2 SEPTEMBER 1882, Page 4



IT ie not surprising to us that the Sultan of Turkey vacil- lates as to the course he shall take in Egypt more than the barometer itself, and we confess that we do not even now expect to see Turkish troops sent to fight against the Egyptian troops at all. The truth is, that as a European Power the Porte is most anxious to assert itself in Egypt, and put down Arabi ; but as a Mahommedan Power, it is most fearful of the result of such an attempt, as well as doubtful about the demeanour of its own troops. The Standard of yesterday, in its Paris letter, quotes a communication from a Turkish gentle- man in Constantinople, in which the writer, after describing the admiration with which all classes of Mahommedans regard the Egyptian adventurer, proceeds thus :—" A meeting was held here [Constantinople] yesterday, at which the Cadi of Medina and a large number of the highest Mussulman dignitaries were present. Arabi was lauded to the sky, and his cause pronounced sacred. The arms of all present were raised to Heaven praying for victory for his forces, the anni- hilation of the British Army, and the deliverance of India from the hated yoke of England." And then the writer goes • en W say that the feeling in the Mahommedan meeting was thug expressed :—" Action is necessary, even though the Empire should cease to be Turkish, and should become Arabic." That expresses perfectly the root of the struggle in the Sultan's mind. Unfortunately for him, he is not only Sultan, but Khalif, and knows perfectly well that what is essential for him as Khalif may seriously injure him as Sultan. The Turkish witness of the Mahommedan meeting just referred to, de- clares, indeed, that one of those present at the meeting had soon after an interview with the Sultan, at which he warned the Sultan that if he sent troops to Egypt, those troops would never obey the order to fire on Arabi's flag, but would rather desert and rally to that flag ; to which, as it is stated, the Sultan's reply was, " If I send troops to Egypt, they will not fight the Egyptian Army." That, of course, may be either true or false gossip ; but it de- scribes accurately enough a conflict which has been going on for many months in the Sultan's mind, and which has re- sulted in that remarkable vacillation as to proclaiming Arabi a traitor which all Europe has witnessed. For our own parts, we feel tolerably well convinced that the remark here attri- buted to the Sultan, whether or not uttered by him, is true, and that if Turkish troops go to Egypt, they will go only to get into embroilments with the English, not to attack the Egyptians. But we have insisted so often on this point, that we do not now return to it only to point out once more the inexpediency of permitting the landing of any Turkish contingent in Egypt. We retura to it for another purpose,—in order that we may draw attention to the rapid approach of a crisis to which we have for many months past repeatedly drawn the attention of our readers, the great crisis when the Sultan will be obliged to realise that he must choose for himself between his present position, and the very different position indicated in the Mahommedan suggestion that "action is needed, even though the Empire should cease to be Turkish, and should become Arabic." That, we may be sure, is an alternative really before the Sultan's mind. We may be quite certain that amongst the dreams of that shrewd dreamer, the dream of land- ing Turkish troops in Egypt, not to fight on the side of the English, but against them, has been one of the most prominent ;

and that it is chiefly the tremendous danger of the step, and the habitual timidity of a ruler who is accustomed to failure and knows nothing of success, which daunts him. But though he will probably shrink from so hazardous a manoeuvre as that, especially as the English command the sea, the time must soon come, and is rapidly coming, when he will find it absolutely necessary either to forfeit all claims on the religious loyalty of Mahommedans, or to forfeit all claims on the inter- national confidence of Europe. And when that time comes, the result of his choice, both in Europe and in Asia, will be a disturbance of the political equilibrium so vast that at present we cannot even adequately anticipate its nature. But one thing we can already see, that whenever this occurs —and it must occur before long—it will be a matter of the very first importance that Europe shall be united, and shall act with strength and perfect concert in the face of that con- vulsion. If, as is most probable, the Khalif absorbs the Sultan —and that might happen without the consent of the individual

Sultan, and against his will—in other words, if religious enthusiasm once more gets the upper hand, Europe, including Russia, will have her hands full with the ferment east and west, from the Adriatic to the Persian Gulf. And even if the Sultan could persuade any substantial section of his Turks to remain faithful to him, in spite of his opposition to the Mahommedan movement of the day, which does not seem to us very likely, Europe would have eventually to strengthen his hands, and to pull the strings of his policy, so as to evade, as far as might be, the vast dangers which must accompany the coming crisis. In either case alike, Europe, if surprised, unready, and without concert, would have to witness massacre and anarchy on a greater scale than Europe has known for many centuries. It is for this reason that we cannot at all agree with the slur cast upon " the Concert of Europe " by a thoughtful correspondent, "E. H.," whose letter we publish in another column. It is, indeed, per- fectly true that under Lord Beaconsfield's Government the Concert of Europe was used to injure seriously the Treaty of San Stefano, and transform it into the much less promising Treaty of Berlin. But why was the " Con- cert of Europe," then, so mischievous a power ? Simply because the English vote was given on the wrong side, and in- stead of being combined with the votes of the Powers most de- sirous of really preparing for the future in the East, was cast on the side of Turkey herself. If Lord Beaconsfield had been anxious to modify the Treaty of San Stefano in the sense in which Mr. Gladstone would have been anxious to modify it, we should be now a great deal easier about the crisis which is approaching, and a great deal better prepared to meet it. But says " E. H.," Russia will now play off upon us in reference to the settlement of Egypt, the very same manoeuvre which Lord Beaconsfield played off upon Russia in reference to the settle- ment of Bulgaria and Turkish Armenia, and the result will be a complete failure to do in Egypt what it is necessary to do for the good of the Egyptian people. Well, we do not deny, we have, on the contrary, week after week pointed out, the danger of such an issue. But we deny altogether that this shows the folly of attempting to bring about a concert of Europe on a question so terribly critical and dangerous as the dissolution of the Turkish Empire. On the contrary, it makes it very much more essential to restore, if we can, a true concert of Europe ; such a concert of Europe as we should have with the vote of England cast on the right side. It seems to us, in view of the great crisis which we expect, that nothing in the world could be more important than to subdue the various jealousies of the Western Powers, and unite them in a common policy for the protection of Europe and of civilisation against the final explosion of Mahommedan despair.

We do not in the least believe that Russia is so bent on returning the snub which Lord Beaconsfield's Government inflicted on her, but that she will listen to reason, when she sees, as she must soon see, the imminent danger in which civilisation stands, both in West and East. Russia will be called upon to do her duty in repressing that outbreak in the East, and the other Powers probably may look to the need- ful repression in the West ; but there should be no jealousies amongst them. The, rumour, of which we have all heard, of a Military Convention between England and Turkey, con- ditioning that the troops of both Powers should evacuate Egypt at the same time, seems to show, if it be really founded on any actual stipulation to that effect, that the Foreign Office has not yet foreseen how dangerous the crisis is likely to be. If Egypt is really to be settled,—if any Mahom- medan country in effervescence is to be settled at all,—it is simply childish to talk of allowing the troops which excite that effervescence, and the troops which repress it, to leave the country at the same time. Turkish troops should never go to Egypt, but if they do go, they should certainly leave long before the British troops. However, what is most needful is this, —that all the Powers of Europe should steadily realise how great a crisis is coming on the Turkish Empire, and sink their own trivial differences, in the effort to meet that crisis with a firm and temperate and concerted policy of disinterested and yet resolute resistance to Mahommedan bigotry and fanaticism.