ii FROM MEHEMET ALI TO THE OCCUPATION 35
to the Commission of Inquiry, he had now won the second from his obnoxious Ministers, and he had yet a card up his sleeve with which he was confident of winning " the conqueror."
Though the British and French Governments had hitherto acted in full accord, there were sections of public opinion in both countries to which the policy of their Governments did not appeal. In Great Britain especially there were many who chose to believe that their Government was being used as a catspaw by the big financial houses interested in Egyptian loans. In France, on th& contrary, there were still more who were afraid that the interests of the bondholders would be sacrificed to sentimental considerations, or who, imbued with the old jealousy of England, suspected her of trying to oust France from the pre-eminent position which, according to French traditions, rightfully belonged to her. Ismail was quick to see that in both countries there were discordant elements which he might exploit for his own purposes if he appealed to them in the modern language of democracy. His knowledge of Europeans was superficial and shallow, but he was quick-witted, and the idea of fooling Europe at its own game appealed to his unfailing sense of humour. While the foreign representatives in Cairo were discussing with their own Governments how to recover the authority they had lost with the fall of the Nubar Ministry, and had as they thought squared the circle by securing the appointment of the heir apparent, Prince Tewfik, to preside over the Cabinet, the Khedive came out in the new character of an ardent democrat who considered it his " sacred duty " to consult the opinion of his people, whose " national sentiment "—as voiced by a subservient Chamber of Notables—had " revolted " against Ministers who dealt with Egypt " as if the country were in a state of bankruptcy/' ' The Notables had submitted to him— by superior order—a financial project of which he " fully approved." He had therefore determined to entrust
%>/ ***f his own free will, the exception being beggars who were driven there by poverty. The public of Cairo firmly believed that the hospital was merely a prelude to the cemetery, and that the sick were beaten and robbed by the attendants,