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Full text of "The Egyptian Problem"

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xv                    THE MILNER COMMISSION                   263
th§ advisory functions of the British control had been fitfully woven during nearly four decades of British occupation, and to devise a system of advisory co-operation free from* the reproach of arbitrary interference.
What the Commission cannot have been prepared for, since British Ministers had shown no signs of realising it and Lord Allenby himself had conveyed no hint of it in the rosy-coloured speech he had recently delivered at the Guildhall, was the situation in Egypt itself, or the reception that awaited it on arrival. During the eight months which had elapsed since the first announcement of Lord Miner's mission, we had fallen back into the old policy of drift, whilst the Egyptian Party of Independence had been working indefatigably, and, as the event proved, very successfully, to persuade the Egyptian people to have nothing whatever to do with the Commission and to oppose a solid wall of passive resistance, not only to the inquiry which it came out to conduct, but also to the very premises on which that inquiry was instituted, namely, the maintenance of the British Protectorate. Whether the resistance would have proved equally stubborn had one or two responsible Egyptians been invited to join the Commission when it was constituted, or had been co-opted on to it when it reached Cairo, is a question that the Egyptians themselves never seem to have raised.
In the presence of this organised opposition, the Commission had necessarily to modify its programme, but it never flinched from its task, which was more than ample for the short time allotted to it. As it had always contemplated, it stayed three months in Egypt. They were three very strenuous months and cannot have been very pleasant ones for its members. For on the surface the tactics of the Party of Independence were extremely successful. The boycott proclaimed by it against the Commission before it reached Egypt was rigidly enforced, not only against the Commission collectively in Cairo, but against individual members who attempted excur-ities into which the executive authority vested in the Egyptian Government alone anday be doubted—especially in o particular case which Egyptian public opinion, rightly that Egypt' wan quit** unripe for such democratic