Skip to main content

Full text of "The Egyptian Problem"

See other formats

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