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[War in Egypt]


In less than a fortnight, unless there should be a sudden turn of events, a considerable section of a well-appointed army of 25,000 men will have left our shores, and a large force of 7500 men will ere long be embarking at Bombay, to try conclusions with the Egyptian military usurper, and to occupy, for a time at least, the Delta of the Nile. The necessary preliminaries have been taken. On Tuesday a message from the Crown was read in both houses of Parliament announcing that as " a state of emergency " existed, it was her Majesty's intention to call out the Reserves. This step has already been taken, and it has also been notified to Parliament that Indian troops will be employed for military service in Egypt. Thus we are actually "in a state of war." That England undertakes this important enterprise unaided has its advantages and disadvantages. If the Porte alone had intervened, Egypt must have become a Turkish province—the seat of extinguishing industries and the patrimony of greedy pashas. France—"everything by turns, and nothing long"—has finally shrunk from joint action, but has consented to take the guardianship of the Suez Canal, which will entail no odium, little trouble, and less expense. In this case we shall be more coadjutors than allies, and it is easy to believe that many a volunteer French officer will assist Arabi to make a skilful defence, and prevent this country from easily reaping the fruits of a successful expedition. The Conference at Constantinople is not, indeed, formally dissolved, for at the eleventh hour it received a favourable reply to the Identic Note—that is, the Porte consents to send troops to Egypt, but has not accepted the essential conditions required by the Powers—another and transparent attempt to stave off the inevitable. But, however that that may be, England has received no "mandate" from the Conference. While Italy is boiling over with rage and jealousy at our intervention—though it has been invited to co-operate in this international work—the other Powers remain coldly neutral, giving what is called a "moral support," while the British Government are pulling the chestnuts out of the fire.

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