27 MAY 1882, Page 6


THE news from Egypt is not pleasant. The situation there, always serious, because it may at any moment produce a rupture among the Powers, is greatly complicated by the in- trusion of a new element. It is evident that the naval demonstration has failed in its object. Arabi Pasha, though at first alarmed, did not on reconsideration see why he should be afraid of ironclads which could not shell Cairo, or why he should submit to demands from abroad which, justify them as we may, are entirely inconsistent both with the right of self-government which he claims for Egypt, and the right of the Khalif whom, as a Mussulman, he acknowledges to be ultimate referee. As the Powers demanded his exile for one year as a condition of their aid to the Khedive, Arabi, who has grown rich, but has had no time to remit his wealth to Italy, saw no hope in submission, while he did see hope in a quarter of which we shall presently speak. He accord- ingly resolved on resistance, called up the reserves, ordered torpedoes to be sunk in the harbour of Alex- andria, and appealed to the Mussulman feeling of the country. Adroitly availing himself of the prevalent belief that the Western Powers would annex Egypt, and of the irritation of the Khalif at their intervention, he managed to excite a religious enthusiasm of the most unusual kind. It is positively stated, and from many quarters, that the great reli- gious corporations who manage the " Wakf estates "—that is, the estates dedicated by pious benefactors to the support of the priesthood, the religious charities, and the ecclesiastical schools, and therefore exempted from taxation—promised him half a million sterling, and sent him, in cash, £200,000. That is a sacrifice on the part of men who, though fanatic, are both self-seeking and greedy, which is almost unprecedented, except in the face of a great war, and indicates that Arabi, whether he represents Egyptian feeling or not, repre- sents Mussulman feeling very directly indeed. By pro- mises of promotion and a distribution of money, he secured the wavering Colonels, and, by the latest accounts, stands ready to resist the Western Powers, and to arrest the Khedive on the charge—an excessively serious one in such a country— of treachery to Islam in summoning Infidels to enter a country still legally belonging to the orthodox Faith. The effect of this attitude is that Arabi controls the soldiery, the religious orders, and -the Mussulman mob—that is, all the effective powers in Egypt except the Bedouins, who are never fanatic against their own interests, who have a contempt for tame Arabs like the fellaheen and their representatives, and who have offered their spears to Tewfik, though on conditions which he hesitates to accept. Pharaoh thinks the Shepherds may prove a little too unruly. If Arabi stood alone, this would be a serious situation enough. The Fleet can do absolutely nothing, except bom- bard Alexandria, which would be a useless vandalism, and cause the immediate massacre of all Europeans, and the de- struction of the Canal ; and Arabi may hold out as against France and England until, at vast expense and after much trouble, he is actually defeated in the field. And he may be holding out in the hope of very powerful assistance. It is firmly believed in many quarters of Cairo that he is secretly encouraged by the Sultan, who is almost insanely desirous to regain a footing in Egypt, and thereby, among other results, strengthen his weakened hold on Mecca, and many incidents in the struggle seem to warrant the belief. Arabi would hardly venture to face the Western Powers, unless sure of some support which he himself regarded as all power- ful. The Khedive is evidelitly alarmed at some intelligince from Constantinople, and earnestly professes a loyalty which is not in question. The managers of the Wakf funds would not have sacrificed their wealth without being quite Bare that it would be agreeable to the Khalif, towards whom they occupy much the position of monks in the middle-ages towards the Pope. Above all, the Austrian Court, which just now has at Constanti- nople one sovereign preoccupation, to wheedle the Sultan out of a formal cession of Bosnia, would not, except to gratify the Sultan, be pleading daily that only Turkish troops should be employed to pacify Egypt. The evidence of collusion between Yildiz Kiosk and Arabi Pasha is strong, and if it exists the Sultan must intend, if his troops are employed, never to relax his hold upon Egypt again. He will, if France and England are driven to ask his aid, either refuse it except upon conditions fatal to the future independence of Egypt, or 'grant it readily ; and when his troops are in Cairo, rely upon Austro-German support not to be compelled to recall them until he pleases. Lord Granville and M. de Freycinet are, therefore, face to face with this problem. They cannot simply retire without openly surrendering Egypt to Arabi, and they cannot—or at least Lord Granville thinks so—risk the dangers of combined intervention ; they must, therefore, employ Turks, and yet if they employ Turks, the forty years of effort by which the Question of Egypt has been separated from the general Eastern Question will have been thrown away. The Sultan will be master of Egypt and the Canal, and what is much more serious, will be able at almost any moment to play off France against England, and produce an irritation fatal to the only valuable alliance of either country. That will be a most serious position, and we do not wonder at the signs of irresolution which have been momentarily perceptible in the counsels of the Western Powers, and especially in M. de Freycinet's Cabinet, where the Ministry have to dread not only the result, but M. Gambetta's out-spoken denunciation of the whole proceeding as derogatory alike to French and English honour,—to French honour, because the Sultan is their enemy in Africa ; to English honour, because our first object in the East has been to rescue provinces from the Turk. The Press is wise to imitate Parliament, and allow Lord Granville fair-play ; but we greatly fear that the immediate " settlement" of Egypt will be the beginning of new complica- tions. There is only one comfort in the prospect. The Bond- holders, whose greed is the original cause of the whole mischief, will find a Tarkish sentry over the Egyptian Treasury fatal to their hopes.