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Full text of "The Egyptian Problem"

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ordinarily sensitive and apt to think that offence is meant when none is quite intended. But they could hardly be so common and rankle so deeply had there not been a good deal of substance in them. The resentment was all the greater as the assumption of superiority seemed to have coincided, generally speaking, with a diminution of real capacity. For it happened that just at this time the effect of creating a regular Civil Service with a necessarily very small cadre made itself felt in the difficulty of satisfying reasonable claims to promotion within so narrow a field of selection. So whilst on the one hand a considerable increase was taking place in the total number of Englishmen employed in relatively subordinate positions, which created great discontent amongst the Egyptians, there was a frequent shuffling and reshuffling of posts in the higher ranks, and appointments even of Advisers, which gave rise to equally adverse criticism. If, as Lord Cromer had always insisted, we were acting as trustees for the people of Egypt, it was our bounden duty to select men for the discharge of the different branches of our trust who could show at least prima facie evidence of qualification. When all that an Egyptian could be told in justification of the appointment of a particular Adviser to his Department was that he would soon learn his work, the Egyptian could well reply that Advisers were supposed to be appointed, not to learn their job, but to teach it. The confused cross-currents of Cairo politics were another disturbing factor that tended to increase the friction, always more or less unavoidable, under a system in which both power and responsibility are ill-defined, and the British official who is supposed only to advise is often sorely tempted, however scrupulous he may be, to trespass on the executive authority, usually reservedg the recognised position of leader of Anglo-Egyptian society to set the example.