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Full text of "The Egyptian Problem"

82
THE EGYPTIAN PROBLEM             CHAP.
begun to outgrow the control of one man, however exceptional his ability and experience, and however untiring his industry.
Moreover, for the first time the British Government were now in a position to cast off to some* extent the embarrassing reserve to which they had hitherto felt themselves constrained, in regard at least to the duration of the Occupation. Assurances of an early evacuation had long ago been dropped, but only recently had they frankly admitted that they were unable to set any term to the duration of the Occupation. Lord Cromer had entered upon his task when British Ministers contemplated and honestly desired an early withdrawal from Egypt, and he had approached it from that point of view. So long as there was a chance of an early withdrawal, he had no option but to make the best of an abnormal situation with all the disabilities it involved. His policy had been essentially an administrative policy, because only in matters of administration, and by no means, as we have seen, in all such matters, had his hands been relatively free. The large measure of prosperity which he had restored to Egypt had gradually enabled him to loosen some of the restrictions to which Egypt was subjected by international obligations both of ancient and more recent date. But decisive relief only came with the Anglo-French Agreement of 1904, when France finally acquiesced in our predominant position, and, by agreeing to far-reaching changes in the functions of the Caisse, which she had used frequently and effectively as a weapon of sheer obstruction, gave an earnest of her determination to drop henceforth the part she had too often played, not merely of a vigilant if aggressive watch-dog, but of mere dog-in-the-manger. In spite of the hostility displayed towards him for many years by Frenchmen in Cairo and in Paris, Lord Cromer had himself worked steadily for a rapprochement, because he realised more fully than anyone that it would open up new possibilities for England in Egypt, which he was and other objects in which they were in no degree interested, are devoted to purposes which are of real benefit to the country ? If all these, and many other points to which I could allude, do not constitute some moral advancement, then, of a truth, I do not know what the word morality implies."