Page 6, 6th July 1935

6th July 1935
Page 6
Page 6, 6th July 1935 — The Bright Eyes of Danger

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The Bright Eyes of Danger

M. STANLEY: being the Authorised Life of Sir Henry iMorton Stanley. By Frank _Bird (Stanley Paul, 18s. net).

Re\ iewed by H. C. BROUGHALL.

This life of Stanley has much of thc to c

Uality of romantic fiction. It starts, as h a story should, in a Victorian work use and ends with a title, a wedding in

estminster Abbey, and a death mourned not only in the hero's country but also far beyond its borders. But to regard Stanley's life as one of those characteristic period histories of a long steady rise from the depths to the heights is to misconceive it entirely. He did, in point of fact, pass some time serving behind a counter; but it :wag a brief, inglorious episode, sandasiche4 in between a successful battle with s a brutal workhouse official (with a flight i (sand a voyage as cabin-boy as corollary) end service in the Confederate (and Fedeoral) Army, more sailoring and a period in the American Navy. Be had some native faculty for drifting into adventure and finding himseif in the peril that would have crushed lesser men.

He was present at two small actions during his service in the :la\ y and contributed an account to a news-paper. Many men might have done as much and then 'caned back on the dull years which earn

• pension. But Stanley had contrised to tither a solid outline of education from is unpromising upbringing. He had even icquired sonic literary taste and style, wiped in this by the kindiy gentlemen who gave him his name. So that Stancy's incursion into journalism launched sim upon a new s ()cation, and in a short time he was acting as the special cortespondent of The .New York Herald. In that role he was present at the fall of Magdala, and by getting his news published bel'ore even the official notification had reached the British gosernmcnt he won a not unnatural scorn, and at length, some real fame.

Further small commissions were given him and at length he found himselt late at night, in a Paris hotel, receiving from James Gordon Bennett, instructions which were to carry him across Europe to Egypt, Palestine, Persia, India and then on to equatorial Aft ica, to find Livingstone. He was not yet thirty years of age; but he had a certain literalness in his character that made him set out, unquestioningly, upon this ambitious tour, and in the end, fulfil all that had been expected of him. He even found Livingstone and greeted him by that gauche, pompous phrase that has been justified wittily in other encounters. He was greatly impressed by Livingstone, shared a brief essay in exploration with him, and hence, when he heard of that veteran's death, felt himself impelled to take up the old man's life work. But, first, he had to undergo the series of attacks without which none of Stanley's greater achievements was ever made known. He was supposed to have forged Livingstone's letters. He was met with coldness even from the Royal Geographical Society—at first. But the attacks, which were an instinctive tribute to the tusk he had accomplished, died down at length, and he was able to secure a commission to return to Africa.

On this journey he carried out a much more ambitious plan. He started from Zanzibar, on the Indian Ocean, crossed the continent and, three years later, reached the Atlantic Ocean. He had traced the course of the Congo, and had found himself greatly impressed with the possibilities of the river basin. He could

not persuade the British government to interest itself in the territory but he very SOOrt found a patron who saw all that he saw and much beside. Leopold H, with the most irreproachable international aspirations, was playing a familiar national game, The various moves in this elaborate negotiation are well worth study. At _times Stanley was exasperated by his royal patron; but he describes the King as charming and can think only of the Prince of Wales (later Edward VII) as at all comparable. Leopold used Stanley—he was singularly fortunate in the choice of his tools—for his own ends, and Stanley was never for long and never wholly ignorant of the King's ultimate purpose. The glimpses of Leopold are fascinating. He had -a large, warm imagination, and at one time planned to place Gordon in charge of the Congo, and, at another, schemed to send Stanley out to Khartum.

He even interfered in Stanley's last journey to Africa, to relieve Emin Pasha. Europe at this moment was going through one of its periodical nerve crises. Gordan had passed away in Khartum and Emin was conceived as a solitary white man holding out some tiny island of unconquered desert is the heart of the Mahdi's power. in fact, the Malidi did not trouble him; and the idea of a rescue was wholly misconceived. When Stanley at length eneountered Emin, he himself and his small band were worn out and in tatters, while the man he had come to rescue was in trim uniform. Stanley seemed to suffer a physical blow; and moreover his rearguard had not come up. He marched back only to find that tragedy had overtaken them. The leader had been shot, and the role of the rearguard was irretrievably ruined. When, on his return, I he was able to persuade Ernin to be rescued. he was wholly disillusioned. Emin wanted protection only against his own command; but he finally allowed himself to be conducted to he neighbourhood of Zanzibar and shortly afterwards it was learned that he had joined the German Colonial Service.

This was not, however, the end for Stanley. When he reached England he found himself once more involved in controversy. This time he was charged with having deserted his rearguard and left it to its fate. Another story is told in these pages, and apparently it is the true one. Stanley was not to blame. The leader of the rearguard had misunderstood his orders in a time of crisis and so had gone to his death and almost ruined Stanley's plan. The details of the trek across Africa make excellent reading, and England was not slow to appreciate the greatness of his achievement. He became renaturalised, married happily and received a title.

There is one episode in this most fascinating book which will especially ap peal to those who are interested in reli gious phenomena. Mtesa, the powerful .equatorial ruler, questioned Stanley about Christianity and the Bible. Stanley gave some account of Christianity and, in pass ing, mentioned the commandments. Mtesa ordered these to be taken down; and from that time onward, insisted on extracting from his guest all the information he could provide about Christianity. It is not the least interesting episode of a strongly appealing book.

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