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Full text of "Lord Kitchener"

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I'laoto by Eltrolt t!:1 'r,. Ud,. Ltmlon. 



LORD KITCHENER 


BY 


G. K. CHESTERTON 


LO
OON 


19 1 7 



LORD 


I( IT C I I E N I
 f< 


I IORATIO I-I ER BERT IZ ITCH E
 ER was Irish hy 
birth but English by extraêtion, being born in 
County I(erry, the son of an English colonel. '[he 
fanciful might see in this first and accidental íact, 
the presence of this siInplc and practical Illéln 
amid the Illore Inystical \vestern probleins. and 
dreallls \vhich were very distant froIll his nlind, an 
element ,yhich clings to all his career and gives it an 
unconscious poetry. He had Inany qualities of the 
epic hero, and especially this-that he was the last 
man in the ,,"orId to be the epic poet. '[here is 
something almost provocative to superstition in tll<' 
,yay in \vhich he stands at every turn as the sYInbol 
of the special trials and the moclLrn tr;lI
sfìgtlration 
of Engl?nd; froIn this InOlnent when he was born 
aInong the peclsants of Ireland to the 111nllH'nt 
\vhen he died upon the sea, seeking at the ot her ('nd 
of the world the other gn'at peasant civilisïtioll of 
Russia. Yet at each of t hes(' SYIll bolic IlH>lncllts 
he is. if not as unconscious as a synlboI, t 11('n as 
silent as a sYInbol; he is spcechless and suprelncly 
significant, like an ensign or a fLlg, I'he sup(
rfìcial 
picturesqueness of his lif,
, at least, lies vpry 11luch 
in this-that he \vas like a h!.
ro condemned by fate 
to act an allegory. 


t 


[ B 
 J 



LOI
D IZITCI-IENER. 


\Ve find this, for instance, in one of the very first 
and perhaps one of the mo.;;t picturesque of all the 
facts that are recorded or reported of him. As a 
youth, tall, very shy a.nd quiet, he was only notable 
for inteIìectual interests of the soberest and most 
Inethodical sort, especially for the close study of 
Jllathematics. This also, incidentally, \vas typical 
enough, for his \vork in Egypt and the Soudan, by 
,,'hich his fame \\"as established, \\'as based \vholly 
upon such calculations. It was not Inerely 
Inathematical but literally geometrical. His work 
bore the same relation to Gordon's that a rigid 
Inathen1atical diagraln bears to d. rough pencil 
sketch on \vhich it is based. Yet the student tthus 
Lent on the strictest side of his profession, studying 
it at \V oohvich and entering the Engineers as the 
Inost severely scientifÌc branch of the army, had as 
a first expericnce of war something so rOlnantic that 
it has been counted incredible, yet something so, 
relevant to the great reality of to-day that it might 
ha ,.e been Inade up centuries after his death, as a 
ITJ)'th is made up about a god. He happened to be 
in France in the most tragic hour that France has 
ever known or, please God, will ever know. She 
,,'as bearing alone the \vcight of that alien tyranny, 
of that hopeless and aln10st lifeless violence, \"hich 
the other nations have since found to be the \vorst of 
all the terrors \vhich God tolerates in this \\"orld. She 
trod that \vinepress alone; and of the peoples there 
were none to help her. J n 1870 the Prussian had 
already encircleq Paris, and General Cranzy ""as 
fighting against enormous odds to push no!"th
\'ards 


2 



LORD I(ITCIIENER. 


to its relief, \vhen his army \vas joined by the young 
and silent traveller from England. All that was in 
Kitchener's mind or nlotives will perhaps never be 
known. France was still something of an ideal of 
civilisation for many of the more generous English 
gentry. Prussia was never really an ideal for anybody, 
even the Prussians, and mere success, ,,'hich could 
not make her an ideal, had not yet calalnitously Illade 
her a model. There \vas in it also, no doubt, a 
touch of the schoolboy who runs away to sea- 
that touch of the schoolboy \vithout the sense of 
which the staidest Englishman will always be 
inexp'licable. But considered historically there is 
something strangely moving about the incident-the 
fact that Kitchenpr \\?as a French soldier altnost 
before he \vas an English one. As Hannibal ,vas 
dedicated in boyhood to 'war against the eagles of 
Rome, Kitchener 'was dedicated, almost in boyhood, 
to "rar against the eagles of Gerrriany. Ronlance 
came to this realist, ,,'hether by ilnpulse or by 
accident, like a ,vind froIll without, as first lo\.t> 
\vill conle to the \\Toman-hater. He \vas already, 
both by fate and choice, sOll1ething Blore than he 
had meant to be. The Inathenlatician, \\rc Inight 
almost say the calculating boy, ,vas already gaInbling 
in the highest lottery ,vhich led to the high(
st 
and most historic loss. 1'he engineer devoted to 
discipline ,vas already a free lance, because alreaJy 
a knight-errant. 
He returned to England to continue his COIll- 
paratively humdrum order of advancement j and the 
next call thdt canle to hinl was of a strangcl y 


J 



LOT
 0 I{ITCIIE
ER'. 


different and yet also of a strangely significant kind. 
rl'he Palestine Exploratioa Fund sent him \vith 
another officer to conduct topographical and anti- 
quarian investigations in a country \vhere practical 
exertions are always relieved against a curiously 
incongruous background-as if they \vere setting up 
telegraph-posts through the Garden of Eden or 
opening a railway station. at the Ne\v Jerusaleln. 
But the contrast bet\veen antiquity and modernity 
\vas not the only one j there was still the sort of 
contrast that can be a collision. I(itchener \vas 
almost immediately to conle in contact \vith \vhat 
\vas to be, in various aspects, the problem of his 
life-the modern fanaticisms of the Near East. 
There i
 an English proverb which asks \vhether 
the mountain goes to l\Iahomet or he to the 
Inountain, and it may be a question whether his 
religion be the cause or the effect of a certain 
spirit, vivid and yet strangely negative, \vhich dwells 
in such deserts. \Valking alnong the olives of Gaza 
or looking on the Philistine plain, such travellers 
may well feèl that they are treading on cold 
volcanoes, as empty as the mountains of the moon. 
But the mountain of Mahomet is not yet an extinct 
volcano. 
I<itchener, in these first days of seemingly mild 
and minute duties, was early aware of it. At Safed, 
in the Galilean hills, his small party had found 
itself surrounded by an Arab mob, stricken suddenly 
mad with emotions unintelligible to the political 
mobs of the \Vest. He \\'as hiInself ,,-ounded, 
but, defending hinlself as Lest he coulJ \\rith a 
.J. 




ORD I(ITCHE:\ER. 


walking-stick, not only saved his own life but that 
of his fellow-officer, Lieutenant Conder, \vho had 
been beaten to the earth \vith an Arab club. He 
continued his work indeed \vith prosaic pertinacity" 
and developed in the survey of the Holy L
nd all 
that almost secretive enthusiasm for detail \vhich 
lasted all his life. Of the most famous English 
guide-book he made the characteristic reInark, 
"\Vhere Murray has seven nan1es I have a hundred 
and sixteen." Most men, in speaking or writing of 
such a thing, would certainly have said" a hundred." 
It is characteristic of his type that he did not even 
think in rour:d numbers. But there was in hin1, 
parallel. to this almost arithmetical passion, another 
quality which is, in a double sense, the secret of his 
life. . For it \vas the cause of at least half his 
success; and yet he very successfully concealed it 
-especially from his admirers. 
The paradox of all this part of his life lies in 
this-that, destined as he \vas to be the greatest 
enemy of l\lahomedanism, he was quite exceptionally 
a friend of M"aholnedans. He had been first received 
in that land, so to speak, with a blow on the head 
\vith a club; he was destined to break the sword of 
the last Arab conqueror, to \vreck his holy city anù 
treat all the religious traditions of it with a deliberate 
desecration \vhich has often been held oppressive 
and was undoubtedly ruthless. Yet \vith the indi- 
vidual Moslem he had a sort of natural brotherhood 
\vhiéh has never been explained. Had it been shown 
by a soldier of the Crusades, it \voulJ have been 
called witchcraft. In this, as in many other cases, 
5 



LO I{ 0 [Z 1 T' C I I E 1'\ E R. 


the advance of a larger enlightenment prevents us 
froIll calling it dnything. There ,,'as mixed with it, 
no doubt, the deep l\Ioslem admiration for mere 
Inasculinity, which has prc!Jably by its exaggeration 
permitted the l\Ioslem subordination of \vomén. 
But I(itchener (,,'ho \vas hiInself accused, rightly 
or wrongly, of a disdain for ,,'ornen) Inust have 
himself contributed SOBle other element to the- 
strangest of international sympathies. \Vhatever 
it was, it nlust be constantly kept in mind as 
run"ning parallel to his scientific industry and 
particularity; for it \vas these hvo po\vers, used 
systematically for many years before the event, that 
prepared the ground for the overthro,,' of that wild 
papacy and \\randering empire \vhich so long hung 
in the desert, like a mirage to mislead and to 
destroy. 
Kitchener \vas called away in 1878 to similar 
surveying duties in Cyprus, and afterwards in 
Anatolia, where the saIne faculty obtain
d him a 
fìr1Jzall, making him safe in all the Holy Cities 
of Islam. He also dealt much with the Turkish 
fugitives fleeing from the Russian guns to Erzerum 
-\vhither, so long after,. the guns were to follo\v. 
But it is \vith his later summons to 
gypt that 
we fee] he has returned to the theatre of the great 
things of his life. It is not necessary in this rough 
sketch to discuss the rights and \\ rongs or the 
genpral international origin of the British occupa,tion 
of Egypt; the degree of praise or blame to be 
given to the Khedive, who W3S the Jlominal ruler, 
or to Arabi, the Nationalist leader, who for a time 
6 



LORD l(ITCIIE
EH., 


seized the chief power in his place. I(itchener's 
services in the op
rations by which Arabi \vas 
defeated \\'ere confined to some reconnaissance 
\vork irnlnediately prpcLJing the bombardment of 
Alexandria; and the problem \vith which his own, 
personality became identified was not that of the- 
Governlnent of Egypt, but of the more barbaric 
power beyond, by which Egypt, and any powers 
ruling it, came to be increasingly irnperilled. And 
what advanced hiIn rapidly to posts of real responsi- 
bility in the new politics of the country \vas the 
knowledge he already had of \vilder nlen and more 
mysterious forces than could be founJ in Egyptian 
courts or even Egyptian calnps. I t was the cOInbi- 
nation, of which we ha ve already spoken, of detailed 
experience. and almost eccentric sYInpathy. .In 
practice it \vas his knowledge of Arabic, and still 
more his knowledge of Arabs. 
There is in Islam a paradox which is perhap3 a 
permanent nlenace. The great creed born in tlH> 
desert creates a kind of ecstasy out of the vt'ry 
emptiness of its own land, and e\'en, one In:
y say, 
out of the emptiness' of its own theology. It af1ìnns, 
with no little sublin1ity, sonlething that is not tnerely 
the singleness but rather the solitude of God, 
There is the sanle extreIne simplification in the 
solitary figure of the Prophet; and yet this isolation 
perpetually reacts into its o\\'n opposite. A voill 
is tnade in the heart of Islanl \vhich has to be 
filled up again and again by a mere repetition of th(> 
revolution that founded it. l'here are no sacralnents ; 
the only th
ng that can happell is a sort 
f apocalypsp, 
7 


[ c J 



L 0 I { I ) IZ rr elf E:\ E R . 


as unique as the cnn uf the \\"orlù; so the 
apocal fpse can only be repeated and the world 
end again and again. Thl're are no priests; and yet 
this equality can only bn
ed a Inultitlldt
 ùf la\rless 
propht"ts alrnùst as IlUln
rOUS as priests. l'he \'l'ry 
dog'na that thère is only on
 :\Iaholnet proùuces an 
endless prvcession of :\I.tholnets. Of these the 
Illightiest in III oJ ern tin1è
 \\'ere the In an whose 
I1aIne was ,:\.h HIed, and \rhose I110re falnous titk
 
was the :\Iahdi; and his Illore ferocious successor 
.. \bdullahi, who \vas generally known as the I(halifa. 
These great fanatics, or great creators of fanaticism, 
succeeded in Inaking a InilitarisITI alInost as fatnous 
and fonnidablc as that of the 'Turkish Elnpire on 
\\'hose frontiers it ho\'ered, and in spreading a reign 
of terror such as can seldonl be organised except 
by civilisation. \ Yith !\ apoleonic suddenness anù 
success the i\Iahdist hordes had fallen on the anny 
of I licks Pasha, \\'hen it lelt its caInp :it Olndunn;ul, 
on the Xile opposite l(hartouIll, and had cut it to 
pieces in a fashion incredible. '1'hey had establisheù 
at Olndunnan their IIoly City, the Ronle of their 
nnlnadic ROlnan EIllpire. 'fowards that terrible 
pl:tcf
 Inany ad\'enturous nlcn, like puor Ifi.cks, had 
((\ )fl
 anu were destined to 
o. 
rhc sands that 

 u 
l'l1circll'ù it 'Yen.: like that entrance to the lion's 
C;L\'t:rn in the fable, towards which 111 any footprints 
pointed, anù fronl which none returneù. 
'rhe last of these "..tS Gordon, that r0l11antic and 
e\'en eccentric figure of wholn so Inuch Illight be 
said. Perhaps the nlost essential thing to say of 
him hert..: is that fortune OnCe again playeu the artist 
8 



L()RI) I
I'rCIIE='IEI{. 


in sending such a man, at once as the leader and 
the herald of a Inan like J<itchener; to show the 
way and to n1ake the occasion; to be a sacrifice 
and a signal for vengeance. \Vhate\'er else then-' 
was about Gordon, then-' was abl-)ut hilll thf" air not 
only of a hero, but of the h
ro ef a tragedy. SOlne- 
thing Oriental in his own Inysticisl11, sOlnething 
Inost of his countrYInen would have called n1UOll- 
shine, something perverse in his courage, somethiTlg 
childish and beautiful in that perversity, Inarked hiln 
out as the man who \valks to doon1-the man \rho in 
a hundred pOeIllS or fables goes up to a city to be 
crucified. He had gone to Khartoum to arrange the 
\vithdrawal of the tro:::>ps from the Soudan, the Govèrn- 
mpnt having decided, if possible, to live at peace \vith 
the new l\Iahdist dictatorship; and he went through 
the deserts aln10st as solitary as a bird, on a journey 
as lonely as. his end. He was cut off and besieged in 
I(hartout11 by the Mahdist annies, and fell with the 
falling city. Long before his end he had been 
in touch \vith I{itchener, now of the Egyptian 
Intelligence DepartInent, and weaving very carefully 
a vast net of diploll1acy and strategy in whiçh the 
slayers of Gordon \vere to be taken at last. 
A \vell-known English journalist, Bennet 
Burleigh, \vanJering near Dongola, fell into con- 
versation \vith an &'\rab who spoke excellent English, 
and \vho, ,,-ith a hospitality highly ill1proper in a 
1\IosleIn, produced two bottles of claret for his 
entertainment. The naIne of this Arab was 
Kitchener; and the two bottles \v__'re all he had. 
T

 lournalist obtained, along with the claret, his' 
9 


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L()J 
 } ) I\: I'f (' II E 
 F R, 


fìrst glitnpse of th
 great and extraorJinary scltenles 
with \\'hich I(iteh{
ner \\-as already wurking to 
a \.enge the cOInrade who had fallen in }<hartourn. 
'l'his part of the work was as per:-;onal as that of a 
priYat
 detecti\ge plotting ag<linst a private rnurderer 
in a Inodcrn detecti\'e story. IZitchcner had learned 
to speak the Arah. tongue not only freely but 
sociably. He ,,'ore th
 .\rab dress and fen illto the 
.\rab type of courtesy so effectively that even hi
 
blue northern eyes did not betray hinl. Above all, 
he sYInpathised \vith the Arab character j and in 
a thousand places sprinkled over the map of 
North-East Africa he made friends for hilnself and 
therefore enen1Îes for the l\lahdi. This \vas the 
first and superficially the BlOSt indi,'idual of 
the converging plans \rhich \vere to checkmate 
the desert etnpire; and its effects \rere very far- 
reaching. Again and again, in subsequent years, 
when the Inissionaries of the l\lahdist rt-'ligion 
pushed northward, they found theInselves entangled 
anlong tribes \,'hich the English power held not so 
I1luch conquered as converted. 1'he legend of the 
great Prophet encountered son1ething nlore elusive 
than laws or tnilitary plans; it encounten
d another 
legend-an influence which also c3rried the echoes 
of the voice of a Inan. 1'he Ababdeh Arabs, it was 
said, made a chain across the desert, \vhich the new 
and awful faith could not pass. The Mudir of 
Dongola was on the point of joining the ever- 
yjctorious Prophet of OIndunnan. I<itchener, clad 
as an Arab, went out ,tltnost alone to speak \vith 
hin). \Vhat passed, perhaps, we can never tell; but 


10 



LO J{ f) I
 IT C flE:\ E R , 


before his guest had l:\'en Ie ft hiIn the :\1 udir nl
\\" 
to anns, fell upon the Prophet's hosts at I(orti, and 
dro\
e them befor
 hin1. 
The second and superficially J110re solid process 
of preparation is nluch bettcr known. I twas thc 
education of the nati\.c Egyptian anny. It is not 
necessary to swallow all thc natural jingoisln of 
English journalisln in ordf'r to sec something truly 
historic about. the English orficer's \rod.:: with the 
Fellaheen, or nati\
e race of Egypt. l
"or centuries 
they had lain as Icyel as the slin1e of the Nïle, and 
all the conquerors in the chroniclt.:s of Inen h
d 
passed over them like a p.1.vernent. '[hough pro- 
fessing the challenging crèed of the 1\1 nslenls, t hl'r 
seeJl1' to havè reached s0I11t'thinp' likc the } )cssiInist 
,:> 
patience of the I-lindoos, 'r 0 ha ve turned this slilne 
once nlore into a human riv
rJ to haye lifted this 
pavement once rnore into a hUI11an rampart or 
barricade, is not a sInall thing, nor a thing that 
could possihly be done even by Inere PO'\\"E>r, still 
less by mere nloney-and this I{itchener and his 
English companions certain]y did. '-[here 111ust have 
been sOInething Inuch nlore than a Inere cynical 
severity in" organis:ltion IJ in the In'ln \rho did it. 
There Inust be son1ethin
r In0re than a Inere cOln- 
.
 
rnercial COIntnon-Sènsc in the nation in whose n
lIn 
it \\
as done. I t is easy enough, with suftìcient 
dulness and greed of detail, to " organise" anything 
or anybody. It is easy enough to Inake people 
obey a bugle (or a factory ho. )ter) as tl
e Prussian 
soldiers obey a bugle. But it is no sllch trumpet 
that Inakes possible the resurr
ction of the dead
 


I I 



LORO 1
ITC}IEXER. 


The success of this second of the three 
con\'crging designs of I{itchener, the making of 
a new Egyptian army, \vas soon seen in the 
expedition against I)ûngola. It had been .fore- 
shadowed in a successful defence of Suakin, in 
which l,itchencr was wounded; a defence against 
OsnIan 11igna, -perhaps the first of the M ahdist 
gl'llcrals whose o\\'n strongholds \\'ere eyentuaHy 
stunned at Genlaizch: and in the victory at Toski, 
where fell the great \varrior \Vad el N jume, \vhose 
stratcgy had struck down both Hicks and Gordon. 
nut the turn of the tide \\'as Dongola. In 18 9 2 
General, now Lord Grenfell, who had been Sirdar, 
or COlnmandcr-in-Chief of the Egyptian Anny, and 
ordered the advance at T oski, retired and left his 
post \'acanl. The great public servant known 
latterly as Lord CrOITIer had long had his eye on 
IZitchener and the part he had played, even as a 
young lieutenant, in the new military formation of the 
Fellaheen. He \\"as now put at the head of the \\'hole 
ne\\' anny j and the first \\"ork that fell to him \vas 
leading the new expedition. In three days after the 
order \\'as received the force started at nightfalI and 
nlarchcd southward into the night. The detail is 
SOllIet hing Inorc than picturesque; for on all 
accounts of that fonnidable attack on the Mahdi's 
power a quality of darkness rests like a kind of cloud. 
It was, for onc thing, a surprise attack and a very 
secret one, so that the cloud ,,"as as practical as a 
cloak; but it ,,'as also the re-entrance of a territory 
\\"hich an instinct h.ls It,d the English to ca1l the 
I)ark Continent c\'en undL'r its blazing noon. [here 


J 
 



LORD KITCHENER. 


vast dìstances alone made a veil like that of darkness, 
and there the lives of Gordon and Hicks and 
hundreds more had been s\val1owed up in an ancient 
silence. Perhaps \ve caniìot guess to-day, after 
the colder completion of Kitchener's \vork, 
\vhat it meant for those Who \vent on that 
nocturnal march j \vho crept up in t\VO linp.s, one 
along the river and the other along an abandoned 
raih\'ay track, moving through the black night j and 
in the black night encamped, and ,vaited for the 
rising of the moon. Anyhow, the tale told of it 
strikes this note, especially in one touch of \vhat can 
only be caned a terrible triviality. I mean the 
reference to the new noise heard just before day- 
break, revealing the nC.1rness of the enemy: the 
dreadful drum of Islam, calling for prayer to an 
awful God-a God not to be \vorshipped by the 
chang:ing ánd sometimes cheerful notes of harp or 
organ, but only by the drum that maddens by 
nlere repetition. 
But the third of Kitchener's lines of approach 
remains to consider. The surprise attack, \vhich 
captured the riverside village of Firket, had even- 
tually led, in spite of storms that ,varred .on the 
adv;}nce like armies, and in one place practically 
\"iped out a brigade, to the fall of Dongola itself. 
But. Dongola \"as not the high place of the enemy; 
it was not there that (;ordon died or that Abdullahi 
was still alive. Far aw
y up the dark river \vere the 
twin cities of the tragedy, the city of the murder and 
t he city of the murderer. It ,vas in relation to this 
Qxed point of fact th:lt IZitchpner's next proceeding 
13 



Lel R I) 1, I TC I I EX E R, 


is 5e
11 to b:
 
'..lprenlPly characteristic, He was so 
anxious to dn one thing that he \\yas cautious about 
doing it. Ill" "-as nlorc concerned to obtain a success 
t h=ll1 tn a ppear to desrr\'c it; he did not "rant a 
1l1oral yictory, but a Inathenlatical certainty. So far 
frpIll following up the dash in the dark, upon Firket 
or I Jongnla, with Inore rOlnantic risks, he decided 
not to ;u.h-ance on the :\Iahdi's host a Ininute faster 
than nlen could foHo,," him building a raihvay_ 
lIt" created ut"hind hi:n a coloss:ll causeway of 
('nIl11lIunicatiolls, going out alone into \\';lstes where 
there ,yas and had been no other morlal tr:lce 
or t rack. The engineering genius of Girouard, 
a Canadian, designed aDd developed it witla 
what was. considering the nature of the t:lsk, 
hrilliant rapidity; but by the standards of desert 
warfare it must ha\ye 
eemed that Kitchener and his 
English Inade ,rar as slowly as grass grows or 
orchards hear fruit. The horselnen of ..<\raby, darting 
to and fro like s\\"al1ows, nlust ha\"c felt as if they 
were nlenaced by the ad,"ance of :t giant snail. But 
it ,,"as a snail that left a shining track unknown to 
those sands; for t he first tinle since Rome decay
d 
sotn<,t hing ""as hping Inadc there that could reInain. 
rrh.. effect uf this gro\,.ing road, on
 Inight alnlost 
say this li,"ing road, began to be felt. Mahmoud 
tlu' :\Iahdist military leader, fell back froln Berber, 
:lnd 
at hcred his hosts mOft
 closely round the 
sacred city ()11 the :\ile. l(itchencr, nlaking another 
night Inarch up the .-'\tbara ri\ycr, stormed t he Arab 
(:nnp and tOîk 
tahlnoud prisoner. Then at Jast 
he tnovcd lìl1dl1y up tht
 western bank of the Nile 


14 



tCJ k r J I\: I T C r I EX E R 0 


and came in sight of OIndurrnan. It is sOlncwhat 
of a disproportion to dwell on the fight that followed 
and the fall of the great city. The fìghtin..
 had 
been done already, and nlore than haH Of it was 
\vorking; fighting a long fight against thp centuries, 
against age
 of sloth and the great sle
p of the 
desert, where there had been nothing but \'i
ion
, 
and against a racial decline that men haù accepted 
as a doon1. On the fol1o,,-ing Sunday a 111eInorial 
ser\.ice for Charles Gordon "ras held in the place 
,,'here he ".as slain. 
The fact that l<itchcner fought with rails as ITIuch 
as with guns rather fixed from this tinle forward the 
fashionable vie\\' of his character. He was taJ!,cd 
of as if he ".ere himself made of Inetal, \\.ith a head 
filled not only with calculations but \vith clockwork. 
This is symbolically true, in so far as it means that 
he was by tenlper what he ".as by trade, an enginc(
r. 
He had conquered the lVIahdi, where many haft 
failed to do so. But whAt he had chiefly conquered 
\vas the desert-a great and greedy giant. J--Ie 
hrought Cairo to Khartounl; \\re n1ight say that 
he brought London or Li\-erpool ,,"ith hin1 to 
the o'ates of the stranf!e cit y . of OIlldunnan. SOllll' 

 .
 
parts of his action supported, even regnottably, th,. 
reputation of rigidity_ But if any adnlirer haù, in 
this hour of triumph, been 
taring at hinì as at a 
stone sphinx of inflexible fate, that adlnin>r wou!d 
have been ,"pry much puzzled by the next. passage f Ii 
his life. l{itchener ""as somet hing 111uch Inore than 
a machinc; for in the mind, as Jnuch as in the hí}dy, 
flexibility is far nlore m;c-)culiIJc than infl(.xibllity. 
15 



I J) R f) 1'- I Tell E 
 E H.. 


:\ sit ua tion dl'\'l'lopl"d ahnost instant ly after his 
\"ictor\' in which he was to show that he ,vas a 
d i plorl1;l t ist cl
 well as a sold ier. At F ash()[Ia, a 
little farther up tht' 
ill', he found sornething Blare 

urprisil1g, and pt'rha ps .lll0re rotnantic, than the 
wildl'st .den'ish of the desert solitu(tes. A French 
oOlccr, and one of t h
 1l1o:..t ,"aliant and distinguisht.j 
of Frl'nch officers, :\Iaj 'r :\Iarchand, had penetrated 
to tl1t' place with the pt'rtinacity of a great explorer, 
and 
l'c'Inl'd prcpared to hold it with all the uns(.ltìsh 
;1rr o gal1ct: of a patriot. I t is said that thp 
Fn'nchlnan not onl\" \relcolllcd I{itchener in the 
n;une of France, but in,'ited hi Ill, with courtt'(ìUS 
irony, to partake nf ,'cgt'tables grown on thp 
pot. 
;1 syrnbol of stabl,' occup.ltiou. '[he story, if it be 
tnl',', is adlI1irably French; for it rc"eal
 
t on('(' 
tht. wit and tht, pt'asant. But th(' hUIHour of th( 
Englishlnan was worthily equal to the wit of tht' 
Frl'nchlnan; and it was hun10ur of that san(' sort 
which \re call good htlInour. Political papt'rs in 
p:lcifìc England and FralH't' ravcd and ranted O\'t'r 
the crisis, responsible journals howled with jingoism; 
but through it clll, until the ITIOlllent when the 
Fn 'neh agreed to retire) the two Jllost placable and 
t'\"\'n 
oC ia hIe fi gu n'
 were the t\\"o gri In tropical 
tra\'t,llt-rs and soldiers who faced e:lch other on the 
hUrl11n
 
ands or Fashoda. l\S we see thenl facing 

'cl('h ot her, Wl' have again the ,'ague sense of a 
sign or a parable \\'hich runs through this story. 
Fo:' they \\'l're to nH' ,t again long afterwards 
lS 
a1"lit '
. wh('n hot h wen' leading their CouIltrYI11en 
ag;1in
t the great enelny in the Great \Var. 
If> 



LOR () I
 IT C I II
 :\ E R, 


SOlnething of the saIne shadow of proph('cy is 
perhaps the deepest tneITIOry left by the last ,,'ar 
of I<itchener before the greatest. :\fter further 
activities in Egypt and the Soudan, of ".hich the 
attCI11pt to educate the Fellaheen by the Gorùon 
l\1emorial College ,vas the Tnost rem.arkahlt', he ".as 
abruptly summoned to South Africa to be the right 
hand of Lord H.oberts in the ,,'ar t hen being waged 
against the Boers, IIc conducted the opening c)f 
the determining battle of Paardeherg, and was 
typically systematic in covering the half -conqtH'rcd 
country \vith a systenl of block-houses and enclosures 
like a diagram of geometry. Dut to-day, and for 
nlany reasons, Englishnlen ,,'ill think first of lhC' 
last scene of that war. \Vhen Botha and tlH' 
Boer Generals surrendered to l
itchelH'r, tIH'I"l' 
was the same goodwill among the soldiers to 
contrast "rith the ill-\\rill of the journalists. Botha 
also became altnost a friend; and Botha also 
was to be in the far future an ally, snliting the , 
GenTIan in Africa as I<itchener smote hi In in Europe, 
There \vas the same hint of prophecy about the \rar 
that ended at Vereeniging as about that other war 
that so nearly began at Fashoda. It sectned altnost 
as if God \vcrc pitting his heroes against each ntlH'r 
in tournament, before. they all rode togeth('r against. 
the heathen pouring upon thenl out of Genllany. 
It is with that nanle of Gcnnany that this 111c'rc' 
skeleton of the facts Inust end. After t hc' SOUL.I 
African \Var l<itchencr had beèn made 'COI:1I11:Llld('r- 
in-Chief in India, \vhere he effccted se\'c'ral \'ita] 
changes, notably the elnancipatioll of 1 hat ollìcc' 
J7 



LORI) I
ITCIIE:'
ER. 


froln the yeto of the l\1ilitary MeInber of the 
Cl)uncil of the \Ï-cproy, and \\
here he showed once 
Illore, in his dealings \\
ith the Sepoys, that 
o!'scure y(>t p(yxerful sYInpathy ,,'ith the Inysterious 
intellect of the East. rrhence he had been again 
shifted to Egypt; but t
e next sumInons that came 
to hinl s\\'allowcd up all these things. A short tinle 
after ,,'ar broke out \rith Germany he \\
as made 
:\Iinister of \Var, and held that post until the dark 
Sl."ason when he set out on a mission to Russia, which 
ne\'er reached its goal. But \vhen his ship ,vent 
down he had already llone a \vork and registered a 
chang(' in England, ,,'ith some \vords about which 
this sketch nlay ,,-ell conclude. Journalistic attacks 
,,'ere indeed Inade upon hiIn, but in \\'
itin for a 
.f or eig n reader I pass them by. J n s uch a place I 
,,'ill not say even of the meanest of Englishmen \vhat 
they \\'ere not ashaIned to say of one of the greatest. 
I n his new work he \vas not only a very great man, 
but one dealing ",ith very great things j and perhaps 
his most historic nloment ,vas when he broke his 
customary silence about the deeper elllotions of life, 
and became the mouthpiece of the national horror 
at the Gernlan fashion of fighting, ,,'hich he declared 
to have left a stain upon the ".ho)e profession of arms. 
F or, by a 1l10VCInent unusually and unconsciously 
dramatic, he chose that moment to salute across the 
long stretch of years the comparative chivalry and 
nobility of his dead enemies of the Soudan, and to 
announce that in the heart of Europe, in learned 
acad('mies and ordered governlncnl offices, there 
had appeared a lunacy so cruel and unclean that 
,.8 



I .( ) R [) I
 rr C I I r
 \' E I 
 . 


the madùest dervish dead in the d
sert had a right 
to disdain it \"here he lay. 
Kitchener, like other Englishnlen of his type, 
rnade his name outside England and even -outside 
Europe. But it \vas in England, and after h:s return 
to England, that he did what \viII perhaps filake his 
name 1110St pennanent in history. That return to 
England "'as indeed as symbolic as his last aÌ1d tragic 
journey to Russia. Both will stand as syulbols of 
the deepest things \vhich are rnoving I11ankind in 
the Great War. In truth t:le whole of that great 
European movement which \ve call the cause of the 
Allies is in itself a home'vard journey. I t is a return 
to native and historic ideals, after an exile in 
the. hO\\Tling \vilderness of the political pessiIl1isI11 
and cynicism of Prussia. After his great ad ventures 
in Africa and .-\sia, the Englishman has. re-discovered 
Europe; and in the very act of discovering J
urope, 
the Englishman has at last discovered England. 
The revelation of the forces still really to be found 
in England itself, \\.hen all is said that can pos
ihly 
or plausibly be said against English conllllercialisin 
and selfishness, \vas the last work of LorJ IZitchcner. 
He \vas the embodinlent o{ an enonnous e
periencl' 
\vhich has passed through Impc.>rialisnl and rcach:'d 
patriotisnl. He had been the suprelne figure (,f 
that strange and spra\vling England which li(':-; 
beyond England; \vhich carries the habits of 
Enalish clubs and hotels into the solitudes uf the 
b 
Nile or up the passl's of the HiIl1alayas, ;ind is 
infinitely ignorallt of things infinitely nearer hOllle. 
For this type of Englishman Cairu was ncan'r than 
19 



L ( ) 1{ I ) I
 1'1' C I I E 
 E I{. 


Calai
. \ret tlh' typical figure ,,'hich "9C associated 
with such places as Cairo ,,'as destined before he died 
to open again the anëient gate of Calais and lead in a 
new and noble fashion the return of E'
gland to 
Europe. 'rh(> .gre:lt change for which his country- 
IHen will probably rell1
nl ber hinl longest was \vhat 
,re should call in EnglaQd the revolution of the New 
,\nllies. 
I t i
 ahnost i,npossible to express ho\v great a 
re\'o)ution it was so as to con\'ey its dimensions to 
the citizens of any other great Europe
n country 
,,"here Inilitary service has ]ong been the rule and 
not the exception, where the people itself is only 
the army in Inufti_ In its mere aspect to the eye it 
was sonlething like an invasion by a strange race_ 
'The English professional soldier of our youth had been 
conspicuous not only by his red coat but by his rarity. 
\ \ïlen rare things become conlmon they do not becom{ 
l'O)n IHOJ1 plac
. The tnelnory of their singularity is 
still strong enough to give thelll rather the' 
appearance of a prodigy, as anyone can realise 
by inlagining an army of hunchbacks or a city of 
one-eYt-'d tnen. The English soldier had indeed 
been respected as a patriotic synlbol, but rather 
:\S .1 priest or a prince can be a syn1bol, as being 
dh a exception and not the rule. A child was taken 
to see the suldier outside DuckinghalH Palace altnost 
a
 ht> was taken tu See the I{ing driving out of 
Buckinghanl Palace. lienee the first effect of th
 
enlargcIllcnt uf the annies was sotnething ahnost 
like a fairv-tale-almost as if the streets were 
cro
'iùeù with kings, wal king about and wearing 


20 



LO r
 1 ) (( l'rC II E 
 E R. 


crowns of gold. This 111erely optical vision of th(
 
revolution \\'as but the first iInpression of a reality 
equally \'ast and new. l'he first leyies which came 
to be called popularly Kitchener's Army, becaus
 
of the energy and inspiration with which he set 
hinlself to their organisation, consisted entin"ly of 
\"olunteers. I t was not till long after the \\"hol
 
face of England had been transformed by this 
Inobilisation that the Governnlent resorted to COlll- 
pulsion to bring in a mere margin of men. 
a\'e 
for the personality of Kitchener, the ne\\T Inilitarisrn 
of England came \vholly and freely fronl the English. 
While it \vas as universal as a tax, it was as SpCH1- 
taneous as a riot. But it is obvious that to produce 
so large and novel an effect out of the Inere psycho- 
logy of a nation, apart froln its organisation I '.\"a
 
something \vhich required tact as well as d
cision: 
and it is this \vhich illustrated a siùe of the Eng)i
h 
gene;-al's character without \vhich he Inay b,'. :t.nd - 
indeed has been, \\TholIy Inisunderstood. 
I t is of the nature of national heroes of J( itcheller' s 
type. that their adInirers are unjust to then1. 'flirl'Y 
would have been better appreciated if they had bl'l'll 
less praise,l. \Vhen a soldier is turned into an iù()l 
there seenlS an unfortunate' tcndency to turn hiII1 
into a \\"f L )den idol, like the wooùl'n fìgun' flf 
I I indcnburg l'rected by. the ridiculou:, aut horitil'
 
of Berlin. In a nlore Inoderate and Inl.
taphorical 
sense there has b
en an unfortunate t(
IlÙl'nC) to 
represent I{itchener as strong by rÍ1crely fI'pn'- 

t'ntinO' hinl as stiff-to su

est that h(
 was Iliad., 
h . ,,-. 
of wood and not of steel. 'rh
re are two Illa
irns, 


21 



I.()RI) KI1'{'IIE\ER. 


which h.l\"l" l>l"l'n, 1 ol'lie\'l', thl' Il10ttoc" of two 
English f:lInilit's, bulh of "rhich are boasts but each 
thl' nHItrary of the uther. 'fhe fìrst runs, "You 
can brt'a k Inc, but YOll cannot bend 1l1l'''; and the 
Sl'COlld, d You C.ln bend Ine, but you cannot break 
IlIt"." \\ïth all n'3pect to \rhoc\.cr 1l1ay ha\'e bornp 
it, the fÌrst is the boast of thc barbarian and there- 
fore of l he Prussian; l h(-" 
ccond is the boa5t 
of the Christian and the ci\'ilised tnan-that he is 
free él!H.I flexible, yet al,,"ars returns to his true 
position, like a telnpered sword. r\ow too much of 
the eulogy on a Inan like lZitchener tended to 
praise hiln not as a s\yord but as a poker. 
f-Ie happened to rise into his first falne at a time 
when n1uch of th(
 English Press and governing 
class was still entirely duped by Germany, and to 
sOlne extent judged everything by a Bismarckian 
tc'st of Llood and iron. I t tended to neglect the 
\"ery re(ll disaùvantages, even in practical life, \\"hich 
lie upon th' Inan of blood and iron, as compared 
with the 111.1,11 of blood and bone. It is one gra,-e 
disadvantage, for instance, that if a n1:1.11 Inade of 
iron were to break' his bones, they would not hea1. 
r n other words, the Prussian EJnpire, ,\'ith all its 
perfections anù efficiencies, has one notable defect- 
that it is a uead thing. It does not draw its life 
fruIn :1ny priJIllry hUlnan religion or poetry; it does 
not grow :L
aill froll1 within. _ \nd being a dead 
thing, it suffers also 11'0111 ha\.ing 110 I1ern's to gi\re 
warning ur reactiun; it reads no danger signals; 
it ha..; nu pren1onitions j about its uwn spiritual 
dOOll1 its sl'ntin
ls arc deaf dnd all ils spies 


.?2 



LO R I) I
 rrc I J E:\ E I{. 


are blind. On the other hanù) the British Elnpire) 
with all its blunders and bad anoIllalies, to which I 
aln the last person to be blind, has one noticeable 
advantage-that it is a living thing. It is not that 
it makes no mi';takes, but it knows it h:t:, Illldt' 
thenl, as the living hand knows when it has toucht,d 
hot iron_ I'hat is eX"lctl y what a h.lnd of irun \\"ould 
not kno\v; anù that is exactly the error ill tht' 
German ideal of a hand of iron, No candid critic 
of England can read its history fairly and fail to see 
a certain flexibility and self-modification; illil){'ral 
policies followed by liberal ones; Inen failing in 
sonlething and succeeding in sorl1ething else; lHell 
sent to do one thing and being wise cnol}gh to do 
another'; the human po\\'er of the li,'ing hand to 
dra\v back As it happens, ({itchener was extra- 
ordinarily English in this li\rely and vital nloderat iou, 
.A '1d it is to be feared that the Illore Gennan ideal i- 
satltJn of him, in the largely unenlightened England 
before the war, has already done SOIlH' hanH to 
. his reoutation, and in ITIISsIng what \,'as par- 
ticularly English has Inissecl what ,vas particularly 
interes t ing" 
Lord I(itchener was personally a sOln('wha t sil('nt 
Inafl' and his social conventions \\.('f(' those of t hi' 
, 
ordinary English officer) especialIy the offict'r \\ ho 
has lived aInong Orientals--col1\rentions which in 
any case tend in tht' direction of sil('nee. I r (' also 
- really had, and to an extent of which SOIn(> P('qp!t' 
complained) a certain English elIlbarraSsllH'llt about 
Inaking all his purposes clear, t:specirtlJy b('f!)J (' 
they were clear to hiInself. lIe probably likl'd 
!J 
23 



LORI) 1
l'rCIIE
EI{. 


think a thing out in his uwn ,,'ay and therefor
 at 
his own tin1e, \\'hich was not always the tin1e at 
which people thought they had a fight to question 
hiru. I n this way it is true of hinl, as of such 
another strong rnan as the Irish patriot Parnell, that 
his very sirnplicity had an effect of secrecy. But it is 
a coruplete error about hi'rn, as it ""as a complete error 
about Parnell, to suppose that he took the Prussian 
pose of disdaining and disregarding eyerybüdy; 
that he settled everything in solitary egoisnl; that he 
\ras a Superman too self-sufficing to listen to friends 
and too philosophical to listen to reason. I t will be 
noted that e\"ery crisis of his life that is lit up by 
history contradicts the colours of this picture. He 
could not only take counsel with his friends, but he 
\\'as abnormally successful in taking counsel \vith 
his foes. I t is notable that \vhenever he came in 
personal contact \vith a great captain actually or 
potentially in arms against hiln, the result \vas not a 
lucre collision but a nlutual comprehension. He 
established the friendliest relations ,,"ith the chivalrous 
and ad\"enturous ß1archanù, standing on the deadly 
debatable land of Fashoda. He established equal1y 
friendly relations with the Boer generJ.ls, gathered 
under the dark cloud of national disappointnlent 
and defeat. I n all such instances, so far as 
his individuality could count, it is clear that 
hl" acted as a nlodcrate and, in the universal 
sense, as a liberal. 'rhc results and th
 records 
uf those who 111et him in such hours are .quite 
suflìcicnt to provc that he did not le;ve the 
irnprcssion uf a Prussian arrogance. If he was silent, 
2" 



J.. 0 I { r) I{ I l' C I-I E :'\ E R . 


his silence must have been 1l10re friendly, I had 
alInost said l11are convi\'ial, than l11anv men's 
conversation., But on the larger platforn; of the 
Euròpean \Var, this quiet but unique gift of open- 
nlinde
ness and intellectual hospitality was destined 
to do t\\'O very decisive things, \vhich Inay profoundly 
affect history. In the first he dealt with the Inor
 
delnocratic and even revolutionary eh:Inen ts in 
England; and in the second he represents a \"l'ry 
real change that has passed over the Ellgli
h 
traditions about Russia. 
Personall y, as has already been noted I 1 
ord 
I{itchcner never was and never pretended to be any- 
thing more or less than the good 111ilitary tnan, and by 
the tiln
 of the Great War he \vas already an elderly - 
military man. The type has much the saine standards 
and traditions in all European countries; but in 
England it is, if anything, a little Blore trad itional, 
for the very reason that the anny has been SOIlH'- 
thing separate, professional, and relatirt'ly snlal1-:L 
sort of club. rrhe military 111an W;JS all the l11un' 
military because the nation was not n1Îlitary. Such 
a man is ine\Oitably conservative in his \'i(.\\"s, 
conventional in his manners J and simplifics tl1,' 
problem of patriotism to a single-eyed obedience. 
\Vhen he took over the business of raising the first 
le\.ies for the present war he was confrunted wit h 
the problem of the English Trades Unions-lhe \"('ry 
_ last problem in the \vorld which onc could rea
()nably 
expect such a Inan to understanù. r\nd yét h(' did 
undt'rstand it; he \\'as perhaps the only pt'rson in 
the 
í. class \\Tho did. If it be hard to explain 


 25 
::.. L
 1 
E-4 v ()) 
7ñ LlB.RA , 
. 

 ,
 
a c\> 


. 



LORD KITCHENER. 


to 
he richer classes in England, it is almost 
impossible to explain to any classes in any other 
country, because the Eng)ish situation is largely 
unique. There is the same difficulty as we have 
already found in describing ho\v vast and even violent 
a transformation scene the gro\vth of the great army 
appeared; it has been almost impossible to describe 
it to the chief conscript" countries, which take a great 
arm y for gran ted. The key to the paraliel proble m 
of the Trades Unions is simply this-that England 
is the only European country that is practically 
industrial and nothing else. Trades Unions can 
never play sllch a part in countries where the masses 
live on the land; such masses always have some 
status and support-yes, even if they are serfs. 
'fhe status of the English workman is not in the 
earth; it is, so to speak, in the air-in a scaffolding 
of artificial abstractions, a frame\vork of rules and . 
· rights, of verbal bargdins or pdper resolutions. If 
he loses this, he becomes nothing so human 
or hOlnely as a slave. Rather he becomes a 
\\'ild beast, a sort of wandering vermin with no 
place in the state at all. It \vould be necessary 
to explain this, and a great deal more ,,'hich 
cannot possibly be explained here, before \ve 
coulll Ineasure the cnonnity of the enigma facing 
the 1 
ritish of11<:ial who had to propose to the English 
tht> practical suspension of the 1"rades Unions. To 
this Inust be added the fdct that the Unions, already 
national institutions, had just lately been in a fernlent 
with ne\\" and violent doctrines: Syndicalists had 
in\'oked thcIl1 as the future seats of governnlent j 
26 



LORD KITCHENER. 


historical speculators had seen in them the return to 
the great Christian Guilds of the Middle Ages; a 
more revolutionary Press had appeared to champion 
them; gigantic strikes had split the country in every 
direction. Anyone woulp have said that under these 
circumstances the very virtues and attainments of 
Kitchener would ,at least make it fairly certain that 
he would quarrel with the Trades Unions. I t soon 
became apparent that the one loan \vho ,vas not 
going to quarrel ,vith the Trades Unions \vas 
Kitchener. Politicians and parliatnentary leaders, sup- 
posed actually to be elected by the working classes, 
were regarded, rightly or wrongly, with implacable 
suspicion. The elderly and old-fashioned Anglo- 
Egyptian militarist, with his doctrine and discipline 
of the barrack-room and the drumhead court-Inartial, 
was never regarded by the ,yorkers \vith a shade 
of suspicion. They Sil11ply took him at his \vord, 
and the leader of the most turbulent Trades Union 
element paid to him after his death the sitnplest 
tribute in the plai
est and most popular language- 
" He was a 
traight man.-" I am so antiquated as 
to think it a better epitaph than the fashionahle 
phrase about a strong Inan. SOlTIe silent inde- 
scribåble geniality of fairness in the Jnan once 
more prevailed against the possibility of passionate 
nlisunderstandings, as it had prevailed against 
the international nervousness of the atInosphere 
o
 Fashoda or the tragic border feud of the 
Boers_ I suspect that it lay largely in the 
fact that this great English!nan ,vas sufficiently 
English to guess one thing - missed by many 11lore 
27 



I () R 1) I
 rr ell E:'\ E R. 


:-;nphistic,lted people-that the English Trades 
C nion
 an
 ycry English. For gCtOÙ ur evil, they 
art' natil)I1,.I; tht'y h;l\Yc yery little in common 
\':ith thl' Inr)rc international SocialisI11 (.f the Conti- 
nent, and nothing 'whatc,.cr in COInnlon ".ith the 
pl'd:lI1lic SociaIisln nf Prussia. Understanding his 
COllntryn1cn by instinct, he did not Inake a parade 
of efficiency; for tIll' English dislike the synlbols of 
dictatorshi l ) Inuch In )r
 th:-tn dictatorship. They 
hatc thl' crowl1 and sccptre of the tyrant much lTIOre 
than his t yr.1.t 1 ny. They have a national tradition 
which allo\\'s of far too n1uch inequality s,o long as it 
i
 soft('ned with a certain c;ul1:-trarierie, and in which 
l'\"Cn sl1ub:; ,)nh' re/11 n Jnber the coronet of a nobIcrn1.J1 
1)11 condition th'lt he shall hirnself sccrn to forget it. 
'The other matter is 1l1uch 1110re important. 
Though the re\'t
r
e of \Yivaciaus, l<itchener \vas 
\.ery vital; an.J he had one unique mark of ,.itality- 
t hat he had not stopped growing. " .A.n oak should 
not be transplclnted at sixty," said the great orator 
Grattan when he was transferred from the Parlia- 
Il1ent of Dublin to the Parli:tn1cnt of \YestIninster. 
I
itchener was sixty-four when he turntd his face 
\\"l-'st\\"ard to the problèIn of his ow'n country. There 
clung to hinl already all the traditional attributes of 
tIlt, oak-its tlJughness, its angularity, its closen('s
 
of 
rain and ruggedness of outline-,,'hen he was 
uprooted frolll th(. Arabian sands and replanted in 
tht' rernote western island. Yet the oak not only 

n'w green again and put forth J1èW leaves; it was 
alnlost as if, as in a legend, it could put forth a nc\v 
kind of leaves. l(itchener, \vith all his taciturnity, 
lS 



LO R 1) I
 rrCf-1 E
E f< 


reany began to put forth a new order of ideas. If 
a change of opiniGns is unusu;:tl in an èld{>rly tnan, 
it is a!most unknown in an eldcrly Inilitary rnan, 
If the hardening of time was felt eve.n bv the 
poetic and en
10tional GrJ.ttan,' it would
 not 
have been strange if the hardening h;td bet'n 
quite hopeless in the rigid and reticent Kitchencr. 
Yet it \\yas not hopeless; and the fact bec ante> 
the spring of much of the nati\..)}1al hope. 'The 
grizzled rnartinct frcnn I ndia and Egypt showcd 
a certain power which is in nearly all great nlell, but 
of \\Thich St. Paul has becotne the traditional type- 
the power of being a great convert as well as a great 
crusader. I t is the real po\\'cr of rC'-fornling an 
opinion, \rhich is the very opposite of that IHere 
formlessness \vhich \\Te call fickleness, K or is the 
comparison to such an exanlple as St. Paul 
altogether historically disproportioI1rtte; for the point 
upon which this '".cry tYFical Engli
htnan changed 
his Inind ,vas a point \vhich is now the pi,"ot of the 
whole future and perhaps of the very existence of 
Christendom. For Inany such EnglishInen it Inight 
altnost be called the disco\yerv of ChristendonL It 
.I 
can be called with greater precision, and illùeed wit h 
almost cotnplete precision, the discovery of R us
i;t, 
l'Ail 1 tary burcaucratic systeln,; everywhere ha '"t' 
too much tendency to \\"ork upon one idea, and 
there \vas a tiIne when the Inilitary and bureaucratic 
systeIll of the British in the East worked on the 
idea of the fear of l
ussia. It is needlc:;s IH
n' to 
explain that sentiment, and useless to explain it 
away. It ,vas partly a mere tradilion frol!! the 
29 



LORD KITCHENER. 


natuial jingoism of the Crimean \Var; it \vas par
ly 
in itself a tribute to the epic majesty of the Russian 
march across m vsterious Asia to the legendary 
Chinese \Yall. The point here is that it existed; 
and \vhere" there exists such an idea in such 
Illilitary rulers, they very seldom alter their idea. 
But I<itchener did. alter his idea. Not in mere 
Inilitaryobedience, but in genuine human reasonable- 
ness, he caIne late in life to see the Russian as the 
friend and the Prùssian as the enemy. In the 
ine,ritabie division" of British ministeri3.1 councils 
about the distribution of British aid and attention 
he was the one In3.l1 \\,ho stood n10st enthusiastically, 
one Inight say stubbornly, for the supreme importance 
of munitioning the Inagnificent, Russian defence. 
I Ie mystified an the English pessimists, in \vhat 
secIlled to them the blackest hour of pessimism, by 
announcing that Genn1.ny had (( shot her bolt ,,, ; 
that she had already lost her chance, not by any of 
the :\Hied attacks, but by the stupendous skill and 
valour of that Russian retreat, which was more 
triuInph:lnt than any attack. It is this discovery that 
Inarks an epoch; for that great deliverance \vas not 
only the victory of 
ussia, but very specially the 
victory of the Russians. Never before ,vas there 
sue h a \\'ar of Incn against guns-as awful and 
inspiring to \vatch dS a "ar of nlen against demons. 
Perhaps the duel of a man with a nlodern gun is 
more like that between a maD and an enormous 
dragon; nor is there anything on the "
'eaker side 
save the ultimate and ahnost metaphysical truth, 
that a n1an can Blake cl gun and a gun cannot make 
3 0 



LORD KITCHENER. 


a Inan. I t is the man-the Russian soldier and 
peasant himself-who has emerged like the hero of 
an epic, and who is now secure for ever from the 
sophisticated s
andal-mongering and the cuhured 
ignorance of the West. 
And it is this that lends an epic and aln10st 
prilneval symbolism to the tragedy of Kitchener's end. 
Somehow the very fact that it \vas incolnplete as an 
action makes it more complete as an allegory. 
English in his very limitations, English in his late 
emancipation from them, he was setting forth on an 
eastward journey different indeed from the many 
eastward journeys of his life. There are many such 
noble tragedies of travel in the records of his 
country; it was so, silently without a trace, that the 
track of Franklin faded in the polar snows or the 
track of Gordon in the desert sands. But this was 
an adventure new for such adventurous men-the 
finding not of strange foes but of friends yet 
stranger. Many men of his blood and type-simple, 
strenuous, sOlnewhat prosaic-had threaded their \Va y 
through some dark continent to add son1e treasure 
or territory to the English name. He was seeking 
\vhat for us his countrymen has long been a dark 
continent-but which contains a much more noble 
treasure. The glory of a great people, long hidden 
from the English by accidents and by lies, lay before 
him at his journey's end. That journey was' never 
ended. I t remains like a mighty bridge, the 
mightier for being broken, pointing across a chasm, 
and promising a mightier thoroughfare bet,veen the 
east and west. I n that waste of seas beyond the 
3 1 



I . ( ) I { I ) I
 11' C III 
 
 E I{ . 


last nl)rt herl1 islets where his ship went down one 
Inight fancy his spirit standing, a figure frustrated 
yet prophetic and pointing to the East, \vhence are 
the light of the world and the reunion of Christian 
Blen_ 



 
IlIule
1 III 
'eal lJrueJlI' Ou 1I1
 loua..&. .\. \ll"'
 (HOR''::i: COX) LUJ 
U'ealu s UUt:cli. .IS, Londolt, E,C. 4;. 








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