Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

times. Lane, in his Modern Egyptians,' well as most satisfactory solution of the gives the ancient population at six or problem.” seven millions; and quotes Diodorus The agricultural capabilities of Egypt, Siculus to the effect that it was seven mil- if developed by sufficient labor, properly lions in the times of the ancient kings, directed, are practically unlimited. Some and not less than three millions in his interesting statistics will be found in Mr. own day. Lane estimated the whole De Leon's pages relating to the cotton population of Egypt proper in 1835 as production of the country, which has not more than two and a half millions ; developed from the first germ of 6000 he was of opinion that the produce of pounds of cotton exported in 1821, to the soil, if nothing was exported, would upwards of 300 millions of pounds exsuffice for a population of four millions ported in 1876. The culture of the -and if all soil fit for cultivation were sugar-cane, which, as the hobby of the sown, for eight millions. The above present ruler of Egypt, has been pursued estimates probably referred only to what by him on a wasteful and extravagant is now called Lower Egypt, for the pop- system, has been hitherto the reverse of ulation of Egypt proper is now estimated beneficial to the country or the people at more than five millions. “It is —since the labor of the fellahs, by which claimed,” says Mr. De Leon, “ that in it has been carried on, if bestowed on the last fifteen years 500,000 acres have their own fields, would have produced been reclaimed, and that 300,000 more far more valuable results both to themare in course of reclamation from the selves and to their master. Although desert; and this result is due to the ex- the sugar-culture is doubtless capable, tension of the canal system effected by under good management and with a sufthe Khedive."

ficient labor-supply, of being profitably There is certainly no other country in developed ; the true interests of the which good government can have so country for many years to come lie in much influence on the material prosperi- the grain and cotton culture, which are ty of the people; for in no other coun- capable of indefinite extension. For the try can it affect to the same extent as it Khedive's services to civilisation ; in the does in Egypt, the rainfall and the establishment of schools civil and milicourse of the seasons; where anarchy tary—especially in his disregard of Mosand tyranny, by interfering with irriga- lem prejudices by instituting female tion and the laboring of the fields, nìust schools; in his extension of railways, reduce at once the cultivable area of and telegraphs, and canals; in the concountry and the population dependent struction of harbors, docks, and lighton its produce. “Égypt is nothing if houses; in his expenditure on roads and not agricultural ;” and all the ambitious bridges, on gas and water works, -we schemes of Mehemet Ali and his succes- must refer the reader to Mr. De Leon's sors to create manufactures, have only interesting pages. retarded the progress of the country by But there is one question—that of interfering with agriculture, and have slavery—on which the Khedive's action been the source of a wasteful expendi- merits more than a passing remark. When ture to which much of the Khedive's his Highness assured a deputation of the financial troubles are due.

Anti-Slavery Society in London that he A large proportion of the whole popu- was most anxious to put down the slavelation-probably one-sixth-being con- trade, he stated that all his efforts would gregated in the large towns, are with- be ineffectual until he should be endrawn from agriculture; the Khedive's dowed with the right of search over standing army and military expeditions boats hoisting European colors, because have absorbed an additional number of the chief delinquents were European the able-bodied males; hence the want traders, who under the guise of a trade of labor for agricultural purposes is be- in ivory, really carried on a traffic in ginning to be sensibly felt, and the Khe- slaves, whom they conveyed down the dive is turning his attention to the en- Nile in boats covered by their respective couragement of Chinese immigration into flags. If the slave-trade were stopped, Egypt for the purpose of filling the void, as he argued it would be if he were thus which “ seems to offer the speediest as free to act against European traders,

slavery in Egypt would in fifteen or sured us that animals, always placid and twenty years expire of inanition. The docile in Egypt, had been frequently Khedive has given an earnest of sinceri- known 10 become savage when transty in this matter by investing with abso- ferred to Constantinople. lute authority as Governor of the Sou Enough has been said to show that dan, Colonel Gordon, who, by his accep- the present condition of Egypt calls tance of the charge, is self-devoted to the loudly for improvement. But the Khestoppage of the trade at its fountain- dive is at his wits' end for money to head. Mr. De Leon describes the Sou- satisfy his creditors, and so long as he is dan as " a territory larger and more pop- thus embarrassed, it is vain to hope for ulous than Egypt proper, to which it ac- any amelioration in the lot of the people. knowiedges the most indefinite kind of It is a trite saying that the prosperity of obedience, offering in its climate and a country is a matter of good governsavage inhabitants immense difficulties in ment: in Egypt the Khedive is the govthe way of regular government or im- ernment; and notwithstanding the finanprovement;" and he is evidently not cial settlement effected by Mr. Goschen, over-sanguine as to Gordon's success. the means have yet to be devised for But all who know the latter feel con- preventing the Khedive from doing in vinced that in his high and holy “quest,” the future what he has done in the past. and if his life be spared, he will succeed Unforeseen expenses, too, have been imif any mortal can.

posed on him in connection with the lifeThe picture of the Khedive, as pre- and-death struggle in which his Suzerain sented in Mr. De Leon's pages, has two is now engaged. The collection of suffiaspects—the one bears the lineaments of cient revenue to meet all claims becomes the enlightened reformer, the reverse every quarter more difficult and more side shows the traits of the cruel oppres- grinding on the people. And there is sor of his people. Few men have ever too much reason to believe that the accomplished so much in so short a downward progress of Egypt towards time; but his progress has been that of national bankruptcy can only be arrestthe car of Juggernaut. In other coun ed by cutting down to the roots of the tries, reforms come from below, and are cancer eating into her life. the expression of the national will. But Given on the one side a needy despot in Egypt all the adjuncts of modern civ- with corrupt governors and tax-collectors, ilisation have been forced in a few years and, on the other side, a patient, long-sufon the most unprogressive people in the fering people; and it requires no conjuworld by one man from above. In truth, ror to tell what must be the condition of the engine of "progress" has been run the latter. Here is the description as at so high a pressure, and at such a fear given by Ameneman, chief Librarian of ful cost to the poor Arabs, that if they Ramses the Great, in a papyrus writing were not very patient and submissive, ani now to be seen in the British Museum :explosion might be feared.

“Have you ever represented to yourself in “The Egyptian laborer has not risen much imagination the state of the rustic who tills the above the level of that life we see sculptured ground? Before he has put the sickle to his on the walls of the old tombs and temples crop, the locusts have blasted part thereof; thousands of years ago. He is still in the then come the rats and birds. If he is slack hands of merciless taskmasters-a strong ass in housing his crop, the thieves are on him. crouching under burdens. Yet in spite of his His horse dies of weariness as it drags the dirt, his rags, his half-starved appearance, he wain. The tax-collector arrives, his agents looks happy, or, if not happy, content with his are armed with clubs, he has negroes with lot, hard as it seems to the stranger.”

him who carry whips of palm-branches. They The result is, perhaps, largely due to

all cry, 'Give us your grain,' and he has no

way of avoiding their extortionate demands. the climate; it is a happiness only to Next, the wretch is caught, bound, and sent breathe that dry, pure, exquisite air, off to work without wage at the canals; his which is so remarkable for its soothing wife is taken and chained, his children are effect on the brain, both of men and an

stripped and plundered." imals. At least this was the explanation This terrible picture, sketched more of the patience and tractability of the than three thousand years ago by a conpoor fellah under his hard treatment temporary observer, is, to a great extent, given by Nubar Pasha; who further as applicable to the Egyptian laborer of the

present day, whose condition by the side that supremacy be ever lost, she need of railways and telegraphs is a grotesque then no longer trouble herself about and horrible anachronism, the continu- maintaining communications for the sake ance of which constitutes a reproach to of an empire that would have departed the European Powers, and especially to from her. England, which benefits so largely by Considered merely as an alternative the sufferings of this unfortunate people. to the Suez Canal route for England's A noisy and aggressive party has hound- military convenience, the Euphrates valed on the legions of Russia for the deliv- ley line could never repay the cost of its erance of the Bulgarians, whose general construction, which, including harborcondition under Turkish rule, as has works at the Euphrates' mouth, would been lately proved beyond all question, amount to at least twelve millions. At was happy and prosperous if compared present an English soldier walks on with that of the wretched fellaheen of board ship at Southampton, and walks Egypt. But, unfortunately for the lat- on shore at Bombay. The utmost savter, they might be flogged or worked to ing that would be effected in the present death, almost to the last man, without time of communication between those raising an “ Eastern question" dangerous places, by the Euphrates line, would be to our tranquillity and interests.

seven days; and this would not suffice The remedy for the state of things to counterbalance the inconveniences of here exposed lies within the power of trans-shipment. England; but it does not consist in the The fears that were so generally excited military occupation advocated by Mr. in England, at the outbreak of the presDicey in the August number of the ent war, by the supposed rapid advance Nineteenth Century.'

of Russia to Constantinople, were based What may be termed the selfish inter- partly on shadow, partly on substance. ests of this country in Egypt, apart from These have now been much alleviated the concern which humanity and civilisa- by the progress of events, which seem to tion must feel in the elevation of a down- demonstrate that the Turks, so far as controdden people, are entirely limited to cerns their fighting qualities, are worthy the maintenance of a secure communica- descendants of tion with India by the shortest existing

“The bold Timariot bands route-a communication which is now

That won and well can keep their lands." afforded by the Suez Canal. Speculative politicians, projecting their vision far The course of events has indeed been into futurity, regard the Euphrates val- such as to discredit all forecast and falsiiey route as one which may possibly fy all anticipation. How is it that the come to supersede the Suez Canal; and Turk is fighting now as he has not it was to prevent Russia from obtaining fought for centuries? How is it that, command of this potential route that a from a state of supreme apathy in prestrong inclination existed in England to paring against the storm which so long oppose, by force if necessary, that power threatened, and which, when it burst, establishing herself on the table-land of found him with armies unorganised and Armenia. The fear that Russia by the defences unfinished, he has suddenly successive steps-of the conquest of Ar- sprung up like a strong man armed out menia, of the construction of a railway of his apathetic sleep, and is now estabto the Persian Gulf, of the establishment lishing his right to dominion-at least to of a naval station at the Euphrates' the dominion of the sword-by irrefragamouth-should ever be able to intercept ble proofs ? our communication between Suez and The answer to the question is to be Bombay with ships issuing from the Per- found in the fact that the Turk has at sian Gulf, may well be described as vis- last been disabused of his obstinate conionary. Even granting those successive viction, that if attacked by Russia, other steps on the road to India to have been Powers would be found fighting on his surmounted, England, supposing her to side, and relieving him, as they had done maintain her supremacy at sea, could before, from the trouble and responsibilalways seal up a Russian naval force at ity of the conduct of the war, The fire the mouth of the Persian Gulf. Should of the old Turk race which was supposed

[ocr errors]

ever

slavery in Egypt would in fifteen or sured us that animals, always placid
twenty years expire of inanition. The docile in Egypt, had been frer
Khedive has given an earnest of sinceri- known to become savage whe
ty in this matter by investing with abso- ferred to Constantinople.
lute authority as Governor of the Sou- Enough has been said to
dan, Colonel Gordon, who, by his accep- the present condition of
tance of the charge, is self-devoted to the loudly for improvement.
stoppage of the trade at its fountain- dive is at his wits' en
head. Mr. De Leon describes the Sou- satisfy his creditors, an
dan as “ a territory larger and more pop- thus embarrassed, it
ulous than Egypt proper, to which it ac- any amelioration in
knowiedges the most indefinite kind of It is a trite saying
obedience, offering in its climate and a country is a m
savage inhabitants immense difficulties in ment: in Egypt
the way of regular government or im- ernment; andr
provement;" and he is evidently not cial settlement
over-sanguine as to Gordon's success. the means h
But all who know the latter feel con- preventing
vinced that in his high and holy " quest,"

quest,” the future and if his life be spared, he will succeed Unforeser if any mortal can.

posed on The picture of the Khedive, as pre- and-dea sented in Mr. De Leon's pages, has two is now aspects—the one bears the lineaments of cient the enlightened reformer, the reverse side shows the traits of the cruel oppres- gri: sor of his people. Few men have ever to accomplished so much in so short a i time; but his progress has been that of the car of Juggernaut. In other countries, reforms come from below, and are the expression of the national will. B

-t, or in Egypt all the adjuncts of moderne ilisation have been forced in a few y

s in alliance on the most unprogressive people i

Present war, her world by one man from above. In

sed, and the consethe engine of “progress” has br

coercing Russia by at so high a pressure, and at suc'

e either at Varna or at ful cost to the poor Arabs, tha

Word, would have had an immewere not very patient and sub

uecisive effect. Were England, explosion might be feared.

s'vre, to permit the establishment of “The Egyptian laborer has r

W. Jn the Bosphorus, she would part above the level of that life we

miche most effective means which, with on the walls of the old tom

key's connivance, she now possesses, thousands of years ago. H

'wering Russia, supposing the latter hands of merciless taskma

U neuitate an advance to the Persian crouching under burdens. dirt, his rags, his half-sta

Lüli is a consequence of the conquest looks happy, or, if not h

' Irmenia. lot, hard as it seems to

in al other respects, the danger that The result is, pe

Weitt result in the future to England's the climate ; it is

remacy in the Mediterranean, whether breathe that dr

rom the possession of Constantinople which is so ren

Russiz, or from the neutralisation of effect on the b

irte Straits, would have to be met, and imals. At le

he deciess could be met, at the cost of of the pati

niedscd naval estimates. In that case, poor fella

Wiever cails might be made on our given by

[ocr errors]

er quarters of the world, it permission; and the march of an army
zys necessary to keep a from Palestine across the Syrian desert
n, like a chained watch- may, at least for the present, be left out
of the Dardanelles; of consideration.
a safe harbor for On the other hand, if Egypt were not
indispensable friendly, England could take the country

the imme- at any moment's notice, if such a high-
onificent handed measure should be forced upon
satis- her.
hat Any semblance of military occupation
1 is therefore unnecessary for our purpose.
We do not believe that the Khedive
nires much pressure to induce him to
his Government.

He sees as 's any one can do, that by the of his subjects he is killing at lays his golden eggs; sent system cannot last

knows, moreover, terest England has

transit for her

zh his territory; .d be best served

strong and prospers all that is required is ministration, under which tax now collected by corrupt rtionate publicans might be reand the revenue would still be a

But the personal extravagance of the Khedive lies at the root of the

whole matter; and so long as that is ple allowed to continue, no improvement is .casure possible. y argues, Let him place his affairs in the hands - precedent of trustees; accept for himself such a

kish disasters civil list as that of Queen Victoria ; uon of the future sternly repress bribery, extortion, and

ould be quite with- cruelty, even though it should be necesi diplomatic arrange- sary to hang a sheik, perhaps a mudir, as and should acquire the an example; curb his extravagant tastes

da, with such surrounding fur railways to the moon, for the buildght be requisite—an arrange- ing of palaces, opera and play houses, at would redound immensely to and for the lavish entertainment of every dvantage of the Cretans themselves. entity and nonentity who may visit We have said that we dissent from Cairo ;-in a word, let him enter the Mr. Dicey's proposed military occupa- honest society of constitutional rulers, tion of Egypt, whether as a remedy for and a splendid future awaits a country misgovernment or as a protection to the which would magnificently repay good Suez Canal. So long as Egypt is friend- government. ly, the command of the Canal is to be Mr. De Leon believes that the Kheinsured by our supremacy at sea, not by dive would easily yield to pressure in flying the English flag at Port Said, or this matter, and England is the country by an English garrison at Alexandria, or that can most effectually exert it. by forts on the Syrian side of the isth- One thing is certain. If Egypt bemus. So long as England commands comes a prey to bankruptcy and anthe Mediterranean, not a corporal's guard archy, England, for her own sake, will could be landed in Egypt without her be obliged to undertake, at a late hour

wer.

[ocr errors]
« ПредишнаНапред »