T h o u g h Ismail had faded from the political scene before Gordon returned to Egypt on his fateful mission, he played so large a part in the Scotsman’s life that it may not be amiss to seek to understand what kind of a man he really was. So many fables revolve around his memory that we cannot always separate truth from legend. What is certain is that when he abdicated in 1879 Egypt was insolvent. This bankruptcy, and the disorder born of it, brought England to Egypt. But the fact that the imperious laws of economics required that Ismail should go does not necessarily mean that Gordon gave his friendship to a megalomaniac. To be brief, in order to understand the working of Gordon’s mind we should endeavour to visualize the first Khedive in his proper perspective.