STANLEY, Henry Morton (1841-1904). Two autograph letters signed ('Henry M. Stanley') to 'any gentleman who speaks English at Emboma' and to Messrs A. Motta Veiga and J.W. Harrison, 'Village of N'Sanda' and 'Banza Mbuko (2 marches from Emboma)', 6 and 8 August 1877, together 4 pages, folio.
WE ARE NOW IN A STATE OF IMMINENT STARVATION
STANLEY'S DRAMATIC CRY FOR HELP AT THE END OF HIS 999 DAY TRANS-AFRICAN JOURNEY, AND THANKS FOR A RESPONSE. The first letter paints a picture of the pathetic state of Stanley's party at the end of their epic journey down the Congo: 'I have arrived at this place from Zanzibar with 115 souls ... We are now in a state of imminent starvation. We can purchase nothing from the natives, for they laugh at our kinds of cloth, beads and wire'; he is therefore despatching a party of four with this letter to any Englishman at Emboma, 'and as you are a Christian and a gentleman, I beg you not to disregard my request ... We are in a state of the greatest distress'. Stanley sketches his needs, which include 300 cloths of a quality suitable for barter, but 'better than all would be 10 or 15 man loads of rice, or grain to fill their pinched bellies immediately ... The supplies must arrive within two days, or I may have a fearful time of it among the dying'; on his own behalf, Stanley asks for 'such little luxuries as tea, coffee, sugar & biscuits ... as one man can easily carry'. A touching postscript adds 'You may not know me by name -- I therefore add, that I am the person who discovered Livingstone in 1871.'
The second letter is an ecstatic expression of gratitude for relief: 'we are all so overjoyed, and confused with our emotions at the sight of the stores exposed to our hungry eyes, at the sight of the rice, the ish, and the rum, and for me, wheat bread, butter, sardines, jam, peaches, grapes, beer -- Ye gods just think of it -- 3 bottles Pale Ale ... I beg you will charge our apparent want of thankfulness to our greediness ... For the next 24 hours we shall be too busy eating to think of anything much'. The letter continues with a curious dramatic monologue in the voice of his party -- 'Verily Our Master has found the sea, and his brothers, but we did not believe him until he showed us the rice and the pombe (the rum). We did not believe there was any end to this great river -- the Congo ...'; and Stanley recreates the scene of the arrival of food -- 'our brave people cried out, "Master we are saved. Food is coming"', and the party 'began to chant lustily an extemporized song, in honor of the white people by the Great Salt Sea (the Atlantic) who had listened to their prayers'; Stanley himself had to rush to his tent to hide his tears. (2)