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Full text of "The Egyptian Problem"

n        FROM MEHEMET ALI TO THE OCCUPATION       25
early morning the Minister, all-powerful the day before, who had but just dined at his master's table, had been dragged out of bed and conveyed in one of the closed carriages of the Jiareem down to the Nile, where he was put on tp the Khedivial steamer, which steamed at once up the river. None ventured to enquire as to his fate* Only a scar as of teeth on the hand of the officer charged to see him on board was said to tell a grim tale of some last desperate struggle for freedom or for life. He was gone. His palaces and his estates and the vast fortune he had accumulated were confiscated, his great establishments scattered, and his slaves put up to private auction. Yet the Khedive appeared the same night at the Opera, which was one of his many extravagant hobbies, and a few days later I saw him at one of the great functions at which he delighted in displaying a more than royal and slightly barbaric hospitality, though his Court was modelled on European lines. He was stout and jovial, and chatted merrily in his curious slipshod French, almost every sentence ending irrelevantly with comme-ci, comme-ga, etc. He had a pleasant word for all his visitors and a ready compliment for every European lady. No one could look more free from black care, let alone from the shadow of black deeds.
Nevertheless, he was already desperately far gone on his Rake's Progress. The whole story of his reign is one of colossal and inept extravagance, and it is after all so sordid a story that it would scarcely deserve to be recalled, had it not been pregnant with consequences of decisive importance to Egypt and to Britain. It can be recalled very briefly, for there is scarcely anything of value to be placed against the monotonous record of debts piled on to debts with increasing frequency and on more and more usurious terms, though, thanks largely to the tremendous rise in the price of cotton during the American Civil War, the "Egyptian revenue had risen to about £7,000,000 per annum. Within the first five years of his reign he had borrowed £11,000,000 abroad ande.   And on this occasion rumour was no lying jade.    In theament " to showWithin the first year of the Occupation