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Full text of "The Egyptian Problem"

44
THE EGYPTIAN  PROBLEM
CHAP.
when Egypt went bankrupt, nor Mr. Gladstone, who : had succeeded him when bankruptcy had led to anarchy, ; had the slightest desire to see Great Britain take the ; burden—least of all the undivided burden—of inter- ; vention on her shoulders. But none ultimately could ; be found to share it with her, and all, however grudgingly, v-admitted that she could not shirk it.
The history of the Occupation, like the history of ; modern Egypt before the Occupation, falls naturally ;• into two periods. The first period, from 1882 to 1907, coincides roughly with that of Lord Cromer's long tenure of office as British representative in Cairo, armed after the first few years, in practice, with almost full powers. The second period, towards which the Anglo-French Agreement of 1904 prepared a transition, began with Lord Cromer's retirement, and we have not yet emerged from it, though the Great War and the proclamation of the British Protectorate have precipitated a crisis which must, one way or another, end it.
For there is one feature common to both periods which even the proclamation of the Protectorate has not removed, but has, indeed, of late merely accentuated, and that is the peculiarly anomalous nature of the relationship with the British Empire into which Egypt was brought by the Occupation.                                              ;
When the bombardment of Alexandria in 1882 was followed by the dispatch of a large expeditionary force to Egypt, and Mr. Gladstone assured Parliament that we were not engaged in war, but merely in the operations of war, he merely propounded the first of the many fictions to which his Government and every other British Government since his day has from time to time resorted in order to avoid any clear definition of the relationship in which Egypt stands to us. The British Government shrank—rightly or wrongly—from annexation in 1882, just as it shrank from it again—rightly or wrongly— during the Great War. In 1882 they certainly never ; realised the difficulties of the situation which " the opera- 'em.    I saw