Page images

where available replaced the “human carrier” as

"a transporter of commissariat. However, as the murderous tsetse confines its operation to the region nearer the coast, goats, sheep, cows, and bullock-skins were the medium, six donkeys being the value of one cow, and one donkey representing ten sheep. The rupee has been lately introduced as a means of currency, but so far with small success. Britons abroad often do curious things, and there is a ludicrous side of the matter when one reads of an army officer setting up as a connoisseur of donkeys. Still, there is no doubt he did it thoroughly, with the conscientious attention to details, and not so much adaptability to circumstances as the power of forcing circumstances to adapt themselves, which characterizes the British colonizer the world over.

The last march of the split expedition to the help of the starving column returning from Lake Rudolf forms a splendid story, of the collection of food in spite of almost unsurmountable difficulties, and fighting a way through the fastnesses of savage ranges, where every chief conspired to throw obstacles in their path. Shot at by poisoned arrows, rushed by spearmen, storming caves and barricades, crossing an apparently unscalable range, they held on, and at last, fording the Wei Wei River amidst the wildest enthusiasm, met the starving column they had faced so much to help. One likes that phrase "wild enthusiasm ”; it shows the real human nature through the concise simplicity of the Government report, in which no man tells how much it cost him to do the thing. That appeared desirable, so we did it, • he says; another was murdered, and we buried him.

The moral of the whole is that Uganda and its surroundings is not the kind of place one would recommend rash emigration to. All the way from Lake Rudolf to Mombasa its inhabitants have apparently much difficulty in feeding themselves ; indeed, of late they have died like Alies of famine, and the even worse sicknesses that follow.

There is also, perhaps, a danger of trouble with the Abyssinians, for bands of their predatory horsemen periodically raid it, and Menelik's Christian warriors are clearly foemen of the very grimmest kind, as evinced by the awful Italian defeat at Amba Alagui. Still, with the help of the sturdy Soudanese and the faithful Swahili, in due time we shall doubtless establish some degree of order and prosperity there; while lying as it does in the fairway between Rhodesia and the Egyptian Soudan, it forms an important link in the chain of British influence-we were going to say territory—which is extending from Table Bay to Alexandria. Whether Egypt and the Transvaal will eventually be permanently welded in, too, as yet it is premature to say.

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]





"By this present Edict we publish, by the grace of God, and confirm the powers accorded by our ancestors—may God have mercy on their souls !-to the foreign representatives at Tangier, which powers we hereby authorize them to exercise, to wit, to admit or refuse all vessels arriving at the ports of our empire, to declare quarantine against them, and to determine its duration according to sanitary regulations.

“The exercise of these functions by the foreign representatives, who are more familiar with and better qualified to administer such sanitary laws than others, is strictly limited to the sea, and does not apply to the land.

“The delegations of these powers by our forefathers to the foreign representatives is an evident proof of the friendly regard of the latter, and shows the pains they take on behalf of our subjects.

“Under the Imperial seal of the Sultan Mulai el Hassan.”

A most gracious and reasonable epistle, as the reader may observe, but, alas ! the good Sultan, Mulai el Hassan, is dead these five years since, and with the advent of the boy Sultan, Mulai Abd-el-Aziz, who in all things is guided by the advice of the Grand Vizir, Ben Mūsā, the relations existing between the Sanitary Council, referred to in the above rescript, and the Moorish authorities, are not only less cordial than in those days, but have reached a stage which threatens not merely the efficiency of the Council, but its very existence.

Early in this year, 1899, urgent representations were made to the Mekhazen, or native Government, to forbid for the present the annual departure of Mohammedan pilgrims for Mecca, in view of the likelihood of the outbreak of the plague either at Mecca itself or on the route tra. versed by the pilgrims. Such a measure had been adopted on former occasions, but this year the Moorish Government declined to accede to the suggestion.

Some hundreds of pilgrims from different parts of Morocco consequently embarked, and before their return cases of plague had already occurred at Jeddah, the port whence the Hajis re-embark on their return journey. The Sanitary Council thereupon decided that all travellers arriving from foul or suspected ports should undergo quarantine on the small island at Mogador, which had hitherto been used for this purpose on similar occasions. The island in question is not especially well adapted to the requirements of a quarantine station, since it is situated too near the mainland and to the town of Mogador itself, so that evasion is not impossible, as the natives are good swimmers; still, it is the only available locality where it would be possible to isolate the occupants without employing a considerable armed force. Unfortunately, this very circumstance had led the Moorish authorities to select the site for the establishment of a prison, where a large number of unfortunate political captives were already confined. The demand for its cession was at first categorically refused.

The returning pilgrims would soon arrive. There was but little time for prolonged negotiations between the Council at Tangier and the Grand Vizir at Morocco City, as it requires quite one month for an answer from the capital, even when it pleases the dilatory natives to give their immediate attention to official despatches, and all that could be secured was the unwilling concession of the unoccupied portion of the island, far too limited an area ; and, besides, it would be impossible to isolate cases owing to the crowded prisons close at hand, and the constant communication between these and the town which could not be controlled. Some of the more energetic among the foreign representatives at once proposed a joint naval demonstration off Mogador, and the occupation of the island by force, if it should not be immediately vacated and the prisoners be removed.

The various Ministers consulted their respective Govern. ments, but the replies were uncertain, and there was no

unanimous resolution. Fortunately, the Russian Minister, who had just returned from Morocco and had been received with especial attention as the first representative directly accredited by the Tsar to the Sultan of Morocco, wrote a friendly but emphatic letter urging the Sultan to accede to the demands of the Sanitary Council, a course advised by other European counsellors nearer at hand, and at the eleventh hour the Mekhazen very reluctantly conceded the use of the entire island, and ordered the removal of the prisoners, many of whom had already died of diseases consequent upon overcrowding, filth, insufficient nourishment, or simple starvation, thus outrageously anticipating His Imperial Majesty's orders.

This was in May last, the period when the foreign Ministers generally absent themselves on leave. On this occasion two only, the Italian and the Spanish Ministers, remained at their posts, but the latter, Don Emilio de Ojeda,* is, fortunately, one of the most strenuous defenders of sanitary interests, and chiefly at his suggestion it had been decided, before his colleagues took their departure, that each foreign Government should advance a sum of 10,000 francs to temporarily equip the Mogador lazaretto. In this way a sum of 70,000 francs was procured, which sum, it was assumed, would ultimately be reimbursed by the Sultan's Government. It was further agreed to purchase disinfectants, stoves for the disinfection of clothes, and to have temporary shelter erected for the pilgrims on their arrival.

The chiefs of the various other legations thereupon gracefully took their departure, leaving their secretaries to carry out these instructions.

Early in June Dr. Cortes, the physician of the Sanitary Council, accompanied by a force of some thirty infirmary

* Monsieur de Ojeda's reputation is not confined to Morocco; he has held, among other important posts, that of Secretary to the late HispanoAmerican Peace Commission at Paris, and is an accomplished littérateur and an admirable linguist.

« PreviousContinue »