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Full text of "The Egyptian Problem"

n        FROM MEHEMET ALI TO THE OCCUPATION       29
deserted because even the Tcurbash applied to the soles of the fellaheen's feet could no longer wring a piastre out of them to meet taxes often levied three or four times over, and so even their land had been taken away from them in payment; the crowds of wailing women and emaciated children begging for a husk of maize ; misery and despair up and down that incomparable valley of the Nile whilst Ismail held his Court in Cairo, and those who preyed upon him, Egyptians and Europeans alike, battened on his profligate extravagance.
My Nationalist friend, who was a doctor, shifted his ground and assured me that at any rate far more encouragement was given to education, and especially to education for the scientific professions, than under the British. I invited him to read for himself the description given by Dr. Sandwith of the Kasr-el-Aini Hospital, then the only, and still the chief, general hospital in Cairo, as he saw it when he was first placed in charge of it after the Occupation. I happen to be one of the few foreigners probably now living who ever visited it before the Occupation, and I could therefore vouch, not, of course, for all the details contained in Dr. Sandwith's report, but for the truth of the appalling picture which it presents.
" The building consisted of a quadrangle surrounding waste land, studded with huge lebbek trees, which kept air and light from the windows. The walls contained nests of living snakes, in holes from which, the plaster had long crumbled away. The ground floor was composed chiefly of dark, damp store-rooms, for here were situated the central stores of equipment for all the Government hospitals. The pharmacy was the one bright and fairly clean place, and near by were several bins full of mouldy sulphate of iron, which seems to have been, a favourite antiseptic against cholera. The patients' wards, as now, were in the upper two stories, but so closed in by doors and windows that there was an overpowering smell, and practically no ventilation, for most of them were very small, measuring only 17 ft. by 13 ft. The floors were .made of broken, ill-fitting c ballats,' which, being porous, soaked in any septic liquids, while the rough walls and wooden ceilings were infested with bugs. The beds were in the same condition, for they were wooden planks.   We have   continued much