Page:Africa (Volume I).djvu/56

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80
NORTH-EAST AFRICA.

fain to reflect that wars and conquests and violent annexations are the inevitable preliminaries of universal peace and brotherhood.

Most of the African seaboard has already been seized by various European states, and every fresh discovery in the interior enables their officials, troops, and collectors to penetrate farther inland. Trade also expands from year to year, and the foreign exchanges of Egypt alone now exceed those of the whole continent during the last generation, which in 1860 were estimated at about £38,000,000. Highways are being constructed from the coasts towards the inland plateaux, whereby future expeditions must be greatly facilitated. Lines of railway have even begun to wind their way from a few seaports along the neighbouring valleys, here and there scaling the escarpments, and slowly moving towards the centre of the continent, where they must one day converge. To these first links, starting from the coasts of Egypt, Tunis, Algeria, Senegambia, the Cape, and Natal, others will soon be added, resembling the trenches cut by a besieging force round the ramparts of some formidable stronghold. The whole of Africa may thus be compared to a vast citadel, whose disunited garrison of some two hundred million men, acting without unity or concert, must sooner or later open their gates and capitulate to their European conquerors or patrons. For the possession of the interior must inevitably fall ultimately to the masters of the sea and surrounding coastlands. Even were any of the central states temporarily to acquire command of the seaboard, they would be compelled to treat with some maritime European power, and thus prepare the way for the invasion of their territories. Thus, although not yet completely discovered, Africa is none the less, from the political standpoint, already a mere dependence of Europe. By the opening of the Suez Canal it has been doubly severed from Asia. To the European States thus belongs the exclusive privilege of introducing a new civilisation into the Dark Continent, and restoring to the inhabitants, under another form, the very culture which Europe herself received from the people of the Nile Valley.


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