The Other Hand, Are There Great Incentives.
The tale is one of war of
the cruellest, bloodiest, and most confused type.
One savage army
slaughters another. One fierce general cuts his rival's throat. The same
features are repeated with wearying monotony. When one battle is
understood, all may be imagined. Above the tumult the figure of the
Khalifa rises stern and solitary, the only object which may attract the
interest of a happier world. Yet even the Khalifa's methods were
oppressively monotonous. For although the nature or courage of the
revolts might differ with the occasion, the results were invariable;
and the heads of all his chief enemies, of many of his generals,
of most of his councillors, met in the capacious pit which yawned
During the thirteen years of his reign Abdullah tried nearly every device
by which Oriental rulers have sought to fortify their perilous sovereignty.
He shrank from nothing. Self-preservation was the guiding principle of his
policy, his first object and his only excuse. Among many wicked and
ingenious expedients three main methods are remarkable. First, he removed
or rendered innocuous all real or potential rivals. Secondly, he pursued
what Sir Alfred Milner has called 'a well-considered policy of military
concentration.' Thirdly, he maintained among the desert and riverain
people a balance of power on the side of his own tribe. All these three
methods merit some attention or illustration.
The general massacre of all possible claimants usually follows the
accession of a usurper to an Oriental throne.
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