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By John Davis (auth.)
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Extra info for A History of Britain, 1885–1939
The interest of continental rivals in expansion increased the pressure on Britain to turn informal influence into formal control. But expansion entailed serious commitments. By crushing Egyptian nationalism in 1882 Britain destroyed the only basis for future self-government in Egypt, obliging her to run the country for the indefinite future. She also acquired responsibility for containing the secessionist movement in the Egyptian dependency of the Sudan, which in time would become a greater liability than Egypt itself.
Home Rule had, though, become more burdensome in itself in 1890, when Parnell was cited in a divorce case, exposing a scandal long whispered about in political circles. Gladstone was pressed by Nonconformist leaders to disown the adulterer- 'what is morally wrong can never be politically right', as the Methodist minister Hugh Price Hughes put it. 8 Ostracising Parnell had its attractions, but his refusal to leave the stage led to a divisive battle within the Irish Nationalist Party, culminating in a split between Parnell's supporters, largely urban and working-class, and his mostly rural and clerical opponents.
It was never as clear what Salisbury actually wished to do with power in mainland Britain. The legislation aimed at purifying and strengthening the Church of England was probably closest to his heart and, indeed, closer to his heart than to the hearts of many in his party. He considered the Established Church the strongest barrier against 'the spirit of rash and theoretical change'. 4 He made four attempts to pass a measure aimed at making the Church tithe less offensive by ending landlords' power to distrain tenants' property in order to pay it, 42 A History of Britain, 1885-1939 succeeding eventually in 1891.
A History of Britain, 1885–1939 by John Davis (auth.)