Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 22.djvu/179

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Gordon
Gordon
173

tyranny, and made Yuseuf Ahmed governor in his stead. Returning after another ‘terrible march of eight days,’ he reached Zeila on 9 May, and at once pushed on by Massowah,Suakin, and Berber to Khartoum. Here his first trouble was the refusal of Osman Pasha, his second in command, to go to Darfour, so he was sent off to Cairo to be dealt with by the authorities there. Then, in July, came news of a renewed revolt of Suleiman and the slavers in the south, and of the seizure by them of the country of the Bahr Gazelle. Gordon despatched his trusty captain, the Italian, Romulus Gessi, with a force to the south to put down the revolt, while he proceeded himself to suppress risings in the western parts of Darfour, dealing out destruction to the slave traffic, and releasing thousands of slaves. Gessi, after a year's marching and fighting, succeeded in capturing Suleiman and some of the chief slave dealers with him. They were tried as rebels and shot. The suppression of the slave trade had thus been practically accomplished when on 1 July news arrived of the deposition of Ismail and the succession of Tewfik, which determined Gordon to resign his appointment. On arriving at Cairo the khedive induced him first to undertake a mission to Abyssinia to prevent, if possible, an impending war with that country. Gordon went,saw King John at Debra Tabor, but could arrive at no satisfactory understanding with him, and was abruptly dismissed. On his way to Kassala he was made prisoner by King John's men and carried to Gamimudhiri, where he was left to find his way with his little party over the snowy mountains to the Red Sea. He reached Massowah on 8 Dec. 1879, and on his return to Cairo the khedive accepted his resignation. He arrived in England early in January 1880. During his service under the khedive Gordon received both the second and first class of the order of the Medjidieh.

His constitution was so much impaired by his sojournings in so deadly a climate that his medical advisers sent him to Switzerland to recruit. While there the Cape government offered him the post of commandant of the colonial forces, at a salary of 1,500l. a year; but he at once declined it. He returned to England in April 1880, and the following month accompanied the Marquis of Ripon, the new viceroy of India, to that country as his private secretary. The world had hardly ceased wondering at the incongruity of the appointment when it was startled by Gordon's sudden resignation of it. He had accepted it with some misgiving, and finding himself unsuited to it and likely to do harm to the viceroy by retaining it he at once resigned, maintaining nevertheless his friendly relations with Lord Ripon intact.

Two days after his resignation he received a telegram from Sir Robert Hart, commissioner of customs at Pekin, inviting him to China to advise the Chinese government in connection with their then strained relations with Russia. Gordon accepted at once, and although difficulties were raised by the home authorities he reached Hongkong on 2 July, and went on by Shanghai and Chefoo to Tientsin to meet his old friend, Li Hung Chang, who, with Prince Kung, headed the peace party, while Tso and Prince Chun led the warlike majority. From Tientsin Gordon went to Pekin, and his wise and disinterested counsels in favour of peace at length carried the day. His mission satisfactorily accomplished he returned to England in October 1880, and went to Ireland during the winter months to ascertain for himself the merits of the Irish question. ‘Tired of doing nothing’ and observing the difficulties that had arisen in Basutoland, Gordon telegraphed on 7 April 1881 to offer his services to the Cape government for two years at 700l. a year, ‘to assist in terminating war and in administering Basutoland.’ To this offer he received no reply. About this time Gordon volunteered to go as commanding royal engineer to Mauritius in order to prevent the retirement of Colonel Sir Howard Elphinstone, who had been ordered thither, and was unable for private reasons to go. Gordon would accept no pecuniary consideration for the exchange. He reached Mauritius in July 1881, and paid a short visit to the Seychelles to report on their defence in connection with that of Mauritius and the general scheme for the coaling stations. On 2 Jan. 1882, on the departure of Major-general Murray from Mauritius, Gordon,as senior officer, assumed the command of the troops, and was promoted major-general on 24 March.

In the previous month the Cape government had applied to the colonial office for Gordon's services in almost the identical terms of his unanswered telegram of the year before, viz. ‘to assist in terminating the war and in administering Basutoland.’ The government telegraphed to Gordon permission to accept. On 2 April the Cape government telegraphed to him to come at once, as the position of matters in Basutoland was grave. On arriving at Cape Town on 3 May 1882 the only post offered to him was that of commandant of the colonial forces, which he had unhesitatingly declined two years before. A reluctance to take the unpopular step of removing Mr. Orpen, administrator of Basutoland, in whom they had no confidence, prevented the