Skip to main content

Full text of "The Egyptian Problem"

See other formats

iv      THE   FIRST   PHASE   OF   THE   OCCUPATION       67
others to deal with many of the hard facts which he was too clear-sighted to ignore, but too tactful not to disguise under auspicious generalisations.   It fell to Lord Cromer to dispel slowly but steadily the illusions which were still prompting the British Government to shower promises of speedy evacuation on an incredulous world, not by attempting to dictate any policy to them, but by bringing them  constantly into  contact with  those  hard  facts. He had been long enough in Egypt in the last years of Ismail to see that there was only one policy possible if we were to discharge the responsibilities we had assumed towards the people of Egypt by our armed intervention in their affairs—a slow and laborious policy of reconstruction which might in the fulness of time allow us to withdraw honourably, but in which most haste would certainly prove worst speed.    He relied on the hard facts themselves rather than on any arguments of his own to bring conviction home to the minds of British Ministers,  and  he  bore  meanwhile patiently  with  all their^ vacillations, though they often handicapped him heavily.   No British representative can ever have been placed  in   a   more   unpleasant   and   even   humiliating position  by  his  own  Government than  Lord Cromer was during the two years, 1885-1887, when Sir Henry Drummond Wolff  was  hovering  between  Cairo,   Constantinople,   and  London  on  a  mission  of  which   he profoundly   distrusted   the   methods   and   the   object. A lesser man might have rebelled against it, but he went plodding away unperturbed at the task he had set before himself.    Little by little the British Government came to realise the soundness of his judgment and the value of his work.   The egregious failure of the Drummond Wolff  mission  opened  Lord  Salisbury's eyes, and he and his  successors learnt to trust Lord Cromer more and  more, implicitly,   until, for  nearly  twenty  years, up to the time of his retirement, his word almost became law with them.   They had recognised with him that the only policy for England to pursue for a long time to
F 2
iequent reforms, he left it to"ing  the  benefits   of   the   Capitulations  and theifc