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GORDON General Charles George - Autograph Letter Signed 1877 describing his travels in Sudan

  • £1,650.00

General Charles George GORDON (1833-1885)

Autograph Letter Signed (“C.G. Gordon”) as Governor-General of the Sudan, to “My dear Nugent” [his friend Colonel Nugent of the Royal Engineers].
4 pages 8vo on onion-skin paper, Katarif, 24 April 1877 and “En route from Sennaar on Blue Nile to Khartoum”, 1 May 1877. 
I wish in order to sicken you of any wish to travel, you were here for a week, with this heat, fatigue, worries and the feeling of complete impotency to remedy the state of affairs, that would be in you. I came here in 2½ days from Casata, 150 miles. We went like the wind generally at night, sitting out the day in the terrible heat, sweltering. We leave tonight for Sennaar. I have at least 8 or 10 months travel before I have even seen the Province. I go from Kartoum to Darfour, from Darfour to Wadi Halfa thence to Kartoum, then to Suakin & Berbera opposite Aden then to Kartoum and then to the lakes and then to Kartoum. I hope to rest there, for a time and digest the work. I met Col. Knox friends & Mr. Baird at Kasala, they had shot a lot of animals . . . They killed an Elephant, and found inside her, a small embryo elephant properly formed with tail, legs & not larger than a mole. Knox is a good sportsman, and knows these countries well. I am making great sweeping changes, irrespective of likes & dislikes. I do, as I can, without fear, and with as much justice, as I can see, this is the difficulty, for your seldom get the whole truth, however I go a great deal by instinct. En route from Sennaar on Blue Nile to Kartoum 1 May 1877 Received your kind letter dated 2 March today, on my way down. I have done nearly 900 miles on camel & found the boat (although always grounding owing to the shallows) a comfort. I have all sorts of troublesome work to do though I suppose scarcely ever has had a man a heavier task, I wear it very lightly so convinced I am that I can only do my best. How it will turn out, is not in my hands. I have a host of letters to answer, and have but little time, for I have to go to Darfur in 10 days. Johannes [the Emperor of Abyssinia, with whom Gordon hoped to sign a treaty] has his hands full, King Menelik of Shoa has attacked him in S.E. (Gondar) of his Kingdom, & Johannes has taken all his men away from the Frontier, so I speculate on his leaving me alone, for a time. I will write to Watson, & to you at length later.
At the time of writing, Gordon was in the first months of his tenure as Governor General of the Sudan, and found himself responsible for a vast area of roughly a million square miles. His tasks were to root out the slave trade, put an end to the endemic corruption, and reconnoitre this vast territory, from the Second Cataract of the Nile to the great lakes, and from the Red Sea to the headwaters of Lake Chad.
Gordon had returned to England the previous year, having resigned his post of the Equatorial provinces where his powers were limited. However, in January 1877 the Khedive, Ismail Pasha, persuaded him to return with increased powers as Governor General of the entire area. He arrived in Cairo on 8 February 1877 and was installed as Governor General on 5 May. In the intervening months, he travelled widely and indefatigably throughout the terrirtory, as he describes in this letter.
Gordon was to remain in the Sudan for the next three years, and achieved remarkable results in charting the country and establishing better communications. His achievements both in government and in engineering were tremendous. He had virtually achieved his most important objective, the suppression of the slave trade, a task he regarded as entrusted to him by God, when Tewfik Pasha succeeded Ismail as Khedive, and Gordon eventually resigned.


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