diumenge, 3 de maig de 2015

I HAD BELIEVED THESE MISFORTUNES OF THE REVOLT TO BE DUE MAINLY TO FAULTY LEADERSHIP, OR RATHER TO THE LACK OF LEADERSHIP, ARAB AND ENGLISH. SO I WENT DOWN TO ARABIA TO SEE AND CONSIDER ITS GREAT MEN. THE FIRST, THE SHERIF OF MECCA, WE KNEW TO BE AGED. I FOUND ABDULLA TOO CLEVER, ALI TOO CLEAN, ZEID TOO COOL. THEN I RODE UP-COUNTRY TO FEISAL, AND FOUND IN HIM THE LEADER WITH THE NECESSARY FIRE, AND YET WITH REASON TO GIVE EFFECT TO OUR SCIENCE. HIS TRIBESMEN SEEMED SUFFICIENT INSTRUMENT, AND HIS HILLS TO PROVIDE NATURAL ADVANTAGE. SO I RETURNED PLEASED AND CONFIDENT TO EGYPT, AND TOLD MY CHIEFS HOW MECCA WAS DEFENDED NOT BY THE OBSTACLE OF RABEGH, BUT BY THE FLANK-THREAT OF FEISAL IN JEBEL SUBH. CHAPTER VIII Waiting off Suez was the LAMA, a small converted liner; and in her we left immediately. Such short voyages on warships were delicious interludes for us passengers. On this occasion, however, there was some embarrassment. Our mixed party seemed to disturb the ship's company in their own element. The juniors had turned out of their berths to give us night space, and by day we filled their living rooms with irregular talk. Storrs' intolerant brain seldom stooped to company. But to-day he was more abrupt than usual. He turned twice around the decks, sniffed, 'No one worth talking to', and sat down in one of the two comfortable armchairs, to begin a discussion of Debussy with Aziz el Masri (in the other). Aziz, the Arab-Circassian ex-colonel in the Turkish Army, now general in the Sherifian Army, was on his way to discuss with the Emir of Mecca the equipment and standing of the Arab regulars he was forming at Rabegh. A few minutes later they had left Debussy, and were depreciating Wagner: Aziz in fluent German, and Storrs in German, French and Arabic. The ship's officers found the whole conversation unnecessary. We had the accustomed calm run to Jidda, in the delightful Red Sea climate, never too hot while the ship was moving. By day we lay in shadow; and for great part of the glorious nights we would tramp up and down the wet decks under the stars in the steaming breath of the southern wind. But when at last we anchored in the outer harbour, off the white town hung between the blazing sky and its reflection in the mirage which swept and rolled over the wide lagoon, then the heat of Arabia came out like a drawn sword and struck us speechless. It was midday; and the noon sun in the East, like moonlight, put to sleep the colours. There were only lights and shadows, the white houses and black gaps of streets: in front, the pallid lustre of the haze shimmering upon the inner harbour: behind, the dazzle of league after league of featureless sand, running up to an edge of low hills, faintly suggested in the far away mist of heat. Just north of Jidda was a second group of black-white buildings, moving up and down like pistons in the mirage, as the ship rolled at anchor and the intermittent wind shifted the heat waves in the air. It looked and felt horrible. We began to regret that the inaccessibility which made the Hejaz militarily a safe theatre of revolt involved bad climate and un-wholesomeness. However, Colonel Wilson, British representative with the new Arab state, had sent his launch to meet us; and we had to go ashore to learn the reality of the men levitating in that mirage. Half an hour later Ruhi, Consular Oriental assistant, was grinning a delighted welcome to his old patron Storrs (Ruhi the ingenious, more like a mandrake than a man), while the newly-appointed Syrian police and harbour officers, with a scratch guard of honour, lined the Customs Wharf in salutation of Aziz el Masri. Sherif Abdulla, the second son of the old man of Mecca, was reported just arriving in the town. He it was we had to meet; so our coming was auspiciously timed. We walked past the white masonry of the still-building water gate, and through the oppressive alley of the food market on our way to the Consulate. In the air, from the men to the dates and back to the meat, squadrons of flies like particles of dust danced up and down the sunshafts which stabbed into the darkest corners of the booths through torn places in the wood and sackcloth awnings overhead. The atmosphere was like a bath. The scarlet leathers of the armchair on the LAMA'S deck had dyed Storrs' white tunic and trousers as bright as themselves in their damp contact of the last four days, and now the sweat running in his clothes began to shine like varnish through the stain. I was so fascinated watching him that I never noticed the deepened brown of my khaki drill wherever it touched my body. He was wondering if the walk to the Consulate was long enough to wet me a decent, solid, harmonious colour; and I was wondering if all he ever sat on would grow scarlet as himself. We reached the Consulate too soon for either hope; and there in a shaded room with an open lattice behind him sat Wilson, prepared to welcome the sea breeze, which had lagged these last few days. He received us stiffly, being of the honest, downright Englishmen, to whom Storrs was suspect, if only for his artistic sense: while his contact with me in Cairo had been a short difference of opinion as to whether native clothes were an indignity for us. I had called them uncomfortable merely. To him they were wrong. Wilson, however, despite his personal feelings, was all for the game. He had made preparations for the coming interview with Abdulla, and was ready to afford every help he could. Besides, we were his guests; and the splendid hospitality of the East was near his spirit. Abdulla, on a white mare, came to us softly with a bevy of richly-armed slaves on foot about him, through the silent respectful salutes of the town. He was flushed with his success at Taif, and happy. I was seeing him for the first time, while Storrs was an old friend, and on the best of terms; yet, before long, as they spoke together, I began to suspect him of a constant cheerfulness. His eyes had a confirmed twinkle; and though only thirty-five, he was putting on flesh. It might be due to too much laughter. Life seemed very merry for Abdulla. He was short, strong, fair-skinned, with a carefully trimmed brown beard, masking his round smooth face and short lips. In manner he was open, or affected openness, and was charming on acquaintance. He stood not on ceremony, but jested with all comers in most easy fashion: yet, when we fell into serious talk, the veil of humour seemed to fade away. He then chose his words, and argued shrewdly. Of course, he was in discussion with Storrs, who demanded a high standard from his opponent. The Arabs thought Abdulla a far-seeing statesman and an astute politician. Astute he certainly was, but not greatly enough to convince us always of his sincerity. His ambition was patent. Rumour made him the brain of his father and of the Arab revolt; but he seemed too easy for that. His object was, of course, the winning of Arab independence and the building up of Arab nations, but he meant to keep the direction of the new states in the family. So he watched us, and played through us to the British gallery. On our part, I was playing for effect, watching, criticizing him. The Sherifs rebellion had been unsatisfactory for the last few months (standing still, which, with an irregular war, was the prelude to disaster), and my suspicion was that its lack was leadership: not intellect, nor judgement, nor political wisdom, but the flame of enthusiasm that would set the desert on fire. My visit was mainly to find the yet unknown master-spirit of the affair, and measure his capacity to carry the revolt to the goal I had conceived for it. As our conversation continued, I became more and more sure that Abdulla was too balanced, too cool, too humorous to be a prophet: especially the armed prophet who, if history be true, succeeded in revolutions. His value would come perhaps in the peace after success. During the physical struggle, when singleness of eye and magnetism, devotion and self-sacrifice were needed, Abdulla would be a tool too complex for a simple purpose, though he could not be ignored, even now. We talked to him first about the state of Jidda, to put him at ease by discussing at this first of our interviews the unnecessary subject of the Sherif's administration. He replied that the war was yet too much with them for civil government. They had inherited the Turkish system in the towns, and were continuing it on a more modest scale. The Turkish Government was often not unkind to strong men, who obtained considerable licence on terms. Consequently, some of the licensees in Hejaz regretted the coming of a native ruler. Particularly in Mecca and Jidda public opinion was against an Arab state. The mass of citizens were foreigners--Egyptians, Indians, Javanese, Africans, and others--quite unable to sympathize with the Arab aspirations, especially as voiced by Beduin; for the Beduin lived on what he could exact from the stranger on his roads, or in his valleys; and he and the townsman bore each other a perpetual grudge. The Beduins were the only fighting men the Sherif had got; and on their help the revolt depended. He was arming them freely, paying many of them for their service in his forces, feeding their families while they were from home, and hiring from them their transport camels to maintain his armies in the field. Accordingly, the country was prosperous, while the towns went short. Another grievance in the towns was in the matter of law. The Turkish civil code had been abolished, and a return made to the old religious law, the undiluted Koranic procedure of the Arab Kadi. Abdulla explained to us, with a giggle, that when there was time they would discover in the Koran such opinions and judgements as were required to make it suitable for modern commercial operations, like banking and exchange. Meanwhile, of course, what townsmen lost by the abolition of the civil law, the Beduins gained. Sherif Hussein had silently sanctioned the restoration of the old tribal order. Beduins at odds with one another pleaded their own cases before the tribal lawman, an office hereditary in one most-respected family, and recognized by the payment of a goat per household as yearly due. Judgement was based on custom, by quoting from a great body of remembered precedent. It was delivered publicly without fee. In cases between men of different tribes, the lawman was selected by mutual consent, or recourse was had to the lawman of a third tribe. If the case were contentious and difficult, the judge was supported by a jury of four--two nominated by plaintiff from the ranks of defendant's family, and two by defendant from plaintiff's family. Decisions were always unanimous. We contemplated the vision Abdulla drew for us, with sad thoughts of the Garden of Eden and all that Eve, now lying in her tomb just outside the wall, had lost for average humanity; and then Storrs brought me into the discussion by asking Abdulla to give us his views on the state of the campaign for my benefit, and for communication to headquarters in Egypt. Abdulla at once grew serious, and said that he wanted to urge upon the British their immediate and very personal concern in the matter, which he tabulated so:-- By our neglect to cut the Hejaz Railway, the Turks had been able to collect transport and supplies for the reinforcement of Medina. Feisal had been driven back from the town; and the enemy was preparing a mobile column of all arms for an advance on Rabegh. The Arabs in the hills across their road were by our neglect too weak in supplies, machine guns and artillery to defend them long. Hussein Mabeirig, chief of the Masruh Harb, had joined the Turks. If the Medina column advanced, the Harb would join it. It would only remain for his father to put himself at the head of his own people of Mecca, and to die fighting before the Holy City I was sent to these Arabs as a stranger, unable to think their thoughts or subscribe their beliefs, but charged by duty to lead them forward and to develop to the highest any movement of theirs profitable to England in her war. If I could not assume their character, I could at least conceal my own, and pass among them without evident friction, neither a discord nor a critic but an unnoticed influence. Since I was their fellow, I will not be their apologist or advocate. To-day in my old garments, I could play the bystander, obedient to the sensibilities of our theatre . . . but it is more honest to record that these ideas and actions then passed naturally. What now looks wanton or sadic seemed in the field inevitable, or just unimportant routine. Blood was always on our hands: we were licensed to it. Wounding and killing seemed ephemeral pains, so very brief and sore was life with us. With the sorrow of living so great, the sorrow of punishment had to be pitiless. We lived for the day and died for it. When there was reason and desire to punish we wrote our lesson with gun or whip immediately in the sullen flesh of the sufferer, and the case was beyond appeal. The desert did not afford the refined slow penalties of courts and gaols. Of course our rewards and pleasures were as suddenly sweeping as our troubles; but, to me in particular, they bulked less large. Bedouin ways were hard even for those brought up to them, and for strangers terrible: a death in life. When the march or labour ended I had no energy to record sensation, nor while it lasted any leisure to see the spiritual loveliness which sometimes came upon us by the way. In my notes, the cruel rather than the beautiful found place. We no doubt enjoyed more the rare moments of peace and forgetfulness; but I remember more the agony, the terrors, and the mistakes. Our life is not summed up in what I have written (there are things not to be repeated in cold blood for very shame); but what I have written was in and of our life. Pray God that men reading the story will not, for love of the glamour of strangeness, go out to prostitute themselves and their talents in serving another race. A man who gives himself to be a possession of aliens leads a Yahoo life, having bartered his soul to a brute-master. He is not of them. He may stand against them, persuade himself of a mission, batter and twist them into something which they, of their own accord, would not have been. Then he is exploiting his old environment to press them out of theirs. Or, after my model, he may imitate them so well that they spuriously imitate him back again. Then he is giving away his own environment: pretending to theirs; and pretences are hollow, worthless things. In neither case does he do a thing of himself, nor a thing so clean as to be his own (without thought of conversion), letting them take what action or reaction they please from the silent example. In my case, the effort for these years to live in the dress of Arabs, and to imitate their mental foundation, quitted me of my English self, and let me look at the West and its conventions with new eyes: they destroyed it all for me. At the same time I could not sincerely take on the Arab skin: it was an affectation only. Easily was a man made an infidel, but hardly might he be converted to another faith. I had dropped one form and not taken on the other, and was become like Mohammed's coffin in our legend, with a resultant feeling of intense loneliness in life, and a contempt, not for other men, but for all they do. Such detachment came at times to a man exhausted by prolonged physical effort and isolation. His body plodded on mechanically, while his reasonable mind left him, and from without looked down critically on him, wondering what that futile lumber did and why. Sometimes these selves would converse in the void; and then madness was very near, as I believe it would be near the man who could see things through the veils at once of two customs, two educations, two environments. CHAPTER II A first difficulty of the Arab movement was to say who the Arabs were. Being a manufactured people, their name had been changing in sense slowly year by year. Once it meant an Arabian. There was a country called Arabia; but this was nothing to the point. There was a language called Arabic; and in it lay the test. It was the current tongue of Syria and Palestine, of Mesopotamia, and of the great peninsula called Arabia on the map. Before the Moslem conquest, these areas were inhabited by diverse peoples, speaking languages of the Arabic family. We called them Semitic, but (as with most scientific terms) incorrectly. However, Arabic, Assyrian, Babylonian, Phoenician, Hebrew, Aramaic and Syriac were related tongues; and indications of common influences in the past, or even of a common origin, were strengthened by our knowledge that the appearances and customs of the present Arabic-speaking peoples of Asia, while as varied as a field--full of poppies, had an equal and essential likeness. We might with perfect propriety call them cousins--and cousins certainly, if sadly, aware of their own relationship. The Arabic-speaking areas of Asia in this sense were a rough parallelogram. The northern side ran from Alexandretta, on the Mediterranean, across Mesopotamia eastward to the Tigris. The south side was the edge of the Indian Ocean, from Aden to Muscat. On the west it was bounded by the Mediterranean, the Suez Canal, and the Red Sea to Aden. On the east by the Tigris, and the Persian Gulf to Muscat. This square of land, as large as India, formed the homeland of our Semites, in which no foreign race had kept a permanent footing, though Egyptians, Hittites, Philistines, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Turks and Franks had variously tried. All had in the end been broken, and their scattered elements drowned in the strong characteristics of the Semitic race. Semites had sometimes pushed outside this area, and themselves been drowned in the outer world. Egypt, Algiers, Morocco, Malta, Sicily, Spain, Cilicia and France absorbed and obliterated Semitic colonies. Only in Tripoli of Africa, and in the everlasting miracle of Jewry, had distant Semites kept some of their identity and force. The origin of these peoples was an academic question; but for the understanding of their revolt their present social and political differences were important, and could only be grasped by looking at their geography. This continent of theirs fell into certain great regions, whose gross physical diversities imposed varying habits on the dwellers in them. On the west the parallelogram was framed, from Alexandretta to Aden, by a mountain belt, called (in the north) Syria, and thence progressively southward called Palestine, Midian, Hejaz, and lastly Yemen. It had an average height of perhaps three thousand feet, with peaks of ten to twelve thousand feet. It faced west, was well watered with rain and cloud from the sea, and in general was fully peopled. Another range of inhabited hills, facing the Indian Ocean, was the south edge of the parallelogram. The eastern frontier was at first an alluvial plain called Mesopotamia, but south of Basra a level littoral, called Kuweit, and Hasa, to Gattar. Much of this plain was peopled. These inhabited hills and plains framed a gulf of thirsty desert, in whose heart was an archipelago of watered and populous oases called Kasim and Aridh. In this group of oases lay the true centre of Arabia, the preserve of its native spirit, and its most conscious individuality. The desert lapped it round and kept it pure of contact. The desert which performed this great function around the oases, and so made the character of Arabia, varied in nature. South of the oases it appeared to be a pathless sea of sand, stretching nearly to the populous escarpment of the Indian Ocean shore, shutting it out from Arabian history, and from all influence on Arabian morals and politics. Hadhramaut, as they called this southern coast, formed part of the history of the Dutch Indies; and its thought swayed Java rather than Arabia. To the west of the oases, between them and the Hejaz hills, was the Nejd desert, an area of gravel and lava, with little sand in it. To the east of these oases, between them and Kuweit, spread a similar expanse of gravel, but with some great stretches of soft sand, making the road difficult. To the north of the oases lay a belt of sand, and then an immense gravel and lava plain, filling up everything between the eastern edge of Syria and the banks of the Euphrates where Mesopotamia began. The practicability of this northern desert for men and motor-cars enabled the Arab revolt to win its ready success. The hills of the west and the plains of the east were the parts of Arabia always most populous and active. In particular on the west, the mountains of Syria and Palestine, of Hejaz and Yemen, entered time and again into the current of our European life. Ethically, these fertile healthy hills were in Europe, not in Asia, just as the Arabs looked always to the Mediterranean, not to the Indian Ocean, for their cultural sympathies, for their enterprises, and particularly for their expansions, since the migration problem was the greatest and most complex force in Arabia, and general to it, however it might vary in the different Arabic districts. In the north (Syria) the birth rate was low in the cities and the death rate high, because of the insanitary conditions and the hectic life led by the majority. Consequently the surplus peasantry found openings in the towns, and were there swallowed up. In the Lebanon, where sanitation had been improved, a greater exodus of youth took place to America each year, threatening (for the first time since Greek days) to change the outlook of an entire district. In Yemen the solution was different. There was no foreign trade, and no massed industries to accumulate population in unhealthy places. The towns were just market towns, as clean and simple as ordinary villages. Therefore the population slowly increased; the scale of living was brought down very low; and a congestion of numbers was generally felt. They could not emigrate overseas; for the Sudan was even worse country than Arabia, and the few tribes which did venture across were compelled to modify their manner of life and their Semitic culture profoundly, in order to exist. They could not move northward along the hills; for these were barred by the holy town of Mecca and its port Jidda: an alien belt, continually reinforced by strangers from India and Java and Bokhara and Africa, very strong in vitality, violently hostile to the Semitic consciousness, and maintained despite economics and geography and climate by the artificial factor of a world-religion. The congestion of Yemen, therefore, becoming extreme, found its only relief in the east, by forcing the weaker aggregations of its border down and down the slopes of the hills along the Widian, the half-waste district of the great water-bearing valleys of Bisha, Dawasir, Ranya and Taraba, which ran out towards the deserts of Nejd. These weaker clans had continually to exchange good springs and fertile palms for poorer springs and scantier palms, till at last they reached an area where a proper agricultural life became impossible. They then began to eke out their precarious husbandry by breeding sheep and camels, and in time came to depend more and more on these herds for their living. Finally, under a last impulse from the straining population behind them, the border people (now almost wholly pastoral), were flung out of the furthest crazy oasis into the untrodden wilderness as nomads. This process, to be watched to-day with individual families and tribes to whose marches an exact name and date might be put, must have been going on since the first day of full settlement of Yemen. The Widian below Mecca and Taif are crowded with the memories and place-names of half a hundred tribes which have gone from there, and may be found to-day in Nejd, in Jebel Sham-mar, in the Hamad, even on the frontiers of Syria and Mesopotamia. There was the source of migration, the factory of nomads, the springing of the gulf-stream of desert wanderers. For the people of the desert were as little static as the people of the hills. The economic life of the desert was based on the supply of camels, which were best bred on the rigorous upland pastures with their strong nutritive thorns. By this industry the Bedouins lived; and it in turn moulded their life, apportioned the tribal areas, and kept the clans revolving through their rote of spring, summer and winter pasturages, as the herds cropped the scanty growths of each in turn. The camel markets in Syria, Mesopotamia, and Egypt determined the population which the deserts could support, and regulated strictly their standard of living. So the desert likewise overpeopled itself upon occasion; and then there were heavings and thrustings of the crowded tribes as they elbowed themselves by natural courses towards the light. They might not go south towards the inhospitable sand or sea. They could not turn west; for there the steep hills of Hejaz were thickly lined by mountain peoples taking full advantage of their defensiveness. Sometimes they went towards the central oases of Aridh and Kasim, and, if the tribes looking for new homes were strong and vigorous, might succeed in occupying parts of them. If, however, the desert had not this strength, its peoples were pushed gradually north, up between Medina of the Hejaz and Kasim of Nejd, till they found themselves at the fork of two roads. They could strike eastward, by Wadi Rumh or Jebel Sham-mar, to follow eventually the Batn to Shamiya, where they would become riverine Arabs of the Lower Euphrates; or they could climb, by slow degrees, the ladder of western oases--Henakiya, Kheibar, Teima, Jauf, and the Sirhan--till fate saw them nearing Jebel Druse, in Syria, or watering their herds about Tadmor of the northern desert, on their way to Aleppo or Assyria. Nor then did the pressure cease: the inexorable trend northward continued. The tribes found themselves driven to the very edge of cultivation in Syria or Mesopotamia. Opportunity and their bellies persuaded them of the advantages of possessing goats, and then of possessing sheep; and lastly they began to sow, if only a little barley for their animals. They were now no longer Bedouin, and began to suffer like the villagers from the ravages of the nomads behind. Insensibly, they made common cause with the peasants already on the soil, and found out that they, too, were peasantry. So we see clans, born in the highlands of Yemen, thrust by stronger clans into the desert, where, unwillingly, they became nomad to keep themselves alive. We see them wandering, every year moving a little further north or a little further east as chance has sent them down one or other of the well-roads of the wilderness, till finally this pressure drives them from the desert again into the sown, with the like unwillingness of their first shrinking experiment in nomad life. This was the circulation which kept vigour in the Semitic body. There were few, if indeed there was a single northern Semite, whose ancestors had not at some dark age passed through the desert. The mark of nomadism, that most deep and biting social discipline, was on each of them in his degree.

If tribesman and townsman in Arabic-speaking 
Asia were not different
races, but just men in different social and economic stages, a family
resemblance might be expected in the working
 of their minds, and so it
was only reasonable that common elements should appear in the product
of all these peoples. 
In the very outset, at the first meeting with
them, was found a universal clearness or hardness of belief, almost
mathematical in its limitation, and repellent in its unsympathetic
form. Semites had no half-tones in their register of vision. They were
a people of primary colours, or rather of black and white, who saw the
world always in contour. They were a dogmatic people, despising doubt,
our modern crown of thorns. They did not understand our metaphysical
difficulties, our introspective questionings. They knew only truth and
untruth, belief and unbelief, without our hesitating retinue of finer

This people was black and white, not only in vision, but by inmost
furnishing: black and white not merely in clarity, but in apposition.
Their thoughts were at ease only in extremes. They inhabited
superlatives by choice. Sometimes inconsistents seemed to possess them
at once in joint sway; but they never compromised: they pursued the
logic of several incompatible opinions to absurd ends, without
perceiving the incongruity. With cool head and tranquil judgement,
imperturbably unconscious of the flight, they oscillated from asymptote
to asymptote.

They were a limited, narrow-minded people, whose inert intellects lay
fallow in incurious resignation. Their imaginations were vivid, but not
creative. There was so little Arab art in Asia that they could almost
be said to have had no art, though their classes were liberal patrons,
and had encouraged whatever talents in architecture, or ceramics, or
other handicraft their neighbours and helots displayed. Nor did they
handle great industries: they had no organizations of mind or body.
They invented no systems of philosophy, no complex mythologies. They
steered their course between the idols of the tribe and of the cave.
The least morbid of peoples, they had accepted the gift of life
unquestioningly, as axiomatic. To them it was a thing inevitable,
entailed on man, a usufruct, beyond control. Suicide was a thing
impossible, and death no grief.

They were a people of spasms, of upheavals, of ideas, the race of the
individual genius. Their movements were the more shocking by contrast
with the quietude of every day, their great men greater by contrast
with the humanity of their mob. Their convictions were by instinct,
their activities intuitional. Their largest manufacture was of creeds:
almost they were monopolists of revealed religions. Three of these
efforts had endured among them: two of the three had also borne export
(in modified forms) to non-Semitic peoples. Christianity, translated
into the diverse spirits of Greek and Latin and Teutonic tongues, had
conquered Europe and America. Islam in various transformations was
subjecting Africa and parts of Asia. These were Semitic successes.
Their failures they kept to themselves. The fringes of their deserts
were strewn with broken faiths.

It was significant that this wrack of fallen religions lay about the
meeting of the desert and the sown. It pointed to the generation of all
these creeds. They were assertions, not arguments; so they required a
prophet to set them forth. The Arabs said there had been forty thousand
prophets: we had record of at least some hundreds. None of them had
been of the wilderness; but their lives were after a pattern. Their
birth set them in crowded places. An unintelligible passionate yearning
drove them out into the desert. There they lived a greater or lesser
time in meditation and physical abandonment; and thence they returned
with their imagined message articulate, to preach it to their old, and
now doubting, associates. The founders of the three great creeds
fulfilled this cycle: their possible coincidence was proved a law by
the parallel life-histories of the myriad others, the unfortunate who
failed, whom we might judge of no less true profession, but for whom
time and disillusion had not heaped up dry souls ready to be set on
fire. To the thinkers of the town the impulse into Nitria had ever been
irresistible, not probably that they found God dwelling there, but that
in its solitude they heard more certainly the living word they brought
with them.

The common base of all the Semitic creeds, winners or losers, was the
ever present idea of world-worthlessness. Their profound reaction from
matter led them to preach bareness, renunciation, poverty; and the
atmosphere of this invention stifled the minds of the desert
pitilessly. A first knowledge of their sense of the purity of
rarefaction was given me in early years, when we had ridden far out
over the rolling plains of North Syria to a ruin of the Roman period
which the Arabs believed was made by a prince of the border as a
desert-palace for his queen. The clay of its building was said to have
been kneaded for greater richness, not with water, but with the
precious essential oils of flowers. My guides, sniffing the air like
dogs, led me from crumbling room to room, saying, 'This is jessamine,
this violet, this rose'.

But at last Dahoum drew me: 'Come and smell the very sweetest scent of
all', and we went into the main lodging, to the gaping window sockets
of its eastern face, and there drank with open mouths of the
effortless, empty, eddyless wind of the desert, throbbing past. That
slow breath had been born somewhere beyond the distant Euphrates and
had dragged its way across many days and nights of dead grass, to its
first obstacle, the man-made walls of our broken palace. About them it
seemed to fret and linger, murmuring in baby-speech. 'This,' they told
me, 'is the best: it has no taste.' My Arabs were turning their backs
on perfumes and luxuries to choose the things in which mankind had had
no share or part.

The Beduin of the desert, born and grown up in it, had embraced with
all his soul this nakedness too harsh for volunteers, for the reason,
felt but inarticulate, that there he found himself indubitably free. He
lost material ties, comforts, all superfluities and other complications
to achieve a personal liberty which haunted starvation and death. He
saw no virtue in poverty herself: he enjoyed the little vices and
luxuries--coffee, fresh water, women--which he could still preserve. In
his life he had air and winds, sun and light, open spaces and a great
emptiness. There was no human effort, no fecundity in Nature: just the
heaven above and the unspotted earth beneath. There unconsciously he
came near God. God was to him not anthropomorphic, not tangible, not
moral nor ethical, not concerned with the world or with him, not
natural: but the being [GREEK] thus qualified not by divestiture but by
investiture, a comprehending Being, the egg of all activity, with
nature and matter just a glass reflecting Him.

The Beduin could not look for God within him: he was too sure that he
was within God. He could not conceive anything which was or was not
God, Who alone was great; yet there was a homeliness, an everyday-ness
of this climatic Arab God, who was their eating and their fighting and
their lusting, the commonest of their thoughts, their familiar resource
and companion, in a way impossible to those whose God is so wistfully
veiled from them by despair of their carnal unworthiness of Him and by
the decorum of formal worship. Arabs felt no incongruity in bringing
God into the weaknesses and appetites of their least creditable causes.
He was the most familiar of their words; and indeed we lost much
eloquence when making Him the shortest and ugliest of our

This creed of the desert seemed inexpressible in words, and indeed in
thought. It was easily felt as an influence, and those who went into
the desert long enough to forget its open spaces and its emptiness were
inevitably thrust upon God as the only refuge and rhythm of being. The
Bedawi might be a nominal Sunni, or a nominal Wahabi, or anything else
in the Semitic compass, and he would take it very lightly, a little in
the manner of the watchmen at Zion's gate who drank beer and laughed in
Zion because they were Zionists. Each individual nomad had his revealed
religion, not oral or traditional or expressed, but instinctive in
himself; and so we got all the Semitic creeds with (in character and
essence) a stress on the emptiness of the world and the fullness of
God; and according to the power and opportunity of the believer was the
expression of them.

The desert dweller could not take credit for his belief. He had never
been either evangelist or proselyte. He arrived at this intense
condensation of himself in God by shutting his eyes to the world, and
to all the complex possibilities latent in him which only contact with
wealth and temptations could bring forth. He attained a sure trust and
a powerful trust, but of how narrow a field! His sterile experience
robbed him of compassion and perverted his human kindness to the image
of the waste in which he hid. Accordingly he hurt himself, not merely
to be free, but to please himself. There followed a delight in pain, a
cruelty which was more to him than goods. The desert Arab found no joy
like the joy of voluntarily holding back. He found luxury in
abnegation, renunciation, self restraint. He made nakedness of the mind
as sensuous as nakedness of the body. He saved his own soul, perhaps,
and without danger, but in a hard selfishness. His desert was made a
spiritual ice-house, in which was preserved intact but unimproved for
all ages a vision of the unity of God. To it sometimes the seekers from
the outer world could escape for a season and look thence in detachment
at the nature of the generation they would convert.

This faith of the desert was impossible in the towns. It was at once
too strange, too simple, too impalpable for export and common use. The
idea, the ground-belief of all Semitic creeds was waiting there, but it
had to be diluted to be made comprehensible to us. The scream of a bat
was too shrill for many ears: the desert spirit escaped through our
coarser texture. The prophets returned from the desert with their
glimpse of God, and through their stained medium (as through a dark
glass) showed something of the majesty and brilliance whose full vision
would blind, deafen, silence us, serve us as it had served the Beduin,
setting him uncouth, a man apart.

The disciples, in the endeavour to strip themselves and their
neighbours of all things according to the Master's word, stumbled over
human weaknesses and failed. To live, the villager or townsman must
fill himself each day with the pleasures of acquisition and
accumulation, and by rebound off circumstance become the grossest and
most material of men. The shining contempt of life which led others
into the barest asceticism drove him to despair. He squandered himself
heedlessly, as a spendthrift: ran through his inheritance of flesh in
hasty longing for the end. The Jew in the Metropole at Brighton, the
miser, the worshipper of Adonis, the lecher in the stews of Damascus
were alike signs of the Semitic capacity for enjoyment, and expressions
of the same nerve which gave us at the other pole the self-denial of
the Essenes, or the early Christians, or the first Khalifas, finding
the way to heaven fairest for the poor in spirit. The Semite hovered
between lust and self-denial.

Arabs could be swung on an idea as on a cord; for the unpledged
allegiance of their minds made them obedient servants. None of them
would escape the bond till success had come, and with it responsibility
and duty and engagements. Then the idea was gone and the work ended--in
ruins. Without a creed they could be taken to the four corners of the
world (but not to heaven) by being shown the riches of earth and the
pleasures of it; but if on the road, led in this fashion, they met the
prophet of an idea, who had nowhere to lay his head and who depended
for his food on charity or birds, then they would all leave their
wealth for his inspiration. They were incorrigibly children of the
idea, feckless and colour-blind, to whom body and spirit were for ever
and inevitably opposed. Their mind was strange and dark, full of
depressions and exaltations, lacking in rule, but with more of ardour
and more fertile in belief than any other in the world. They were a
people of starts, for whom the abstract was the strongest motive, the
process of infinite courage and variety, and the end nothing. They were
as unstable as water, and like water would perhaps finally prevail.
Since the dawn of life, in successive waves they had been dashing
themselves against the coasts of flesh. Each wave was broken, but, like
the sea, wore away ever so little of the granite on which it failed,
and some day, ages yet, might roll unchecked over the place where the
material world had been, and God would move upon the face of those
waters. One such wave (and not the least) I raised and rolled before
the breath of an idea, till it reached its crest, and toppled over and
fell at Damascus. The wash of that wave, thrown back by the resistance
of vested things, will provide the matter of the following wave, when
in fullness of time the sea shall be raised once more.


The first great rush round the Mediterranean had shown the world the
power of an excited Arab for a short spell of intense physical
activity; but when the effort burned out the lack of endurance and
routine in the Semitic mind became as evident. The provinces they had
overrun they neglected, out of sheer distaste of system, and had to
seek the help of their conquered subjects, or of more vigorous
foreigners, to administer their ill-knit and inchoate empires. So,
early in the Middle Ages, the Turks found a footing in the Arab States,
first as servants, then as helpers, and then as a parasite growth which
choked the life out of the old body politic. The last phase was of
enmity, when the Hulagus or Timurs sated their blood lust, burning and
destroying everything which irked them with a pretension of

Arab civilizations had been of an abstract nature, moral and
intellectual rather than applied; and their lack of public spirit made
their excellent private qualities futile. They were fortunate in their
epoch: Europe had fallen barbarous; and the memory of Greek and Latin
learning was fading from men's minds. By contrast the imitative
exercise of the Arabs seemed cultured, their mental activity
progressive, their state prosperous. They had performed real service in
preserving something of a classical past for a mediaeval future.

With the coming of the Turks this happiness became a dream. By stages
the Semites of Asia passed under their yoke, and found it a slow death.
Their goods were stripped from them; and their spirits shrivelled in
the numbing breath of a military Government. Turkish rule was gendarme
rule, and Turkish political theory as crude as its practice. The Turks
taught the Arabs that the interests of a sect were higher than those of
patriotism: that the petty concerns of the province were more than
nationality. They led them by subtle dissensions to distrust one
another. Even the Arabic language was banished from courts and offices,
from the Government service, and from superior schools. Arabs might
only serve the State by sacrifice of their racial characteristics.
These measures were not accepted quietly. Semitic tenacity showed
itself in the many rebellions of Syria, Mesopotamia and Arabia against
the grosser forms of Turkish penetration; and resistance was also made
to the more insidious attempts at absorption. The Arabs would not give
up their rich and flexible tongue for crude Turkish: instead, they
filled Turkish with Arabic words, and held to the treasures of their
own literature.

They lost their geographical sense, and their racial and political and
historical memories; but they clung the more tightly to their language,
and erected it almost into a fatherland of its own. The first duty of
every Moslem was to study the Koran, the sacred book of Islam, and
incidentally the greatest Arab literary monument. The knowledge that
this religion was his own, and that only he was perfectly qualified to
understand and practise it, gave every Arab a standard by which to
judge the banal achievements of the Turk.

Then came the Turkish revolution, the fall of Abdul Hamid, and the
supremacy of the Young Turks. The horizon momentarily broadened for the
Arabs. The Young-Turk movement was a revolt against the hierarchic
conception of Islam and the pan-Islamic theories of the old Sultan, who
had aspired, by making himself spiritual director of the Moslem world,
to be also (beyond appeal) its director in temporal affairs. These
young politicians rebelled and threw him into prison, under the impulse
of constitutional theories of a sovereign state. So, at a time when
Western Europe was just beginning to climb out of nationality into
internationality, and to rumble with wars far removed from problems of
race, Western Asia began to climb out of Catholicism into nationalist
politics, and to dream of wars for self-government and self-sovereignty,
instead of for faith or dogma. This tendency had broken out first
and most strongly in the Near East, in the little Balkan States,
and had sustained them through an almost unparalleled martyrdom
to their goal of separation from Turkey. Later there had been
nationalist movements in Egypt, in India, in Persia, and finally in
Constantinople, where they were fortified and made pointed by the new
American ideas in education: ideas which, when released in the old high
Oriental atmosphere, made an explosive mixture. The American schools,
teaching by the method of inquiry, encouraged scientific detachment and
free exchange of views. Quite without intention they taught revolution,
since it was impossible for an individual to be modern in Turkey and at
the same time loyal, if he had been born of one of the subject
races--Greeks, Arabs, Kurds, Armenians or Albanians--over whom the
Turks were so long helped to keep dominion.

The Young Turks, in the confidence of their first success, were carried
away by the logic of their principles, and as protest against Pan-Islam
preached Ottoman brotherhood. The gullible subject races--far more
numerous than the Turks themselves--believed that they were called upon
to co-operate in building a new East. Rushing to die task (full of
Herbert Spencer and Alexander Hamilton) they laid down platforms of
sweeping ideas, and hailed the Turks as partners. The Turks, terrified
at the forces they had let loose, drew the fires as suddenly as they
had stoked them. Turkey made Turkish for the Turks--YENI-TURAN--became
the cry. Later on, this policy would turn them towards the rescue of
their irredenti--the Turkish populations subject to Russia in Central
Asia; but, first of all, they must purge their Empire of such
irritating subject races as resisted the ruling stamp. The Arabs, the
largest alien component of Turkey, must first be dealt with.
Accordingly the Arab deputies were scattered, the Arab societies
forbidden, the Arab notables proscribed. Arabic manifestations and the
Arabic language were suppressed by Enver Pasha more sternly than by
Abdul Hamid before him.

However, the Arabs had tasted freedom: they could not change their
ideas as quickly as their conduct; and the staffer spirits among them
were not easily to be put down. They read the Turkish papers, putting
'Arab' for Turk' in the patriotic exhortations. Suppression charged
them with unhealthy violence. Deprived of constitutional outlets they
became revolutionary. The Arab societies went underground, and changed
from liberal clubs into conspiracies. The Akhua, the Arab mother
society, was publicly dissolved. It was replaced in Mesopotamia by the
dangerous Ahad, a very secret brotherhood, limited almost entirely to
Arab officers in the Turkish Army, who swore to acquire the military
knowledge of their masters, and to turn it against them, in the service
of the Arab people, when the moment of rebellion came.

It was a large society, with a sure base in the wild part of Southern
Irak, where Sayid Taleb, the young John Wilkes of the Arab movement,
held the power in his unprincipled fingers. To it belonged seven out of
every ten Mesopotamian-born officers; and their counsel was so well
kept that members of it held high command in Turkey to the last. When
the crash came, and Allenby rode across Armageddon and Turkey fell, one
vice-president of the society was commanding the broken fragments of
the Palestine armies on the retreat, and another was directing the
Turkish forces across-Jordan in the Amman area. Yet later, after the
armistice, great places in the Turkish service were still held by men
ready to turn on their masters at a word from their Arab leaders. To
most of them the word was never given; for those societies were pro-Arab
only, willing to fight for nothing but Arab independence; and they
could see no advantage in supporting the Allies rather than the Turks,
since they did not believe our assurances that we would leave them
free. Indeed, many of them preferred an Arabia united by Turkey in
miserable subjection, to an Arabia divided up and slothful under the
easier control of several European powers in spheres of influence.

Greater than the Ahad was the Fetah, the society of freedom in Syria.
The landowners, the writers, the doctors, the great public servants
linked themselves in this society with a common oath, passwords, signs,
a press and a central treasury, to ruin the Turkish Empire. With the
noisy facility of the Syrian--an ape-like people having much of the
Japanese quickness, but shallow--they speedily built up a formidable
organization. They looked outside for help, and expected freedom to
come by entreaty, not by sacrifice. They corresponded with Egypt, with
the Ahad (whose members, with true Mesopotamian dourness, rather
despised them), with the Sherif of Mecca, and with Great Britain:
everywhere seeking the ally to serve their turn. They also were deadly
secret; and the Government, though it suspected their existence, could
find no credible evidence of their leaders or membership. It had to
hold its hand until it could strike with evidence enough to satisfy the
English and French diplomats who acted as modern public opinion in
Turkey. The war in 1914 withdrew these agents, and left the Turkish
Government free to strike.

Mobilization put all power into the hands of those members--Enver,
Talaat and Jemal--who were at once the most ruthless, the most logical,
and the most ambitious of the Young Turks. They set themselves to stamp
out all non-Turkish currents in the State, especially Arab and Armenian
nationalism. For the first step they found a specious and convenient
weapon in the secret papers of a French Consul in Syria, who left
behind him in his Consulate copies of correspondence (about Arab
freedom) which had passed between him and an Arab club, not connected
with the Fetah but made up of the more talkative and less formidable
INTELLIGENZIA of the Syrian coast. The Turks, of course, were
delighted; for 'colonial' aggression in North Africa had given the
French a black reputation in the Arabic-speaking Moslem world; and it
served Jemal well to show his co-religionists that these Arab
nationalists were infidel enough to prefer France to Turkey.

In Syria, of course, his disclosures had little novelty; but the
members of the society were known and respected, if somewhat academic,
persons; and their arrest and condemnation, and the crop of
deportations, exiles, and executions to which their trial led, moved
the country to its depths, and taught the Arabs of the Fetah that if
they did not profit by their lesson, the fate of the Armenians would be
upon them. The Armenians had been well armed and organized; but their
leaders had failed them. They had been disarmed and destroyed
piecemeal, the men by massacre, the women and children by being driven
and overdriven along the wintry roads into the desert, naked and
hungry, the common prey of any passer-by, until death took them. The
Young Turks had killed the Armenians, not because they were Christians,
but because they were Armenians; and for the same reason they herded
Arab Moslems and Arab Christians into the same prison, and hanged them
together on the same scaffold. Jemal Pasha united all classes,
conditions and creeds in Syria, under pressure of a common misery and
peril, and so made a concerted revolt possible.

The Turks suspected the Arab officers and soldiers in the Army, and
hoped to use against them the scattering tactics which had served
against the Armenians. At first transport difficulties stood in their
way; and there came a dangerous concentration of Arab divisions (nearly
one third of the original Turkish Army was Arabic speaking) in North
Syria early in 1915. They broke these up when possible, marching them
off to Europe, to the Dardanelles, to the Caucasus, or the
Canal--anywhere, so long as they were put quickly into the firing-line,
or withdrawn far from the sight and help of their compatriots. A Holy War
was proclaimed to give the 'Union and Progress' banner something of the
traditional sanctity of the Caliph's battle-order in the eyes of the
old clerical elements; and the Sherif of Mecca was invited--or rather
ordered--to echo the cry.


The position of the Sherif of Mecca had long been anomalous. The title
of 'Sherif implied descent from the prophet Mohammed through his
daughter Fatima, and Hassan, her elder son. Authentic Sherifs were
inscribed on the family tree--an immense roll preserved at Mecca, in
custody of the Emir of Mecca, the elected Sherif of Sherifs, supposed
to be the senior and noblest of all. The prophet's family had held
temporal rule in Mecca for the last nine hundred years, and counted
some two thousand persons.

The old Ottoman Governments regarded this clan of manticratic peers
with a mixture of reverence and distrust. Since they were too strong to
be destroyed, the Sultan salved his dignity by solemnly confirming
their Emir in place. This empty approval acquired dignity by lapse of
time, until the new holder began to feel that it added a final seal to
his election. At last the Turks found that they needed the Hejaz under
their unquestioned sway as part of the stage furniture for their new
pan-Islamic notion. The fortuitous opening of the Suez Canal enabled
them to garrison the Holy Cities. They projected the Hejaz Railway, and
increased Turkish influence among the tribes by money, intrigue, and
armed expeditions.

As the Sultan grew stronger there he ventured to assert himself more
and more alongside the Sherif, even in Mecca itself, and upon occasion
ventured to depose a Sherif too magnificent for his views, and to
appoint a successor from a rival family of the clan in hopes of winning
the usual advantages from dissension. Finally, Abdul Hamid took away
some of the family to Constantinople into honourable captivity. Amongst
these was Hussein ibn Ali, the future ruler, who was held a prisoner
for nearly eighteen years. He took the opportunity to provide his
sons--Ali, Abdulla, Feisal, and Zeid--with the modern education and
experience which afterwards enabled them to lead the Arab armies to

When Abdul Hamid fell, the less wily Young Turks reversed his policy
and sent back Sherif Hussein to Mecca as Emir. He at once set to work
unobtrusively to restore the power of the Emirate, and strengthened
himself on the old basis, keeping the while close and friendly touch
with Constantinople through his sons Abdulla, vice-chairman of the
Turkish House, and Feisal, member for Jidda. They kept him informed of
political opinion in the capital until war broke out, when they
returned in haste to Mecca.

The outbreak of war made trouble in the Hejaz. The pilgrimage ceased,
and with it the revenues and business of the Holy Cities. There was
reason to fear that the Indian food-ships would cease to come (since
the Sherif became technically an enemy subject); and as the province
produced almost no food of its own, it would be precariously dependent
on the goodwill of the Turks, who might starve it by closing the Hejaz
Railway. Hussein had never been entirely at the Turks' mercy before;
and at this unhappy moment they particularly needed his adherence to
their 'Jehad', the Holy War of all Moslems against Christianity.

To become popularly effective this must be endorsed by Mecca; and if
endorsed it might plunge the East in blood. Hussein was honourable,
shrewd, obstinate and deeply pious. He felt that the Holy War was
doctrinally incompatible with an aggressive war, and absurd with a
Christian ally: Germany. So he refused the Turkish demand, and made at
the same time a dignified appeal to the Allies not to starve his
province for what was in no way his people's fault. The Turks in reply
at once instituted a partial blockade of the Hejaz by controlling the
traffic on the pilgrim railway. The British left his coast open to
specially-regulated food vessels.

The Turkish demand was, however, not the only one which the Sherif
received. In January 1915, Yisin, head of the Mesopotamian officers,
Ali Riza, head of the Damascus officers, and Abd el Ghani el Areisi,
for the Syrian civilians, sent down to him a concrete proposal for a
military mutiny in Syria against the Turks. The oppressed people of
Mesopotamia and Syria, the committees of the Ahad and the Fetah, were
calling out to him as the Father of the Arabs, the Moslem of Moslems,
their greatest prince, their oldest notable, to save them from the
sinister designs of Talaat and Jemal.

Hussein, as politician, as prince, as moslem, as modernist, and as
nationalist, was forced to listen to their appeal. He sent Feisal, his
third son, to Damascus, to discuss their projects as his
representative, and to make a report. He sent Ali, his eldest son, to
Medina, with orders to raise quietly, on any excuse he pleased, troops
from villagers and tribesmen of the Hejaz, and to hold them ready for
action if Feisal called. Abdulla, his politic second son, was to sound
the British by letter, to learn what would be their attitude towards a
possible Arab revolt against Turkey.

Feisal reported in January 1915, that local conditions were good, but
that the general war was not going well for their hopes. In Damascus
were three divisions of Arab troops ready for rebellion. In Aleppo two
other divisions, riddled with Arab nationalism, were sure to join in if
the others began. There was only one Turkish division this side of the
Taurus, so that it was certain that the rebels would get possession of
Syria at the first effort. On the other hand, public opinion was less
ready for extreme measures, and the military class quite sure that
Germany would win the war and win it soon. If, however, the Allies
landed their Australian Expedition (preparing in Egypt) at
Alexandretta, and so covered the Syrian flank, then it would be wise
and safe to risk a final German victory and the need to make a previous
separate peace with the Turks.

Delay followed, as the Allies went to the Dardanelles, and not to
Alexandretta. Feisal went after them to get first-hand knowledge of
Gallipoli conditions, since a breakdown of Turkey would be the Arab
signal. Then followed stagnation through the months of the Dardanelles
campaign. In that slaughter-house the remaining Ottoman first-line army
was destroyed. The disaster to Turkey of the accumulated losses was so
great that Feisal came back to Syria, judging it a possible moment in
which to strike, but found that meanwhile the local situation had
become unfavourable.

His Syrian supporters were under arrest or in hiding, and their friends
being hanged in scores on political charges. He found the well-disposed
Arab divisions either exiled to distant fronts, or broken up in drafts
and distributed among Turkish units. The Arab peasantry were in the
grip of Turkish military service, and Syria prostrate before the
merciless Jemal Pasha. His assets had disappeared. He wrote to his
father counselling further delay, till England should be ready and
Turkey in extremities. Unfortunately, England was in a deplorable
condition. Her forces were falling back shattered from the Dardanelles.
The slow-drawn agony of Kut was in its last stage; and the Senussi
rising, coincident with the entry of Bulgaria, threatened her on new

Feisal's position was hazardous in the extreme. He was at the mercy of
the members of the secret society, whose president he had been before
the war. He had to live as the guest of Jemal Pasha, in Damascus,
rubbing up his military knowledge; for his brother Ali was raising the
troops in Hejaz on the pretext that he and Feisal would lead them
against the Suez Canal to help the Turks. So Feisal, as a good Ottoman
and officer in the Turkish service, had to live at headquarters, and
endure acquiescingly the insults and indignities heaped upon his race
by the bully Jemal in his cups.

Jemal would send for Feisal and take him to the hanging of his Syrian
friends. These victims of justice dared not show that they knew
Feisal's real hopes, any more than he dared show his mind by word or
look, since disclosure would have condemned his family and perhaps
their race to the same fate. Only once did he burst out that these
executions would cost Jemal all that he was trying to avoid; and it
took the intercessions of his Constantinople friends, chief men in
Turkey, to save him from the price of these rash words.

Feisal's correspondence with his father was an adventure in itself.
They communicated by means of old retainers of the family, men above
suspicion, who went up and down the Hejaz Railway, carrying letters in
sword-hilts, in cakes, sewn between the soles of sandals, or in
invisible writings on the wrappers of harmless packages. In all of them
Feisal reported unfavourable things, and begged his father to postpone
action till a wiser time.

Hussein, however, was not a whit cast down by Emir Feisal's
discouragements. The Young Turks in his eyes were so many godless
transgressors of their creed and their human duty--traitors to the
spirit of the time, and to the higher interests of Islam. Though an old
man of sixty-five, he was cheerfully determined to wage war against
them, relying upon justice to cover the cost. Hussein trusted so much
in God that he let his military sense lie fallow, and thought Hejaz
able to fight it out with Turkey on a fair field. So he sent Abd el
Kader el Abdu to Feisal with a letter that all was now ready for
inspection by him in Medina before the troops started for the front
Feisal informed Jemal, and asked leave to go down, but, to his dismay,
Jemal replied that Enver Pasha, the Generalissimo, was on his way to
the province, and that they would visit Medina together and inspect
them. Feisal had planned to raise his father's crimson banner as soon
as he arrived in Medina, and so to take the Turks unawares; and here he
was going to be saddled with two uninvited guests to whom, by the Arab
law of hospitality, he could do no harm, and who would probably delay
his action so long that the whole secret of the revolt would be in

In the end matters passed off well, though the irony of the review was
terrible. Enver, Jemal and Feisal watched the troops wheeling and
turning in the dusty plain outside the city gate, rushing up and down
in mimic camel-battle, or spurring their horses in the javelin game
after immemorial Arab fashion. 'And are all these volunteers for the
Holy War?' asked Enver at last, turning to Feisal. 'Yes,' said Feisal.
Willing to fight to the death against the enemies of the faithful?'
Yes,' said Feisal again; and then the Arab chiefs came up to be
presented, and Sherif Ali ibn el Hussein, of Modhig, drew him aside
whispering, 'My Lord, shall we kill them now?' and Feisal said, 'No,
they are our guests.'

The sheikhs protested further; for they believed that so they could
finish off the war in two blows. They were determined to force Feisal's
hand; and he had to go among them, just out of earshot but in full
view, and plead for the lives of the Turkish dictators, who had
murdered his best friends on the scaffold. In the end he had to make
excuses, take the party back quickly to Medina, picket the banqueting
hall with his own slaves, and escort Enver and Jemal back to Damascus
to save them from death on the way. He explained this laboured courtesy
by the plea that it was the Arab manner to devote everything to guests;
but Enver and Jemal being deeply suspicious of what they had seen,
imposed a strict blockade of the Hejaz, and ordered large Turkish
reinforcements thither. They wanted to detain Feisal in Damascus; but
telegrams came from Medina claiming his immediate return to prevent
disorder, and, reluctantly, Jemal let him go on condition that his
suite remained behind as hostages.

Feisal found Medina full of Turkish troops, with the staff and
headquarters of the Twelfth Army Corps under Fakhri Pasha, the
courageous old butcher who had bloodily 'purified' Zeitun and Urfa of
Armenians. Clearly the Turks had taken warning, and Feisal's hope of a
surprise rush, winning success almost without a shot, had become
impossible. However, it was too late for prudence. From Damascus four
days later his suite took horse and rode out east into the desert to
take refuge with Nuri Shaalan, the Beduin chieftain; and the same day
Feisal showed his hand. When he raised the Arab flag, the pan-Islamic
supra-national State, for which Abdul Hamid had massacred and worked
and died, and the German hope of the co-operation of Islam in the
world-plans of the Kaiser, passed into the realm of dreams. By the mere
fact of his rebellion the Sherif had closed these two fantastic
chapters of history.

Rebellion was the gravest step which political men could take, and the
success or failure of the Arab revolt was a gamble too hazardous for
prophecy. Yet, for once, fortune favoured the bold player, and the Arab
epic tossed up its stormy road from birth through weakness, pain and
doubt, to red victory. It was the just end to an adventure which had
dared so much, but after the victory there came a slow time of
disillusion, and then a night in which the fighting men found that all
their hopes had failed them. Now, at last, may there have come to them
the white peace of the end, in the knowledge that they achieved a
deathless thing, a lucent inspiration to the children of their race.


I had been many years going up and down the Semitic East before the
war, learning the manners of the villagers and tribesmen and citizens
of Syria and Mesopotamia. My poverty had constrained me to mix with the
humbler classes, those seldom met by European travellers, and thus my
experiences gave me an unusual angle of view, which enabled me to
understand and think for the ignorant many as well as for the more
enlightened whose rare opinions mattered, not so much for the day, as
for the morrow. In addition, I had seen something of the political
forces working in the minds of the Middle East, and especially had
noted everywhere sure signs of the decay of imperial Turkey.

Turkey was dying of overstrain, of the attempt, with diminished
resources, to hold, on traditional terms, the whole Empire bequeathed
to it. The sword had been the virtue of the children of Othman, and
swords had passed out of fashion nowadays, in favour of deadlier and
more scientific weapons. Life was growing too complicated for this
child-like people, whose strength had lain in simplicity, and patience,
and in their capacity for sacrifice. They were the slowest of the races
of Western Asia, little fitted to adapt themselves to new sciences of
government and life, still less to invent any new arts for themselves.
Their administration had become perforce an affair of files and
telegrams, of high finance, eugenics, calculations. Inevitably the old
governors, who had governed by force of hand or force of character,
illiterate, direct, personal, had to pass away. The rule was
transferred to new men, with agility and suppleness to stoop to
machinery. The shallow and half-polished committee of the Young Turks
were descendants of Greeks, Albanians, Circassians, Bulgars, Armenians,
Jews--anything but Seljuks or Ottomans. The commons ceased to feel in
tune with their governors, whose culture was Levantine, and whose
political theory was French. Turkey was decaying; and only the knife
might keep health in her.

Loving the old ways steadily, the Anatolian remained a beast of burden
in his village and an uncomplaining soldier abroad, while the subject
races of the Empire, who formed nearly seven-tenths of its total
population, grew daily in strength and knowledge; for their lack of
tradition and responsibility, as well as their lighter and quicker
minds, disposed them to accept new ideas. The former natural awe and
supremacy of the Turkish name began to fade in the face of wider
comparison. This changing balance of Turkey and the subject provinces
involved growing garrisons if the old ground was to be retained.
Tripoli, Albania, Thrace, Yemen, Hejaz, Syria, Mesopotamia, Kurdistan,
Armenia, were all outgoing accounts, burdens on the peasants of
Anatolia, yearly devouring a larger draft. The burden fell heaviest on
the poor villages, and each year made these poor villages yet more

The conscripts took their fate unquestioning: resignedly, after the
custom of Turkish peasantry. They were like sheep, neutrals without
vice or virtue. Left alone, they did nothing, or perhaps sat dully on
the ground. Ordered to be kind, and without haste they were as good
friends and as generous enemies as might be found. Ordered to outrage
their fathers or disembowel their mothers, they did it as calmly as
they did nothing, or did well. There was about them a hopeless,
fever-wasted lack of initiative, which made them the most biddable, most
enduring, and least spirited soldiers in the world.

Such men were natural victims of their showy-vicious Levantine
officers, to be driven to death or thrown away by neglect without
reckoning. Indeed, we found them just kept chopping-blocks of their
commanders' viler passions. So cheap did they rate them, that in
connection with them they used none of the ordinary precautions.
Medical examination of some batches of Turkish prisoners found nearly
half of them with unnaturally acquired venereal disease. Pox and its
like were not understood in the country; and the infection ran from one
to another through the battalion, where the conscripts served for six
or seven years, till at the end of their period the survivors, if they
came from decent homes, were ashamed to return, and drifted either into
the gendarmerie service, or, as broken men, into casual labour about
the towns; and so the birth-rate fell. The Turkish peasantry in
Anatolia were dying of their military service.

We could see that a new factor was needed in the East, some power or
race which would outweigh the Turks in numbers, in output, and in
mental activity. No encouragement was given us by history to think that
these qualities could be supplied ready-made from Europe. The efforts
of European Powers to keep a footing in the Asiatic Levant had been
uniformly disastrous, and we disliked no Western people enough to
inveigle them into further attempts. Our successor and solution must be
local; and fortunately the standard of efficiency required was local
also. The competition would be with Turkey; and Turkey was rotten.

Some of us judged that there was latent power enough and to spare in
the Arabic peoples (the greatest component of the old Turkish Empire),
a prolific Semitic agglomeration, great in religious thought,
reasonably industrious, mercantile, politic, yet solvent rather than
dominant in character. They had served a term of five hundred years
under the Turkish harrow, and had begun to dream of liberty; so when at
last England fell out with Turkey, and war was let loose in the East
and West at once, we who believed we held an indication of the future
set out to bend England's efforts towards fostering the new Arabic
world in hither Asia.

We were not many; and nearly all of us rallied round Clayton, the chief
of Intelligence, civil and military, in Egypt. Clayton made the perfect
leader for such a band of wild men as we were. He was calm, detached,
clear-sighted, of unconscious courage in assuming responsibility. He
gave an open run to his subordinates. His own views were general, like
his knowledge; and he worked by influence rather than by loud
direction. It was not easy to descry his influence. He was like water,
or permeating oil, creeping silently and insistently through
everything. It was not possible to say where Clayton was and was not,
and how much really belonged to him. He never visibly led; but his
ideas were abreast of those who did: he impressed men by his sobriety,
and by a certain quiet and stately moderation of hope. In practical
matters he was loose, irregular, untidy, a man with whom independent
men could bear.

The first of us was Ronald Storrs, Oriental Secretary of the Residency,
the most brilliant Englishman in the Near East, and subtly efficient,
despite his diversion of energy in love of music and letters, of
sculpture, painting, of whatever was beautiful in the world's fruit.
None the less, Storrs sowed what we reaped, and was always first, and
the great man among us. His shadow would have covered our work and
British policy in the East like a cloak, had he been able to deny
himself the world, and to prepare his mind and body with the sternness
of an athlete for a great fight.

George Lloyd entered our number. He gave us confidence, and with his
knowledge of money, proved a sure guide through the subways of trade
and politics, and a prophet upon the future arteries of the Middle
East. We would not have done so much so soon without his partnership;
but he was a restless soul, avid rather to taste than to exhaust. To
him many things were needful; and so he would not stay very long with
us. He did not see how much we liked him.

Then there was the imaginative advocate of unconvincing world-movements,
Mark Sykes: also a bundle of prejudices, intuitions, half-sciences.
His ideas were of the outside; and he lacked patience to test
his materials before choosing his style of building. He would take an
aspect of the truth, detach it from its circumstances, inflate it,
twist and model it, until its old likeness and its new unlikeness
together drew a laugh; and laughs were his triumphs. His instincts lay
in parody: by choice he was A caricaturist rather than an artist, even
in statesmanship. He saw the odd in everything, and missed the even. He
would sketch out in a few dashes a new world, ALL out of scale, but
vivid as a vision of some sides of the thing we hoped. His help did us
good and harm. For this his last week in Paris tried to atone. He had
returned from A period of political duty in Syria, after his awful
realization of the true shape of his dreams, to say gallantly, I was
wrong: here is the truth'. His former friends would not see his new
earnestness, and thought him fickle and in error; and very soon he
died. It was a tragedy of tragedies, for the Arab sake.

Not a wild man, but MENTOR to all of us was Hogarth, our father
confessor and adviser, who brought us the parallels and lessons of
history, and moderation, and courage. To the outsiders he was
peacemaker (I was all claws and teeth, and had a devil), and made us
favoured and listened to, for his weighty judgement. He had a delicate
sense of value, and would present clearly to us the forces hidden
behind the lousy rags and festering skins which we knew as Arabs.
Hogarth was our referee, and our untiring historian, who gave us his
great knowledge and careful wisdom even in the smallest things, because
he believed in what we were making. Behind him stood Cornwallis, a man
rude to look upon, but apparently forged from one of those incredible
metals with a melting-point of thousands of degrees. So he could remain
for months hotter than other men's white-heat, and yet look cold and
hard. Behind him again were others, Newcombe, Parker, Herbert, Graves,
all of the creed, and labouring stoutly after their fashion.

We called ourselves 'Intrusive' as a band; for we meant to break into
the accepted halls of English foreign policy, and build a new people in
the East, despite the rails laid down for us by our ancestors.
Therefore from our hybrid intelligence office in Cairo (a jangling
place which for its incessant bells and bustle and running to and fro,
was likened by Aubrey Herbert to an oriental railway station) we began
to work upon all chiefs, far and near. Sir Henry McMahon, High
Commissioner in Egypt, was, of course, our first effort; and his shrewd
insight and tried, experienced mind understood our design at once and
judged it good. Others, like Wemyss, Neil Malcolm, Wingate, supported
us in their pleasure at seeing the war turned constructive. Their
advocacy confirmed in Lord Kitchener the favourable impression he had
derived years before when Sherif Abdulla appealed to him in Egypt; and
so McMahon at last achieved our foundation stone, the understanding
with the Sherif of Mecca.

But before this we had had hopes of Mesopotamia. The beginning of the
Arab Independence Movement had been there, under the vigorous but
unscrupulous impulse of Seyid Taleb, and later of Yasin el Hashimi and
the military league. Aziz el Masri, Enver's rival, who was living, much
indebted to us, in Egypt, was an idol of the Arab officers. He was
approached by Lord Kitchener in the first days of the war, with the
hope of winning the Turkish Mesopotamian forces to our side.
Unfortunately Britain was bursting then with confidence in an easy and
early victory: the smashing of Turkey was called a promenade. So the
Indian Government was adverse to any pledges to the Arab nationalists
which might limit their ambitions to make the intended Mesopotamian
colony play the self-sacrificing role of a Burma for the general good.
It broke off negotiations, rejected Aziz, and interned Sayid Taleb, who
had placed himself in our hands.

By brute force it marched then into Basra. The enemy troops in Irak
were nearly all Arabs in the unenviable predicament of having to fight
on behalf of their secular oppressors against a people long envisaged
as liberators, but who obstinately refused to play the part. As may be
imagined, they fought very badly. Our forces won battle after battle
till we came to think an Indian army better than a Turkish army. There
followed our rash advance to Ctesiphon, where we met native Turkish
troops whose full heart was in the game, and were abruptly checked. We
fell back, dazed; and the long misery of Kut began.

Meanwhile, our Government had repented, and, for reasons not
unconnected with the fall of Erzerum, sent me to Mesopotamia to see
what could be done by indirect means to relieve the beleaguered
garrison. The local British had the strongest objection to my coming;
and two Generals of them were good enough to explain to me that my
mission (which they did not really know) was dishonourable to a soldier
(which I was not). As a matter of fact it was too late for action, with
Kut just dying; and in consequence I did nothing of what it was in my
mind and power to do.

The conditions were ideal for an Arab movement. The people of Nejef and
Kerbela, far in the rear of Halil Pasha's army, were in revolt against
him. The surviving Arabs in Hali's army were, on his own confession,
openly disloyal to Turkey. The tribes of the Hai and Euphrates would
have turned our way had they seen signs of grace in the British. Had we
published the promises made to the Sherif, or even the proclamation
afterwards posted in captured Bagdad, and followed it up, enough local
fighting men would have joined us to harry the Turkish line of
communication between Bagdad and Kut. A few weeks of that, and the
enemy would either have been forced to raise the siege and retire, or
have themselves suffered investment, outside Kut, nearly as stringent
as the investment of Townshend within it. Time to develop such a scheme
could easily have been gained. Had the British headquarters in
Mesopotamia obtained from the War Office eight more aeroplanes to
increase the daily carriage of food to the garrison of Kut, Townshend's
resistance might have been indefinitely prolonged. His defence was
Turkishly impregnable; and only blunders within and without forced
surrender upon him.

However, as this was not the way of the directing parties there, I
returned at once to Egypt; and till the end of the war the British in
Mesopotamia remained substantially an alien force invading enemy
territory, with the local people passively neutral or sullenly against
them, and in consequence had not the freedom of movement and elasticity
of Allenby in Syria, who entered the country as a friend, with the
local people actively on his side. The factors of numbers, climate and
communications favoured us in Mesopotamia more than in Syria; and our
higher command was, after the beginning, no less efficient and
experienced. But their casualty lists compared with Allenby's, their
wood-chopping tactics compared with his rapier-play, showed how
formidably an adverse political situation was able to cramp a purely
military operation.


Our check in Mesopotamia was a disappointment to us; but McMahon
continued his negotiations with Mecca, and finally brought them to
success despite the evacuation of Gallipoli, the surrender of Kut, and
the generally unfortunate aspect of the war at the moment. Few people,
even of those who knew all the negotiations, had really believed that
the Sherif would fight; consequently his eventual rebellion and opening
of his coast to our ships and help took us and them by surprise.

We found our difficulties then only beginning. The credit of the new
factor was to McMahon and Clayton: professional jealousies immediately
raised their heads. Sir Archibald Murray, the General in Egypt, wanted,
naturally enough, no competitors and no competing campaigns in his
sphere. He disliked the civil power, which had so long kept the peace
between himself and General Maxwell. He could not be entrusted with the
Arabian affair; for neither he nor his staff had the ethnological
competence needed to deal with so curious a problem. On the other hand,
he could make the spectacle of the High Commission running a private
war sufficiently ridiculous. His was a very nervous mind, fanciful and
essentially competitive.

He found help in his Chief of Staff, General Lynden Bell, a red
soldier, with an instinctive shuddering away from politicians, and a
conscientiously assumed heartiness.

Two of the General Staff officers followed their leaders full cry; and
so the unfortunate McMahon found himself deprived of Army help and
reduced to waging his war in Arabia with the assistance of his Foreign
Office Attache's.

Some appeared to resent a war which allowed outsiders to thrust into
their business. Also their training in suppression, by which alone the
daily trivialities of diplomacy were made to look like man's work, had
so sunk into them that when the more important thing arrived, they made
it trivial. Their feebleness of tone, and niggling dishonesties to one
another, angered the military to disgust; and were bad for us, too,
since they patently let down the High Commissioner, whose boots the
G--s were not good enough to clean.

Wingate, who had complete confidence in his own grasp of the situation
in the Middle East, foresaw credit and great profit for the country in
the Arab development; but as criticism slowly beat up against McMahon
he dissociated himself from him, and London began to hint that better
use might be made by an experienced hand of so subtle and involved a

However it was, things in the Hejaz went from bad to worse. No proper
liaison was provided for the Arab forces in the field, no military
information was given the Sherifs, no tactical advice or strategy was
suggested, no attempt made to find out the local conditions and adapt
existing Allied resources in material to suit their needs. The French
Military Mission (which Clayton's prudence had suggested be sent to
Hejaz to soothe our very suspicious allies by taking them behind the
scenes and giving them a purpose there), was permitted to carry on an
elaborate intrigue against Sherif Hussein in his towns of Jidda and
Mecca, and to propose to him and to the British authorities measures
that must have ruined his cause in the eyes of all Moslems. Wingate,
now in military control of our cooperation with the Sherif, was induced
to land some foreign troops at Rabegh, half-way between Medina and
Mecca, for the defence of Mecca and to hold up the further advance of
the reinvigorated Turks from Medina. McMahon, in the multitude of
counsellors, became confused, and gave a handle to Murray to cry out
against his inconsistencies. The Arab Revolt became discredited; and
Staff Officers in Egypt gleefully prophesied to us its near failure and
the stretching of Sherif Hussein's neck on a Turkish scaffold.

My private position was not easy. As Staff Captain under Clayton in Sir
Archibald Murray's Intelligence Section, I was charged with the
'distribution' of the Turkish Army and the preparation of maps. By
natural inclination I had added to them the invention of the Arab
Bulletin, a secret weekly record of Middle-Eastern politics; and of
necessity Clayton came more and more to need me in the military wing of
the Arab Bureau, the tiny intelligence and war staff for foreign
affairs, which he was now organizing for McMahon. Eventually Clayton
was driven out of the General Staff; and Colonel Holdich, Murray's
intelligence officer at Ismailia, took his place in command of us. His
first intention was to retain my services; and, since he clearly did
not need me, I interpreted this, not without some friendly evidence, as
a method of keeping me away from the Arab affair. I decided that I must
escape at once, if ever. A straight request was refused; so I took to
stratagems. I became, on the telephone (G.H.Q. were at Ismailia, and I
in Cairo) quite intolerable to the Staff on the Canal. I took every
opportunity to rub into them their comparative ignorance and
inefficiency in the department of intelligence (not difficult!) and
irritated them yet further by literary airs, correcting Shavian split
infinitives and tautologies in their reports.

In a few days they were bubbling over on my account, and at last
determined to endure me no longer. I took this strategic opportunity to
ask for ten days' leave, saying that Storrs was going down to Jidda on
business with the Grand Sherif, and that I would like a holiday and
joyride in the Red Sea with him. They did not love Storrs, and were
glad to get rid of me for the moment. So they agreed at once, and began
to prepare against my return some official shelf for me. Needless to
say, I had no intention of giving them such a chance; for, while very
ready to hire my body out on petty service, I hesitated to throw my
mind frivolously away. So I went to Clayton and confessed my affairs;
and he arranged for the Residency to make telegraphic application to
the Foreign Office for my transfer to the Arab Bureau. The Foreign
Office would treat directly with the War Office; and the Egypt command
would not hear of it, till all was ended.

Storrs and I then marched off together, happily. In the East they swore
that by three sides was the decent way across a square; and my trick to
escape was in this sense oriental. But I justified myself by my
confidence in the final success of the Arab Revolt if properly advised.
I had been a mover in its beginning; my hopes lay in it. The fatalistic
subordination of a professional soldier (intrigue being unknown in the
British army) would have made a proper officer sit down and watch his
plan of campaign wrecked by men who thought nothing of it, and to whose
spirit it made no appeal. NON NOBIS, DOMINE.

that a British
brigade, if possible of Moslem troops, be kept at Suez, with transport
to rush it to Rabegh as soon as the Turks debouched from Medina in
their attack. What did we think of the proposal?

I replied; first, historically, that Sherif Hussein had asked us not to
cut the Hejaz line, since he would need it for his victorious advance
into Syria; second, practically, that the dynamite we sent down for
demolitions had been returned by him with a note that it was too
dangerous for Arab use; 
third, specifically, that we had had no demands
for equipment from Feisal.

With regard to the brigade for Rabegh, it was a complicated question.
Shipping was precious; and we could not hold empty transports
indefinitely at Suez. We had no Moslem units in our Army. A British
brigade was a cumbersome affair, and would take long to embark and
disembark. The Rabegh position was large. A brigade would hardly hold
it and would be quite unable to detach a force to prevent a Turkish
column slipping past it inland. The most they could do would be to
defend the beach, under a ship's guns and the ship could do that as
well without the troops.

1 comentari:

  1. It seemed to me that these six thousand men were all that remained of the Fourth Army, from Deraa, and of the Seventh Army, which had been disputing Barrow's advance. With their destruction would end our purpose here. Yet, till we knew, we must retain Sheikh Saad. So the larger column, the four thousand, we would let pass, only fastening to them Khalid and his Rualla, with some northern peasantry, to harry their flanks and rear.3 de maig de 2015 a les 18:01

    The Arabs told us that the Turkish column--Jemal Pasha's lancer
    regiment--was already entering Tafas. When we got within sight, we found
    they had taken the village (from which sounded an occasional shot) and
    were halted about it. Small pyres of smoke were going up from between
    the houses. On the rising ground to this side, knee-deep in the
    thistles, stood a remnant of old men, women and children, telling
    terrible stories of what had happened when the Turks rushed in an hour

    We lay on watch, and saw the enemy force march away from their
    assembly-ground behind the houses. They headed in good order towards
    Miskin, the lancers in front and rear, composite formations of infantry
    disposed in column with machine-gun support as flank guards, guns and a
    mass of transport in the centre. We opened fire on the head of their
    line when it showed itself beyond the houses. They turned two field-guns
    upon us, for reply. The shrapnel was as usual over-fused, and passed
    safely above our heads.

    Nuri came with Pisani. Before their ranks rode Auda abu Tayi,
    expectant, and Tallal, nearly frantic with the tales his people poured
    out of the sufferings of the village. The last Turks were now quitting
    it. We slipped down behind them to end Tallal's suspense, while our
    infantry took position and fired strongly with the Hotchkiss; Pisani
    advanced his half battery among them; so that the French high explosive
    threw the rearguard into confusion.

    The village lay stilly under its slow wreaths of white smoke, as we
    rode near, on our guard. Some grey heaps seemed to hide in the long
    grass, embracing the ground in the close way of corpses. We looked away
    from these, knowing they were dead; but from one a little figure
    tottered off, as if to escape us. It was a child, three or four years
    old, whose dirty smock was stained red over one shoulder and side, with
    blood from a large half-fibrous wound, perhaps a lance thrust, just
    where neck and body joined.

    The child ran a few steps, then stood and cried to us in a tone of
    astonishing strength (all else being very silent), 'Don't hit me,
    Baba'. Abd el Aziz, choking out something--this was his village, and she
    might be of his family--flung himself off his camel, and stumbled,
    kneeling, in the grass beside the child