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Full text of "The Egyptian Problem"

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ii         FROM MEHEMET ALI TO THE OCCUPATION       39
Cairo to Alexandria.   This was the signal for a third mutiny.    Arabi, with 2,500 men and 18 guns, marched into  Abdeen Square.   There was a  dramatic moment when the Khedive, accompanied by Sir Auckland Colvin, who  had succeeded Baring the  year  before as  Commissioner of the Debt, faced Arabi in the square and ordered him to sheathe his sword.    This Arabi did, but proceeded to intimate that he was there to enforce three demands  " in the name of the Egyptian people " :  the dismissal of the Ministry, the convocation of a Parliament, and the raising of the strength of the army to 18,000 men.    This was no longer a mere military mutiny.   It was a military pronunciamiento.     The Khedive's judgment failed him at the crucial moment.    Had he then ordered Arabi to withdraw his troops as he had ordered him to sheathe his sword, stating plainly that, whilst always willing to listen to the wishes of his people, he could not recognise the army as the proper channel for their  expression,  he  might  have  been master  of  the situation.     But he lacked moral rather than physical courage.    He turned to Colvin, exclaiming, " You hear what he says J?; and was evidently ready to parley then and there with the military chiefs.    Had he done so, there would have been an end not only of his own authority but of all civil authority.    Colvin saw the danger and urged  him to withdraw  to  the  Palace.    Negotiations followed which were at first stormy, but ultimately led to another  compromise  under  the  steadying influence of a new factor which, to the surprise of both parties, showed itself equally determined to  resist  a military dictatorship   and any revival of Khedivial prerogatives. This new factor was the Chamber of Notables, which met on September 13th—exactly a year before the battle of Tel-el-Kebir,  which  would   perhaps  never  have  been fought had the Khedive known how to utilise unfamiliar forces of which he was still too inexperienced to appreciate the value.   If he dreaded a mutinous soldiery, all his instincts and traditions revolted against the interferencen 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,