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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 83


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Our article on "Soudan Gordon" was in type before the news arrived of his death. We took up the pen to hack it in conformity with the altered position of affairs, but decided to act the Pilate, "What I have written I have written." Our expectation then was that Lord Wolseley and General Gordon would return together in triumph to London. But the gods have ordered otherwise.

The demise of a great man very properly modifies criticism, poured out in the heat and rush of events. At the same time, it does not alter facts. With all admiration of Gordon, as the first Briton of his day, we must persist in saying he was a dangerous man. Genius and fanaticism allied form a gunpowder combination. We wrote before in cold blood, and must not go back on it under stress of enthusiasm.

A word about the Mahdi. The original Mahdi was a Caliph of Bagdad, father of the renowned Haroun Alraschid, of the Arabian Nights, and flourished eleven hundred years ago. His piety gave him a character like that of Saint Louis of France. He put milestones all the way from Bagdad to Mecca, and did ever so many other pious things. Besides this he was a noted conqueror of the enemies of the One True Faith.

A cunning old politician, Mr. Dailey, seized the nick of time to proffer a New South Wales contingent to Mr. Gladstone. He will not quarrel with us for saying he had not the remotest idea it would be accepted. All Australia was startled when the news came of acceptance. Victoria, of course, played the After Game, but was, unluckily, too late. However, Mr. Service has admitted Mr. Dailey's superior wit with a very good grace. You see the two veteran politicians played a card game. Service plumped down the Jack of Annexation, Dailey trumps it with Soudan.

Great Britain has its forty millions, in a cramped space. Why don't we hear of a quarter of a million volunteering for the Soudan? Why are there none at all? Dailey's action was evidently a piece of claptrap. Beaconsfield fetched up the Sepoys to Malta, and Gladstone fetches the cornstalks from Australia. But, in their ignorance, the English statesmen think that the acceptance of the Sydney volunteers is a grateful compliment to Melbourne!

Our preachers and Moollahs lead off the cry of "Revenge!" and "Blood!" but surely the Arabs are patriots? What would we say to a Mahdi Gordon in our midst?

Gordon's splendid fortifications at Khartoum make a regular Herat of that place. Must England hold it? If the English leave the Soudan, they will have to raze this stronghold.