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Full text of "The Egyptian Problem"

ACTIVE  BEBELLION
189
actually done by the destruction of railways and railway stations and railway material and telegraphs and telephones and Government buildings. In their undis-criminating fury the rioters had in some places attacked even the irrigation works, on which more than on anything else the life of Egypt depends. Worst of all, the rebellion had shown how ferociously cruel and bloodthirsty an Egyptian mob, usually so good-tempered and easygoing, can become when its passions are wrought to a white heat by fanatical agitation working on a foundation of real grievances. It had shown also how timorous and helpless on the whole, in spite of the good example set by a certain number of individual Egyptians, mostly provincial officials, the law-abiding section of the population is in* a country accustomed for centuries to quail under despotic rule. So widespread was the outbreak that very considerable British forces were required and had to be used with unflinching energy, not only for the restoration of order, but also to avert still greater bloodshed. The repression was undoubtedly stern, but it was not vindictive, and the British troops as a rule displayed remarkable self-restraint in the face of often treacherous provocation. Whatever share of responsibility the blunders committed by British civil and military authorities during the war must bear for having sown the tempest, they would have incurred a still deeper responsibility had they flinched before the whirlwind when it came and plunged Egypt into anarchy. We owed it to Egypt to rescue her from anarchy, and she was rescued.s, to relax the restrictions on move* after dark. . . ."