Thursday, July 15, 2021

Gordon in Sudan

Conan Doyle tells us in "The Adventure of the Cardboard Box" that a picture of General Charles George Gordon ("Chinese" Gordon) hung on the wall at 221b Baker Street. Gordon was an actual historical personage of some importance. Today I came across a review of an early book by Winston S. Churchill, The River War: An Historical Account of the Reconquest of the Soudan, written when Churchill was only twenty-five.
Churchill also recognizes the considerable merits of General Charles George Gordon (also known as Gordon Pasha) whom the British sent to oversee Egypt’s withdrawal from the Sudan. In 1885, Gordon lost his life in the city of Khartoum: Mahdist forces overwhelmed his palace as Prime Minister William Gladstone’s government dithered about coming to his rescue. Gordon was an accomplished general, as well as a man of deep principle and Christian faith. He had warred on slavery in the Sudanese territories out of a deep respect for the dignity of all persons. But his moral rectitude and prideful self-assurance led to imprudence and an excessive confidence in his own judgment. Churchill’s final assessment of Gordon is respectful with an undercurrent of doubt and criticism. He was, in Churchill’s estimation, “a man of stainless honour and enduring courage” and “the severity of his religion did not impair the amiability of his character.” His opinions were not always sound but “the justice of his actions” was generally beyond dispute.
Daniel J. Mahoney, "To Conquer with Chivalry and Mercy: Churchill's River War is the work of a great statesman and thinker."

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