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Full text of "The Egyptian Problem"

A PERIOD OF  TRANSITION
83
compelled meanwhile to put aside as beyond his reach. No sooner, indeed, had the Anglo-French Convention been signed than he devoted the short time still left to him to the preparation of an exhaustive scheme for a far-reacBdng revision of the Capitulations, which had been outside the range of practical politics until it became possible to count on the friendly co-operation instead of the stubborn opposition of France, and to hold out to the other Powers, as a sure safeguard for the interests of their communities, the prospect of an indefinite continuance of British control.
Lord Cromer was at the same time not unconscious that there were among the Egyptian people themselves the stirrings of a new spirit which might, if prudently encouraged and directed, rally new forces to the cause of progress and reform in those very spheres of national life upon which alien agencies were unsuited to bring any controlling influence directly to bear. He believed that the Egyptians had to work out their moral and intellectual salvation for themselves. What he had regarded as his primary duty was to redeem them from material conditions of abject misery and despair which paralyse all moral and intellectual effort. It was an achievement that had been within his compass, because sound statesmanship, exceptional powers of organisation, unremitting vigilance, and unwearying perseverance could command success ; because in the main it needed only a succession of practical measures in which cause and effect could be accurately calculated ; because he was in a position to supply the driving power in the shape of an efficient and upright staff of workers, and to uphold their authority against all serious attempts at indigenous obstruction.
The moral and intellectual regeneration of a people is not a task in which it is possible for any man or group of men to command success—least of all if they are aliens and of a different religion and civilisation. For it provokes at once the resistance of incalculable forces,
G 2e was 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."