22 JULY 1882, Page 4



THE Government will hardly have much difficulty on Monday in justifying the request for a Vote of Credit for the cost of our operations in Egypt ; and when they are

about it, we hope they may not ask for too little for an under- taking that cannot but be an expensive one. What they may find some little difficulty in justifying will be the long delay in asking for it, and the apparent tardiness of the whole policy, especially as regards the appeal to the Sultan to do what the Sultan has shown in the most conspicuous way his steady disinclination to do,—nay, in decorating Arabi for his revolt against the Khedive, his almost insolent determination not to do. We do not doubt that the Government have had their reasons,—probably very weighty reasons,—both for the delay itself, and for that special pressure on the Porte which accounts for the delay. Lord Granville has from the first adhered, with something of almost grand pertinacity., to his determina- tion that Egypt should not become the prize of a scramble, and that England should neither scramble for it herself nor allow France to do so ; but that whatever must be done to redeem Egypt from the Mahommedan fanaticism which threatens her, shall be done with the express approval of the Amphictyonic Council of Europe, so that there shall be no ex- cuse for a general war founded on the grasping acts of indivi- dual Powers. And no doubt this determination of Lord Gran- ville's involved an appeal to Turkey for her intervention and the delay which that appeal has caused. Germany and Austria were determined that the sovereignty of Turkey in Egypt should be acknowledged, and, of course, when anarchy is threatened, the Sovereign Power is the natural power to which to appeal to remove it. Unfortunately, in this case, the Sovereign Power was the very one which, if it had been willing to intervene, would have been more likely than any other to take sides with the anarchy which it is sought to repress.

And this has always seemed to us a very grave objection indeed to the proposal for the intervention of Turkey. Doubt- less, Lord Granville saw this as clearly as any one. But doubtless he also saw that on this very account the Sultan would ultimately refuse the duty urged upon him, since he could hardly venture to go to Egypt to extinguish the Mahom- medan enthusiasm of the moment, without losing the most powerful of all the influences to which he looks for the reassertion of his power in the East ; while he could hardly venture to go to Egypt and head the Mahommedan fanaticism of the moment, without a complete breach with Europe, and the consequent loss of Constantinople. We do not doubt, then, that Lord Granville felt pretty confident that the Sultan would shrink away from both the horns of this very difficult dilemma, and play the old feeble game of putting off the evil day by all sorts of dilatory expedients,—the game he has played, and is still playing, when, instead of accepting the mandate of Europe, he only consents at the twelfth hour to join the Conference and discuss the future. But however confident of this Lord Granville may have been, and however necessary it may have been to satisfy Germany and Austria, by first requiring the intervention of the Porte, we cannot deny that much mischief has been caused by the delay,—that Arabi has been encouraged by it to play that dangerous game of independence which he has played, and that the burning of Alexandria, and probably even a like danger to Cairo, may be the price we shall have to pay for the delay. Lord Granville will probably say that with France hanging back, as till now she has hung back, and with all Europe suspecting England's disinterestedness in any intervention in Egypt, the risk of forcible interference without a European sanction would have been much greater than was even the risk of the calamity which the fanatics have brought upon Alexandria, and may yet bring upon

Cairo. And we are not disposed to deny that there is great weight in the objection ; still less, that if we can get the great

Powers of Europe to work as an Amphictyonic Council for the ordering of outlying provinces and the suppression of grasp- ing annexationist impulses on the part of interested Powers,

that would be an advantage far outweighing the mischief of even a few great calamities like that at Alexandria, and

others which may but too probably follow it. Still, we are bound to say that the loss of time spent in negotiating with. the Porte to do what it has probably never intended to do,

and in humouring Germany and Austria in their wish to be respectful to the Porte, has been a very serious loss, and that

only the very great advantage of strengthening an Inter- national authority superior to the selfish whims of individual nations, could possibly counterbalance it. We trust that now that, at last, the Porte has shown how utterly indisposed it is for prompt action, the minutes will not be wasted, and that England and France will at once supersede the Porte in re-estab- lishing in Egypt the order which the Porte neither wishes to re- establish at the cost of its popularity with the Mahommedans, nor cares to have the responsibility of upsetting at the cost of its European possessions and of its position as a European Power.

In the debate of Monday, the Government will be able to say, and to say with great justice, that it has won a great diplomatic triumph over France, and forced the French Minister to accept its policy both as regards the deference to be paid to the Powers of Europe, and as regards the intervention in Egypt. A more curious somersault than that which M. do Freycinet has performed since he ordered the French Fleet to steam out of the harbour of Alexandria because he would not take the responsibility of intervention, has never been performed by any Foreign Minister of our day. It is clear enough that M. Gambetta's resolve to insist on France taking her part with England in the resettlement of Egypt, has revolutionised M. do Freycinet's policy altogether, and that now he is willing to follow England not only into the dangerous move of advising Turkish intervention—to which all the Powers assented when they signed the Identic Note—but even into the measures requisite for securing the safety of the Suez Canal—for controlling the Turkish intervention, if it takes place, which, as we sincerely trust, it never will—and generally for putting down the Mahommedan rising which endangers Egypt for all the purposes of civilisation. It is less easy to understand at first sight why M. Gambetta, who speaks with such frank and statesmanlike horror of sending a Turkish army to Egypt, and risking the chance that that Turkish army might catch the infection of the Arab fanaticism, should protest with so much vehemence as he does against the proposal that Eng- land and France should restore order in Egypt as " manda- tories of Europe." Probably, what M. Gambetta dreads is just what Lord Granville desires. M. Gambetta does not desire to see any Amphictyonic Council gaining influence in Europe, until at least the lost provinces have been recovered by France. The phrase " Concert of Europe " frightens him, as every proposal pointing to greater stability in Europe would frighten a statesman who looks to a period of instability as his own great chance. This is how we understand M. Gambetta's vehement protest against the derogatory attitude which Franca would assume in acting as mandatory of Europe,—a protest delivered under circumstances which necessarily made it quite ineffectual, since in the same breath M. Gambetta cordially defended the English alliance, and it is certain that the English alliance means an intervention as mandatories of Europe, and not an intervention on the arbitrary authority of England and France. We suppose that M. Gambetta felt it necessary to deliver his ineffectual protest, if only to liberate himself from any necessity of following the same policy in future, when he might find it convenient to throw off the authority of Europe, and strike for his own hand.

The real anxiety of the moment,—and it is one which the

Government must feel deeply, both when they justify the dilatory policy of the last few weeks to their own consciences, and when they justify it publicly to the Houses of Parliament, —is the danger of the Arab fanaticism breaking out at Cairo and on the Canal before the English and French troops can attack Arabi, and throw a douche upon the Mahommedan zealotry which is rising rapidly hour by hour. The Times' correspondent the other day said that in case Turkish troops landed in Egypt, the El Azhar Mosque would at once pronounce the deposition of Abdul Harald, and proclaim as Caliph Abdul Muttalib, the aged Grand Shereef of Mecca,

who is a direct descendant of the Prophet. If that happened, the prairie fire would have begun. More- over, that may happen whether the Turkish troops land in Egypt, or not, and we believe the danger of that event is already well-nigh passed or passing. What is now most to be feared is some religious move- ment of this kind throwing off the authority of the Sultan, and substituting some new religious leader in his place. The Sultan got rid of the last Grand Shereef, i

whose' loyalty he distrusted, but it is too late for him now to get rid of this one ; and such an event as that i would set all North Africa in a blaze. We may hope that the intervention of England and France, which is now imminent, will yet come in time. But the latest accounts are disquieting. Arabi is said to be already tampering with the water supply, and the massacre of Europeans at Tantah and other Arab places is not encouraging for the quiet of Cairo. An immediate blow must be struck, if the influence of Europe in Egypt is to be asserted without more effusion of blood. The Government will find it a comparatively easy matter to show the moderation and disinterestedness of their own policy, but may find it, perhaps, less easy to show that that moderation has not been so very moderate, and that dis- interestedness so very disinterested, that the critical moment for preventing an outbreak in Egypt was lost, before their moderation and disinterestedness could find the right field for their display.