Skip to main content

Full text of "The Egyptian Problem"

See other formats

74                      THE EGYPTIAN  PROBLEM                CHAP.
about 1,100,000 landowners were dealt with. The number of appeals diminished steadily and about two-thirds were dismissed. No other measure brought home more directly to the fellaheen the desire of the British control to do even-handed justice to poor and«rich alike. It served also, like the irrigation works, to bring the fellaheen into constant and close contact with the British officials, who in turn gained an intimate acquaintance with the country, as they had generally to camp near to their work and all day long they moved about among the people in their fields and villages.
These were the measures and the methods and the men that, with Lord Cromer's driving power behind them, produced not only prosperity but confidence in the beneficent Power whose presence in Egypt had transformed the face of the country. The days of the Oppression were still fresh in the fellaheen's memory and the sense of relief was paramount. With the reorganisation of the army begun by Sir Evelyn Wood, military service, though it never became popular with the Egyptians, was robbed of its old terrors. Conscripts too poor to bribe the authorities were no longer marched off handcuffed and in chains like hunted criminals. People came to know that the rules which now governed both conscription and exemption were enforced with fairness to all under the supervision of British officers, who insisted on discipline and obedience, but not on bakshish, and treated their men as human beings and not as slaves. When in Kitchener's hands the Egyptian army had been converted into a well-equipped and efficient force, and had shown itself capable of playing a creditable part in the reconquest of the Sudan, Egyptian mothers ceased even to regard the Sudan any longer as the certain grave of every Egyptian soldier that was sent in former times to serve and, more often than not, to die there.
That in other directions progress was slower and more doubtful did not directly affect the welfare and the contentment of the masses. They heartily dislikedand