Sir Harry Johnston & the Scramble for Africa

By Roland Oliver | Go to book overview

Chapter 9
A LITTLE DISENCHANTED WITH
IMPERIALISM

Early in July 1896, the night after his arrival in London, Johnston dined with the Andersons at their home in Eaton Square. It would be a fair conjecture, though nothing more, that earlier the same day young Sir Harry, dapper Sir Harry, had declared his love and proposed marriage to Winifred Irby, the daughter of the house. Of the history of their relationship we know little, except that it had begun in a remote kind of way in 1889. Since his English visit in 1894 Johnston had invariably concluded his semi-official letters to Anderson with an expression of regard for the family. Presumably there had also been a private correspondence of which no trace has survived. It was to be a lasting though a childless union; but it may be doubted whether they were ever a really well assorted couple, she twelve years younger and as tall as he was short, discreet, conventional, lady-like, ambitious like him, but perhaps more for position than achievement. Old Sir Percy, however, was delighted, and friendly as never before. A house of Lady Anderson's in the New Forest was to be put at Johnston's disposal for the summer, so that he could make a perfect recovery. After that, Sir Percy hinted, there might be a vacancy in the Legation at Brussels. Strange reports were beginning to circulate about the Congo Free State, and there would obviously be a strong case for appointing a Minister to the Belgian court who had a considerable experience of African administration.

A week later Anderson was dead, struck down by a sudden attack of thrombosis. Sir Philip Currie had already left the Foreign Office, and the new Permanent Under-Secretary, Sir Thomas Sanderson, though an able diplomat with a quick wit that responded perhaps more instantaneously than Anderson's to Johnston's lighter side, had no special knowledge of African problems, and was without a father-in-law's interest in helping him to surmount the obstacle that had arisen in his career. Leaving Lady Anderson and her daughter to their mourning, Johnston betook himself to a small country house near Wimborne, and settled down to close and careful work on

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Sir Harry Johnston & the Scramble for Africa
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page v
  • Introduction vii
  • Contents xi
  • Plates xiii
  • Drawings in Text *
  • Maps in Text *
  • Chapter 1 Twenty-One Years 1
  • Chapter 2 Angola and the Congo 18
  • Chapter 3 the Mountain with the Unrememberable Name 52
  • Chapter 4 a Resolute but Singularly Lawless Personage 89
  • Chapter 5 Worse on Land Than at Sea 124
  • Chapter 6 a Frightful Menagerie 173
  • Chapter 7 King Johnston Over the Zambezi 197
  • Chapter 8 a Most Valuable Life 245
  • Chapter 9 a Little Disenchanted with Imperialism 272
  • Chapter 10 the God-Given Task of Subduing the Earth 287
  • Chapter 11 Twenty-Six Years 338
  • Location of Manuscript Sources 358
  • Index 359
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