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Full text of "The Egyptian Problem"

A PERIOD OF  TRANSITION
87
the British officers of the frontier force he had just reviewed, and then with Cromer by wantonly provoking a Ministerial crisis. The result of these petulant outbreaks in both cases taught him to be more discreet as long as Lord Cromer remained in Egypt. Nevertheless, the influence, however circumscribed, which the head of the State can always find opportunities of exercising, was henceforth used, whenever and wherever he thought he could safely do so, for petty intrigues and irritating obstruction.
How was the younger generation of Egyptians likely to shape that had been growing up since the Occupation ? Would it provide the active support for which even in questions most vital to the material progress of Egypt Lord Cromer had looked, generally in vain, to the older generation ? Would it accept even with the same reluctant submission as its elders the continuance of an alien tutelage ? Would it apply itself seriously to the work of social and religious reform, which alone can rescue a nation from the tyranny of ancient customs and beliefs, and train it up to modern conceptions of progress and freedom ? Would it learn the right lessons from Western education and increasing contact with the West ? Would it resist the temptations of the worse side of Western civilisation and absorb its better spirit ? An educated or semi-educated middle class, small in numbers but of considerable potential influence, was growing up, with new aspirations and a new sense of independence. There were signs that a new Egypt was in the making. Was it to be really a new Egypt rebuilt on more solid social foundations and fashioned on finer moral and intellectual lines, or was it to be only the old Egypt over again, in which " the big fish swallow the small," with just a sham Western fa┬žade ?
There were only a few tests that could be applied for the purpose of answering these questions. Egypt had been endowed with rudimentary representative institutions according to the recommendations embodied in Lord Dufferin's Report of 1883, to which effect was
IV.hich he could clearlynterested, 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."