Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 22.djvu/178

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Gordon
Gordon
172

him as to his succeeding Sir Samuel Baker in the Soudan. The following year Gordon visited Cairo on his way home, and on the resignation of Sir Samuel Baker was appointed governor of the equatorial provinces of Central Africa, with a salary of 10,000l. a year. He declined to receive more than 2,000l.

Gordon went to Egypt in the beginning of 1874, and left Cairo in February for Gondokoro, the seat of his government, travelling by the Suez-Suakin-Berber route. He reached Khartoum on 13 March, stopped only a few days to issue a proclamation and make arrangements for men and supplies, then, continuing his journey, arrived at Gondokoro on 16 April. The garrison of Gondokoro at this time did not dare to move out of the place except in armed bands; but, in the course of a year, the confidence of the natives had been gained, the country made safe, eight stations formed and garrisoned, the government monopoly of ivory enforced, and sufficient money sent to Cairo to pay all the expenses of the expedition. At the close of the year, having already lost by sickness eight members of his small European staff, Gordon transferred the seat of government from the unhealthy station, Gondokoro, to Laido. By the end of 1875 Gondokoro and Duffli had been joined by a chain of fortified posts, a day's journey apart, the slave dealers had been dispersed, and a letter post organised to travel regularly between Cairo and the verge of the Albert Nyanza, over two thousand miles as the crow flies.

Gordon had also visited Magungo, Murchison Falls, and Chibero, with a view to a further line of fortified posts, and he established, for the first time, by personal observation the course of the Victoria Nile into Lake Albert. Although he had accomplished a great work since his arrival, his efforts to put down the slave trade were thwarted by Ismail Pasha Yacoub, governor-general of the Soudan, and were likely to prove abortive so long as the Soudan remained a distinct government from that of the equatorial provinces. He therefore at the end of 1876 resigned his appointment and returned to England. Strong pressure was put upon him by the khedive to return, and on 31 Jan. 1877 he left for Cairo, where he received the combined appointment of governor-general of the Soudan, Darfour, the equatorial provinces, and the Red Sea littoral, on the understanding that his efforts were to be directed to the improvement of the means of communication, and the absolute suppression of the slave trade. Gordon first visited Abyssinia, where Walad el Michael was giving a great deal of trouble on the Egyptian frontier. He settled the difficulty for a time, and travelled across country to Khartoum, where he was installed as governor-general 5 May. After a short stay there he hastened to Darfour, which was in revolt; with a small force and rapid movements he quelled the rising, and, by the humane consideration he showed for the suffering people, won their confidence and pacified the province. Before this work was completely accomplished his attention was called away by the slave dealers, who, headed by Suleiman, son of the notorious Zebehr, with six thousand armed men, had moved on Dara from their stronghold Shaka. Gordon left Fascher on 31 Aug. 1877 with a small escort, which he soon outstripped, and in a day and a half, having covered eighty-five miles on a camel, entered Dara alone, to the surprise of its small garrison. The following morning, attended by a small escort, he rode into the rebel camp, upbraided Suleiman with his disloyalty, and announced his intention to disarm the band and break them up. Gordon's fearless bearing and strong will secured his object, and Suleiman returned with his men to Shaka. The rapidity of Gordon's movements, together with the extraordinary energy which he displayed in this sultry climate, had a most beneficial effect upon the local chiefs of the vast territory over which he reigned, and the laziest officials were stirred to action when they heard the ‘pasha was coming.’

Returning to Khartoum in October, he left almost immediately for Berber and Dongola, but at the latter place, hearing of an expected Abyssinian invasion, he at once rode back to Khartoum in five and a half days, and started viâ Kasala, for Senheit, where an interview with Walad el Michael was so unsatisfactory that he went on to Massowah and endeavoured to communicate with King John, who was then campaigning against Menelek, king of Shoa. Having waited at Massowah some time in vain, Gordon left in June 1878 for Khartoum, viâ Suakin and Berber, but was stopped on the way by a telegram from the khedive summoning him to Cairo to take part in a financial enquiry. He reached Cairo in a fortnight, and was received with every mark of honour by the khedive, who, however, soon discovered that Gordon was not the man to further his financial projects. A fortnight afterwards Gordon was on his way back to his government by way of the Red Sea. At Zeila he made an eight days journey on horseback inland to Harrar, where he dismissed the governor Raouf Pasha (who afterwards succeeded Gordon as governor-general of the Soudan!) for