23 SEPTEMBER 1882, Page 12


[TO THE EDITOR OF THE " EiFICOTATOR.") Sia,---So the Spectator, and the Times' Correspondent, and Sir Samuel Baker are all in one mind that Arabi and his confeder- ates must die. Will you do me the favour to open your columns for a few words on the other aide? I do not profess to regard Arabi as anything more than a clever barbarian, who has main- tained a just cause by barbarous methods, and perhaps largely from selfish motives. But the man's personal character is not the question; the question is, by what law is he to be condemned to death ? Even a barbarian and a military adventurer, nay, even a "rebel," is entitled to ask, before he is ordered to execu- tion, not only what crime he has committed, but who are they who arrogate to themselves the office of judging and passing. sentence on him.

Why, then, is Arabi to die P Because, say some, he is guilty of rebellion ; but if Arabi is a rebel at all, he must be held to have become so involuntarily. Let us look at the facts. Glad- stone has admitted that Arabi, when hostilities between him and the English began, was in possession of lawful authority. He was the Khedive's Minister of War. Alexandria was menaced by a British Fleet, sent there to coerce the Khedive into sending Arabi and other Egyptian Pashas into exile. Arabi's duty as War Minister was to put Alexandria into a condition to resist any attack by the hostile Fleet. Because he refused to desist from performing this duty, the British opened fire on the forts of Alexandria. The Khedive's plain duty was to stand by his Minister, when a foreign Power, without even a declara- tion of war, committed this act of hostility against Egypt. Probably he would have done so, had the defence proved successful. He did not go over to the British till it was plain they were the winning side. Then be betrayed his servant, and betrayed the country which, as Sovereign, he was bound to defend. Has the lawful authority of a Sovereign no duty annexed to it, as the condition on which 'his subjects owe him allegiance? People talk as if a Sovereign who, in time of war, neither tried to resist the enemy, nor to negotiate with him on behalf of the nation, but went over and 'surrendered himself absolutely to the enemy, after the first 'defeat his armies sustained, was entitled to proclaim " rebel " 'every man who declined to imitate his treachery. Sovereigns 'are trustees of their people's independence, or they are nothing. 'Tewfik betrayed that trust. His proclamation against Arabi was a lie ; but even in this proclamation he did not blame Arabi for resisting the English, but for not continuing the re- sistance long enough. But it matters little what he blamed Arabi for. A man who has voluntarily surrendered his freedom 'of action is nobody's ruler or judge. You will say that Arabi had forced the Khedive to accept him as Minister. But if the Khedive considered that to amount to rebellion, he should have .proclaimed Arabi a rebel at once. If it was through fear for his life that he failed to do so, all that can be said is, that proves the " rebellion " to have been so far a success. And power derived from successful rebellion is at least as lawful 'as power derived from successful conquest.

Observe, I have said nothing as to whether the British hos- tilities against Egypt were justified or not, but simply as to whether Arabi's resistance was legal. I maintain it was per- fectly legal from beginning to end.

Another reason given for putting Arabi to death is, his alleged complicity in the massacres of last June and July. Assuming him guilty of such complicity in massacre, he has committed a grave moral offence, but not a crime for which we are entitled to punish him. There is no law to make men in authority in one country criminally responsible for any of their acts to the rulers of other countries. (I have already disposed of the Khedive, and his claim to exercise jurisdiction in Egypt, after what he has done to show how unworthy he is to govern.) There is no such law, for there is no -authority in existence capable of promulgating any such law. There is no authority that has the shadow of a right to deter- mine for all nations with how much or how little severity they shall treat foreign intruders in their midst, in a time of war, or -threatened war. There is no authority to determine for every statesman governing a barbarous country to what extent he may lawfully, in troublous times, tolerate or make use of popu- lar passion springing from race hatred or fanaticism. And the 'attempt on the part of the British i to arrogate such authority to themselves as against Arabi, will mean that the fact of his guilt, and the degree of his guilt, and the degree of his provoca- tion, are all to be judged of by scornful and exasperated onemies,—insolent with victory, and thirsting for vengeance. To hold a man criminally responsible for acts which, in the nature of the case, cannot be impartially judged, is contrary to the very essence of law and justice. It is lynch law of a very odious kind.

Is Arabi to die for burning Alexandria? Alexandria be- longed to Egypt. Arabi is responsible for its fate not to us, the foreign invaders, not to Tow ilk the traitor, but to the in- habitants of that country which Arabi, as its lawful Minister of War, defended ; and Tewfik, its lawful Sovereign, betrayed to the enemy. The defenders of an invaded country have a right -to burn every town it contains. If the invader objects, it is because he wishes to acquire the country and all its riches for himself. That is precisely why the patriot may think it his duty to burn and destroy what • he can neither defend nor carry off. If Egypt chose, when free from foreign interference, to treat Arabi as a criminal for this, it would be her lawful right; but I suppose we may safely assume Egypt will never, either now or hereafter, be consulted by her conquerors as to any matter that concerns her.—I am, Sir, [Our able correspondent mistakes the facts. We have never suggested that the British had a right to execute Arabi. To the British, Arabi is merely an enemy, whom they cannot even try ; but towards the Khedive, he is guilty of mutiny, and on the theory of his complicity in the Alexandria massacre, of murder. To say that the Sovereign was guilty of treason, and lost his right to reign, because he accepted the aid of a trusted ally against an army in mutiny, is nonsense. Arabi's mutiny was the cause, not the effect, of the British Expedition.—En. Spectator.]