Earl Kitchener of Khartoom
in Field Marshall's Uniform


The Riverside Press Cambridge
Published February 1915


He came at the right hour, and he was the right man.























[From a photograph by Bassano, London.]

[From a photograph.]

At this time (1878), Kitchener was employed by the Palestine Exploration Fund.
[From a photograph.]

[From a photograph by Messrs. Wiele & Klein.]

[From a photograph by the London News Agency.]

(Commander-in-chief of the Egyptian Army)
[From a photograph by Dittrich.]

[From a photograph by Cribb, Southsea.]

[From a photograph.]




SELDOM has any one man stood for a multitudinous and highly complex nation with so tremendous and complete an emphasis as Lord Kitchener stood at the beginning of the war for the British nation.

He was not an incarnation of the people, he did not express the total character of the nation; but with a force hardly ever equalled in our history he became the Mood of the British people, the living expression of the Will of the entire British Empire.

During the disembarkation of our troops in France a British sergeant, talking to a newspaper correspondent, said that the British soldier is the most cheerful, humorous, and kind-hearted person in the world, "but," said he, "Tommy can look cruel when he is roused." At that moment a young trooper, fresh-faced and smiling, found himself in trouble with a bunch of horses; in a second he slipped from the numnah, got a short hold of the reins, and jagged the restive chargers into obedient docility. As he turned his head, his young face was flushed, his jaws were set, and his eyes had a glint of cruelty. The sergeant said to the newspaper correspondent, "See that? Well. that's what I mean."

It was this Mood of the Nation that Lord Kitchener so completely represented and so swiftly expressed at the beginning of the war. He was Britain looking cruel. He was the Englishman with his blood up. He was the nation suddenly jerked into the realization that everything said of Germany by even the most extravagant Germanophobes was entirely, shockingly, incredibly true. "The Day" had dawned. Honour was publicly thrown aside by the Prussian Government. Truth was openly derided by these apostles of Force. And, to complete the awakening, the natural and amazed indignation of the civilized world at broken treaties and disowned obligations was characterized by the Germans as hypocrisy.

In a moment, the blood of the Englishman was up. He realized his danger. He sprang to his feet, clenching his fists, and he looked cruel. No other man of our time could so vigorously and ruthlessly have represented this particular mood of the British people, this one aspect of the national temperament, as Kitchener of Khartoum.

Lord Kitchener, as the reader of this little book will discover, is neither the Machine nor the Ogre of popular imagination. He is perfectly human. There is, indeed, something frank, boyish, and rough-humoured in his disposition. He is shy, and he has moments when he craves for sympathy. All the same he does not represent the British character in any of its most amiable qualities. He stands absolutely for the nation just now, but he is not the highest, the best, not even the most likeable of English types. Unroused he is the deliberate, work-loving, brusque, quite unimaginative, and very thorough British administrator: roused, he is the jaws of the bulldog.

When it was announced in the tense moments at the declaration of war, that Lord Kitchener was to take into his hands the administration of the army, the whole British nation---it is no exaggeration to say it---breathed again. His instant demand for 500,000 men did not alarm or infuriate a peace-loving nation; it spread. after the first shock, a feeling of safety. His preparation for a war of three years did not shock the national conscience; it sensibly relieved anxiety and settled people's thoughts. In "K. of K." the nation saw not only a great organizer of victory, but its own fierce mood, its own tenacious will, its own enduring strength, its own multiplied, world-flung, and historic spirit. By one of those mysterious intuitions of democracy, which sweep like lightning through myriads of people, and which are sometimes, not always, more to be trusted than the nice and careful judgments of discriminating intelligence, Kitchener stood in the confidence of the nation as the one absolute unchallengeable man for the storm which had broken with such bewildering suddenness upon the drowsiness of its domestic life.

A sketch of his character, it is hoped,---although it be a perfectly frank and critical piece of work,---will deepen and sustain that confidence through the days ahead, when the gentle and the kind, as well as the weak and the pusillanimous, are perhaps tempted to cry for too early a mercy, too hazardous a peace. Lord Kitchener may not stand for Christianity; but he does stand for the mills of God. He may not represent the sweetness and grace of British civilization; but he does represent the righteous indignation of the British people when its path is challenged by savage barbarism and a philosophical but truculent atheism. When he tells us we may let go our grip, civilization may turn from the destruction of war to the reconstruction of peace with the sure and certain hope that the heirs of Nietzsche, the sons of Treitschke, the blood-stained legions of Attila, will never more lay upon the back of social reformation a burden of intolerable militarism and never more darken the green and pleasant fields of humanity with the shadow of hateful war. But till Kitchener cries "ENOUGH!" the British Empire---so slow to anger, so unswaggering, so peace-loving, and so un-Prussian---must strike till the dust is red.

When Kitchener relaxes the grip of his clenched hands the neck of the Prussian eagle will be broken, and only then will the great nations and the small nations be able to advance into the Promised Land of which Lord Kitchener perhaps has not even permitted himself to dream.

One sees in him, then, not only the expression of England looking cruel, but the strength, the determination, and the practical wisdom of those great and glorious nations with whom it is the honour of Great Britain to be allied. At the same time one is not conscious of any feeling towards Kitchener which could be heightened into hero-worship. He is not Civilization, but the servant of Civilization. He is not Progress, but the policeman of Progress. One employs him with admiration and rewards him with gratitude. But one does not want to be like him.




IN the "hungry forties," a retired cavalry soldier from England happened to be in Dublin during the sale of some considerable estates in the south of Ireland. The paltry bidding at the auction of these lands tempted the hard-headed Englishman, and for a sum of £3000 he bought a number of rather neglected acres in the two counties of Limerick and Kerry.

This retired cavalry soldier was Lieutenant-Colonel Henry Horatio Kitchener. He had started life in the Foot, had seen service in India, had exchanged into the cavalry, and now was on the retired list, fairly well off, full of energy, and with a keen eye for the main chance. He was married to an Englishwoman, the daughter of a reverend doctor of divinity in Suffolk, one John Chevallier, an old and dignified family in that part of the world, but of Jersey origin, and therefore French-blooded. There was a baby among the colonel's impedimenta when he came to Ireland, a boy named Chevallier Kitchener.

Two years after he had settled on his Irish estates that is to say in the year 1850, and on the pleasantest day of the year, to wit, Midsummer Day, the 24th of June, which is also St. John's Day, another son was added to the colonel's ménage, the first Irish-born of the family, Horatio Herbert Kitchener. In due course three other children were born in Ireland, two sons and a daughter, forming together a cheerful and comfortable family of five, the baby girl a delightful comfort to Mrs. Kitchener among her court of strapping masculinity.

Papa Kitchener was lord of that household. He had bought his estates not for pleasure and not for display. His master-thought, buzzing night and day in his cold, calculating brain, was how to turn his £3000 into a fortune. He went about this work with a methodical thoroughness which manifested itself in a somewhat mightier degree and certainly on a more glorious field when his second son took over the ancient Kingdom of Egypt. He was up early; he spent the greater part of the day in the saddle; he knew the quality of every field on his estate; he hob-a-nobbed with the farmers; he kept himself abreast of his times, in the matter of agricultural science; he studied to get on. He bought more land; reclaimed bog and wilderness; set up a brickworks and a tile factory; took into his house a couple of pupils; worked everybody about him from morning till night; improved the breed of his cattle; cleaned his fields before he sowed them; introduced new forms of drainage and irrigation; lived hard; lived earnestly; lived usefully if not amiably; and was soon in a position to sell parcels of land at a thousand pounds apiece, and the rent of his estate for £14,000.

It may be imagined that this vigorous husbandman, his eye always on the main chance, had small time for such subsidiary considerations as the development of his sons. Mrs. Kitchener was left very much to shift for herself in a rather shabby and noisy household, while the agricultural colonel looked over the brick walls of his pig-styes, into his whitewashed cowsheds, into his sheep-pens, and into his stables, every power of his brain concentrated on the pleasant work of improving his horses, his sheep, his cows, and his pigs. The boys were to be improved, too, but no doubt Nature might be trusted in that department of the farm. They were his sons; they could not have had a better father; if they went to the wall, then, by Heaven, the wall was too good for them.

On one occasion Herbert Kitchener was brought up before his father as an incorrigible idler. He was told that if he did not work at his books he should be apprenticed to a hatter---the headgear of Papa Kitchener conveying a sufficiently grim emphasis to this infinite contempt for the hat trade. That was Papa Kitchener's part in the business of education. To the genius of a certain Miss Tucker the intellectual development of the young Kitcheners was at first committed, and when they had grown beyond the endurance of her nerves, they vexed the souls of a tutor or two for a brief period, and then were sent to a Protestant school at Kilflynn, kept by a friend of the family, the Reverend William Raymond. Those who know anything of the South of Ireland will not need to be told that the Protestant clergy of that beautiful and gentle country, whatever their other virtues, are not stars of the first magnitude in the matter of scholarship. One would not go to them for historical information or for inspiration in philosophy. However, Herbert Kitchener certainly went to church, and as certainly graced the bench of a Sunday-school class. One may conjecture that any troublesome Roman heredity derived from dead and gone Chevalliers was very effectively extirpated in the Sunday school of the Reverend William Raymond; whether the least of the elements of Christianity were taught is another matter.

But Herbert Kitchener's chief concern in those days was the open air and the Atlantic Ocean. He loved the hedgerow, he loved the back of any old horse, and he loved the sea. Latin exercises and lectures on the popes came only as interruptions to long tramps over the fields, fine gallops across the meadows, fierce joltings, in a tumbril down the country lanes, and exulting dives from off a streaming rock into the cheerful burly of the sea.

If he did not shape like a scholar, at any rate he shaped like a man; and, tall as he was for his years, almost gawky, he was nothing of a weed, being thick-set, straight-legged, and somewhat full of face. But for a certain dignity of brow and a sharp, vital, challenging look in his blue eyes, he might have passed for a farmer's son, his future in the fields, his heaven no higher than the hunting-saddle. There was a smell of the gunroom and the stables about the Kitchener boys, but nothing bucolic in their appearance. They hung together, did not mix with the boys of the neighbourhood, and played no practical jokes with the surrounding farmers. The shyness which in after life was imputed to K. of K. for arrogance was a Kitchener characteristic. But this shyness was of the manful, steady, and inward order; there was nothing shrinking and timid in its nature: its expression was neither a blush nor a giggle. The Kitchener boys understood each other very well; they felt that they did not understand other people. When other people turned up, they looked on. When they were alone together they let themselves go, but not violently or foolishly. It is said that they took no risks in their sea-bathing, to the scorn of Irish boys in bare legs and freckles.

As a remedy for the increasing perplexities of his domestic situation. Papa Kitchener conceived the idea of bundling off his sons to a foreign country. Somehow or other he came to hear of a Reverend J. Bennett living at Villeneuve in Switzerland, who took pupils and preached the Gospel. That was enough for Colonel Kitchener. In 1863, K. of K. then being thirteen years of age, the boys were despatched to the hillside of the Lake of Geneva -good, solid, Protestant ground. Mrs. Kitchener was left with her only daughter. The colonel could now keep his eye on the main chance without distraction.

Tragedy befell this household in the following year of 1864, for Mrs. Kitchener passed away from the gentle and familiar pleasantness of mother earth to join the spirits of forgotten Chevalliers in another, stranger world. The boys worked on with their Protestant tutor, embarked on a few educational travels, and then returned to the British Isles, stopping for the first time in their lives in London, where an army crammer waited to finish them off in Kensington Square.

This gentleman was another Protestant clergyman, the Reverend George Frost, and his establishment was fairly well attended by young gentlemen of the fortunate classes. Among these lively and rejoicing colts, Herbert Kitchener was regarded as something of a clodhopper. He neither shone in the classroom nor scintillated under the midnight skies. His fellows looked upon him as a heavy, plodding, painstaking, and unilluminating oaf---a man without pleasantness or brilliance, his slow feet moving stolidly along the fixed and formidable groove which culminates in a club armchair and a pension. He did not escape the usual baiting of more irresponsible spirits. "Why don't you go for them when they rot you?" he was asked by a fellow pupil. His answer, contemptuous enough, was this: "What do they matter?" But this baiting never came to real ragging. Kitchener might turn a deaf ear to chaff; he would not have turned, perhaps, his other cheek to the smiter.

From this tutor in Kensington Square, Herbert Kitchener passed to the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich in 1868, twenty years after Charles Gordon had entered "the shop" with his wonderful soul on fire for every kind of glory. Nothing in Herbert Kitchener created passionate friendships or stirred the admiration of smaller men among the cadets. He was remarkable for quickness in mathematics, but in everything else was accounted thick-headed,---a slow coach climbing the dull hill of duty which has no dazzle of adventure at the crest. He chose the Royal Engineers for his arm, and settled down to the sober and staying stride of the British sapper. He studied his textbooks with "a long persistency of purpose," and attended lectures with a solid intention to learn what he could. No cadet ever gave less trouble to his superiors. He was one of those obstinate young Britons who mean to get on, and who triumph not by the luck of the brain-centres but by the deliberate and steadfast exercise of will-power. He made his brain do what his spirit wished to do, the one or two brilliant cells, such as the mathematical, encouraging the less gifted others to obey their master's bidding.

As a Cadet at the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich

Papa Kitchener was in France, married again and living pleasantly at Dinan. There came young Herbert in 1870 on a holiday visit, bringing his textbooks along with him. Of a sudden the straight road of his set purpose was dazzled by a great light---the light of adventure, the blaze of war. Prussia and France came to grips. The set purpose dwindled, paled, went out like a match. Our Woolwich cadet found himself looking into a light that was like the glare of a furnace. The marshalling of the legions of France beat a new music in his heart. The thunder of cannon broke in upon the conned axioms of his textbooks like the banging of an iron fist on the door of a sleeper. Troops went by, trundling their guns, singing the "Marseillaise," their standards fluttering in a glitter of bayonets....

Kitchener went off and offered his services to the French. There he stood before them, a solid twenty years of hale manhood, well over six feet, broad-shouldered, deep-chested, straight-legged, and hard as steel, the face of him brown as sand, his carriage resolute, his brain already versed in war science, his body already disciplined, his spirit clamorous for a fight. Well, they did not think twice.




SOME men enter the army for its social pleasantness; some because the chance of a fight is the hunger and thirst of their souls; some because it has a pension at the end of it. Kitchener went to Woolwich because his father wished him to be a soldier, because he himself thought it offered a field for conscious ambitions, and because it had the certainty of a pension at the end. War no more entered into his calculations at that period than swagger. He wanted to see the world, he wanted to do things, and he wanted to be safe for the future. K. of K.'s master-passion,, hardly to be called a passion because it is so cold, so bloodless, so impersonal, and so empty of self-seeking, is ambition. As soon as he had got his feet in youth, as soon as he perceived that life is a struggle for existence, as soon as he knew vitally that a man must work if he is to conquer, Kitchener set himself to get on, and told his brothers he meant to get on. But this desire for success was impersonal in the sense that he did not want to amass wealth or to win popularity or to live with the thought of Westminster Abbey in his soul. He wanted success because he wanted power. He wanted power because it was his nature to exercise power. His will had mastered a slow brain, forcing it to the strange and uncongenial labour of book-learning; his will was now forcing him towards power because that was its native direction, because without power his life would be a frustrated life.

But here on the threshold of his life, our passionless and deliberate young man was confronted by glory, and he threw everything aside to run and embrace this temptress of youth, flinging his textbooks aside, careless of pensions, careless of life, longing only for the one splendid elation of danger and the hazard of battle. It was his first deviation from the set path, and I know of no other in the years that followed.

He entered the French Army, and was with the troops that pushed up towards beleaguered Paris under General Chanzy. If his sudden desire for glory had been a substantial part of his character instead of a mere ebullition of youth, it might have been suppressed, perhaps torn up by the roots, in the first few months of his campaigning. For he was surrounded on all sides by the most valorous and passionate troops in Europe, troops whose songs on the march tell of glory and immortality, troops whose patriotism is like a consuming fire, and whose onslaught in battle is like a whirlwind. The young English volunteer serving with these fine and fervorous troops, serving, too, under as brave and debonair a general as ever wore the French képi, saw little on that march towards Paris except the cold and merciless destruction of glory by the hand of something called science. Vain the valour of the French, vain the superb clan which swept them forward: something quite cold and---depressing, something quite passionless and deadly, something without patriotism and without war-songs., waited for these children of glory and crushed them, devastated them, wiped them out of the ranks of life. Thus at the very dawn of his existence the young Kitchener took his cold douche at the hands of science, and never afterwards permitted his mind to stray from the set path leading through dullness and unsparing labour to the exercise of power.

War had made him a French soldier, but war as the Prussians conducted it prevented him from becoming a Frenchman. He saw that there was no straight and certain road on the field of glory, and went back from the ravaged battle-ground of France to his textbooks at Woolwich, his mind Englished once again. his ambition revived, his will in supreme command. They say that he came in for a wigging at the hands of the Duke of Cambridge for having dared to serve under the tricolour; and the old Duke, so constant a worshipper at St. Anne's, Soho, was not a pleasant person to face, particularly on a gouty afternoon, in the gloom of the old War Office. If Kitchener really did come in for that dressing-down, we must think that it hurt, particularly as he returned from the stricken field after a sharp attack of pleurisy. M. Clermont Ganneau, a companion of his after years, says that K. of K. stood up to the old Duke and said, "I understood, sir, that I should not be wanted for some time; I don't like being idle; and I thought perhaps I might learn something." We wonder!

Whether he stood up to the Duke, and whether he ascended in a French balloon during the war, one thing at least is certain, that he learned a lesson in France which was a lesson for life. He learned the value of science, the superiority of purpose and precision over emotion and rapture; and, this lesson chiming with his natural disposition, he returned to Woolwich in good heart for the future and worked like a dray-horse till he had passed his examination and become a commissioned sapper. This was in January, 1871, five months before he came of age.




IT has been said by an American, to whom the present writer doffs his cap, that the method of Lord Kitchener may be expressed in the phrase, "Silence and work and silence ---and then the end."

One may add that the silence is justified by the character of the work, for the work to which Lord Kitchener has mostly laid his powerful and patient hand belongs to the order of labour about which humanity is excusably incurious. Many things have to be done in this world which are of infinitely more service to the progress of the human race than the work of poet and composer; but it is impossible to rhapsodize about these beneficent services, hard enough to be transiently interested in their existence. I have often wondered what an engineer from the Sudan or a soldier from the Khyber Pass must think of the fluttering excitement in a London drawing-room when some popular actor, or some notorious lady who has acquired "the habit of the divorce court," makes an imposing entrance. But one learns after painful experience that the actor and the lady are really and truly more interesting than the engineer and the soldier---worse still, one often yawns when the engineer is talking and wishes the soldier at Tipperary before he has got his second wind.

Kitchener's work has been dull. He was a lieutenant in the Royal Engineers in 1871, and himself found the performance of those duties so tedious that in 1874 he went surveying in Palestine. Here one might hope for romance, and here indeed he was twice in peril of his life, but on the whole he spent four years in drawing maps, and you may draw the most accurate and monumental maps in the world without inspiring any contemporary poet to sing your praises to posterity.

Then Kitchener went to Egypt, and began to organize a force of native cavalry. Dull work again---dull, plodding, unexciting work, work over which the world gladly draws the curtain of silence, with no desire to peer behind the scenes. Then he took in hand the delimitation of some tiresome boundary, and was presently appointed Governor-General of the Red Sea Littoral---a title which very successfully warns off public interest. Then he built railways, raised armies, organized the business side of war, and presently discharged victorious cannon at the gates of Khartoum.

That was "the End." Silence girded up its loins and skedaddled for its life. The world was filled with the clamour of one man's name. Editors tumbled over each other in their eagerness to find out everything they could concerning this extraordinary person who at the age of forty-eight had done something which reached back in time for its historical basis to the days when Joseph stood before Pharaoh and Moses crowed in his cradle among the reeds of the Nile. Here was a new Pyramid in Egypt. And---when the editors came to ask questions---a new Sphinx. No: silence and work and silence---and then the end, with silence falling once more upon the man who by dull and wearisome work had rendered possible the firework set-piece of the End.

Kitchener, with Lord Cromer, enjoys the splendid fame of standing godfather to modern Egypt. By his measured preparations, his dogged perseverance, and his incessant hard thinking in a straight line he struck that sudden and shattering blow at Khartoum which gave to Lord Cromer and those who came after him an Egypt of almost infinite promise. The end is so splendid that to, regard it only in passing, as a sore-footed tourist regards a masterpiece on the long walls of the Pitti Palace, is to find one's self dazzled and blinded. Modern Egypt is one of the wonders of the world, and Kitchener's hand is dusty and bruised and blood-stained with the labour of that sublime resurrection.

After a brief visit to London, where he donned a peer's robes, swallowed a deal of turtle soup, listened to columns of poor rhetoric, and snubbed innumerable scintillating lion-hunters, Kitchener returned to his work. He wanted a Gordon College and a Christian Cathedral at Khartoum, and work of that kind pleased him better than being bored by the intensely interested and overwhelmingly admiring mondaines of London. No young subaltern ever hurried home from India to the sweet shady side of Pall Mall so furiously as K. of K. turned his face to the sand of the desert and the stars of the Arabian waste.

He finished his dull work in Egypt, and in a year was setting people's minds at rest in England by taking over the staff of Lord Roberts in South Africa. With Roberts and Kitchener to take charge of that dreadful and rather sordid war---a war consecrated only by the heroism of the warring troops on either side, and redeemed only by the superb act of statesmanship which gave to the Boers not merely their freedom but the idea of a democratic destiny---with Roberts there to strike swiftly and with Kitchener there to organize carefully, no one in England doubted the end.

After the work in South Africa, Kitchener was for some time almost the war-cry of a party in the House of Commons, not by his own fault, but much to his damage. There are people in England who would gladly hand over to Kitchener's will the entire machinery of the British Empire. There are others who think that his mind is so exclusively the mind of an autocratic organizer that he would be the ruin of any empire in which the civil power was not absolutely paramount. In Germany I think he would be the Chancellor, if the Emperor's feelings towards the divine nature of his position would admit a man of really commanding genius to stand in the shadow of the throne. In England no man doubts that Kitchener could carry to a successful issue anything to which he put his hand. And so "Kitchener" became a war-cry, a battle-ground of dispute, his too hurried apotheosis by one party encouraging the opposing party to suggest the fallibility of this otherwise very useful and capable servant of the Crown.

Kitchener went to India. His dull work was resumed, and silence fell upon him again until for a brief moment an official altercation with the Viceroy, Lord Curzon,---in spite of Kitchener's sincere and noble friendship for the beautiful Lady Curzon,---set people talking to the same tune: Kitchener, they said, ought to be recalled and put in sole charge of the British War Office with an absolute discretion to do what he would for the defence of the Empire.

From India he returned to Egypt, and from Egypt he went to the War Office---one of the most obstinately and obtusely conservative of men becoming the colleague of Mr. Lloyd George and Mr. Winston Churchill.

Here we may leave him for the moment, only remarking to our readers, as we proceed to relate a few stories of his career, that once again Kitchener takes up the burden of dull, laborious, unexciting work, while men of quicker mind and more heroic qualities, like Field Marshal French and General Smith-Dorrien, cover themselves with glory on the field of battle.

Nevertheless, it is the grim and scowling face of Kitchener streaming on its beam of light to the sheet of the cinematograph---not the face of French or Smith-Dorrien---which fills the picture-palace with the loudest, fiercest, and most grateful cheers.




ONE of Lord Kitchener's cousins, a member of the Staffordshire Education Committee, has spoken of the field marshal's military beginnings.

He managed to scramble into Woolwich; he was not high in the lists; and no one thought anything about him. After leaving Woolwich he got his commission in the Royal Engineers; and still no one thought much about him. He got his first move up in the world when he was appointed on the Palestine Survey, and here he learnt how to manage native soldiers, and acquired a great deal of that command over men which to-day distinguishes him. He got that, his first appointment, because some one was wanted to go to Palestine and take photographs, and it was this knowledge that gave Lord Kitchener the lift up.

So far as I can discover this is the sole reference in the documents to Kitchener as an amateur photographer.

M. Clermont Ganneau, an archaeologist who served with Kitchener in the Palestine Survey, describes him as "a good fellow in the fullest acceptance of the word ... capable of headstrong acts ... a frank and most outspoken character with recesses of winsome freshness. His high spirits and cheeriness formed an agreeable contrast to the serious grave character of some of his comrades." After this blow at the popular idea, M. Ganneau proceeds: "Kitchener's ardour for his work astonished us. He drew up excellent maps, but he did not confine himself to cartographic labours. Gradually he began to take an interest in archaeological discoveries, and acquired in these matters a marked proficiency."

This last sentence is useful to the student of Kitchener's career; M. Ganneau enables us to see that Kitchener from the first was a laborious and pertinacious worker. He gradually took an interest in the real object of the mission, and acquired in this entirely new field for his energy a proficiency which even an expert remarks.

Kitchener is said by another acquaintance of those days to have been an ambitious young officer who enjoyed the adventure of foreign service and "could not understand how any young fellow in the army could settle down into the humdrum life of a home station."

Just as he went to Woolwich a rather stupid boy, but sticking to his books managed to pass the rather difficult examinations, so, arriving in Palestine as an amateur photographer in search of adventure, he discovered the interest of archaeology and settled down to make himself an efficient student. The high spirits and cheeriness which M. Ganneau appreciated as a contrast to the gravity of the others were by no means the main characteristics of this tall young Englishman who had come to Palestine neither to make merry nor to meditate, but to get on.

It is extremely interesting, we think, to observe how slowly, how quietly, and how growingly this central passion of ambition manifested itself. He came to Palestine with a camera; he made some excellent maps; he became interested in his work; he acquired influence and power over other men; and he became in time commander of the expedition.


A few extracts from the young officer's reports are worth quoting, though one may read all he has written without discovering a sentence of real self-revelation. The following passage is perhaps his nearest approach to autobiography:

On the 28th I received a telegram to the effect that war had been declared between Turkey and Russia. I hope this sad news will not interfere with the successful completion of the survey of Galilee.

That is how "H. H. Kitchener, Lieut. R.E., Commanding Palestine Survey," concludes his report on April 30, 1877, to the Palestine Exploration Fund Committee. In the light of his subsequent career, it is the most piquant passage in the volume of the "Quarterly Statements " in which it is to be found.

This volume (1877-78) is the only one which contains many of Lieutenant Kitchener's reports, though he had been engaged on the work with Lieutenant C. R. Conder, who achieved so great a fame in Palestine exploration, since 1874. The first is dated from Haiffa March 6, 1877, and describes among other interesting incidents his first meeting with the famous Abd-el-Kader at Damascus.

The reports are simple, straightforward bits of writing, succinct and to the point. They contain very little in the way of self-revelation. They embody some excellent descriptions of historic ruins and archaeological discoveries, and are, of course, full of precise and valuable information on the physical geography of the country. A feeling for scenery reveals itself here and there in allusions to the beauty of valleys "now carpeted with flowers and green with the growing crops." The best views of the Sea of Galilee, he tells us, are from the distant heights. "Thus seen in the evening it is particularly lovely. Deep blue shadows seem to increase the size of the hills and there is always a rosy flush in the sky and over snow-clad Hermon."

In July, 1877, we find the Committee, at their Annual General Meeting, expressing "their high sense of Lieutenant Kitchener's ability and zeal." They speak of his reports as "careful and intelligent" and note with much satisfaction that " his monthly accounts show a due regard to economy"---a premonition of one aspect of his later fame in Egypt and the Sudan: " He has hitherto managed to conduct the survey for a monthly sum less than that which the Committee gave him as a maximum." In due course, in a letter from Jerusalem dated October 2, 1877, we find our modest young explorer declaring himself "very much gratified" by these commendations.

While engaged in repairing Jacob's Well in Nablus he was stoned by a mob of boys and subjected to various indignities at the hands of friendly officials, but apart from one or two such incidents he seemed to have met with no untoward adventures. His final contribution to the volume is a reprint of a paper read before the Geographical Section of the British Association, in which he gives a connected account of the Survey and announces that the great map of Palestine from Dan to Beersheba on the one-inch scale (on the model of the Ordnance Survey of England and Ireland) has been completed and is in the hands of the publishers. Here is a passage which illustrates effectively the kind of unlooked-for obstacle that beset the surveyor's path: --

During our triangulation we found some little difficulty from the natives, who thought we were magicians, with power to find hidden treasure under the ground and that our cairns were marks to remember the places by. It was an unfortunate idea, as the result was that in the night-time our cairns often disappeared and the natives groped through any earth to the rock below, hoping to forestall us. After making the offenders rebuild the cairns on one or two occasions, these annoyances ceased.

Dishonest guides were another trouble and Lieutenant Kitchener's methods with them are worth noting.

As these people are peculiarly susceptible of sarcasm, the offenders were not happy when they were laughed out of camp for not knowing their country as well as we knew it.

Another incident furnishes the young soldier with an opportunity for descriptive writing: --

One evening about eighty Bedouin Arabs with their wives and families arrived. Their chief's son had been ill and they had taken him three days' journey to the tomb of the famous prophet Joshua; this was supposed to have cured him and they were now returning joyful after their pilgrimage. I had a goat killed in their honour which made us the best friends, and they kept up dancing and singing round fires in front of our tent all night. The men went through the usual war-dance, imitating the attack and defeat of an enemy, to the accompaniment of clapping hands; but what was more curious was later in the evening, when two of the prettiest women were called by their husbands and went through a peculiar and very graceful dance with swords; they were unveiled and looked quite handsome by the firelight. Having rewarded them with lumps of sugar, I left them singing songs in our honour. Next morning they were all gone, having left pressing invitations for us to visit them. Two days later the chief came to thank me for the medicine I had given his boy.

A war correspondent, Mr. John Macdonald, who was in Egypt when Kitchener went there in 1882 to help in the making of an Egyptian Army, has described the first encounter of the young soldier with his material. Colonel Taylor, of the Nineteenth Hussars, Kitchener's commanding officer, was present on this interesting occasion: --

I remember Kitchener's gaze at the awkward, slipshod group as he took his position in the centre of a circular space round which the riders were to show their paces. "We begin with the officers," said Taylor, turning to me: "We shall train them first, then put them to drill the troopers. We have no troopers just yet, though we have 440 horses ready for them." And now began the selection of the fellah officers. They were to be tested in horsemanship. The first batch of them were ordered to mount. Round they went, Indian file, Kitchener, like a circus master, standing in the centre. Neither audible nor visible sign did he give of any feeling aroused in him by a performance mostly disappointing and sometimes ridiculous. His hands buried in his trousers pockets, he quietly watched the emergence of the least unfit.... In half an hour or so the first native officers of the new fellah cavalry were chosen. It was then that Kitchener made his longest speech---"We'll have to drive it into those fellows," he muttered, as if thinking aloud.

How he drove it into those fellows all the world knows, and the Egyptian Army certainly owes to Kitchener a considerable debt for his devotion to its efficiency. He did not himself do very much of the "driving," but he selected the very best officers for that purpose and spared no pains in keeping them up to the mark.

Another war correspondent, Mr. William. Maxwell, has referred to this care in the selection of officers and to Kitchener's invincible pertinacity:

His industry, patience, and perseverance are phenomenal, and earned for him on the banks of the Nile---as I often heard in the last Sudan campaign---the title of "Master of the Fatigue Parties." Nothing escaped his sleepless eye---not even the ice-machine which the Guards tried to smuggle on the way to Omdurman. His impatience of red-tape and official reports was shown in Egyptian days by the fact that his office stationery consisted of a few telegraph forms which he carried in his helmet.

Not less characteristic is his dislike of "influence" in the selection of his officers. To every kind of cajolery and social recommendation he presents an adamantine front, and his success has been due in a great measure to his wise choice of instruments. Yet no general has ever been more independent of help. Sir Ian Hamilton, who served as Lord Kitchener's chief of staff in South Africa, declared that he had nothing to do but smoke his pipe and write his brief official despatches. Even Sir Archibald Hunter, his sword-hand in the Sudan, confesses that he never knew his chief's plans until the moment came for enforcing them.

. . . " Sorry to report the loss of five men by explosion of dynamite," is said to have been the anxious message of a subaltern, to whom relief came with the reply: "Do you want any more dynamite?"

... When his native standard-bearer, envious of the battle-worn standard of General Hunter, managed to have Lord Kitchener's standard shot through and torn to rags, the ruthless chief smiled grimly and ordered a new one. I remember hearing him in India, when some one complained of the malicious and false reports of the habits of a great personage, say without a quaver: "What does it matter? Why, they say even worse things about me."

It was after many heroic but baffled attempts on the part of English generals to reconquer the Sudan for Egypt, that Kitchener settled down to what must have seemed to him his life's work. He determined that he would avenge Gordon and fly the British Flag at Khartoum. Instead, however, of picturesque excursions into the desert, he set himself to raise an immense army and to carry that great army right across the desert by means of steam power. It was during his preparations for this great task that he became something that at least resembles the Kitchener legend. "His eyes," said a private soldier, "are like the bloomin' Day of Judgment." Never a talkative man, he became taciturn and preoccupied.

To find men for his purpose, men who would sacrifice everything to the business in hand, was his initial difficulty, and to get rid of men who were either incompetent or liable to human weakness was his second difficulty,---easier than the first, but not so easy as the Kitchener legend would have us believe.

Now I venture to say that this taciturnity and severity of Lord Kitchener were in the first instance the result of anxiety if not actual misgiving. Here was a man, not a soldier in the fighting sense, at the head of an expedition which was to penetrate a waterless desert, conquer hordes of fanatical Dervishes who had already beaten army after army, and to avenge the murder of a British hero whose death had stirred the whole civilized world. From the year 1882, when he went to Egypt as second in command of Egyptian cavalry,---he was then thirty-two years of age,---to the great and culminating year of 1898 when he broke the Dervish power and restored the Sudan to Egypt, what anxiety, what fears, what misgivings must have visited his brain. The story is told that after the victory of Atbara, George Steevens visited the headquarters of the army and congratulated Kitchener on his success. "Thank you," said Kitchener, shaking his hand; and then, the smile leaving his face, he exclaimed, "My God, if I had failed!"

We can understand, then, the hardening of the man, and make allowance for his severity with incompetent officers. We can understand, too, that he would gradually acquire a terrible manner, and that the constant problems presenting themselves to his laborious mind would oust the gentler motions of the human spirit. The effect of his presence has been well described by an officer in Egypt as one of "extreme discomfort." He described the unexpected emergence of "the great man" from his tent, and the feeling that instantly communicated itself to those in the vicinity: --

I flinched, although I was doing nothing wrong; the subaltern stopped talking to me as though caught in a theft; a soldier who was driving in tent-pegs dropped his tools and began to fumble at his buttons; upon all sides there was an instant of extreme discomfort until the great man went in again.

A lady of quality visited Cairo after this campaign and asked that Kitchener should be presented to her. "Do you like Cairo?" he asked her, after an awkward pause, and when the lady had talked for a considerable time of her impressions and adventures, he said, "I am glad of that," and retired with a bow. The lady, reporting this encounter, ended up with the judgment, "I never met so stupid a man."

In October, 1910, Lord Kitchener spoke of the difficulties which confronted him after his conquest in the Sudan.

He well remembered the difficulty of the problem how best to evolve, out of the ruins left by the Dervishes, a practical reconstruction of Khartoum on sanitary lines. First careful consideration had to be given to the susceptibilities of a naturally uneducated foreign population, to whose conservative minds most modern regulations were repugnant. No trouble of that kind had, however, arisen, and the natives had agreed to the propositions, and there was no doubt that the reasonable regulations enforced meant increased length of life and increased prosperity. Those who knew Khartoum in the old days would recognize that a revolution had been effected.

The old Khartoum was an African pest-house in which every tropical disease thrived and ran rampant. Last year there were only eleven cases of malaria in a population of 50,000. He did not think such results had been achieved in any other British dependency, and they were a proof of the thorough efficiency of the country.

. . . In 1899, the year after the culmination of the Nile campaign, the revenue for the whole of the Sudan was estimated at only £8000, which showed a state of destitution for a country nearly as large as Europe. When this was compared with the present revenue of over £1,000,000, the progress made was apparent. Municipal steam tramways were running in Khartoum from the central to outside districts. It was anticipated that the city would ultimately extend to the west and to the south, and, as this was Government land, it seemed assured that the extensions would be made in accordance with the existing system of planning. A suburb might also be built at Burri to the east of the waterworks.

In the following year, 1911, when he asking the public for money, the "Daily Chronicle" published the following characteristic anecdote:

Lord Kitchener's present appeal for £4000 to complete the Anglican Cathedral at Khartoum, on which £24,000 has already been spent, recalls a story told of him by Mr. G. W. Smalley in connection with "K. of K.'s " similar appeal for £100,000 to build a Gordon Memorial College. But it was some little time before he could decide to issue an appeal for such a large sum, seeing that, as he said, "I should not like to fail, and, if they gave me only part of the amount, to have to return it." Large sums were offered there and then,---at Mr. Ralli's dining-table,---but still he hesitated. At last one of the company said, "Well, Lord Kitchener, if you had doubted about your campaign as you do now about this, you would never have got to Khartoum." His face hardened, and he replied: "Perhaps not; but then I could depend on myself, and now I have to depend on the British Public."

His real work in South Africa only began after Lord Roberts had taken the Boer capital of Pretoria. To catch the slippery De Wet and to stamp out the last smouldering embers of rebellion was the rather dull, exasperating, and yet most essential work which fell to his charge. He. is said to have been annoyed by the too humane tactics of Lord Roberts, and according to some people he would have ended the war very much sooner if he had been in supreme command. We only know that he did the work entrusted to him with a slow and rather lumpish thoroughness, "wiping up De Wet," making the way of rebels extremely hard, and establishing the army in South Africa in a manner which made further rebellion a thing not likely to tempt wise and reflective men. It seems to me that a kind of contempt characterized Kitchener's work in South Africa, and that he was glad to get out of a country which had for him neither the glory of the East nor the comfort of home.

It is said that a "Boer Delilah" who tried to captivate Kitchener reported of him after her experiment: "This is the most dangerous man in Britain. I feel as if I were within the shadow of death when I am near him. He is a man for men to conquer. No woman can reach him to use him. He would read me like an open book in an hour, and I believe he would shoot me as he would shoot a Kaffir if he caught me red-handed. I will try all other men, but not that living death's-head. No wonder he conquered in Egypt. I think he would conquer in Hades." No doubt the temperament of the lady, which accounts for this lurid language, also accounts for the effect which she supposed Kitchener to have made upon her. Her subjective Kitchener---if she ever saw him---was not the objective Kitchener, however alarming that gentleman may be. But the story is interesting as a manifestation of the growth of the Kitchener legend. It was in South Africa that he refused to hold a conversation with a highly explosive general over the telephone. "He would fuse the wires," said Kitchener.

Of his work in India there is little to he said and few stories to be told. I asked a very energetic and enthusiastic British officer in the Indian Army to tell me what Kitchener had done for the army in India, and he replied as follows:

His presence in India was enough. A feeling pervaded the whole army. We never knew when he might descend upon us. It was as if we were invaded by an enemy. Every man worked harder simply in case Kitchener might suddenly appear in that particular district. And I will tell you how he handled the situation. He gave an order quite careless of whether it could be carried out, and when objection was raised, however reasonable, he merely repeated his order. In this way I have known things to be done never before attempted in those localities. Men set themselves to perform the impossible and made it a fact. In this way throughout the whole of India there was a new spirit, a fresh efficiency. Some of Kitchener's reforms, such as examination tests for promotion, seemed to me excellent; but it was not by any of these reforms that he most benefited the army. It was simply by his presence, the knowledge of his severity, and the faith in his justice which most men entertained.

Fig. 4.

One story I was told which is worth repeating. Kitchener suddenly came to inspect a regiment of Rajputs. The young officer commanding this regiment was delighted by the commander-in-chief's evident satisfaction. To the general who accompanied him, Kitchener said: "It's a pleasure to inspect a regiment the faces of which are on a level with one's own, after looking down for weeks on the tops of British helmets." When they came to inspect the new barracks, Kitchener asked the commanding officer whether he had any complaints to make. "Yes, sir," returned the young colonel; " the windows are too many and too big; they'll let in far too much heat in the hot season; I've complained about the matter, but without any effect; you know what Engineer officers are like, sir; it's quite imposs---" He stopped abruptly, Kitchener's eye upon him, and remembered when it was too late what should have been present in his mind from the first. "Well, Colonel Dash," said Kitchener, "in me and in General Blank you behold two Engineer officers who are open to reason." And he saved an awkward situation by a not unkindly smile.

Of his famous dispute with Lord Curzon, widening into a personal quarrel, nothing more need be said than this, that, while Kitchener stoutly denied a wish to set the military power above the civil, most people are disposed to think that he did not fight his battle in a manner to convert his critics. Kitchener declares that he only wanted to be rid of "that worst of military faults---a division of authority," and said that he wished to make the Indian Army an efficient whole instead of "an accidental planless thing, having no relation to any possible or imaginable emergency." But his obstinacy and his method of attaining these ends resulted in the resignation of Lord Curzon; and very soon after Kitchener left India his successor, Sir O'Moore Creagh---nicknamed "No More K"---did away with many of the innovations which Lord Kitchener had taken such elaborate pains to introduce.

Before he returned to England in 1910, after travelling some seventy thousand miles during his command in India, he visited China, Japan, America, New Zealand, and Australia. He astonished the Japanese by his silence, and delighted the Australians by his praise of their troops. On his return to England he became the centre of a political dispute. Unionists wanted to see him at the War Office; a Liberal Government, satisfied with the very excellent work being done at the War Office, offered him the post of High Commissioner of the Mediterranean. Kitchener accepted this appointment, but resigned it before taking office. Tory and Radical barked at each other over this incident for a number of rather tiresome weeks.

In 1911 Kitchener was made British Agent in Egypt. His work there has been to carry on the Cromer tradition, but he has instituted several reforms which have contributed very materially to the prosperity of the Sudan. He has shown little sympathy to the Nationalists of Egypt, ruling by the power of the Big Stick, and he is in consequence more unpopular with Egyptian politicians than any of his predecessors. It is a pity that lack of imagination has marred his otherwise most remarkable contribution to the prosperity of modern Egypt.

He was in England at the time when Germany, was beginning her fateful challenge of the world. Immediately the Unionists clamoured that he should be appointed to the War Office, then in charge of the Prime Minister, but the Liberals made no move in this direction. The clamour grew louder the more the menace of Germany came home to men's minds. And at last the.: Government yielded. Why they yielded we shall say in the next chapter. Lord Kitchener, who was staying with his cousin, Mr. Mullins, Squire of Ringwood, near Kingsdown, was actually motoring to catch the steamer at Dover when the message came which called him to the War Office.




IT was by the work of a very brilliant newspaper correspondent, the late G. W. Steevens, that the name of Kitchener became suddenly familiar to British democracy, and it was by the work of the same writer that the Kitchener legend took possession of the public mind.

In a series of very dramatic and sometimes brilliant articles, which appeared in a popular London newspaper, George Steevens described the famous march to Khartoum, filling the grey commercial atmosphere of London with the rich colours of the East, with the exciting adventure of war, and with the still more exciting sensation of anxiety. And, like a wise story-teller, Steevens gave his readers a hero in this brave tale of adventure. In one brief article he thrust Kitchener before the roused attention of the British public and made not only the title of "The Sirdar" but the personality of this particular Sirdar a permanent possession of the British mind.

Here was the picture of the outward man: --

He stands several inches over six feet, straight as a lance, and looks out imperiously above most men's heads; his motions are deliberate and strong: slender but firmly knit, he seems built for tireless, steel-wire endurance rather than for power or agility.... Steady passionless eyes shaded by decisive brows, brick-red rather full cheeks, a long mustache beneath which you divine an immovable mouth; his face is harsh, and neither appeals for affection nor stirs dislike.

From this we pass to the essential fact, the man himself, the spirit of Kitchener. "He has no age," we read, "but the prime of life, no body but one to carry his mind, no face but one to keep his brain behind." His precision "is so inhumanly unerring, he is more like a machine than a man." He is "The Man Who Has Made Himself a Machine." And the writer concludes that Kitchener "ought to be patented and shown with pride at the Paris International Exhibition. British Engine: Exhibit No. 1, hors concours, the Sudan Machine." [With Kitchener to Khartoum. By G. W. Steevens (William Blackwood & Sons).]

Thus the legend of Kitchener was created. You can imagine the delight of the Londoner as he opened his newspaper every morning to follow the great march across the desert with so new, so unexpected, and so unlike-himself a hero as this Man Who Had Made Himself a Machine. The average Briton is a creature of domestic habits, fond of his fireside, easiest in carpet slippers and an old coat, calling the wife of his bosom "Mother," and regarding his olive branches with open pride and indulgent affection. To such a man, then, Kitchener suddenly appeared as a heaven-sent distraction. He found himself contemplating a hero who contradicted all his British notions and yet in some strange fashion braced the softening fibres of his soul. And as the mighty army moved across the desert, the Briton in his armchair smiled easily, wagged his head knowingly, and said: "That young Kitchener will make no mistake. The Sirdar will crush the Dervish once and for all."

But this new hero of England was the very antithesis of the Englishman. He was said to hate women. He was said to be merciless and without pity. He would allow no officer on his staff to get married. He broke every man who failed to carry out his orders. He was tyrant, despot, brute. He was everything the average Englishman dislikes....

Perhaps it was this very antithesis which attracted the popular imagination. England was beginning to be made aware that she had many enemies in the world and scarcely a friend. One of her statesmen was to coin the phrase of "glorious isolation." The sudden rise of a new Caesar, a new Napoleon, gave a sense of security to the domesticated Englishman. War with France might come at any moment; Russia had her eye on India; the Balkans would presently burst into flames; Germany would take advantage of the death of the Emperor of Austria;---well, what matter? Kitchener would be there to see that no harm came to us.

One admires in another the quality he most lacks in himself, and admiration multiplies and intensifies that quality until it becomes greater than it is. In this fashion the domesticated Englishman created the Kitchener Goliath---the inhuman, heartless, but unerring giant---The Man Who Had Made Himself a Machine.

Everything in Kitchener's career has tended to confirm the whole world in this first delusion. He not only pulverized the Dervishes, but smashed the Mahdi's tomb. He came home only to snub lion-hunters and to hasten back to duty. He went to South Africa and prevented Lord Roberts from being too tender with the Boers. He took over the army in India and not only rendered it amazingly efficient, but humbled the most powerful Viceroy of modern times. He returned to Egypt and brought rebellion to a better mind. He installed himself at the War Office and immediately broke the back of the German's advance on Paris. And now the million men drilling in Great Britain are "Kitchener's Army," and with that army Kitchener will utterly destroy Prussian militarism.

So the world reads the story of this man, starting from the first wrong premiss of G. W. Steevens, and thinking of him not as a fallible human creature, but as a machine that cannot err.

Now, the really fundamental and essential characteristic of Lord Kitchener is not "unerring precision," but tenacity, and this tenacity is little more than the obstinacy of a very slow and laborious mind. All the qualities which go to the making of a brilliant intelligence are entirely lacking in him, so entirely lacking that he is said by those who have studied him closely to be unconscious of his own dullness. He is the bulldog, and given plenty of time he is unbeatable; but the intuitions of genius never visit his brain; he never sees truth in a flash of inspiration, and unexpected interruption of his plans comes to him as crisis or disaster. Further, he is by no means bloodless. It is quite a mistake, as we shall show presently, to regard him as a woman-hater. He has tastes and occupations entirely outside the narrow circumference of war. He is so little like a machine that he can enter into the trivial fun of a house-party. And he makes mistakes.

But we may say that on the whole Kitchener's career, as the public knows it, has justified the delusion which began in the Sudan. He has always succeeded. And he has never sought popularity. Always something of a mystery, he has gone about his business in silence and never once has he publicly betrayed his humanity or given the nation reason to question the Kitchener legend. What would have happened if he had married, I do not know; and how the public would have borne the news that he had become a father I do not dare to speculate. As it is, the real Kitchener has not " given away " the false Kitchener, even in domesticity, and so convinced is the public of the false Kitchener being the real Kitchener, that I feel there is no danger in the world in telling the truth. I shall convert no one.

Chapter VII

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