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Full text of "The Egyptian Problem"

12
THE EGYPTIAN PROBLEM
CHAP.
the abandonment of all claims to Syria, a Firman making the Pashalik of Egypt hereditary in his family and autonomous. Egyptian Nationalists make great play with the autonomy which Mehemet Ali wrung out of the Sultan. But they forget that it was subject Xo many not unimportant reservations which effectively clipped the old lion's claws. The strength of the military and naval forces he was henceforth allowed to maintain was very drastically reduced. He remained a vassal of the Ottoman Empire, and in its official hierarchy the rank assigned to him was actually inferior to that of the Sheikh-ul-Islam and of the Grand Vizier—as Abdul Hamid was fond of reminding the ex-Khedive Abbas when his visits to Constantinople happened to be inopportune.
Mehemet Ali was then over seventy, and he never recovered from the blow that had shattered the ambitions of a lifetime. He had travelled a long way towards his goal, but he had failed to reach it, and he measured his failure, not by what he had accomplished, but by what he had set himself to accomplish. The last years of his life were fraught with trouble. There were floods and plagues. The country was depopulated and poverty-stricken. As his hand grew weaker the machinery of government lacked the driving power which he alone had supplied. His armies had been, disbanded and his arsenals and factories had to be scrapped. He quarrelled for a time with his favourite son Ibrahim, who after all never lived to succeed him, though he lived just long enough to take over the reins for a short time when his father's faculties began to give way. The end came in 1849, but for a whole year before he actually passed away the great Pasha had sunk into senile helplessness.
No authoritative life of Mehemet Ali has yet been written. Mr. D. A. Cameron's " Egypt in the Nineteenth Century" gives a graphic, if not altogether dispassionate, sketch of his romantic career and striking personality. But he admits the difficulty of doing justice to the man's character. No Oriental ruler has had warmereturn fort Ali's leaningse and strained the resources ofne to death in the streets of the capital. Egypt wasit in Egypt.    Within the first year of the Occupation