Gordon, Charles George by Faye Huntington
Gordon, Grant, Greeley, Garfield, Gladstone—such
an array of names as sound
in my ears when I think of this alphabetical list
of great men! We have come to a letter that is
prolific in subjects, and it is hard to choose. I
would like to have you study the characters of
the great men whose names I have written
down above and there are others—great men
whose initial letter is "G"—Gough, Garrison,
Garibaldi—indeed there seems to be no end to
the list! At present we will speak of only one.
I have headed the list with the name of Gordon,
not intentionally, but it seemed to come first.
Was that because he is greatest? Perhaps not.
My boys, there are noble men in this list, some
of them your own countrymen, who have done
much for humanity.
General Charles George Gordon was an Englishman,
but his fame has gone into all the
earth; his example, his Christian faith and
courage, is ours to emulate. He belonged to a
military family and was educated for the army,
entered his country's service at twenty-one, and
distinguished himself in the Crimean War.
Afterwards he was attached to an expedition of
the French and English into China at a time
when there was a rebellion in progress, and
upon application of the Chinese government to
the English for an officer to lead their forces in
suppressing this rebellion, Lieutenant Gordon
was appointed to the command, and it was at
that time that he began to be called "Chinese
Gordon," a name by which he has been widely
known. He was successful in suppressing the
revolt which is known as the Tai-ping Rebellion.
The Chinese government were loud in their expressions
of esteem and gratitude and would
have rewarded him right royally, if he would
have accepted the reward of money; as it was,
they gave him "a yellow riding-jacket to be worn
on his person, and a peacock's feather to be carried
in his cap; also four suits of uniform proper
to his rank in token of their favor and desire to
do him honor."
As he refused their money, the leading officials
called upon the British ambassador and desired
to know what would please the man who had
done so much for them and would not be rewarded.
They were puzzled over the conduct of
a man who seemed to be prompted by a motive
other than military glory or pecuniary reward.
There has been printed a letter written to his
mother about this time which shows a strong regard
for his parents' feelings and wishes and a
desire to put down the rebellion for the good of
humanity. It was several years later that he was
appointed English governor of the Soudan.
He was offered a large salary, but would accept
only a moderate sum. This position gave him
an opportunity of fighting the slave trade. He
sailed up the Nile to Khartoum, and from that
city he went still farther into the interior of
Africa, into the midst of a people so degraded
and wretched that he wrote "what a mystery,
is it not, why they were created! A life of fear
and misery night and day!" And it was his
happiness to minister to the needs of these
It is said that he gave away more than half of
his small salary to soften the lot of the poor
creatures, and he was so kind and gentle with
them and so considerate of their needs, that unused
as they were to a governor who treated them
with kindness, they became devoted to him,
proving over again that kindness will win even
a savage heart.
During the few years he remained governor
of the Soudan he was earnest in his fight
against the slave dealers and accomplished
much, but because the Khedive from whom he
received his appointment did not support his
measures, he finally resigned and returned to
England. It was a sad day for the Soudan
when he left; I have not time to tell you how
affairs in that far-off country grew worse and
worse, until in January, 1884, General Gordon
was sent the second time to command the Soudan.
It is said his coming was welcomed by
the people who remembered his former kindness
and that they "fell on their knees before
him and kissed his hand as he passed along the
streets." Many of you have read how the brave
General was at length driven into Khartoum
and forced to cut off from communication with
the outside world. And finally relief being
delayed the city was taken by the rebels and
General Gordon killed. Thus in following the
path of duty he went straight to his death. He
fell in the city which he had sought to defend.
He died at his post.
Boys, the life and death of this man may
teach valuable lessons. There is always an
attraction in stories of the exploits of a brave
soldier, but when you can write after that word
brave the other and best adjective of all,
Christian, we seem to have passed the highest
eulogy. General Gordon was eminently religious.
It is said of him that he read scarcely
anything but the Bible; and that "he was
simply a Christian with his whole heart, and his
religion went into the minutest details of his
Once when waiting in loneliness and weariness
on the Upper Nile, for steamers which
were delayed, he wrote: "I ask God not to
have anything of this world come between him
and me; and not to let me fear death, or feel
regret if it comes before I complete my programme.
Thank God, he gives me the most
comforting assurance that nothing shall disturb
me or come between him and me."
Whatever may be our political opinions, whatever
we may think of the work he was set to
do, and in doing which he lost his life, we are
sure of one thing, this man's devotion to duty
was supreme and absolute. And death found
him not shirking or hiding from duty and from
danger, as ever fearless and bold, walking in the
line of what he considered his duty. A chivalrous
Christian soldier has ended his warfare, leaving
behind a fragrant memory, a shining example
of Christian faith. He believed in his
Leader, and followed with implicit trust, seeking
not for glory, yet his heroic death has covered
his name with glory.