focus even with all the noise.
One day, David’s father brought home a paper about medical missionaries in China. Missionaries are people who travel to another country to teach about their religion. Medical missionaries also help take care of the sick. David thought it could be a great way for him to help other people. He was very interested in science, so becoming a doctor made sense. And he wanted to travel, so becoming a missionary was a perfect fit.
It cost money to go to medical school, of course. But because David was now a spinner, he was getting paid more. He managed to save some of his salary for school. And in 1836, when he was twenty--three, he began studying at Anderson’s College in Glasgow, Scotland.
In 1840, David qualified as both a doctor and a missionary. He had joined the London Missionary Society, which sent people all over the world to teach about Christianity. David previously had wanted to go to China, but he was ultimately sent to join a mission in Africa. He sailed from London, England, on December 8, 1840.
Copyright © 2021 by Jim Gigliotti. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.