Page images

Humbert sent Count Antonelli to the court of the Abyssinian potentate to explain matters. But the queen would not permit the diplo mat's specious arguments to have any effect. The treaty of Uccialli,

[subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][ocr errors][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][ocr errors][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][ocr errors]

she declared, must be rescinded, and a new treaty drawn up. She drafted a new formula, be3ginning with these words:

"Article 1.Article 17 (relating to an Italian protectorate) of the Uccialli treaty of May 2, 1889, is abrogated."

War followed, and war promises to continue as long as Queen Taïtou

holds her coign of vantage in the councils of the state.

She has had a romantic history. Though of an ancient and noble family, she was not "born in the purple.' She was married several times before becoming the wife of Menelek, whom she had known since her infancy at the court of the famous Negus Theodoros, who committed suicide rather than


surrender himself to Lord Napier after the capture of Magdala, his capital. There was a talk at that time of uniting by marriage the two young people, both being of royal blood. But Menelek inarried the daughter of Theodoros. Taïtou became the wife of Degiac Griel, and soon after of another degiac or chief, Ghiorghie, from whom she was divorced three months after the wedding to marry Gianteri Udie. He conspired against the Negus, and was sentenced to perpetual imprisonment. The unfortunate Taïtou took refuge in the convent of Debra Merci, whence she was taken off by her brother, Ras Ollie, who conducted her to the province of

Shoa. There Taïtou married a chief named Zeccaragacciu, brother of the beautiful Bafana, then the favorite of Menelek; and she was compelled to flee from that fourth husband, who brutally beat and otherwise ill treated her. Taïtou again went to her brother, who sent her on a mission to the court of Menelek, from whom she asked the return of some men who had been captured by the imperial governor of the Tigré. Menelek was captivated by the physical beauty and the intellectual accomplishments of Taïtou, and he married her solemnly, thus making

Taitou the empress of

English Expedition to the Soudan. -Italy's province of Erythrea was designed specifically to serve as a check on the Mahdists and dervishes of the Soudan, a barrier against their advance into the southern provinces of Egypt. When the disaster at Adowa annulled Italy's prestige as a military power, the occasion seemed favorable for a forward march of the dervishes; and forthwith the intelligence was spread abroad that their hosts were mustering at Dongola, and that an invasion of the land of the Pharaohs



was impending. There was alarm at Cairo, and there was not less alarm in Lombard street: at the Horse Guards all this had been foreseen, and every provision made in advance to meet the emergency. As early as March 14, before certain assurance was had of any move on the part of the Soudanese fanatics, the plan of a campaign in the Soudan was already drawn up, the numerical strength of an anti-Mahdi expedition determined, the cost estimated and provided for, and a commander-in-chief named. The money to pay for the expedition, at least the first instalment, £500,000, was to come out of the unappropriated balance in the Egyptian treasury. The sirdar of the Egyp

[ocr errors]

tian army, General Kitchener, was chosen to be commanderin-chief, and his principal lieutenants were also selected. The expeditionary army's strength was fixed at 12,000 men, all Egyptian troops, except 1,200 British soldiers of the regular army.

An understanding was in the middle of March believed to exist between the king of the Belgians and the British government, in virtue of which a force from the Kongo Free State, associated with levies from the native troops of Lagos, will attack the dervishes from the south, in the region of the Upper Nile. Later this rumor was confirmed; and before the end of March the black troops were on the march toward the Soudan frontier on the south.

France and Russia are openly hostile to the expedition itself and the proposed method of defraying its cost out of the Egyptian treasury; but Germany approves, seeing that the expedition will help to lift Italy out of the slough in her African province. By doing this favor to Italy, England wins the good will of the Dreibund, and in particular of Germany. The reasons for this new invasion of the

Soudan are thus stated in the London Times:

"From the point of view of Egyptian interests and of British policy, the advance on Dongola, long regarded as inevitable by those best acquainted with the state of the Soudan, has now become an urgent matter. The shock to the prestige of all the European powers that have possessions in Northern Africa, which was produced by the defeat of the Italians at Adowa, cannot be neutralized by the conclusion of a peace with Menelek. The excitement of the dervishes has to be reckoned with; and the danger to Egypt if they were to capture Kassala from the Italians must not be overlooked. Even if the Italians come to terms with the Abyssinians, it is far from certain that they will be able, or perhaps willing, to continue to hold Kassala, where the power of the dervishes would constitute a serious menace to Suakin and the neighboring oasis of Tokar.' But the possession of Dongola and the fertile province of which it is the centre, has further and larger advantages. It cannot be doubted that the advance to this point we do not say that a movement upon Abu Hamed would not be in some respects preferable-is the first step in a policy that must have for its ultimate object the reconquest from barbarism of the upper valley of the Nile, at any rate as far as Khartoum. While Khartoum and the provinces beyond it remain in the hands of the enemies of civilization, the position of Egypt must always remain insecure."

The press of Germany welcomes this action of England. on the ground that it gives aid and comfort in the hour of need to one of the members of the Dreibund. The Norddeutsche Zeitung, which on March 12 had accused England of encouraging the French desire of revenge upon Germany, two days later highly approved England's gen

erous behavior toward Italy in this emergency. The WeserZeitung publishes a note inspired from Berlin in which it is said that the security of the Dreibund would be increased if the naval power of England should reinforce the ItaloAustrian position; and then the Transvaal matter is formally thrown overboard as a question that ought not to be suffered to imperil the interests of the Dreibund."

In the British parliament Mr. George N. Curzon, on behalf of the government, made a statement, March 16, of the reasons for sending an expedition against Dongola. The statement was followed by an exciting debate, which was opened by Mr. Labouchere. He declared the expedition to be worse than needless: it hindered the fulfilment of England's pledge to evacuate Egypt; and he doubted. whether it would relieve the Italians. He was a warm friend of Italy, but not of Italy in Africa. Sir Charles Dilke did not believe that the real object was the safety of Egypt's frontier, nor a diversion in favor of Italy, which was impossible, he said. He suspected that the government's purpose was to establish a position at Darfur as the centre of the great African kingdom which they hoped to establish. Sir William Harcourt said that if this was the first step of a forward policy, it was of a most perilous character and deserved strenuous opposition. The empire was already ample enough to please the most inordinate ambition. The Right Hon. A. J. Balfour could not conceive of a change more for the benefit of the Soudan than that that country should be transferred to a government under English influence. The government was sustained by a vote of 268 to 126.

The next day in the Italian senate a motion was passed thanking the British parliament for its sympathy. The journal Popolo Romano expressed great satisfaction at the vote. "For the first time," it said, "the British government proclaims to Europe its alliance with Italy.' government of Italy assumed a more confident air.

"The late ministry," said Premier di Rudini, "ordered the opening of negotiations for peace. We have continued them, and will still continue to treat, but we will not accept any conditions except such as will reinstate the national honor." He was about to ask of the chambers a credit of 140 million lire ($28,000,000) for continuing the war.

From the Soudan before the end of March intelligence was received of the proclamation of the "Holy War" by the khalifa against Egypt. It is expected that 50,000 of the best fighting men of the Soudan will be mustered at

Omdurman by September. Anglo-Egyptian troops had reached Wady-Halfa. The camel corps there was over 1,000 strong, and there was a competent cavalry and artillery force. The British Intelligence Department finds it very difficult to obtain early and trustworthy information. regarding the movements of the dervishes; but by some means the khalifa is said to obtain reports of everything that occurs at Cairo and at Wady-Halfa.



THE devastation of Armenia and the impoverishment of its people cannot fail to have very serious consequences for the Turkish government. The Armenians, both in their own province and wherever they are settled throughout the empire, have earned the reputation of being an industrious people with a marked aptitude for business. In the cities, banking and merchandising were, until the present troubles, in the hands mostly of Armenians. These thrifty farmers and herdsmen, these bankers and merchants, are now, in six great provinces, reduced literally to beggary. From them no torture can wring taxes. ruptcy impends over the government. Trade being paralyzed, there is an enormous decline of customs receipts. The treasury is empty; and the salaries of the civil functionaries, as well as the pay of the army, are in arrear. The interest on the public debt must be paid, else the European money-lenders will write their effective placet across the demand made by the civilized world for the effacement of the Turk. But whence are the necessary funds to come? Not from the Turkish population. The Turk is indolent, thriftless, poor. Besides, the Turks have always regarded themselves as the lords of the land: it is not for them to bear the burdens of the state, beyond serving in the army and in the civil administration. Even in the most prosperous times they have not been required to pay their fair proportion of the taxes, and in some districts they are virtually exempt from that obligation. The Christian populations have supported the state. But now that hundreds of thousands of them have lost their all, the government will not dare to demand the same support of its Mohammedan subjects. Such a demand would provoke

« PreviousContinue »