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By HERBERT ADAMS GIBBONS
FTER the failure of the Khartum relief expedition and the death of General Gordon, the British Government ordered Egypt and the British army to drop the Sudan. During the decade that followed the shameful fiasco of 1884, the Gordon legend alone was in the mind of the Britisher who never left his tight little island, and who considered that fact a kind of virtue. The Mahdi reigned supreme in the Sudan, and after his death, his successor, the Khalifa, continued to exterminate the tribes of the upper tributaries of the Nile. For all British cabinets and the British public seemed to care, the dervishes were welcome to keep the Sudan, and the early eighties were "past history."
But some Englishmen did care and did not forget. In fact, there was never a moment that the thought of the eventual reconquest of the Sudan and of the retrieving of the honor of British arms was not before them. They had the vision. They lived with eyes fixed on the goal. The battle of Omdurman on September 2, 1898, which made possible the reconquest and redemption of the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan and the foundation of its present splendid government, was the culminating event of more than ten years of herculean effort on the part of a handful of men whose enthusiasm was fortunately matched by their foresight, patience, and ability. The victory won at Omdurman was the beginning of a new era for the British Empire in Africa and throughout the world. History will give to those who worked for it and those who won it credit for far more than the rehabilitation of the Sudan.
British colonial administrators have succeeded in building an empire despite, rather than with the help of, their Government and the great mass of their fellow-countrymen. Problems confronting
them in their field of action have never been more difficult than the problem of getting and keeping support from home. London is the bête noire of the English official overseas. Cablegrams from home cause more trouble than native uprisings. In regard to foreign policy, Conservative and Liberal cabinets are very much the same. They are guided by the fears and the hopes of general elections, and they hate like poison to spend the British taxpayers' money overseas, to sanction any policy that is likely to cause fighting in which British troops must be engaged, to offend the nonconformist conscience. Colonial administrators who keep in mind constantly these three points, and who plan to get results without coming into conflict with the Government on any one of them, succeed in making for themselves great careers, and gain honors, if not peace of mind. Those who do not keep these points in mind never get very far in a colonial career.
The reconquest of the Sudan needed a decade of preparation. There was never any hope at all of convincing the British public of the necessity of pouring out blood and treasure to get back to Khartum. Unwillingness to pay the price had been the cause of the debacle of 1884. The only other possible way of accomplishing what they had in mind was to put Egypt upon a sound financial basis. and to create an Egyptian army that knew how to fight and that would fight. The invasion of the Sudan, culminating in the victory of Omdurman, was possible only because Lord Cromer made Egypt's revenues exceed her expenditures, and because Lord Kitchener got an Egyptian army into good fighting shape. When this was accomplished, and not before, it was pointed out to London that Egypt could contribute both in men and money very substantially to an expedition against
There had also to be an appeal to public opinion in England, and in particular to the nonconformist conscience. So for years one can read in Lord Cromer's annual reports a skilfully introduced and skilfully emphasized Leitmotiv, the necessity to Egypt of the reclamation of the Sudan. There never could be security in upper Egypt until the dervishes. were crushed.
ects on a large
scale be justi
fiable or possible until the head-waters of the Nile were under AngloEgyptian control. Never would the African
from the equa
tor to Wady
Halfa was policed by Europeans. Com
mon humanity and moral re
sponsibility also demanded
the reconquest of the Sudan,
for the native population was rapidly dying out everywhere because of the dervish cruelties and mismanagement. Last of all, from the point of European prestige, the Italian defeat at Adowa must be counteracted.1
Since Egyptian money and Egyptian lives were largely instrumental in the reconquest of the Sudan, and since the legal rights to the territories it would comprise rested wholly in the Ottoman Empire and the Egyptian khedives, it was impossible,
though it would have been desirable, to establish an English colony or a distinct protectorate under direct British control. Then, too, the Sudan was going to look for an indeterminable period to the Egyptian army and the Egyptian budget for soldiers and money to hold, to rehabilitate, and to develop the vast regions which Mahdism had cruelly oppressed and ruined. And was not the principal reason for reconquest the political security and the economic advantages to Egypt through possessing head-waters of the Nile? Ow
ing to Great Britain's anomalous position in Egypt, the
ingly delicate both from the international
1 At Adowa, not far from the Sudan border, the Italians were disastrously defeated by the Abyssinians in 1896.
and the Ottoman point of view.
A convention signed at Cairo on January 19, 1899, by the British and Egyptian governments stated that the territory south of the twenty-second parallel of latitude was to be administered by a governor-general appointed by Egypt with the assent of Great Britain. The British and Egyptian flags were to be used together. No duties were to be levied on imports from Egypt, and duties on imports from other countries, by way of the Red Sea, were not to exceed the Egyptian tariffs. As long as it should be necessary, Egypt was to make good the deficit in the Sudan budget. But the money invested
Photograph by Brown Brothers
in the Sudan by Egypt would be considered a loan, upon which interest was to be paid as soon as possible. A portion of the Egyptian army should serve in the Sudan, under the command of the governor-general, a British officer of the Egyptian army with the rank of sirdar. So long as the nations that enjoyed the privileges of a capitulatory régime in Egypt did not demand the extension of the capitulations to the Sudan, and so long as Egypt remained under effective British control, such an arrangement, paradoxical as it seemed, was workable. It has worked out all right. But it is important to note that the exact status of the Sudan, both from the international and the Egyptian point of view, has not yet been determined. It will come up for settlement in the peace conference, when the affairs of
the Ottoman Empire are liquidated, and international sanction is asked for the British protectorate proclaimed over Egypt since the opening of the European War.
Once the Sudan was reconquered, Cromer and Kitchener still held to the policy of "sound financial basis" that had made the conquest possible; for they knew that the British Government would take little interest in, and do nothing for, the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan unless it was demonstrated to them that the country could pay its way. Immediate use could be made of almost unlimited sums of money. The temptation was great to enter upon, and urge London and Cairo to coöperate in, ambitious development schemes. Cromer and Kitchener were in complete accord in not falling into this trap, and when Kitchener was suddenly called away to South Africa, Lord Cromer was fortunate in finding in his successor, Sir Regi
nald Wingate, an administrator fully aware of the danger of grandiose schemes of rehabilitation and rapid development. The initial financial policy laid down by Lord Cromer in his address to the Sudanese chiefs at Khartum in December, 1900, to the effect that taxes were not to be made burdensome, even if communications and developments had to wait, has been faithfully and consistently carried out. To it more than to anything else is due the marvelous success of the Sudan administration. For the Sudanese have had from the beginning the contrast of the equitable taxation of the British with that which ground them down and ruined them under the Mahdi and the Khalifa; and the British Government has not been made weary and prejudiced against the Sudan by unreasonable demands for financial support.
And yet money had to be found immediately for railways, river transpors, and irrigation. The pacification of the country and the rehabilitation of its inhabitants depended upon means of transportation and the cultivation of the land. Everything had been destroyed or had fallen into decay during the years of anarchy, so all kinds of public works needed a substantial budget. Popular education had to be thought of, and the expenses of the civil administration and a considerable military establishment provided for. Though the financial task looked so formidable as to be almost hopeless, it was successfully faced and shouldered, and the country saved from concession-hunters and insolvency by the adoption and maintenance of the conservative policy of "go slow and pay as you go."
In 1910, Sir Reginald Wingate was able to report that the civil administration was paying its way; the only deficit was in the military budget. Three years later there was a surplus of two hundred thousand dollars. The Sudan had made good. A few months ago I had the privilege of spending several hours with Colonel Bernard, financial secretary of the Sudan. He explained to me the consistent policy that had been followed since Lord Kitchener had asked him to undertake the business management of the Government more than a decade ago. He spoke with the enthusiasm and keenness and understanding of an American captain of industry. Colonel Bernard is a type of officer one finds only in the British army. If he were a Frenchman, he would never have left Paris. If he were an American, he would have a yacht and a summer home at Newport or Bar Harbor, and be wondering what to do with his money. We occasionally get in our army and navy men with a genius for business, but they do not stay. It may be partly due to the fact that until the Spanish War there were no tasks to challenge this type of
Sir Reginald Wingate, the sirdar, has recently been appointed high commissioner for Egypt
man, but it is mostly due to the fact that our social system is wholly different from that of Great Britain. The British Colonial Empire was built and is being run by men who have gone into government service for reasons of caste. No matter how remarkable his aptitude for business, the upper-class Britisher never dreams of a business career. He is willing to leave