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The Illustrated London News/1884/Mr. Frank Power and Mr. O'Donovan

< The Illustrated London News‎ | 1884


The disastrous course of affairs in the Soudan has been attended with the loss of several English lives of men distinguished for their enterprise and courage in the service of providing intelligence for the public Press. A twelvemonth ago, when the news of the total destruction of Hicks Pasha's Egyptian army reached England, we gave a portrait of Mr. Edmond O'Donovan, the special correspondent of the Daily News, who had won high fame by his adventurous journeys among the Turkomans in Central Asia, and by his residence at Merv during the critical period following the Russian military advance into that wild region, and who had afterwards joined the ill-fated expedition to oppose the Mahdi in the interior of Eastern Africa. He was accompanied as far as Khartoum by a young Irishman, Mr. Frank Le Poer Power, acting in the capacity of secretary and assistant to Mr. O'Donovan, and engaged also to make sketched for a London illustrated paper, the Pictorial World. Mr. Power was about twenty-five years of age, belonging to a good family in Ireland, and had for a short time held a commission in the Austro-Hungarian army. Mr. O'Donovan and Mr. Power were together at Berber, about July 20, 1883 on their way to join Hicks Pasha's army at Khartoum. The subsequent advance of that force to Kordofan was related, up to a certain point, in Mr. O'Donovan's last Daily News correspondence, and there is no doubt that he was killed in the massacre of the whole army in the field, early in November, when they approached the town of El Obeid. Mr. Power had remained at Khartoum, the British government was moved by Sir Evelyn Baring to appoint Mr. Power, the only other British subject there at the time, Consular Agent of the Foreign Office. About the same time, if we remember rightly Mr. Power begun to act as Times' correspondent at Khartoum; and his reports, transmitted by telegraph, were read in England with intense interest, but were frequently interrupted by warfare on the Nile between Khartoum and Berber, during nine months of the present year. General Gordon accompanied by Colonel J. D. Stewart, arrived at Khartoum on Feb. 17, and everybody will recollect Mr. Power's account of the enthusiastic reception of General Gordon by the people of that city, and of the acts by which he instantly showed his beneficent intentions toward them. The former commander, Colonel Coetlogon, shortly afterwards left Khartoum on his return to Egypt. Mr. Power on Feb. 2, wrote to the manager of the Daily News, Mr. J. R. Robinson, upon the subject of Mr. O'Donovan's death, and forwarded a note from Mr. O'Donovan himself; we are now permitted to give facsimile reproductions of both these interesting communications, accompanying the Portraits of their writers, which are copied from a group photograph taken in London by Mr. Fradelle, of Regent-street. Mr. Power survived Mr. O'Donovan little more than ten months; he was with Colonel Stewart, in September last, at the bombardment of the enemy's position at Berber, after which they proceeded down the Nile in a steam-launch, which ran on the rocks of the Fifth Cataract, near a place called Ramsah or Boni Island. There were forty-eight persons on board, including Colonel Stewart, Mr. Power, British Vice-Consul, M. Herbin, French Consul, and several Greek traders, with their wives. Being obliged to leave the wreck of their vessel, they resolved to travel across the Desert to Merawi, on the Nile below the Fourth Cataract, and they made a bargain with the Sheikhs of the Monassir tribe for safe conduct and help. It is believed that the party had a large sum of money with them, and this no doubt excited the murderous cupidity of the Arabs, and prompted the deed if treachery and cruelty that ensued. A few hours after their disembarkation, while resting from the fatigues of the journey, they were surrounded by a horde of the merciless barbarians, and were massacred, with the exemption of eight or nine, who contrived to escape by flight. It is said that Colonel Steward and Mr. Power fought desperately, each killing several of their assailants, but not one of the Europeans, men or women, survived this atrocious massacre. The bodies of some of them were afterwards found drifting down the Nile.

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