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Though without the formality of a declaration of war, the British naval and military operations in Egypt have assumed the magnitude of a war more considerable than any we have waged, except in Asia, since the Russian War twenty-seven years ago. Thirty thousand of our best troops will presently be employed in the Delta of the Nile, and the utmost force of a squadron of ironclad ships has been applied to destroy the forts of Alexandria, with terrible incidental effects ruinous to that great commercial city. The cost of this war, though finished in a brief autumn campaign, will be reckoned by many millions sterling; but England can well afford to bear that and more, if the enterprise be just and needful both for the protection of her legitimate interests, and for the discharge of her international duties. If it be truly the case that instant forcible intervention, by the arms of Great Britain singly, in the dispute between the Khedive and the revolutionary faction in Egypt, was the only possible means of securing the free use of the Suez Canal, and the safety of European residents and their property in that country, it is right to go to war. The task of subduing the Egyptians, a nation that numbers one seventh the population of the United Kingdom, cannot demand an excessively great effort in itself; but it is a very serious consideration how we shall stand afterwards, with what political responsibilities to Egypt and its people, to the Khedive, to the Ottoman Empire, to the European Powers, and to the Mussulman community all through the Eastern world. The peculiar inconvenience and danger, as a matter of mere policy, besetting armed intervention in the domestic government of a foreign State, is that the military force which has been lent for temporary aid to the native ruler cannot easily be withdrawn so long as he remains unable to rely upon the support of his own subjects. French troops in 1849 were sent to restore the temporal government of the Pope in Rome; and, though it was certainly the wish of Napoleon III. to take them away, it proved impossible to remove them until 1870. On the other hand, we have but too much cause to fear that a very prolonged British occupation of Egypt would finally bring upon us the hostility both of Mohammedan nations and of those which claim, equally with our own, a share of material interest and of political authority in the affairs of the Levant. There are other Mediterranean Powers to be consulted, however readily it be admitted that England has a paramount claim to defend her passage to India; and we trust that the first opportunity will be taken by our Government to renounce emphatically, by deeds as well as by words, all idea of keeping a permanent British garrison in any part of Egypt.

Source: The Illustrated London News, No.2258—Vol. LXXXI, Saturday, August 12, 1882, p.158

See also: Egyptian War