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Conversations from the Four Rivers Region

Datebook: November 10 – “Dr. Livingstone, I Presume?” 140 Years Ago

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Sir Henry Morton Stanley was a Welsh journalist and explorer famous for his exploration of Africa and his search for David Livingstone. Upon finding Livingstone, Stanley allegedly uttered the now-famous greeting, “Dr. Livingstone, I presume?” His legacy of death and destruction in the Congo region is considered an inspiration for Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness.  Early in his journalism career, Stanley was commissioned by the New York Herald in 1869 to locate the Scottish missionary and explorer David Livingstone, who was known to be in Africa but had not been heard from for some time. Stanley traveled to Zanzibar in March, 1871 and outfitted an expedition with the best of everything, requiring no fewer than 200 porters. This 7,000 miles expedition through the tropical forest became a nightmare. His thoroughbred stallion died within a few days after a bite from a Tsetse fly, many of his carriers deserted and the rest were decimated by tropical diseases. To keep the expedition going, he had to take stern measures, including flogging deserters. Stanley found Livingstone on November 10, 1871, in Ujiji near Lake Tanganyika in present-day Tanzania, and may have greeted him with the now-famous, “Doctor Livingstone, I presume?” This famous phrase may be a fabrication, as Stanley tore out of his diary the pages relating to the encounter. Even Livingstone’s account of the encounter fails to mention these words. The Herald’s own first account of the meeting, published July 2, 1872, also includes the phrase: “Preserving a calmness of exterior before the Arabs which was hard to simulate as he reached the group, Mr. Stanley said: – ‘Doctor Livingstone, I presume?’ A smile lit up the features of the pale white man as he answered: “Yes, and I feel thankful that I am here to welcome you.”

It’s Thursday, November 10

Short story writer and Austin Peay State University faculty member, Cynthia McWilliams presents for the Loman C. Trover Library Reading Series at 7 tonight at Madisonville Community College. The reading’s open to all and refreshments are served.

Through 6 this evening and from 9 to 1 tomorrow there’s a fine art print and book sale on the first floor of Price Doyle Fine Arts Building of Murray State. Items include hand pulled lithographs, etchings, silkscreens, woodcuts, and hand-bound blank books.

Fire Station 1 at 301 Washington Street in Paducah hosts a Chili fundraiser tomorrow and next Friday from 11 to 1 to benefit the United Way of Paducah-McCracken County. Chili, chili dogs, and hot dogs are available.

Mayfield’s American Legion Post 26 hosts a Veterans Day Ceremony tomorrow at 11 a.m. in Harmon Park.

Paducah’s Veterans Day Parade Opening Ceremony starts at 10:30 tomorrow morning at the Gazebo at 2nd and Broadway. The Parade has 35 entries including four bands.

Details at wkms.org. Thanks for supporting this public radio service.

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