CHAPTER V A PERIOD OF TRANSITION LORD CROMER'S retirement marked the end of a period. He was conscious of it himself, not because he was one of those who believe that no one is capable of filling their place, but because he felt that the conditions which had enabled him to concentrate in his own hands the immense influence he had wielded to the best of his great abilities were passing away—had in fact already passed away—and that the days of a paternal autocracy almost unlimited within its sphere were over. He had himself had to create the machinery best calculated in his judgment to reconcile the needs of Egypt with the entanglements of a political situation which the British Government had always hesitated to define, and clumsy as in the circumstances that machinery was bound to be, he had been able to keep it in fairly smooth working order because it was he who had built it, piece by piece, and he kept a close and constant touch with, and was always accessible to, the small but picked body of Englishmen who ran it under his guidance and supervision. One of the most notable features of British control during that first period is the small number of British officials then employed in Egypt, though the best work we have done in that country was accomplished during that period. But the machinery, to which new pieces had been necessarily added from time to time to meet the steady expansion of the work it had to do, had already 81 „ m ft lot of the brute creation has not escaped the eyes of the reformer ; that the solidarity of interests between the governors and the governed has been recognised in theory and in practice ; that every act of the Administration even if at times mistaken —for no one is infallible—bears the mark of honesty of purpose and an earnest desire to secure the well-being of the population ; and further, that the funds, very much reduced in amount, which are now taken from the pockets of the taxpayers, instead of being, for the most part, spent on useless palaces and other objects in which they were in no degree interested, are devoted to purposes which are of real benefit to the country ? If all these, and many other points to which I could allude, do not constitute some moral advancement, then, of a truth, I do not know what the word morality implies."