Civilising mission
in Egypt
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The Egyptian expedition of 1882 was the last time that the British army marched to battle in redcoats. In the winter of 1882, the British confronted the undying dilemma of Western governments interested in the region: whether to collaborate with despotic rule or its liberal opponents. Wilfrid Scawen Blunt described the events of the 'bloody year' as 'a comedy to those who think, a tragedy to those who feel'. The comedy was that the idea of Britain's 'civilising mission' had become justification for the repression of Egypt's liberty. The tragedy was that in 1882 Britain made a 'mockery of self-government' by using military force to restore an Egyptian regime that had been the object of liberal critiques over the previous half-century. The events of that year saw liberal give way to conservative imperialism, with its security imperatives based on the Suez Canal and the balance of power in Europe.


British colony, imperial capital


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