16 NOVEMBER 1907, Page 4

THE BRITISH IN THE SOUDAN.* THE Soudan is the great

black zone—probably the indigenous home of the negro—which stretches across Africa from the Atlantic to the Red Sea between the latitudes of 4' and 18° N. Practically the whole of it is now a European dependency, and awaits development by its civilised owners. By far the most important advances in this direction have been made in the district known as the Egyptian Soudan, stretching along the waters of the Nile from the Egyptian frontier at Wady Haifa to the boundaries of the Uganda Protectorate. The admirable volumes in which Dr. Wallis Budge, of the British Museum, gives us so full an account of the history, antiquities, and prospects of this territory will be read with the keenest interest by all Englishmen who care to know the great work which their country has undertaken in Africa, of which the liberation and development of the Egyptian Soudan forms a very important department. Down to the present generation it has been painfully true that, as Dr. Wallis Budge observes, "every ruler of Egypt, in all periods, has considered the Sudan simply as the country which produces slaves and gold." The striking difference between the Administration set up by Lord Cromer and all its pre- decessors is that " those who make its laws and give effect to them do not regard it as a gold mine and a breeding-ground of slaves, as conquerors in the past have done, but as a possession which under just and humane guidance may be made to support its inhabitants in comfort, and to play an important part in the civilisation of East Africa." It is impossible within the limits of a review to do justice to the whole of Dr. Wallis Budge's encyclopaedic work. His high reputation as an archaeologist fortunately renders it unneces- sary that we should do more than call attention to his account of the temples and other antiquities of the Soudan, which he was engaged in investigating at intervals from 1897 to 1905, and on which he is without doubt the leading modern authority ; or to his history of the Soudan from its earliest mention in Egyptian history down to the close of independent Egyptian rule. On both these subjects his book is the fullest and most authoritative to be found anywhere, and it will long remain the classic work on them. We shall content ourselves with noticing his remarks on the work done by our own countrymen in the Egyptian Soudan.

Under Egyptian government in the greater part of the nineteenth century, the Soudan had been regarded as simply a breeding-ground for slaves. Under the fostering care of the Khedivial officials, the clever Arab merchants in the Soudan had brought the slave trade to a pitch of perfection which it is now difficult to realise, and the rulers in Cairo seconded their exertions with such success that in 1880 the Soudan was literally a " useless possession," the greater part of the country having gone out of cultivation, and most of the able-bodied men in it being brigands. The rise of the Mandi in 1881, and the subsequent liberation of the greater part of the Soudan from Egyptian rule, was only a substitution of King Stork for King Log. If the Mandi had indeed been a liberator there was ample room for his advent. During sixty years of bad government, excessive taxation, oppression, injustice, and bribery, the Egyptian rulers had made their name stink in the nostrils of the Soudanese, whose numbers were being steadily depleted by the infamous slave trade:—

" Thousands upon thousands of square miles of territory had gone out of cultivation, the water-wheels were broken in many places and had been left to rot, and about seven-eighths of the population had given up a settled life and become brigands, high- way robbers, cattle-lifters, and slave-raiders. From the Equator northwards every man was dissatisfied with the Egyptian govern- ment, and the desire for its abolition was boldly expressed on all hands. The natives in the towns had just tasted the blessings of Gordon's just and equitable government, and were becoming accustomed to his patient hearing of their petitions, and to the sight of the punishment which he meted out with unswerving justice to evil-doers, when he departed, and his place was taken by a notorious slave-dealer, whom the Khedive and his ministers set over their land. The slave-dealing tribes of Arab descent, hearing that the government at Cairo talked of the suppression of their trade, were ready to revolt."

Thus when Gordon left the Soudan in 1879 the land was ripe for rebellion. The Mandi supplied the necessary spark to a magazine of grievances. But he soon showed the Sondanese

• The Egyptian Sudan its History and Monuments. By E. A. Wallis Budge. 2 vols. London: Kogan Paul, Trench, and Co. [42s. r.ekj

that they had exchanged whips for scorpions. The Egyptians bad enslaved them: the Mandists slew them. Dr. Wallis Budge was a witness with his own eyes of the abject state of misery which the Mandist interregnum had brought upon the Dongola province by 1897 :—

" Four-fifths of the population had been destroyed, the greater part of the land had gone out of cultivation, the palm trees had been so greatly neglected that the date crops barely supported the remnant of the population which struggled for a living, most of the water-wheels had been burnt or were broken, and the Dervishes had eaten the cattle which had worked them. There was no trade and no money, the young men had been slain in the wars of the blabdi and the Khalifa, and the young women had been carried off to fill the harems of the Bakkara. The condition of the country between Abu Ilamed and Khartum was

even more terrible Every here and there a few wretched people, chiefly old men and women, had gathered together and were trying to form a village, and how or on what they lived were things to marvel at. Thorns and briars and brambles had taken possession of nearly all the land which had formerly been fertile fields, and the few natives who had straggled back from the flight before Mahmud sowed tho seed for their scanty crops on the mud flats in the river and on the moist mud of the banks. In the courtyards of the ruined houses of the old villages were to be seen the stones on which the women were grinding their dhurra when Mahmud's soldiers appeared, and the scattered grain which lay under the grinders testified to the suddenness of their flight. Ruin and desolation were everywhere, men and cattle were rarely seen, and even the dogs had been wiped out."

It is a great relief to turn from this gloomy picture to the chapter in which Dr. Wallis Budge describes the work done by the British in the Soudan during the seven years of patient effort which followed the destruction of the Dervish power at Omdurman,—the "crowning mercy" to the unfortunate Soudanese, to whom at last it gave a chance of attaining some measure of prosperity and civilisation. Dr. Wallis Budge gives a vivid description of the changes which he observed on his last visit to Khartoum in 1905 :— " A handsome river front had been made, the Gordon College opened, a large mosque was in course of construction, building was going on in all directions, wide roads and streets were laid out, the mounds of rubbish and old bricks and the large, shallow, mosquito-bearing pools bad disappeared, a tramway was working, and steamers were plying between Khartum and Omdurman. The signs of material progress were not confined to the capital, for in all the towns and villages which I passed through new buildings were springing up, well-attended markets were held, and in every bazar trade was brisk. The railways were improved, a service of steamers had been established on the White Nile and on the Upper Nile, which had been freed from the Sudd, tele- graph lines were being extended, the Post Office was rapidly becoming a flourishing department, and the imports and exports showed that the trade of the country was developing rapidly. Though the population was still scanty, there were everywhere signs that it was increasing steadily if slowly, and that the material condition of the people was much improved. And this great work had all been done in seven years ! The men who had done it were few in number, they fared hard, they worked day and night, they lived in any shelter that came handy, and every one of them toiled with a devotion which is beyond praise. They were hampered by want of funds, and it was of the utmost importance that every piastre should be made to go as far as possible ; had the money been their private property, they could not have taken greater care in spending it. The splendid results achieved by the British in the Sudan are due to the firm and consistent policy which Lord Cromer has followed with unwavering tenacity, and to his determination to make all the dwellers in that country free men."

There is no more creditable story in recent history than that of the liberation and administration of the Soudan by our countrymen, and Dr. Wallis Budge has given a most trust- worthy and lucid account of it. We should like to have room to dwell upon his description of the admirable work being done by the Gordon College, or of the irrigation schemes by which Sir William Garatin—to whom these volumes are fitly dedicated —is making the desert to blossom like the rose. But the reader must seek these things, as well as much else that is intensely interesting, in Dr. Wallis Badge's handsome volumes, which form one of the most valuable books ever written on an African subject.