mn CLAIM TO "COMPLETE INDEPENDENCE" 151
that had suddenly sprung up with the fabulous harvest of wealth reaped during the war by everyone who owned any land. Nationalism afforded in many cases the novel excitement and notoriety of political activity, and as money was always forthcoming to provide the necessary sinews of agitation, politics became for the first time a paying as well as a patriotic trade.
Mixed with some meaner elements there was at the back of the movement some real earnestness of purpose and a genuine faith in the high ideals set by the Allied statesmen before their peoples during the war, and in the advent of a new and better world in which, according to President Wilson, " the rights of the weakest shall be as sacred as those of the strongest." To the Egyptian masses political theories and arguments had meant nothing before the war. But in Egypt, as in every other country, all the conditions of life, and especially the enormous rise in prices, had produced a wave of social unrest which took many different forms. Whilst the politically-minded classes for the most part held their peace so long as hostilities lasted and seemed to accept even the Protectorate with passive resignation, the poorer classes in the towns had been taught, either by their own hardships, which had been growing steadily more acute since the proclamation of the Protectorate, or by an insidious propaganda, to associate all their new grievances with the fateful word Protectorate, which they readily believed to mean " slavery." For the rise in wages, considerable as it had been, had often not kept pace with the inordinate rise in prices for the very necessities of life. This was the case amongst the landless labourers in the rural districts, and still more in the urban centres, where the lower classes—workmen, carters, cab-drivers, shopkeepers, and a host of minor employees—were hard put to it to make both ends meet.
Is it surprising that when these humble folk, whose ignorance is abysmal, saw their country swarming asclass of idle ricost momentous decision. The British Government, still believing apparently that the Nationalist movement was merely the outcome of a shallow propaganda engineered by a handful of discontented politicians, imagined they could stamp it out by striking at the leaders. At six o'clock on the afternoon of March 6th,it of havin