18 THE EGYPTIAN PROBLEM CHAP.
small." He professed even to be afraid lest Wellington's veterans should be at once switched off for the conquest of Egypt. As time passed, his apprehensions grew less, and, like the Sultan, he learnt to speculate on the dissen-sions of Europe. But he remained always ^reluctant to incur the enmity of Great Britain. He was too clear-sighted to ignore her interests in a country which lay athwart her shortest line of communications with India when steamers replaced sailing ships, and, instead of nourishing resentment against her for her share in his great discomfiture, he came round to the view that Egypt's salvation might well lie in seeking to associate her interests more closely with those of Great Britain by recognising freely her right of way across Egyptian territory and giving her increased facilities for using it. The scheme for digging a ship canal between the Mediterranean and the Red Sea, which had already appealed to the imagination of Bonaparte, did not mature in Mehemet Ali's days, but many years before Lesseps carried it through it had found warm advocates amongst the British rulers of India, and Mehemet Ali gave every assistance to the Commission which went out in 1847 to study the question on the spot. If it was not carried out under British auspices, the blame lies not on Mehemet Ali but on the short-sighted opposition of our own people at home. To his cordial co-operation a large measure of credit may at any rate be given for the success which in, 1845 at last attended Waghorn's persevering efforts to open up the " Overland Route" for mails and passengers to India and China across the Delta through Alexandria and Suez—an enterprise which prepared tita way for the Suez Canal. Waghorn in return defended the cause of his great patron with unflagging devotion in England, and he displayed not only his personal gratitude, but perhaps greater political wisdom than the British Ministers of the day possessed, when lie wrote a pamphlet on " Egypt in 1837," in which he appealed to British members of Parliament " to showWithin the first year of the Occupation