Thursday, November 21, 2013

Dr. Livingstone I presume?

Henry Morton Stanley was born in Denbigh, Wales on the 28th January, 1841 the illegitimate offspring of an alcoholic farm hand and an underage bar maid. When his father died he was deposited in the workhouse but ran away to sea at the age of 15, boarding a ship bound for America where he claimed to have been " adopted" by a wealthy American named Henry Stanley and changed his name to Henry Morton Stanley. The story of his "adoption" did not stand up to scrutiny and is just the first of many such occasions where he is caught out being "thrifty" with the truth. Perhaps the most famous incident was the quotation from his meeting with Livingstone where he claimed to have greeted the Dr. with the stilted and formal  " Dr. Livingstone I presume?" There is plenty of evidence to suggest that he never said such a thing but unfortunately his greeting became the punch line to a thousand jokes. It is ironic that Stanley is remembered more for this than for his own feats of exploration since he is probably the only one of the African explorers who's journeys rivaled, and possibly even surpassed, those of Livingstone.

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