Skip to main content

Full text of "The Egyptian Problem"

See other formats

76                    THE EGYPTIAN PROBLEM                 CHAP.
courts, where Egypt was not fettered by actual treaty engagements, a clean sweep of a system founded on French substantive law and procedure, and some early and rather injudicious attempts, of which Lord Cromer himself misdoubted the wisdom, were made to introduce Englishmen into the Ministry of Justice, and to strengthen the European element in the native courts by appointing a larger proportion of foreign judges—measures which two Prime Ministers so widely different as Nubar and Riaz successively resisted. But no new departure of abiding importance was made until Lord Crdmer had satisfied himself that the time had arrived, not for any revolutionary changes, but for a careful inquiry into the existing system with a view to the removal of the more glaring evils. Sir John Scott was brought in 1890 from the High Courts of Bombay to be the first Judicial Adviser to the Egyptian Government. A better choice could hardly have been made, for he was cautious and tactful, and his recent Indian experience, together with an earlier knowledge of Egyptian conditions, had taught him how far it is possible to harmonise Western and Eastern conceptions of justice. He and his successor, Sir Malcolm Macllwraith, confined themselves to practical though not unimportant measures of reform, intended to simplify procedure and to diminish the interminable delays of the law. In order to do something for the improvement of the Mehkemeh Sheraieh, the courts which administer Mahomedan sacred law, Lord Cromer applied himself not unsuccessfully to secure the cooperation of Sheikh Mohamed Abdu, a remarkable personality, who had been one of Arabi's ardent followers and had come round to believe that British influence was being honestly directed towards some at least of the best purposes which the few enlightened Nationalists of 1882 had had at heart.
Western education, originally imported into Egypt under French auspices in Mehemet Ali's time, was likewise cast in a French mould. It was not substantially to make, at least in the native