CLOSE as was the agreement between Bright and Chamberlain in domestic politics, it did not bridge the chasm that separated their ideas of foreign policy. Chamberlain had never shared Bright's non-intervention principles. In the General Election of 1859, when a young man of 23, he had supported Dyke-Acland, who stood as a "Liberal-Conservative" against Bright and Scholefield in Birmingham. They had, it is true, acted together on Majuba. But the division between them on Imperialism in general was fundamental.
The rift reached the surface over Egypt. Chamberlain in a speech at Ashton cast scorn upon "the ignoble doctrine of non-intervention." Bright thought it Palmerstonian stuff, and would have none of it. "I can have no part in it, and shall denounce it when I am forced to speak upon it," he wrote to Dixon. "I do not want to assail the Government, or to get into open conflict with my colleagues; still less to create any difficulty with my friends in Birmingham. And yet how to escape it I cannot see if I stand on the same platform with Mr. Chamberlain at this moment." He protested strongly in a letter to Gladstone against the execution of the sentence of death pronounced by a court martial on Arabi Pasha. Gladstone seemed inclined to let things take their course. "I value your reputation almost as my own," said Bright, "and hope it may have no stain upon it in connexion with the fate of Arabi and his supporters in the Egyptian revolution." Counsels of moderation were heeded: Arabi went into exile in Ceylon instead of standing against a wall.
When Whitsuntide came and the visit to Birmingham, the mutations of politics had shifted the emphasis from Egypt back to England. The demands of the British democracy for reform and the new situation in Ireland were now paramount over the grievances of the Fellaheen,