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WILLIAM BLACKWOOD & SONS, EDINBUEGH;
37 PATERNOSTER ROW, LONDON.
All Rights of Translation and Republication reserved.
Exactly a year has elapsed this month since I confided to the readers of this Magazine, and therefore to the more prominent members of her Majesty's Government, the secrets of a great political mystery in Africa, which at that critical juncture was perplexing the wisest heads in Europe. My conviction of the enormous value of those revelations is my justification for now continuing them; for I may venture to assert, without fear of contradiction, that the triumphant success which has since attended Albinian arms and Alhinian diplomacy in Ethiopia, was due to the timely information then imparted, and to the totally erroneous inferences which were drawn from it. If this be not the case, then I would boldly ask, To what are we to attribute the total change which the policy of her Majesty's Government underwent last year in the month of July with regard to the affairs of Ethiopia? And if there never was any mystery about the compli
VOL. CXXXIV. NO. DCCCXIII.
cations in that country at all, then how are we to account for the fact that they have, so far, resulted in a manner totally unexpected by everybody 1 And I would here venture to call attention to this remarkable circumstance in connection with the events which have transpired within the past year—that none of the actors concerned in this singular drama would have done what they did if they could have foreseen what would happen if they did it. Who, for instance, can suppose that Ethiop would have defied all Europe, if he could have anticipated that as the final consequence of his audacity he would have been sent to pass the remaining years of his life in exile in the lovely isle of Taprobane 1 Again, had not the Mogul of Seljukia been more mystified than most people by the (treat African Mystery, it is certain that instead of refusing to send an army to co-operate with that of Albinia when he was invited to do so, he
would have eagerly jumped at an opportunity of asserting his sovereign rights and jointly occupying Ethiopia with Albinia.
As for the Gallician Chamber of Deputies and the late Government of Monsieur D'Effraycinay, they have never ceased reproaching each other on the short-sighted bungling which has had the effect of virtually expelling them from Ethiopia, and of handing over the administration of that country to Albinia. The same may be said of Latinia and her Government, who now perceive, when it is too late, what a splendid chance they lost for acquiring a position in Africa which would fully compensate for Gallinian aggression in Carthagia, if they had only joined Albinia when they were invited to do so. Even the wily Muscovian and the astute Prince Quizmarck failed to fathom the mystery, and were out in their calculations, or the former would never have taken part in a conference which resulted only in advantage to Albinia; and the latter was firmly persuaded that the Ethiopian question could never be settled without Gallinia and Albinia coming to loggerheads. But it is evident, by their own admissions and their vain attempts to reconcile past profession with present practice, that nobody was more completely bewildered, deceived, and ensnared in the toils of this great mystery than Mr Sadstone and his colleagues. How little did they imagine when they" assured Europe that the effect of their policy would be to restore the status quo in Ethiopia, that it would lead to the abolition of the Albinio-Gallinian Board of Control, and to a military occupation which must last indefinitely, if they are not to withdraw their forces until the Ethiopians have completed their political educa
tion, and have learnt to govern the country with purity and intelligence by means of the Liberal institutions with which it has been endowed!
From all which it must be apparent, that the "great African mystery" has been nothing more or less than a huge trap, in which everybody who has had anything to do with it has been caught. And it must be a great consolation to Mr Sadstone and his colleagues to reflect, that if they have tumbled headlong into an utterly false position, and have pursued a policy which has landed them where they least expected, they are in the same boat with everybody else who was in any way mixed up with the affair. It would be better, therefore, to acknowledge this openly and frankly, and not to attempt to persuade the Cabinets of Europe, who are all more or less disgusted with their own failures, that the Albinian Government has kept its promises in regard to Ethiopia, and that the status quo ante remains unchanged. For this is a feat which even the unrivalled rhetorical and casuistical powers of Mr Sadstone will fail to accomplish, and it is of the utmost consequence that no appearance of disingenuousness should attach to the policy of so eminent a moralist—as the cause of political virtue and good faith might thereby sustain a serious injury at the hands of those who on their accession to office specially constituted themselves their guardians. Nobody can blame people for their stupidity, though when it turns to their own advantage it must be always suspect; but perfidy is a vice from which Albina has always been specially exempt—indeed there is a Gallinian saying to that effect.
It is only to be expected that