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Full text of "The Egyptian Problem"

22                      THE EGYPTIAN PROBLEM                CHAP.
of existing treaties, he proceeded to abolish all the trade monopolies and to close the factories created by Mehemet Ali which had brought him into direct contact with the European merchants. To that extent the fellaheen, for whom Abbas had even less pity than his grandfather, benefited by his reversal of Mehemet Ali's policy, for it restored to them the advantages of a free market for their produce. They benefited also by a large reduction of the Egyptian army, which was cut down to 9,000 men, and they welcomed the momentary relief from the intolerable pressure of the corvee brought by the abandonment of many public works which Mehemet Ali had started. But if Abbas ever contemplated any constructive policy to follow the uprooting of Mehemet Ali's work, he was not given time to disclose it. For within five years of his accession he was murdered in his palace by two of his slaves, leaving none to mourn him. Sullen and morose, his life was a mystery to his own people, who whispered to one another revolting tales of the cruelties in which he delighted. To the foreigners in Egypt he stood for insane reaction and fanaticism.
Said, who succeeded him, was a younger son of Mehemet Ali, and if he inherited very little of his father's ability, he carried to still greater lengths his liking for European customs and European society. He had had a French education, he was of a tolerant and cheerful disposition, and he was never seen to more advantage than when he was dispensing hospitality. His vanity was unbounded and he prided himself on being a good administrator, because the country had begun to recover its extraordinary natural prosperity with more than fifteen years of external peace. There was no public debt, and a revenue of about £3,000,000 amply covered expenditure. The first railway in Egypt between Alexandria and Cairo had been built in his predecessor's time at the instance of Great Britain. Said steadily extended the railway system and developed the canals for purposes both of transportation and ofwrote a pamphlet on " Egypt in 1837," in which he appealed to British members of Parliament " to showWithin the first year of the Occupation