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Full text of "The Egyptian Problem"

36
THE EGYPTIAN  PROBLEM
CHAP.
a new Cabinet, formed of men who " enjoyed the public confidence and esteem "—two of them, as a matter of fact, were notorious for their corruption—with "the preparation of electoral laws upon the model of those which existed in Europe " for the election of a parliamentary assembly " in conformity with the exigencies of the internal situation and the aspirations of the nation."
It was an audacious move, but it came too late. The final report of the Commission of Inquiry had probed too deeply the evils from which Egypt was suffering, and had made a series of far-reaching recommendations which, though as essential to the welfare of the Egyptian people as to the legitimate interests of Egypt's creditors abroad, could not possibly be carried into successful execution except with the consent and co-operation of the Egyptian ruler. That consent and co-operation it was hopeless to look for from Ismail, and so Ismail had at last to go. The British and French Governments prevailed upon the Sultan of Turkey to issue a Firman deposing him and appointing his eldest son, Tewfik, to succeed him as Khedive. Ismail, to give him his due, bowed submissively to the inevitable, and retired with dignity. This was in June, 1879, just sixteen years after his accession. He was a bad ruler with no title to fame except preeminence as a spendthrift, but inasmuch as the very enormity of his extravagance precipitated the downfall of the old despotic order of things, he too may be called a maker of modern Egypt.
Ismail's swan song as a champion of democratic institutions was not entirely wasted upon the Egyptian people, who understood only enough of the bewildering events of the last few years to realise that Egypt was in the throes of a great and mysterious revolution of which they were impotent spectators, and might yet have to pay the costs. The deposition of a Khedive so recently all-powerful had shaken their faith in the divine right of rulers. They had little reason to believe in the good will or the good faith of Europeans, whom they not un-y approved."   He  had  therefore  determined  to   entrust