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Conqueror of the Soudan : Founder of the Gordon
WHERE are two ways of looking promise be kept, there will arise a greater
at England's conquest of the memorial than the College for that Gor
Soudan. One is that stated by don who, when he returned from his Mr. G. W. Steevens: “We were humili- Chinese campaign victorious but “ as poor ated and we were out of pocket. ... We as when he entered China,” devoted the could not sit down until the defeat was greater part of his spare time for six redeemed. We gave more money; we years in personally relieving poverty and gave the lives of the men we loved—and wretchedness, and particularly in teaching, we conquered the Soudan again." The feeding, and clothing destitute boys. To other is that expressed by General Kitch- extend civilization by conquest may or ener in his appeal for the founding of a may not be the true method, but there is a Gordon Memorial College at Khartoum: world-wide difference between the Spanish “ A responsible task is henceforth laid system of degrading and plundering a subupon us, and those who have conquered ject province and the English method of are called upon to civilize. In fact, the beginning, the month after a conquest, to work interrupted since the death of Gor- plan for the education and upbuilding of a don must now be resumed.” When people. The College at Khartoum is to General Kitchener's appeal for education teach agriculture, engineering, and other and civilization in the Soudan met with an practical things; it is to employ the Arabic almost instant and richly generous re- tongue for teaching ; it is to avoid religsponse—half a million dollars was sub- ious propagandism ; it is to try and make scribed for the Gordon Memorial College a new country ; for Mr. Steevens truly in two weeks—the English people put says of the Soudan, “ It is not a country; itself on record as holding that the justifi- it has nothing that makes a country. cation of the scientific slaughter at the Some brutish institutions it has and some battle of Omdurman lay, not in revenge or bloodthirsty chivalry. But it is not a the restoration of a military self-respect country; it has neither nationality, nor partly lost through the blunders and vacil- history, nor arts, nor even natural fealation of former Soudanese campaigns, tures." but solely in the acquired power to push In two memorable civil ceremonies at forward security, law, order, knowledge, Khartoum Lord Kitchener has taken a where heretofore have been violence, leading part-one for the future, the tyranny, cruelty, and ignorance. That a laying of the College's corner-stone ; one man of Kitchener's type, a soldier and a for the past, the memorial service to Genrepresentative of force, should turn almost eral Gordon. The Sunday following the his first thought after conquest to such a Friday of the great battle of Omdurman project is of serious import. And of were held the funeral services for the equal serious import is a declaration man who died at his post fourteen years made the other day by Lord Cromer, before. British and Egyptian troops England's executive power in Egypt joined in the military honors in the ser(nominally a diplomatic agent, really a vice which immediately followed the viceroy over the nominal Egyptian raising of the joint flags of the army of Viceroy), at the laying of the foundation- occupation. Catholic, Anglican, Presbystone of the College at Khartoum. Lord terian, and Methodist chaplains in turn Cromer promised in the name of the said a prayer. Even the Soudanese troops Queen that there should be no attempt to under the Sirdar's command sang a create an Anglicized Soudanese people, Christian hymn. Eye-witnesses tell us but that, on the other hand, a self-govern- that, for the only time in his public ing people would be created. If this career, the Sirdar himself, man of iron as he is, showed deep emotion. The party from Cairo to the Cape. Precision, thorbitterness that obscured to some extent oughness, knowledge of men, discipline, Gordon's aim and character in life has all find in him a wonderful exemplar. In died away, and now, we imagine, there the decisive battle over eleven thousand of are few Englishmen who would not join the Dervishes' forces were killed, sixteen heartily in the Quaker Whittier's tribute thousand wounded, and four thousand to the man who fought the African slave taken prisoners, while the combined Engtrade: “ A providential man, his mission lish and Egyptian army lost less than sixty in an unbelieving and selfish age revealed killed and about four hundred wounded ! the mighty power of faith in God, self- Such a disproportion in losses has perabnegation, and the enthusiasm of hu- haps never before occurred on land, and manity.”
it can be paralleled only by the naval batApropos of Whittier's characterization tles at Manila and Santiago. The savage of Gordon just quoted, it is interesting to Arabs and Soudanese rushed on to certain note that (as is set forth in correspondence death against Maxim guns and long-trained just published in the “ Independent” by infantry fire with marvelous courage, seekMr. S. T. Pickard) the poet was not shaken ing heaven in the Mohammedan fatalism. in his opinion by the efforts of John Lord Kitchener's military capacity was Bright to convince him that Gordon was shown not so much by the winning of the solely a man of war, and hence an advo- battle as by his masterly handling of his cate of barbarism. To the end Whittier forces to bring about the end quickly, with kept on his wall a portrait of Gordon in small loss and with certainty. the red coat of a British soldier and the The whole story of the Anglo-Egyptian fez of an Egyptian officer, and to Mr. expedition into the Soudan has been told Bright he reaffirmed his admiration of with fine journalistic dash and spirit by Gordon's faith, courage, and self-abnega- the English war correspondent, Mr. G. W. tion, “while lamenting his war training Steevens, in his book “ With Kitchener to and his reliance on warlike means to ac- Khartoum.” Some chapters of this book comp.ish a righteous end." And even this were hurried to the press from Egypt by qualifying sentence the poet seems to have cable, making this, we think, a unique, as written reluctantly, for he hastens to add: it certainly is an immensely readable, “ As it is, he was a better man than David volume. or Joshua-he was humane, and never put By special permission of the American his prisoners into brick-kilns nor under publishers of “With Kitchener to Kharhammers."
toum ”_ Messrs. Dodd, Mead & Co.—we Of Lord Kitchener's enthusiastic recep- reprint below Mr. Steevens's pen-portrait tion on his return to London, and of the of Lord Kitchener. civic honors paid him, we do not need to
THE SIRDAR1 speak. A characteristic incident was his reply to an official inquiry as to what he
Major-General Sir Horatio Herbert most needed in the Soudan : “ Young men
Kitchener is forty-eight years old by the fitted to learn to govern." His service in
book; but that is irrelevant. He stands Egypt has extended over fifteen years, and
several inches over six feet, straight as a for eight years he has been Sirdar or
lance, and looks out imperiously above commander-in-chief of the Egyptian forces
most men's heads; his motions are deliband their British allies. His patient, sys
erate and strong; slender but firmly knit, tematic advance from Cairo to Khartoum
he seems built for tireless, steel-wire enup the Nile; the capture of Berber; the
durance rather than for power or agility : easy victory at Atbara : the final defeat of that also is irrelevant. Steady, passionthe great army of the Khalifa, the Mahdi's less eyes shaded by decisive brows : successor, before the walls of Omdurman,
brick-red, rather full cheeks; a long musthe town across the Nile from the ruins of
tache beneath which you divine an imKhartoum-all these events stand for only movable mouth-his face is harsh, and a small part of the Sirdar's work. He neither appeals for affection nor stirs disfought not only the Dervishes but the like. All this is irrelevant too: neither desert. Step by step with him advanced age, nor figure, nor face, nor any accident a railroad which may some time reach Copyright, 1898, Dodd, Mead & Co., New York.
of person, has any bearing on the essen- has seen and profited by the errors of cial Sirdar. You could imagine the charac- others as by their successes. He has inter just the same as if all the externals were herited the wisdom and the achievements different. He has no age but the prime of his predecessors. He came at the of life, no body but one to carry his mind, right hour, and he was the right man. no face but one to keep his brain behind. Captain R.E., he began in the Egyptian The brain and the will are the essence army as second-in-command of a regiment and the whole of the man—a brain and a of cavalry. In Wolseley's campaign he will so perfect in their workings that, in was Intelligence Officer. During the the face of extremest difficulty, they never summer of 1884 he was at Korosko, neseem to know what struggle is. You gotiating with the Ababdeh sheiks in view cannot imagine the Sirdar otherwise than of an advance across the desert to Abu as seeing the right thing to do and doing Hamed; and note how characteristically it. His precision is so inhumanly unerr- he has now bettered the then abandoned ing, he is more like a machine than a man. project by going that way to Berber and You feel that he ought to be patented and Khartoum himself—only with a railway ! shown with pride at the Paris Interna. The idea of the advance across the desert tional Exhibition. British Empire: Ex- he took over from Lord Wolseley, and inhibit No. I., hors concours, the Soudan deed from immemorial Arab caravans ; Machine.
and then, for his own stroke of insight It was aptly said of him by one who and resolution, amounting to genius, he had closely watched him in his office, and turned a raid into an irresistible certain in the field, and at mess, that he is the sort conquest, by superseding camels with the of feller that ought to be made manager railway. Others had thought of the of the Army and Navy Stores. The desert route; the Sirdar, correcting Koaphorist's tastes lay perhaps in the direc- rosko to Halfa, used it. Others had protion of those more genial virtues which jected desert railways; the Sirdar made the Sirdar does not possess, yet the judg- one. That, summarized in one instance, ment summed him up perfectly. He is the working of the Soudan machine, would be a splendid manager of the Army As Intelligence Officer Kitchener acand Navy Stores. There are some who companied Sir Herbert Stewart's desert nurse a desperate hope that he may some column, and you may be sure that the day be appointed to sweep out the War utter breakdown of transport which must Office. He would be a splendid manager in any case have marred that heroic folly of the War Office. He would be a was not unnoticed by him. Afterwards, splendid manager of anything.
through the long decade of little fights But it so happens that he has turned that made the Egyptian army, Kitchener himself to the management of war in the was fully employed. In 1887 and 1888 Soudan, and he is the complete and only he commanded at Suakim, and it is remaster of that art. Beginning life in the markable that his most important enterRoyal Engineers—a soil reputed more prise was half a failure. He attacked favorable to machinery than to human Osman Digna at Handub, when most of nature—he early turned to the study of the Emir's men were away raiding; and the Levant. He was one of Beaconsfield's although he succeeded in releasing a military vice-consuls in Asia Minor; he number of captives, he thought it well to was subsequently director of the Palestine retire, himself wounded in the face by a Exploration Fund. At the beginning of bullet, without any decisive success. The the Soudan troubles he appeared. He withdrawal was in no way discreditable, was one of the original twenty-five officers for his force was a jumble of irregulars who set to work on the new Egyptian and levies without discipline. But it is army. And in Egypt and the Soudan he not perhaps fanciful to believe that the has been ever since-on the staff gener- Sirdar, who has never given battle withally, in the field constantly, alone with out making certain of an annihilating vicnatives often, mastering the problem of tory, has not forgotten his experience of the Soudan always. The ripe harvest of haphazard Bashi-Bazouking at Handub. fifteen years is that he knows everything He had his revenge before the end of that is to be learned of his subject. He 1888, when he led a brigade of Soudanese