STANLEY, Sir Henry Morton (1841-1904). Autograph letter signed ('Henry M. Stanley') to Felix Lafontaine ('My dear Old Philosopher'), 'Village of Kagebyi, District of Nehambi, County of Nsukuma, On Lake Victoria Nyanza, Central Africa', 21 May 1875, 5 pages, folio.
AN IMPORTANT AFRICAN LETTER SENT BACK BY STANLEY FROM LAKE VICTORIA TO ZANZIBAR BY RUNNER, ON THE FIRST STAGE OF HIS TRANS-AFRICAN EXPEDITION, STANLEY REPORTS BITTER FIGHTING ON THE SHORES OF LAKE VICTORIA, and sends affectionate regards to Lafontaine and his friends, and 'to all the gentlemen of the "Herald" club', with renewed thanks for their treatment of him in New York after his search for Livingstone. He refers to the four tasks set him by Bennett of the Herald Tribune and Levy of the London Telegraph, comparing his achievements so far with those of other explorers: 'Speke and Grant returned from Africa before they had performed as much as I have already performed', though he himself is 'in no great hurry' to receive the honours accorded them. Stanley's achievement so far has been the finding of a new route to Lake Victoria, and the exploration of that lake: 'Speke contented himself with twice gazing at Lake Victoria, and in fancy traced its outline. By Exploration I have been compelled to curtail the vast breadth of this in land sea'. In the remainder of the letter, Stanley discusses at length the severe fighting his party has endured during the journey, in particular against a warlike chief named Mirambo: 'To find as much as I have done of the Sources of the Nile has cost the lives of two European employées, and nearly one hundred soldiers of Zanzibar'. Stanley contemplates the threats on the continuation of his journey to Uganda, which include an ally of Mirambo: 'if this hostile chief desires anything above what I can give him, he shall have Snyder bullets -- if he cannot be contented without'; disease too has afflicted the party, with dysentery carrying off a number after Stanley's vaccinations against smallpox; nevertheless 'My estimation of my soldiers has increased ten-fold'. The remainder of the letter reverts to Stanley's main adversary: 'I honor Mirambo, though he is a murderous villain', his use of tactics setting him apart from other opponents the expedition has encountered; 'I shall be glad when I have put some broad countries between my camp and his'.