A Popular History of The Great War/Volume 1/Page 22

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THE WORLD DRIFT TO WAR


upon its own feet. And in the meanwhile the government continued to be the khedive’s, but the reorganization of an Egyptian army was in the hands of British officers, and the administration was in the hands of British officials in the service of the khedive. There was no room for French ambitions, in Egypt, and though France was thoroughly conscious that she had no one but herself to thank for the fact, that made her none the less resentful.

Italy had attained her unity under Victor Emmanuel, but half the countiy had not yet been accustomed to the idea that governments exist for some other purpose than the oppression of the people. Economic stability was still distant, and, if she ranked as a great Power, it was still only by courtesy, eager though she was to assert herself. The almost simultaneous deaths of Victor Emmanuel and Pius IX did not heal the breach between the crown and the Papapy.

Spain on the other hand was entering upon an era of recuperation after her profonged sufferings. The king, Amadeo of Savoy, who had accepted her crown when it was refused by Leopold of Hohenzollern, resigned it again in disgust in 1873 but after a year of dictatorship in the guise of a republic Spain recalled Alfonso XII, the son of the formerly expelled queen Isabella. There was a brief struggle before the old Carlist party was finally broken up; the young king set himself seriously to the task of government; and when he died prematurely in 1885 his widow, Maria Christina, discharged the duties of regent on behalf of her infant Alfonso XIII, until he reached man's estate.

Russia as we saw lost ground in Europe. Alexander II had striven or rather groped after ideals, while lacking the resolution and the insight without which it was impossible to bring them to realization. He had liberated the serfs without restoring to them what they regarded as their own rights in the soil. He had encouraged Western education, but it had fallen upon ground in which it was only the seed of passionate revolt, and government terrorism was faced by the black spectre of nihilism. The tsar himself was no enemy of reform, but even at the moment when an effort was being made in that direction the world was shocked by his murder at the hands of the nihilists (1882). All thought of reforms vanished, and under the dead tsar's son, Alexander III, the tyranny became if possible more rigid and more merciless than before.

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