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I WILLINGLY Comply with the joint request of the author and publisher of 'Imperial Outposts' to write a preface to this book, and to commend it to the attention of the British public, which I can do with the greatest confidence, for the up-to-date character of the volume gives it peculiar value.
The author, Colonel Murray, gives us a most interesting account of a journey which he made to Tokio, travelling there by way of Gibraltar, the Suez Canal, Colombo, Singapore, Hong-Kong, and Shanghai, and returning to England via Vancouver, Quebec, and Halifax. He had thus the opportunity of visiting nearly all the important places and great strategic centres over which, in two hemispheres, the Union Jack waves.
Colonel Murray, during the course of his tour, set himself the task of making, on the spot, careful inquiry into the existing conditions—strategical, political, and commercial-of the various colonies visited by him. He fairly states facts, and he draws reasonable deductions from them. Some
strong criticisms are certainly made, but I think they are based on evidence of a generally convincing character.
Good service has been done in Chapter VI. by calling attention to the administrative apathy of the Aden Government, which is in striking contrast with the energy displayed by our French friends on the west side of the Straits of Bab-el-Mandeb. It is not creditable to British rule to make use of a dependency like Aden for selfish purposes of political necessity without attempting to extend the benefits of civilized government to the neighbouring native tribes, especially when those tribes are living under the ægis of the British Crown. The Persians, the Turks, and even the Arabs, did more for Aden in their time than we have done during our seventy years' occupation, and I think the author is fully justified in his unfavourable comparison between the administration of Aden and that of the Straits Settlements, under the strenuous rule of men like the late Sir Andrew Clarke and Sir Frank Swettenham. Aden has always suffered under the disadvantage of being an appanage of the Bombay Presidency, with which it has neither geographical, racial, nor political affinity. Probably the best solution of the matter would be to hand over the place to the Colonial Office, relieving the Government of Bombay of a charge which is only looked on as an incubus.
In Chapter VII. the author deals with the alarming falling off of British trade with Persia,