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The life of Major-General Sir Charles William Wilson, Royal Engineers Watson, Charles Moore, Sir, 1844-1916 1909

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K.CB.,  K.C.M.G.,  F.R.S.,  D.C.L.,  LL.D.,  M.E.
K.C.B.,  K.CM.G., F.R.S., D.C.L., LL.D., M.E.
A-u, *f ua^ ** fLm& l^tM^^J^
1909 /s~
FSo¥<f. If
The materials from which this memoir of the late
Sir Charles Wilson has been compiled, consist
principally of his own diaries and note-books,
which he always kept in a very thorough manner;
of his official reports, printed in Parliamentary
Papers, and of other published writings; and,
more especially, of his letters to his wife, in which,
when away from home, he recorded everything
that he did and saw during his travels.
Lady Wilson placed the whole of these letters
at my disposal, and I have given a considerable
number of extracts from them, as they afford a
fuller insight into his actions and his thoughts
than any one else could give, and it seemed
advisable, as far as possible, to let him speak
for himself.
Sir C. Wilson's career was a remarkably
varied and interesting one. He was fortunate in
having been selected, at an early age, to serve
on the North American Boundary Commission,
as the excellent work which he did in connection
with it brought him under the notice of the
Foreign Office, and led to further employment
later. Yi PREFACE
For many years he served upon the Ordnance
Survey, and was probably the only man who has
had charge of the work of that Department in
Scotland, Ireland, and afterwards in the United
In the War Office he was employed twice,
first in the Intelligence Branch, the foundation of
which owed much to his exertions, and, secondly,
as Director-General of Military Education.
One of the most important periods of his life
was the time during which he worked under the
Foreign Office; first, as British representative
on the Servian Boundary Commission; then as
Military Consul-General in Anatolia, and as Commissioner in Eastern Rumelia; and lastly under
Lord Dufferin in Egypt, where he was selected to
fill a very important position in connection with
the trial of Arabi Pasha and the other leaders
of that military revolt, which led to the British
occupation of the country.
When serving under Lord Dufferin in Egypt,
Wilson was brought into close connection with
the Sudan question, and the mission of General
Gordon, and did his best, though unfortunately
in vain, to induce the British Government to take
a serious view of the situation. With his intimate
knowledge of the subject it was heart-breaking to
realise the coming evils, and yet to be unable to
do anything to avert them.
•*v_ PREFACE vii
In the Nile expedition of 1884, he held the
important position of Chief of the Intelligence
Department. In consequence of the unjustifiable
attempt which was made at the time to lead the
public to believe that he was responsible for the
failure to relieve Khartum before it was captured
by the Mahdi, it has been necessary to enter at
some length into the real causes which led to the
non-success of the expedition, which may be
summarised as follows:—
1. The refusal to allow General Sir G. Graham
to open the Suakin-Berber road in March 1884.
2. The delay in authorising an expedition for
the relief of Khartum.
3. The loss of time due to the decision to wait
for boats to be built in England.
4. The policy adopted with regard to the
Mudir of Dongola.
5. The neglect to provide sufficient camels for
the desert march.
6. The halt of the desert column at Jakdul.
These causes, which led to a delay of more
than nine months, are fully dealt with in the
following pages.
Sir Charles Wilson had many interests in life
outside his military and political duties, and
probably did more than any other man to increase
the knowledge of the geography and archaeology wmm
of Asia Minor, Palestine, and the adjacent
countries. The happy inspiration that led him
in 1864 to ask to be employed on the Ordnance
Survey of Jerusalem led to the scientific exploration of Palestine, and all the work that has since
been carried out in that direction is in great part
due to his exertions.
My personal acquaintance with Wilson lasted
for many years. It commenced in 1874, when, as
a young subaltern, I was going out to join General
Gordon in the Sudan for survey work, and when
he assisted me most kindly with his advice. From
that time he was always a true friend, and we kept
up a fairly continuous correspondence, especially
with respect to Egypt and the Sudan. I served
with him for fifteen years on the Committee of the
Palestine Exploration Fund.
I have to thank Mr G. Macmillan for kindly
giving me the details of Wilson's connection with
the Asia Minor Exploration Fund, a society in
which he took a special interest.
The views in Jerusalem and Sinai are taken
from photographs made by the Ordnance Survey
party under Wilson's command; and the views
in Asia Minor are from photographs which Mr
D. G. Hogarth was good enough to lend me for
the purpose.
London, April 1909. CONTENTS
Birth and Parentage—Thomas Wilson of Philadelphia—Hean
Castle—School at St David's—Liverpool School—Cheltenham College—Bonn University—Appointed to the Royal
Engineers—Chatham—Shorncliffe Camp—Gosport .
i boundary between Canada and  the United States
Appointed Secretary to the British Commission of 1858
Boundary Commissior
journey—Return to E
raser J
!  ColU!
iver—The work of the
ibia River—A winter
The Survey of Jerusalem—Wilson appointed to carry out the
work—Plan of operations—Church of the Holy Sepulchre
—Visit of His Royal Highness Prince Arthur—Levelling
from the Jordan to the Mediterranean—Foundation of the
Palestine Exploration Fund—The preliminary survey of
the Holy Land	
Appointed to the Ordnance Survey of Scotland—Marriage—
The Borough Boundary Commission—The Survey of
Mount Sinai—Jebel Musa and Jebel Serbal—Conclusions
arrived at—Appointed Executive Officer of the Topographical Department 61-73 x CONTENTS
History of the Topographical Department—Separation from
the Ordnance Survey—Origin of the Intelligence Department—Wilson's work at the War Office—Appointed to the
Ordnance Survey, Ireland—Elected Fellow of the Royal
Society—Sir C. Warren's explorations in Jerusalem—The
Survey of Palestine 74
The Treaty of Berlin—Appointed British Commissioner for
the Servian Boundary—Belgrade—Nisch—Vranja—The
delimitation of the Boundary—Visit to Albania—Promoted Brevet Lieutenant-Colonel for work in Servia       .    94-1
The Reforms in Asia Minor—The Military Consuls—Appointed
Consul-General of Anatolia—Constantinople—First tour
of inspection — Brusa — Kutaya—Konia—Kaisariyeh—
Sivas—Report on the Reforms 103-]
Visit to the Circassians in Uzun Yaila—Description of the
people—Azizieh—The Avshars—A Circassian home—
Gurun—Reception by Kangal Agha—Visit to Tokat and
Amasia—Arrival of Abeddin Pasha—Winter journey to
Samsun    123-1
Journey to Constantinople by Angora and Ismid—Report on
the state of the country—Tour in southern Asia Minor
with his wife—The seven churches—Report on southern
Asia Minor — Administration of Justice — The Refugee
Question ♦       .       .  156-1 CONTENTS
rival of Mr Goschen—Reception by the Sultan—Commission
of Enquiry in Eastern Rumelia—'-Wilson's instructions—
Philippopoli—Macedonia—Bourgas—Report on the state
of the country—The Dardanelles—Pergamos—Discoveries
by Dr Karl Humann	
Smyrna—Boar-hunting at Aidin—Journey to Aleppo—The
Phrygian monuments—Created K.CM.G.—Arrival of
Lord Dufferin—Inspection of the British Consulates—
Tour in Palestine with Lady Wilson—Visit of the Royal
Princes—Tour with Professor W. M. Ramsay—Ordered
to Egypt 187-202
Arrival in Egypt—Alexandria—Appointed Commissioner with
the Turks—The occupation of Cairo—Release of Egyptian
prisoners—The trial of Arabi Pasha—Wilson appointed
British Representative at the Court Martial—Arabi exiled
to Ceylon — The political prisoners — Lord Dufferin's
Resume' of events in the Sudan—General Gordon—The Mahdi
revolt—Lieutenant-Colonel Stewart's mission — Wilson
proposed as Governor-General of the Sudan—The defeat
of Hicks Pasha — Wilson's notes on the Sudan — The
abandonment of the Sudan—General Gordon's mission—
The Suakin expedition 234-264 CONTENTS
Proposals for an expedition to Khartum—The vote of credit
—General Gordon's steamers—The whale boats ordered
—Wilson appointed Chief of the Intelligence Department
—His arrival at Dongola—The Mudir of Dongola—The
loss of the Abbas and murder of Colonel Stewart—Lord
Wolseley's plans of campaign   ......  265-293
The desert column—Wilson's instructions—The battle of Abu
Klea—Sir Herbert Stewart wounded—Wilson takes command of the column—The battle of Abu Kru—The Nile
reached at last—Gordon's steamers—Wilson's journey to
Khartum—The fall of Khartum and death of Gordon—
Wreck of the steamers—Return to Gubat—Wilson receives
the thanks of the Government 29
Plans of campaign after the fall of Khartum—Wilson's report
on the steamer journey—Return to Dongola — Unjust
attack on Wilson — The abandonment of the Sudan
ordered—The evacuation of Dongola—The end of the
Nile expedition — Wilson created K.C.B. for his services
in the Sudan    ..........
Wilson congratulated by Lord Hartington and the Duke of
Cambridge—His reception by the Queen—The Home Rule
question—Given degree of LL.D.—Appointed Director- CONTENTS xiii
General of the Ordnance Survey—The Queen's Jubilee
—The Gordon Boys' Brigade—Promoted Major-General—
Appointed Director - General of Military Education —
Retirement from the Army 356-368
Work of the Palestine Exploration Fund — The Palestine
Pilgrims' Text Society — The Asia Minor Exploration
Fund—Visit to Constantinople and Palestine—Tour in
Edom and Moab — Kerak — Petra — Tour in northern
Palestine—Visit to Corinth—Inspection of the excavations at Gezer—Death at Tunbridge Wells       . . 369-397
Chronological Memoranda .
Publications, Addresses, Etc.
. a Sketch by the laU
Portrait of Sir Charles W. Wilson.   From, a Photograph by Lafayette, Dublin      ......
Lieutenant Wilson, R.E., Secretary of the North
American Boundary Commission Tt
North American Boundary—Cutting the Boundary
Line through the Forest      .....
The Rocky Mountains—view from Summit Cairn
From a Sketch by Lieutenant Wilson, R.E.
Jerusalem—Wilson's Arch.
W. Simpson, Esq.    ....
Jerusalem—the "Ecce Homo" Arch
The Sinai Survey Party, 1868
Mount Sinai—the  Plain of Er Rahah  from Ras
Sufsafeh      ....
The path to Jebel Musa—the Gateway where
Pilgrims used to be confessed
Jebel Musa and Jebel Serbal.   The Problem of
Mount Sinai
Sivas—A gate in the walls	
tokat—view looking towards the castle
amasia—view on the rlver iris ....
Tarsus—The Ancient Bridge over the Cydnus
adalia—view on the harbour ....
Kerak. From a Photograph by C. A. Eornstein, Esq.
MOUNT Hor.   From a Photograph by C. A. ffornstein, Esq,
o face j
tiSf; •
Map to illustrate the work of the North American
Boundary Commission	
Palestine and the Peninsula of Sinai
The Balkan States	
The Nile from Dongola to Khartum ....
334 9 THE  LIFE
Birth and Parentage—Thomas Wilson of Philadelphia—Hean Castle—
School at St David's—Liverpool School—Cheltenham College—
Bonn University—Appointed to the Royal Engineers—Chatham
—Shorncliffe Camp—Gosport,
Charles William Wilson, the second son of
Edward Wilson, Esq., of Hean Castle, Pembrokeshire, was born at 8 Wesley Street, Princes Park,
Liverpool, on March 14th, 1836. The family of
Wilson, from which he descended, lived for many
generations in West Yorkshire, on the borders of
Lancashire, and had acquired considerable interests
in the colony of Virginia, in British North
America, prior to the war of independence.
Edward Wilson, the grandfather of Sir Charles,
went to the United States towards the end of
the eighteenth century, and succeeded in recovering the family property, which had been lost
during the troublous times of the rebellion.
He married Elizabeth Beilerby, and, on his
return to England, settled in Liverpool, where
he died in  1843.    He  was   much interested in % EARLY LIFE 1836
railway enterprise in its early days, and was
a friend of George Stephenson, the celebrated
Edward Wilson had five sons, of whom Edward,
the father of Sir Charles Wilson, was the second,
and Thomas Bellerby, the godfather of Sir Charles,
was the third. This Thomas Wilson was a very
remarkable man, who devoted his life to the interests of science, and used the whole of the considerable fortune which he inherited, in travelling
and making collections illustrative of geology,
ornithology and entomology, more especially in
the United States. During many years he was
the mainstay of the Academy of Natural Sciences
in Philadelphia, and founded the Entomological
Society in the same city. To the former he
presented his ornithological collection of about
28,000 specimens, and a library of 11,000 volumes,
besides giving £5,000 towards the extension of
the Academy buildings; while to the Entomological Society he gave the whole of his magnificent collection of insects, and a large number of
valuable books dealing with the subject.
In character he appears much to have resembled
his distinguished nephew and god-son. Full of
knowledge on many subjects, but shy and retiring
to a remarkable degree, he dreaded any allusion
to his great work, and when he heard that the
Academy of Science proposed to pass resolutions,
thanking him for his princely donations, he went
to one of the principal members of the committee
and informed him that unless they stopped such
proceedings, he would be obliged to  discontinue 1838 HEAN CASTLE 8
his donations to the Academy. Thomas Wilson
died in 1865, at the early age of fifty - eight,
universally regretted by all who knew him.
His brother Edward was also fond of natural
science, and assisted greatly in making the collections, which were given to the scientific institutions of Philadelphia, and he was the better able
to do this with regard to European specimens,
as he lived altogether in England. He married
Frances, daughter of Thomas Stokes, Esq., of
Hean Castle. In 1838 they took up their
residence at Lydstep House, which stands at the
head of a little bay on the Pembrokeshire coast,
not far from Giltar Point with its fine rock
scenery. His son Charles was then two years
old, and his earliest recollections were connected
with this seaside home, which always remained
dear to him in after life. A few years later
Mr Edward Wilson purchased the Hean Castle
property from his wife's brother, and the family
moved to this residence, which is beautifully
situated on Caermarthen Bay, a few miles from
the town of Tenby.
At the early age of seven Charles Wilson's
acquaintance with the outside world commenced,
as his father sent him to St David's School, which
was then in charge of a Mr Davis, a schoolmaster
of the old type, who believed in bodily discipline
as an essential part of childhood's training, and
began the morning lessons by striking all the
pupils on their hands with his cane, not for any
offence committed, but as a general means of
inculcating  obedience.    Actual faults met with 4 EARLY LIFE 1846
more severe punishment. For instance, a boy
coming into school with wet boots, was made
to take off boots and stockings, and was caned
on the soles of his feet, so as to indicate in a
practical way that the offence should not be
repeated. Another mode of punishment was
to lock a boy up in solitary confinement in a
large and ghostly room adjoining the cathedral.
Here, on one occasion, poor little Charles was
imprisoned, and forgotten until late at night!
But the records say that he took it calmly and
in the same tranquil spirit with which he met
the more serious trials of after life. It must, however, have been a pleasant change for him when
he was removed from St David's in the following
year, and was sent to the Collegiate Institute,
Liverpool, which has since developed into Liverpool College.
At Liverpool Charles spent seven years under
the Rev. J. Conybeare, then headmaster, and the
Rev. J. Howson, afterwards Dean of Chester,
the master under whose tuition the boy was
more especially placed, and who always remained
his firm friend. Under such a man study must
have been a pleasure, and the influence exercised
by Howson always remained. Even in the little
essays written by Charles at this time, it can be
seen that his attention was already being directed
to the lines of knowledge in which he became
so distinguished in later years. For example, we
find an excellent essay on the " Life of Mahomed " ;
another on the " Life of St Cyprian"; and yet
another    on   the    "Journey   of    Tychicus   and 1845-52 SOUTH WALES 5
Onesimus from Rome to Colossce." One wonders
whether, when Wilson was Consul - General in
Asia Minor, and had on his official tours to
visit Colossce and the other places which St Paul
and his friends passed through on their missionary
journeys, he remembered his school-day essays;
but we may be quite sure that he often called
to mind the information given by his revered
master, Dean Howson, who first taught him to
take an interest in the history and geography
of Asia Minor.
For seven years Wilson remained at the
Liverpool school, going home regularly for the
summer and winter holidays, sometimes by steamer
from Liverpool to Milford Haven, and on by
boat to Pembroke; and, at other times, by rail
to Swansea, and from thence on the coach to
Tenby, as the railway through South Wales had
not then been completed.
He was always fond of out-door sports—
hunting, fishing, and shooting. He began to go
out with the hounds at the early age of eight,
and often gave much anxiety to the groom in
charge by his recklessness in getting over the
rough country; while fishing was his favourite
summer amusement, and sometimes he and his
elder brother, Edward, used to go off with bags
and fishing-rods and a little money, to tramp
for a couple of weeks, or as long as their strictly
limited funds lasted, subject only to the conditions that they would get no more money, and
that, on their return home, they were to give a
full account of everything they saw and did on 6 EARLY LIFE 1852-54
the tour. This was a splendid kind of training,
better than any that could be gained from mere
book learning, and doubtless these tours laid in
the mind of young Wilson that love of travelling
and knowledge of geography which he always
Leaving Liverpool school when he was sixteen, Wilson was sent to continue his studies at
Cheltenham College, which was then speciaUy
distinguished for its modern side, called "The
Military and Civil Department." The headmaster
was the Rev. W. Dobson, while the chief of
the modern side of the school was the Rev. T.
A. Southwood, a scholar of great ability and
an excellent instructor.
From an early age Wilson had always set his
heart on going into the army, and was anxious
to get into the Royal Military Academy at
Woolwich, or the Indian School at Addiscombe.
His father, on the contrary, wished him to
become a barrister, or to obtain a cadetship in
the Indian Civil Service. Possibly, as he was of
Quaker descent, though not a Quaker himself,
he may have had by inheritance some of the
dislike of the Society of Friends to the military
profession, and this may have been the reason
for his omission to put his son's name down
for Woolwich in sufficient time. But whatever
was to be his future career, no better place could
have been selected for completing Wilson's school
education than the military class at Cheltenham
College. Here he worked hard for two years,
and, when he left the College in June 1854, he 1854 BONN UNIVERSITY 7
was head of the modern side, and had gained a
number of prizes.
He was still determined upon going into the
army, and had hoped, on leaving Cheltenham, to
be given a scholarship at Addiscombe, which was
in the gift of General Sir J. Lushington, G.C.B.
But in this he was disappointed, as the scholarship was discontinued the same year and was
no longer available. He was too old then for
the Royal Military Academy, and, though not
abandoning the hope of entering the army,
decided to go to Bonn University for a time,
with the view of perfecting himself in modern
languages. He spent a year at Bonn, and made
many friends, especially Professor Alfred Nicolavius,
who treated him as a son, and did all he could to
make his stay at the university happy. In his
letters home Wilson speaks in the highest terms
of his German friends and the feeling of friendship
was evidently mutual.
The year in Germany, however, was mainly a
period of waiting until the long-looked-for chance
of entering the Queen's service presented itself.
There is a well-known proverb that "all comes
to him who waits," and it never proved more
true than in Wilson's case.
The Crimean war had shown the necessity for
largely increasing the number of Royal Artillery
and Royal Engineer officers, and, in consequence
of this, the number of cadets at the Woolwich
Academy was quite insufficient to meet the
demand. The War Office authorities therefore
decided to hold a special competitive examina-
tion, open to all British subjects, so as to obtain
the required number of officers rapidly, and without requiring them to go through the whole
Woolwich course. The candidates were to be
divided into two categories. In the first of these,
forty appointments were to be made to the
senior practical class at the Royal Military
Academy, of persons between the ages of seventeen and nineteen years. In the second category,
twenty appointments were to be made to direct
commissions, of persons between the ages of
nineteen and twenty-one years. The War Office
advertisement further stated that the examination
would be held in London on August 1st, 1855.
Wilson heard of this at Bonn in the latter part
of June, and, though he had barely a month for
preparation, at once decided to compete, and
started for England without delay, to send in
his name to the War Office. As he had passed
the age of nineteen, he was not eligible for
the first category of appointments, and therefore entered for the more difficult competition
for direct commissions. He passed a brilliant
examination and obtained second place out of
forty-six candidates, of whom he was the youngest;
Robert Murdoch Smith, afterwards General Sir
R. M. Smith, K.CM.G., being first; these two
were the only persons who received direct commissions in the corps of Royal Engineers, a
unique distinction.
Wilson's remarkable success in the examination
gave the greatest satisfaction to his famity and
friends, and he received many letters of congratula-
L 1855-57 CHATHAM 9
tion, including two which he valued much; from
Dean Howson, his former master at Liverpool,
and from the Rev. T. A. South wood, head of the
military class at Cheltenham College.
Shortly after the conclusion of the examination
Wilson received a letter from the War Office,
offering him a direct commission either in the
Royal ArtiUery or the Royal Engineers; and he,
at once, without hesitation, accepted the latter, and
was ordered to join for instruction at the Royal
Engineer Establishment, Chatham, on October
15th, 1855, his commission, as Lieutenant with
temporary rank, being dated September 24th. The
anxious time of waiting was over, and he had
realised, by his own talent and exertions, the
dream of his boyhood.
After passing through the usual course of instruction for young officers at Chatham, in drill,
field-works, fortification, surveying, etc., Wilson
received orders in April 1857 to join at Shorncliffe
Camp for duty, and was posted to a company of
the Royal Engineers at that station, where he
remained until the following September.
The year was one of great excitement in
England. The Indian mutiny, with its terrible
tales of massacre and pillage, had aroused feelings
of resentment perhaps unequalled in the history
of the country, and the Government decided at
once to send out large reinforcements to assist the
Indian army in the recovering of British prestige
and the re - establishment of order; and, as a
part of these rcinforcements, it was arranged to
send out four companies of the Royal Engineers,
I 10 EARLY  LIFE 1857
under the command of Colonel Harness, R.E., a
distinguished and capable officer, who at that time
held the position of Commanding Royal Engineer
at Malta. Wilson was on leave with his family
at Tenby, when, on September 4th, he received a
telegram, ordering him to return immediately to
Shorncliffe in order to take command of a detachment of sappers, and to proceed to Chatham to
be attached to one of the companies under orders
for India. He returned at once to Shorncliffe,
and took the detachment to Chatham, when it
appeared that the cadre of officers had been made
up, and that, although his men were to go, he
was not to have the satisfaction of embarking with
them, which must have been a great disappointment to him. There is no record of his feelings
on the subject, but he probably accepted the
situation with the calm philosophy which he
always showed.
Wilson did not return to Shorncliffe, but, after
remaining at Chatham for a month, was ordered
to Portsmouth for duty in connection with the
works of fortification, which were at that time
in course of construction on the Gosport side
of the harbour. He joined at Gosport on
October 16th, 1857, and found himself under the
command of Major Lovell,1 R.E., who had charge
of the Gosport defences. The defences, which
were at that time in progress, were Forts Elson,
Gomer, and Brockhurst, placed in advance of the
Gosport fines, and intended to stop a hostile force,
advancing from the west on Portsmouth dock-
1 The late Colonel J. W. Lovell, C.B. GOSPORT
yard. The larger scheme for the defence of the
great naval arsenal, which was carried out under
the Fortification Loan of 1860, had not then been
Wilson entered heart and soul into his new
work, and was glad to be placed in charge of the
construction of Fort Elson, as he regarded it as
an excellent opportunity for making himself fuHy
acquainted with all the details of building construction, one of the most important of an Engineer
officer's duties. He kept a careful diary of the
work done from day to day, which enters into
the various difficulties met with, and the manner
in which they were surmounted. He seems to
have found it necessary to keep a sharp eye upon
the contractors, in order to ensure that the work
was carried out in strict accordance with the
specification, and personally made many of the
working drawings for portions of the fortifications. His principal recreation was sailing, of
which he was always fond, and after the work
for the day was done, he had exciting trips in
his little boat, "a cockle shell," as he called it,
over the waters surrounding Portsmouth harbour.
Though silent by nature, and not what could
be called a society man, he made good friends at
Gosport, including his commanding officer, Major
Lovell, and Mr Parnell, the rector of Elson parish
church, where he regularly attended service on
Sunday morning, and appreciated Mr Parnell's
Wilson was given leave at Christmas, and had
a happy time in the home circle at Hean Castle, 12
but the entries in his diary show that he was
very depressed at leaving those so dear to him,
and he seems to have had the feeling that it
would be years before he would meet them again
at Christmas time; and his anticipation proved
correct, as, in February 1858, he was specially
selected for a very different sphere of duty. CHAPTER II
The boundary between Canada and the United States — Appointed
Secretary to the British Commission of 1858—Panama-—Esquimalt
—The Fraser River—The work of the Boundary Commission—
The Columbia River—A winter journey—Return to England.
After the revolt of the British colonies in North
America, now known as the United States, and
the Declaration of Independence by the latter, it
became necessary to settle the boundary between
these states and the Canadian colonies, which had
remained faithful to the British flag; and, by the
treaty of 1783, the line which this boundary was
to follow from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean
was settled generally.
At that time the most important part of the
line of demarcation was the section which ran
from the Atlantic to the Great Lakes, as this
passed through country which was settled and
known on both sides of the proposed line; but,
on the contrary, west of the lakes, and across the
heights of the Rocky mountains to the Pacific,
the country was unknown and uninhabited, except
by wandering Indian tribes, and it was quite
impossible to describe the boundary by any natural
features. It was therefore agreed between the two
governments that, from a certain point on the
Lake of the Woods, the line was to follow the
49th parallel of north latitude westwards across
the prairies, and over the Rocky mountains, a
rough and ready way of settling matters, which
was convenient for diplomatists, unacquainted with
geography; but which, as it ignored the natural
features of the continent, was pretty sure to lead
to difficulties in the future, when the country
became inhabited.
It is easy to fix a boundary by treaty, and it
looks well upon a map when nicely coloured, but
it is one thing to settle it on paper and quite a
different matter to lay it out upon the actual
ground; but the latter is, of course, the really
important consideration, as it is quite necessary
for the people who live upon the spot, to know
in what country their habitations are situated, and
to which government they owe allegiance. It is
therefore necessary after a treaty defining the boundary between two states has been settled, that a
joint commission, appointed by the countries concerned, should proceed to the ground, in order
to make a careful and accurate map of the strip
of land through which the boundary passes, and
to fix it by permanent marks, placed at suitable
distances from one another, so that there may be
no question afterwards as to the side of the
boundary upon which any particular place lies.
In the execution of this work it is often found
that difficulties arise when the boundary has been
fixed by the treaty on a map, and by descriptions, as
the natural features of the country make the treaty THE BOUNDARY LINE
line unsuitable. Then there must be a little give
and take, and questions arise which can sometimes
be settled amicably by the joint commission and
sometimes have to be referred for decision to
the respective governments. But these discussions naturally take time, and it is in some cases
years before a boundary is finally and definitely
The North American boundary between Canada
and the United States is an exceptionaUy long
one, as it extends for 3,000 miles from ocean to
ocean; and, as the western portion was through
an uninhabited country, it was not necessary to
proceed to the actual delimitation of it until many
years after the treaty had been signed.
The eastern portion of the boundary was
surveyed and marked out by a joint commission
from the Atlantic to the Lake of the Woods,
on the meridian of longitude 95° West, in
1844; but no action had been taken, prior to
1857, as regards denmiting the line from that
point westward to the Pacific Ocean. But circumstances had considerably altered since 1844;
the rush to the gold mines on the western slopes
of the Rocky mountains had brought a number of
gold seekers and settlers to those districts, and it
became a matter of imperative necessity that the
frontier between the United States and Canada
should be definitely marked, so as to avoid disputes between the inhabitants of the rising colony
of British Columbia and the adjacent American
state of Oregon.
The portion of the boundary line from the
Lake of the Woods westwards was naturally
divided into two portions, one from the lake
to the summit of the Rockies, and the second
from the Rockies to the Pacific. This second
portion was the most pressing, on account of the
increasing population on the Pacific coast, and
the British and United States governments, therefore, agreed in 1857 to send a Joint Commission
to survey and mark out this section of the line.
Early in 1858, Captain HawkinsI of the Royal
Engineers was appointed as British Commissioner,
while the government of the United States
nominated Mr Campbell, as their representative.
It was arranged that the Boundary Commission
was to commence operations on the Pacific coast
and then work eastwards to the point on the
Rocky mountains, which lay on the 49th parallel.
Lieutenant Wilson was selected as a member
of the British Commission, much to his own
surprise; and the fact that he was chosen for
this important duty shows that the military
authorities at the War Office had already formed
a high opinion of his capacity and intelligence,
an opinion which, as events proved, was fully
justified. He received the first intimation of his
appointment on February 8th, 1858, and, two
days later, was given definite orders to proceed
to London, to report himself to the Chief Commissioner; and thence to Chatham, to take command of the Royal Engineer detachment, which
was to accompany the Commission for surveying   and   other work.    He  joined  at   Chatham
1 The late General Sir J. S. Hawkins, K.CM.G.
on February 15th, and at once commenced
making the arrangements as regards the sapper
detachment, and in perfecting himself in taking
astronomical observations.
The British Commission was composed as
Captain Hawkins, R.E., Chief Commissioner.
Captain Darrah, R.E., Astronomer.
Captain Haig, R.A., Astronomer.
Lieutenant Wilson, R.E., Secretary and
Transport  Officer.
Doctor Lyall, R.N., in medical charge.
Mr Lord, Naturalist.
Mr H. Bauerman, Geologist.
The duties assigned to Captains Darrah and
Haig were to fix by astronomical observation,
in conjunction with the officers of the United
States Commission, the exact position of the
49th parallel, and to mark it out upon the ground.
Lieutenant Wilson, as secretary, was to have
charge of the accounts and records of the Commission, to have command of the detachment of
Royal Engineers, and to act as commissariat,
store, and transport officer, duties which, as
events proved, were to be of an exceedingly
arduous and responsible character.
As the country through which the survey was
to be made was of a wild and mountainous
nature, much of it hardly explored, and, in some
parts, entirely unknown, careful preparations had
to be made before the Commission left England
to enter upon its labours, which were expected
to last for three or four years; and the month 18
of March was spent in getting together all the
necessary equipment, testing the astronomical and
other survey instruments, and settling the innumerable details incident to the work.
By the end of March all was completed, and,
on April 1st, Wilson marched his detachment
out of Chatham and joined the rest of the
Commission on board the R.M.S. Parana at
Southampton, in which they sailed for the West
Indies on the following day. Bad weather met
them in the Channel, which developed into a
regular storm in the Atlantic, so that it was not
until April 22nd that they reached the island
of St Thomas, and Wilson had his first view of
tropical scenery. Here they changed into the
R.M.S. Trent (afterwards famous in history on
account of the incident in 1861, which nearly
caused a war between England and the United
States), and sailed, via Cartagena, for Colon on
the Panama isthmus, whence they crossed by rail
to Panama.
In his diary, Wilson gives an interesting
account of the railway across the isthmus, which
had then been recently constructed.
"We reached Colon early in the morning of
April 29th. I paraded the men and got them
safely stowed away in the railway carriages by
8.0 a.m. Colon is a wretched-looking place, and
report says that they have only about four fine
days in the year. The fare over the isthmus is
£5, the distance being 47 miles, and luggage is
charged for at the same exorbitant rate, but the
officials are most obliging, and will give a free
passage to any naval or military officer, who is THE PANAMA RAILWAY
going for his own amusement, and is not paid
for by his government. The railway from Colon
to Panama is certainly one of the most wonderful
and curious works in the world. Directly after
leaving Colon the train rushes into a dismal swamp,
which comes right up to the rails on either side.
It is no wonder that the labourers died like rotten
sheep, working, as they must have done, up to
their waists in water, and in the rank vegetation.
" Getting deeper into the forest the scene improves, and one sees giant trees, with gay festoons
of creepers, reaching from the topmost branches to
the ground, palms, cocoa-nut trees, and an almost
impenetrable growth of underwood, of the most
delicate green tint, from which proceeds a regular
pandemonium of noises; while every now and
then a flight of parrots, or other brilliantly
plumaged birds, may be seen skimming along.
"Never can one more appreciate the indomitable courage and endurance of the Spaniards
than after passing through this forest, and well
can one imagine the glorious feelings of old
Bilboa and his followers, when, after struggling
through the underwood, they first came in sight
of the Pacific.
" One has plenty of time to observe everything,
as, on account of the sharp curves, the train
proceeds very slowly, and, in addition to this, it
stops every iive or six miles to 'liquor up,' no
Yankee being able to keep up any longer without a drink."
At Panama the British sailing frigate, H.M.S.
Havannah, was in port, ready to convey the
Commission to Esquimalt, and, after taking
men and stores on board, made sail on May 1st.
The voyage was somewhat long, as, instead of
'     I 20
proceeding north towards San Francisco, it was
necessary to steer a southerly course, so as to
get the south-east trade wind. For some days the
breeze was light and variable, and the Havannah
crossed the equator four times before the favourable wind was met, and the ship was headed for
the north. It was not, however, until July 12th
that the Havannah reached the entrance to the
Straits of San Juan da Fuca, and cast anchor in
the harbour of Esquimalt, to the delight of the
staff of the Commission, who felt that the
summer months were slipping away, and were
longing to make a start upon their arduous task
before the winter set in and stopped the work.
The disembarkation of the stores was immediately commenced and the detachment of Royal
Engineers were landed, proud to feel that they
were the first British troops to be quartered on
Vancouver island. Part of the United States
Boundary Commission had already arrived, but it
was not until the next month that Mr Campbell,
the American Commissioner, landed, and the first
meeting of the two Commissions was held at
Semiahmoo bay, where the western extremity of
the 49th parallel met the waters of the Pacific.
The method in which the work was to be carried
out was discussed and settled ; and, on August 27th,
Captains Darrah and Haig started for Sumass, the
first point on the parallel to be fixed astronomically,
distant about twenty-five miles from the coast.
Wilson records in his diary: " I am very glad that
at last we have begun work."
A reference to the map will show that, from its THE FRASER RIVER
western extremity, the boundary line ran parallel
to, and some miles to the southward of the Fraser
river. It then crosses a range of mountains, which
forms the water-shed between the Fraser, and the
water system of the Columbia river. This latter
water system, including many rivers, covers a
vast area, which stretches to the eastern range
of the Rocky mountains. In consequence of
this formation of the country, the work of the
Boundary Commission naturally divided itself into
two sections, of which the western section was
most easily reached from the Fraser, and the
eastern section from the Columbia river. It was
therefore arranged that the western part of the
line should first be delimited to the watershed,
and afterwards that the eastern part should be
carried on from the watershed up to the ridge
of the Rocky mountains.
As soon as the survey parties went into the
field the most important of Wilson's duties also
commenced, as he was responsible for keeping
them supplied with provisions and other stores;
for organising the mule trains and Indian carrying parties; and also for hiring the labourers
required for marking out the boundary line.
These duties kept him continually on the move,
and he had to do more travelling than the
other members of the Commission.
His first expedition was in October 1858, when
he started to take a mule train to Captain Haig's
camp at Sumass. Having shipped his mules and
stores on board the ss. Otter, he left Victoria on
October   13th,   accompanied  by   Mr   Lord,   and 22 BOUNDARY COMMISSION 1858
proceeded up the Fraser river to Fort Langley, a
station of the Hudson Bay Company, in the midst
of an Indian district, from which large quantities
of furs of various kinds were obtained. Here he
had expected to meet a small steamer to take his
party up the river; but as, after waiting several
days at Fort Langley, she had not arrived, he
decided to take boat and proceed to Sumass.
This journey is recorded in his diary as follows:—
" October 21st, 1858.—As there was still no news
of the steamer, I decided to proceed at once to
Sumass, with a bateau and the provisions, leaving
Corporal Fisher to follow with the mules in the
steamer when she arrived. Accordingly we hired
a large bateau from the Hudson Bay Company,
and, having stowed everything into it, launched
ourselves on the waters of the Fraser, amidst
torrents of rain. We camped for the night on a
small patch of sand on an island, about ten miles
above Langley. The current ran very strong the
whole way, and the wet and cold made the
journey tedious, and prevented our seeing much
of the surrounding country. The banks on either
side were low and heavily timbered with tall
pine trees, the dark hue of which was agreeably
relieved by the varied autumn tints of the underbrush of maple and dogwood. My first night's
experience of camping out in the bush was anything
but cheerful. The rain continued heavily all night,
and the only wood we had being sodden drift wood,
made a very poor fire. So we stowed ourselves
between the blankets, and, under the influence of
a hot tot of grog, composed ourselves to sleep.
" October 22nd.—This morning we turned out
at 5.30 a.m., and at 3.15 p.m. reached the sand-spit
at Sumass, and were heartily glad to light up a LIEUTENANT  WILSON, R.E.
[To face page 2
m L 1858 SUMASS 28
roaring fire to warm ourselves and dry our clothes.
The current towards Sumass was considerably
stronger than it had been the day before, and we
only made fourteen miles during the day. The hills
had gradually closed in, until, on the left bank near
Sumass, they rose abruptly from the river, which
greatly increased the beauty of the scenery. The
same heavy timber and underbrush still seemed to
cover the banks.
On the spit at Sumass we found an Indian
village, the inhabitants of which came to visit us
on our landing, and behaved in a very orderly
manner. They were a much superior race to the
Victoria or Tsaumas Indians, and, most of them
bein^abletotaj^Jgiejargon, we got on pretty well.
The vnTage is protected by a strong stockade
which surrounds the houses. These are built of
enormous pieces of timber, roughly hewn, which
must have cost an immensity of time and labour
to place in position. The interior of the houses
were very dirty, and had a dreadfully fishy smell.
Several families inhabited each house, so there
were several small fires on the ground, each with
its group of men, women, and children. Round
the sides of the house was a rough bench, elevated
two and a half feet from the ground, which seemed
to be the sleeping arrangement, as it was littered
with rush mats, dirty blankets, and various other
abominations. Shortly after our arrival we were
rejoiced by the advent of the steamer with the
mules, which were landed without difficulty.
" We left before daylight the following morning,
and engaged seven canoes from the Indians to
lighten the bateau, as we anticipated some trouble
from shallow water in the lake. The mules were
first packed, and I started them off with Low,
my servant, Jos£, our Mexican muleteer, and
an Indian guide, to go round by land to Haig's 24
camp. The canoes were then loaded, and, after
starting them and the bateau, Lord and I brought
up the rear in an Indian canoe. Our hopes of fine
weather were disappointed, as the rain had again
commenced, and was worse, if possible, than the
day before. Still, in spite of the wet, we could
not help admiring the beauty of the little river we
were ascending, on the left bank of which the hills
came abruptly down to the water's edge, whilst,
on the right bank, we caught occasional glympses,
through the fringe of willows, of a fine open prairie,
extending for some four or five miles, when the
hills again closed the view.
" On entering the lake we called a halt and
served out some grog, which was of great benefit
to all, as we were quite wet through. We then
crossed the lake, which was of considerable magnitude, but so shallow that the bateau stuck fast a
mile and a half from the shore. The canoes were
able to get half a mile nearer, when they also stuck,
so that we were in a nice predicament. Nothing
was left but to jump out and carry all the stores
to the shore. For this service the In<Jians were
particularly useful, carrying very heavy loads on
their backs, the load being supported by a band
or thong which was passed round the forehead
and under the load. The sappers also worked
well and heartily. The barrels of beef and biscuit
were separately slung on poles, each pole being
manned by two Indians and having the barrel
slung in the centre between the two men. In
this way we managed to get everything on shore
about half an hour before dark.
" During most of the time I had been in the
water, trying to hurry on the Indians, but at last
found that it was no good, and that the best way
was to allow them to do the work in their own
manner.    After seeing everything on shore, and ESQUIMALT
leaving a guard on the stores, I started, very wet
and tired, for Haig's camp, with some of his men
to show the road, who said that it was between
four and five miles distant. Never shall I forget
the misery of that walk. Darkness soon came
upon us ; the rain had made the track muddy and
slippery, and, the ground being very uneven, every
fifty or a hundred yards, I found myself down in
a mud hole. When I arrived at Haig's camp
I was hardly able to speak for exhaustion. This
partly arose from the hard day's work, but principally from want of food, of which 1 had not
Halted a crumb since breakfast. Most of my party
who were working in the lake were nearly as bad
as myself, which somewhat consoled me. Soon
after getting in, and after the greetings were over,
we sat down to a first-rate supper, which soon set
me to rights again."
Wilson spent a couple of days with Captain
Haig, who had completed the astronomical observations for fixing the position of the Sumass station;
and then, after paying the men and making up the
accounts of the survey party, marched back to Fort
Langley and returned by steamer to Esquimalt.
The journey was somewhat exciting, as the vessel
was crowded with miners, who mutinied, and,
drawing their revolvers, tried to take possession
of the ship. Fortunately, the commander, Captain
Mouatt, was a man of great determination, and
succeeded in quelling his riotous passengers without loss of life.
Early in December, the long winter months
commenced, and the survey parties were withdrawn
to Esquimalt, as work became impracticable on
account of the snow and cold.    By this time log 26 BOUNDARY COMMISSION 1859
hut barracks had been constructed, so that the
staff and men of the Commission were comfortably housed, and the indoor work of calculating
the astronomical observations and plotting the
surveys of the boundary could be carried on
without intermission.
But the winter was not all spent in hard work.
The Governor and other inhabitants of Victoria
were very hospitably disposed, and there were
many little dinners and other parties to relieve
the monotony of the inclement season. In
February 1859, the officers of the British Commission decided to give a ball as a return for the
various hospitalities that they had received, and the
onus of making all the necessary arrangements fell
upon Wilson, as the universal provider, who had
to find a suitable room, not at all an easy matter,
decorate it as satisfactorily as was possible under
the circumstances, and arrange for the supper.
His efforts seem to have been crowned with
success, and everything went off as well as possible.
By the beginning of April 1859, the weather had
improved sufficiently to allow of the survey parties
again taking the field, and a meeting of the British
and American Commissions was held at Semiah-
moo to arrange the progress of the season's work.
Wilson records in his diary that there was a considerable difference of opinion as to the manner
in which the boundary line was to be marked; as
the United States Commissioner was in favour of
fixing the astronomical stations only, while Captain
Hawkins and his assistants were of opinion that it
was their duty to mark the whole line definitely by
making a cutting through the forest and thus prevent the possibility of future disputes between the
inhabitants of British Columbia and Oregon.
There can be no doubt that the contention
of the British Commission was correct, and it is
satisfactory that the work was carried out in
accordance with their views, although it involved
a larger expenditure.
During the summer of 1859 the base of operations was maintained on the Fraser river, and, as
the stations of the survey parties were advanced
further and further to the east over the mountains
and through the primeval forests, Wilson's duties
became more arduous, especiaUy as the trails became worse, and mules were difficult to obtain.
The mosquitoes were a cause of great discomfort, especially near the rivers, and all the efforts
made to ward off their attacks were unavailing,
and the bites caused serious illness to some of
the party. The little pests were especially bad on
the Chilukwuyuk river, and Wilson relates how
at this place some Indians took compassion on
him and painted his face and hands with ver-
miHon, which had a soothing effect on the bites,
although not improving his personal appearance.
In August serious news was received from
Esquimalt to the effect that some United States
officers had taken forcible possession of the Island
of San Juan, although the boundary had not been
fixed, and it was not known to which of the Powers
the island was to belong. For a time a conflict
between the forces of the two countries was
imminent, and Captain Hawkins was requested 1
by the Governor of Vancouver to proceed at once
to England for definite instructions as to what
course of action was to be followed. Fortunately,
the matter was arranged in an amicable manner,
but it was not until many years afterwards that
the question of the ownership of San Juan was
finally settled.
But this dispute did not stop the labours of the
Boundary Commission, who worked all through
the summer and well into the winter of 1859, so
that it was not until February 1860 that the whole
of the staff assembled at Fort Langley, on the
Fraser river. During the winter their number
had been increased by the arrival of Lieutenant
S. Anderson,1 a clever young Engineer officer, who
had been sent out from England to assist in the
survey work, and who commenced gaining experience during the bitter cold of a British Columbian
winter. In the spring of 1860 the base of operations was changed from the Fraser to the Columbia
river, which enters the Pacific many miles south
of Vancouver island; as, although the distance
to the boundary line was greater than from the
Fraser, the water communication gave easier access
to the eastern portion of the line, which commenced near Fort Colville on the Columbia, in
longitude 118° West. In his diary Wilson gives
an interesting description of the country in which
the Commission had worked for the preceding
two years.
" The country between Semiahmoo on the
Pacific and Sumass station is flat, swampy, and
1 The late Major S. Anderson, C.M.G. WORK OF THE COMMISSION
covered with a dense forest, a large tract of which
has been burnt, making the timber very hard for
the axe. Inwards from Langley on the Fraser
there are a succession of gravel terraces about
one hundred feet high, and at the mouth of the
Sumass river stands a very curious isolated group
of hills rising to an altitude of about 2,000
feet. At Sumass and at Chilukwuyuk there
are some extensive prairies, but from then* being
annually flooded, and from the intolerable pest of
mosquitoes, it will be long before they can be
turned to much account. At Schweltya the
mountains commence, and from thence to the
Skagit river is a country of the most rugged
description, peak succeeding peak in endless
succession, and only penetrable by the rough
gorges, through which the mountain torrents force
their way to the sea. The Skagit valley is about
a mile wide and thickly timbered.
" From Skagit to Roche river the country is of
the same description, the trail running over a ridge
6,000 feet above sea level. Two distinct watersheds were crossed, the Chilukwuyuk and Skagit,
dividing the waters of the Fraser river and Puget
sound; and the Skagit-Similkameen, dividing the
water of Puget sound and the Columbia river. The
peaks of the Cascade mountains generally ranged to
about 8,000 feet.
"Of our transport equipment of forty-four
horses and fifty-five mules, fourteen horses and
eight mules died from accidents, mosquito bites,
etc., a large percentage, but, considering the nature
of the work, and that the animals hardly ever
had a single day's rest, not to be wondered at.
The difficulty of bringing up supplies was greatly
increased by the animals having to carry grain
for their own consumption on the outward and
inward journeys,  and it was only by the most m
constant care, and by excluding everything in
the way of a convenience or a luxury, that we
managed to get along."
Great progress had been made with the
delimitation of the boundary line during the
season. Astronomical stations had been fixed at
Schweltya, Slesse, Usaquitch, and Roche river;
surveys made from the points so fixed to the
actual parallel, and a cutting twenty feet in width,
made through the forests, so as to mark the
boundary in an undisputable manner. Considering the nature of the forest and the density of
the undergrowth, the work of cutting was in
certain cases very difficult. When the lines
crossed prairie country, it was marked by stone
cairns and pickets, and the same course was
adopted as far as possible in the swampy districts.
It can be easily understood that the work of the
Commission was of a very arduous nature, but
the good air seems to have kept the staff in
health, notwithstanding the hardships to which
they were constantly exposed.
On April 28th, 1860, the British Commission
bade adieu to their friends at Esquimalt, and
reached the Columbia river after a rough passage.
A halt was made at Fort Vancouver, the United
States military station, not far from the settlement of Portland, then an insignificant place, but
now the most important town in the State of
Oregon. Here they were hospitably received by
the officers of the garrison, and the work of
unshipping the provisions and other stores for the
working parties was taken in hand. NORTH AMERICAN BOUNDARY.
[To face page 30.  1860 THE COLUMBIA RIVER SI
It was decided to establish a base on the
Columbia at a place called the Dalles, about
80 miles above Fort Vancouver. This part of
the river is much obstructed by rapids, which
necessitated the portage of the stores from the
lower to the upper part of the river. Wilson
described the journey in the following words:—
"We left Fort Vancouver on May 16th and
started up the Columbia river. During the first
part of the journey the banks were low and
openly timbered, with occasional glades running
down to the water's edge. Soon, however, we
neared Cape Horn, which stands, like a grim
sentinel, guarding the wild gorge of the Cascades.
From Cape Horn to the Lower Cascades, the
river runs through a deep basaltic chasm, the
rocks rising up abruptly on either side, split
into the most grand and fantastic shapes, whilst
myriads of tiny cascades fall down in glittering
silver, to add their mite to the great torrent
" Approaching the Lower Cascades, the Castle
rock, with its giant form, rises to the height
of 750 feet, forming a prominent feature in the
view. At the Lower Cascades we disembarked
and walked across the portage, accompanied by
Roberts, of the United States Engineers, who,
we found, was the designer of the defences of
San Juan. The portage at this time of year was
about four and a half miles in length, for a mile
and a half of which there was a tramway for
the carriage of goods. The scenery was of the
same wild character as before, which was greatly
enhanced by the roar and struggle of the waters
in the rapids below us. Near the head of the
Cascades we passed some Indians busily engaged
in catching salmon with their scoop nets, which
are of similar construction to those used on the
Fraser river.
" Re - embarking at the Upper Cascades, we
continued up a similar basaltic gorge, passing
quaint little huts stuck here and there in the
forest, the home of many a hardy backwoodsman.
The wind increased as we proceeded, whirling up
the sand at the mouth of Dog river into most
fantastic wreaths, and curling the water, till the
white horses leaped again. Soon after passing
Dog river night came on, and we had a most
wild and impressive scene: the grim cliffs on
either side just visible as they seemed to close
over head, the white curl of the water intensifying the deep gloom around; the dull thud of
the paddle, and the wild roar of the wind,
as it hurried past us. It was late when we
reached the Dalles, where we met Haig, who
hurried us off to drink sherry cobblers at the
Mount Hood."
It took some little time to collect pack
animals and get the stores ready for the start,
but, on May 25th, Captain Haig left the Dalles
to ascend the Columbia and Okanagan rivers,
up to the point where the latter crosses the 49th
parallel, so as to connect up with the survey work
of the two preceding years. Wilson had to return
to Portland and Fort Vancouver to bring up more
stores and to obtain money, which he found rather
a difficult matter on account of the low rate of
exchange; but, at length, he succeeded in obtaining £2,000 in gold, which he took back with him,
not without some anxiety, as there was considerable risk of being  attacked by robbers on  his FORT COLVILLE
journey north. It was not until June 14th that
he was able to get his convoy to the mouth of
the Walla WaUa river, where there was an old
fort belonging to the Hudson Bay Company.
Here he decided to leave the mule train and
to ride across the great bend of the Columbia to
Fort Colville, to make preparations for establishing a dep6t at that place, as it was situated not
far from the boundary line and was to be the
winter quarters of the Commission when the
cold weather began. The trail he proposed to
follow was not well known, and his Chief comforted him with the assurance that he would not
succeed, but Wilson remarks in his diary that
"I think I can do what others can, and the
same trip has been done before now."
Taking only Sergeant Bigley and his servant
Low, with no baggage but their blankets and
some bacon and flour, Wilson started north from
the Walla Walla on June 26th, and, after crossing the Snake and Spokane rivers, reached Fort
Colville on July 1st, glad to have accomplished
what he had been told was an impossible journey.
Here he set to work in estabHshing the depot
of the British Commission and in arranging the
stores brought by waggon and mule train. Huts
had to be built for residence during the winter,
and Wilson found a suitable place two miles from
the fort and made a contract for the erection of
the necessary buildings. Captain Hawkins and
the rest of the Commission arrived soon afterwards, and the work of the season was commenced
with vigour.    As the stations of the survey parties 34 BOUNDARY  COMMISSION i860
were at a considerable distance, Wilson was continually on the move, hurrying up the mule trains
with stores, and keeping the stations properly
During his wanderings in this wild mountainous
region he met with many exciting adventures, apid
on several occasions made rather too intimate an
acquaintance with the rattlesnakes, which were
very numerous in this part of the country. On
August 12th he recorded in his diary:—
"On getting into camp I was met by one of
my men with a large rattlesnake hung over a stick,
and was greeted with, ] Here's a snake I have just
killed in your blankets, sir; there was another with
him but he got away.' Almost as he spoke the
thunder gust came down upon us nearly knocking
us both over, and down came the rain in torrents,
causing me to seek a hasty shelter under the
blankets in anything but an amiable state of
mind; not knowing but that the fugitive snake
had taken the same refuge from the storm."
And on the following day he writes :—
" I went out to sketch the dark gorge of the
great bend of the river, and had nearly completed
when I heard the deadly rattle close behind me,
and started up, when, to my horror, a large rattlesnake dropped off the lappets of my coat, where he
had probably found a pleasant resting-place. The
brute seemed quite as frightened as I was, and
made off at a good pace."
Wilson reached Captain Haig's camp above
the Ashmolon river on August 17th, and found
the work proceeding satisfactorily.    The cutting WINTER QUARTERS
through the forest was being carried through a
very difficult country over mountains 7,000 feet
in height. Thence he went on to Lieutenant
Anderson's camp at Pesayton, near the Similka-
meen river, and then to Rock creek, a place where
gold had been discovered, on the Kettle river.
In December 1860, the Commission settled
down in their winter's quarters at Fort Colville
near the Columbia river. The weather was exceptionally cold, and communication with the outside
world was almost entirely cut off But the time
seems to have passed pleasantly enough. There
was much work to do during the day on the plans
and reports, and then in the evening, as Wilson
" You can picture the Commission sitting in a
circle round a huge log fire, kettle singing merrily
by its side, with sundry suspicious looking tumblers
standing on a table close by; then the yarns that
are told, when every one has his little troubles and
adventures to talk over, of weary nights with
mosquitoes, of rattlesnake bed-fellows, of toiling
over mountains and fording rapid streams, of what
one's feelings were when he saw the mule with all
his household property go rolling over a precipice,
or another's when he broke the stock of his pet
double-barrelled gun; all is talked and laughed
over, and looked back to with a sort of pleasure."
During the hard work of the preceding three
years, the astronomical and other scientific instruments had suffered considerably from the rough
usage to which they had been exposed; and, as
the necessary repairs were beyond the capabilities r
of the mechanics attached to the Commission, it
was decided to send them down to San Francisco
to be put in proper order; and, as they would be
required for use as soon as spring commenced, and
the survey parties could go into the field, it was
imperative to get the repairs executed during the
winter. Wilson was selected to carry out this duty,
and he left Fort Colville on February 14th, 1861,
on what he always considered one of the hardest
experiences of his life. He wras accompanied only
by his servant Low, an old Scotch soldier who
had served in the trenches before Sebastopol.
They had each a riding-horse and drove before
them two pack-horses laden with the scientific
instruments, and a small quantity of provisions
and forage. The road traversed was the same
that Wilson had passed over during the previous
summer on his journey from Walla Walla to
Fort Colville, but under very different conditions.
Then the heat was intense, but on this occasion
the whole country was deep in snow, with drifts
many feet in depth, in which man and horse
could easily have been lost; while at night the
temperature fell to 30° below zero Fahrenheit,
and the cutting wind blew hard enough " to take
the hair off his head."
On the plateau between the Snake and Touchet
rivers one of the horses gave in and had to be
left behind, and Wilson and his servant had to
make the best of their way on foot, through a
blinding snow-storm, driving the horses before
them, and were thankful to reach Walla Walla
after an eleven days' journey over the bleak wilder-
ness. From Walla Walla, Wilson travelled down
the Columbia river to the Dalles and Portland,
whence he got a steamer to San Francisco and
found summer weather, a pleasant change after
the bitter cold of the Rocky mountains. A
fortnight sufficed for the repair of the instruments, when he returned at once to Fort Colville,
and found that spring had at last commenced,
and that the survey parties had started into the
mountains for the season's work on the boundary
In May 1861, soon after his arrival at the
dep6t, Wilson started with a train of a hundred
and fifty mules, on his usual work of keeping
up the supplies, and reached Sinyakwateen on
May 25th, where an advanced dep6t had been
established on the banks of the Kalispelm lake.
The following two months were spent in travelling through the wild district watered by the
Kootenay river and its tributaries; and at length
Captain Haig's camp was reached, near the summit
of the Rockies, where the 49th parallel crossed the
mountains. Wilson gave the following description
of his visit to the end of the boundary line in one
of his letters home:—
" We started off to pay our devoir to the final
monument on the boundary, and, after a short
scramble, we got to the summit or divide, some
distance north of the actual line, the divide being
at that point comparatively low and covered with
grass. Leaving the grassy ridge, we commenced
a fresh ascent; and, after a climb over bare rocks,
and an occasional halt to watch the course of a
stone sent rolling by the foot into a little lake
1,500 feet below, wre stood upon a narrow shoulder
beside the cairn which marked the end of our
labours. The view from this point was very
fine; precipices, peaks, glaciers, and rocks, all
massed together in such a glorious way that I
cannot attempt to describe it.
" Fancy our delight at finding on a grassy spot,
close to a huge bank of snow, real * London Pride I
and 'Forget-me-not,' which carried our thoughts
far away from the wild mountains to days of Auld
Lang Syne in England. I send you some which
I gathered right on the summit.
"After this we ascended a curious pyramidal
peak, over 8,000 feet in height, which concluded
our day's work and is the highest altitude I have
reached, and returned to camp by an easier route
than the one by which we had ascended, being
principally down a steep grassy slope, too slippery
for foothold; so we sat down, cast off our moorings, and made all sail for the bottom, which we
reached safely, though much to the detriment of
our garments."
But Wilson had not much time for sight-seeing,
and, leaving Captain Haig, he returned to the
Kootenay, and started with a convoy for Captain
Darrah's camp in the Yahk valley, and then
retraced his steps to look after stores at the Sinyak-
wateen depdt, where he heard exciting news of
the American civil war, which had its effect
even in the far west, as the garrison of Fort
Colville was withdrawn to take part in the great
Work went on as before all through the
summer, and, in November, when the Commission
was assembled once more at Fort Colville for their   THE SURVEY COMPLETED
last winter in the wilds, Wilson was able to enter
in his diary: " All the out-of-door work is now
The winter of 1861 was even more severe than
than that of 1860.    Wilson wrote :—
" This has been one of the hardest winters any
of the people here ever remember. The whole
of January was intensely cold. For a week the
thermometer was always down at night to 28°
and 31° below zero, and it has been a most disagreeable time, as we cannot warm our rooms,
and the cold stops all work. Everything is frozen,
even wine and treacle—the mighty Columbia is
frozen over at places, and one can walk across the
ice above the falls, and hear the roar of the water
rushing underneath. We have had no letters from
England for many a long week. One messenger
came from Walla Walla a month ago, but, alas!
no letters. The^winter has been equally bad down
below between "Walla Walla and the Dalles. From
being so much to the south, our heavy snows were
rain down there, causing the rivers to rise to an
unprecedented height, and carrying away bridges,
houses, and mills, all in one grand smash. Every
communication is stopped, and the loss of property
has been immense."
All that remained to be done was to complete
the plans and other work of the Commissions, and
then to wait until the weather moderated and it
became possible to leave Fort Colville and start
for home. Early in April, although it was still
freezing hard, the party left their winter quarters
and marched to the Spokane river, where they
found a post awaiting them with the first letters
and news from England that they had received 40 BOUNDARY  COMMISSION 1862
for several months. Travelling by Walla Walla,
the Dalles, and down the Columbia river, and
feted all the way by their American friends, they
reached Esquimalt on May 14th, 1862, with the
satisfactory feeling that the work of four long years
was at last completed, and that the difficulties and
privations were all at an end. The journey from
Esquimalt to England was somewhat commonplace after the wanderings in British Columbia,
and presented no special points of interest, and
the whole party were glad to see the shores of
England once more on July 14th, 1862. Immediately after landing Wilson proceeded to Chatham
with the Royal Engineer detachment, which he
had commanded during the whole of the time in
British Columbia.
Btit Wilson's work in connection with the
North American Boundary Commission was not
yet completed, and he was employed in London
for the remainder of the year, assisting to prepare
the official plans and records of the expedition,
and in the adjustment of the accounts. His name
was specially mentioned in Colonel Hawkins's
despatch to the Foreign Office, when the operations of the Boundary Commission were finally
closed, and he received the thanks of the Secretary
of State for Foreign Affairs for the assistance that
he had rendered in connection with the work.
After his duties in connection with the Boundary
Commission had terminated, he was ordered back
to Chatham for employment on the defences of
the Thames and Medway, and was promoted to
the rank of Second Captain in June 1864.   i CHAPTER III
The Survey of Jerusalem—Wilson appointed to carry out the work—
Plan of operations-rChurch of the Holy Sepulchre—Visit of His
Royal Highness Prince Arthur—Levelling from the Jordan to the
Mediterranean—Foundation of the Palestine Exploration Fund—
The preliminary survey of the Holy Land.
Wilson remained at Chatham, working on the
Med way fortifications, for about eighteen months,
and then, almost by accident, obtained employment in a new sphere whicii had a very important
influence upon the rest of his career. This was
the survey of the city of Jerusalem, a survey that
proved to be the basis of all modern scientific
explorations in Palestine.
The way in which he became charged with this
duty can best be described in his own words:—
" The survey of Jerusalem originated in Miss
Burdett Coutts' wish to provide the city with a
better water supply. She was told it was first
necessary to make an accurate survey of the city,
and for that purpose she placed £500 in the hands
of a Committee, of whom the late Dean Stanley
was one. He applied to the Secretary of State
for War, who placed the matter in Sir H. James'sl
hands. The conditions were that £500 was to
cover all expenses, including the passage out and
1 The late Lieutenant-General Sir Henry James, K.C.B., F.R.S., at
that time Director-General of the Ordnance Survey.
■fl? f
home of the surveyors, and the preparation of
the plans. An officer was to go, but he was to
pay all his own expenses, and receive no extra
pay whilst employed. The appointment was
offered to several Royal Engineer officers, but
the conditions were so hard, and the possibility
of doing the work within the estimate considered to be so remote, that they all refused.
" I happened to be in the room of one of the
officers when he received the letter offering him
the appointment; he said he would not go, and
I then asked him, in writing his report, to say that
I would go. I had only once seen Sir H. James
before, and was therefore a little surprised when
he accepted my offer. I was generally considered
to be going on a fool's errand; many believed I
would come to grief in money matters; and men
who had had previous experience in Palestine and
Jerusalem told me they did not believe the Turkish
officials would allow me to survey the city. The
only man who gave me any encouragement and
said he thought I had done right, was the late
General H. D. Scott, R.E. 1 went out and
surveyed not only the city, but the mosques and
sacred area, and only exceeded the estimate by a
few pounds, the excess being due to our being
jammed in Egypt during the cholera epidemic
of 1865."
In the above remarks Wilson expressed himself
modestly as to his chance of being employed, but,
of course, Sir H. James was well acquainted with
the excellent work that he had done on the North
American Boundary Commission, and was only
too glad to get the services of so efficient an
officer to carry out the survey of Jerusalem on
the onerous conditions which were offered.     He 1864
at once obtained War Office sanction for the
employment of Wilson, and orders were sent to
the latter to report himself at the Ordnance
Survey Office, Southampton, on August 28th,
1864, where he took command of the party of
Royal Engineers who had been detailed for the
work, and collected the instruments and other
stores that had to be conveyed to Jerusalem.
The party sailed from Southampton on
September 12th, and, after a prosperous voyage,
and a change of steamers at Alexandria, landed
at Jaffa on the 30th, where preparations had to
be made for the journey to Jerusalem—a more
troublesome matter than at the present time,
when a train takes the traveller up to the capital
in a few hours.
After spending a night in the Latin convent
at Ramleh they started for Jerusalem, and Wilson
described his first experience of Eastern travel
in a letter home:—
" As we had a long journey before us, I determined to do it by night instead of travelling in
the hot sun, so we started at half-past eleven p.m.,
taking under our protection six monks from the
convent. After we had been out some time we
got accustomed to the light, and found the air very
cool and pleasant, the wind having changed round
and bringing in a refreshing sea-breeze. After three
and a half hours' riding we came to Latrun, and,
immediately on leaving it, commenced ascending
the mountains by a road which runs up a rocky
gorge, and is, in fact, nothing but the dry bed of
a mountain torrent, a rough sort of track being
worn by a constant succession of horses.    We were 44
1 ^gM
hardly aware of the badness of the road until daylight broke, and were then rather horrified to find
the kind of path we had been going over in the
"Much as I had heard and read about the
country, I was quite unprepared for the wild
desolation of the scene around us. It is like
nothing else on earth, and baffles all description;
hills that were once covered with vineyards are
now nothing but a mass of rock and rubbish.
We were passing close to the valley of Ajalon,
where Joshua commanded the sun to stand still,
and soon came to Kirjath Jearim, where the road
became even more wildly desolate, until we reached
the summit of the last hill, and Jerusalem lay before
us. I must say my first feeling was one of disgust,
for, right in front, and hiding a great part of the
city from this point of view, the Russians have
constructed an immense pile of ugly buildings,
almost a town in itself, outside the wafls.
" But other feelings came over me on looking
down on a spot where such momentous events have
taken place, and I do not believe that even an
infidel or an atheist could view without emotion
those few acres of ground where events happened
which have had an ever-increasing influence over
the actions of the whole human race. Every point
seemed familiar to me. There, right in front, was
the Dome of the Rock on the site of the Temple,
and, towering over it, the Church of the Ascension
on the Mount of Olives; whilst away to the left
was the hill of Scopus, over which the Roman army
under Titus came pouring down on the devoted
city; and, close at our feet, was the head of the
valley of Hinnom, which, running down by the
side of Mount Sion, joins the valley of Kedron
near the well of Job."
Having established his party in quarters at the THE SURVEY OF JERUSALEM
Prussian hospice, Wilson, though he had been
travefling all night, started at once to make a
prefiminary reconnaissance, and rode over the
Mount of Olives, and round by Mount Scopus
and the Tombs of the Kings, so as to get a general
idea of how the survey could best be carried out.
The next day he called on Mr Noel Moore, the
British Consul, who took him to visit Izzet Pasha,
the Turkish Governor, a very important personage,
as upon his action the success of the survey largely
depended. Wilson described this solemn visit as
" The Consul and I went to pay the Governor
an official visit, each preceded by a cavass in
all the glory of beadledom. In the court we
found the Turkish police drawn up to receive
and salute us, and we were then ushered upstairs,
His Excellency coming to the door to receive us,
and giving us a European shake of the hand. Mr
Moore, the British Consul, is a perfect Turkish
scholar, and was good enough to interpret for me.
I found the Pasha very civil and liberal-minded,
much more so than I had expected. He is well
educated, seemed to take a great interest in what
I was going to do, and promised to give me all the
help he could.
" I have met nearly all the celebrities of Jerusalem, and have had a very kind welcome and
many offers of assistance. I think my greatest
friends will be the Prussian Consul and his wife,
who live next door. Dr Rosen, the Consul, is a
clever and deeply-read man, and a great authority
on the antiquities of Jerusalem; his wife is also
pleasant—born in England of German parents, and
a first-rate musician.
" On Friday the Pasha gave an entertainment
■I 46
at his country house, to which Mr and Mrs
Moore, Dr and Mrs Rosen, the commander of the
Turkish troops and myself were invited. Dinner
was served in a marquee after the European
fashion, but we had several Turkish dishes,
amongst others the celebrated pilaff, and a
variety of the sweets for which the Turks are
renowned. The colonel who commands and I
became great friends, but as we could not talk
to each other, the only way of showing our
friendship was by perpetually drinking each other's
Izzet Pasha was as good as his word, and
issued strict orders to the inhabitants of Jerusalem
that every facility was to be given to the survey
party in the execution of the work. A suitable
position for the base line was found on the plain
of Rephaim, south-west of the city, and this was
measured carefully three times with a standard
chain, and the mean of these measurements, which
were almost identical, was taken as the basis of
calculation. A network of triangles, covering an
area of about 4J miles in length, and 3 miles
in breadth, was then extended from the base,
the angles being observed with a seven - inch
theodolite. The detail was afterwards filled in
with a chain survey of the ground on the outskirts of the city, and a traverse survey of the
streets made with a five-inch theodolite.
Wilson also obtained permission to make an
accurate survey of the sacred Haram area, the
Dome of the Rock, and the Mosque of Aksa, sites
from which, a few years previously, Christians
had been   rigorously excluded.    He was   rather EXPLORATIONS
anxious about this portion of the work, as it was
the first time that surveying instruments had been
allowed to be used by Christians in the Haram;
but, with his usual tact, he soon set up a strong
friendship with the Sheikh of the Holy Place,
whose family are said to have held the right of
guardianship since the time that Saladin recaptured
Jerusalem from the Crusaders in the twelfth century, and was allowed to work, without let or
hindrance, wherever he wished.
Besides the actual survey work above ground,
Wilson also carried on a considerable amount of
underground exploration, especially in the vicinity
of the site of the Temple, and made many interesting discoveries in the masses of rubbish which
have accumulated in and around the city. On
November 30th he wrote:—
" The work goes on slowly, as the country is
rough and difficult, and will keep us out here
much longer than we expected. I have been doing
a great deal of underground work lately, and have
been rewarded by several discoveries, the most
important being an entire arch of one of the
approaches to the Temple in a beautiful state of
preservation, and a fine portion of the old wall.
It is rather dirty work, crawling about in the
middle of the earth, but very interesting.
"Last week I made an expedition with Dr
Chaplin through a passage cut in the solid rock to
conduct the water from the Kedron Valley into
the Pool of Siloam. At first we were able to
stand up, but were soon brought down to our
hands and knees, and for some distance had to lie
down on our sides and wriggle along like eels: not
a comfortable sort of locomotion at any time, but
when it has to be done in six inches of water
and mud, dreadfully unpleasant. There was just
room between the water and the top of the passage
to carry our heads along and breathe. I was
leading, and managed to carry my candle through
in safety, but Dr Chaplin lost his, and got several
mouthfuls of dirty water in forcing his way
" I find much less difficulty than I expected in
getting about to different places, and, from working
quietly at first, have established a sort of right to
go wherever I like, and the inhabitants are now
quite accustomed to see my head suddenly appearing out of wells and cisterns. The greatest
difficulty I have is in getting into the interior of
private houses, especially amongst the Jews, and
they live just in the place where I want to work,
in what is called by Josephus the Lower City."
One of the important operations was the
survey of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and
the surrounding buildings on a large scale; by
no means an easy piece of work, on account of
the very complicated nature of the constructions,
which had gradually accumulated during the fifteen
centuries that had passed since the site was discovered by order of the Emperor Constantine.
In explanation of some of the difficulties Wilson
" February l§th, 1865.
" I have lately been working and drawing in
the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and seen nearly
everything that is accessible above and underground. Before commencing I had to go round
and pay all the heads of the clergy a visit, and go  ^ IS-
through the inevitable pipes and coffee with each:
rather a heavy undertaking for one afternoon.
However, I survived it, and found them all very
civil and obliging. The Latin Patriarch is immeasurably superior to any of the others, and
his house is, for Jerusalem, very comfortable
and pleasantly furnished. He is clever, and, unfortunately, shows that he knows it both in
manner and conversation. He is just what I could
imagine the proud prelates and abbots to have
been in England before King Henry made a
clean sweep of the whole lot. The Greeks and
Armenians seem to take life easily, and do not
trouble themselves much about matters either
mundane or ecclesiastical; while the Syrians and
Copts are very poor, and have but a small portion
in the large church, of which the Greeks have the
lion's share.
" The whole building is the most puzzling and
curious that 1 have ever seen; the possessions of
the five sects, and also of the Turks, being mixed
up in the wildest confusion, as if they had been
put into a bag and shaken up together. Over the
Latin chapel there is a large Turkish stable; at
the end of a Moslem mosque a Franciscan monk
has his ceU; side by side on Calvary, Greek and
Latin chapels rise up, the latter being shown as
the place where our Saviour was nailed to the
Cross, and the former over the hole in the rock
where the Cross stood; while the Syrians have
pushed in between the Greeks and Latins, and
taken possession of the so-called graves of Joseph
of Arimathea and Nicodemus.
"The Copts have tacked on a little chapel of
their own to the west end of the shrine of the
Holy Sepulchre, and the Armenians have a chapel
on the site of the (Parting of the Vestments,'
and are said to have stolen and appropriated the 50 JERUSALEM AND PALESTINE 1865
stone that was rolled away from the Sepulchre,
but a duplicate one has risen up in the church
patronised by the Latins and Greeks.
" The Greeks have a chapel dedicated to the
'Bonds,' where a large stone, with two holes in
it, is shown, in which the feet of our Saviour were
bound before the Crucifixion; whilst high above
all, on the very roof, ensconced between the two
large domes, live the veiled beauties of a Turkish
" I was greatly disgusted the other day on being
shown round several of the places by a drunken
priest: a sight scandalous enough in any church,
but in this, which professes to contain the most
sacred sites in the world, it is something outrageous.
Though I do not believe in the authenticity of
the places pointed out, it jarred terribly with the
feelings which must come over every one on visiting a church held so sacred by the greater part of
the world."
While the survey of Jerusalem was in progress
Wilson took the opportunity of examining the
surrounding country, and made many interesting
excursions, one of which was a trip by the valley
of the Kedron right down to the Dead Sea, a road
which no European had travelled by before, and
which at this time was regarded as particularly
dangerous, as the Taamri Beduin, who lived in
those parts, were up in arms against the Turkish
Government, and were supposed to rob or murder
any one who approached the Dead Sea by that
route. But though his interpreter refused to
accompany him, he went on with an Arab from
the convent of Mar Saba, and rode into the Taamri
camp, where he was well received by the Beduin, PRINCE ARTHUR'S VISIT
who were much better people than they had been
described, and who, though hostile to the Turkish
officials, were quite prepared to be friendly with
a British officer.
In the spring of 1865 His Royal Highness
Prince Arthur came on a visit to the Holy Land,
attended by Major Elphinstone,1 R.E., and Captain
Wilson was asked to act as guide to the Royal
traveller in Jerusalem and to the places of interest
in the neighbourhood. He thus described the tour
in a letter to his mother:—
" Prince Arthur came to Jerusalem last Friday
week, and left again on the following Monday
(March 27th). I did the honours of Jerusalem,
and showed him round all the places of interest.
I afterwards travelled with him for three days,
and had a very pleasant trip. The first day we
went to Solomon's pools, and the gardens of Urtas,
visited Bethlehem, and passed the night near the
convent of Mar Saba. The next day we went to
the Dead Sea, bathed in the Jordan, and camped
on the plains of Jericho, where the Pasha of
Jerusalem met us and gave the Prince a grand
entertainment. His marquee was placed on the
ruins of old Jericho, opening out on to the crystal
waters of Elisha's fountain, and here a dinner of
some sixteen courses was served. It was a strange
scene, half fairy, half wild; in the tent fine Turkish
carpets and all the luxuries of Eastern life, with
Arab love and war songs by a native band; in
front the softly-flowing water, reflecting a huge
bonfire, whose lurid glow spread over the jungle
around and brought into relief the swarthy figures
of the Pasha's guard and attendants.
" It was a sight to be remembered.   A Christian
1 The late Major-General Sir Howard C. Elphinstone, K..C.B.
m f
Prince, entertained by a Mahomedan at a place
where one of the mightiest miracles of old had
been wrought, and where all around the effects of
the curse on the land could be so plainly seen.
" The next day we went to another fine fountain
called Ain Duk, and then on by Ai to Bethel.
On the ruins of Ai we sat down and read the
eighth chapter of Joshua, and were able to realise
fully the graphic description of the taking of the
city. Down in the valley below, the men of Ai had
followed the feigned retreat of the Israelites, while,
on the slope of the northern hill, Joshua had lifted
up his spear, and given the signal to the ambush,
which, rising quickly and silently from the deep
ravines on the west, had crossed over the short
intervening ridge, and poured into the desert
city. The site is now literally what is described
in the Bible as ' an heap for ever, even a desolation unto this day/
"At Bethel we encamped in the bed of an
old reservoir, surrounded by mounds and rubbish,
which I longed to dive into with pick and shovel.
No remains are visible, but I know of hardly any
finer field for excavation, as much connected with
the old Baal worship must be buried below. It
was curious to notice that, in the far distance,
Jerusalem could be seen, and the two temples
must have been within sight of each other; and
the kings of Israel, when they went up to
worship at Bethel, must always have had before
their eyes the site where the rites of the pure
religion were performed. In the valley close by
we could see the rock-hewn tombs out of which
Josiah took the bones of the false prophets and
burnt them, when he destroyed the temple of
"Next morning the Prince's party left for
Nablus, and I returned to Jerusalem."
Before he had completed the survey of
Jerusalem Wilson was given an additional task.
The Royal Society and Royal Geographical
Society were anxious to take advantage of the
presence of the Royal Engineers in Palestine to
ascertain with scientific accuracy the difference
of level between the Mediterranean and the
Dead Sea, and each of the societies contributed
£100 towards the cost of the work. The money
was placed in the hands of Sir Henry James, who
instructed Wilson to run the line of levels. The
line selected was from the Dead Sea by way of
Jericho to Jerusalem, and thence by El Jib and
Lydda to Jaffa; and the result showed that, in
the month of March, the Dead Sea was 1,292 feet
below the Mediterranean; but, in summer, when the
Jordan is low, the difference is about six feet more.
Another line of levels was run from Jerusalem
to Solomon's pools near Bethlehem. This completed the work of the survey party, and, early in
June 1865, Wilson and his men left Jaffa for
Alexandria, which was in a state of panic on
account of the cholera epidemic, and here they
were detained for ten days, as every one who could
leave was flying from Egypt, and all the steamers
were crowded. So Wilson took the opportunity
to pay his first visit to Cairo, a place of which
he was to see much in after life. He at last
succeeded in getting a passage for his party to
Southampton, and arrived in England in the
middle of July, when he handed over the results
of his work to the Ordnance Survey to be prepared for the press. 54
The publications included plans of Jerusalem and
the vicinity on the scales of yAmj an<^ to~,oito~ > large
scale plans of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre,
the Haram, and many other important buildings;
and a collection of eighty-five photographs of all
the ancient constructions in and near the city.
These publications have proved of the greatest
possible value to all those who are interested in
the topography and history of Jerusalem, and have
been the bedrock upon which exploration and
investigation into the various questions concerning
the Holy City have been based ever since.
Captain Wilson's survey operations were
watched with the greatest interest by many in
England, and by none more than by the Rev.
Arthur P. Stanley, Dean of Westminster, and
Mr George Grove.1 Dean Stanley had travelled
through Sinai and Palestine in 1852-3, and had
again visited it with His Majesty the King, when
the latter was Prince of Wales, in 1862; and he
published the results of his observations in the
work, " Sinai and Palestine," which is one of the
best-known books treating of Biblical geography.
Mr George Grove was one of the principal contributors to Smith's Dictionary of the Bible, and
had travelled in Palestine in order to qualify himself for writing the articles on the geography and
topography of the Holy Land, which embodied
practically all that was known upon the subject at
the time the first edition of the Dictionary was
published. Mr Grove also gave much assistance
to Dean   Stanley in   bringing   out   " Sinai  and
1 The late Sir George Grove, C.B., D.C.L.
•^  If
-%. m
Palestine," and the latter always acknowledged
this help.
The great success of Wilson's survey of
Jerusalem, and the discoveries made while it was
being carried out, caused Mr Grove to take
up the idea of trying to initiate a scientific
exploration of the Holy Land, and the Dean of
Westminster gladly seconded his efforts, and lent
the Jerusalem Chamber at Westminster Abbey
on May 12th, 1865, for a meeting, over which
the Archbishop of York presided, at which the
Palestine Exploration Fund was founded, and a
committee was formed, with Mr Grove as Hon.
Secretary, to collect money and to carry out
the scientific exploration of Palestine.
The following principles were laid down for the
guidance of the new Society, principles which for
the forty-four years of its existence have been
strictly adhered to:—
1. That whatever was undertaken should be
carried out on scientific principles.
2. That the Society should, as a body, abstain
from controversy.
3. That it should not be started, nor should
it be conducted, as a religious society.
Her Majesty the Queen graciously consented
to be the Patron of the Society, and the first public
meeting was held, under the presidency of the
Archbishop of York, at WiHis's Rooms on June
22nd, 1865. A small committee, including the
Archbishop, Dean Stanley, and Professor Owen,
was appointed to draw up a statement of the
objects of the Palestine Exploration Fund.
After explaining the great need of systematic
research in the Holy Land, this statement went
on to say:—
" The survey of Jerusalem at present in progress
under the direction of Captain Wilson, R.E. (a
survey supported by the private liberality of a single
person; * as it proved, the grant of £500, made
by the generous person referred to, was unequal
to the work, which was only accomplished by the
generosity of Captain Wilson, who gave his whole
time and labour for nothing), has shown how much
may be done with tact, temper, and opportunity,
without arousing the opposition of the authorities
or inhabitants. Recent letters of Sir H. James
and others in the Times have borne testimony to
the remarkable fitness of Captain Wilson for
such undertakings, and have pointed out other
places where explorations can be advantageously
carried on."
The statement then described the work that
was proposed to be done in the elucidation of the
archaeology, topography, geology, etc., of Palestine,
and ended by saying that it was proposed to ask
Captain Wilson to undertake the preliminary work
of exploration as soon as he had completed the
survey of Jerusalem.
Immediately after his return to England Wilson
had an interview with the Executive Committee
of the Palestine Exploration Fund, and agreed to
work for them as proposed, subject to his obtaining
leave of absence from the War Office. This was
granted without difficulty, and Wilson started
again for Palestine on November 8th, accompanied
1 The late Baroness Burdett Coutts- a
by Lieutenant Anderson, R.E., who had formerly
worked with him on the North American Boundary
Commission, and who was now appointed as his
The results of the expedition were given by
Wilson as follows:*—
" The Committee decided that an expedition
should be sent out 'with the view of making
such a general survey of the country as would
enable the promoters of the Fund to fix on
particular spots for further examination, and also
to collect such general information as was compatible with the larger purposes of the expedition,
and would throw fight on any of the points
mentioned in the programme of the Exploration
Fund.' The Committee did me the honour to
offer me the command of the expedition, and,
accompanied by Lieutenant Anderson, R.E., and
one sergeant of the Royal Engineers, I left
England in November 1865.
" Landing at Beirut we proceeded to Damascus,
and, after determining the position of the lakes to
the east, went on to Banias; thence we travelled
southwards to Hebron, and afterwards made an
excursion along the maritime plain to Athlit.
" As under the circumstances of the expedition
it was impossible to carry out a satisfactory triangu-
lation, I determined to make a reconnaissance of
the country passed through, observing at the
principal stations for time and latitude, and connecting them by azimuth lines with some known
points. The results of the expedition, which
remained in the country about six months, were
briefly as follows :—
"Observations   for   time   and   latitude   were
1 See Paper read before the  Royal Geographical Society, June
23rd, 1873.
! f
taken at forty-nine different stations. A line
of azimuths was run from Banias to Jerusalem,
giving independent determinations of longitude for
the points used, Mansel's position for the Dome
of the Rock at Jerusalem being adopted as a
fixed point. A reconnaissance, on a scale of one
inch to the mile, of a district extending from Banias
to Hebron, and embracing the whole backbone of
the country. A reconnaissance of a large portion
of the maritime plain. Special surveys of the
Sea of Galilee and vicinity, Samaria, Beisan, and
Mounts Ebal and Gerizim. An examination of
the French map of the Lebanon, in which many
errors were found. More than fifty plans made
of synagogues, churches, temples, tombs, etc.,
and a number of tentative excavations at various
points which yielded good results.
" A large number of photographs were taken,
and two questions of some importance to the
geography of the country were settled: one, the
point at which the stream from Wady Zerka
enters the Jordan, the other the correct course
of Wady Surar.
" The method of conducting the reconnaissance
will be best understood from a short description
of its commencement. The latitude of Banias
was carefully fixed by astronomical observations,
and a similar determination was made of the
junction of the Jordan and Banias streams, about
five miles distant. These two places having been
connected by compass bearings, a base was
obtained on which to frame the triangulation
to the mountains on both sides of the valley.
"Explorations on horseback were made in
different directions over the valley, and the position
of all the important points fixed by compass bearings to points previously determined. From Banias
an azimuth line was  observed, with  a five-inch |B»
altitude and azimuth instrument, to a prominent
peak about ten miles distant on the west side of
the valley; and the latitude of our camp, pitched
close to this peak at the village of Hunin, was
determined astronomically, and the connection
accurately made with the different places visited
during the exploration in the valley, including
the last camp at Banias.
" At Hunin we were on the water-parting,
which was explored about eight miles further
north, to the bend of the Leontes. From Hunin
the water-parting was followed to Jerusalem, and
this afforded facilities for topographical reconnaissance, as a clear view was always obtained to
great distances both on the east and west, and
all important places visible within eight or ten
miles were fixed by triangulation. From Hunin
the line of azimuths was carried to Jerusalem,
the principal points used being Banias, Hunin,
Alma, Sasa, Safed, Nazareth, Jebel Dahi, Mount
Ebal, Mount Gerizim, Jebel Hazur, and Jerusalem.
At every camp the chronometers were carefully
rated and compared; for latitude ten observations
of a north, and ten of a south star were made, and
for time five observations of an east, and five of a west
star; the sun was rarely used, as we were generally
reconnoitring or excavating during the day; the
azimuth lines were run with a five-inch alt-azimuth
instrument, and the principal triangulation made
with the same.
1 Heights were determined by aneroid. The
reconnaissance was carried out by Lieutenant
Anderson. The constant day and night work
was very trying, but a short rest at Jerusalem
soon restored the party to perfect health."
The letters which Wilson sent home to the
Committee  of the  Palestine  Exploration  Fund 60
contain a mass of information with regard to the
archasology of the country that was traversed, but
the main result of the expedition was to show
how little was really known of the antiquities of
Palestine, and how much time and money would
be required in order to investigate them thoroughly.
In a report summarising the work done by
Wilson and his assistants, which was drawn up by
the Archbishop of York, the Dean of Westminster,
and Professor Owen, and read at the meeting of
the Society in July 1866, it was pointed out that,
"whatever successes may have been achieved are
mainly owing to the energy, intelligence, and
accuracy of Captain Wilson, which more than
fulfilled the anticipations raised by his former
operations at Jerusalem, and expressed in the
original prospectus of the Fund. Captain Wilson
was admirably seconded in all his arrangements
by his able associate, Lieutenant Anderson, R.E."  Map of
10 0
_J I L
M ^   D   JT   T
Jebel Agrib
3,6 ||
LonxLon: Joluv Murray. ill CHAPTER IV
Appointed to the Ordnance Survey of Scotland—Marriage—The
Borough Boundary Commission—The Survey of Mount Sinai—
Jebel Musa and Jebel Serbal—Conclusions arrived at—Appointed
Executive Officer of the Topographical Department.
On Wilson's return from the East in June
1866 he was at once elected as a member of the
Executive Committee of the Palestine Exploration
Fund, and was, from that time until his death,
one of the mainstays of the Society. He would
have wished to go back to the Holy Land and
continue the work that he had commenced there;
but this, for many reasons, was not possible, and
he was ordered to join the Ordnance Survey
Office at Southampton, whence he was transferred to Inverness in October, to take charge
of the Ordnance Survey of Scotland. Here he
commenced his new duties under particularly
happy circumstances, as, in January 1867, he
married Olivia, daughter of Colonel Adam Duffin,
of the Second Bengal Cavalry. They established
their home at Blythfield, near Inverness, where
he expected to remain for some years; he had
much travelling to do, looking after the different
survey parties in Scotland, and his wife frequently
accompanied him on these tours.
i , : tJ 62 THE  SURVEY  OF SINAI 1867
In the foUowing August he was appointed to
another duty. Under the Parliamentary Reform
Act of 1867, known as the "Representation of
the People Act," great changes had been made
in the constituencies of England and Wales, as
additional members had been given to certain
counties, while some boroughs had been disfranchised and new boroughs had been created.
A Boundary Commission was therefore appointed
under the Act to enquire into the existing
boundaries, and to report on the alterations that
were necessary In order to carry out the provisions of the Act, and a number of Assistant
Commissioners were nominated to hold local
enquiries, and to investigate on the spot the
conditions of each case.
Captain Wilson was requested, in conjunction with Mr J. S. Dugdale, to act as Assistant
Commissioner for part of the West Midland
District of England, which included the towns of
Bristol, Gloucester, Cheltenham, Shrewsbury, and
a number of other important boroughs in the
western counties. At each of these, enquiries were
held, and evidence was taken as to the changes
that were advisable to be made in the boundaries
of the different constituencies. The proposed new
boundaries had then to be marked out on the
Ordnance Survey maps, and a report made to the
Boundary Commission in London. As there was
occasionally considerable difference of opinion
among the local people, the matter required a
good deal of tact in reconciling various interests.
On the conclusion of the work Wilson returned PROPOSAL FOR THE SURVEY
to Inverness to resume his duties on the Ordnance
Survey, and remained there until October 1868,
when he once more started for the East in charge
of an important expedition.
To many Biblical students the geography of
the Sinaitic peninsula was naturally of great
interest, as it was the scene of the wanderings of
the Israelites after their exodus from Egypt, and
of the giving of the Law by Moses, their great
leader; but the maps of the country which were
in existence were inferior and inaccurate, so that
it was difficult for students to foUow upon them
the events of Bible history. Wilson's surveys of
Jerusalem and Palestine had showed what might
be effected by the use of modern scientific methods,
and the Rev. Pierce Butler, the rector of Ulcombe,
Kent, conceived the idea of raising a fund, to be
devoted to a really good survey of Sinai, and
proposed to carry it out himself, a work for which
he was well qualified. Before Mr Butler had
obtained sufficient money for this most desirable
object he unfortunately died; but his friends, who,
for the sake of his memory, were anxious to complete the work he had inaugurated, and others
who were interested in the project, decided not
to let the matter drop. A fund was formed,
of which Sir Roderick Murchison, Sir John
Herschel, and Sir Henry James, the Director-
General of the Ordnance Survey, were nominated
as trustees, while the actual execution of the work
was entrusted to the latter officer, who proposed
that Captain Palmer, R.E., accompanied by the
Rev. F. W. Holland, Honorary Secretary of the
».« $\ I
Palestine Exploration Fund, should carry out the
Money came in slowly, and there was some
difficulty in raising the amount that was required,
when Wilson, who had been greatly interested in
the project, wrote to Sir H. James, and said that,
as he had heard there was some trouble about the
funds, he was prepared to go out for nothing, and
to collect a sum of £200 among his friends towards
the expenses. As he was senior to Captain Palmer,
it seemed at first that this might make a difficulty,
but the latter, with great magnanimity, said that
he would be exceedingly pleased if Wilson would
go as leader of the expedition, and that he would
be very glad to serve under him. In a letter to
Wilson he wrote: " I am confident that your
coming will be of the utmost benefit to the work,
and a pleasure and relief to me." In fact, what
both Wilson and Palmer wanted was to get the
work well done, without any question of military
All the difficulties were finally surmounted, and
the Sinai expedition sailed from Southampton on
October 24th, 1868. The party was composed as
follows: — Captains Wilson and Palmer of the
Royal Engineers; the Rev. F. W. Holland, who
had previously made three tours in the Sinaitic
peninsula ; Mr E. H. Palmer,1 the eminent Oriental
scholar ; Mr Wyatt, who accompanied the expedition as naturalist at his own expense; and four
non-commissioned officers of the Royal Engineers,
1 The late Professor E.   H. Palmer, who was murdered by the
Beduin in the Sinai desert during the Egyptian campaign of 1882. to- * OBJECT OF THE EXPEDITION
one of whom, Sergeant-Major M'Donald, was an
expert photographer, and had been employed under
Wilson on the survey of Jerusalem.
The object of the expedition was summed up in
the opening paragraphs of Sir Henry James's instructions to the officers in the following words:—
"All the existing maps of the peninsula of
Sinai are said to be extremely defective, and the
object of the Ordnance Survey is to produce an
accurate map of so much of the peninsula as can
be made in the time allowed for it.
" The district to be first surveyed is that
included between the Red Sea from Suez to Tor,
and the range of mountains known as Jebel Rahah
and Jebel Tih, including the most interesting
localities at Mount Sinai and its neighbourhood,
and extending, if time will permit, to the northern
part of the gulf of Akaba.
" This map is especially required by Biblical
scholars and the public, to illustrate the Bible
history, and to enable them, if possible, to trace
the routes which were taken by the Israelites in
their wanderings through the wilderness of Sinai,
and to identify the mountain from which the
Law was given, some writers contending that
the mountain called Jebel Musa on the existing
maps was the Mount Sinai of the Bible, whilst
others contend that it was Jebel Serbal, and others
that it was Jebel Ajmeh."
After detailing the nature of the plans which
were to be prepared, Sir H. James instructed
the officers to examine the monastic and other
remains of antiquity in the peninsula, to collect
information as to the water supply, meteorology,
geology, and natural history; and to pay special 66 THE SURVEY OF SINAI 1868
attention to the native nomenclature of the country,
the Arab traditions and the Sinaitic inscriptions and
Egyptian monuments.
Reaching Suez early in November, the survey
party started at once into the desert and commenced the work, which, on account of the rocky
and mountainous nature of the country, was
frequently very difficult and sometimes dangerous.
A system of triangles was drawn over the area to be
mapped, which covered about 3,000 square miles;
and special surveys, on the scale of six inches to the
mile, were made of the mountainous districts round
Jebel Serbal and Jebel Musa. Wilson and the other
members of the expedition came unanimously to
the conclusion that the latter was the true Mount
Sinai, and the scene of the giving of the Law by
Moses to the Israelites. He thus described his
first visit to the summit of the mountain:—
" We ascended Jebel Musa from directly behind
our camp, by what we have christened ' the slide,'
a steep, sloping mass of debris rising nearly fifteen
hundred feet to the cliff of the Ras Sufsafeh; we
were about an hour scrambling to the top, and
then commenced the ascent of two peaks upon
which we were going to place cairns. There were
one or two bad places, at least to me who labours
under the disadvantage of being rather shorter
than the others, and I had to scramble up one
ledge by the help of Palmer's leg, which he hung
down for me. We did not get back to camp until
after dark, but there was a fair moon, which gave
abundance of light after the sun had set.
" The following day I ascended Jebel Musa by
an ancient flight of steps behind the convent of
St Katherine, and found  it almost worse than •^w
■sSyfo-issK  JEBEL MUSA
the slide; it is quite equal to an hour's work on
the treadmill, but we are getting into fair training,
and never stopped to draw breath until two-thirds
of the way. A short distance up there is a pretty
little spring called Moses's well; the water is kept
icy cold by a huge, overhanging rock, and round
the edge of the Water there is a circle of maidenhair fern, with its delicate green, which called forth
exclamations of delight from wanderers whose eyes
had become weary of barren rock and desert. It
is, I believe, the only place in the Sinai peninsula
where it grows, and it looks a very emerald beyond
all price.
" Higher up we came to a rude chapel dedicated
to the Virgin, and then passed through an old
gateway of the sixth century, where, in former times,
the monks were wont to confess pilgrims on their
way up. Higher still is another doorway with part
of a Greek inscription and cross, and, just beyond,
the open space in which the elders are said to have
waited whdst Moses went up the mount, which
rises from it seven hundred feet. Here is also
shown the cavern where Elijah lived, now covered
by a chapel, which seems to have become a sort of
traveller's book for those who come east to do
Mount Sinai.
" My work lay to the north of the peak of Jebel
Musa, and consisted in building cairns on three of
the peaks of the mountain. Not long after getting
back to camp we had great excitement hunting a
hyena. Some Beduin told us that one was coming
down the slide, so we all turned out; unfortunately,
the guns were out or unloaded, so every one seized
what he could. I got a big stone, and the men
their surveying poles, and away we went after the
hyena; I got within five-and-twenty yards of him,
but, after throwing my stone and missing, I had to
give up for want of breath.    I never saw an animal If;
shuffle along the ground in such a slovenly manner
Among many other peaks in the vicinity of
Jebel Musa which Wilson ascended, while carrying out the survey, was Jebel Katherine, the
highest point in the peninsula.
"We made an early start to ascend Jebel
Katherine, and an hour's hard walk brought us
to the old convent of the Arbain in Wady Leja.
Here we struck up a deep ravine to the right, with
dark, overhanging rocks on either side, and, after
some distance, reached a black hollow in the rock
(the well of the partridge), where we commenced
the real ascent by scrambling up a cleft in the
rock, and finding ourselves in snow. A long,
tedious climb over loose stones, half hidden in the
snow, then followed, and we cut through a high
ridge of rock by a narrow ravine, through which a
cold, piercing wind was blowing. One could not
help lingering a few moments to enjoy the glorious
view of Jebel Musa which rose in wild confusion
behind us, and then our troubles commenced.
" High above us towered the lofty peak crowned
with its tiny chapel; but to reach its foot was the
hardest task of all, as it entailed a weary trudge up
a snow-slide, with a footing below of loose stones,
on which one's feet slipped and one's legs went
sliding down into the drift; but at last we reached
bare rock, and, though it was coated with ice in
many places, found it a great relief, and, in a few
minutes more, wre were enjoying the view par
excellence of the Sinai peninsula.
"Away to the west was the Red Sea, our
highway to the wealth of India, bounded by the
mountains of the great African desert, out of
which rose, sharp and clear, the giant peak of  If JEBEL SERBAL
Jebel Agrib; while on the east we could see the
bright blue waters of the gulf of Akaba, once
alive with the ships and Tyrian crews of Solomon,
as they passed to and fro on their voyages for gold
to the mysterious Ophir, now silent, deserted,
and hardly disturbed by an occasional Arab boat.
" Beyond, again, were the rugged unknown
peaks of Arabia, and the broad, level strip down
which the Haj road leads to Mecca. To the
north, wild and desolate, was the high chalk ridge
—that ' great and terrible wilderness' where the
twelve tribes wandered about for so many weary
years; while, to the south, were the peaks of
Um Shomar, rivalling and almost exceeding Jebel
Serbal in their rugged outlines. We made the
height of Jebel Katherine to be 8,450 feet, and
found that even Shomar was a few feet less, so
Katherine has no longer a rival."
The survey of Jebel Musa and the surrounding
country was completed by the end of December,
and on January 1st, 1869, Wilson broke up his
camp near the convent of St Katherine, and
travelled by Wady Solaf to Wady Feiran, where
the camp was pitched at El Maharrad, north of
the great mountain mass of Jebel Serbal, and in
a convenient situation for surveying this peak,
which was regarded by some writers as the true
Mount Sinai of the Bible. Wilson thus relates
their arrival at the new camp:—
% January Srd.
" We reached our resting-place in Wady Feiran,
close to the ruins of the church and convent, or,
as it has been called, the old episcopal city of
Faran. Our walk was a very pleasant one, most
of the way through the long palm grove, which
».*    1 70 THE SURVEY OF SINAI 1869
has been the theme of so much praise; the poor
palms suffered severely in the recent floods, and,
strange anomaly in the desert! our path was often
stopped by fallen timber. The scenery is here finer
than at Jebel Musa, and the colour brighter and
more varied from the veining of the rocks, but the
great feature is the crest of Jebel Serbal, with
its ridge of battlemented peaks towering high
"We had a great row with our Beduin, who
had left us in the lurch coming from Jebel Musa,
and we determined to discharge them all and get
new ones. The poor old sheikh, who had brought
us from Suez, and who was the ringleader of the
trouble, was in a great state, and at last lay down
on the ground, rolling in the dust, and shouting
out: 'Beat me, beat me, khawajil' But the
khawaji wTere not to be appeased, and our old
friend, finding his schemes of no avail, came to
say good-bye in the most friendly manner.
" The Beduin look upon us as entirely different
from ordinary travellers ; they cannot imagine what
we are doing, and have to fall back on the popular
belief that we must be possessed with some infernal
demon, which prompts us to be continually climbing the highest mountains for no other purpose
than building piles of stones and whitewashing
them: a proceeding which seems to them the height
of insanity, and calls forth a torrent of exclamations, ringing all the changes upon Allah which
the Arab vocabulary possesses, and that is by no
means a small one. We are always, however,
great friends, for they have a real respect for
men who can bear as much, if not more, fatigue
than they can, and they soon found out that the
khawaji always had a kind word for them, paid
them regularly, and generally had a little tobacco
or flour to spare when they were good. ■w*
Wilson and his party remained for some weeks
in Wady Feiran, and, besides making the survey
of Jebel Serbal, thoroughly explored the many
valleys in its vicinity, collecting a mass of interesting information with reference to the antiquities,
geology, and natural history of the country. They
then traveUed slowly back to Suez, surveying as
they went along, and recording everything of importance on the road. Seven hundred miles of
route surveys were laid down, and an area of
about 4,000 square miles was reconnoitred, while
observations for latitude were made at thirty-six
encampments. It was hard and unceasing work
for all the party during the five months that were
spent in the peninsula, but the results obtained
amply justified the labour that had been expended
in their realisation. Just as Wilson's survey of
Jerusalem has been the basis of all subsequent
exploration in that city, so his survey of the Sinai
peninsula is the foundation of scientific examination of the scene of the wanderings of the Israelites.
The main question, for the solution of which
the expedition had been sent out, was settled
completely, as Wilson and his companions were
unanimously of opinion that Jebel Musa, and not
Jebel Serbal, was the Mount Sinai of the Bible,
from which Moses brought down the Tables of
the Law. In an address which he gave at the
Royal Institution after his return from the East,
Captain Wilson summed up the topographical
features which had to be fulfilled, in order to
meet the conditions of the problem.
1st.   There  was   a   mountain   summit   over- 72 THE  SURVEY  OF  SINAI 1869
looking a plain upon which the Children of Israel
could be all assembled.
At Musa there is the great cliff of the Ras
Sufsafeh, overlooking the plain of Er Rahah,
while, in the case of Jebel Serbal, there is no
such plain, and the host of Israel would have had
to assemble in two separate valleys, divided from
each other by a high ridge of granite.
2nd. The place on which the Israelites
assembled must have such a relation to the
mountains that the people could stand at the
" nether part of the mount" and yet " remove and
stand afar off."
This condition is perfectly fulfilled at Jebel
Musa, and hardly at all at Jebel Serbal.
3rd. The summit of the Mount of the Law
should be a well-defined peak, visible from the
nether part of the mount as well as from afar
off, and easily distinguished as the " top of the
mount" on which the Lord came down.
This is eminently the case with the grand peak
of the Ras Sufsafeh, but no particular peak could
be selected in the ridge of Jebel Serbal as that
on which the Law was given.
4th. The mountains should rise precipitously
from the place of assembly; the people are said
to have stood "under it" and apparently at the
same time to have been able to see the summit;
it was also a mountain that could be touched.
This applies in a remarkable manner to the
cliff of Ras Sufsafeh, but not at all to Serbal,
where the real summit stands back from the face
of the mountain. JEBEL SERBAL.
5th. The mount should be sufficiently isolated to
allow of the possibility of setting bounds round it.
The mass of Jebel Musa is isolated in a peculiar
manner from the mountains round it by the two
valleys, Wady Leja and Wady ed Deir, so that
there would be no difficulty in marking out a limit
for the people; but, as Jebel Serbal is only the
highest point of a great mountain mass, it would
be almost impossible to isolate the summit.
After completing the whole of the work in
connection with the survey of Sinai, Captain
Wilson returned to England in May 1869.
In the previous January he had received a
letter from Sir Henry James asking whether he
would like to be recommended for the appointment
of Executive Officer of the Topographical Department at the War Office instead of going back to
Inverness, and had accepted the proposal. Shortly
afterwards he was given definite orders to join at
the War Office in order to take up his new duties.
I1 «
History of the Topographical Department — Separation from the
Ordnance Survey—Origin of the Intelligence Department—
Wilson's work at the War Office—Appointed to the Ordnance
Survey, Ireland—Elected Fellow of the Royal Society—Sir C.
Warren's explorations in Jerusalem—The Survey of Palestine.
At the time that Captain Wilson was appointed,
the Topographical Department was directly connected with the Ordnance Survey at Southampton,
the Director-General of the latter, Sir Henry James,
holding also the position of Director of the former.
Since its commencement in 1784, the work of
the Ordnance Survey had always been a military
duty under the Board of Ordnance, and it was
for military purposes that the Duke of Richmond, then Master - General of the Ordnance,
had ordered the preparation of a map of the
United Kingdom in 1791. But, although the
matter was first taken up officially at that date,
the credit for the idea of making a map of the
country is due to Captain David Watson of
the Engineers, who, as Deputy-Quartermaster in
Scotland, after the suppression of the rebellion
of 1745, had realised the importance of making
a survey of the districts that had been the scene
of the military operations, and had entrusted the
74 I*.
execution of the work to Lieutenant W. Roy,
also of the Engineers, who made the first military
survey on a large scale carried out in Great Britain.
But the Department of the Ordnance Survey,
when authorised by the Government, had only to
deal with the military survey of Great Britain,
and had nothing to do with the collection of
maps of the colonies or of foreign countries.
As the want of such an office was much felt
during the wars in the latter part of the eighteenth
century, the Duke of York, at that time Commander-in-Chief, authorised in 1803 the establishment of a branch of the Quartermaster-General's
office, which was to be called the "Depot of
Military Knowledge," where all the information
about military matters in the colonies and foreign
countries that could be collected was to be kept
for reference.
During the long peace that followed the battle
of Waterloo, the Depot of Military Knowledge
appears to have fallen into a condition of small
importance, and but little was done in the way
of collecting maps of foreign countries. This
unfortunate state of affairs was brought to the
notice of the Government in 1846 by Major
T. B. Jervis, a retired officer of the Bombay
Engineers, who, having been employed on the
Survey of India, was well acquainted with geographical work. Major Jervis pointed out that
England was in a worse position as regards
geographical knowledge than any other important
country, and strongly urged the establishment
of a proper department to prepare geographical 76        WAR OFFICE, ORDNANCE SURVEY    1854-5
information for the use of the Government, and
thus avoid in future the evils due to the want of
such information.
But his proposal fell on deaf ears, and it was
not until 1854, when the Crimean War showed
that there was some advantage in being provided
with maps of foreign countries, that any action
was taken. At that time the maps of the Crimea
in the possession of the British Government were
of a very inferior description, but Major Jervis
managed to get possession of a copy of the Russian
Staff map of the Crimea, and also of the Austrian
Staff map of Turkey, and offered them to the
Government for reproduction for the use of the
British army in the field. The Government was
unwilling to incur the expense, and informed Major
Jervis that if he liked to reproduce them at his
own cost they might purchase some copies, upon
which he immediately set to work and got the
maps reproduced so rapidly that they were ready
for the British expeditionary force when it landed
in the Crimea.
At last the Government began to understand that
there was some advantage in Major Jervis's proposals ; and, in February 1855, he was informed that
the foundation of a Statistical and Topographical
Office in connection with the War Department was
approved, and that it was proposed to appoint him
as Superintendent. It was intended that this new
office should absorb the existing Topographical
Dep6t under the Quartermaster - General, which
had certainly not justified its existence, but over
which  the Secretary-at-War had no control,  as 1869     THE TOPOGRAPHICAL DEPARTMENT     77
it was in the office of the Commander-in-Chief, a
completely separate department. The amalgamation was, however, not effected during the lifetime of Major Jervis, who, after doing much to
create an effective Topographical Department,
died in April 1857.
Immediately after. his death Lord Panmure,
the Secretary of State for War, appointed a
committee to report on the Topographical and
Statistical Department; and, as the result of
their recommendation, the Ordnance Survey, the
Topographical Department of the War Office, and
the Topographical Department under the Quartermaster-General, were united, and Lieutenant-
Colonel James, R.E. (afterwards Sir H. James),
was appointed Director of the amalgamated office.
It was also arranged that, as the Director had
much work at Southampton, there should be
under him, in London, an Executive Officer of
the Topographical Branch, and it was to this
latter position that Captain Wilson was appointed
in May 1869.
As soon as he joined the office, which was
at that time in New Street, Spring Gardens, he
at once set to work, with his usual energy, to
make himself thoroughly acquainted with the
business of the Department, and to consider what
improvements could be introduced in order to
make it more efficient. A proposal was then
under consideration for the complete separation
of the Ordnance Survey and the Topographical
Department, by handing over the former to the
Office of Works, and placing the latter directly WAR OFFICE, ORDNANCE SURVEY       1870
under the War Office. The reason for the change
was that the object of the Ordnance Survey had
altered, as it was no longer employed in making
military maps of the country, but maps for civil
purposes, and that therefore it was more correct
that the cost should be a charge upon the Civil,
and not upon Army Votes.
The change was carried out early in 1870, and
the Ordnance Survey, with Sir Henry James as
Director-General, was transferred to the Office of
Works, while Captain Wilson was promoted from
being Executive Officer to the position of Director
of the Topographical Department on April 1st, 1870.
Shortly afterwards he prepared, at the request of Mr
Card well, the Secretary of State for War, a careful
report, showing the defects of the Department,
as it was then organised, and the alterations which
he considered were necessary to make it effective.
He pointed out that the recommendations of the
Committee that had considered the matter in 1857
had never been carried out, that the collection of
maps of foreign countries was very incomplete, and
that there were no means for keeping the office
supplied with information from abroad. On the
receipt of this report, Mr Cardwell appointed a
committee to examine into the question, and, in
consequence of their recommendations, Wilson's
proposals were practically adopted in their entirety.
These proposals were briefly as follows:—
The Department was to be divided into two
The Topographical Section;
The Statistical Section.
The Topographical Section was to be charged
with the duty of collecting maps and plans,
illustrative of past, and likely to be useful in
future military operations, and of producing the
maps required for military expeditions.
The Statistical Department was to collect
information as regards military matters in foreign
countries, and to print and issue this information
in such a form as would be useful not only to the
Secretary of State and the War Office officials,
but to the whole army. All the countries in the
world were to be arranged in three divisions, over
each of which an officer was to be placed, who
was to be made responsible for the information from
each of the countries included in his division.
Wilson also prepared a complete scheme for
the classification of the information collected, so
as to make it readily available when required.
These proposals formed the basis of the Intelligence Department as it now exists, and of which
Wilson may be regarded as the originator. They
were far in advance of anything that had been
suggested previously, and showed his thorough
grasp of the situation. As soon as the authority
of the Secretary of State was received, he at
once commenced to reorganise the Topographical
Department on the lines that he had laid down,
and the way in which he carried this out is
described in a letter which he wrote to a friend
soon afterwards.
" As soon as I was acquainted with the details
of the Topographical Department, after being
appointed to it in 1869, I drew Sir Henry James's ■
attention to the small amount of authentic information relating to foreign armies which the Department possessed, though its collection was laid down
as one of the duties entrusted to it. Shortly
afterwards the Ordnance Survey was transferred
to the Office of Works, and I was directed to
take charge of the Department. I addressed a
minute to Sir Edward Lugard, and this led to the
Committee on the Topographical Department,
whose report you have no doubt read, and this
will show that I have always had the same object
in view.
" This object is to collect in peace time such
information relating to foreign armies that, on the
outbreak of war with any country, we should be
able at once to send to press, and publish for the
use of officers of our army, a pamphlet containing
the fullest and most recent details concerning the
hostile army: its composition, organisation, tactics,
arms, artillery, dress, equipment, etc., as well as
of the roads, railways, mountain passes, etc., falling
within the probable area of the operations.
"The information thus collected would also, I
think, be extremely valuable during any discussions
on army reform and organisation, in Parliament,
and elsewhere, in time of peace.
" The manner in which I am trying to work
out my scheme is, in the first place, to get the
officers of the Department to prepare a thoroughly
accurate account of the armies of the different
countries as they exist at present, and then, through
the reports of military attaches and others, to keep
careful notes of all changes which may be introduced into them. There is not at present in the
possession of Government a trustworthy account
of any foreign army, and I am almost ashamed to
say that had any complications arisen with France
last year, and we had been asked for information, 1S72-3    THE INTELLIGENCE DEPARTMENT
we should have had to translate a German work on
the French army as giving a better account of it
than we could prepare ourselves. In the case of
our going to war, the other Departments would
be fully occupied in preparing for the struggle, and
would have no time then to answer questions
about equipment, etc., and there should be a
Department able to furnish such general information on these points as officers in the field would
require. It is difficult to separate the purely
technical details, but what I think we should be
able to do is to give such information as every
staff officer should possess on taking the field."
Although a great step in advance had been
made in the working of the Topographical Department, Wilson felt, after a year's experience, that
sufficient had not yet been done to meet the
requirements of the case; and, in 1872, at the
request of Mr Cardwell, he submitted a new
scheme, proposing an extension of the Department, and that, to emphasise its importance, it
should be placed under an officer of high rank.
This was a self-denying suggestion, as it would
have the result of making Wilson second in
command instead of head of the Department, but
he was one who always thought more of the needs
of the public service than of his own position.
Wilson's new proposals met with the approval
of Mr Cardwell, who, in his speech at the Committee on Army Estimates in the House of
Commons on February 24th, 1873, announced
the intention of the Government to establish an
Intelligence Department with a Deputy Adjutant-
General as Chief, and to amalgamate with it the
SB 82        WAR OFFICE,  ORDNANCE SURVEY      1873
" Topographical Department, under that most excellent officer, Captain Wilson." In accordance
with this decision Major-General Sir Patrick Mac-
dougal was appointed as Chief of the Intelligence
Department with the rank of Deputy Adjutant!!
General, while Captain Wilson continued to hold
the appointment of Director under him. The
general scope of the enlarged Department was
defined to be—
1. The collection of all statistical and topo
graphical information which it would be
useful to possess in the event of invasion
or foreign war.
2. The application of such information, in
respect to the measures, considered and
determined on during peace, which should
be adopted in war, so that no delay might
arise from uncertainty and hesitation.
It was arranged that the Chief of the Intelligence Department was to be directly under the
Commander-in-Chief, and take his instructions from
him, and not from the Quartermaster - General,
but was to supply the latter with all information
that he required.
Captain Wilson, who was promoted to the rank
of Major in May 1873, continued to work with
great energy at the organisation of the Intelligence
Department, and, in the following January, had to
make the arrangements for moving the office to
Adair House,1 in St James Square, close to the
War Office, Pall Mall, where there was much
1 Adair House has since been removed, the site having been taken
for the enlargement of the Junior Carlton Club. 1875      THE INTELLIGENCE DEPARTMENT
better accommodation than at Spring Gardens,
and which had the advantage of being in close
proximity to the office of the Commander-in-
Chief and Headquarter Staff. In August another
change was made, rather of a retrograde nature,
as it was decided that the Intelligence and Topographical Departments were to be placed under the
Quartermaster - General, and Sir P. Macdougal's
title was altered from that of Deputy Adjutant-
General to Deputy Quartermaster-General.
From time to time Major Wilson sent in proposals for the increase of the Department, and, by
the end of 1875, the staff had been considerably
augmented, and was then composed of the Deputy
Quartermaster - General, the Assistant Quartermaster - General (Major Wilson), five Deputy
Assistant Quartermasters - General, besides ten
attached officers. Although others had assisted in
the work of progress, there can be no doubt that
it was Wilson's determination to bring the office
into a satisfactory condition that was the main
factor in bringing about the desired result; and,
when his term of six years' staff service at the
War Office came to an end on March 31st, 1876,
he had the satisfaction of feeling that he had been
able to do effective work for the benefit of the
British army.
It is, of course, not possible to give a full
account of the duties of the Intelligence Department during the time that he was connected
with it, but the increase in the output may be
understood from the fact that whereas, on April
1st, 1870, when the  Topographical Department f
84        WAR OFFICE,  ORDNANCE SURVEY       1876
was separated from the Ordnance Survey, there
was one officer besides Captain Wilson, one military
clerk, and thirteen civil assistants: on the other
hand, before he left the War Office, there were
employed in the Intelligence Department seventeen officers, eleven military clerks, and fourteen
civil assistants.
For his services at the War Office Wilson
had the honour of being created a Companion of
the Bath, a distinction he greatly valued, as it was
a tangible proof that his hard work had been
Prior to leaving the War Office he had been
engaged in the compilation of a map of Afghanistan for the Secretary of State for India, and, after
he had given up his duties at the Intelligence
Department, he worked upon the map at the
India Office until August 1876, when he was
selected for the position of Director of the
Ordnance Survey in Ireland, and proceeded to
Dublin to take up this new appointment.
During the year spent in London Wilson
was able to do much good work with regard
to matters outside his military duties, although
indirectly connected with them in so far as they
concerned geography and exploration, the two
keenest interests of his life.
In 1869, shortly after his appointment to the
Topographical Office, he became a Fellow of the
Royal Geographical Society, and in 1872 was
elected a Member of the Council of that Society,
to whom he gave an address in the following year
descriptive of his surveys in Palestine, Jerusalem, 1869-74  FELLOW OF THE  ROYAL SOCIETY
and Sinai, an address which was very characteristic
of the man, as he said as little as he could about
his own share in the different expeditions, and
gave as much credit as possible to those who
had assisted him. But this was the essence of
his nature, and the enthusiastic way in which he
described the work done by others, and the manner
in which he passed by the greater things that he
had done himself, gives an example that might be
followed without disadvantage by other explorers.
In 1869 Wilson was selected as Member of
the Council of the Royal United Service Institution ; in 1872 as Member of Council of the Biblical
Archaeological Society; and in 1874 he was elected
a Fellow of the Royal Society. In the proposal
for his election to the Royal Society, he was
described as —
"A practical astronomer and geographer, and
distinguished for his literary and archaeological
attainments. Was engaged on the survey of the
Oregon Boundary from the Pacific to the Rocky
mountains. Was in charge of the Ordnance
Survey of Jerusalem, and the exploratory surveys
in Palestine, and was in charge of the Ordnance
Survey of Sinai."
During the year 1874 Major Wilson was
President of the Geographical section of the
British Association at Belfast, and, in the very
interesting address with which he opened the
session, he called particular attention to " the
importance of the study of physical geography
to all those who have to plan or take part in a
campaign, and to the contributions to geographical 86        WAR OFFICE, ORDNANCE SURVEY      1874
science that are due, directly or indirectly, to war,
and the necessity of preparing for war." He then
went on to show how the study of geography from
a military point of view had been neglected in
England, and how much more had been done,
and was being done, in this direction by foreign
nations. The whole address was, in fact, an
expression of the principles upon which he was
endeavouring to work in the Intelligence Department, and it is rather to be regretted that it was
given at the British Association and not to an
audience of British officers.
Another point upon which he dealt at considerable length was with respect to the very
indifferent way in which geography was taught
in schools as compared with the methods adopted
in other countries, and he showed the defects of
the ordinary school maps and school atlases used
in England. Some improvements have been
effected since Wilson delivered this address, but
the teaching of geography still remains in a
condition that leaves much to be desired.
A Society to the work of which Major Wilson
devoted great attention, while stationed in London,
was the Palestine Exploration Fund, the foundation of which, as has already been described, was
in considerable part due to his successful conduct
of the Ordnance Survey of Jerusalem in 1864-1865.
After returning from his second expedition to the
Holy Land in 1866, he had become a Member
of the Executive Committee of the Society, and,
although unable to attend the meetings regularly
on account   of   being stationed in Scotland,  he 1866-7
worked zealously for the Fund, and gave addresses
at Inverness and other places, with the object of
informing the public of what had already been
done, and of obtaining donations and subscriptions
in aid of the explorations.
Wilson was anxious that a careful trigonometrical survey of Palestine should be made in
the first instance, as his experience had proved
that this would not be a difficult undertaking, and
he considered that a really accurate map of the
country would form the best basis for a scientific
investigation of its topography, archaeology, etc.
The Committee, however, after careful consideration of the matter, decided that it would
be best to continue the explorations in Jerusalem,
which had been commenced by Captain Wilson,
when engaged on the survey of the city; and, in
February 1867, Lieutenant Warren, R.E.,1 who
had previously made an excellent survey of
Gibraltar, was sent out with a party of noncommissioned officers of the Royal Engineers to
carry out the excavations. The explorations were
to be made with the object of settling, if possible,
some much - disputed points with reference to
the real position of certain historical sites in
Jerusalem.    These included:—
The site of the Temple of the Jews; the site
of the churches built by the Emperor Constantine
and of the Holy Sepulchre; the course of the three
walls by which ancient Jerusalem was surrounded;
the position of the gates in these walls, and of
1 Now General Sir C. Warren, G.C.M.G., K.C.B., F.R.S, f
88        WAR OFFICE,  ORDNANCE SURVEY    1868-9
certain important buildings mentioned in the Bible
and by Josephus.
Warren worked for three years, and his well-
known explorations, both on the surface, and more
especially underground, threw a flood of light on
the topography and history of the city, and in
part solved the questions which he had been sent
to investigate, though some of these still remain
in dispute at the present time.
Besides his explorations in Jerusalem itself,
Warren did a good deal of reconnaissance work
in different parts of Palestine, and added much to
the information which Wilson and Anderson had
collected in the previous expedition. He surveyed
the valley of the Jordan from the Sea of Galilee
to the Dead Sea, and a considerable area of the
country westward of the river, and also the plain
of Philistia, fixing the latitude and longitude of a
large number of places, and their altitudes above
While Captain Warren was still in Jerusalem,
Captain Wilson and Mr Holland proposed to the
Committee of the Palestine Exploration Fund
that another expedition should be sent out to
report upon the Desert of the Tih, the great
desolate region north of Sinai, through which
the Israelites had spent the forty weary years of
wandering after their exodus from Egypt, and
before they were allowed to enter the Promised
Land. This district lay outside the area which
Wilson had surveyed in 1868-1869, and, though
it was not possible to make an accurate map such
as he had prepared of Jebels Musa and Serbal and 1869-70     DESERT OF THE WANDERINGS
the surrounding country, he was very anxious that
steps should be taken to obtain a better knowledge
of the Tih than was then available. The Committee concurred in the proposal, and, fortunately,
good men were available to carry out the work,
as Mr E. H. Palmer, the eminent Arabic scholar,
who had taken part in the Sinai survey, and
Mr C. Tyrwhitt Drake, of Cambridge University,
were both anxious to explore the region in question.
The Committee granted £400 for the expenses
of the expedition, to which the University added
a sum of money, on the understanding that Mr
Drake would report on the natural history of the
district reconnoitred.
Their instructions were drawn up by Wilson,
who also taught the explorers how to take astronomical observations, and to make such surveys
as were possible during their tour in the desert—
knowledge which no one was more competent to
impart. Arriving at Suez in December 1869,
Messrs Palmer and Drake began by surveying the
Wady Gharandel, and then went on to Jebel Musa,
which the former had visited previously when working with the Sinai survey expedition. Thence they
proceeded to Ain Hudherah, a point that had been
accurately fixed by Captain Wilson, and which
formed the basis of their future work, and then
across the desolate country to the confines of
Palestine, gathering a mass of useful information
on the way.
After the return of Captain Warren and
Messrs Palmer and Drake to London, Wilson
again brought forward the question of having a 90 WAR OFFICE,  ORDNANCE  SURVEY       1&71
proper survey made of Western Palestine, and
was requested by the Executive Committee of the
Fund to prepare a report, showing how the work
had best be done, and what amount of money
would be required to carry it out. This report and
estimate were accepted by the Committee, and
it was then decided to call for subscriptions from
the public in order to raise the sum of £15,000,
which Wilson considered would be required to
make a thoroughly effective survey: naturally a
much more expensive business than the reconnaissances which had already been executed.
Wilson, who was always the working man, was
next requested to obtain permission from the War
Office for an officer and some men of the Royal
Engineers to be detailed for the service; and, when
this had been satisfactorily accomplished, to recommend the officer to be employed, and to draw up
his instructions. The officer who was selected,
Captain Stewart, R.E., and the non-commissioned
officers, Sergeants Black and Armstrong, left
England in October 1871 on the most important
scientific work of exploration ever undertaken in
Palestine, and, on landing at Jaffa, at once commenced the survey of the country. They were
joined by Mr Tyrwhitt Drake, who, from his knowledge of Arabic and previous training with Mr
Palmer, was a great acquisition to the survey party.
His co-operation was all the more important
as, shortly after his arrival in Palestine, Captain
Stewart was taken seriously ill, and was ordered
to return to England.
The object   of  the   survey,  as   embodied in
1 tir 1871-4
the instructions drawn  up  by Wilson, were as
1. To obtain an accurate map of the country,
showing, in addition to the topographical features,
the sites of all towns, villages, roads, etc.
2. To collect, as far as possible, the native names
and traditions connected with the various places.
3. To make tentative excavations where necessary.
4. To make meteorological observations and
notes on the geology, botany, and zoology of the
country as far as possible.
5. To take opportunities of making excavations
at Jerusalem, and plans and drawings of interesting archaeological remains.
It was decided to draw the maps on the scale
of one inch to the mile, the same scale as the
Ordnance Survey of Great Britain.
Captain Stewart was, unfortunately, too ill to
return to Palestine, and was succeeded in July
1872 by Lieutenant Conder,1 R.E., whose name
is now so well known in connection with the
survey. During the interval that elapsed before
his arrival the work was admirably carried on by
the non - commissioned officers, Sergeants Black
and Armstrong, the latter of whom has been for
many years the acting Secretary of the Palestine
Exploration Fund.
In 1874 Mr Drake was attacked by fever and
died, and his place on the survey was taken by
Lieutenant   Kitchener,2  R.E., who  brought the
1 Now Colonel Conder, LL.D., R.E.
2 Now General Viscount Kitchener of Khartum, O.M., G.C.B. t
work to a conclusion in 1878, and the great map
was lithographed at the Ordnance Survey Office,
and published in 1880. It has proved of the
greatest value to Biblical students, and to all
those who are interested in the topography and
archaeology of the Holy Land, and it should never
be forgotten that a large part of the credit
for its having been commenced and brought to so
successful a conclusion is due to Wilson.
When Wilson took over charge of the Ordnance
Survey Office of Ireland in September 1876, he
found that it required a considerable amount of
reorganisation both as regards the internal arrangements and the execution of the work, and he at
once began to introduce the necessary reforms,
as regards which he received the fullest support
from Major-General Cameron, R.E., the Director-
General of the Ordnance Survey. Reforms are
not always acceptable to the people who are being
reformed, and at first there was some opposition
to the changes which he desired to introduce into
the working of the Department; but his quiet
tact and unfailing good temper soon got the better
of the difficulties, especially when the employes
began to realise his absolute justice and constant
regard for the interests of those who fulfilled their
duties satisfactorily.
Besides the regular work of the Ordnance
Survey, Wilson had much to do with the preparation of plans for use in the Landed Estates Court,
a matter which also stood in need of improvement,
and he was appointed member of a Commission to
enquire into the office for the Registry of Deeds 1877 LANDED ESTATES COURT 98
in Ireland, on which he was able to do much useful work, and to introduce advantageous changes
in the methods adopted. It was one of the
most striking features of his character that whatever might be the business he was connected with
he threw himself into it with all his energy, and
endeavoured to leave it better than he had found it. CHAPTER   VI
The Treaty of Berlin—Appointed British Commissioner for the Servian
Boundary—Belgrade — Nisch — Vranja—The delimitation of the
Boundary—Visit to Albania—Promoted Brevet Lieutenant-Colonel
for Work in Servia.
The Russo-Turkish War of 1877-1878 came to an
end on March 3rd, 1878, when the Sultan accepted
the terms of peace offered by Russia, and the
Treaty of San Stefano, embodying the arrangement agreed to by the plenipotentiaries of the
two countries, was signed.
But the other great powers of Europe considered that they should be consulted with regard
to so important an international question as the
future extent of the Turkish dominions, and
a Congress was assembled at Berlin on June
13th, 1878, to examine and revise the Treaty of
San Stefano, especially those parts of it which
dealt with the disposition of the provinces in the
Balkan peninsula. After much deliberation a
further treaty was drawn up and agreed to by the
European Powers, including Russia and Turkey,
in which the future condition of these states was
clearly defined and their relative boundaries fixed,
so far as this could be done by description
and by map. But this adjustment of the inter-
94 1878
state frontiers, although settled on paper by the
Treaty of Berlin, required to be finally arranged
by marking out the different boundary lines
(some of which were of a complicated nature) on
the actual ground. A number of international
commissions were therefore appointed to carry out
the work of surveying the lines of demarcation
between the different states, and to arrange, as
far as possible, the points of dispute, which usually
arise, when a boundary, as settled by treaty, has
to be brought into accordance with the natural
features of the country.
As the extent of boundaries to be settled
between the different Balkan states was very
considerable, and as it was desirable that the work
should be completed as rapidly as possible, four
international commissions were appointed, i.e., for
Bulgaria, Eastern Rumelia, Servia, and Montenegro ; and British Commissioners were nominated
to serve on these, of whom Major Wilson, who
was at that time Director of the Ordnance Survey
in Ireland, was selected as one.
No better appointment could have been made.
The experience he had gained as a young officer on
the North American Boundary Commission, the
acquaintance with the East, which he had acquired
when engaged on the Palestine and Sinai surveys,
and his great knowledge of topographical work,
aU made him exceptionally well suited for the
duties of British representative on a boundary
commission. In fact, there are but few officers
who combine in themselves more of the qualifications required for the position. I
The first intimation he received that he had
been ehosen was in a telegram from the Deputy
Adjutant-General at the War Office, informing
him that he had been selected for special duty
in Turkey, and was to report himself in London
with the least possible delay; and a second
telegram, despatched a few hours later, stated
that he had been appointed to act as the British
representative upon the Commission which was to
settle the boundary between Turkey and Servia, and
that he was to proceed at once to Belgrade to meet
the other members of the International Commission.
His definite instructions from the Secretary of
State for Foreign Affairs were contained in the
following letter, which is given in fiill, as it
indicates the nature of the duties with which he
was charged:—
" The Marquis of Salisbury to Major
Wilson, R.E.
"Foreign Office, September 2Mh, 1878.
" The Queen having been graciously pleased to
appoint you to be Her Majesty's Commissioner
to take part in the demarcation of the new frontier
assigned to Servia by the Treaty of Berlin, I
have to instruct you to proceed without delay
to Belgrade, where the Commissioners of the
other Powers are already assembled.
" The frontier, which it will be the duty of the
Commission to settle, is laid down in general terms
in Article XXXIV. of the Treaty, of which a
copy is herewith inclosed for your information and
guidance. The discussions which took place in
the Congress at Berlin on the subject wiU be found
in the 7th, 8th, 15th, 16th, and 19th Protocols of
I 1878
that Assembly, of which copies are also inclosed
" You win observe that by Article II. of the
Treaty, the settlement of the frontiers of Bulgaria
is entrusted to the European Commission constituted under that Article. Consequently, in the
absence of any agreement between the Signatory
Powers to the contrary, the Commission of which
you are a member is charged only with the demarcation of that portion of the new Servian frontier
which borders on Turkey proper, leaving to the
Bulgarian Boundary Commission the delimitation
of the remaining portion, which separates the territory ceded to Servia from the new Principality.
" I transmit to you further, for your information
and guidance, copy of a letter from General Sir
L. Simmons, from which you will perceive that,
before leaving Berlin, the members of the Committee employed in the description of the frontiers
laid down in the Treaty compared together the
tracings on their several maps with the descriptions
given in the Treaty. A certified facsimile copy of
that portion of the map, so compared by Captain
Ardagh, which bears on it the tracing of the new
.& . **5
Servian  frontier, has been prepared for your use
and is inclosed herewith, together with a copy of
Captain Ardagh's Memorandum of what passed
on the occasion of the comparison.
" I have only further to observe that the object
of Her Majesty's Government in sending a Commissioner to take part in the work before you has
been to contribute, as far as lies in their power,
to a complete and impartial settlement of any
questions which may arise in regard to the demarcation of the new frontier. They are desirous that
a settlement should be arrived at m conformity
with the spirit of the Treaty, which shall be fair
and satisfactory to both parties, and of such a
kind as will obviate the occurrence in the future
of irritating questions of detail.
"It will be very desirable, for the sake of
expedition, that the Commission should settle
questions of detail and of minor importance by a
vote of the majority. In regard to matters which
seem to involve points of substantial importance,
you will endeavour to procure the adoption by
the dissentient members of such compromise or
arrangement as may seem to you equitable and
in accordance with the intentions of the Signatory
Powers. Should you find it impossible to secure
such an agreement, you will arrange with your
colleagues to refer the matter to your respective
Governments, endeavouring, at the same time,,
to secure the adhesion of a majority of the Commissioners to the solution which appears to you
fair and desirable.
" I inclose copies of a despatch and telegram
from Her Majesty's Representative at Belgrade,
which will give you some particulars as to the
state of affairs in regard to the Commission. I
should wish you to communicate freely with Mr
Gould upon all matters relating to the proceedings
of the Commission, and I also think it would be
desirable that, on passing through Vienna, you
should place yourself in communication with Her
Majesty's Ambassador at that capital, who may
be able to give you further information and any
advice or assistance of which you may stand in
Wilson started for Servia at once, and arrived
at Belgrade on September 29th, where Lieutenant
J. F. G. Ross1 of Bladensburg, of the Coldstream
Guards, who had been appointed Assistant British
Commissioner, joined him on the following day.
1 Now Colonel Sir J. F. G. Ross of Bladensburg, K.C.B.  ■11 MEMBERS OF THE  COMMISSION
The other members of the Commission were as
Austria.    Major Bilemek.
France.    Consul-General Aubaret.
Germany.    Major von Alten.
Italy.    Lieutenant-Colonel Gola.
Russia.    Colonel Baron Kaulbars.
Servia.    Colonel Jovanovitch.
Turkey.    General Yahya Pasha.
A meeting of the Commissioners, who had
all assembled with the exception of the Turkish
representative, was immediately held, and a discussion took place as to the mode of procedure to
be adopted. As the most important points on the
new boundary line were in the vicinity of Vranja
in the extreme south of Servia, the Commission
decided to proceed to Nisch, where the first
formal meeting was held on October 22nd, after
the arrival of Yahya Pasha, the Turkish Commissioner, and thence to Vranja, in order to settle
the new frontier on the spot.
There was, naturally, considerable difference of
opinion between the Turkish and Servian Commissioners as to the exact line laid down by the
Treaty of Berlin, as each wished to interpret the
text in the manner which he considered would
give the greatest strategical advantage to his
own country; and it is evident from the reports
published in the papers presented to Parliament
on the subject that Wilson's influence and tact
had a very important effect in smoothing down
the  conflicting  elements,  and  in  arriving  at   a 100  THE SERVIAN BOUNDARY COMMISSION    1878
solution of the problems, reasonably satisfactory
to the different parties concerned.
The marking out of the new frontier line was
proceeded with as rapidly as possible, and a considerable portion had been completed by the end
of November, when the approach of winter made
it necessary to postpone operations until the
following year. There was a certain amount of
excitement among the inhabitants of the districts
traversed by the new boundary, especially among
those of Servian nationality, who found that their
villages were to be included in Albania. Wilson
considered that it would be desirable to obtain
personal information as regards the state of affairs,
and made an excursion into Albania for this
purpose. He reported the result of his visit in
the following letter to the Foreign Office:—
" Major Wilson to the Marquis of Salisbury.
" Vranja, November 21st, 1878.
" My Lord,—I have the honour to inform your
Lordship that in consequence of rumours of disturbances near the recently-marked frontier, which
caused considerable excitement in Vranja, I visited
the village of Karabnik, on the Turkish side of the
new frontier yesterday, with my French colleague
and Lieutenant Ross of Bladensburg. As M.
Aubaret speaks Servian, we were able to obtain
information direct from the villages, and found
that the state of affairs had been much exaggerated.
" It would appear that about ten days ago some
of the peasants in the district lately occupied by
the Servian troops left their homes and retired
behind the new frontier.    This was followed by 1878 VISIT TO ALBANIA
something like a panic amongst the peasantry,
who withdrew with everything they could carry
with them; on the 14th, Lieutenant Ross of
Bladensburg found large numbers of these fugitives
in the Davidovatz Valley, which has been left to
Servia, and during the night of the 16th-17th, the
inhabitants of Rakovatz set fire to their houses
and fled to Servian territory. On the 17th the
Turkish troops, about 600 infantry, advanced, and
some shots were fired, apparently by men who had
served in the Servian militia, but fortunately no
one was wounded.
" On our arrival at Karabnik we found that
many of the villagers who had left their homes
had returned, and on questioning them we invariably received the same answer, that they were
leaving through fear of the Albanians, and that
they had no complaints to make against the Turkish
soldiers. They said that until about four years
ago they had lived in harmony with the Albanians
of the Karpina and Poljanica Planinas, but that
since that time there had been difficulties, and
that, haying fought against the Turks and Albanians
during the second Servian war, they now feared
reprisals on the part of the latter. It appears that
during the war the Albanians were either driven
out of the Planinas or disarmed, and several of
their villages were burnt, probably by militia raised
in the recently-occupied district; the peasants are
now afraid that the Albanians will take their
" We heard no complaints against the Turkish
soldiers, except that they had brought no tents,
and were consequently billeted on the villagers;
this arrangement could, however, only have been
for a short time, as the few Turkish soldiers we
saw were in rude huts made of branches of trees
thatched with straw, and the others had moved to 1
Albanian villages in the Karpina and Poljanica
" On our return to Vranja, the Turkish Commissioner sent a request to the officer commanding
the Turkish troops to bring up tents, and to make
arrangements for the protection of the people from
any reprisals on the part of the Albanians.
" Between 500 and 600 emigrants are said to
have passed through Vranja, and we saw others
encamped on the Servian side of the new boundary,
but many will probably return to their homes.—I
have, etc., C. W. Wilson."
As soon as the work of the Servian Boundary
Commission was suspended for the season, Wilson
returned to England, and resumed his duties as
Director of the Ordnance Survey in Ireland. He
had the satisfaction of receiving a letter from Lord
Salisbury, conveying the thanks of the Government for the tact and judgment which he had
shown in dealing with the questions which had
arisen during the progress of the work of the
Commission, and was informed that his proceedings were entirely approved. A tangible proof of
this approval was given a few months later, when
he was promoted to the rank of Brevet Lieutenant-
Colonel for his services in connection with the
Servian Boundary Commission.
The Reforms in Asia Minor—The Military Consuls—Appointed Consul-
General of Anatolia—Constantinople—First tour of inspection—
Brusa — Kutaya — Konia — Kaisariyeh — Sivas — Report on the
When Wilson left Belgrade in December 1878,
he fully expected to return in the following year,
in order to complete the work in connection with
the delimitation of the Servian Turkish Boundary;
but, before the spring began, he was called to fulfil
duties of a much more important character.
One of the subjects which had been discussed
at the Berlin Congress of 1878 was the condition
of the people living in the Turkish provinces of
Asia Minor, and the result of the deliberations was
the insertion of an Article in the Treaty of Berlin,
which ran as follows:—
" Article LXI.—La Sublime Porte s'engage a
re'aliser, sans plus de retard, les ameliorations et
les reTormes, qu'exigent les besoins locaux dans
les provinces habitees par les Armeniens, et a
garantir leur securite contre les Circassiens et les
Kurdes. Elle donnera connaissance periodique-
ment des me'sures prises a cet effet aux Puissances,
qui en surveillent l'application."
In order to ensure that the promises made by
Turkey in this Article of the Treaty, and in the
103 104
Convention with Turkey of June 4th, 1878, were
really carried into effect, it was determined by the
British Government to appoint Military Consuls
in Asia Minor to watch over and to report upon
the reforms and new systems of administration
adopted by the Turkish government in the Asiatic
provinces. Of these Consuls the first to be
appointed was Major H. Trotter,1 of the Royal
Engineers, who was sent to Erzerum, the capital
of Armenia, in November 1878. This officer had
been employed on the Survey of India, and had
accompanied the late Sir Douglas Forsyth on his
mission to Kashgar and Yarkand in 1873-1874.
He had been attached to the Turkish Army during
the campaign against Russia in Asia in 1877-1878,
and was therefore already acquainted with the state
of affairs in Asia Minor.
Immediately after his arrival in Erzerum Major
Trotter travelled through the district for which he
had been appointed Consul, and, in a despatch to
the British Ambassador at Constantinople, written
from Diarbekr on December 21st, 1878, he pointed
out the great importance of appointing additional
British Consuls and Vice-Consuls to look after the
interests of the Christian subjects of the Sultan in
other provinces of Asia Minor. Major Trotter's
reports showed clearly the oppression which the
Christians suffered from the action of the Circassians
and the Kurds, and the feeble efforts made by
the Turkish authorities to maintain order in their
respective districts. It was then decided by the
British Government to send two Vice-Consuls to
Now Lieutenant-Colonel Sir H. Trotter, K.CM.G., C.B.
Lt 1879
assist Major Trotter in Armenia, and to appoint
a Military Consul-General for Anatolia, with four
Vice-Consuls to work under him, in the western
provinces of Asia Minor.
In February 1879 Major Wilson, who was
then in Ireland and expecting to return to Servia
for the Boundary Commission work, received an
unofficial letter from the Foreign Office, to the
effect that Lord Salisbury had selected him for
the appointment of Consul-General in Asia Minor,
and asking whether it would be agreeable to him
to accept the position. Wilson, who felt that it
was a great honour to be chosen for this important
work, decided to accept the offer, and came to
London to make the necessary arrangements for
his departure to the new sphere of duties, and to
hand over the work of the Servian Boundary Commission to Captain Anderson, Royal Engineers,
who had been appointed to succeed him as British
Just before leaving England for Constantinople,
Wilson received his letter of appointment from
the Foreign Office, detailing his duties, and the
course of action to be followed.
" The Marquis of Salisbury to Colonel Wilson.
" Foreign Office, April 24£A, 1879.
" Sir, — The Queen having been graciously
pleased to appoint you to be Her Majesty's
Consul-General in Anatolia, it is desirable that
you should start for Constantinople, where you
will be able to make arrangements to proceed
to the scene of your duties.
"The Convention between Great Britain and
mm ft
Turkey of the 4th June last has given to this
country a special interest in the good government
and welfare of the populations of Asiatic Turkey,
whom Her Majesty has engaged, under certain!
circumstances, to defend from foreign annexation.
It is with a view to contribute, as far as lies in
their power, to the improvement and success of
Ottoman administration in these countries that
Her Majesty's Government have decided on
making the appointment which has now been
conferred upon you.
" Your principal duty, and that of the officers
appointed to assist you, will, therefore, be to
enquire into the condition of the various classes
of the population within your Consular district,
assisting the Turkish authorities with your advice,
and with any information you may be able to
collect of a nature to be useful to them, pointing out the means by which economy may be
secured and the administration simplified or
rendered more efficient, and noting and remonstrating against all cases of oppression or corruption on the part of the executive and judiciary
which may come to your knowledge. Where,
in your judgment, a case exists for the intervention of the Central Government, you will
report the matter to Her Majesty's Government
and to the Embassy at Constantinople, in order
that proper representations may be made to the
" In many parts of your district the formation
of an efficient public force for the repression of
brigandage is a primary necessity for all material
progress. You should do your best to urge upon
the officials the importance of this measure, and
to encourage all efforts that may be made for
the purpose.
"You have already been supplied with copies
of the correspondence which has passed between
Her Majesty's Government and the Porte as to
the reforms to be introduced in the Asiatic
dominions of the Sultan, in fulfiment of the
engagement taken by His Majesty in Article I.
of the Convention of the 4th June. It is intended
that you should watch the introduction of the
measures proposed by the Porte, doing what is
in your power to ensure their proper and faithful
application, and making any suggestions which
may occur to you for increasing their efficiency
in practice.
"You will receive from the officers of Her
Majesty's Embassy all the information and assistance that it is in their power to afford you,
and Her Majesty's Consul at Erzerum, and the
Consular offices at the various ports situated on
the shores of your district, will be instructed to
facilitate your enquiries and to communicate with
you on all matters likely to interest you, — I
am, etc., Salisbury."
It will be seen from the above that the
Consul-General had no executive authority, and
that his functions were limited to tendering
advice to, and exercising a moral influence over
the Turkish officials, and, in case his advice and
influence proved ineffective, to reporting the
circumstance to the British Government or to
the British Ambassador at Constantinople. It
is unnecessary to point out that a position such
as this called for a display of the greatest tact
and the maintenance of good temper, sometimes
under very difficult and trying conditions. Wilson,
from his knowledge of eastern ways, was perfectly
acquainted with the nature of the task which lay c
before him, and the manner in which he carried
out the duties of the position showed that Lord
Salisbury had formed a correct judgment in
selecting him for the post.
Immediately after the appointment of Major
Wilson as Consul-General in Asia Minor, the
following officers were nominated to assist him
in the capacity of Military Vice-Consuls :—Captain
H. Cooper,1 47th Regiment; Captain J. D. H.
Stewart,2 11th Hussars; Lieutenant H. Cherm-
side,3 Royal Engineers; and Lieutenant H. H.
Kitchener,4 Royal Engineers. At a later date
Captain Cooper was succeeded by Lieutenant
F. W. Bennet, Royal Engineers (now Colonel
F. W. Bennet); and Lieutenant Kitchener by
Major J. Picton - Warlow (now Colonel J. P.
Turbevill), Madras Staff Corps. Two officers,
Captain E. Clayton,5 Royal Artillery, and
Captain W. Everett,6 33rd Regiment, were also
appointed as Vice-Consuls under Major Trotter
in Armenia.
Colonel Wilson arrived at Constantinople early
in May 1879, accompanied by Captain Cooper,
and found, on reporting himself to Sir Henry
Layard, the British Ambassador, that the negotiations with regard to the consular appointments
in Asia Minor were proceeding very slowly. This
was not surprising, as the Sultan and his Ministers,
i Now Colonel H. Cooper, C.M.G.
2 The late Colonel J. D. H. Stewart, killed on the Nile, September
18th, 1884.
3 Now Major-General Sir H. Chermside, G.C.M.G., C.B.
4 Now General Viscount Kitchener of Khartum, O.M., G.C.B.
5 Now Colonel E. Clayton, R.A.
6 The late Colonel Sir W. Everett, K.CM.G. 1879 THE CONSULATES
notwithstanding the promises made in the Treaty
of Berlin, and the Anglo - Turkish Convention,
Were not very pleased at the idea of capable
British officers watching over the manner in which
the administration of the Asiatic provinces was
carried out.
Several weeks were spent in discussion at
Constantinople, much to the annoyance of Wilson,
who was anxious to get to the scene of his future
duties with as little delay as possible, and it was
not until the beginning of June that he, at last,
received his Birat, or authority from the Sultan,
and was able to start for Brusa.
It was arranged in the first instance that the
military Consuls were to be distributed in the
districts of Asia Minor as follows: — Colonel
Wilson's headquarters were to be at Sivas;
Captain Cooper a£t Kaisariyeh; Captain Stewart
at Konia; Lieutenant Chermside at Brusa, and
Lieutenant Kitchener at Kastamuni; while, of
the Vice-Consuls serving under Major Trotter,
Captain Clayton was to have his headquarters at
Van, and Captain Everett at Erzerum.
Instead of proceeding direct from Constantinople
by the Black Sea to Samsun, and thence by road
to Sivas, Wilson decided to make an extended
tour through Asia Minor, so as to make himself
thoroughly acquainted with the country for which
he was responsible, before taking up his residence
at the headquarters of his consulate. Accompanied by Captains Cooper and Stewart, and by
Messrs Block1 and Eyres,2 both from the school
» Now Sir Adam G. T. Block, K.CM.G.
2 Now Consul-General at Constantinople.
-ass tK!
of student interpreters at Constantinople, he left
Brusa on June 9th. It was a great relief to
have got free from the intrigues and difficulties at
Constantinople, and to have commenced his real
work.    Writing to his wife from Brusa, he said:—
'c Camp (near Brusa), June 8th, 1879.
" I have just time to write a few lines from
our first camp to say that we are ail well. I
have been busy writing official letters all day,
and we start to-morrow on our journey. I am
writing under a large tree near a fountain, with
an assembly of the Brusa population sitting round
us in admiring groups. It is a lovely day with
a fine breeze, and the view over the Brusa plain
is beautiful. The Sea of Marmora was like glass
when we crossed from Constantinople, and we had
a lovely sail to Mudania. There I was met by
the acting Consul at Brusa with his dragoman,
and two horsemen from the Governor, and we
drove off to Brusa in state. At first we had to
climb a steep hill from the top of which we had
a lovely view of Mount Olympus, with Brusa
nestling among the trees at its foot, and the rich
plain stretched out in front. The distance from
Mudania to Brusa is about twenty miles, and
half way we stopped to water the horses and
drink the inevitable coffee. Yesterday, I called
on Ahmed Vefik, the Governor, and presented
my firman. He is not at all the kind of man
I had expected after all I had heard of him in
the Turkish Parliament. He is, however, more
honest than the ordinary Turk, and that is something in these degenerate days. I must try and
write you a little every day, but the first few
days of camp life are always trying, until things
shake into shape." 1879
The road from Brusa to Kutaya passes through
a pretty glen through which the stream known
as the Aksu (white water) flows, and then descends
across a well-wooded country to Ainegeul, the
1 Mirror Lake," in a richly cultivated plain, where
the party made their first halt. From thence
they marched via Bazarjik, by a very indifferent
road, to Kutaya, the first town of importance on
the route.
"We left our camp, and for two hours rode
through a fine pine wood, which reminded me
much of the British Columbia forests, and then
over open country to the great valley, in which
Kutaya is situated. The town lies at the foot of
a steep hill, which is crowned by an old Byzantine fortress, and is a large place of about 5,000
inhabitants. The Pasha sent a bimbashi or major
to meet us with an escort, and we had a long
procession through the streets to the konak or
governor's residence. There were many people
to look at us, and curiosity to see five Englishmen
ride into the town induced many of the inmates
of the hareems to lift their lattices; we noticed
several pretty faces peeping out and hastily withdrawn again, whilst the Greek and Armenian
women stood in numbers at their doors. At the
konak we were received by a guard of honour,
and, passing through the hall, which wTas crowded
with people, were ushered into the council
chamber, when the Pasha and his council, including the kadi and Greek bishop, were waiting
to receive us. The Pasha is a poor wizened-
looking old man, and, I should think, bled the
people pretty freely. After some talk about the
country, the crops, and the locusts, and going
through coffee and cigarettes, we took leave and
went on to a place called Kirkagha." w
112       CONSUL-GENERAL IN ASIA MINOR      1879
Continuing the journey south, a halt of two
days was made at Afium-Karahissar, where the
great Byzantine fortress of Acroenus, rising 800
feet above the plains, forms a marked feature
in the landscape. All along the road were traces
of the high state of civilisation, which existed in
the time of the Byzantine empire; fragments of
marble columns, and many tombs with Greek and
Latin inscriptions were passed, and Wilson, with
his love of the relics of antiquity, must have
regretted that time did not allow of his examining
them fully. From Karahissar, the road led by
Kassaba and the Buldur Lake, and by the ruins
of the ancient Pisidian city of Sagalassus, to
Isbarta, the chief town of the Sanjak of Hamid,
a place of considerable importance, situated in a
rich plain at the foot of the mountains. At
Isbarta Wilson changed his course to north-east,
and travelling by Egirdir, at the south end of the
large lake of the same name, and passing through
Ilghin and Ladik, arrived at Konia, the ancient
Iconium, on June 28th.
Konia has been a city of importance from the
earliest times, and is now the capital of the Turkish
province. It had been fixed upon as the centre
of the Vice-Consulate, which had been allotted to
Captain Stewart, who left the party here, while
Wilson and Cooper went on to Kaisariyeh, which
was reached on July 12th.
Captain Cooper was left at Kaisariyeh, while
Wilson, accompanied by Block, continued their
journey to Sivas. In a letter home he describes
this part of the route in the following words:— 1879
"The road from Kaisariyeh was a complete
change from what we had seen hitherto, along a
series of valleys clothed with rich crops of corn,
which the people were reaping and drawing. On
either side were at first basaltic rocks and then
bare treeless hills, sometimes with great chalk and
limestone cliffs, with every variety of colouring,
and at other times, like the down country of
southern England, or the Yorkshire wolds. We
came for the first time upon purely Armenian
villages, with an Armenian speaking people, who
have the most exaggerated notions of what I can
do for them. We always had a long string of
complaints, chiefly against the Circassians, who
have it pretty much their own way, and rob and
commit their atrocities freely. The poor Turks
suffer also, but I fancy, if there is a choice, the
Circassian robs the Christian first and the Turks
second. But, on the other hand, the state of the
poor Turks in the villages is even worse than that
of the Christians, as they have no one to help them,
whilst the Christians can complain through the
" It was burning hot amongst the white rocks
as we descended into the valley of Sivas, and,
when we got there, we saw a crowd in the distance;
and, to shorten the time, we at last got the
bimbashi into a canter and went off to meet
them, reaching the foremost people about a couple
of hundred yards this side of the bridge. The
American missionary was there, the Armenian
clergy, the Greek clergy, and the principal men
of the different Christian communities. The
principal Armenian priest, from under the shade
of a gigantic umbrella, made a long speech, in
truly eastern style, about my comjn,g as the
saviour of the country, and giving new life to
the oppressed Christians, and prayed that all kinds 114      CONSUL-GENERAL IN ASIA MINOR      1879
of blessings might be showered upon me. Then
we formed a procession, the bimbashi and his men
in front, then myself with Block, the Armenian
clergy, and the American missionary, the others
following behind. As we approached the bridge
the crowd began to thicken, and, after crossing
it, we rode for an hour through crowds of people;
the whole Christian male population had turned
out to meet us, the bazaars had been closed, and
I believe Sivas had never been in such a state
of excitement before.
" I thought the time would never come to
an end; but, at last, we reached the entrance of
the town, to find the house-tops and every point
of vantage crowded with women in their white
shrouds. It was very picturesque, and a thoroughly
eastern scene, this great crowd of Christians. My
heart felt sore when I thought how little I could
do for them, for I have no power to help except
by such moral influence as my presence here may
exert. Not content with tying my hands, the
Turkish government have bound my feet also,
so that even if I would run, I could not.
" I was much surprised that not a single Turk
came to welcome me, just the same as at Kaisariyeh.
The Pasha is away ill, but his representative ought
to have come out. However, I sent on word to
say that I was going on straight to the konak
(governor's house), and thither I went, the great
crowd swelling and thronging the streets behind.
I was received by a guard of honour, and by some
of the officials, evidently hastily called together
to receive me, and we went through the usual
coffee and cigarettes, when I rose earlier than
usual, and told the Acting Governor that I was
sorry he was too ill to meet me, which, in Turkish,
is rather a severe reflection, and which a Turk
feels keenly.    The effect was rapid, as he came  il
i-4 :
ifj 4
to the foot of the steps with me, waited until I
had mounted, and sent a lot of soldiers to escort
us to our house."
Sivas is an important town of more than
40,000 inhabitants, of whom about one-fourth are
Christians of different denominations. It is the
residence of the Vali, or Governor-General, and
the centre for the courts of justice and other
branches of the official administration of the
province. It has been, on account of its strategic
position, one of the largest cities of Asia Minor
since the time of the Roman Emperors, and,
under Diocletian, was the capital of Armenia
Minor. The Emperor Justinian rebuilt the walls,
and, under the Byzantine empire, it was the
richest city of Asia Minor after Caesarea.
Wilson, upon his arrival at Sivas, established
his headquarters in a house belonging to one of
the leading Armenian inhabitants, where he had
his residence and office, and hoisted the British
flag, to the surprise of the Turkish, and delight of
the Christian population, who felt that at last
there was some chance of protection from the
ill - treatment to which they had hitherto been
exposed. His journey through the length and
breadth of Asia Minor had already given him a
considerable insight into the state of the country
and condition of the inhabitants ; as, at each halting-
place, he had interviewed the Turkish officials, and
had also constantly talked with the people themselves and heard their views, as well as those of
the governing class, many of whom were principally interested in making as much money as they
l I
116       CONSUL-GENERAL IN ASIA MINOR      1879
could while holding office. He was therefore able,
shortly after his arrival at Sivas, to forward the
following report1 to the British Ambassador at
Constantinople, giving a resumer of the impressions
which he had received, and making certain recommendations as to the reforms which might be
adopted with advantage.
" Consul-General Wilson to Sir A. H. Layard.
"Sivas, Anatolia, August 6th, 1879.
"Sir, — I have the honour to inform your
Excellency that I arrived at this place on the
24th July last, and that Captain Stewart took up
his residence as Vice-Consul at Konia on the
28th June and Captain Cooper at Kaisariyeh on
the 12th July.
" I will not trouble your Excellency with a
detailed account of my journey since leaving Brusa
on the 9th June, but will confine myself to some
remarks on a few of the points which came under
my notice.
" Zaptiehs.—'The zaptieh force is in a deplorable
state; the men are too few in number, wretchedly
armed, often with nothing better than flint-lock
muskets; and, of those we came in contact with,
not more than three or four could be considered
fit men to act as urban or rural police. In some
places the zaptiehs were many months in arrear
of pay; in others they were the servants of local
notables lent to the government; and the villagers
complained much of their extortion and oppression.
Such a force is quite unable to give proper protection to life and property or to meet roving
bands of well-armed Circassians on equal terms.
" No reform is more urgently needed in Anatolia
1 See Parliamentary Papers, Turkey, No. 10 (1879), No. 79, p. 126,. 1879
than the formation of a disciplined corps of gendarmerie', such a corps to be efficient should be
essentially military in character; well armed, unconnected with local beys or notables, and, at
first, to a certain extent, officered by Europeans.
" Courts of Justice.—The state of the courts
leaves much to be desired; the councils, though
in theory elected by the people, are really nominated by the local government, or the seats on
them are sold; bribery and corruption are the
rule, not the exception; retention in or escape
from prison is frequently a matter of bribery;
there is a general complaint that justice is rarely
executed on behalf of a Christian or against a
Moslem; and that, though Christian evidence is
nominally received, little or no weight is attached
to it in the courts. The cost of litigation is so
great that the villagers when robbed often refrain
from bringing the robbery to the notice of the
local authorities; the uncertainty of obtaining a
verdict, the loss of time involved by compulsory
attendance at the chief town of the kaimakamlik,
and the expense of the trial sufficiently account
for this.
" The judges are, not unfrequently, well -
intentioned men; but, with small pay, and that
too often in arrear, they are not always able to
resist the temptation of increasing their income
by accepting bribes. At Nigdeh and Bor, towns
with a large Christian population, there were many
complaints of the corruption of the judges and
the courts, and I have requested Captain Stewart
to remain a few days in those places when he visits
"I trust that the changes which have recently
been made will beneficially affect the administration of justice in the vilayets ; at present the effect
has been to add a number of new officials to each mm
vilayet, who, if some special provision be not made
for the payment of their salaries, must resort to
the same means of obtaining a livelihood as the
existing judicial staff.
I The advantage of one of the changes, by
which all control over the courts is taken from
the Vali, or Governor-General, is doubtful. The
Vali was formerly a protection against open corruption ; he could, if he wished, see that petitions
were taken in turn, that the court was not clogged
by cases, and call in question unfair decisions, or
punish members of the councils. This check has
been removed, the judicial is separated from the
executive, and the officers of justice are, I believe,
to have their own corps of zaptiehs. The change
is likely to render the work of a Consul more
difficult, for the influence which he was formerly
able to exert through the Vali is to a certain
extent gone.
"At present the Christian members of the
councils, from want of independence or timidity,
are often afraid to oppose unjust decisions, and
frequently merely follow the lead of the Moslem
members. If steps could be taken to ensure that
the members of the councils were freely elected
by the people a salutary change would be effected,
especially if the elections were always held at the
proper periods. At Sivas no elections have taken
place for between six and seven years. Bribery
and corruption can only be checked by the regular
payment of official salaries, and the growth of
public opinion; officials on low salaries, and six
months in arrear of pay, as they are at Sivas, can
scarcely be expected to remain pure.
" Tenure of Office.—Very few of the officials
I met had been in office two years ; a large proportion had only been a few months, and in one
town, Eregli, there had been twelve Kaimakams
ill! 1879
in three years. It is very desirable that the
Mutessarifs, Kaimakams and Mudirs should hold
office, during good behaviour, for a fixed term of
years; in the present state of uncertainty many of
them endeavour, by well-known means, to recoup
themselves for past expenses, and to make, as
quickly as they can, provision for the future.
" Taxes.—The evils connected with the system
of collecting the taxes are well known; I will
only mention that on the road from Kaisariyeh to
Sivas the Christian villagers complained much of
the manner in which their property had been
assessed for the verghi. The assessors appear to
have valued Christian property too high, whilst
Moslem property was undervalued. The peasantry
generally complained of the delay in collecting
the tithes, and of the losses incurred by having
to leave their grain on the ground, and, in cases,
their fruit on the trees, till the collectors came
| Refugees.—There is probably no other country
in which the settlement of a large body of refugees,
of different nationalities, and almost destitute of the
necessaries of life, could have been so quietly and
speedily effected. The Refugee Commissioners in
the vilayets have had a most difficult task to
perform, and, as far as I have yet seen, they have
accomplished it well. The cost of settling the
refugees has in some cases been a severe tax on
the people, but it seems to have been cheerfully
borne. The only complaints I heard were at
Eregli, where the Circassians would not leave the
town, and the people had for more than a year
been obliged to supply 219 persons with a monthly
aflowance of 20 piastres (about 3s. 6d.) and 36 lbs.
of corn each, besides providing them with free
" Circassians.—With the  Circassian   question 120       CONSUL-GENERAL IN ASIA MINOR
the Commissioners have been powerless to deal,
as the Turkish government allowed the Circassians
to land in the country fully armed, and there is
no local force able to control them. It is hardly
possible not to feel sympathy for a physically
fine people, endowed with many good qualities,
who have endured so many vicissitudes, but the
Circassians are certainly, at present, 'one of the
principal causes of the insecurity to life and
property in the vilayets. In the Konia Vilayet
the Circassians are few in number, and a light
exhibition of force would induce them to submit
to disarmament and distribution in the villages
in accordance with the orders of the government.
" In the Vilayet of Sivas the case is different:
the Circassians are more numerous, and in several
places form separate communities; they appear to
be under slight control, as the power of the Beys
has been broken, and the local government
possesses little influence over them. Robberies
are not unfrequent on the road, and a feeling of
insecurity has been created which has had an
injurious influence on trade. This feeling is
increased by the fact that the Circassians, having
powerful protectors in the councils, are rarely
punished, and that those who attempt to bring
them to justice have good reason to fear their
revenge. The robber bands are well known, and
could be easily suppressed if the government
showed itself in earnest; and, if the Circassian
Beys were held responsible for the conduct of
their people, disturbances would soon cease. The
majority of the Circassians, under a firm government, would, I believe, soon settle down and form
a source of strength rather than of weakness to
" Condition of the Country.—The recent war
has been a  severe strain upon the resources of 1879 STATE OF THE INHABITANTS 121
the country, especially in men; in some villages
in the south more than three-fourths of the able-
bodied men had been drawn; in others, towards
the north, every man had been taken, and the
cultivation of the ground carried on by the old
men, women, and children. Few of the men have
yet returned, though their presence has been much
needed for getting in the harvest.
"The harvest this year has been varied; in
some districts it has been abundant; in others,
towards the south, the locusts have destroyed
almost everything; whilst in others a deficiency
of rain has caused a partial failure; there appeared,
however, to be nowhere any fear of scarcity. The
districts affected by the famine, six years ago,
have not yet nearly recovered from its effects.
" It was impossible not to be struck with the
quiet, and apparently safe, state of the greater
portion of the country traversed; when all the
circumstances, a complete absence of regular
troops, and virtually no police, are considered,
the small number of robberies and acts of violence
is surprising, and slight efforts on the part of the
government would ensure security to every one.
"The state of the peasantry, Christian and
Moslem, is nearly everywhere deplorable; if
possible, the burden of the Moslem is harder to
bear than that of his Christian fellow-subject, for
he has no one to appeal to, and has suffered far
more from the effects of the war. The people,
ruined by the repudiation of caime', have again
suffered by the depreciation of copper; they are
overwhelmed with debt contracted at a ruinous
discount, and the peasant who can manage to
secure for himself the bare necessaries of life is
"The most urgent reform needed by these
poor people is relief from the merciless robbery
■ **
	 122       CONSUL-GENERAL IN ASIA MINOR        1879
of the tax collectors, and the grasping avarice of
the money - lenders; such relief can only result
from an earnest effort at good government, and
must be the work of time.—I have, etc.,
"C. W. Wilson."
The Governor-General of Sivas, who had been
very ill for some time, died shortly after Wilson
had taken up his residence in the town, and one
of the first official ceremonies in which the latter
took part was the funeral of the deceased Pasha.
He and Mr Block were invited to attend by the
son of the late Governor, and were treated as
honoured guests on the occasion, when they were
asked to take a leading part in the procession to
the grave. The importance of the position of the
new Consul-General, who was dressed in British
uniform, was thus clearly indicated to the population of Sivas.
Visit to the Circassians in Uzun Yaila—Description of the people—
Azizieh—The Avshars— A Circassian home—Gurun—Reception
by Kangal Agha—Visit to Tokat and Amasia—Arrival of Abeddin
Pasha—Winter journey to Samson.
Every day the people came in numbers to the
British Consulate at Sivas, and petitions for the
redress of grievances poured in without intermission, while Wilson felt keenly how little power
he had to ameliorate the condition of things due
to the wretched system of misgovernment. He
heard constantly of the robberies committed by
the Circassians, and, in September 1879, decided
to pay a visit to these terrible Circassians in their
own homes, to make their acquaintance and learn
their views of the situation. The district where
they lived lay to the south of Sivas, on the slopes
of the Anti-Taurus mountains, which start from
the mountain groups of the eastern Taurus and,
running in a north-easterly direction, end in the
high plateau, known as Uzun Yaila. His description of this district, so little known to Europeans,
is worth quoting in full:—
" I  left Sivas on September 8th with Block
and the servants.    The morning was as bright as
any one could wish, and we were not sorry to
leave the unsavoury streets of Sivas and the
weary work of listening to petitions for redress
from all manner of wrongs.
"We crossed the Kizil Irmak opposite Sivas,
and entered a picturesque valley, which in places
was quite narrow, with perpendicular cliffs of
sparkling white gypsum, four or five hundred feet
high; here and there narrow glens broke through
the hills, and a few green trees, contrasting
sharply with the white cliffs, marked the site of
a village. Gradually as we ascended, the valley
widened until we came out on a broad plain with
fine rich soil, and here we stopped for luncheon
at an Armenian village, where they were busy
threshing out the corn, and gathering it into
sacks. Armenian village houses, and, in fact, all
the houses on this high tableland, are partly
excavated out of the ground, and the flat roofs
are not much above the level of the ground outside. This is convenient in one way because it
enables them to drive their carts on to the top
of the houses, and, in this village, the people were
threshing out their corn there. It was a curious
sight to see the oxen or buffaloes going round
and round on the roofs, drawing the threshing
instrument behind them, on which was seated an
Armenian driver with his goad.
" We reached our camping ground at the little
village of Karajol, just as a few heavy drops of
rain and black clouds warned us that no time
was to be lost in getting under shelter. We had
barely got the tents up when it poured, thundered,
and lightninged as hard as it could. The cook's
fire was swamped, but he was equal to the occasion,
and somehow managed to produce some very fair
broth, and to cook some meat.
" The next day we had a pleasant ride, rising 1879        THE  PLATEAU OF   ASIA MINOR
higher until we reached the plain of Tunus, where
we came in for a second thunderstorm, which
caught us midway, and was much worse than the
day before. Late in the afternoon we reached
the Turkish village of Abasili, and pitched our
tents on good ground, but a regular squall with
torrents of rain came on, and small lakes began
to appear under my head and in various parts of
the tent; however, I managed to keep fairly dry,
and slept capitally.
"Andreas, my German servant, who has been
sailor, tinker, tailor, and everything else, came out
splendidly on this occasion. ' Ach, Herr,' he said,
' what beautiful weather, so delightfully fresh; if
I could only be on the Black Sea for half an
hour,' a wish in which I could not join. The
poor villagers were in a state of great distress, as
all their corn was lying out on the threshing
grounds, exposed to the pitiless rain, and there it
had been lying for a couple of months, waiting
for the Turkish government to take the tithe.
I never saw such people as these Turkish peasants,
they take everything so quietly. I asked them
what damage the storm had done, and they told
me that about £40 worth of wheat had been
ruined. Then I said: ' When are they going to
collect your tithes ?' and they replied: ' When
God and the Sultan wish.' There they were,
quietly seeing the harvest ruined, without a
thought of complaint against the scoundrels, who,
under the name of government, grind them
almost to death.
" On September 10th the morning was clear
and bright, and as we ascended the last hiU to
the higher plateau of Asia Minor, we had some
fine views of the rough country we had been
clambering through. Thence there was a short
descent into the beautiful country of new Circassia.
; '
j^^^Sj&jtJ 126 THE CIRCASSIANS 1879
I was very curious to see the first Circassian village,
and to visit in their homes the people of whom
I had been hearing such terrible stories for the
last two months. It came upon us quite suddenly.
There was a turn in the path, and we saw a
collection of low houses, with white-washed walls
in the green valley below. Imagine my astonishment at finding the hills covered with horses, of
which there must have been five or six hundred
round the first village. The whole scene brought
vividly to mind the Indian camps in North America.
" It was another surprise, as we got close to the
village, to find a bevy of Circassian women washing
clothes at the spring, all in neat and clean clothes,
with bare arms and legs like any Scotch lassie, and
working away with a will. Such a change from
the dirty bundles of clothes which go by the name
of women in Armenian and Turkish villages. We
were well received by every one, except by the
dogs, which made a furious charge upon us, and
could hardly be kept in by their masters.
" We were now in New Circassia, the Uzun
Yaila of the map, a great part of it rolling plain
without a trace of a tree, much like the prairies
in America, and covered with a peculiar grass,
almost identical with the 'bunch grass' of the
prairie. It is the finest country that I have seen
in Anatolia, and the Circassians have stocked it
well with the horses and cattle of their neighbours.
I am afraid they are arrant thieves, but I cannot
help liking them. At any rate they are men
with a superfluity of vigour and energy, and,
with all their faults, they are better than the
cowardly, intriguing Armenians, or the poor
Turks with their helpless Imsser faire. They
are wonderfully active both on foot and on horseback, and always ready for a race, a hunt, or
any active exercise. 1879
"As the day wore on we got caught in our
usual thunderstorm, this time more than usually
severe, and the rain came down with a vengeance,
regularly flooding the ground, from which it had
no time to run off. Just as it cleared, we rode
into the large Circassian village of Kainar, beautifully situated on rising ground, where a grand
spring starts out into a full-grown river from the
limestone rock. We went straight on to the
village and unloaded the animals on a little open
ground near the mosque for additional security,
though I knew we were perfectly safe in the
village, whatever we might be out of it. We soon
had a crowd round us of nearly all the men and
boys of the place. As we were the first Europeans
who had visited the country we were naturally
objects of curiosity, but they were very civil, lent
a hand to pitch the tents, and were delighted with
our camping arrangements; there always seems
to be a sort of sympathy between savages and
roving Englishmen.
"I cannot understand the Circassian type.
Some of the men are the most forbidding-looking
gaol - birds one could see anywhere; others are
the exact counterpart of the jockeys, grooms, and
horsy men which one sees about a race-course,
some again have russet-brown hair and whiskers,
and would be taken for English or Scotch if
dressed in western clothes; whilst here and there
one meets with the highest type of manly beauty.
In one point all are alike, that is in their build,
which is quite peculiar; broad shoulders, an
exceedingly small waist and wide hip-bones; it is
almost a woman's figure with the sense of great
strength about it, and the appearance is heightened
by the long coat, reaching nearly down to the
heels, which is worn by all, and is made of homespun wool, prepared by the women. I II
" Then we had to pay a visit to one of the
headmen of the village, who produced some good
honey and bread, and a very unripe melon for our
entertainment, and sundry babies were brought
in for us to admire; one was particularly useful
in devouring the melon, which I mistrusted myself.
Then the hodja, or priest, came with all his
grievances' and those of his flock; how the
government had sent them a lot of refugees
from Rumelia without any provision for their
food and lodging, and how these same people,
being starving, were obliged to rob in order to
gain a livelihood. Then we had a whole lot of
complaints against the government in general, and
the Karmakam of Azizieh, the chief town of this
district, in particular. There are always two sides
to every question, and we were now hearing the
Circassian side.
" Next morning we were off again, and parted
on the best of terms with our friends of the
evening before. As we went on, the valley began
to contract, and, in many places, there were rich
meadow lands, on which were large herds of cattle,
all stolen of course, grazing under charge of a
Circassian. Then we arrived at the town of
Azizieh, a new place which has sprung up since
the Circassian immigration. Here we were only
two days from Kaisariyeh, and found a plentiful
supply of grapes from the slopes of Mount Argaeus.
" It is one of the finest positions for a town that
I have seen, at the foot of a hill, from which starts
out a great spring, which at first forms a deep
pool, and then rushes merrily away over the rocks ;
a most romantic spot, where we found the ruins of
an old Byzantine church and monastery. On the
hill above the town is a large tumulus, which
probably covers the remains of some departed hero
of times long gone by; and, on a peak in the 1879
distance, we could see the ruins of an old
"At Azizieh I went to visit the prison, and
anything more horrible I never saw, even for a
Turkish prison: a low-vaulted den, about twelve
feet long and eight feet wide, perfectly dark, and
with no ventilation, except what came from a small
hole in the roof. Here we found the prisoners
loaded with chains, and huddled together more
like wild beasts than human creatures. I was
almost choked at first by the foul air, and I shall
not soon forget the look of the poor wretches as
they were roused up by the flashing of the lantern
in their eyes.
" In the evening we had a visit from one of
the headmen of the Avshars, whose country we
were going to enter next day, a people of Persian
descent, who followed the Seljuk Turks in their
invasion of Asia Minor, and settled in the Anti-
Taurus mountains to be the terror of their neighbours. It is only fourteen or fifteen years since
they were finally subdued by the Turks, and,
even now, they have a very bad reputation, sending robber-bands as far as the road from Angora
to Yuzgat. The old Bey had, of course, his
grievances, as every one has in this country, but
he was very amiable, and told us that we were
certain of a hearty welcome amongst his kin.
" On September 12th we got into the forest of
oak, pine, and cedar trees, which cover the slopes
of the Anti-Taurus range. It was a delightful
ride, and, as we neared the head of the pass, the
scenery was quite alpine, only wanting the snow.
The descent on the other side was also very pretty,
and, part of the way, the rocks rose perpendicularly
upwards to a great height. At last we came out
into the valley of the river Saris, and camped close
to the Avshar village of Cherekderessi, where we
were well received, and soon had the usual crowd
round to stare at us, and to see our camping
arrangements, which are always a mystery to
these people.
" The following day we started down the
beautiful valley of the Saris, with high mountains,
prettily wooded, rising on each side, a bright stream
full of trout running beside us, and a capital road,
with good grazing ground, covered with Avshar
flocks, on either side. We passed several villages
of the same wretched description, and, at length,
arrived at a larger village called Kemer, lying at
the foot of a large mound, which was evidently
once a Roman station, as we found still standing
two arches of the old bridge; and, shortly after
crossing the river, came upon traces of the old
Roman road, with fallen columns, upon which
were some mutilated Latin inscriptions.
" The river here enters a wild rocky gorge, and
we had to climb a steep hill to get down to the
valley below, which was well wooded with oak,
cedar, and fir. At our halting-place, Shahr, the
ancient Comana, we found a number of Armenians
had settled, and such a mess the wretches have
made of the fine old place. Their houses are built
in among the ruins, and everything that they could
lay their hands upon has been ruthlessly destroyed ;
they almost seemed to have taken pleasure in
breaking up every inscription they had found.
"The site of the ancient town is exceedingly
picturesque, as the river forms a regular letter S,
sweeping round a bold headland, upon the top of
which is the ruins of a fine old Byzantine church,
which the Armenians have restored in the most
barbarous manner. The old town lay on both sides
of the river; there is a theatre in fairly good preservation, the baths, a fine temple gateway, four
or five churches, and a mass of other ruins, more 1879
or less destroyed. In a secluded valley close by
there is a small temple almost perfect, and, beyond
it, are the tombs of the busy people who once
thronged the streets of Comana.
" There are a great number of inscriptions, only
a few of which I had time to copy ; but the most
curious and interesting feature was the number of
tumuli which covered the hills. Every hill-top had
its gigantic cairn, and in some places, where there
was room, I counted six or seven tumuli in a row.
How I longed to open one or two of these and
examine their contents, but my time was, as usual,
much occupied in listening to long stories of grievances. How this man had been robbed, and that
man ill-treated; and how the Avshars had reaped
where they had not sown, and had finally taken
possession of the Armenian lands.
" On September 15th we started up the valley
again by the road we came, and there, sure enough,
we found the Avshars ploughing the Armenian
lands, and not a bit ashamed of it. I asked:
'Whose lands are you ploughing?' 'Armenian,'
was the reply, and, in further talk, they said:
' We know the lands are Armenian, but we mean
to keep and to till them.'
" I • am afraid the Turkish government has
little authority in the Avshar country; in fact
the Governor finds it convenient to live on the
other side of the Anti - Taurus mountains, and
only visits the district, he is supposed to take
charge of, once a year. The whole country bears
a bad character as a sort of harbour of refuge for
all the murderers and outlawed robbers, just as
it was in the old Byzantine days. However, I
ought not to say anything against them, as we
were treated very civilly, though Block and I
must have been the first Europeans that many of
them had ever seen.    We had a long march right 182 THE CIRCASSIANS 1879
up the valley of the Saris, through the midst of
the Avshars, the last part through a fine cedar
wood, the scent from which reminded me of the
old British Columbian forests, though the trees
were mere dwarfs compared with the giants
"When we reached the village of Karabunar
I was looking about for a camping-place, when
Andreas came up with some wild men, one of
whom he introduced as Hassan Agha, a headman
of the Avshars, who begged that I would lodge
with him for the night. I very rarely sleep in
native houses, but every one looked so miserable
and cold that I accepted, and off we went to
Hassan's house, where I wras received with due
ceremony in front of the door; and, after dismounting, entered a rude sort of porch. Then I
was invited to enter, and suddenly plunged into
utter darkness. I was taken hold of by two men,
Hassan Agha and his cousin, and led along a dark
passage for a few yards, when we turned suddenly
to the right, and I was half lifted, half guided, up
some wooden steps to the great man's reception-
room, bed-room, and every other kind of room.
" In the centre was a sort of pathway of firmly
trodden earth, on each side of which were laid
carpets for sitting or sleeping upon. Besides these
were great cedar trunk pillars holding up the roof,
and then again two other aisles, or passages, as
bed - rooms. Light came in through two tiny
openings, and, at the end, was a gigantic fire-place
with a couple of blazing logs in it, a welcome sight
on a chilly evening.
" It was some time before my eyes got accustomed to the half light, and I was able to examine
this wonderful dwelling, which proved to be a very
comfortable resting-place, though the fleas were
both numerous and hungry.    Beyond this room, 1879 GURUN 188
in which the whole family lived, the passage led
into a large underground stable, in which the
horses, cattle, sheep, and goats are housed. For
three months in the year these people are shut
up by deep snow, which all but covers in the
faces of their houses ; and you can imagine what an
atmosphere there must be inside. The sheep sometimes amount to several hundreds, with perhaps
a dozen horses, and double that number of oxen.
What a happy family to be a, member of!
"We rose early the next morning and, after
following the Saris river to its head, crossed some
rough ground, with fine rock scenery, to the higher
plateau of Asia Minor. As we rose to the top of
the last ridge the view was very striking. We
were just at the point where the Anti - Taurus
mountains commenced, and could see the long
line of peaks stretching away to the southward;
and, in the distance, the mountains near Bostan.
We camped for the night at the village of Teka-
rakhba, near some springs, which discharge their
waters into the branch of the Euphrates, that
runs down through Gurun, my first acquaintance
with the great river of Assyria.
" On the following day we got out again on the
treeless plateau, and the journey was uninteresting
until we reached the tremendous gash, cut by the
Tokhma river, and saw the long straggling town
of Gurun, more than fifteen hundred feet below
us. It was a curious sight. The barren plateau
above; then the almost precipitous cliffs of white
glittering rock, the great defile winding snake-like
to the south, with its bed filled with brilliant green
vegetation, every yard of ground for about four
miles occupied by gardens and scattered houses;
and here and there a glimpse of the river, throwing
back the rays of the sun with dazzling splendour.
" The descent was very steep, and Block and I mm
dismounted to walk down. We had got a good
way in front of the horses, and, as we neared the
town, had an amusing incident; we met four horsemen and a couple of men on foot, racing up the
hill at full speed, and as they came up to us, they
shouted: ' Out of the way! out of the way! We
are going to meet the English Pasha!' We let
them pass, and they did not find out their mistake
until they met the grooms. Then they came tearing back, and you can imagine how we enjoyed the
joke when they jumped off their horses, proclaimed
themselves our slaves, and salaamed in the usual
eastern manner. They could not realise the fact
that we could walk, having always seen Pashas
lifted on and off their horses, and surrounded by
" One of them had a letter from the Armenian
bishop, inviting me to stay at his house, but I
preferred to be independent, and we pitched our
tents on some lovely turf under the shade of
mulberry trees. Before the tents were up visitors
began to arrive: the Armenian bishop, the Roman
Catholic Armenian priests, the Protestants, some
Turks, and the Governor (a Circassian), with his
followers. Then we had to go and return all the
visits, and, by the time we returned to camp, it
was quite dark.
"We remained at Gurun on September 19th,
and, in the morning, walked to the head of the
town, where the river issues out through a gorge,
not more than six feet wide, into a pool, and then
runs off through the gardens. The rocks rose up
straight for more than a thousand feet, and completely barred all further passage. Here, on the
face of the rock, I found two Hamathite inscriptions, unfortunately so much worn by the weather,
that only a small portion could be copied. It was
very interesting to find them here, as no one was A TURKISH ESCORT
aware that the Hittite kingdom had extended so
far to the north ; and it almost seemed as if they
had worked their way up the valley from the south,
and, arriving at this gigantic barrier, had looked
upon it as the end of all things, without venturing
on to the high plateau above.
" On our way back we turned into the Protestant
school, where about sixty ragged little urchins were
being taught to read and write. The Americans
are certainly doing a good work here, and, what
is more, they have forced the Armenians, for very
shame, to open schools themselves; but it is, after
all, a mere drop in the ocean. People in England
do not realise that the great mass of the population here is little higher in the scale of civilisation
than the Zulus or the North American Indians;
yet such is really the case.
" The next morning, September 20th, when we
were about to start, our guard appeared, and I could
hardly help roaring with laughter, as it consisted of
one man, armed with a sword, and with an old
flint musket, so venerable in appearance, that I
should have been afraid to be anywhere within
twenty yards when it was fired. With such men,
the Turkish government expects to keep order
amongst Circassians and robbers, armed with
revolvers and breech-loading rifles.
"We climbed the steep side of the valley to
the plateau above, and then went on across pretty
level ground, until we got to a most quaint passage
through some rocks at the top of a hill, where we
stopped to lunch. You ought to have seen the
unfortunate zaptieh's face when I sent the baggage
mules on without his protection through what he
said was the worst part of the road. After luncheon
we descended a very steep hill, and got into some
rough, rocky ground, just the place for robbers to
make an attack on a train of mules or an unwary 186
traveller; and we certainly saw some rascally-
looking fellows, which indeed is very usual. The
truth is that there are no organised robber-bands
as there are in Sicily and in Greece; and all the
robberies here, and there are some every day, are
committed by parties of two, three, or at most four
men, who rob any person who, they think, will
not resist. Of course every movement of mine is
known throughout the country, and the people
know that Block, I, and our servants are well-
armed, and would use our arms if attacked. So
they let us alone, and take to more easy game, and
I never have the slightest fear of being molested.
" After passing through the rocky hills we got
out again on the higher plateau, and reached the
Armenian village of Manjilik just before sunset.
Here we had the usual stories of robbery and all
kinds of troubles, and the wretched villagers were
even afraid to drive their flocks to pasture for fear
of the thieves, especially of some Persian robbers,
who had settled down not far from them.
" The next morning we went, after breakfast, to
see the church and monastery of Manjilik; the
former is a small but very old cruciform church,
and from it the bishop, whom we met at Gurun,
takes his title. By the time we had finished our
visit the weather had cleared up a little, and we
started for Kangal over the level plateau. Here
we were royally entertained by Kangal Agha,
who owns much property in the neighbourhood,
and whom I had known at Sivas. When in the
country he lives in the regular patriarchal way;
his house is open to all, and every day more than
a hundred people are fed at his table. The Agha
is a most perfect host, and his hospitality is very
different from that offered by the Armenians.
" I was met at some distance from his house, and,
on dismounting at the door, was led by the Agha,
uk 1879        KANGAL AGHA'S HOSPITALITY 187
who held my hand in Turkish fashion, to the best
room, and deposited in the seat of honour. Then
sherbet, coffee, and cigarettes were produced, and
a short talk followed, after which the Agha got
up and said to me; ' You are tired and want rest;
my house and servants are at your disposal;' and
the old gentleman vanished, and we were left to
ourselves. A servant came to ask when we would
like to have luncheon and dinner, and we were as
undisturbed as if we had been in our own home.
Before eating, Block went to the old gentleman
to ask him to join in our meals; otherwise he
would not have joined us even then.
" The rooms, towels, and everything were beautifully clean for this part of the world, and a new
mattress and scrupulously clean linen were provided for my bed, as I was not allowed to use my
own. How different from the usual hospitality of
" At their houses you are shown into a room,
the couches of which are so dirty that you hardly
like to sit down, and, if you have curious eyes,
you see ends of cigarettes swept into corners,
and shelves of cupboards filled with all manner
of filth, half emptied basins, half rotten fruit,
dirty rags, and all kind of abominations. Then
you are scarcely seated before all the male
members of the family come in, each presenting
a cold, clammy, unwashed hand to be shaken,
and sitting down to stare at you, until you have
to turn them out unceremoniously. Then all the
Christians who happen to know your host come
trooping in, in different stages of dirtiness, each
with a hand to be shaken.
" From the time of your arrival to your departure
you are never left alone; people have even come
to see how I looked in bed. Then, at meal time,
a table is brought in, a dirty cloth thrown over it, 188 THE  CIRCASSIANS 1879
and, whether you wish it or not, you have two
or three Armenians to dine with you, generally
emitting the peculiar odour of sanctity which
arises from much dirt and little water. Such is
supposed to be the superior civilisation of the
Christian in the East. The only really good
Christian host I have stopped with was old Artin
Agha, who received us on our arrival at Sivas.
" We left Kangal on September 22nd, and,
rising to the highest point of the plateau, 6,200
feet above the sea, crossed again to the waters of
the Kizil Irmak, and descended to the Armenian
village of Ulash. Some of the views, especially
that from the highest point, were very fine, and
we had a delightful day after the torrents of rain
which had fallen the previous afternoon at Kangal.
"The following day we rode into Sivas, only
stopping to look at the salt-pans, where salt is
made from a large salt-water spring. The view of
Sivas from the crest of the hill is very striking,
and we felt a sensible difference in the climate as
we descended into the valley. There had been no
rain at Sivas, but the Kizil Irmak was swollen,
and coloured a bright brick red with the deposit
it had brought down from the mountains, fully
earning its name of the ' Red River.'"
After returning from his tour in the Circassian
district, Wilson remained in Sivas for a few days,
attending to his official duties. Here he heard
that the new Vali, or Governor - General, had
been appointed, and was expected to arrive early
in October. This official, Abeddin Bey by name,
who had held the appointment of Commissioner
of Reforms for the Vilayets of Diarbekr and
Kharput, was of Albanian descent, young and
well educated, and in many ways one of the best
Hill. 1879
type of the Turkish government official. The
fact that such a man was nominated to the
important post at Sivas gave some hope that the
Turkish authorities at Constantinople proposed to
introduce reforms in Anatolia.
As a fortnight was to elapse before Abeddm
Bey took up his new duties at Sivas, Wilson
decided to employ the interval in making a tour
to the important towns of Tokat and Amasia,
lying to the north-west of Sivas, which he had
not yet had the opportunity of visiting.
"We left Sivas on September 25th, and soon
climbed out of the deep valley to the bare flat
plateau, over which we travelled for three hours,
and reached a more broken country with a few
stunted bushes growing on the hills. There we
descended to a pretty valley, with a fine stream
on which were numbers of wild duck. During
the day we had some sharp showers, and, in the
evening, when we reached Kargin, thick rain came
on, and it was raw and chilly.
" We had intended to ascend the Yildiz Dagh,
or 'Star Mountain' next day, and we went to
the village of Sarilar at its foot; but the mist
came down thicker and thicker, and we had to
give the excursion up, much to my disappointment,
as I was very anxious to see the ruins on the top,
which are supposed to be those of the castle, in
which King Mithridates kept his treasures. We
waited about four hours in the house of one of
the villagers, who, of course, had their troubles to
talk over, and we had a small court about some
sheep, which were stolen from one of the refugees
from Kars. The villagers were much ashamed
about this, as it is a most unusual thing for a
stranger, staying in a Turkish village, to be robbed. 140 THE CIRCASSIANS 1879
"Then we went on our way, riding over the
roofs of the houses, into one of which I nearly
went bodily, and, after a wet ride, reached our
camp, near the Greek village of Avviran, which
lies in a pretty valley at the foot of the Chamli
Bel mountains. There is no other Christian
village near, and the people have a hard time
with Circassians, Kurds, and Turks. Just in the
gloaming, we heard a voice shouting out from
the hills, and presently in ran a man, who had
formed part of a caravan, which had been waylaid in the pass to Tokat. The men had been
bound and left on the ground, and the animals,
with all on them, had been driven off.
"The following morning we started in a wet
mist, and it was bitterly cold as we wound our way
up the Chamli Bel mountains; but, by the time
we reached the top, the sun had driven off the
mist, and it turned out a delightful day. Directly
we crossed the summit the change was magical,
and we felt, at once, that we were within the
influence of the moist winds from the Black Sea.
The whole mountain side was covered with the
most luxurious vegetation, and all the trees at
this altitude, 6,000 feet above sea-level, were in
their full autumnal splendour. It was a great
change from the bare hills of Sivas, or from the
cedar forests of the Anti-Taurus.
"Then began our descent from the inland
plateau, plunging down into the thickly-wooded
ravine, where all the robberies are committed.
The robbers could not have chosen a better place,
for on each side of the road there is thick wood,
and the road winds in such a way that, when they
cut into the middle of a caravan, the people
in front cannot get back to help those behind.
We passed some rough-looking people, and some
Circassians, who, I  daresay, were seeking whom 1879
they might devour; but we kept a sharp look-out
on our mules, and had no sort of adventure.
" After leaving the wood we got out on a sort of
terrace, and then went down a very steep and long
hill to Tokat, which is nearly 4,000 feet below the
top of the mountain. The town is prettily situated
in a valley, and almost buried in gardens. On
the mountains autumn tints had already set in, but
here everything was the richest green, amongst
which the red-tiled roofs of the houses looked
very picturesque. The apple and quince trees were
loaded with golden fruit, and, from the trellised
vines still hung bunches of luscious grapes. Many
of the gardens were planted with tobacco, which
was just being gathered, and also with numbers of
patches of Indian corn; melons, sweet and water,
and other kinds of fruit were in profusion.
" The town was delightful and thoroughly
oriental; narrow ill - paved streets, with upper
stories projecting half over the roadway, water
sellers, fruit sellers, and all the motley throng,
which fills the streets of an eastern town. Everything was so different from the towns and villages
of the interior plateau, where the houses are built
low to keep out the wind and cold, and are, for
the most part, little better than mud hovels, often
half below the surface of the ground.
"We were put up by one of the leading
Armenians, in a large house, with many fleas
and much dirt, and there remained over Sunday,
September 28th. In the courtyard were ranged
a number of enormous amphorae for wine, regular
Ali Baba jars, and, as I went out in the bright
moonlight, I half expected to see one of the forty
thieves jump up from the mouth of a jar.
" On Sunday morning we went up to the fine
old Byzantine castle above the town. It is a
pretty stiff climb, but we were well rewarded by
m 142
the beautiful view over the town and its gardens.
We had some trouble in finding our way through
the narrow streets, and, at one point, where we
were fairly puzzled, the following colloquy took
place: ' Which is the way to the castle ?' Answer,
in a tone of astonishment: 'The castle?' We
replied : ' Yes, the castle, which is the road ?' No
answer. ' Well, cannot you tell us the way to the
castle ?'
"No answer, but a remark was made to the
crowd, which had assembled, half in astonishment
and half in a sort of admiration: ' They are going
to the castle!' Very few of the Tokat people have,
I expect, ever climbed the hill, and the idea that
the English Pasha was going to do it on a warm
morning was too much for them. However, at
last, two or three boys went with us, and we saw
the whole of it.
"The most curious features are the entrance,
which is by a low tunnel cut in the rock, and a
passage, now half filled up, which was also cut
through the rock from the lower part of the castle
to the town below. The flight of steps in this was
partly broken, and the rock was slippery; so, as
we had brought no lights, we did not venture
down into the darkness. When we returned to
camp there was a regular lev6e of visitors, all with
some complaint of robbery or peculation.
" On September 29th we left Tokat early, and
travelled to Turkhal, down the valley of the Iris
river, now called the Yeshil Irmak, which here
expands into a plain. It was a pretty ride, but it
was sad to see such rich ground lying waste,
while the refugees are sent to the inland plateau.
" Turkhal is well situated on the banks of the
Iris, surrounded by gardens on every side, at the
foot of a steep hill, upon which are the remains of
a castle.   The river runs between steep banks, and  L_ AMASIA
all the water used for irrigation is raised by gigantic
water-wheels, which give out the most wild weird
creaking sounds it is possible to imagine. The
Governor of Turkhal is a Circassian Bey, who
came out to meet me and was very civil.
"The following morning I visited the castle,
and then rode down the valley of the Iris through
rich vegetation, which must make it in summer
a very hotbed of fever. The whole day's ride
after leaving the Iris, was very pleasant, and, at
one point, the road passed through a narrow
passage between high rocks, which I could almost
touch with outstretched hands on either side. We
camped at a place called Yeni-bazar Khan, and
here I met a dragoman, whom 1 liave been obliged
to engage for the ever increasing work. He is a
nice young fellow, an Armenian of good family,
Garabed Tchetchian by name, who has been educated at Robert's College, the American establishment at Constantinople for giving a higher
education to natives.
" On October 1st I went on to Amasia, passing
over a steep rough hill, before descending again
to the Iris valley, which was here entirely filled
with gardens. Amasia, the birth-place of Strabo,
was by far the most picturesque place I had yet
seen in Asia Minor. The town lies on both sides
of the river at the foot of the steep cliffs, on one
of which, towering up into the sky, is the castle
of Mithridates, who held his own so long against
the Romans in the first century before Christ.
There, in the face of the cliff, are the rock-hewn
tombs of the old kings of Pontus, reached by
galleries cut in the rock, and, at the foot of all
rushes the river, bordered with houses and gardens.
" We were put up by Mr Krug, the German
Consul, a Swiss gentleman from Basle, who has a
large flour mill, and is just starting a manufacture 144
of lucifer matches. He has quite a colony of
German workmen, and it was very pleasant to hear
the old homely language, and see the energy with
which they worked. No less pleasant was it to
be shown into a real Swiss bedroom, scrupulously
clean, with the whitest of linen on the beds.
Mrs Krug has a piano, and they have all kinds
of European comforts, furniture, etc., such as
could not be carried over the roads to Sivas.
"Here, as elsewhere, there were lots of complaints. Circassian men, women, and children,
crowrded into a wretched prison, and a poor woman
confined in the midst of them without any attendance; Christian villages being plundered by
Circassians; robbery and murder everywhere: a
perfect pandemonium. You can imagine how
bad it must be when an old Turk exclaimed:
' If England or Russia would come here, and
deliver us from this misery, I would gladly let
them ride  over my body!'
"A stray Frenchman at Amasia had a quaint
story to relate. For some reason or other some
of the more bigoted Turks had taken a dislike
to him, and they got up a tale that he was a
magician, who had control over the rain, and
exercised it by means of a pig's head, an object
hateful to all followers of Islam. The Frenchman was called before the court, and, of course,
denied the story ; then false witnesses appeared,
who swore that it was true, that the pig's head
was buried on a certain hill, and that rain fell
only when it squeaked. A body of elders were
sent in search of the head of the hateful animal,
and, of course, found it, where it had previously
been placed by the false witnesses. The head
was borne in triumph to the town and carried
to the council chamber, where it was tried and
condemned to imprisonment in chains.
iK  %d 1879
" Meantime the Frenchman, not knowing what
was going on, went into the streets, when a tumult
arose, and the people were going to kill him, when
he was saved by Mr Krug's pluck and presence of
mind. The pig's head was placed in prison with
the other prisoners, and heavy chains were riveted
to it; and then a guard, under a captain, was
set over it, to report when it squeaked. The
decree ordering the imprisonment was signed and
sealed by all the members of the court, including
two Armenian Christians. The whole affair formed
the subject of a diplomatic correspondence, and
Mr Krug was thanked by the French government
for his conduct, so there is no doubt about it.
" The next day we had a delightful ride up the
Iris valley, amidst gardens, and some magnificent
rock scenery, and then crossed a high mountain
to Zilleh, the scene of Julius Caesar's famous
victory over Pharnaces II., the news of which he
sent to Rome in the still more famous despatch,
'Veni, Vidi, Vici.'
"The town is prettily situated in a plain, surrounded by hills, and the houses are gathered
round the foot of a small isolated hill, upon which
stood the palace of Semiramis. The top is now
occupied by the ruins of a mediaeval castle, in
which we found another of the curious passages
cut in the rock which the old people of Pontus
seem to have been so fond of making. From
Zilleh we made three marches to Sivas, and
uncommonly cold we found it at night on the
high plateau."
Wilson arrived at Sivas on October 5th, and
sent a despatch to Sir Henry Layard, describing
his tours in the Caucasian country of Uzun Yaila,
and  in the mountainous districts between Sivas
E \M
and Amasia. The despatch1 contained much of
the information already given in his letter above,
and it is therefore unnecessary to quote it in
extenso, but it is desirable to repeat some paragraphs, in which he sums up shortly the reasons
for the state of anarchy from which the country
" Sivas, October 7th, 1879.
" The causes of the universal disorder are not
far to seek. The first is the insufficiency and
inefficiency of the zaptieh force. In one Kaima-
kamlik, as large as some English counties, there
are only three, in another only four ; and these
men are, for the most part, armed with flint-lock
muskets of such antiquated pattern that they
would raise a smile if seen in a museum of ancient
arms. No one can expect these zaptiehs, many
of whom have to support a family and keep a
horse on 140 piastres (about 24s.) a month, several
months in arrear, to arrest men armed with breechloaders and revolvers, knowing as they do that
if they were killed their families would be utterly
neglected by the Turkish government.
" It is only natural that a zaptieh, when ordered
to arrest a robber, should go away for a few
days, live comfortably in a village, and on his
return say that he could not find him. The
zaptiehs, too, complain that, when they do arrest
a man and bring him before the court, they are
at once asked for the two witnesses required by
law, and that, if they are not provided with them,
the prisoner, though every one knows he is guilty,
is set free. Even should a man be convicted and
sent to prison, he is too often released the next
morning, if his friends are sufficiently wealthy to
1 See Parliamentary Papers, Turkey, No. 4 (1880), No. 75, p. 111.
open the prison gates and close the eyes of the
" A second cause is the immunity from punishment which is enjoyed by men who commit crime.
This arises from the inefficiency of the zaptieh
force, the general corruption of the courts and
of the prison officials, and from an organised
system of protection, which has its centre at Sivas.
By this system a man who commits a crime in
the cazas* sub - districts can always, if he has
money, carry his case to the appeal courts at
Sivas, and there obtain protection. A night or
two in prison, or a few pounds spent in bribery
or in purchasing protection, is now all that a
robber, foolish enough to be caught, has to fear.
" A third cause is the almost criminal action
of the Turkish government in sending thousands
of refugees, a large proportion of them armed with
modern weapons, to the country, without making
proper provision for their support or maintenance.
It is not to be supposed that an armed Laz or
Circassian will die of hunger when, by threatening
to use his weapons, he can obtain food and nourishment for himself and family. In one Circassian
village I found refugees who had been living on the
hospitality of the villagers, themselves extremely
poor, for fourteen months, never having during that
time received assistance from government. In
other Moslem villages I saw refugees from Kars
living under the same conditions.
" The cost of supporting the refugees has fallen
entirely upon the Moslem and old Circassian villages,
and the villagers have done their best to supply the
newcomers with food and shelter. I do not know
of one instance in which Moslem refugees have
been quartered upon a Christian village.
" A fourth cause is the treatment of the refugees
11 148
by the Refugee Commissioners. In my despatch
of the 6th August, after having seen something
of the arrangements made in the Konia Vilayet
by Ali Riza Bey, the Refugee Commissioner, I
reported that the task of settling the refugees had
been well accomplished. I cannot say the same
for the work of the Sivas Commissioners, who
would appear to have taken the opportunity of
enriching themselves at the expense of the villagers,
and even of the refugees. They extorted money
from the villagers by threatening to plant colonies
of refugees near them, and from the refugees by
threatening to settle them down on lands incapable
of cultivation.
" I have been informed, on what I consider
good authority, that the late Refugee Commissioner, himself receiving a large salary, obtained
in this manner no less than £ T. 4,000 (about
£3,600) from the Amasia Mutessariflik alone.
" The effect of this treatment was speedily felt;
numbers of the unfortunate refugees, driven hither
and thither, died miserably by the roadside, and
a spirit of restlessness was created amongst the
recently-arrived Lazis and Circassians which has
not yet subsided, and which will need a strong
hand to control.
" Prompt and energetic action can alone save the
vilayet from complete ruin. The time has passed
for half measures; and 1 trust your Excellency
will impress upon the Porte the serious nature of
the consequences which may ensue from a continuance of the existing state of affairs, and the
absolute necessity of giving Abeddin Pasha, who
arrives to-morrow, cordial and loyal support in
such steps as he may find it necessary to take for
the preservation of law and order in the vilayet.—
I have, etc., C. W. Wilson."
Abeddin Pasha, the new Vali, from whom so 1879
much was expected, arrived at Sivas on October
8th. Wilson rode out to meet him, and described
the reception in the following words:—
"At the bridge the Turkish officials had a
reception tent erected, which the wily people
wanted me to enter, wishing to obliterate me in
the crowd, but I was too much for them, and rode
on about half a mile. Our meeting was very
cordial; we dismounted, walked to meet each other,
and had some conversation, during which I presented Block and Tchetchian. Then we mounted
and rode side by side at the head of the procession
until we neared the tent, when I took leave, and
left the Pasha to meet his future staff. Directly
I heard that he had arrived at the government
building, I went to call upon him and congratulate
him on his arrival. Then in a couple of hours he
came to return my call, and the ceremony was
over. The people were immensely astonished to
find that their new governor visited me before
calling on any of the great Turks. Since my
arrival at Sivas there has been no government, and
the people, never having seen a Consul-General
before, were surprised at the respect paid to
" On October 23rd, the Sultan's firman, appointing Abeddin Pasha Governor-General, was read in
public, and we had again to turn out in uniform.
On arriving at the konak, I was shown into the
Pasha's sanctum, where the Chief Imam, or priest of
the town, was seated. After a few minutes, a man
came in to say that all was ready. We rose from
our seats, and the Imam invested the Governor
with his sword of office, fastened the girdle, and
exhorted him to be wise, prudent, and faithful.
Then a procession was formed, the Pasha holding
the firman in its green sflk covering in his hands, M *
held slightly in front of him, with myself at his
side, then the Imams of Sivas and the Vilayet
officials in their uniforms, amongst whom was the
old kadi, or Chief Judge, resplendent in a purple
robe, embroidered with gold, and having a gold
band round his snow-white turban.
" We walked at slow march, through a line of
troops with presented arms, to a sort of raised
mound at the foot of which the people were
assembled. On reaching the appointed place, the
Pasha kissed the green silk case of the firman,
pressed it to his forehead, and handed it to the
official who was to read it. This man kissed the
case in the same way, then drew out the firman
and read it aloud to the people. When the reading was finished, the Pasha made a very good
speech, after which the Mufti gave a long prayer,
during which the assembled people kept crying
out: 'Amen, Amen. So be it, So be it.' The
prayer ended, three cheers were given for the
Padishah, the troops presenting arms, the trumpet
blowing, and the solitary gun in the town doing
its best to fire a salute. The Pasha then said:
' God be with you, O my people'; and we all
marched back to the konak, when the officials
and notables of the place came to pay their
respects to the new Vali.
"The Pasha is an Albanian, talks French,
and is a very clever and ambitious man, with
energy and powers of work which are rarely found
in a Turk. He is a good classical scholar, so that
we have subjects in common to talk about. The
other evening our conversation turned on the
immortality of the soul: rather a curious subject
for a Turk to discuss."
The arrival of Abeddin Pasha was naturally
a cause of great satisfaction to Wilson, who felt 1879
that there was at last a man at the head of affairs
who was really anxious to do something in the
direction of introducing reforms into the province,
and with whom he could frankly discuss the situation. He therefore remained at Sivas for nearly
two months, steadily gathering information as
to the condition of the country, and assisting
with advice the new Vali in his difficult task.
During this period he addressed a number of
reports to the British Ambassador at Constantinople, in which he showed the progress that was
being made, and the steps that, in his opinion,
were necessary, in order to bring about good
government in Anatolia. Of these it will suffice
to quote one1:—
I Lieutenant-Colonel Wilson to Sir A. H. Layard.
" Sivas, November 21st, 1879.
" Sir,—In my despatch of the 7th October I
informed your Excellency that I had suggested to
the Mutessarif of Amasia the advisability of sending the cavalry detachment quartered in that town
to the village of Suleiman-Keui, which was reported
to have been pillaged by Circassians. I have since
been informed that the village was not pillaged, but
that the troops arrived in time to prevent an attack
which the Circassians were about to make on the
place. As I hope to visit Suleiman-Keui in a few
days, I propose deferring a report on the subject
until I have had an occasion of speaking with
the villagers.
" I took an early opportunity of drawing the
attention of the Vali to the disturbed state of the
Tokat and Amasia districts, of which his Excellency
1 See Parliamentary Papers, Turkey, No. 23 (1880), No. 2, p. 7. 152
had been previously informed by the Mutessarif of
"The zaptieh force being quite inadequate to
meet the ordinary requirements of the vilayet,
Abeddin Pasha directed his Excellency Lieutenant-
General Musa Pasha to proceed to the district
with the greater portion of the cavalry under his
command.    He left Sivas on the 22nd October.
" Musa Pasha has carried out the instructions of
his Excellency the Vali in a very energetic manner.
Seventeen notorious robbers in the Tokat district
and thirty-two in the Amasia Sandjak have been
captured, and are now in prison awaiting trial.
"The Medjliss of Tokat decided that there
should be a linked guarantee amongst the whole
population; that is, that every man should furnish
the name of some friend or neighbour who would be
directly responsible to the government for his good
behaviour. I understand that this is being put
in force through the Moukhtars of the different
villages, and that an effort is at last being made
to ensure security to fife and property. It is one
thing, however, to capture prisoners, and another
to have them tried and convicted, the mode of
procedure in the courts being entirely beyond the
influence of the Vali.
" I am glad to be able to report a marked
improvement in the state of the vilayet; for the
last three weeks I have heard of no cases of
robbery; while previous to the arrival of Abeddin
Pasha they were of daily occurrence, even in the
immediate vicinity of Sivas. I think this shows
with what ease order may be maintained in a
vilayet if the Governor-General be an able man
and anxious to do his duty.
"Your Excellency is aware, from the reports
of Captain Cooper and Mr Gatheral, of the state of
insecurity which exists in the province of Angora.
"I would beg to express a hope that your
Excellency will impress upon the Porte the
absolute necessity of appointing able, energetic
men as governors - general in the provinces, and
of allowing them more freedom of action, if His
Imperial Majesty the Sultan does not wish to see
Anatolia speedily reduced to a state of anarchy.—
I have, etc., C. W. Wilson."
Although the winter had commenced, and snow
had begun to fall at Sivas, Wilson decided to make
one more tour of inspection before the end of the
year; and, early in December, started for Amasia,
proceeding by way of Marsivan to Samsun, the
port on the Black Sea for Pontus and Cappadocia,
and returned to Sivas by Amasia and Tokat.
The conditions of travel were different to those
which had existed when he had made his autumn
journey, and the hardships which he endured were
at times very great. The bridge over the Iris
river had been washed away by the floods, and it
was only just possible to cross the rapid stream
by taking the horses and mules over a ford. Parts
of the road were nearly impassable on account of
the mud, and the whole party were glad to reach
the comparative comfort of Samsun.
The return journey was even more arduous,
as heavy snow had fallen on the mountains, and
occasionally it was difficult to find the road at all.
Christmas Day was spent in a Circassian mud hut
in the hills, with the country round all deep in
snow, and the weather got worse as the higher
regions were reached. Of this part of the route
Wilson wrote:—
U p
" On December 28th we ascended to the upper
plateau during the most dreadful weather, a high,
piercing wind in our faces, and the snowflakes
getting in through everything. But as we reached
the top the snowstorm ended, and the snow underfoot with the extensive cold was quite dry, such
as I have not seen since American days, all the
delicate little crystals perfect and separate. We
passed the night at an Armenian village (very
dirty), and the next day crossed the much-dreaded
Chamli Bel mountains to Yeni-Khan.
"Winter travelling in Anatolia is decidedly
unpleasant, but there is not as great hardship as
in American travelling, when one had to sleep on
the snow and cut one's own firewood. The village
houses, however, are simply horrible, dark dens,
with a stifling atmosphere, in which one has to pass
fifteen or sixteen hours out of the twenty-four."
So ended the year 1879 for Wilson. He had
worked much and travelled constantly, and had
got a thorough insight into the real condition of
affairs in Asia Minor. He felt bitterly how little
he had been able to effect in ameliorating the
state of the inhabitants, but his kind words and
constant sympathy with all he met, must have had
an effect, greater perhaps than he knew at the
time, in spreading a better feeling among the
Turkish officials, and among those whom they
Journey to Constantinople by Angora and Tsmid—Report on the state
of the country—Tour in southern Asia Minor with his wife—The
seven churches—Report on southern Asia Minor—Administration of Justice—The Refugee Question.
Early in 1880 Wilson proposed to travel from
Sivas to Constantinople by way of Angora and
Ada-bazar, then to go to Smyrna in order to visit
the province of Aidin in the south-west of Asia
Minor, and to return to Sivas through Kastamuni.
He expected to be back at Sivas by the end of
May, but, in consequence of circumstances which
he did not anticipate, it was more than a year
before he returned to the headquarters of his
Wilson started from Sivas in February, and
passed through Angora and Ismid to Constantinople, where he arrived in the latter part of March.
There he saw the British Ambassador, and, in the
following report1 to him, embodied the observations which he had made on the state of the
country in the districts which he had traversed:—
1 See Parliamentary Papers, Turkey, No. 23 (1880), No. 74, p. 146.
155 npn
156 ASIA MINOR 1880
" Lieutenant-Colonel Wilson to Sir A. H. Layard.
" Constantinople, April 12th, 1880.
"Sir, — I have the honour to draw your
Excellency's attention to the lamentable condition
of the peasantry in the districts which I have
recently visited, or been in the vicinity of, during
my journey from Sivas to Angora and Constantinople, and to express my belief that a serious state
of affairs is likely to arise at no distant period
throughout Anatolia.
" I found everywhere that, during an unusually
severe winter, the greatest pressure had been
brought to bear upon the unfortunate peasantry,
with a view of calling in arrears of taxes, that
money might be sent to Constantinople. Agricultural implements and other necessaries of daily
life were being seized and sold by the tax collectors,
who did not even spare the widows and orphans
of soldiers who had laid down their lives at Plevna,
at Shipka, or upon the mountains of Armenia.
Not more than one-third of the men called up
during the war have returned to their homes ; and,
in nearly every village, there are widows and
orphans, almost on the verge of starvation, who are
supported and helped by relations and friends not
much better off than themselves."
" In several places the villagers complained
much of the new tax collectors, who, they said, were
worse than the zaptiehs, especially in the oppressive
and extravagant demands which they made for the
supply of food and lodging free of cost. In one
instance I was able to bring the conduct of a tax
collector to the notice of the local government,
with, as I have subsequently heard, good results.
" It was during this period of pressure that the
Porte issued the order reducing the value of the
beshlik currency by one-half.   This measure, which THE CURRENCY QUESTION
has given rise to serious disturbances in some of the
larger towns, has virtually ruined the peasantry of
Anatolia, already impoverished by the depreciation,
first of caimd, then of copper. In the interior of
Asia Minor the beshlik was the one species of
money in which the peasant had confidence; to
him it was the type of all that was stable; he
preferred it in many places to gold and silver, of
which there was little in circulation; and aH his
hoardings, if he had any, were made in it. In one
moment, with scarcely a note of warning, the
peasant found the value of all ready-money in his
possession, or in that of his wife, reduced by one-
half. Every one who, with great difficulty, had
scraped together a few piastres to pay his taxes
had to commence again—to sell off stock or other
articles to make good the loss by depreciation;
whilst, at the same time, the price of all the
necessaries of life rose in the bazaars.
" I need not here remark on the confusion and
inconvenience produced in the interior by the
manner in which the change in the value of the
currency was effected, or upon the opportunities
which it has given, and will give, to local officials
to continue the system of plundering government that was found so effective when caime* was
depreciated. It is only another instance of that
curious inability of Turkish officials to understand
the most elementary principles of finance to which
I have alluded in previous despatches.
" In no place that I visited has any real attempt
been made to settle the refugees from Bulgaria
and Eastern Rumelia. These unfortunate people
are still living in the villages to which they were
at first sent; no lands have been assigned to them;
and even the scanty ration of corn which government at one time issued has been stopped since
the 1st March.   Several of the refugees to whom
M 158
I spoke wished for work, for any possible means
of gaining a livelihood, and so avoiding starvation;
but there was nothing for them to do, except in
the rare instances in which the villagers were rich
enough to employ them as labourers. The villagers
in their turn complained, and very justly, of the
heavy tax imposed upon their slender resources
by having to provide house accommodation for, and
supply food to, the refugees.
"Another severe tax which the villagers have
to bear, is the support of disbanded soldiers returning to their homes. I frequently met parties of
four or five men who had been discharged in Crete,
at the Dardanelles, or in European Turkey, with not
more than seven or eight shillings to find their
way to the extreme parts of the Empire. The men
were not even granted passages to the nearest port;
all had to march begging their way from village
to village, with nothing but the clothes on their
backs, and papers which showed they were from
three to five years in arrear of pay. It is greatly
to the credit of men discharged under such circumstances that the percentage of crime charged against
them is almost nil—a feature which would probably
be looked for in vain, under similar conditions, in
any other country.
" At Ada-bazar, and in its vicinity, a state of
affairs exists which I cannot but consider most
critical and serious, and to which I would beg to
draw your Excellency's attention. Of the general
condition of the district your Excellency is aware
from the reports of Lieutenant Kitchener, Royal
Engineers, since whose visit nothing has been
done by the Turkish government to mitigate the
sufferings of the people. In a very small area
Circassian refugees, estimated to number from
15,000 to 20,000, have been allowed to collect
and ' squat' on lands already tilled by a mixed—
Christian and Moslem—peasantry. No effort has
been made to settle the Circassians, or to grant
them lands for cultivation, and it is now too late
to make any arrangements which would enable
them to gather in a harvest this year. Many
Circassians came into the country with nothing
but the clothes they wore; others, who were
possessed of some means, have spent nearly everything in purchasing food; the government ration
has been stopped, and nothing remains but starvation or robbery. I was informed that in places the
Circassians had seized the lands of the peasantry,
and sown them for their own use; it is difficult
to blame them; it is not easy to characterise the
action, or want of action, on the part of the Turkish
government which has been the cause of so much
misery. The Circassians are, physically, greatly
superior to the native peasantry, and, in the
struggle for existence which must ensue, the latter,
Christian and Moslem, will be the sufferers, t fear
your Excellency will, as spring advances, have
many cases of robbery and violence brought to
your notice.
" In the Sandjak of Ismid the people generally
are in a state bordering on starvation, and men
and women are at the present moment dying of
want within ten miles of the railway terminus of
Ismid. One Kaimakam (governor) told me that
people were dying of starvation in his caza, and
that, having exhausted all the corn in the granaries,
he had applied more than once to Constantinople
for assistance without obtaining an answer. The
peasants have eaten their seed corn, and have no
reserve of food or money to fall back upon, so
that, unless the country is blessed with an exceptionally abundant harvest this year, a serious famine
may be expected in the Sandjak of Ismid and in
many districts of the Vilayet of Brusa. rmm
160 ASIA MINOR 1880
"In any case the sufferings of the people
during the next three months, before the harvest is
gathered in, will be intense, and many will die. In
some places the peasants are now living on one
meal a day, consisting of a soup of bran and water;
in others they are baking the vine-stems and grinding them for flour; and in others they are reduced
to eating grass and herbs. I believe that the local
officials have frequently done all that they could
to relieve suffering, and have sometimes given
largely from their private means, but the general
impoverishment is so great that little real effect
can be produced without generous assistance from
the central government, and that does not seem
to be forthcoming.
"The indifference shown to the sufferings of
the people by the Ministers at Constantinople
seems well-nigh incredible, and their neglect of
the most obvious precautions is so great that a
casual observer would be almost justified in
supposing that a settled plan had been formed for
the destruction of a peasantry in some respects
the finest in the world. In the Sandjak of Ismid
the distress, common to the whole of Anatolia,
has been aggravated by the failure of the harvest
last year owing to drought, and to the excessive
non-productive Circassian population, and, in the
Brusa Vilayet, by the destruction of the crops last
year by locusts and drought, and by the length
and severity of the winter, during which 450,000
cattle, sheep, and goats are said to have perished.
" In the Vilayet of Angora the winter has told
severely upon the goats which produce the mohair.
Whilst at Angora I was informed that between
thirty and forty per cent, had died, and the heavy
snowstorm which I met with afterwards on my
journey from Angora to Ismid must have killed
many more.    There are no kids this year, and
the cattle and sheep have also suffered, so that
altogether the prospects for the immediate future
are not good.
" I have nowhere seen any attempt to introduce
those measures for the amelioration of the people
which have so often been promised and are so
eagerly looked for by Christian and Moslem alike.
There are Valis, Mutessarifs, and Kaimakams who
see and acknowledge the evils from which the
country is suffering, and would willingly strive to
remedy them if they had not good reason to
believe that their efforts would be thwarted at
Stamboul, where everything seems to be crushed
under the dead weight of over-centralisation. If
some steps are not taken, and that shortly, to
alleviate the condition of the people, His Imperial
Majesty the Sultan will find, when it is too late,
that he has lost, through causes which might have
been prevented, a very large portion of the peasantry
which forms the true strength of the Ottoman
" I may add, in support of what I have written,
that I was told recently by a gentleman who has
passed more than twenty years in Anatolia, and
has an intimate knowledge of the peasantry, that
at no period within his recollection has the lot
of the peasant been harder to bear or the outlook
for the future more gloomy and apparently hopeless.
—I have, etc., C. W. Wilson."
While Wilson was on his journey to Constantinople, a serious change had taken place at
Sivas, as Abeddin Pasha, the intelligent Governor-
General, of whom so much was expected, had been
removed by the Turkish government and transferred to Salonika, thus affording an additional
proof of the little reliance that could be placed JE
162 ASIA MINOR 1880
upon the promises of the Porte to carry out
reforms in Asia Minor. Sir H. Layard reported
the removal of the Pasha in the following
" Sir A. H. Layard to the Marquis of Salisbury.
c< Constantinople, March 22nd, 1880.
46 Abeddin Pasha, the late Governor - General
of Sivas, who has been transferred to the Vilayet
of Salonika, called upon me this morning. He
arrived two days ago at Constantinople, and has
received orders to proceed to his new post
" He gave me an interesting account of the state
of that part of Asia Minor which he has recently
visited as one of the Reform Commissioners, and
administered as Vali.
" He said that its condition had very much
improved of late, but that an active, energetic,
and enlightened governor is required to maintain
this improvement.
" The Pasha spoke in the highest terms of
Colonel Wilson, who, he said, had succeeded in
making the populations, Mussulman and Christian, '
understand what the policy of England really is;
namely, reform of the administration, the welfare
of the people, and justice and protection for all
classes without distinction of race or creed. The
manner in which Colonel Wilson had carried out
this policy had made an excellent impression upon
the Mahomedans, and had gained for him their
entire confidence."
Soon after Wilson reached Constantinople, his
wife joined him there, as it had been arranged
1 See Parliamentary Papers, Turkey, No, 23 (1880), No, 60, p. 107.
that she was to accompany him on the next tour
of inspection in southern Asia Minor. He had
looked forward to this journey during the whole
of the preceding year, and it was a most agreeable
break in his comparatively lonely life in Anatolia.
Colonel and Mrs Wilson first visited Brusa,
and then proceeded by steamer to Smyrna, where
they arrived on April 17th, and, after a stay of
a few days, went on by train to Ephesus, and
inspected the remains of that ancient city, continuing the journey by railway to Aidin, the capital
of the richest province in Anatolia, and, formerly,
the strongest fortress in the valley of the Maeander.
Here horses were in readiness, and the party
travelled by road up the valley to Nazli, along
the Kara Su river to Geira, and across the Baba
Dagh mountains, by a somewhat difficult road,
to Denizli, a beautifully situated town at the foot
of the hills. After leaving Denizli, the ruins of
Colossce and Laodicaea, two of the seven churches,
were visited, and also the remains of the important city of Hierapolis, the " Holy City," which
contains many interesting buildings, including one
of the most perfect theatres in Asia Minor.
Thence a road to the north-west was followed,
which, crossing the Maeander, passes by Derbend,
and reaches Ala-shehr, the site of Philadelphia,
another of the seven churches of the Revelations.
Here Wilson stopped for a few days to make
enquiry into the state of the country, which he
found to be very unsatisfactory, as the crops had
been nearly all destroyed by locusts. From AJa-
shehr, the journey was continued to Sardis, and M
down the valley of the Hermus to Manisa, the
ancient Magnesia, now a station on the Smyrna-
Kassaba railway.
A tour was next made to the sites of Thyatira
and Pergamos, the two last of the seven churches,
after which Wilson and his wife returned to
Smyrna on May 14th. The following day Mrs
Wilson took the steamer for England, and soon
afterwards Wilson returned to Constantinople by
way of Kutaya and Brusa.
The result of his enquiries into the state of
affairs in southern Asia Minor was embodied in
the following report1 to Mr Goschen, who had
been sent to Turkey on a special mission, and
who, a little later, succeeded Sir Henry Layard
as British Ambassador at Constantinople.
" Lieutenant- Colonel Wilson to Mr Goschen.
" Brusa, May 28th, 1880.
" Sir,—Having recently travelled through a
large portion of the Sandjaks of Smyrna, Aidin,
and Sarukhan (Manisa), in the Vilayet of Aidin, I
beg to forward to your Excellency some remarks
on matters which came under my notice.
" Condition of the People.—Though the Vilayet
of Aidin is the richest in Anatolia, and the valleys
of the Hermus and Maeander are remarkable for
their fertility, I found the peasantry in many districts, especially in those from 2,000 feet to 3,000
feet above the sea-level, suffering much from scarcity
of food. In some places the villagers were grinding walnut-shells and the stalk of the Indian corn
fo^ flour, which was used to thicken a sort of broth
made with herbs; and in others they were eating
1 See Parliamentary Papers, Turkey, No. 23 (1880), No. 122, p. 215. 1880 DISTRESS IN SARUKHAN
a biscuit made of unground barley and sour milk.
The peasantry had no corn left on their hands, and
there would have been a serious famine if it had
not been for the existence of the railways, which
have been carrying grain to the interior since the
month of January.
"On the 15th May the Smyrna and Kassaba
railway had forwarded 4,861 tons, and it was then
transporting grain at the rate of 100 tons per
diem; the Smyrna and Aidin railway had also
sent 2,000 tons, and each day the quantity was
increasing. The grain was conveyed from the
railway stations either by the villagers themselves,
who came from long distances, or by large caravans
of camels. The prices were everywhere very high;
at Denizli, for instance, the centre of a rich district
within three days' journey of the Aidin terminus,
with which it is connected by a good araba road,
the kile' of wheat had risen from 30 to 80 piastres ;
barley from 15 to 40 piastres; and millet from 18
to 50 piastres. The better class of villagers were
borrowing money at exorbitant rates of interest
to purchase corn, and these men were helping
those who could not obtain credit. The principal
sufferers were the widows of men who fell during
the late war.
"I did not hear of many cases of death from
starvation, and I attribute this to the prompt
action of the Mutessarif of Sarukhan, who went to
the worst districts and made arrangements for the
transport and distribution of corn. The executive
details appear to have been well carried out by the
Kaimakam of Salikli, a young man of some energy
and capacity.
"The scarcity has been caused in part by land
going out of cultivation in consequence of the
enormous loss of life during the war, and by the
presence of a large unproductive  population  of § *
refugees; and in part by the intense severity of the
winter, which for a long time stopped aU transport,
and by the locusts which have for the last five
years devastated the province.
"The prospects for this year are, I regret to
state, very gloomy; locusts have again appeared in
large numbers both in the Hermus and Maeander
valleys. Near Ala-shehr men were cutting the
half-ripened barley sooner than leave it to be eaten.
On both lines of railway the trains have now to be
run with two engines; and in numbers of places 1
saw the ground black with young locusts. Great
fears are entertained for the barley and wheat
harvests, and I fear the cotton crop, which will be
coming up when the locusts will have attained
their most destructive stage, will be almost entirely
lost. The exceptional cold last winter and the
length of time the snow lay on the ground have
also caused much loss; in the lower districts the
orange, pomegranate, and olive trees have suffered
severely, the opium sown before winter has been
almost destroyed, and much damage has been done
to the bean crop; in the higher districts the corn
sown in autumn has in great" measure failed, and
in consequence of the snow there has been no
spring sowing.
"In many places I visited there will be no
wheat or barley harvest this year; the peasants
were sowing dura, but as this cannot be reaped
until the middle or end of August, a period remains
during which the local government will have to
supply and distribute corn. The worst districts
are the Demirji and Ekmak Cazas, respectively
north and east of Ala-shehr, in both of which there
have been a few deaths from starvation; in many
villages bread is now rarely or never seen. On the
Davas Ova, south-west of Denizli, there is also
much suffering, though no one appears to have PUBLIC SECURITY
died of want. It is difficult to realise the condition
of the peasantry without living amongst them as
I have done recently, but I am glad to say that
His Highness Hamdy Pasha is fully alive to the
necessity of prompt action, and that he and the
Mutessarif of Sarukhan are anxious, as far as they
can, to alleviate the general misery.
" Security to Life and Property.—The stories of
brigandage and robbery in the interior which find
ready credence at Smyrna are much exaggerated;
it is true that there are occasional cases, but they
appear to be confined to a small area near Smyrna
and the coast. I made a point of questioning the
villagers with regard to robberies, and could hear
of few, and those were chiefly of a trifling nature.
Every one agreed that two or three years ago the
state of the country was very bad, and the improvement in certain districts was generally attributed
to the action of the Smyrna and Kassaba railway
company in establishing guard-houses at their
own cost to protect the principal trade routes.
Several robber-bands have been broken up through
the efforts of the Mutessarif of Sarukhan, and
since the submission of the noted brigand, Pitch
Osman, they have had no recognised head.
"The story of this man is characteristic of
Turkish government; for years he was the scourge
of the country, and was known to have committed
several murders with his own hands, besides being
guilty of other atrocities; a few months ago, however, he announced his intention of making his
submission, and on entering Kirkagach, with four
or five armed followers, he was met by the Kaima*
kam, the officials, and notables of that place,
and received as if he had been the Governor-
General rather than a bandit satiated with crime.
He now lives on his estate near Ak-hissar, an
encouragement for others to foUow in his footsteps. rmmm
168 ASIA MINOR 1880
" The worst district appears at present to be that
included in the triangle Smyrna-Aivali-Ak-hissar.
At Be