Saturday, 5 November 2011

Kalulu and the Little Match-seller

In the 1870s it was common to encourage British children to attend church and take part in religious studies. Among the ways this was done were religious tracts and weekly 'newspapers' with stories of children who worshipped God and did good deeds. Colour photography (enhanced by Photoshop) had yet to come along so they were illustrated with line drawings and engravings like the novels of the day. The quality of many of these drawings was excellent both in terms of composition and execution.

Here is 'The Organ Man' from one such periodical.

This close up gives you an idea of the quality.

And this shows the typical perception of Henry Morton Stanley – the hero of the day for having found the missing medical missionary Dr Livingstone.  Sir Henry Morton Stanley, GCB, born John Rowlands (28 January 1841 – 10 May 1904), 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.

Stanley's history was a most strange one - he was born out of wedlock and there was even doubt as to his parentage though he took the name Rowlands - that of his alleged father. Until the age of five his grandfather was his guardian and when he died John Rowlands was put in St Asaph workhouse where he spent the next ten years. When he was ten, his mother and two siblings stayed for a short while in this workhouse, without Stanley realising who they were.

In 1859, at the age of 18, Rowlands made his passage to the United States in search of a new life. Upon arriving in New Orleans, he absconded from his boat. According to his own account he became friendly with a wealthy trader named Henry Hope Stanley, his enquiry as to whether the man wanted a boy (i.e. did he have a job for a boy) leading not only to a job but to adoption as well. After fighting for both sides in the American Civil War, Stanley became a journalist and succeeded as a foreign correspondent. Although he claimed the New York Herald was desperate to be the first to find the missing Livingstone it was as a result of his lobbying that the expedition took place.

While in Africa Stanley adopted a child called Kalulu (or Ndugu M'Hall) and it is he who is portrayed handing Stanley his cup (of tea presumably?) Kalulu died young but in his short life he visited Europe, America and the Seychelles, had a book dedicated to him, a model in Madame Tussauds, and was a guest at Dr. Livingstone's funeral.

My favourite of all the line drawings I have come across in 'The Children's Friend' is this little match-seller on the streets of London.  It wasn't only African children like Kalulu who went barefoot in the decade my grandmother was born.


  1. Just recently, I jotted down a quote from Stanley that he had said about Livingstone and it is this: "He converted me, although he had not tried to do so."
    I thought of this yesterday when I read what you wrote about your lovely friend, Olive.

  2. Such an interesting blog. I had never heard all that information about Stanley. Fascinating.
    About the non-electric telephone. We only have land lines or cell. But it was the volume of traffic that clogged up the cell phone.


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