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Posted in Adventure, Africa, Exploration, Famous news stories, Historical articles, History, Missionaries, News on Thursday, 13 June 2013
This edited article about Stanley and Livingstone originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 291 published on 12 August 1967.
Who said, “Doctor Livingstone, I presume”?
The answer is H. M. Stanley at Ujiji in November 1871.
In 1865, the great Scottish missionary and explorer, David Livingstone, returned to Africa at the request of the Royal Geographical Society to settle a dispute over the watershed in the region of Lakes Tanganyika and Nyasa.
The following year, some of his men returned to the coast with the news that he was dead, and the world mourned. But some were not convinced of Livingstone’s death and the government sent an expedition, which, though it did not find him, discovered proof he was alive. Letters from him confirmed this. However, there was no news after 1868, and once again it seemed probable that he was dead.
James Gordon Bennett Jr., son of the founder of the New York Herald, ordered H. M. Stanley, one of his most enterprising young reporters, to find Livingstone – dead or alive: it would be the scoop of the century!
On 21st March, 1871, Stanley, a young man of 29 who had never commanded an expedition, set off from Bagamoyo in what is now Tanganyika with two other white men and nearly 200 natives. By September, deaths and desertions had reduced the party to 53, with Stanley the only white man, and he had been continually stricken with fever.
After many adventures and hardships, the party at last heard news of a lone white man at Ujiji, on the borders of Lake Tanganyika, and on 3rd November the great meeting came. (Stanley thought it was the 10th, having lost track of the date when fever-ridden.)
Stanley was a brash, over-sensitive American who had been snubbed by many Englishmen, and this may have led him to ask his famous, over-polite question, especially as Livingstone was rumoured to be a difficult man. But the two got on famously, almost like father and son. They explored together and then Stanley travelled to England.
Though Stanley received a hero’s welcome, some resented his success, while others claimed that he had forged the letters Livingstone had given him and that he was an impostor. But more letters from Livingstone followed and Stanley’s detractors were silenced: he was the hero of two nations.
Posted in Adventure, America, Historical articles, History, News, Travel on Tuesday, 11 June 2013
This edited article about ‘Nellie Bly’ originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 285 published on 1 July 1967.
An illustration based on Elizabeth Cochrane's autobiography: a train from Gallup, New Mexico, somehow crossed an unsafe bridge still under repair by Paul Rainer
This week 80 years ago Elizabeth Cochrane lost her purse containing 100 dollars in New York. It represented her entire savings and, as she was out of work, meant she had to get a job fast.
Nervously she walked into the ‘World’ newspaper office and asked to see the editor. As she had no appointment the receptionist tried to turn her away.
For three hours she pleaded with the man behind the desk until he could hold out no longer. “This way, Miss,” he said, defeated by the girl who was destined to become the first great woman journalist in America.
“On the ‘Pittsburgh Dispatch’ I wrote under the name of ‘Nellie Bly’,” she told the editor. “Here is a list of articles I should like to write for you.”
The editor, already impressed by her determination to see him, was even more impressed when he looked at the paper she handed over.
“Try this one,” he said, pointing to a topic. “If you can do it I’ll take you on.”
The idea was that she would pretend she was mad so she could report on life inside a New York mental asylum. Her performance as a person with an unbalanced mind was so convincing that a panel of doctors committed her to the asylum. Here she was horrified at the wretched conditions of the patients.
When her experiences were printed in the ‘World’ there was a public outcry and a Grand Jury was set up to investigate. As a result of its findings the authorities allotted 3,000,000 dollars to improve conditions at the asylum. Nellie Bly was given her permanent job.
Born at Cochrane Mills, Pennsylvania, on 5th May, 1867, Elizabeth grew up to be a shy, slightly built girl with delicate health. After getting her first job with the ‘Pittsburgh Dispatch’ she wrote a series of crusading articles on bad working conditions. She took the pen name ‘Nellie Bly’ from a popular song of the day.
She went from success to success, but her greatest story began when, on 14th November, 1889, she boarded the Augusta Victoria for London. Her assignment was to beat the round-the-world record of the fictional character Phileas Fogg in Jules Verne’s ‘Around the World in Eighty Days’.
Great public interest was shown in her attempt. Each day the ‘World’ printed a map showing her progress and there was heavy betting on whether she would reach certain points on time.
From London she went to Boulogne, where she took a ship to Brindisi. By 27th November she reached Port Said. Aden was her next stop, then Colombo, where she had to wait five days for a ship. On 18th December she was in Singapore. On the voyage to Hong Kong her ship encountered a terrifying monsoon storm, but by Christmas Day she had reached Canton – on schedule. On 28th December she embarked for Yokohama, thence across the Pacific to San Francisco.
The ‘World’ hired a special train to take her across the continent to New York where she arrived on 25th January, 1890.
Nellie Bly had travelled 24,899 miles round the world in 72 days, six hours and 11 minutes. Jules Verne cabled his congratulations.
She continued her career as a journalist and later married a millionaire industrialist. She died in New York on 27th January, 1922.
Posted in Historical articles, History, News, War on Friday, 31 May 2013
This edited article about Winston Churchill originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 275 published on 22 April 1967.
During the Boer War, Winston Churchill was captured when attempting to retreat from the Boer troops
Captain Aylmer Haldane of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers, threw himself on to his camp bed and stared at the canvas roof of his tent, on which the South African sun beat down relentlessly, making the air oppressive.
“It’s madness!” he said. “Why do I have to take this armoured train out?”
His friend, 24-year-old Winston Churchill, who was new to South Africa, looked up from the table at which he was writing.
“I don’t know what you are talking about,” he said.
Haldane sat up and glared.
“Look,” he said, “We are in Estcourt. Ladysmith, 30 miles north of here, is cut off by the Boers, but the railway line is still open.”
“I know,” said Churchill. “That is why I am here.”
A war correspondent for the Morning Post, Churchill had arrived in Estcourt a few days before, hoping to get through to Ladysmith where the fighting was said to be heavy. But the war that everyone in England had thought would be so easy, was not going so well. The Boers, mobile and dangerous in the empty veldt, seemed to be everywhere.
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Posted in Communications, Famous news stories, Historical articles, History, News, War on Tuesday, 28 May 2013
This edited article about the Crimea originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 269 published on 11 March 1967.
William Howard Russell, the Times foreign correspondent in the Crimea, by Angus McBride
In the spring of 1854, a large Expeditionary Army left Britain bound for the Crimea. No one, it seemed, was quite certain what the war was about. In some manner Britain had become involved in a quarrel between Russia and Turkey, and was about to invade Russian territory. But few troubled about the larger issues: for the first time in a generation the army could show off its paces in a real war and the Expeditionary Army left in a holiday atmosphere. The transports carried ladies and their maids: room was found for private carriages: there was a profusion of flowers, choice wines and food. Lord Cardigan, Colonel of the Light Brigade, had already sent ahead his own yacht to which, during the coming battles, he would retire comfortably each night.
Britain was going to war in the old style, and the old style regarded the private soldier as the scum of the earth. It was considered – with some reason – that only a desperate man would endure the conditions of a soldier in the ranks.
Officers came only from the upper classes and they purchased their commissions. The practice was defended on the grounds that it prevented control of the army from falling into the hands of revolutionaries. It had worked in the past but, inevitably, it degenerated into a system whereby young gallants purchased control of large sections of the army over the heads of veteran soldiers, and used their command as a means of social display. Their personal bravery was unquestionable but so was their lack of military knowledge.
From the moment that the Army landed in the Crimea to its evacuation two years later, it was stalked by disaster. The incompetence of the English general staff was fortunately matched, and at times surpassed by, the incompetence of their enemy: the war would otherwise have ended in an English defeat within the first few weeks. Disease, hunger and thirst took as great a toll as did the enemy. Provisions failed to arrive: vast numbers of men were sent into waterless areas, thirsty before they started: equipment proved inadequate first for the burning heat of summer and then the rigours of winter. In spite of all this, the private soldiers and their field commanders fought with extreme bravery, adding the names of the Alma, Inkerman and Balaclava to the roll of battle honours.
Until the Crimea, the British public were largely ignorant of the daily progress of a war; their only knowledge was gained through infrequent private letters and official dispatches. But throughout the Crimean War a special correspondent of The Times newspaper – William Howard Russell – accompanied the troops. He was present at most of the battles, but, far more important, he was an eye-witness of the needless horrors inflicted upon the troops as a result of the personal rivalries and incompetence of the general staff. He reported what he saw and the news created a storm of indignation in England. Among those stirred to action was Florence Nightingale who, against official opposition, managed to introduce some humanity into the appalling hospital system in the Crimea. Russell’s dispatches eventually brought down the government and led to a drastic overhaul of the archaic system of army command.
Posted in Birds, Communications, Historical articles, History, News, Technology on Friday, 24 May 2013
This edited article about Paul Reuter originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 267 published on 25 February 1967.
A Pigeon fluttered down from the sky and a young man gave a cry of joy. With trembling fingers he removed the message which was attached to the bird’s leg, then raced with it to the new telegraph office at Aachen. Paul Reuter was in business.
The pigeon had begun its flight at Brussels where Paul Reuter’s young wife sent it off with the message. As yet the telegraph lines on the Continent had not been joined up and the Reuters introduced a pigeon post between the telegraph offices of Brussels and Aachen. It was the first step to founding the world’s most famous news agency.
Paul Julius De Reuter (later to become a Baron) was born at Kassel in Germany on July 21, 1816. As he grew up he became interested in the newly developed technique of sending messages along wires, and in 1849 he founded his pigeon post service.
In 1851 he set up an office in London following the laying of a cable between Dover and Calais. When he registered his company, its objective was the “transmission of intelligence” between England and the Continent.
Unfortunately for Reuter, no one else seemed interested in the “transmission of intelligence.” In vain the German explained to English newspaper editors the advantages of his system, how he planned to have agents in every centre, sending off news so that papers everywhere knew what was going on almost within minutes of it happening.
It was not until 1858 – seven years after the Channel cable had been laid – that Reuter suddenly had his breakthrough. A Paris Reuter agent forwarded the text of an important speech by Napoleon III. The Times published this and overnight, Reuters News Agency was accepted. From then on, its network of agents spread throughout the world to the huge organisation it is today. Paul Reuter died at Nice in the South of France on February 25, 1899.
Posted in Disasters, News on Thursday, 23 May 2013
This edited article about disaster and survival originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 264 published on 4 February 1967.
The scouting party climbing in the Peak District by Bill Lacey
Fourteen-year-old Boy Scout Michael Parsons strode along as fast as he dared, picking his way among the tilting, ice-covered rocks that lay in his path. Ahead of him were his scoutmaster and another boy. Michael was intent to get to the head of the party of ten and be one of the first home from the tiring expedition which had started off so cheerfully that morning and was now faced with disaster.
Already night was falling and the mist had brought flurries of sleet.
Michael came to a stretch of level ground which looked safe . . . Suddenly, he felt himself slipping, his boots failing to grasp the slippery rocks.
Desperately, he tried to find something for his hands to clutch, but he merely succeeded in grasping small stones which showered down on him like stinging hail.
He cried out and his head cracked against a boulder. Then there was only blackness . . .
There are many beautiful spots suitable for hiking in the Peak District National Park which had been the destination of the Scout party which had set out that morning of 17th February, 1957, from the village of Hayfield, in Derbyshire.
But to the north of it lay a dangerous oasis – high, stark moorland dominated by the menacing Dark Peak.
Seen from far off, the moorland looked inviting. It was often bathed in sunshine – but sunshine that would suddenly, treacherously change into a blinding, all-enveloping mist. It was precisely these conditions which the ten Scouts experienced.
For hours they had wandered about in circles, desperately trying to pierce the blanket of sickly yellow, hoping for a glimpse of a familiar landmark. They had to guess at their route – and they guessed wrongly . . .
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Posted in Historical articles, History, London, News, Philanthropy, Politics on Wednesday, 22 May 2013
This edited article about W H Smith originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 263 published on 28 January 1967.
A branch of W H Smith at a Victorian railway station
The rather stately house at No. 12 Hyde Park Street, Westminster, is not the sort of property one would expect to be the home of a bookseller. But then, W. H. Smith, who once occupied it, was no ordinary bookseller, and the blue plaque there mentions another aspect of his life, for William Henry Smith was one of the leading statesmen of his time.
W. H. Smith’s business life was thrust upon him by his father, a leading newsagent, who insisted that, instead of going to Oxford University, he should enter the family firm. Bitterly disappointed, the young man nevertheless threw himself into his work, and, at 21, became his father’s partner.
He was very shrewd, and soon realised that the new railways offered great possibilities for the company. His first step was to obtain exclusive rights to open bookstalls on the stations of all important lines – and on one of them he was known for a time as the ‘North-Western Missionary’, owing to his refusal to sell books he considered dubious. At main stations he leased all appropriate blank walls, which he then let to those wishing to practise the new art of advertising. He opened a circulating library with a stock of many thousands of volumes, and entered the publishing trade with a series of cheap reprints. By the time his father died, in 1865, he was 40 years old and head of a large and very profitable business.
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Posted in Bravery, Famous news stories, Historical articles, London, News on Friday, 3 May 2013
This edited article about the Metropolitan police originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 240 published on 20 August 1966.
Margaret Cleland saved the baby – and the man
High above a street in the Bloomsbury area of London, a man crouched on a rooftop parapet. Clutched tightly in his arms was his baby son.
In the street, 50 feet below, a police inspector hurriedly explained the situation to Policewoman Margaret Cleland.
“The poor chap must be in terrible trouble of some kind,” he said. “He says he’s going to jump – and take his baby son with him.”
For Margaret Cleland, a young Scots girl in her early twenties, that day’s duty had been much the same as any other – until she received an urgent call to help police on the roof of the house.
Margaret had been given a thorough police training, but it had not included any situation like this.
“Why call me in, sir?” she said. “What can I do?”
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Posted in Famous news stories, Historical articles, History, Industry, Literature, News, War on Thursday, 28 March 2013
This edited article about the Victorian popular press originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 214 published on 19 February 1966.
Archibald Forbes was the peerless war reporter for the Daily News during the Franco-Prussian War
The development of the daily newspaper was one of the great achievements of the Victorian Age, and it was not possible until 1840. In that year publication of the proceedings in the Houses of Parliament was for the first time officially allowed.
The Morning Chronicle is said to have been the first paper to employ a regular staff of Parliamentary reporters working in relays in the gallery of the House of Commons. It was the Morning Herald which first established correspondents in the chief European capitals, as well as in large cities in the British Isles.
Circulation in those early days was extremely small, for a very large number of people could not read. At the beginning of the Queen’s reign the total sale of the six leading London daily papers was only about 75,000, and of these The Times accounted for 50,000.
During the earlier part of the Victorian Age journalism in Great Britain was dominated by The Times under the proprietorship of various members of the Walter family, and especially under the editorship of John Delane, who succeeded to the position at the age of twenty-three, and remained from 1841 to 1879. Perhaps it gained its greatest influence during the Crimean War when Delane organized war correspondents on a scale never before attempted, and ruthlessly exposed the faults in the conduct of the campaign and the deficiencies in the equipment of the troops. It was mainly through William Howard Russell’s articles that Florence Nightingale was stimulated to undertake her nursing mission. The Times raised a large sum of money to assist her.
In 1855 the stamp duty on newspapers was repealed, and six years later the duty on paper went as well. This paved the way for new and low-priced newspapers, as this was just the time when the number of people who could read was rapidly increasing.
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Posted in Australia, Disasters, Famous news stories, Historical articles, News, Ships on Tuesday, 19 March 2013
This edited article about disaster originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 202 published on 27 November 1965.
Brisbane harbour in the 1880s
Somebody picked up a pair of binoculars and stared at the horizon.
“It is a swimmer!” he said in amazement. “But where’s he come from? Looks like he’s coming straight in from the sea. There ain’t no country between here and South America.”
They were on the beach at Tangalooma, near Brisbane, the biggest city in Queensland, and the man who had spoken was right. Apart from scattered islands, the nearest country to the east of them was Peru, right across the South Pacific.
Where, then, had the swimmer come from?
They went out by boat to ask him.
“Hey, cobber, he’s dead beat. He’s hardly moving. Get in the stern and pick him up when I bring the boat round.”
Two minutes later a gasping, exhausted man lay in the bottom of the boat. But he still had the strength to lift one arm and wave it frantically in the direction of Moreton Bay. “Quick,” he panted, “you must get help. Help for the men. They are drowning.”
It was hard to understand what he was saying, for he was no Australian. He had a thick accent. “Me -” he pointed to himself, “Erik Poulson. Danish. From dredger.”
“You mean that big dredger, the Captain Neilsen, working out in the Bay?”
Poulson nodded his head vigorously. “Yes. You must get help. She is turn over. All men trapped inside.”
The two Australians looked at each other in horror. “Where? When did it happen?”
“Over there. Too far away to see. Is three hours I been swimming.”
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