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Full text of "The Egyptian Problem"

ii        FROM MEHEMET ALI TO THE OCCUPATION       23
irrigation. He was a bit of a farmer and he liked to display a paternal interest in the fellaheen, who obtained some further recognition of their rights in the land* He hated quarrelling with anyone, and he tried not un-successfijlly to cultivate friendly relations with all the Powers. He readily gave permission for British troops to be rushed across Egypt during the Indian Mutiny ; he gave a concession to the Eastern Telegraph Company and welcomed the foundation of an English bank. The most important enterprise with which his name wiE be connected in history was the Suez Canal, for which he granted the original concession in 1856 under political pressure from France, and perhaps even more under the personal pressure of Lesseps, whom he had known and liked from his boyhood. Its construction proved a far heavier drain upon the financial resources of Egypt than he was led at the time to anticipate, and whether it has really enured on the whole to the benefit of Egypt is still open to debate. British opposition to the scheme soon became as obsolete as the scepticism which at the time scorned even its feasibility. It has succeeded beyond all calculation, and it has certainly exercised a great and perhaps decisive influence on the destinies of Egypt. To that extent Said, though a man of no importance, must rank with Mehemet Ali as a maker of modern Egypt. But just as, rightly or wrongly, he could not bring himself to deny Lesseps, so, in smaller matters, he could never say " No " to his friends, and many were the foreign adventurers who wormed themselves into his friendship. His very generosity prompted him to extravagance, and he started Egyptian finance on the downward plane by being the first to contract a foreign loan on the European money market. He died soon, afterwards, still a relatively young man, and the succession passed to his nephew Ismail, a son of Ibrahim, who was only thirty-three years old and soon followed Said down the same plane with immeasurably greater recklessness and rapidity.nsportation 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