23 SEPTEMBER 1882, Page 4



THE Government will probably not declare its policy in

Egypt until Parliament meets. It is impossible to make permanent arrangements until the country is quiet, and the Khedive again enthroned ; and although the process of pacification will be rapid, it is not as yet complete. Though the surrender of Damietta is doubtful, general military resistance has ceased, and the Army has been dis- banded ; but the mobs are still unimpressed, and there is still an irritation which, if the British were with- drawn, would produce revolt. Time, too, is required, even by Ministers of State, to convert ideas into plans, and to consult those local authorities without whose aid the most skilful schemes are apt to lack the something which, in poli- tics as in physics, constitutes vitality. Nevertheless, it is not quite impossible to perceive the general lines upon which

the Government is moving. Two official steps of the first magnitude have been taken this week, The Khe- dive, who, we perceive, before the victory of Tel-el- Kebir, directed all policemen to salute all English officers —a most suggestive incident—has been instructed to "dis- solve " his Army, that is, to dismiss all officers and release all privates, and has obeyed ; and the Sultan has been informed in most decorous and polite phrases that his Army cannot be admitted into Egypt. The first step implies that the British Government intends to reorganise Egypt in concert with the Khedive only. The " dissolution " of the old Army, which has existed since the time of Mehemet Ali, and is based upon a conscription, is a step of the very strongest kind, stronger than any we took in the Indian Mutiny ; and it must be followed by another as important, the constitution of a new one. We may call the new organisation a Gendarmerie, if we please, or if that word will soothe any foreign susceptibilities ; but it is perfectly certain that Egypt must have an armed force, that the force must be under military law, and that it must be based, in part at least, upon a conscription. The force is essential, because the British cannot be retained in the Delta, because Upper Egypt needs defence, because the taxes could not be levied by men whom the villagers could beat, and 'because, although the peasantry have submitted, as they have done since the days of the Pharaohs, there exist in Egyptian cities and the Egyptian desert elements of violent disorder. The Bedouins must be curbed, and the cities controlled. The class which in India is called Budniash, which supplies the "looters," " incendiaries," and "assassins,' of whom we have recently heard so much, and which is numerous throughout the East, has proved unexpectedly strong in Egypt. Sir Garnet Wolseloy has already been compelled to issue a proclamation in Cairo stating that if the lower quarters of the city will not keep order, he shall be compelled to shell them from the citadel ; and he issued that notice for a most serious reason, the constant murders of indivi- dual English soldiers. There must be a force, and a con- siderable force, as the cities are many and the Bedouins everywhere ; and to raise one by offers of pay, instead of conscription, would make it excessively costly, besides running the risk of a failure of recruits. The men being gathered together, their fidelity must be assured, and the dan- gerous element, the old Egyptian officer, either eliminated or controlled ; and this implies foreign officers,—that is, Anglo- Indians. England will trust no others, the Khedive can trust no others, and they alone understand, without instruction, the work to be accomplished. All men may be admissible, but the work must, in the first instance, be confided to men beyond suspicion. With a new Army, or Gendarmerie, or Military Constabulary, thus organised, and the Artillery, as in India, kept strictly separate, and entrusted either to Europeans, to Sikhs, to West-Indian Negroes, or, if that be possible, to Negroes of the Soudan under English officers, order will be fairly guaranteed, and British influence placed upon a basis comparatively BO solid that we need not be eternally suspicious of intrigue or revolt. As the Khedive has full power to engage foreign soldiers, and does engage them, there will be in this arrangement nothing of international moment, and it will only remain to create a civil organisation. As the root of this, the Khedive and his Ministers will, it is evident, be again placed in power, and any radical decrees will issue in their name, and be carried out through their agents and their authority.

It is at this point that the international difficulty will cora- mence. It is simply impossible that the status quo, as it is called, can be re-established. The " Control" worked in some ways better than it ought to have done, but it was essentially a preposterous arrangement, fostering all international jealousies, wearisome to the Khedive, who had too many masters, and irritating to the people, who saw Europeans thrust into high offices, where they acted as cloaks to Egyptian or Armenian subordinates who did all the work, and who felt every hour that they remained at the mercy of the horde of German Jews who farmed the revenue, made advances on the crops, and skinned the people, as 46 Publicani " have done since the days when the people of

Judea considered them inevitably sinners. The whole scheme needs to be replaced by a simpler one, under which the Khedive shall have but one foreign adviser to whom it is necessary to listen, and that adviser shall be able to secure, not only the payment of such liabilities to foreigners as may be acknowledged, but the decent financial treatment of the people. An Englishman who was at once Consul-General, Controller, and Mandatory of Europe could secure all that ; but no International Commission, or Franco- English Control, or French-Italian-English Board, by possi- bility could. Some part of the difficulty could be got rid of by selling all domains and the railways, and so reducing the foreign claim to a reasonable amount, and more by temporarily appointing a trustworthy Minister of Finance ; but there wilt still remain the protection of the Egyptian people. We stand pledged to them as well as to the Khedive, and Mr. Gladstone will not forget their claim. Some broad and simple scheme must be devised, and in the face of the medley of " firmans," "conventions," "capitulations," understandings, and decrees which make up the financial law of Egypt, no such scheme can be carried without European consent. That consent may be obtained by collective or separate action, through " nego- tiations " or through a Conference ; but it must be obtained, or the plan decided on will break down within three years. The next Khedive will only have to support the claims of any single recalcitrant Power, to throw everything into confusion.

Very strong pressure is being placed upon the Government to avoid any reference to Europe, and to act as conqueror ;• but we are convinced that pressure will be disregarded. In the first place, the endless mess of treaties and documents as binding as treaties cannot be swept out of the way by any fiat less irresistible than that of Europe ; and if they are not swept away, a reinvigorating Government of Egypt will be impossible. The Europeans could not even be taxed, or the country relieved of the host of bloodsuckers who, under various agreements, have been, allowed to draw in salaries nearly twenty per cent, of the revenue disposable for civil purposes. In the second place, France can yield to an award of Europe without that irritation which, if we act alone, she is certain to feel, and which already threatens the entente cordiale to an extent greatly to be regretted. France gave up Egypt when she refused to fight Arabi, but she will push her "claims" all the more angrily because she has neither moral nor political locus standi. Her statesmen, in view of the electors' decision, could not help themselves ; but they are sore, nevertheless, and there is neither policy nor good-feeling in wounding men who, though interested, are not unfriendly, and who may one day be again the arbiters of Europe. In the third place, the assent of the Sultan is required, and is never given to any plan pro- posed by anybody, except under the compulsion either of Europe or of force. He is not likely to be soothed by all that has taken place. Do the Tories, who were so eager for an award of Europe against Russia, and now protest so passionately against an award of Europe in favour of Great Britain, really desire to bombard Constantinople, rather than meet Europe in Conference ? In brutal English, that, and nothing else, is the alternative before them. And in the fourth place, this Egyptian incident, large as it looms in our eyes to-day, is but a scene in that far vaster drama, the dissolution of the Turkish Empire. Every decade some province will fall away from the Sultan, some people will rebel, some European State will advance new pretensions to a share in the huge spoil. Is it wise, is it corn.- monly politic, in view of the certainty of that terrible scramble, to defy or to ignore the European Tribunal which can alone pre- vent the distribution from resulting in endless wars ? If England at this moment defies or ignores that Tribunal—as, we admit, she can do, for no coalition against her is even possible—that Tribunal will be extinct. We could not summon it for very shame, and no other Power will do so, not even Russia, which could get all she wanted by an agreement between three men. If, on the other hand, England, in full possession of Egypt, armoured in that right of conquest which all Con- tinental statesmen respect, and safe from dictation in her own Islands, voluntarily submits to the Tribunal, its authority will be placed, morally, at all events, beyoud all future assault. It will not be a petty power like Greece, or a power threatened by a coalition like Russia, which has submitted to an award, but England. We, at least, need never again hesitate to summon it, when threatened by the ambition of any Power; and the English summons always means that unless the Tribunal assembles, there is war. The Government will do right to submit its plan, when framed, to Europe ; and, unless we are greatly mistaken, the notification to the Sultan signifies that this is their resolve.