Page images
PDF
EPUB
[graphic]
[graphic]

definitely answered at present; but it is clear that the combination of sunspot maximum and of volcanic eruptions may be capable of producing some of the effects which have been observed.

To sum up, the summer of 1924 was a cold, cheerless one, with rainfall considerably in excess of the normal, especially in South England and some parts of the continent. There appears to have been a transposition of the usual weather distribution in Europe from north towards south, for the extreme north bad a dry summer on the whole. Such conditions have been associated with other concomitant phenomena, notably with the strength and temperature of ocean currents in the Atlantic. It is, however, not possible at present to say whether seasonal abnormalities are due to changes in ocean currents, or vice versa ; or whether both are effects of some other causes, which may be external to our planet. The fact that, at the present time, there is a maximum in the number of sunspots is probably significant, for at sunspot maximum, air temperature is normally relatively low. There is also a relation between the occurrence of explosive volcanic eruptions and the subsequent temperature, the latter being reduced as a result of the thin veil of volcanic dust in the higher regions of the atmosphere.

It is evident that the investigation into the causes of bad or good seasons is only in its infancy, and that much remains to be done. The difficulties are great. In the

. first place, any explanation of the wet and cold summer must extend to the dry summer of the extreme North of Europe, and to the numerous other abnormalities which doubtless occurred in various parts of the globe. The atmosphere is a single ocean of air completely enveloping the planet, and there can be little doubt that large abnormalities in one part of that ocean are related to abnormalities in other parts. In the next place, the British Isles, and even Europe, comprise only a small fraction of the total area covered by the atmosphere. Before final explanations can be made and substantiated, observations must be available for the whole of the globe. Thirdly, the land area of the earth, from which observations are most readily obtained, is only about one-fifth of the total area, the remainder being water. Considerable areas of land are, however, desert, or for other reasons uninhabited; while for still larger areas of land there exists at present no adequate meteorological organisation. Fourthly, although the atmosphere comes down to us at the ground it yet stretches away in a vertical direction for some six or seven miles or more before the upper boundary of cloud is reached. Processes of weather extend at least as far as that boundary. Yet observations in the free air, or on mountains, are made at only a few places, a ludicrously small number in comparison with the immensity of the ocean of air. There can be no doubt whatever that it is vital to the problem to know what happens in the upper air all over the globe-that ideal is a long way off at present.

[graphic]

With a view to a systematic attack upon the problem, the Meteorological Office, at the instance of the International Meteorological Committee, commenced, just before the outbreak of the war, the regular publication of serial monthly values of pressure, temperature, and rainfall for a selection of land stations, distributed over the globe at the rate of two stations per ten-degree square of latitude and longitude. Naturally the war paralysed an international enterprise such as this is bound to be; but, in spite of that, the threads have been picked up again, and volumes of the publication have been published for the seven years 1910 to 1916 inclusive. The publication is entitled the "Réseau Mondial,' a name which was applied to a somewhat similar conception by the enthusiastic amateur French meteorologist, the late M. Teisserenc de Bort. The work is now actively proceeding, thanks to the co-operation of official meteorological services all over the world ; and it has now been arranged that ships' observations will be used to represent certain sea areas in the future. Meteorologists all over the world are greatly interested in the work, and it is hoped that in course of time material will in this

way be provided for the study of the numerous unsolved questions of world meteorology, including that of abnormal seasons.

R. CORLESS.

[ocr errors]
[graphic]
[graphic]
[blocks in formation]

Art. 10.-LARGER

QUESTION.

a

WE have had the Egyptian question with us now for over forty-two years, i.e. ever since we entered into military occupation of the valley of the Nile in September 1882. But it has assumed in some respects a particularly different complexion since the end of the Great War, which, on the one hand, intensified throughout the East

widespread movement of revolt against Western ascendancy, and, on the other hand, led to a strong reaction amongst Western nations, and notably in this country, against the use of force as a solution of international problems. All this was nowhere more marked than in the Arab lands of the East, and above all in Egypt, when after the war it was found impossible to give full effect to the lofty principles of freedom and self-determination expounded by the Allied and Associated Powers during the war, or to carry out the many conflicting promises hastily given under the pressure of war exigencies.

Three years ago none seemed to have perceived more clearly than Lord Allenby the necessity of reckoning in Egypt with the post-war psychology of the East and of the West, which Lord Milner's Commission had clearly recognised in its statesmanlike recommendations for an agreed settlement of the Egyptian question. It was, it must be remembered, on the faith of those recommendations that Adly Pasha was induced to form a Egyptian Government representing moderate opinion, and to come over himself to London to negotiate a definite treaty of alliance between Great Britain and Egypt. But Mr Lloyd George, mainly at Mr Winston Churchill's instigation, threw the Milner report overboard, contending that the Cabinet had never considered itself bound by it; and when the Egyptian Prime Minister went back to Cairo discomfited and resigned office, Lord Curzon drew up a statement of the British Government's intentions which was not perhaps unreasonably interpreted in Cairo to mean a return to a mere policy of force. Serious disturbances broke out. Zaghlul, once more voicing fierce opposition to Great Britain, was again deported with the chief leaders of the party of

new

[graphic]

Independence. It was almost impossible to form another Egyptian Ministry willing or able to cope with the situation which threatened to drift back into the administrative chaos of 1919. Lord Allenby then warned Lord Curzon, not for the first time, that the end of such a policy as that to which the British Government was reverting, 'would be either the annexation of a violently hostile country which would require to be governed by force, or else complete capitulation.' This was, indeed, already the conclusion arrived at some time previously by the four principal British officials who acted as advisers of the Interior, Finance, Education, and Justice. The High Commissioner went so far as to intimate that unless His Majesty's Government altered their course he would ask to be relieved of his responsibility. He was summoned to London for consultation, and then Mr Lloyd George, confronted with the threat of the High Commissioner's resignation, promptly gave in. On Feb. 28, 1922, he made a declaration of principles,' which he, of course, never admitted to be a change, or still less a reversal, of his previous policy, but described as its development. Those 'principles' were the termination of the British Protectorate and of martial law, and the recognition of Egypt as an independent sovereign State; whilst, pending the conclusion by free discussion and friendly accommodation of agreements concerning the security of the communications of the British Empire in Egypt, the defence of Egypt against all foreign aggression or interference, the protection of foreign interests and minorities in Egypt, and, finally, the Sudan, His Majesty's Government reserved those matters to their own discretion, and the status quo remained intact in regard to them. Such principles' tallied closely with the recommendations vainly pressed on the British Government by the Milner Commission, but with this allimportant difference that, whereas in the Treaty of Alliance contemplated by Lord Milner, the Egyptian Government would have bound itself at once, in return for the recognition of Egyptian independence, to the provisions required for safeguarding British interests, Mr Lloyd George forthwith gave the Egyptians what they chiefly wanted, and was content with a reservation of rights on the essential points which he

6

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

mere

[graphic]
[graphic]
[ocr errors]

left over indefinitely for settlement by 'free discussion and friendly accommodation' at some future date.

The natural consequences ensued which it should not have been difficult to foresee. Sultan Fuad became King Fuad, and he promptly accredited his own ambassadors abroad. A new Egyptian constitution was drafted, and before the first general elections for the new Legislature, Zaghlul, released by the British authorities, returned to Egypt amidst great popular enthusiasm, and, having carried the country with him at the polls, received a demonstrative blessing from his King, and became the idolised Prime Minister of an independent Egypt. Meanwhile, with the rapid relaxation of British control and the pensioning off, at first on very liberal terms, of large numbers of British officials, the old plague spots of native administration-nepotism, corruption, incompetence were not slow to reappear. In such matters, which lay outside the reserved points, Lord Allenby saw no reason for interference, and he still held his hand when Egyptians who had been notoriously associated with conspiracies to murder British officials were appointed to important posts, even in the Public Security Department. Zaghlul still showed no signs of seeking a settlement. His language, though confined to generalities, was as uncompromising as ever, and even a Labour Government in England, in spite of all its expressions of sympathy, whilst in opposition, with the Egyptian Nationalists of the most advanced complexion, was compelled to warn him that there were some points, and notably the Sudan, on which no British Government could yield. And it was in the Sudan that the worst storm clouds were gathering

Anomalous as had been the status of Egypt under British occupation, that of the Sudan, since Kitchener finally crushed Mahdism on the battlefield of Omdurman in 1898, has been still more anomalous, and is, indeed, unique. The reconquest was effected by a military expedition in which Egyptian co-operated with British troops. The Egyptian Treasury bore a large part of the cost. Nor could it be altogether forgotten that the abandonment of the Sudan by Egypt in 1884 had only taken place at the dictation of the British Government, and in direct opposition to the wishes of Egyptian

« PreviousContinue »