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||j.   "                                      276                       THE EGYPTIAN PROBLEM                   CHAJ?.                      I
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U i j|!;                                   it was boldly planned and well carried out.   Martial law                    !
<;'« ii!                                   might have prevented the meeting being held at all, but                    f
Lord Allenby may well have thought it impolitic to presume unlawful action on the part of :members of so responsible a body. When it had taken place, he immediately issued a proclamation under martial law forbidding its repetition under severe penalties, and the preventive censorship of the Press having been revived under martial law only a few days previously, all reference to the meeting in ZaghluTs house was strictly excluded from the news-papers.
Apart from constitutional difficulties from which proclamations under martial law afford at present the only practical means of escape, martial law is also the only reserve force that upholds the authority, in itself more nominal than real, of Egyptian Ministers and even of the head of the State. That whilst Sultan and Ministers acquiesced in the dispatch of the Milner Commission to Egypt and gave it an official welcome they were powerless to prevent the boycott to which it was subjected by order of the Party of Independence gives the measure of their actual authority in the country.
Sultan Fuad was a child when he accompanied Ms father, the Khedive Ismail, into exile in 1879, and he spent so much of his life abroad, mostly in Italy, that he has never learnt to speak Arabic properly. It is not altogether his fault that he is looked upon as a foreigner rather than an Egyptian, and that the Mahomedans distrust even his orthodoxy. Unfortunately, he lacks even the qualities which make for popularity in the East. He never shows himself to his people, and he spends his extravagant Civil List on the pomp and circumstance of the little Court he holds in his Palace of Abdeen, very rarely venturing outside its gates, and surrounded by a small ring of courtiers, many of whom are undesirable survivals from the ex-Khedive's entourage. The Egyptian public, to whom he is unknown, swallows greedily all the stories told against him, which one can only hope contain many other nations hud