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21 erthygl ar y dudalen hon



A TRAVELLER FROM KHARTOUM. Under the above heading the Daily Telegraph publishes an article from which we take the follow- ing: Mr. Frederich Bohndorff, the last man who left Khartoum before it was hemmed in," and the last European who saw General Gordon before his entry into the beleagured city, has personally furnished us with some particulars which will be read with interest at the present time. Mr. Bohndorff is a German naturalist who has spent many years in Africa, and whose collections from the Niain-Niam country. exhibited the other evening before the Liijnajan Society by Mr. Bowdler Sharpe, of the Natural History Museum, South Kensington, excited so much interest. General Gordon took him into his service in 1874, when he went to govern the White Nile. Owing to illness he had to return to Cairo, but upon recovery resumed his scientific inquiries, asso- ciating himself with Dr. Junker, the Russian traveller and banker. In November, 188.3, having completed the collection to which reference has just been made, he reached Dem Suleiman, the capital of the Gazelle country, on his return journey, and there made the acquaintance of Lupton Bey, the governor of that territory. Then for the first time Mr. Bohndorff heard of the Mahdi, and we shall give as nearly as possible a literal translation of his statement, made in French, in reply to questions touching the revolt: Lupton Bey thought the movement which the Mahdi led most serious and far-reaching. He told me he had asked the Egyptian Government for war material, but without result. He bad plenty of negro soldiers, but neither guns nor ammunition, and, in fact, was so short of the latter that he was glad to receive some 200 or 300 caps from me. Lupton told me he understood that at this time the Mahdi was preparing to take El Obeid. I was curious to know something of the revolt, and I learned from my host that the Mahdi had been a poor Fakir on the Island of Abba, in the White Nile, four days' journey south of Khartoum, who lived there with a scanty and impoverished population, with whom, as well as with many of the sailors who stopped there for wood, he enjoyed a great reputation for sanctity and for the possession of some supernatural power. From the Fakir the Mudir of Faschoda demanded extraordinary taxes. J-he Fakir and the island population generally were will- mg to pay some taxes, but they firmly declined the latest exaction. The Mudir, like most of the Egyptian governors, was only too ready to enrich himself at the expense of the natives, and would not be put off. He sent word that he would bring the Fakir to Faschoda with a chain round his neck if he did not pay and soldiers were despatched to the island apparently to carry out the threat. The soldiers were all killed. A great commotion followed amongst the people far and near wherever the news spread. The Fakir saw his opportunity. He announced that he was the promised deliverer or Mahdi, that he would relieve the people from the exactions of the Egyptian Government and secure them in the enjoyment of peace and plenty, and so invited them to join him. The response was more general than he could have anticipated. Soon lie had emissaries everywhere, and tho entire Arab popu- lation of the Gazelle country sympathised with him, because they hoped that with his success they would resume the right of openly trading in slaves. ■•Aere, I may say, that, so far as I could see, the slave trade was carried on to a very considerable extent, though surreptitiously. The people were very poor, and t-bey were in that state of discontent that any- thing Jn fjle form Gf resistance to the Government would have had their ready assent. Thus, said Lupton Bey, the open revolt commenced with a per- sonal grievance, but all that had been wanting before was a leader. All the White Nile people ilocked to the standard of the Mahdi when it was raised. The natural disposition of these people is peaceable. The mass of them cultivate the soil, and the nomad por- ion wander about selling cows and milk. The fer- mf?. on, and the rebels, having worsted the Sf In several encounters, possessed themselves 0 ieir weapons, and thus was formed the nucleus of the army of the Mahdi, who soon after boldly over- ran the mainland. y — When. I left Lupton Bey he was very dispirited. This was in December, 1883. He had not at that time heard of the defeat of Hicks Pasha, though it had taken place in the previous August, showing how completely communication had been intercepted. In January of this year I reached Khartoum. The only Europeans there were the Commandant, Colonel Coetlogon, Mr. Power, who was acting as English Consul, and Herr Hansai, the Austrian consul. All told—there were 60.000 souls in the city. It was surrounded by water, a canal having been cut to join the stream of the Blue Nile. Colonel Coetlogon had fortified it as strongly as he could, but his cannon are not much to boast of, the best having been taken by Hicks Pasha on his ill-fated expedition. Mr. Power kindly placed me under his protection, and I was lodged in a room of the house once occupied by General Hicks. Colonel Coet- logon spoke sadly as to the prospects of resist- ing the Mahdi, whom he already regarded as Waster of the Soudan. Nothing in the commandant's opinion but a strong English expedition would avail or the reconquest of the Soudan. He was in hopes hat a force would be sent under Baker Pasha, verything I saw confirmed the gloomy forecast of oetlogon. The provinces of the Soudan have been governed by Egyptians who went needy to their promptly enriched themselves, and then left nem to other governors as poor and rapacious as themselves. Colonel Coetlogon's view was that r^nartoum might be starved after a long siege, but yiat it was too strong to be taken by force. Every- bOdY in Khartoum said there were provisions— niainly the Kaffir wheat—to last for six months. The ■kgyptian soldiers would surely be killed by the ^abs if they got them in their power, and that is nearly the only reason, so far as I could see, they did not desert. The populace openly in favour of the Mahdi, and Arab traders' sympathies are strongly him. While I was in Khartoum a slave girl, a ojivert, arrived with a letter from the Austrian missionaries whom the Mahdi is keeping in captivity, mi e better was very carefully concealed in her clothes, f 6 a^di had informed them that any of them j writing would be instantly killed. They were e greatest distress, and were turned out into the esert, where they were encamping. They had no ance of escape, and they asked the Austrian Consul dotPd thalers for their release and some f Ps>as whnt they once possessed had been taken de'^f em" There was an aspect of sadness and ftJfl 0n 0ver Khartoum, but the people were per- rout ftr?qui1' News reached Khartoum that the Mr 6p r,ber was likely to be blocked, and upon '°wfr's advice I left promptly with my col- p At Berber there was no sign of the revolt. A W W0J n°t talk on the subject. I speak -ra.'c an" know the tribes, but they seem to be rai to say anything lest they should offend some one in power, who would promptly hang tbem, and if to be vaWWUy ng it is generally so diplomatic as to be valueless as an expression of opinion. Leaving Berber at the end of January with mv guide and my servant we struck into the desert is no track, and you commit vmn-aolp guide. On the afternoorofCryXurtrda!-V?y°T 1 saw a great cloud of dust far away on tS 1 arch and presently a cavalcade came riding toward™ an extraordinary pace in contrast us me at march. The leader was Tad"c?7 °JnrWCaried his eager manner and his compact fim noticed blue military frock coat, red trousers, ancTa fez m & "Bohndorff," said General Gordon—f™ u —"we ^1 at Cairo thought you were dead. Thave often prayed to God to protect you and Dr Jnnl-p,. and preserve you alive. I dismounted and went to the side of his camel and he shook hands warmly. I was overwhelmed with astonishment, for they knew nothing at Khar- toum or Berber of Gordon s coming, but immediately I saw him I divined his mission. I only needed to see him to know why he was there. Whv have you left Khartoum said Gordon, hurriedly. I am very glad to be going there. Why is everybodv leaving? Are you afraidr Not exactly afraid, but I have finished my collection, and I am returning." Well, how goes it there ? E-ver)-tliing in a terrible muddle (incroyahlc melange), no one knowing who is faithful to the Government and who is not. i, V are the people of Khartoum afraid ?' Excellency, there is plenty to be afraid of." Tell me, now, is the Mahdi as strong as people say ? and all through he exhibited in his voice and nianiler the most cheerful and buoyant confidence.- -the Mahdi, Excellency, is much stronger than you have any idea of." Ah, all I shall manage him."—" I pray the good od to assIst you." i b is LuPton Bey? Well in health." Bey ? Also well in health." And Slattin Bey at Darfour? I know nothing of him, as communication with Darfour is cut off." What is the strength of the movement in Kordofan ?"—"I assure your Excellency that Lupton is in a perilous position, and he has no ammuni- tion." And about Dr. Junker, when you go to Cairo make my compliments to the Russian consul, and tell him he need not. have the least fear for his country- man, as the Gazelle territory will be safe." This was said in the most joyous strain. Are you coming back I hope so, but not now. Would you like me to come soon ?" If not very soon, you won't find me. I shall not be here more than five months. "Now," said he, pressing my hand, do you want anything ?"- Nothing. Sure?" Nothing, Excellency." He repeated the question several times with the kindest emphasis, and then presented me to Colonel Stewart and Ibrahim Pasha, who rode behind him, wearing grey tourist suits. General Gordon hereupon hastily bade me adieu, and then the party, numbering about ten persons, started off again at the tremenclo lS pace equalling that at which I saw them approach some fifteen or twenty minutes before. Each member of the party carried a small water sack, some pro- visions, and a sleeping carpet." Mr. Bohndorff does not believe that the garrisons, supposing they were to retreat, could cross the desert from Berber to Korosko. They would have to go to Dongola, and thence to Wady Haifa by the Nile, which will be of ample volume in August or Sep- tember.




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