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A PERIOD OF TRANSITION
Mixed Commissions except in regard to municipal finance, were introduced in twenty-seven smaller towns with the object of stimulating their interest in the management of their own affairs, but in all these Government still had to defray all expenditure.
If, on the other hand, the Press was to be taken as reflecting the sentiments or expressing the opinion of young Egypt, the outlook was discouraging. Tew of the foreign newspapers published in Egypt, though their number was considerable, had ever set before the Egyptians any very high standard of journalism. They catered each for its own small circle of readers belonging to different nationalities, and their horizon was generally narrow. The Franco-Egyptian Press during the first fifteen years of the Occupation had set a deplorable example in its calculated malevolence towards the British controlling power and indeed towards every British official in Egypt. It is perhaps not very surprising that the native Press followed suit. Journalism was not regarded at first as a profession of much account. It attracted chiefly the failures of the Europeanised schools and colleges, whose hopes of employment in the public services had been disappointed, and who were proportionately embittered. The ordinary Egyptian who has a small difference of opinion with his neighbour at once shrieks at the top of his voice, cursing his antagonist's forebears to the third or fourth generation, whilst the other neighbours gather round to enjoy the ferocious repartees that are bandied about. The newspapers caught that unfortunate habit, and it evidently was to the taste of their readers, for violence was invariably rewarded with an increasing circulation. One of the worst tendencies they developed was to show gross intolerance and unfairness towards all those who differed from them, and polemics on public questions were apt to degenerate into personal attacks which savoured sometimes of blackmail. Newspaper proprietors were mostly 'men of straw open to various methods of Oriental persua-
I The idea of paying voluntary taxes was at first very