Mohammed Ahmed was a preacher and warrior from the Sudan. His mission was to lead the Islamic faithful back to the true ways of the Prophet. He declared himself to be the long-awaited Mahdi, a kind of savior, the last in the succession of twelve holy Imams. He declared a holy war and had military success against the ruling Egyptians. The Mahdi and his forces laid siege to Khartoum, eventually taking the city and killing General Gordon.
Thomas Arnold was educated at Winchester School and Oxford University, where he gained a reputation for being industrious and pious. He married young and for ten years was a private tutor to boys about to enter the University. At the age of thirty-three, he became headmaster of Rugby School. England’s public schools were badly in need of reform, being riddled with what Strachey calls anarchy tempered by despotism. Arnold agreed with the need for reform but he emphasized education in Christian morals rather than the cultivation of intellectual excellence.
Strachey presents Arnold as a pompous prig with a limited intellect. No aspect of Arnold’s life and activities escapes Strachey’s censure. Arnold called himself a liberal, but according to Strachey, he was in fact closer to being a conservative since he supported liberal causes only within very strict limits. Arnold also had a patronizing attitude to the poor, and the wealth of religious learning and...
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