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our Blue-books, and conformable to our own peremptory suggestions, is not correct. The Arabic text, by a slight alteration, reserves sovereign rights, and makes the proclamation a grant of autonomy to the old hereditary sheikhs within Khedivial frontiers. In this way the Khedive evaded an act which would have given the Sultan the legal right to depose him, for breach of the express conditions of his tenure of Egypt. Later, when claims were put forward for the arrears of pay of Sudanese soldiery from Equatoria, British officials in the name of Egypt repudiated any responsibility for the Sudan, but Tigrane Pasha in a later despatch reaffirmed Egyptian claims, being in fact bound to do so-however illogically for the reason given. All this is, however, beside the point, for it is too preposterous to argue that a Power which has withdrawn from the exercise of any control for a period of nine years, and has abandoned its governors and its garrisons to their fate, can, by virtue of any mere ipse dixit on paper, claim to exercise at any moment its sovereign rights, to the exclusion of any Power which is in a position to effectively occupy and reclaim the province. The territory for this period has been in the hands of the Mahdi, and the scene of anarchy and barbarism and of independent conquest which threatened the existence of Egypt itself, while as regards the southern province (with which we are concerned), it is separated from the Egyptian frontier by 1000 miles of country in the possession of a hostile Power, and is therefore wholly beyond the control of Egypt. Egypt would, however, have a more tenable claim to the northern province if she now for
mulated her rights to Khartum and Fashoda before any European Power came upon the scene, and simultaneously announced her intention of at once re-establishing those claims by effective control.
Such are the main arguments put forward by France. Irrespective of the mistakes to which we have alluded, the treaty need not violate any French rights. It was to be expected that an assertion of our rights, supported by effective occupation (by proxy), would be most unwelcome to France, the more so as being a complete surprise, and as effectually frustrating her ambitions. Had she taken advantage of our mistakes in detail, and urged that our occupation was not valid, her case would have been stronger than the one she has chosen to adopt—with a good reason, however, for her choice.
3. There are in this treaty apparently no provisions made regarding the claims which may be preferred by King Leopold's heirs for money expended in the territory leased, for its development or improvement. Since France claims to be the heir by purchase of the Congo State, she would become the king's executor, and will claim, under this treaty, to take immediate possession of the territory and assets on behalf of the king's heirs, on the death of the king; and in this capacity it would devolve upon her to surrender the lease. Supposing she surrenders it, she will then present the bill. The cost will not be minimised, and we shall find we could have effectually occupied the country ourselves, on both banks of the Nile, for less than what it will thus eventually cost us to lease a part of it-the more so that for very shame we cannot do less on
the right bank than the Belgians do on the left. But France-qua France, and independent of her position as the king's heir-repudiates our right to lease the country at all, and has troops on the spot to make good her position. Hence we can foresee disagreeable dilemma ahead. But even if the lease were duly surrendered, claims for "tenant's improvements" are certain to be preferred, and where will the Chancellor of the Exchequer of the day obtain the sum? In result, therefore, the lease becomes a permanent cession, and that-if the French right of preference is exercised-to the very Power (France) which we have been at all these pains to exclude!
It would also be interesting to know how the Government view of the reading of the Brussels Act- -a strained construction invented to embarrass the East African Company-would apply to this lease. It is now maintained that duties are not leviable at the coast on entering the "conventional basin of the Congo," but on the frontiers of each state within the area. Would King Leopold then have the right to demand free transit from the frontier of the leased province, and the power to levy import and export duties on that frontier? The point will be an important one when the railway is made. And further, who is responsible for the due fulfilment of the pledges under the Brussels Act in the leased territory, King Leopold or ourselves? It is obvious that a host of analogous questions might be raised, of which apparently the framers of this treaty took no note.
4. The "British sphere" has always been supposed to extend
to Wady Halfa, the confines of Egypt. Sir Edward Grey, however, recently declined to state how far it extended, and when pressed, he denied that Khartum was included in our sphere! Hence the presumable limit is Fashoda,-the farthest point coloured British in the map presented to Parliament. From Lado to Fashoda in the leased territory is impassable swamp and sudd. Beyond lie the commercially rich and valuable countries which are also the immediate Hinterland of Egypt and the Suakim coast. Khartum, the capital and trade emporium of the Sudan, on the junction of the White and Blue Nile, and Berber, the objective of the railway from the Red Sea, are included in this province. Lord Salisbury, in the Anglo-German treaty of 1890, specifically put forward British claims " as far as the confines of Egypt," and it was to be expected that these would now have been strongly reiterated, since they form the only rational ground for the conclusion of this treaty at all. Except on the hypothesis that we mean to hold the whole Nile Valley, our recent action is too inane and foolish for words! Yet it has been denied officially that Khartum is in our sphere! The only alternative was that, as the protecting Power in Egypt, we should at once reassert the lapsed claims of Egypt as far south as Fashoda; but we have not done this either. What, then, is to prevent France from claiming this country, either by occupying it herself at once, or by leasing it in turn to King Leopold, or for the matter of that to the Mahdi himself, since we ourselves have by this treaty created the novel and most dangerous precedent of claiming sovereign rights over a
country of which we have never been in effective possession, with the power of leasing it to a third party while it was yet occupied by a hostile force? By drawing our line at Fashoda, we have in fact opened the way for a paper annexation of all the Northern Sudan by any other Power. The French objective will doubtless be Dem Suliman, on a navigable tributary of the Bahr el Gazal: the latter river is also navigable, and a main affluent of the Nile at Fashoda. This point is only some 320 miles from the present position of the French force.
5. This leads us to the last point on which we shall touch in our examination of the treaty itself. Our ostensible reason for selecting King Leopold as our lessee was, that he was supposed to be in actual effective occupation. We desired to utilise this position as against the advance of France. To do so it was necessary that the king should transfer to us the treaties concluded in the territory, and so put us-as lessors -in effective occupation, and this transfer should have taken place, pro forma, before the actual completion of the treaty, and should have been stated in the body of the treaty as the basis on which the lease was negotiated. For our rights accrue solely in virtue of prior occupancy by our lessee, and we have no other claim which is valid against France. The lease to the king is merely as a lifetenant, the treaties are the property in perpetuity of the sovereign Power. Only by thus acquiring the treaties could we claim the right to lease at all. But though we presume that such a transfer must have been made, there is no mention anywhere of it.
The article in this Magazine last month ("Imperial Interests in East Africa") insisted on the danger lest a cause of quarrel arising in East Africa should precipitate a war in Europe. It was written before the Anglo-Congo treaty was published, and it pointed out the delicacy and the peril of this Nile Valley question. It suggested an arrangement with King Leopold, but the arrangement has been so clumsily made that already the warning is more than justified.
We will, in conclusion, examine two other matters which have an important bearing on the question
viz., the French claim of the right of pre-emption in the Congo State, and the position in Abyssinia.
I. The French right of preference in the Congo State accrues in virtue of an agreement made by Colonel Strauch on behalf of the "International Association of the Congo" (now the Congo State) on April 23, 1884, as an act of defence against the Anglo-Portuguese treaty of that year (February 1884), which threatened the existence of the infant State. It runs as follows:
"The International Association of the Congo, in the name of the free stations and territories which it has established on the Congo and in the Valley of the Niadi-Kwilu, formally declares that it will not cede them to any Power, under reserve of the special conventions which might be
concluded between France and the Association with a view to settling the limits and conditions of their respective action. But the Association, wishing to afford a new proof of its friendly feeling towards France, pledges itself to give her the right of preference, if through any unforeseen circumstances, the Association were one day led to realise its possessions."
1 The Congo State (H. M. Stanley), p. 388.
The italics are ours. From this it is obvious that the right of preference is not one which accrues on the death of the king (who had not even at that time formally become sovereign of the State), but only in the event of the possessions of the State being realised. It is also to be noted that this declaration was made prior to the Berlin Act, which took no cognisance of it. France, on the other hand, maintains that the king is debarred from bequeathing the State to Belgium or any other Power under this agreement, the more so that King Leopold in his declaration to the Powers, of August 1, 1885, expressly stated that "the union between Belgium and the Congo State would be exclusively personal" (to himself). The king, however, on April 22, 1887, had notified to France, as his interpretation of the meaning of the letter of Colonel Strauch, quoted above, that the right of preference of France could not be opposed to Belgium, since he (Leopold) was King of Belgium; `but Belgium, in turn, must respect the French right of pre-emption. France appears to have taken no exception to this view at the time, but merely to have acknowledged the king's letter on the same date without comment. The king's argument was, of course, that he and Belgium were one and inseparable, and in virtue of this contention he afterwards made a will bequeathing the State to Belgium, which thereupon subsidised the State.
But these contentions are beside the point. France maintains that the State being an artificial creation, incapable of initiating acts affecting its own existence and extension (or even, according to France and Germany, of leasing a small strip of territory) without the recognition of the signatory
Powers which gave it birth, it follows that an agreement such as this, giving reversionary rights to France, is invalid and ultra vires, unless recognised by all the Powers. It has never been so recognised, and it is highly improbable that those with contiguous possessions-especially England and Germany-would consent to the appropriation by France of this vast territory on so shadowy a title. France urges that the lease of the strip between Tanganyika and British East Africa violates her rights of pre-emption. But, as we have seen, these rights do not apply to this area; and, moreover, the lease being only current so long as the State is independent or a colony of Belgium, it lapses ipso facto if French rights of pre-emption are exercised.
II. A final word regarding Abyssinia; for we firmly believe that the indignation of France at her exclusion from the Nile Valley is based upon the fact that she is thereby frustrated in her desire to extend her dominion across Africa to Obock on the Red Sea. The Italians concluded a treaty with King Menelik of Abyssinia, and notified (in accordance with the Berlin Act) to the Powers that he had accepted their protectorate. The treaty was published in Italian. France, having herself some experience of such "diplomacy" with savage kings, sent to Abyssinia to see the text in the native language. It was merely an agreement between equals, and did not confer the powers which Italy claimed. This was explained to the king, and he thereupon expelled all Italian subjects from his dominions, diverted his trade from Massawah to the French port of Obock, began to buy rifles, &c., from the French with which to protect
his independence, and wrote letters to the sovereigns of Europe denouncing the Italian treaty, their style suggesting French assistance. He has now repaid all moneys lent him by the Italians under that treaty. He has dug wells and put posts along his road to the frontiers of the French possessions at Obock, and the French have done the same for 200 miles to meet him. He commands a very large and very brave and well-armed army, which has proved almost invincible against Mahdists, Egyptian troops (with white officers), and all Sudanese tribes alike, and which has, moreover, proved too powerful for any force the Italians can bring against it. Whatever be her relations with the King of Abyssinia, Italy, however, claims exclusive influence in the country as regards any other European nation. Her claims have been duly notified and her treaty published and accepted, and she has spent vast sums in the country. France, however, poses as the king's champion, and repudiates the Italian protectorate, and she has betrayed great indignation at the recent Anglo-Italian treaty delimiting British and Italian frontiers in the neighbourhood of Harrar. Meanwhile British diplomacy has irritated the Abyssinians against us, and aided the French aims. By our treaty of 1884 Bogos was restored to Abyssinia, and free trade to Massawah guaranteed; and we have set this aside, and encouraged Italy to annex both Bogos and Massawah. Nor did we please Italy by our futile interference in December 1887. The cost of her operations has been so enormous to Italy, that the cession or sale to France of her claims in Abyssinia in the near future would not be a surprising event. We
may add that a private Russian expedition is now about to start from Berbera. Its destination is the Shilluk country on the Nile opposite Lado.
Space forbids us to go into greater detail on this question. Enough has probably been said to prove that French intrigue has been very busy and very successful in Abyssinia. Taken in conjunction with the advance from the west towards the Nile Valley, the inference is irresistible that France intended to establish an empire from coast to coast. She already possesses a coast area along the Red Sea, with an excellent harbour at Tajjurah, opposite Aden. It is needless to point out the importance of such a strategic position, and the effect on our communications through the Red Sea, if France realised her objects. It might, moreover, be possible for France to set the Abyssinian army in motion against the Mahdi, to support her advance from the west. They would only be too glad to kill dervishes for a consideration, as they are reported to have done for us in October 1885. If she thus swept the Mahdi out of the Sudan, Khartum and the frontiers of Egypt would be in her hands.
In that case we may make up our minds to pack up our traps and leave Egypt, not because we consider our task concluded, and with the honour and dignity of a great Power who has achieved a great enterprise, but because our position has been made untenable by France, and the blindness and ineptitude of the present Government will have compelled us to retreat with humiliation and dishonour. If France became paramount in the Sudan, with power to levy unlimited numbers of black regiments, composed of as