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The Life and Times of General Sir James Browne
Chapter XII - The Afghan War: 1878-9


THE preceding chapter saw three columns under preparation for a simultaneous advance into Afghanistan—from Peshawur, from the Kurum Valley, and from Quetta respectively.

Browne was, of course, to be with the Quetta force, and his functions were to be numerous and not restricted to the customary post of engineer. He was to retain his position as member of the Viceroy’s personal staff and of the Foreign and Political Department. And, as directly enjoined by Lord Lytton, he was to aim at authority and leadership with the tribesmen of the great Ghilzye clan. This charge was all the more prominent that Browne’s success in his political mission to the Kakurs was now bearing fruit. There was no delay on the part of that clan in announcing to the Ameer that they would not join him in any hostilities with the English; and so marked was their attitude that Major Sandeman, the Governor-General’s Agent, organised a body-guard of those clansmen as his personal escort.

It will be easily understood that at this period, when the war was about to begin, there was absolute uncertainty as to what would occur, even at the very first. The Ameer had his troops all as ready as he could have them at the three points we menaced— at the mouth of the Khyber about Ali Musjid, at the Peiwar Kotul and the passes in the Kurum range, and at Candahar and the Khojak and Khwaja hills opposite Quetta. The Russian emissaries too—i.e. Kaufmann’s—were still with him as if in his support, though their chief Stoletoff had left for, avowedly, only a brief absence.

All this Russian attitude, however, be it remembered, was sheer trickery; and no ally was more deliberately and wantonly deserted, betrayed, and left in the lurch than the unfortunate Ameer; for the treaty of Berlin had long been signed, as the Russians knew, though not the Ameer—and the Russian Government itself even before that epoch had not only withdrawn from any hostile attitude towards England, but had entered into a direct but secret treaty with us for unity of action. So now, but not until the Ameer was fully committed to war, did the Russian emissaries withdraw and leave him to face us single-handed. The Russians at Cabul had known of the treaty in ample time to guide the Ameer, had they desired to do so, into a proper attitude towards England; but obviously the Turkestan party were bent on bringing on a war between England and Afghanistan.

It has been mentioned that the plan prescribed for this invasion was the simultaneous crossing of the frontier by three columns, but a glance at the map will show the difference in the distances that these columns would have to march, to reach the three points of advance assigned to them—the Khyber, the Kurum, and Pesheen in front of Quetta. Hence it arose that, in order to carry out the proper concert in dates, General Biddulph had to start the advance or movement from Quetta before the arrival of the proper commander, Sir Donald Stewart, and of the second division of the force. That column naturally suffered severely from the great distance of its seat of operations from its real base at Mooltan, where the depots were formed for the troops and munitions of war and special supplies; and, further, that very much greater distance, combined with the rough and bare character of the country, tended to make the matter of carriage and transport exceptionally serious.

But now, in accordance with the plan that the advance of the three forces into Afghanistan should be all made simultaneously on November 21st, the invasion from Peshawur into the Khyber was carried out under Sir Samuel Browne (no relation, though a namesake of Buster), that into the Kurum under General Roberts, and that from Quetta into Pesheen by Biddulph’s force. And to this party Browne was at first attached, but afterwards to Sir Donald’s whole force.

It is not necessary to describe in detail the northern operations of the war, for our Browne—Buster Browne —was not concerned with them; but we do so briefly. General Samuel Browne’s force attacked and captured Ali Musjid on November 21st, and forthwith occupied the Khyber and other passes en route— thence to Jellalabad. And Roberts on the same date entered and occupied the Khost district; then attacked and captured the Peiwar Kotul position on December 2nd, and on the 8th seized the Shuturgurdun and neighbouring heights, whence he could see the surroundings of Cabul, but where his first operations were to clear and obtain effective control over the immediate neighbourhood.

But the task before Stewart and Biddulph’s force was to make a long march, through barren and mountainous districts and the Khojak and other difficult passes, to Candahar; and there, whatever else they might do, command the junction of the routes north-east to Cabul and north-west to Herat, so as to intercept any support that the Ameer might have thought of obtaining from outside his north-west frontiers. But the Ameer did not wait for the full development of the war, knowing well what its course would now be; and forthwith, after the Ali Musjid business, he appointed his son, Yakoob Khan, his Regent, and left the country by the mountain tracks for Turkestan with the avowed object of seeking the support of Russia. Henceforward, the Ameer Shere Ali disappears from this story.

On the stoppage of Chamberlain’s mission at the mouth of the Khyber, Major St. John had returned to his former position, in political charge of the line from Quetta to Candahar and the south-west border of Afghanistan, and Browne was formally appointed Intelligence Officer to General Biddulph, in addition to the other posts and to carrying out the several other duties that have been described. The Viceroy’s specific proposal, already mentioned, that Browne should deal with the Ghilzyes, shows conclusively how fully and pertinently Lord Lytton understood his special authority and influence with the clan; but it must be remarked that he cannot have realised the grounds on which that power was based.

It was on November 9th that General Biddulph, with a portion, some 6,400 men and 16 guns, of the Candahar Field Force, reached Quetta, and afterwards pushed on to Pesheen. Then, after some days, Sir Donald Stewart reached Dadur en route from Mooltan to Quetta. He had been on furlough, and had now come out hurriedly. He had first gone to Simla for some special information and arrangements, and now, on reaching Dadur in the Belooch Plain, overtook the second column of his force in somewhat serious difficulties, owing to the supplies collected there for both of his columns having been all used up by the first column of it under Biddulph.

In this district the first steps in the contest with the Ameer’s followers had been taken, it may be here explained, before either of the generals had arrived. Some Afghan emissaries, supported of course by an armed following, had come to the village of Haramzye about fourteen miles from Quetta, and were there intriguing and stirring up mischief. Sandeman, on hearing of this, and ascertaining by a personal visit how the land lay, arranged for action. A force, consisting of an infantry regiment, a troop of cavalry, and two mountain guns, accompanied by Browne, proceeded under Sandeman’s guidance to the village. They reached it shortly before daybreak, carefully and quietly surrounded it, and then, with a shout from the whole party, from all sides rushed inwards on its centre, paralysed the malcontents, and seized, handcuffed, and carried off the Ameer’s emissary. This feat settled and quieted the whole neighbourhood, and paved the way for Biddulph’s operations. The villagers and Syuds of Haramzye, the site of the story, turned into staunch friends, and rendered good service to the British.

On Biddulph’s approach—in fact, on knowing of the imminence of an impending war—Sandeman had begun to lay in supplies along his proposed route; and then Biddulph himself reached Quetta on November 9th with seven battalions of infantry, three regiments of cavalry, and three batteries, one field and two mountain, and found Browne hard at work fortifying the Miri, as the fort at Quetta is called. On the 13th, four days afterwards, Biddulph received orders to prepare for an advance, and during the course of the week reconnoitred the whole of the frontier line, which, as yet, he was not empowered to cross. Browne found his brother officers Bisset and Nicholson1 on Biddulph’s staff. With Nicholson he was much associated afterwards, as they were together first on Biddulph’s staff in his march through Thul Chotiali, then on Macpherson’s staff in Egypt, and later on, on Lord Roberts’s staff when he was Commander-in-chief in India

Though Sir Donald Stewart had not yet arrived, Biddulph was now beginning to advance; and, after the reconnaissance of November 22nd, crossed the border into Pesheen next day simultaneously with the movement of the two northern columns. He then moved on carefully to Hykulzye and to other points from which to start work at the two passes in the Khwaja Amran range, the Gwaja and the Khojak; of which two the Khojak fell specially to Browne’s lot, and there he set his Ghilzyes to help.

Meanwhile General Stewart arrived, and collected his whole force—one rear division, called the first, he commanded personally; the other, the leading division, called the second, remained ahead under Biddulph.

By dint of hard and judicious and well-organised labour, and fortunately without any molestation to speak of from the enemy, the road through each of the passes referred to was constructed, fit for the passage of all traffic. The charge of the construction lay in the hands of Colonel Sankey and the Engineers under him. But Browne helped him with his Ghilzyes, and was further useful in getting in supplies through them, and in surveying and mapping the sites of various peaks and other features of the country; which was very helpful to the reconnoitring officers. The two roads when completed were each thirteen feet wide, with a maximum gradient of one in ten, and by them now went the first trains of wheeled vehicles that had ever reached Khorasan from India.

The main difficulty on the route to Candahar lay in the obstruction of the Khwaja Amran mountain range which lay across the whole of the plateau that would have to be traversed. There were but two passes in it—those that have been referred to as the Khojak and the Gwaja—the routes to them being by Hykulzye and Gulistan Karez respectively, and there being no other or more direct communication between them than by those two points at their respective heads. They were themselves impassable except to mules, donkeys, and men on foot. The whole country was barren and devoid of supplies, and to a great extent of water; the people were wild and bigoted; and one large clan, the Achukzyes, had avowed their hostile intentions on any suitable opportunity arising.

On the other hand, the Ghilzye clan, the largest of all, were always en evidence, and announced their intention to follow Browne’s leading on all occasions. He was now at the very height of his influence with them, and was forming them into auxiliary bodies for practical purposes, such as trained working gangs of all sorts—postmen, guides, messengers, collectors of supplies, and so forth. The Kakurs too were helpful; and personally he was absolutely sure of freedom from any risks from fanatics or others.

Between the two parallel passes, as has been noted, there was no communication except by the posts above them; but there was no enemy there now, and no other obstruction. The passage of them by the troops occupied from the 19th to the end of December, General Stewart’s orders being that the first division should march through the Gwaja Pass, the second simultaneously through the Khojak, and that the whole should then concentrate at Tukht-i-pul. Each of the divisions, on reaching the plains, and while en route to Tukht-i-pul, encountered small bodies of the enemy’s cavalry, and driving them inwards, brought them into a position where Brigadier Luck was able to attack and disperse them. The two bodies of British cavalry who were separately pursuing the enemy came in sight of each other, without either of them at first recognising the other to be friends, and not foes; the result being a volley from one of them which sent a bullet through Browne’s helmet! This seems to have been the only bit of fighting seen before the force reached Candahar; and it did not promise much as to any really steady resistance. Further, the news now arrived that the Afghans’ commander and troops at Candahar had evacuated the place and fled. Hence on January 8th Sir Donald Stewart was able to make a peaceful and triumphant march of ceremony through that city; after which the camp of the force was formed outside it on the Ghuznee side, and enjoyed a few days’ repose.

The strategical value of the Candahar position has been already explained, and as Afghan troops were occupying Herat in one direction and Khelat-i-Ghilzie in the other, on the way to Cabul, General Stewart had now to act in both these directions. So pulling his force together, and taking advantage of the approach of a division of Bombay troops, for the garrisoning of Candahar, he began his advances on the 15 th, after a week’s halt. He sent Biddulph with one division towards Girishk on the Helmund, on the road to Herat, while he led another himself towards Khelat-i-Ghilzie. He took Browne with him as his political officer, and sent St. John with Biddulph.

As Browne accompanied Stewart’s column, its incidents will be first described; the more especially since the events of this march were very exceptional in respect of the results of Browne’s presence, and the special influence he exercised over the Ghilzyes.

The column, having started on the x 5th, came to its camping-ground, a march short of Khelat-i-Ghilzie, on the morning of January 21st. There the force was to halt for the day, and prepare for the advance next day against the fortress.

Browne, however, when reconnoitring ahead and scouting about with his escort and his Ghilzye followers, found a considerable party of those tribesmen there in a somewhat excited state, who proceeded to tell him that the commander and garrison of Khelat-i-Ghilzie—having heard of his approach, and believing him to be the Mullah, anxious to occupy the fort with the force to which, for whatever reason, he had attached himself—were already taking steps to evacuate it the next night That garrison, they added, though more than a thousand strong, would not oppose him, and were ready to yield it to him personally. He had only to ride on, and take possession.

Browne, without more ado, started off at once towards the fort with only his personal escort of eighteen Sowars, and as he approached it he saw to his delight that a part of the garrison was already in full retreat, whilst others were lining the ramparts and gates in an undecided manner. So, within a short distance of it, he sent forward one of his party with orders to the commandant to surrender himself and the fort at once under the alternative of being blown to pieces by the army which was coming on behind. The commandant seemed to hesitate for a few moments, but at last came out, on which Browne placed two of his men with lances behind him, giving orders to run him through on the first sign of treachery; and then, going straight into the fort with the rest of his men, he. turned out all the remainder of the garrison, and placing sentries on the gate and elsewhere, took formal possession of the fortress. After which, leaving the bulk of his party there, on guard over the guns and the locked gates, he returned without further delay to the camp and reported his proceedings to the general, who, he added, had only to march on at once and take possession forthwith. A cavalry reconnaissance he heard had been ordered; but none, he said, was really needed.

The audacity of this act was splendid, for he had not yet dreamt of its connection with his singular relations to the Ghilzyes. Its importance was obvious, but beyond holding the place for a month, no further forward movement or other step was taken; and all Browne’s hopes of its leading at once to a further advance towards Cabul came to nothing.

It need hardly be said that Browne, though perfectly ready and glad to seize the opportunity thus offered, had remained silent on the popular illusions about himself, feeling perfectly certain that they would soon be exploded and cleared up, and that the General, if he knew of them at all, would laugh at them. At any rate, Stewart took no other view of Browne’s influence than that he was another John Nicholson, with a special power over these wild clansmen, of which power it was expedient to take all possible advantage. It will be seen that in later days he continued to recognise this influence of Browne’s, and was instrumental in helping him to positions, as in the Hurnai work, where he could give it full scope and play. Eventually, by the end of February, Browne was on his way back to Candahar, where the whole force again concentrated. His peculiar influence meanwhile continued, and during all the time the force remained at Khelat it was never molested nor were there ever any attempts at murders or fanatical attacks, while, when they got back to Candahar, they found that the troops there, though reinforced from Bombay, were in a constant state of fidget and under fire all night.

There is no doubt that the facts and incidents of the operations of Stewart’s force, as there had been so little fighting, were not so striking and interesting to the public as those of the Peshawur and Kurum columns; and Browne’s disappointment at not advancing farther was great. But Candahar itself was the key of Stewart’s position, and its distance, and even that of Quetta, from British India was incomparably greater than that of the positions reached by the other two forces. So that, while the operations of the latter, including those in the Kurum country and the Peiwar Kotul fight, and the seizure of the Shutur-gurdun Pass, had practically ended by the first week of December 1878, it was only then that Stewart had been able to begin work at all, and arrange to cross the border from Quetta towards the Khojak Pass and Candahar. When he began that advance, Shere Ali had already fled into Turkestan with the avowed intention of suing for the intervention and support of Russia; and Sir Donald’s retirement from Khelat-i-Ghilzie was simultaneous with the news of the death of Shere Ali and of Yakoob Khan’s formal succession and immediate efforts to arrange for terms of peace.

But this withdrawal from Khelat-iGhilzie, whatever its cause, being in time of war, although no actual fighting occurred, suffered from the usual unpleasant concomitants of all withdrawals or retreats, and greatly harassed the work of the staff,, especially of the supply officers; and Browne suffered much from its inconvenience. An imaginary incident in the negotiations during this withdrawal may be described as between S., a supply officer, and N., a native merchant, who had hitherto during the advance helped him freely about supplies, etc.

1. S. now, from a camp on the return march, sends to N. as before for supplies.

2. N. reports himself sick, and unable to help him.

3. S. sends peremptory and threatening orders, backed by a few troopers.

4. N. accompanies the party back, with streams of pack animals, etc.

5. S. reproves him severely for his reply.

6. N. deprecates his wrath, and asserts the impossibility of his supplying him except on receiving very stern orders as in No. 3.

7. S. repudiates the excuse, as such orders had never been needed before.

8. N. admits this, but says that now he, N., would, alas! have to satisfy the Ameer’s agents, and he really needed something more imperative and savage than such threats as in item 3.

9. S. “ Then write out such a letter from me to you as you want me to sign.’’

10. N. drafts a gem, teeming with abuse and blood-curdling horrors—threatening the entire male population with impalement and other punishments.

11. S. signs it, and comments thus: “I wonder whether in years to come this precious document will ever come to light and I be handed down to posterity as a second Nero? It is, I fear, quite likely. We are certain to re-enter Afghanistan some day. As sure as we do, N.’s descendants will produce my ‘Indent for supplies’ as a testimonial to the good services performed by their ancestor in former years. The budding political to whom it will be shown will be horrified at its ingenious brutality, and, at the dinner-table, will be outspoken in his righteous indignation against the political methods of former days. The story will spread, and some war correspondent with a thirst for horrors will pounce on the precious morsel, wire an embellished version to his paper—yes, and no doubt in the end I shall be held up to opprobrium on the platform of Exeter Hall, and pilloried as a monster in human shape and a true type of the Indian official.”

Such were Browne’s experiences of the Afghan campaign.

Meanwhile, during Stewart’s and Browne’s absence at Khelat-i-Ghilzie, Biddulph’s columns on the Helmund, towards Herat, had been having an interesting experience.

On January 16th, the day after General Stewart had begun the movement towards Khelat-i-Ghilzie, Biddulph’s force started from Candahar to Girishk, on the Helmund, and arrived there at the end of the month. The party remained there exploring and surveying and gathering information till February 23rd, when it began to return. On the 26th the rear guard was attacked by a party of Alizyes, whom it defeated and punished severely, but with the loss of one officer. The whole country affecting the route from Candahar to Girishk was thoroughly surveyed, and General Biddulph sent a very full and able report on its strategical features and considerations.

General Biddulph was now free for the exploring expedition, of which he had received notice, and in which he was to be aided by Browne and Nicholson, through the hitherto unseen and unknown Thul Chotiali district between Quetta and the Derajat. But before proceeding to the narrative of these operations, we may close the present portion of the subject by citing the memorandum on the Candahar question drawn up by General Stewart.

“Covering as it does the roads from Eastern Persia and Herat; as well as that from Cabul and Ghuznee, Candahar is, no doubt, a position of much importance. The features of the country in the immediate vicinity of the city are favourable for defence, but its occupation by us would entail the establishment of strong posts on the Helmund and at Khelat-i-Ghilzie at least, bringing the intervening districts under our control.

“Assuming, however, the retention of the country embraced within the limits here indicated, we do not thereby obtain a satisfactory frontier, because it would be impossible to guard sucn a long and exposed line without a series of military or police posts as connecting links.

“While recognising the strategical importance of Candahar, its occupation now would, in my opinion, be a mistake, even from a military point of view, seeing we could at any moment lay nands on it from our base in Pesheen.

“I am aware that military critics of high authority consider the retention of Candahar to be essential to the security of our frontier, on the ground, apparently, that the Afghans might some day construct works at that place which would neutralise the advantages which our proximity to it would give us.

“This is, no doubt, a possible contingency, but it does not counterbalance the immediate and very patent disadvantage of a premature occupation; ana our engagements with the Afghan state will be on a very unsatisfactory footing if they do not make due provision to meet contingencies of this character. As a purely military question, therefore, the possession of Candahar woula in my judgment place us in a false position, and in point of fact be a source of great disadvantage to us.

“The political objections to the retention of Candahar in opposition to the wishes of the Afghans seem to me to be very strong.

“For many years our policy in India has ceased to be an aggressive one, ana this policy has been avowed in the utterances of the Government during the present war. It follows, therefore, that on principle we ought not to annex a rood of land that is not really essential to the security of our frontiers; to do otherwise would be to discredit us in the estimation of the world.

“It has been suggested that we might hold Candahar by an amicable agreement with the Afghan Government, and if this could be arranged, it would be unobjectionable, but I am inclined to think this is the last thing the Afghans would be disposed to accede to.

“Though the people of this province profess to be tired of the Barakzye rule, it must not be assumed that they are prepared to receive us with favour. So far as I am in a position to judge, they detest us cordially; and I am under the impression that our immunity from anything like organised opposition is largely due to the fact that our dealings with the people are taken as an indication that our occupation is a temporary one only.

“As regards the unpopularity of the Barakzve r/gime, it should be recollected that the military force employed in the province for many years nas been of insignificant strength; a fact that discredits the idea of an oppressive or very obnoxious system of government.

“It has been further alleged, by high authority, that the occupation of Candahar would De a final settlement of the frontier question; but if there is one point more than another on which it would be safe to utter a prophecy, it is that circumstances would necessitate further movements at no distant date, until some natural boundary had been reached—indeed, the most fatal of the objections to Candahar as a frontier is its want of defined and defensible boundaries.

“By restricting our advance to Pesheen we have a strong and, in most respects, a satisfactory frontier, and from that position we can lay our nands on Candahar at any moment; and this being so, I fail to see why we should anticipate events by undertaking a costly, onerous, and exceedingly troublesome charge, involving, as it must do, the government of a large province, inhabited by a warlike, fanatical, and turbulent population, whose independence it is our interest to foster, and whose friendship we should do our utmost to secure. . . . What I say is, that every advantage expected from the occupation of Candahar can De secured at a far less cost by the occupation of Pesheen, which gives us in addition a very strong defensible frontier. A great number of people think Candahar essential and a barrier against Russia. But they forget that our keeping the province would reduce the Afghan kingdom to a position of dependence which would always be a danger to us and utterly prevent the Afghans themselves from ever becoming our hearty friends."

Candahar, April 18M, 1879.

To proceed: General Biddulph was now directed, in February, 1879, to return to the Punjab through the Thul Chotiali country to the Derajat frontier. He was to command a division in three separate columns, and to explore and report fully on the district; and was accompanied by Nicholson on his military staff and Browne as his political officer. They left Candahar on March 7th and proceeded to Balozai, the point whence the passes lead to the district that was to be examined and which they reached on the 22nd. Biddulph was to make a general survey of the country with special consideration of the routes suitable for roads and railways and the movements of troops, and of the sites for military positions. Major Sandeman accompanied the force. The march ended at the Chenab on April 27th. Between March 22nd and April 27th the exploration was ceaseless, and Browne was constantly in charge of detached parties. At first the march lay in the Kakur country, afterwards in the land of the Murrees and Bhoogtees and other Belooch clans.

The camps were sometimes at an elevation of 7,000 to 8,000 feet, and sometimes low down on the banks of the rivers and streams. From some of these points the explorers could see into Zhob, Bori, and Pesheen, and noticed that the lie of the hill ranges was such that from nearly one apparent centre streams would flow to four such different points as the Derajat, the Cutchee, Seistan, and Pesheen.

Some very singular mountain formations were met with on the Suliman ranges. One of them, the Siazgaie Hill, may be mentioned; a rock rising almost sheer out of the plain, with perpendicular sides for half the height, and slopes of 450 at the foot, resembling in a measure the Fortress Rock of Gwalior.

This march was a great enjoyment to Browne, and of special interest in his case, as in his original report to Lord Lytton on the Cutchee Plain he had referred to the possibility that, in consequence of the risks as to the lie of the beds of the Indus, the best and safest permanent route to the Quetta district might be found to lie through this very tract, Thul Chotiali, which he was now helping to survey.

The task occupied almost a month; the hot weather was coming on, and so Browne had to part from Biddulph, which he did with great regret. He received much kindly recognition both from him and from General Stewart, and later on very honourable mention in dispatches.

Some of the phrases they used may be quoted:

“His special knowledge contributing materially towards the completion of the Government desire to effect a conciliatory passage.”

“ our services were invaluable.”

“Facilitated these explorations in a most marked degree.”

“I do not think it has ever been clearly pointed out that you were the mainspring of all the discoveries in these parts on the famous march from Pesheen to the Derajat.”

Such were the remarks of the generals.

This march closed Browne’s connection with the Afghan war; and on finding that no satisfactory employment was likely to be available, he applied for leave and proceeded to England on a holiday of which the incidents will be described in the next chapter.

At first there had been a chance, which however came to nothing, of his accompanying Cavagnari to Cabul—and afterwards while in England, hearing of the outbreak of the second war consequent on Cavagnari’s murder, he asked for employment in it; but his application was not acceded to, and he remained on leave for the full time.

Meanwhile he had not yet realised correctly what was the nature of the exceptional influence he exercised over the Ghilzyes, or what its real origin was, or what the position they insisted on assigning to him.

One of the incidents may be recorded. When about to accompany Biddulph, one of his friends, a Ghtlzye chief—Sado Khan—warned him against going into Kakur country, and prayed him to pay proper heed to the customary ceremonials of Mullahs, such as the recital of the orthodox creed, the saintly blessings, and the like. But this only amused him.

It may be observed that General Biddulph (not knowing of this episode) was specially surprised by some of the instances of h& influence and success and escapes, and was unable, for instance, to understand how it was that Browne and his party were not, on a certain occasion, murdered by the Achukzye clan, about Candahar. As the result of his work during and after this campaign, he was mentioned four times in dispatches, and was made a C.S.I.

As to general matters during this warfare, though a watch was being kept up on the Herat direction, Russian action had ceased in Afghanistan itself and to its north-west, and the Berlin Conference had been held; but Colley had left India for the supreme post in South Africa, where the first troubles were beginning that soon increased steadily and caused such prolonged anxiety. Gordon had left Central Africa after five years of efforts to deal with the slave trade, only to find that the fanatic element there was beginning to assume a threatening aspect, while very soon the Mahdi was to come into notice more to the north. The Soudan and the Zulus also were threatening in the south—a gloomy prospect indeed.

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