The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 83
The Congo, Soudan, Egypt
The Congo, Soudan, Egypt.
Mr. Stanley announces the publication of two large volumes, embodying his work of the past five years in the region of the Congo. A territory ten times as large as England has been placed under his jurisdiction, as International Commissioner, by the Berlin African Conference, of England, France, Germany, Portugal and Belgium. All the information hitherto published about Stanley's doings since 1879 has been in the way of mere fragmentary scraps. His new work, copiously illustrated, will excite more attention, probably, than anything he has yet written. Where is De Brazza?
A bookful of "Letters from Khartoum," by the late Mr. Power, the Times correspondent, is published. They are his private letters to his family. He displays the most profound sympathy with the Arabs of the Soudan, under their persecution by the Egyptian Government. There is, of course, a quantity of fresh intelligence about Gordon. The Mahdi sent a message of congratulation to Gordon on his arrival at Khartoum. Power exposes the villainous rapacity, extortion, robbery, and cruelty of the Egyptian taxation in the Soudan. The Pashas have become extravagantly rich. One Egyptian, who went there at £2 a week, is reported to have risen from that, in three years, after such an extraordinary fashion, that he bad become a Pasha, worth £60,000, all gathered in farming the taxation. Yet this is what Gordon went to bolster up. But Power shows us graphically the agonies of mind by which Gordon was torn. He and Sir Samuel page 67 Baker had been the chief instruments in fastening the iniquitous rule of Egypt upon the Soudan. See how England has been placed in a false position. It has always been supposed that she is the sympathiser with oppressed people.
Cassell and Co. are re-publishing, in cheap parts, the very fine pictorial work, by Ebers, on Egypt. This is the modern and antique Egypt of Cairo, Alexandria, the Pyramids, Thebes, Luxor, Philæ, Dendera, Karnak, Chosroes, Thothmes, and the wonder world of that region, as brought out by the labours of Denon, Belzoni, Champollion, Wilkinson, Lepsius, Lane, Mariette, Brugsch, &c. The 800 engravings in Ebers are superb.
The Soudan has been a Balaclava charge for the war correspondents. The remnant are getting ready their books. Mr. Williams has attacked Sir Charles Wilson for failing to rescue Gordon, through his wasting four days. We first heard of this charge in a letter from Suakim to Melbourne. Lord Wolseley obviously supports it. The impetus gained by the successful rashness of Stewart, in the dash to Gubat, died away. Generals who can "snatch a grace beyond the reach of art," the Stewarts, and the Skobeleffs, are rare.
Again the Powers are baiting England about the Suez Canal—joint control, and so forth. All this means combination against Great Britain. Lord Palmerston's instinct led him to oppose the idea of the Canal, tooth and nail. He and his school had, before this, done all they could to damp the unlucky Waghorn, who opened up the Overland Route. "Bother the short cut to India, we don't want it." The value of Gibraltar is reduced to 50 per cent. By so much the more does the Mediterranean become a French lake, and the English fleet there is terribly expensive. Then there is the Russian Lake of the Black Sea, with its convenient guts of the Bosphorus and Dardanelles. England seems to stretch out a weakening arm along the expanse to India. It has to be kept mailed. Robert Stephenson was wise when, as advising engineer to Lord Palmerston and England, he reported that the Suez Canal was an impossibility, after walking over the whole Isthmus. Yet the will of De Lesseps burst it through. France triumphed, but is virtually turned out of Egypt.
And the Mahdi is with Mahomet. He was almost as much a political character as Arabi Pasha. Religion was his lever. Bonaparte became a Mahometan in Egypt. The English become we don't know what in India. The Sydney Bulletin once had the irreverence to write, "The Mahdi is mad, and Gordon is mad." The Mahdi cost New South Wales only £400,000. Allah Akbar! If New South Wales spends half-millions thus Mahdily, it will be N.S.F. when she goes to the Children of Israel for loans. For they have been there themselves—in Egypt. Suakim and Berber railroads don't pay. Such is the opinion of Sir Jahalaleel page 68 Methusalem, and the people of England. The rails would do nicely for another line from Melbourne to Echuca. Please send along.
England is not without its Mahdis and Moollahs. Not long ago the Archbishop of Canterbury solemnly blessed a murderous ironclad, because it was launched by a Princess.