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Full text of "The Egyptian Problem"

20
THE EGYPTIAN PROBLEM
CH. I
the germ of Egyptian Nationalism. The Nationalists of to-day forget that the autonomy he wrung from the Sublime Porte never meant freedom for their forefathers, but only freedom for himself to rule them according to his own will; that the chosen instruments of his will remained for the most part aliens in stock and "language as he himself was ; that he and his successors continued to treat the Egyptian masses as their chattels until the British Occupation; but the instinct is nevertheless not wholly unsound which prompts them to look upon Mehemet Ali as not only the creator of modern Egypt but the pioneer of Egyptian Nationalism.e which Great Britain had already then acquired. French statesmen thought only of courting Mehemet Ali's friendship as that of a valuable chessman on the crowded board of international diplomacy. What he did with his own people they cared not at all. Had British statesmen taken him in hand, they might have taught him the principles which they themselves were beginning to apply to the governance of the greatest of our own Oriental dependencies, that the secret of strength lay in the welfare and contentment of the masses. For with all his faults, and imbued as he was with the traditions of Oriental despotism, Mehemet Ali was easily receptive of new ideas. In his own selfish way, he took a genuine pride in the country to which his star had guided him. " I love Egypt/5 he had told Burckhardt, " with the ardour of a lover, and if I had ten thousand lives, I would willingly sacrifice them all to possess her/5 He did not make of Egypt a nation, for, himself an alien by birth, the people of Egypt were so little to him that he never even learnt to speak their language. Yet by giving Egypt for the first time a place and a name in modern history, and securing, at the cost of however tremendous sacrifices, a measure of autonomy which at least released her from the direct grip of predatory Turkish officials, he created in the rising generations of Egyptians a sense of pride in their country which became