to Mr. Frelinghuysen
Berlin , October 2, 1882. (Received October 19.)
Sir: It is sufficiently long after the decisive victory of the English at Tel-el Kebir in Egypt, and the suppression of the rebellion against the Khedive, to form some judgment of the effect of these results upon current opinion in Europe. So far as Egypt is concerned, it appears to be demonstrated that the so-called “National Party,” of which Arabi Bey was said to be the leader, had no existence. The natives there have hailed the Khedive, restored by British arms, with demonstrations of delight similar to those by which they hailed his overthrow.
It seems a matter of little moment to them which side wins so long as there is excitement. The officials who groveled to Arabi now grovel to Tewfik. This spectacle of official and popular flexibility has gone [Page 173] far to silence those who held that Arabi was the representative of a party struggling for a higher national life, and seems to demonstrate to them that it is safe to apply the ordinary rules of human nature, and disregard ideas of irreconcilable fanaticisim on the part of the Egyptians.
These considerations have removed one ground of sympathy for Egypt, and lightened the difficulties in the way of England restoring peace and giving a stable administration to Egypt. There being no native element out of which, unassisted, such an administration can be constructed, it seems natural that Europe should allow England, which speaks with the logic of accomplished facts, to have freer scope in creating a permanent peace.
But other causes tend to the same end. Despite the hostility of a part of the European press, there are too many interests involved for most of the governments for these to wish to thwart this consummation. Many of the subjects of each government have a stake in Egypt. England has these motives in common with the rest of Europe, and had two others, viz: That the Suez Canal be open to it at all times, and that no power capable of becoming detrimental to its position on the Mediterranean be established at Alexandria.
For these reasons it singly fought the fight which is now more and more admitted to have been in the interest of Europe. Had defeat instead of prompt and brilliant victory, attended its efforts, the harmony of opinion in its favor would probably have been less.
Statements have recently been made, with some confidence, that Germany is ready to form an understanding with England on the basis of its countenance of a permanent English occupation of Egypt. This would involve a new grouping of European powers; at least less reliance by England on her traditional alliance with France, and a more cordial co-operation and alliance with the German powers. Germany, it is suggested, would indirectly gain by greater isolation of France; while England might thus show its estimate of a connection that left it in the lurch at the first moment that a strain was put upon it.
The Kreuz Zeitung, the presumed organ of the chancellor, takes pains to deny that any advance towards such an understanding has been made by Germany, although it had just previously published articles strongly advocating the closer co-operation of England and Germany in the work of reorganizing Egypt on the basis of altered circumstances.
Perhaps the only value of the discussion, whatever the fact, is to show that there is less disposition in this powerful center of influence to prevent England from obtaining its full measure of future security in Egypt than at one time seemed probable. But there may be external causes for this. The aim of those in France who wish a strong foreign policy for that country, and who were overruled by a refusal of the French Chambers to vote the credit that should enable France to send a force to Egypt to co-operate with England, is to preserve the Anglo-French control in Egypt.
Strenuous efforts are being made by such French influences to persuade England to moderation, and to further concord with the French in managing Egyptian affairs.
The proposition has less force than if French ships had aided to bombard Alexandria, and French troops had touched elbows with the English at the assault of the fortifications of Tel-el-Kebir. Astute politicians may see in the recent history elements of divergence between these two powers, in which the one may not readily concede to the other a re-establishment of ante war conditions. It is natural to assume that Germany may feel drawn nearer to England in such event, or may [Page 174] even actively encourage a state of things that would lead to a rupture of the French-English concord. My conclusions upon the latter point are more drawn from the recent history of Europe and observations of the general tendency of European politics, than from special information.
I beg leave to add that the recent policy of England, and its prompt and effective military operations, have not only enhanced its real power in the Mediterranean, but vindicated it from the suspicion some time entertained that it would retreat from a conflict like that through which it has just passed, rather than make good any threats to enforce its demands by war. It has engaged in a great enterprise for the protection of its interest and the honor of its flag, and has shrunk from no sacrifice to attain its object.
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But in this Egyptian emergency, England disregarded the refusal of its associate to co-operate in putting down anarchy in Egypt, and without waiting for the express concurrence of the Eastern powers, gallantly urged the fight with its single resources, while holding the Porte, and perhaps the Eastern powers, quiet by its able diplomacy.
It is not a matter of suprise that a strong government like Germany should recognize such strong policy, and give its respect to its authors as well as its implied assent thereto.
I have, &c.,