[ 1885 February, 10 ]Letters
Alexandria 10 February 1885

My dear Constantine, Your letter 31 January duly to hand and I sincerely congratulate you on the style of your Greek verses. I sent you “The Poetry of Song” by last Russian steamer; the poem is not of so philosophical a nature as its title led you to suppose and some of its verses you are already acquainted with. The metre I think is original and I ask you to give me your candid criticism on the merits or demerits of the whole. Before long I suppose you will send me an instalment of your Shakespearian translation which I am glad to hear has defeated the many-wiled “Xapolimoss” ¯ Pray thank Paul for his note to me of the 3rd instant.
     You will have heard of the fall of Kartoum. Wolseley cannot yet say whether Gordon is dead or alive, although the Mahdi proclaims that Gordon has turned Mahommedan and adopted the uniform of the Rebel chief. The English army on the Nile is in a very precarious position and General Wilson now at Metammeh with only 1500 men is in imminent peril of being cut off from Wolseley’s corps d’armée. The Cabinet have given Wolseley full powers to do all he can to pacify the Soudan and have promised more men. Always too late! They do things by halves in the beginning, and then try to make up for lost time at twice the sacrifice of lives and money! Great indignation and excitement prevail in England against the present Ministry and it is supposed Gladstone may fall.
     You will also have heard that Italy (now England’s ally) has occupied some ports on the Egyptian littoral of the Red Sea. They may be called in ¯ I mean the Italians ¯ to help the English, via Souakim, it being very important to put a barrier between Osman Diqna forces and the Mahdi’s. Another conjecture is that England will bring in Indian troops, and as a fact the Government have already begun hiring ships for Transport Service and amongst others have chartered the Moss steamer Mareotis. ¯ But with all this, the Political Egyptian question is taking precedence of the Financial one and the Payment of the Indemnities has again lapsed into quiet ¯ Let us hope it will be brought up again on the 19th when Parliament meets. ¯ With love to all
          Believe me ever
               Your affectionate brother
Constantine F. Cavafy Esquire

From John C. Cavafy
To Constantine Cavafy

Transcribed and edited by Katerina Ghika