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dence. With that, everything may come right; without it, nothing. And on what grounds can Great Britain be induced to invest capital or credit in Egypt unless she is well assured that she retains and controls the financial resources of the province as her security? Under such an altered state of things, even her actual investment of four millions in the Suez Canal would be insecure, and the additional eight millions it is proposed to lend to Egypt would either make us her chief creditor or rest on no real security at all. In point of fact this large sum would not be advanced for the benefit of Egypt at all; it would be absorbed by the enormous claims for indemnity and by the most rapacious of her creditors.
The British nation has not lost its interest in General Gordon, nor is their admiration diminished for the tenacious heroism with which he has held his ground under circumstances of unparalleled difficulty and danger. But an impenetrable veil hangs over the Soudan and the beleaguered garrisons which still check the advance of the Mahdi, we know not with what success. Ere long that veil must be lifted, and if we are not much mistaken it will disclose a state of affairs that raises military and strategical questions of the first importance. The barbaric and fanatical followers of the Mahdi appear to be slowly gathering round the provinces of the Upper Nile, and with the end of the Ramadan it is probable that more active operations will begin. We are not at all sure that the flame of rebellion, fanned by religious excitement, may not break out in Upper Egypt and even in Cairo. Whatever else may be shared or surrendered in Egypt, it will not be disputed that the defence of the country from foes without and foes within devolves upon the British army as long as our forces remain there. The task may become one of no ordinary difficulty, for all sound military authority is opposed to an advance into the Western Soudan, or any attempt to encounter the forces of the Mahdi at a distance of 300 or 400 miles from our base of operations. Our policy must be to hold Cairo with an ample force, to select and fortify the best positions on the banks of the Nile, and to operate by naval forces on the river. But we retain the belief that the opening a line of railway communication from Suakim to Berber is an object of paramount military and commercial importance. We trust that these questions have been carefully studied, and that the Government is prepared to meet them; for as long as the Mahdi threatens Egypt with an invasion, which the native troops
are wholly unable to resist, the very existence of order, industry, and civilisation is endangered.
Another of the proposals which would take effect on the termination of the British occupation is what is termed the neutralisation of Egypt; and Belgium and Switzerland are cited as examples of a similar arrangement. But Belgium and Switzerland are countries capable of self-government and, to a considerable extent, of self-defence. We believe that the idea of establishing an autonomous Egyptian Government, capable of administering and defending the country, is a total delusion. Egypt has hitherto been governed by Turks, who, whatever their faults may be, have shown far greater ability there than their successors. Their government was rapacious, cruel, and corrupt, but at least it held the country and even extended its dominion. The desire of England has been to repress abuses, to establish justice, to relieve the population from excessive burdens; but the result is a state of bankruptcy, universal discontent, and the presence of barbarian hordes on the frontier, who have defeated two Egyptian armies, and are now only held in check by the British forces. But what is neutralisation? It cannot mean that Egypt is to belong to nobody. Neutrality is a state of things which only arises in the event of war, and then it means that the neutral State, should not only take no part in the war, and should not be made the scene of hostilities, but that it should abstain from any act favourable or adverse to either belligerent. The neutralisation of Egypt would mean that her territory should be strictly closed, in the event of war between other Powers, against the passage of the armed forces, whether naval or military, of either belligerent; for she could not give a passage to the forces of one of them without pro tanto injuring the other. This rule has been strictly applied by Belgium and Switzerland: when the French troops were driven to seek refuge across the frontier in 1870, they laid down their arms, as the principles or neutrality required.
But the right of passage for our forces through Egypt, at all times both in peace and war, is precisely the chief object which gives us a potent interest in the country. It is believed (perhaps erroneously) that in the event of war in the Eastern regions of the globe, including India, China, and Australia, the passage through Egypt is essential to Great Britain. Suffice it to say that if the principles of neutralisation were strictly applied to Egypt, the passage must be closed; and if the passage is expressly left open by treaty to
armed forces, there is an end of neutrality. The stronger Power must be mistress of the passage. Far from being a guarantee of peace, this pretended neutralisation might become a cause of war. It is, like the other remote projects embodied in this agreement, a mere mirage of the desert, wholly unsupported by the realities of the case.
These are considerations which suggest themselves on a superficial examination of an arrangement which is still very imperfectly known to us. We find it difficult to believe that the British Parliament will consent to sanction an act of repudiation, or will agree to pledge the credit of this country to a large amount without a positive assurance that we shall hold a security based on the resources of Egypt and under our own control. Nor do we believe that the British nation is so indifferent to the welfare of the Egyptian people or to the task of reform which it has undertaken, that it will allow them to relapse into subjection to Turkish despotism, or to military anarchy, or to the authority of any other European Power.
No. CCCXXVIII. will be published in October.
ART. I.-The Works of Alexander Pope. New Edition; including several hundred unpublished letters and other new materials. Collected in part by the late Right Hon. JOHN WILSON CROKER, with Introduction and Notes by Rev. WHITWELL ELWIN and WILLIAM JOHN COURTHOPE, M.A. Vols. i., ii., iii., iv., vi., vii., viii. London: 1875-1883. POPE received the present homage of his generation. For
a time he basked in the fullest sunshine of popular favour; but during the last century the chill shadow of disrepute has rested on his name. The reaction was inevitable. He is the most un-English of our poets; his merits are exactly opposed to those of the succeeding school. His work was one of discipline; he enforced the need of proportion; he gave laws to the anarchy of genius. For the varying clouds and gleams, which constitute one of the charms of our literature, he substituted the metallic brilliancy of the classic model. There was truth in the charge that English vigour was sacrificed to French netteté, thought to style, creative power to delicacy of workmanship. His drudgery of finish and patient labour of composition were intolerable to his successors; yet their easy, graceful use of their own language is an eloquent tribute to the genius they disparaged. To his detractors his poetry seemed townish, courtly, artificial not genuine, ephemeral not universal, the poetry not of nature but of art, the offspring of the fashion to write verse rather than prose, and not of that high-strung sensibility which compels the true poet into song. The adulation of his admirers, who claimed for him a place by the side of Shakespeare or of Milton, was even more dangerous to his reputation than the depreciation of his enemies. The controversy which raged round his name left his right to the
VOL. CLX. NO. CCCXXVIII.
title of poet in dispute and threatened his prescriptive claim to correctness. His moral character inflamed the bitterness of the contest. Every part of his life is beset with difficulties, or obscured by mysteries, which involve his literary position and bias the sober judgement of the critic with the scorn of the moralist. Even French critics, from whom general appreciation might be expected, are divided. But of late years, against M. Taine's unfeeling estimate may be set the sympathy of Sainte-Beuve for cette quintessence d'âme,... cette goutte de vif esprit dans du coton.'
The heated atmosphere of personality in which Pope lived infected his literary executors. From Warburton to Roscoe his editors were partisans. They might be friendly or hostile, they could not be impartial. Each strove rather to demolish the opinions of his predecessors than to establish a true view of his author. Theories, not facts, were the battle-ground; arguments, not enquiry, the weapons. The text of their author was of secondary importance, relatively to the ventilation of their own crotchets. Thus engaged, they had neither leisure nor inclination for research. They embodied time-honoured traditions, kept alive century-old slanders, accepted venerable inferences from insufficient evidence or unsupported gossip. Pope lay buried beneath the mass of irrelevant or superfluous lumber which was piled upon him by the pompous panegyrics of Warburton, the miscellaneous learning of Warton, the hasty prejudice of Bowles, the credulous adulation of Roscoe.
A new edition in the place of the rambling, discursive commentaries of previous editors was urgently needed. Within the last thirty years modern investigation has revealed more of the personal and literary history of Pope than transpired during the previous century. Not only has new knowledge been obtained, but the wells of information, which were once so freely used, are proved to be poisoned at the very source. Impartiality had become easy. The personal enmities which Pope's genius and satire provoked are long forgotten; the bitterness of the literary contest that his name formerly aroused is assuaged; the interval between the present edition and that of Roscoe terminates the rivalry of successive editors. There were newly-discovered treasures of correspondence to be published, new results of enquiry to be incorporated with old material. It was full time to remove the reproach that Pope was the worst-edited of English poets by offering the dispassionate criticism of editors who were neither assailants nor advocates, but trustees of the