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on a special mission to the Soudan. They failed to accomplish the objects of their mission.
A military force was then sent to save the lives of the two British emissaries. It arrived too late. Both General Gordon and Colonel Stewart were killed.
Lastly, at one time the Government intended to deal a decisive blow to the power of the Mahdi. The project was abandoned and, in my opinion, wisely abandoned. Nevertheless, the impression was left on the minds of the Dervishes that a British army had attempted to reconquer the Soudan, and had failed to do so.
Eventually, the Government fell back on its original policy of withdrawal, from which it had temporarily drifted.
The Gordon mission and the Nile expedition were thus mere episodes in Egyptian and Soudanese history. They will be remembered as mistakes accompanied by suffering and sorrow to individuals,
and by failure in an undertaking on which the British nation had set its heart. It is melancholy to think of the blood and treasure which were wasted. Few of those who have sacrificed their lives for their country have done so to so little purpose as the gallant soldiers who fell at Abu Klea, Kirbekan, and in the neighbourhood of Suakin. The only practical result of the Nile expedition was to inspire in the minds of the Dervishes a wholesome dread of British soldiers, and to break the force of the Dervish advance when it eventually occurred.
It would be an exaggeration to say that this result was of no utility, but it was obtained at a cost altogether incommensurate with its real value.
The same result would have been more easily and perhaps more thoroughly obtained by the adoption of a defensive policy from the first.
Looking more closely to the details in the execution of the British policy, the following are the conclusions at which I arrive :
In the first place, it was a mistake to send any British official to Khartoum. The task he had to perform was well-nigh impossible of execution, and his nomination involved the assumption of responsibilities on the part of the British Government, which it was desirable to avoid.
Secondly, if any one was to be sent, it was a mistake to choose General Gordon. In spite of many noble traits in his character, he was wanting in some of the qualities which were essential to the successful accomplishment of his mission.
Thirdly, when once General Gordon had been sent, he should have been left a free hand so long as he kept within the main lines of the policy which he was authorised to execute.
It is, in my opinion, to be regretted that General Gordon was not allowed to employ Zobeir Pasha, but any view held as to the probable results of employing him must be conjectural.
Fourthly, the question of whether an expedition should or should not have been sent from Suakin to Berber in the spring of 1884 depends on the military practicability of the undertaking, a point on which the best military authorities differed in opinion.
Fifthly, a great and inexcusable mistake was made in delaying for so long the despatch of the Gordon relief
expedition. Sixthly, the Government acted wisely, after the fall of Khartoum, in eventually adopting a defensive policy and in ordering à retreat to Wadi Halfa
Lastly, it may be said that the British Govern . ment were extraordinarily unlucky. Whatever amount of foresight be shown, success in doubtful
and difficult enterprises, such as the Gordon Mission and the Nile Expedition, must always depend a good deal on adventitious circumstances, which cannot be foreseen, and over which no Government can exercise any control. I am far from saying that in all the matters which are discussed in these pages, the British Government exercised a proper amount of foresight, but it must be admitted that whenever the goddess Fortune could play them a trick, she appeared, with proverbial fickleness, to take a pleasure in doing so. The British Government made at the time a great stir in the world. The result in the end was that no object of any importance was attained.
Gratis anhelans, multa agendo nihil agens. But the situation was one of inordinate difficulty, and those who have had most experience in the conduct of political affairs, and who know how difficult it is to be right and how easy it is to make mistakes, will be least of all inclined to criticise severely the principal actors on the scene.
The outlying provinces :- 1. Darfour : Surrender of the province-The
Senoussieh sect—The revolt of Abu Gemaizeb. 2. Bahr-el-Ghazal : Lupton Bey surrenders-His death. 3. Equatoria : Emin Pasha summoned to surrender-He maintains his position—The Stanley expedition. 4. Sennar : The garrison surrenders. 5. Kassala : The garrison surrenders. 6. The Abyssinian Frontier Garrisons : The Hewett treaty-The garrisons of Amadib, Senhit, Galabat, Gera, and Gedaref. 7. Berbera : Its political status—It is occupied by British troops. 8. Harrar : Withdrawal of the Egyptian garrison-Installation of the Emir Abdullah-King Menelek occupies the province. 9. Zeyla : It is occupied by British troops. 10. Tajourrah: The French occupy it. ll. Massowah : Its political statusAttitude of the British Government–The Italians occupy Mas sowah.
When the collapse of Egyptian authority in the Soudan took place, the disjecta membra of Ismail Pasha's huge African estate fell to those whose interest it was to pick them up, and who had the power to give effect to their wishes. Those portions which were remote from the coast relapsed into barbarism. Those which were more easy of access were pounced upon by various European Powers, who about this time began what was aptly called by the British press "the scramble for Africa.” In the present chapter the main facts as regards all this Egyptian đebris will be briefly stated.
1 In the preparation of this chapter I have received great assistance from Sir Reginald Wingate's work Mahdiism and the Egyptian Soudan.
1. Darfour. When the Mahdist rebellion broke out, the Governor of this province was Slatin Bey, an Austrian officer in the Egyptian service. His position was one of great difficulty, for from the first his own officers were infected with the spirit of revolt. After the destruction of General Hicks's army, the position in Darfour became hopeless. Slatin Bey was at Dara, the capital of the province, against which a force under the command of one of the Mahdi's lieutenants advanced towards the end of 1883. The town at once surrendered. Slatin Bey, writing to General Gordon, described the capitulation in the following terms: “After the annihilation of Hicks's army, the demoralised troops refused to fight any longer.
1. Officers and men demanded capitulation and I, standing there alone and a European, was compelled to follow the majority and compelled to capitulate. Does your Excellency believe that to me, as an Austrian officer, the surrender was easy? It was one of the hardest days in my
. The events in Darfour during the next few years turned in some degree upon the influence exerted over that remote country and its neighbourhood by the celebrated Sheikh El Senoussi. I take this opportunity, therefore, to describe briefly the rise of the Senoussieh sect.
There are two main divisions of Moslems, namely, the Sunnites and the Shiites. Almost all the Mohammedan inhabitants of the Ottoman
1 After remaining captive at Omdurman for many years, Slatin Pasha succeeded in making his escape in March 1895. He was appointed Inspector-General in the Soudan, and in that capacity rendered very valuable services to the Government. He is a gallant and very capable officer. Some derogatory remarks made about him by General Gordon in his Journal are wholly undeserved.