Secret history of the English occupation of Egypt - PDF by Wilfrid Scawen Blunt

Secret history of the English occupation of Egypt; being a personal narrative of events

ecret history of the English occupation of Egypt




Excerpt The introduction:

since the first brief preface to my manuscript was written twelve years ago, events have happened which seem to indicate that the moment foreseen in it has, at last, arrived when to the public advantage and without risk of serious indiscretion as far as individuals are concerned, the whole truth may be given to the world. Already in 1904, the original manuscript had been thoroughly revised, and in its purely Egyptian part remodelled under circumstances that add greatly to its historic value. 

My old Egyptian friend, Sheykh Mohammed Abdu, of whom so much mention is made in it, had taken up his country residence at my doors at Sheykh Obeyd, and I found myself in almost daily intercourse with him, a most precious accident of which I did not fail to take full advantage. That great philosopher and patriot — now, alas, lost to us, for he died at Alexandria, nth July 1905, the day being the twenty-third anniversary of the bombardment of that city — after many vicissitudes of evil and good fortune had attained in the year 1899


the supreme position in Egypt of Grand Mufti, and having thus acquired a wider sphere than ever of influence with his fellow countrymen, had it at heart to bequeath to them a true account of the events of his time, events which had become strangely misunderstood by them, and clothed with legends altogether fantastic and unreal. 

On this subject he often spoke to me, regretting his lack of leisure to complete the historic work, and when I told him of my own memoir, he urged me very strongly to publish it, if not in English at least with his help in Arabic, and he undertook to go through it with me and see that all that part of it which related to matters within his knowledge was accurately and fully told. We had been personal friends and political allies almost from the date of my first visit to Egypt, and with his garden adjoining mine it was an easy matter for us to work together and compare our recollections of the men and things x Preface on Publication we had known.

 It was in this way that my history of an epoch so memorable to us both took final shape, and I was able (how, fortunately!) to complete it and obtain from him his approval and imprimatur before his unlooked-for death closed forever the chief source of knowledge which he undoubtedly was of the political movement which led up to the revolution of 1881, and of the intrigues which marred it in the following year. The Mufti's death, a severe blow to me as well as to Egypt, postponed indefinitely our plan of publishing in Arabic, nor till the present year has the time seemed politically ripe for the production of my work in English.

 The events, however, of 1906, and now Lord Cromer's retirement from the Egyptian scene, have so wholly changed the situation that I feel I ought no longer to delay, at least as far as my duty to my own countrymen is concerned. 

We English are confronted today in our dealings with Egypt with very much the same problem we misunderstood and blundered about so disastrously a generation ago, and if those of us who are responsible for public decisions \ are, in the words of my first preface, to "re-examine their position there, political and moral," honestly or to any profit, it is necessary they should first have set before them the past as it really was and not as it has been presented to them so long by the fallacious documents of their official Blue Books. 

I should probably not be wrong in asserting that neither Lord Cromer at Cairo nor Sir Edward Grey at home, nor yet Lord Cromer's successor Sir Eldon Gorst, have any accurate knowledge of what occurred in Egypt twenty-five years ago — this notwithstanding Lord Cromer's tardy recognition of the reform movement of 1881 and his eulogium of Sheykh Mohammed Abdu repeated so recently as in his last annual Report. Lord Cromer, it must be remembered, was not at Cairo during any part of the revolutionary period here described, and, until quite recently, has always assumed the "official truth" regarding it to be the only truth.

Contents of the book:

Preface of 1895
Preface on Publication, 1907 ix
I. Egypt under Ismail i
II. Sir Rivers Wilson's Mission 19
III. Travels in Arabia and India 38
IV. English Politics in 1880 51
V. The Reform Leaders at the Azhar 73
VI. Beginnings of the Revolution in Egypt 92
VII. Triumph of the Reformers in Egypt 109
VIII. Gambetta's Policy. The Joint Note 129
IX. Fall of Sherif Pasha 146
X. My Pleading in Downing Street 162
XI. The Circassian Plot 186
XII. Intrigues and Counter Intrigues 210
XIII. Dervish's Mission 228
XIV. A Last Appeal to Gladstone 251
XV. The Bombardment of Alexandria 270
XVI. The Campaign of Tel-el-Kebir 285
XVII. The Arabi Trial 323
XVIII. Dufferin's Mission 349

APPENDICES
I. Arabi's Autobiography 367
II. Text of National Programme 383
III. Text of Egyptian Constitution of 1882 388
IV. Letter from Boghos Pasha Nubar 397
V. Note as to the Berlin Congress 401
VI. The Wind and the Whirlwind 404


Author: Wilfrid Scawen Blunt
 Publication Date:1922


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