24 September 2002
THE FOUNDING OF THE CONGO FREE STATE
A grey-enamelled theodolite signed on the horizontal circular plate T.W.Watson 4 Pall Mall London No. 168, the telescope mounted on a small A frame on one side of the circle, with rack and pinion focusing to the objective lens with sliding cover and ray shade, the telescope connected via a tube with a lens at the telescope end, to the enclosed vertical circle with silvered scale and two verniers (much tarnished), screw clamp and tangent screw fine adjustment, the outer face of the casing with the remains of applied paper, the horizontal plate enclosing the circle with silvered scale and mounted with two bubble levels and a trough compass and with two verniers, clamp and tangent screw fine adjustment, raised on a tripod mounting with two clamps and three adjustable screw feet, with a mirrored 90° eye-piece and two lenses, in the original fitted mahogany carrying case with two brass handles - 40cm wide.
One of the great achievements of Stanley's five years employment by Leopold II in the Congo was the building of a wagon road past the cataracts from Vivi, the first station on the Congo up to Leopoldville on Stanley Pool, a distance of around 235 miles. The road took over 2½ years to build, and was personally directed by Stanley. King Leopold was particularly upset at the time it took. The building of this road took its toll, Stanley almost died of fever in March 1881, and many other European officers died in the blistering heat of the jungle. This theodolite, used to work out the best route for the road through the forest, is Stanley's own momento of this extraordinary feat of engineering, after which he would be called 'Bula Mutari' (breaker of stones).
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