Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Chinese Gordon and Gerontius

Major-General George "Chinese" Gordon died on January 26, 1885 during the Mahdi revolt in Khartoum, Sudan. Although he was an evangelical Christian, and therefore presumably the "Romish" doctrine of Purgatory would be anathema to him, a copy of Blessed John Henry Newman's poem The Dream of Gerontius was found among his belongings, with pencilled annotations in the margins. Newman had written the poem in 1865 and when he heard of Gordon's death he had been following the campaigns in the Sudan and was stunned that his poem would have accompanied such a man in his last days. Gordon wrote: 'Pray for me, O my friends... Prepare to meet thy God... Use well the interval... Now that the hour is come, my fear is fled'.

News that the great hero Gordon had admired this poem made Newman's work very popular, like the ultimate recommendation.

William Gladstone, a staunch Anglican, also admired Newman's poem, comparing it even to Dante's Divine Comedy!


  1. I love Elgar and Gordon. This post has rekindled an interest in these men (and their connection with Newman). I read an excellent biography of Gordon a few years ago but I can't remember the author (I will look it up). Did you know of Gordon's connection with the Verona Fathers? Their founder Daniel Comboni had great respect for Gordon

  2. Thank you, Father Abberton--I've never heard of the Verona Fathers!