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CH.XV                THE MILNER COMMISSION                    261
Commission shared with the recently created Ministry of Communications the newest and latest of Cairo hotels, 1j                the Semiramis, and from their windows they could look
across the Nile to the unchanging Pyramids and the Sphinx with the subtle smile,. whose riddle they, like so many others before them, had come out to try to solve. Was it to baffle them too ?
Could their task have been kept within the four corners of the declaration of policy which Lord Allenby had brought out from England, it might have been relatively easy. In the light of the terms of reference framed for them with unabated optimism by the Home Government, they may well have regarded the problem in front of them as not altogether unlike that which Mr. Montagu had gone out to India during the war to study with the Viceroy, viz., that of setting the feet of an Oriental people on the path of self-government, and it must have seemed to them of good omen that the elaborate report which the Secretary of State for India had brought home with him was just then bearing fruit in a new Government of India Act, unanimously passed by both Houses of Parliament, which bore emphatic testimony to the sincere determination of the British people to share the benefits of their own free institutions with all nations brought within the orbit of the British Empire.
In India, indeed, we were breaking fresh ground, whereas in Egypt the soil was already to some extent, though badly, prepared. Egypt already had in its Legislative Assembly and Provincial Councils representative bodies which, however restricted their powers, had always been composed of Egyptians alone. The whole framework of government and administration was already Egyptian and was bound to remain Egyptian, and there could be no question of dividing up the executive into separate British and native compartments.
From the point of view of introducing democratic institutions, the problem doubtless looked much less complex in such a small country as Egypt with a noww men of someys invited in the sai way to withdraw into the country, was always equa deserved or wise may be doubted—especially in o particular case which Egyptian public opinion, rightly that Egypt' wan quit** unripe for such democratic