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Full text of "The Egyptian Problem"

A  PERIOD  OF  TRANSITION
93
far from independent, political entity under the Treaties and Firmans of 1840-1841, and it tended at the same time to stimulate amongst the Egyptian people a sense of nationhood, which led the more impatient amongst them to resent being kept in tutelage even by the Power whose authority shielded them from aggression. Benefits conferred by another nation seldom elicit any deep or abiding gratitude, and a new generation was growing up in Egypt which had not known Pharaoh and could not draw for itself the only rational conclusions possible from a comparison between the cruel hardships of the old regime and the occasional and much slighter vexations of the new order of things. As the number of British newcomers increased who knew little of the people or of their habits and language, friction became more frequent. The lamentable Denshawi incident is not forgotten to the present day. The extreme severity of the judicial retribution that followed an affray between ignorant, if brutal, villagers and a small party of British officers out shooting was honestly regarded by most Egyptians, and not only by Egyptians, as needlessly vindictive. No Englishman can read the story of the wretched men's execution without a qualm of compunction. Trivial grievances, often of a personal character, help to explain the increasing jealousy of British ascendancy in the newly-educated classes and especially amongst Egyptian officials, but it is Denshawi that rankled in the memory of the fellaheen.
Pew Egyptians, however, at that time denied that they had learnt many admirable lessons from us, but they claimed that there were other and greater lessons which they had been learning for themselves from contact with the Western civilisation brought by us as never before to their very doors. Why should we continue to deny to them the opportunity of applying to the governance of their own country the principles of freedom . to which we professed to owe our own greatness ? Why should we refuse them the rights of self-government neither unnatural nor reprehensible. The resistance which British protection enabled Egypt to offer to any further encroachments by Turkey and by the other Powers on Egyptian rights had to that extent strengthened her position as a separate, though still * good sense to set the example, became reconciled to it, and by the year 1906 Mixed Municipal Commissions, on which Egyptians and foreigners sat together, had been established in Mansourah and five other important s                        towns, the Central Government merely making certain