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The British Occupation of Egypt: Another View

  • John S. Galbraith (a1) and Afaf Lutfi al-Sayyid-Marsot (a1)
Abstract

Historians, among others, expose the lies and deceptions of politicians, dead and alive. But historians themselves often are deceived by the limitations of their own approaches to history. While they themselves may act emotionally or sometimes irrationally in their personal lives, they are too often committed to seek rational explanations for the behavior of statesmen. Grossly understimates in many instancees is the power of retionalization as a factor in the ‘decisionmaking process.’ Often great decisions have been made on the basis of inadequate or false information, with consequences that the decision-makers could not foresee. Sometimes decisions are the result of muddleheadedness. Sometimes a governmental decision seems to be the product of a succession of miscalculations. But it is the natural impulse of those in positions of authority to justify their decisions by some explanations that relate to their zeal for the ‘national interest.’ In so doing they do not necessarily deliberately lie; often they deceive themselves as well as others. Reasons developed after the fact provide a cerebral gloss for unintellingent decisions leading to unintended actions. The background for the occupation of Egypt in 1882 provides an illustration.

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1 Alexander Schölch, ‘The “Men on the Spot” and the English Occupation of Egypt in 1882’, Historical Journal 19, 3 (1976), 773785.

2 Gladstone to Granville , 16 07 1882, Granville Papers, PRO 30/29/126, quoted in Agatha Ramm, The Political Correspondence of Mr. Gladstone and Lord Granville, 1876–1886 (2 vols.; Oxford, 1962), 1, 372.

3 Gladstone W. E., ‘Aggression in Egypt and Freedom in the East”, Nineteenth Century, 2 (08, 1877), 149166.

4 Telegram, Granville to Malet , 12 05 1882, PRO 30/29/284, Public Record Office.

5 Schölch , ‘The “Men on the Spot”’, p. 782.

6 Telegram, Malet to Granville , 12 05 1882, PRO 30/29/284, Public Record Office.

7 George Royle to the Admiralty, 27 07 1882, ADM 116/35, Public Record Office.

8 Dilke's Diary, 4 July 1882, Dilke Papers, Additional MSS 43880, British Library.

9 See account of incident in Abd al-Rahman al Rafli, al-Thawra al-Urabiyya (Cairo, 1937), pp. 119 ff.; also al-Sayyid A. Lutfi, Egypt and Cromer (London, 1967), pp. 5 ff.

10 Memo by Colvin , 21 12 1881; enclosure in Malet to Granville , 26 12 1881, CAB 37/7, Public Record Office.

11 Malet to Granville , Private, 24 10 1881; same to same, Private, 12 Dec. 1881, both in PRO 30/29/159, Public Record Office.

12 Stephen Gwynn and Gertrude M. Tuckwell, The Life of the Right Honorable Sir Charles W. Dilke (2 vols.; London, 1917), I, 452.

13 Edward Malet, Egypt, 1879–1883 (London, 1909), p. 68.

14 Bernard Holland, The Life of Spencer Compton, Eighth Duke of Devonshire (2 vols.; London, 1911), I, 362.

15 Malet , Egypt, p. 229.

16 Telegram, Malet to Granville , 9 01. 1882, PRO 30/29/283, Public Record Office.

17 Malet to Granville , 13 01. 1882,ibid..

18 Malet to Granville , Private, 11 01 1882, PRO 30/29/160, Public Record Office.

19 Malet , Egypt, pp. 198199.

20 Dilke's Diary, 18 01 1882, Dilke Papers, Additional MSS, 43880, British Library.

21 Malet , Egypt, pp. 5960.

22 Malet to Granville , Private, 23 01 1882, PRO 30/29/160, Public Record Office.

23 Malet to Granville , Private, 13 02 1882,ibid.

24 Malet to Granville , Private, 20 02 1882,ibid.

25 Malet to Granville , Private, 20 02 1882, same to same, 27 Feb. 1882, Private, both in ibid.

26 Malet to Granville , Private, 28 03 1882,ibid.

27 Malet to Granville , 14 04 1882,ibid.

28 Malet to Granville , Private, 2 05 1882,ibid.

29 Ibid.; telegram, Malet to Granville , 10 05 1882, PRO 30/29/284, Public Record Office.

30 Telegram, Malet to Granville , 14 05 1882, in Malet , Egypt, p. 235.

31 Malet to Granville , Private, 16 05 1882, PRO 30/29/160, Public Record Office.

33 Schölch , ‘The “Men on the Spot”’, p. 783.

34 Malet to Granville , Private, 18 09 1882, in PRO 30/29/160, Public Record Office.

35 Tregonning K. G., Under Chartered Company Rule (Singapore, 1958), pp. 2728.

36 al-Sayyid , Egypt and Cromer, p. 14.

37 Gladstone to Granville , 6 04 1882, in Ramm , Political Correspondence, 1, 355.

38 Ibid., I, 327.

39 Hamilton's Dairy, 20 01 1882, Hamilton Papers, Add. MSS, 48631, British Library.

40 Gladstone to Granville , 6 04 1882, in Ramm , Political Correspondence, 1, 355.

41 Dilke's Diary, 1 06 1882, Dilke Papers, Additional MSS 43924, British Library.

42 Cromer to Morley , 11 04 1901, FO 633/8, Public Record Office.

43 Ibid. Cromer was equally unimpressed with Gladstone's knowledge of Indian affairs. The only Indian subject that elicited Gladstone's enthusiasm in all their discussions, Cromer said, was the question of how Cook's tourists could be encouraged to travel in the country.

44 Dilke's Diary, 19 May 1882, Dilke Papers, Additional MSS, 43924, British Library.

45 Dilke's Diary, 7 July 1882, Dilke Papers, Additional MSS, 43925, British Library.

46 Dilke's Diary, 14 Feb. 1884, ibid.

47 Granville to Lyons , 10 01. 1882, in Confidential (5540), II, PRO 30/29/283, Public Record Office.

48 Rashid Rida, Tarikh al-Ustadh al-Imam al-Shaikh Muhammed Abduh (Cairo, 1931), I, 213.

49 Ardern G. Hulme-Beaman, Twenty Years in the Near East (London, 1898), P. 43.

50 Dilke to Ripon , 16 06 1882, Ripon Papers, 16 June 1882, Additional MSS, 43528, British Library.

51 Dilke's Diary, 24 Jan. 1882; 26 Jan. 1882; 1 Feb. 1882; in Dilke Papers, Additional MSS, 43924, British Library. Gladstone's notes of these meetings provide little information of what was said. See Gladstone Papers, Additional MSS, 44643, British Library.

52 Dilke's Diary, 1 Feb. 1882, Dilke Papers, Additional MSS, 43924, British Library.

53 Hartington to Granville , 27 05 1882, PRO 30/29/132, Public Record Office.

54 Same to same, 14 June 1882; 19 June 1882, both ibid.

55 Northbrook to Granville , Private, 13 05 1882, PRO 30/29/138, Public Record Office.

56 Granville to Lyons , 14 05 1882, PRO 30/29/284, Public Record Office.

57 Telegram, Malet to Granville , 28 05 1882,ibid.

58 Rafii , al-Thawra al-Urabiyya, p. 291, also al-Waqai al-Misriyya. 31 05 1882.

59 Note by Dilke , 15 06 1882, Dilke Papers, Additional MSS, 43880, British Library.

60 Dilke's Diary, 18 June 1882, Dilke Papers, Additional MSS, 43925, British Library.

61 Dilke to Ripon , 16 06 1882, Ripon Papers, Additional MSS, 43528, British Library.

62 Cartwright to the Foreign Office, 7 July 1882 in FO 78/3449, Public Record Office.

63 Lyons to Granville , 14 05 1882, PRO 30/29/160, Public Record Office.

64 See, for example, a Memo by Northbrook , 13 05 1882, PRO 30/29/138, Public Record Office.

65 Northbrook's proposed answer to Lamington , 8 06 1882,ibid.

66 al-Sayyid , Egypt and Cromer, p. 25.

67 Seymour to Admiralty , 1 07 1882, ADM 116/33, Public Record Office.

68 Admiralty to Seymour , 3 07 1882,ibid.

69 Note by Northbrook , 5 07 1882, PRO 30/29/138, Public Record Office.

70 Admiralty to Seymour , 8 07 1882, ADM 116/34, Public Record Office.

71 Agatha Ramm, ‘Great Britain and France in Egypt, 1876–1882,’ in Prosser Gifford and Louis W. Roger, eds., France and Britain in Africa (New Haven, 1971), p. 110.

72 Edmond Fitzmaurice, Life of the Second Earl Granville (London, 1905), Vol. II, 279.

73 Hamilton's Diary, 7 07 1882, Additional MSS, 48632, British Library.

74 Gladstone to Granville , 9 07 1882, in Ramm , Gladstone-Granville, 1, 388.

75 Gladstone to Granville , 9 07 1882,ibid., p. 389.

76 Egyptian State Archives, Documents concerning the Urabi Revolution, Box 3, No. 128.

77 Draft dispatch, Granville to Dufferin , 10 1882, printed for Cabinet, 27 Oct. 1882, CAB 37/9, Public Record Office.

78 Telegram, Secret, Seymour to Northbrook , 19 07 1882, ADM 116/34, Public Record Office.

79 Telegram, Seymour to Admiralty , 13 07 1882,ibid..

80 Hamilton's Diary, 11 07 1882, Additional MSS, 48632, British Library.

81 Parliamentary Debates, 3d Ser, 272, 12 July 1882, vol. 173.

82 Dilke to Ripon , 13 07 1882, Ripon Papers, Additional MSS 43528, British Library.

83 Gladstone to Childers , 16 09 1882, Childers Papers, Royal Commonwealth Society.

84 Gladstone to Childers , 18 09 1882,ibid..

85 Hartington to Ripon , 4 08 1882, Ripon Papers, Additional MSS, 43569, British Library.

86 al-Sayyid , Egypt and Cromer, p. 32.

87 Hamilton's Diary, 25 06 1882, Additional MSS, 48632, British Library.

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International Journal of Middle East Studies
  • ISSN: 0020-7438
  • EISSN: 1471-6380
  • URL: /core/journals/international-journal-of-middle-east-studies
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