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[War in Egypt]


With anything but a light heart the Prime Minister on Monday night asked the House of Commons for a vote of credit to the extent of 2,300,000—900,000 for the Army and 1,400,000 for the Navy—with a view, according to the circumlocutory phrase, to strengthen her Majesty's forces in the Mediterranean; in other words, to provide an efficient British army to vindicate the authority of the Khedive and to protect our national interests in Egypt against the rebellions Arabi Pasha, whom Sir Joseph Pease does not scruple to designate "one of the greatest scoundrels ever known." Mr. Gladstone's speech on the occasion was as sorrowful as it was solemn. A statesman, whose reputation mainly rests upon brilliant triumphs in the field of pacific progress and national development, had the mournful task of proposing to give effect to an act of foreign policy which, however inevitable, seems almost to savour of that spirit of adventure to which no one can be more averse. In this unhappy business, which the Government did not originate, they may or may not have committed serious mistakes. But few will deny that they have been driven along by the force of circumstances. They have drifted into war while breasting the current. The Premier thinks his estimate of 2,300,000 will cover the cost of suppressing anarchy in Egypt. If so, and should the campaign last only three months, it will be the cheapest expedition on a considerable scale to which this country has in modern times been committed; and we shall all be ready to pay with resignation, if not cheerfulness, the extra threepence of income tax which will be demanded for the last half of the present financial year. Mr. Gladstone does not gild the pill which he invites the British people to swallow.

Source: The Illustrated London News, No.2256—Vol. LXXXI, Saturday, July 29, 1882, p.102