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Title: Bonaparte in Egypt and the Egyptians of To-day
Author: Browne, Haji A.
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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"In proportion as we love truth more and victory less, we shall become
anxious to know what it is which leads our opponents to think as they


(_All rights reserved._)


Eight years have passed since I first conceived the idea of writing
this book, but it was not until about two years ago that I was able to
find time to put together a first rough outline of the form I wished
it to take. In the interval I have been obliged from time to time to
lay it aside altogether; and, at the most favourable times, have never
had more than a few hours a week to devote to it. I had just completed
what I had intended to be the last chapter, when events occurred that
obliged me to rewrite it, and, that I might do so fitly, await the
issue of those events. As the book now stands it is at best but a mere
outline. A larger volume than this might easily be written upon each
of several of the subjects I have but glanced at, yet I hope I have
succeeded in giving a connected and intelligible sketch and one
sufficient for the attainment of the chief object I have had in view,
that of presenting the Egyptian as he really is to the many who,
whether living in Egypt or out of it, have but few and imperfect
opportunities of learning to understand him. For over thirty years I
have given of all I have had to give, for the promotion of two
objects: first, that Pan-Islamism, which I conceive to be the true
interest of the Islamic world; and, secondly, the development of
friendly relations between the Moslems of the East and the British
Empire. How much, or how little, I have been able to accomplish
towards the fulfilment of my aims it is impossible for me to estimate,
but from boyhood I have had an earnest faith in the belief that right
and truth must in the end prevail, and that he who works for these, or
for what he honestly believes these to be, never works in vain.

Knowing the Egyptian as I know him, I cannot but think that he is
greatly misunderstood, even by those who are sincerely anxious to
befriend him. His faults and his failings are to be found at large in
almost any of the scores of books that have of late years been written
about him and his country; but, though not a few have given him credit
for some of his more salient good points, yet none that I have seen
have shown any just appreciation of him as he really is.

CAIRO, _May, 1907_.


  CHAPTER                                       PAGE

      I.  THE STORY OF ONE HUNDRED YEARS           9

     II.  LINKS WITH THE PAST                     22

    III.  THE DAWN OF THE NEW PERIOD              34

     IV.  A COUNCIL OF STATE                      48

      V.  THE PROCLAMATION THAT FAILED            64


    VII.  AFTER THE BATTLE                        94

   VIII.  VICTORS AND VANQUISHED                 109

     IX.  THE GATHERING OF A STORM               128

      X.  THE BURSTING OF THE STORM              150

     XI.  AFTER THE STORM                        174

    XII.  PEACE WITHOUT HONOUR                   197

   XIII.  THE SIEGE OF CAIRO                     217

    XIV.  THE PRICE OF PEACE                     237

     XV.  AN UNGRATEFUL PEOPLE                   259


   XVII.  FACHODA AND AFTER                      294

  XVIII.  HEALTHY INFLUENCES                     311

    XIX.  UNHEALTHY INFLUENCES                   336

     XX.  MORE UNHEALTHY INFLUENCES              359

    XXI.  TO-DAY AND TO-MORROW                   382

    INDEX                                        401





It was the 23rd of June, 1898. The day in Cairo had been unusually hot
and oppressive, but as the sun went down, a cool wind from the north
came blowing softly over the city.

I was then living in a little corner of the old town still wholly
untouched by the ruthless hand of the "reform" that, in every other
part, was busy marring with modern "improvements" the old-time charm
of the "City of the Caliphs."

As midnight approached, I went up on the roof to enjoy the cool
freshness and quiet of the night, and the stillness was almost
unbroken. Now and then in the narrow lanes below, the watchmen, who in
their drab-coloured coats and with long staffs and lanterns in their
hands, made one think of Old London and the days of Dogberry, called
to one another or challenged some belated passer-by, and at times a
murmuring echo told of the restless traffic and turbulent life yet
stirring in the carriage-crowded streets of the European quarters of
the town, but otherwise the silence was undisturbed.

As I stood there, leaning on the parapet of the roof, my thoughts
wandered back to the night, just one hundred years before, the 23rd of
June, 1798, when possibly some wakeful citizen had stood, perhaps on
the very spot on which I was then standing, and gazed upon the very
scene, the same limited range of housetops and sidewalls, that was
around me. That distant night is one of which the historians of the
country make no mention, and yet it is one most worthy of note, as
having been at once one of the most peaceful and one of the most
memorable Cairo has ever known. Peaceful, for, when not lured from his
slumbers by one of the night-quenching festivals he so dearly loves,
the Cairene is an early and a sound sleeper, and being then, as now,
blessed with an easy-going conscience and unbounded faith in the
beneficence of Destiny, we may be certain that on that night he slept
the sleep of the just man who is weary. Nor was that night less
memorable than peaceful, for little as he could foresee it, it was the
last for over a century of time on which the Cairene was to sleep so
free from care or thought of the morrow. For, while the city
slumbered, away in the villages on the banks of the Nile, sleepers
were being unwontedly awakened and dismayed by the sounds of horsemen
hurrying through the night with the rushing haste of men who are
bearers of tidings of life and death.

Onward, onward they came, these messengers of the night, weary with
their long forced ride from Alexandria, the city of the sea, which
they had left the day before. Onward, onward as rapidly as they could
press forward the steeds that, as one after another failed, were
replaced by others seized from the nearest stables "for the service of
the State." Onward and onward on their trying ride, spreading as they
went the news they bore, news that murdered the sleep of those who
heard it, and flung a pall of panic fear over the land.

They were still on the road when the Cairenes rising, as all good
Mahomedans should, with the first dawn of day, proceeded to the duties
of the morning with the leisurely diligence that is one of their
characteristics. But long before mid-day the messengers had discharged
their task, and the fateful news they had brought was being discussed
throughout the town. It was news that, to the Cairene, was fraught
with most direful possibilities, for it was news that a fleet of
English ships of war had arrived at Alexandria, and that the Governor
of the town, feeling utterly incapable with the scanty resources at
his disposal, of offering any effective resistance to a hostile
landing, had sent to beg for immediate assistance in men and munitions
of war. Many and fervent were the prayers said in the mosques that
day, and loud and deep were the anathemas launched against the
foreigner who was at their gates. It is not surprising that it should
be so, for, of all evils he could imagine, a foreign invasion was, to
the Cairene, as to the people of Egypt generally, the one most
suggestive of personal loss and misery.

Exactly one hundred years had passed since that day, and the dying
hours of that century of time left the Egyptian, as its opening hours
had found him, distrustful of the English, rejecting their friendship,
and cursing them as foes. That it should have been thus, is one of the
problems that perplex those who attempt to know or understand the
Egyptian, and as I thought of these things, it seemed to me that
living as I then was amongst the most conservative class of the
people, the class that still prides itself on living the life its
fathers and grandfathers led, and holds all things foreign to be
abominations, and yet meeting from day to day with the modern
half-Europeanised citizens, and being myself almost an Oriental in
thought and sympathy, I could read the story of that one hundred years
and comprehend the feelings of the people through all its incidents,
better perhaps than any other European, and that by sketching the
history of that century as it appears to me, I might help others to
understand the people and their history better, and thus aid in
promoting the mutual goodwill that is as essential to the interests of
the Egyptian himself, as to those of the great army of foreigners who
are dwellers in his hospitable land.

As told by the writers of to-day, the history of Egypt extends over
nearly seven thousand years--three score and ten centuries--just one
for every year allotted by the Psalmist to man as the period of his
life. But of all that great stretch of time the hundred and odd years
lying between the fateful 23rd of June in 1798 and the present day,
although unfortunately the materials available for a study of it are
scant and for the most part unreliable, has more of human interest as
a chapter in the history of mankind, than all the long ages that
preceded it.

Yet if the reader would rightly comprehend the lesson of this period,
he must grasp the fact that in a very full and ample sense all history
is a part of one--nay, is but one and the same story writ in different
characters. How utterly unlike in all externals are the Gospels
written in the Latin, Greek, Arabic, Nagri, or Chinese characters and
languages, but the essence and the spirit of all these versions are
the same. So it is with the histories of men and nations. The stories
of England, France, Spain, India, Egypt, how different! and yet in all
that is the final essential of true history--the story of man's combat
with his surroundings--the same. It is so because in the last analysis
all men are the same, like the ocean, "His Sea in no showing the
same--his Sea and the same 'neath all showing."

Scattered in the deserts of Persia, the traveller comes upon isolated
villages wherein men and women are born, grow up, marry, beget
families, and die, and never once pass beyond the mirage-haunted
horizon of their little oasis. With world-encircling ideas and
ambitions, the traveller thinks of the mad maelstrom of life in the
crowded cities of the West, and wonders that men can be so different
and still be men, and yet more so, that between himself and these
Persians of the desert, drifting through life in a daily round that
never changes, never varies, there should be anything in common. And
the wonder is, not that they have the same shape and form as he, that
they can cry with Shylock, "If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you
poison us, do we not die?" All that is as nothing, since it lifts the
man no higher than the brutes of the field, but in all else, in all
that is the essential differentia of man, even in these, these
children of the waste are such as we, moved by the same passions,
stirred by the same affections, urged by the same desires, however
variously all these may find expression.

Further yet afield. The miserable Mahars and Mangs of the Indian
Deccan, who, living or dead, are held by all the peoples around them
as not less vile than the carrion they do not scorn to eat. Even there
among these if you will, you may trace, as the venerable missionary
Wilson did, deep buried under the man-debasing foulness of their
lives, the humanity of the man as the dominating, all-controlling
element, severing them by an immeasurable and impassable distance from
the noblest of the animals, and linking them by an inseverable bond to
the noblest of their fellow-men. All that may characterise the
individual outside of this is but the accident of his life and being;
the essential element, guiding and swaying him in all things, is this
fundamental, ineradicable humanity.

It is the fashion nowadays to speak of the "Brotherhood of man," but
how few realise how absolutely, how completely the phrase expresses
the simple truth! a truth that nullifies all the arrogantly-arrayed
arguments and fancy-founded fallacies of Haeckel and the whole field
of Monists and Materialists. If, then, we would understand the
Egyptian or any other people, we must start by recognising that,
however wide and apparently unbridgable may be the gulf that divides
us from them, whether physical, mental, or moral, it has been caused
by the rushing flow of the multitudinous circumstances that have
moulded the life and character of each, and, as Mill and Buckle have
said, not to any originating difference in our natures.

As a boy at school to me history was the dullest of dull tasks, but
when I came to mix with the peoples of foreign lands, and, fascinated
by the charm of the living kaleidoscope of Indian life, sought some
clue to the myriad-minded moods and manners of its peoples, I longed
for a history that should tell me how and why these peoples were so
different from, and yet so like, my own. But histories, as they are
written, are rarely more than chafing-dish hashes of the "funeral
baked meats" of court chronicles served up with a posset of platitudes
and pedantry for sauce. From such histories we may gather a great
array of useless, and, for the most part, perfectly uncertain and
unreliable "facts," but of the true story of a people scarce anything
more than a few doubtful indications. For true history is no bald
chronicle of events but the history of man's, too often blind but
always intuitive, struggle towards happiness. Back in those memory
forsaken ages, of which even myth and legend now tell us nothing, men
strove in the same ceaseless, never-ending struggle. What if the
immediate aim of that struggle varied then and now with time and
place? What if the dweller in the ice-cold lands of the North should
be ever seeking the warmth from which the sunburnt inhabitant of the
torrid zone would fain escape? To neither is the heat or the cold a
thing to be desired or shunned save only as either serves to swell the
total of his enjoyment of life. But just as the nature of the climate
in which they dwell modifies their conception of enjoyment, so also a
host of other circumstances, some minute and scarcely traceable in
their influence, others broad and plainly visible, mould the ideas and
ideals of men and nations. Thus, and thus only, is it that the
Egyptian and the Englishman are so far apart in all that constitutes
the individual or national characteristics of each. Thus it is that
the restless activity and energy of the one is abhorrent to the other,
and that the Englishman to-day finds the Egyptians, as Herodotus found
them so long ago, men "distinguished from the rest of mankind by the
singularity of their institutions and their manners." I would,
therefore, have my readers avoid the error of judging the Egyptians
merely from comparison with their own standards and without due regard
to the study of the causes that have made them what they are. If the
Egyptian be found lacking in qualities upon the possession of which we
justly pride ourselves, he is not for that reason alone to be
condemned or despised. He has, even as we have, faults and
imperfections that may be justly censured. Like Meredith's Captain de
Creye, we are all "variegated with faults." These but attest our
common humanity, and for the Egyptian it may at least be said, that he
has that charity that covereth a multitude of sins, the charity of
heart that far outvalues the charity of the purse. Judged with equity
he compares favourably in many points with many other men. Less
backward than the Spaniard, less bigoted than the Portuguese, less
fanatical than any other Oriental, not embittered in spirit as the
Irish Celts, "patient in tribulation," "long-suffering," placable,
forgiving, hospitable; honest and withal one who, like Abou ben Edhem,
loves his fellow-men, there is much, very much, in the Egyptian that
may well serve to gain him the friendship and goodwill of those who
seek to know him as he really is. But with all this there is one
difference between the Egyptian and all European peoples that, as it
seems to me, forms an almost impassible barrier to the growth of close
friendship, or even intimate companionship, between the European and
the Egyptian. This difference is in their modes of thinking and
reasoning, for not until the Ethiopian changes his skin will the
Oriental think or reason as a European does.

There are hundreds of volumes wherein the Egyptian is portrayed as he
has been seen or known by the authors, but like all other Easterns,
the Egyptian is, and perhaps always will be, something of a mystery to
the European. The thoughts and reasonings of the two peoples are so
constantly and so utterly at variance on points and matters that seem
to each to admit of little or no controversy, that any attempt to
reconcile them must be abandoned as impossible. It is a natural result
of this incompatibility that the Egyptian as commonly described by
Europeans is a very different being to the Egyptian as he really is.
It is so all over the East, through all the widely differing races,
nationalities, and religions of the Asiatic continent with, perhaps,
the single exception of the Armenians, who in this respect are as
distinctly allied to the races of Europe as the Egyptians are to those
of Asia. Tourists wander for an hour or two through the bazaars of
Egypt or India and flatter themselves that they have seen and can
describe the people: young officials tell you glibly that they can
read them as a book: the veteran who has grown grey in their service
will tell you that the longer he has known them the less is he able to
comprehend them.

Orientals generally are capable of a high degree of education or
training according to our standards: in India we have men who, in
debate and authorship in our language, are entitled to rank with some
of our own best men; but mentally even these are apart from us, and in
this respect, as Kipling says, "East is East and West is West, and
never the twain shall meet." Nor is it we only who cannot understand
them, since they stumble as often and err as widely in their efforts
to comprehend us, and even, as I think, more grossly and more
hopelessly. None the less, it is, I believe, quite possible for a
European to at least partly bridge the gulf and become familiar with
Eastern thought and sentiment, but to do so he must pay a heavy price,
for it is to be done only by one who will give not merely years of
time, but years of self-abnegation, of self-suppression, of
self-isolation to the task. Abandoning all that he has been he must
seek to become that which he is not, and severing his life from all
that has made it his, forego his tastes, stifle his prejudices, ignore
his predilections, suppress his emotions, thwart his inclinations, and
laughing when he would weep, weep when he would laugh. And with this
slaying of his own individuality he must in all things strive to
identify himself with those alien to him, ever seeking to see, hear,
think, and act as they do. And he must do this not for a week, a
month, or a year, but for many years. Not in one city, town or
country, but in several, not merely mixing as best he may with the
wealthy and the poor, the illiterate and the learned, but learning to
be at home in the abodes of the prosperous and the haunts of the
miserable, become equally so with the merchant in the bazaar and the
wandering fakir in the desert. And through it all he must ever be
other than his home life and training have made him. Ceaselessly on
the alert to detect the nature, feelings, and impulses of others and
to hide his own. And he must be and do all this day and night, in the
loneliness of the desert as in the busy haunts of men. And in doing
this he is treading a road over which there is no return. The further
he goes, the more perfect is his success, the more impossible it
becomes for him to regain his starting-point. Never again can he be
that which he has been before. He may quit the East, return to the
home of his childhood and mix again with his fellows as one of them,
but he can never recover the place he has left and lost, for he who
goes down into the East, though his heart never cease to yearn for
home and the things of home, is daily, slowly, imperceptibly, yet
surely, being estranged, and he goes home to find that he no longer
has a home, that neither in the East nor in the West, is there any
rest for him. Thenceforth and for ever he is alone in the world and,
with his own sympathies enlarged and enriched, can hope for no
sympathy, no fellowship, amidst all the teeming millions of the earth.
Friends and kindred may crowd around his board, ties of love and
affection may be renewed, but even with the nearest and dearest the
fulness of old-time sympathies can never be revived, for though the
East is a bourne from which the traveller may return, it is one from
the glamour of which he may never free himself, and as in the East his
heart for ever looked yearningly to the West, so from the West it will
for ever look back with desire to the East. To him the whole world is
clothed with the horror with which "the lonely, terrible streets of
London" so bruised the heart of the Irish poet. Such is the price that
he who would know the East must pay for his knowledge, a price that
few have paid, that none would willingly or wittingly pay. "I speak
that which I know," for over thirty years have passed away since I
first went down into the East, and as "a mere boy," as Lady Burton
disdainfully described me, set myself the task I have never abandoned.
Consequently, as it is my object in this book to try and show what,
as he appears to me, the Egyptian of to-day is and how he has become
that which he is, the picture I shall draw of him will necessarily be
unlike those drawn by others, but, although I freely admit that it
will be my aim throughout to seek to gain for the Egyptian more
generous consideration than he is commonly accorded, my sketch will be
as faithful to truth as I can make it: should it fail to be
interesting, the fault will assuredly be with the writer and not with
the subject.



To understand the Egyptian as he is, we must go back to that memorable
23rd of June in 1798, and learn not only what he then was, but how he
had become that which he was. Happily, it needs no long historical
details, or wearisome discussion of remote or doubtful causes to gain
this necessary knowledge. A few words to show how the Egyptian of
to-day is linked with his ancestors of far distant ages, and a short
sketch of the social and political conditions existing in the country
at the close of the eighteenth century will tell the reader all he
need know to enable him to comprehend the story of the years that have
since elapsed.

Although the people were then well established in the land and
possessed a high degree of civilisation, their history, as we now know
it, dates only from the reign of Menes, somewhere over five thousand
years before the birth of Christ. From that date down to the present
time we have a continuous record, the whole course of which may be
divided into three clearly distinguished periods. Of these the first
was not only by far the longest, but in every way the most brilliant.
In it Egypt was an independent country with a social system of an
advanced type, the spontaneous product of the genius of the people,
and it was the one in which, under native rulers, the land was filled
with the marvellous pyramids, temples, and sculptures that, though now
in ruins, still excite the admiration and wonder of the world.

The second period began in 529 B.C. with the conquest of the country
by Cambyses. In it after nearly two hundred years of Persian rule,
interrupted by a brief restoration of the native power, Egypt was for
a little more than three and half centuries in the hands of the
Greeks, from whom in the thirtieth year of the Christian Era it passed
to the Roman Empire. Six centuries later, in 638, when the flood tide
of Islamic conquest first swept westward from Arabia, the country
became a prey to the Arabs who, in 1171, were in their turn succeeded
by their revolting slaves, under whom as the Mameluk Sultans it
remained, until, in 1517, it became a province of the Turkish Empire.
In this period, under the sway of foreigners, the country suffered
from all the ills we are accustomed to associate with the idea of the
dark ages of Europe, and everything that was great or noble in the
people or their civilisation perished. It was, indeed, during this
time that the world-famous cities of Alexandria and Cairo were built
as well as the magnificent mosques that are the pride of all Islam,
but these were all the work, not of the people themselves, but of the
foreigners by whom they were held in thraldom, and are therefore
monuments not of the country's glory but of its shame.

The third and present period began in 1798 when the landing of
Bonaparte was the first of the series of events that by the
introduction and gradual development of European influence have
brought about the now existing social and political condition of the
country. In this period Egypt has ceased to be a province of the
Turkish Empire, and having acquired the semi-independent position of a
tributary State, has been lifted from an appalling condition of social
and commercial destitution produced by the ruinous misgovernment and
reckless tyranny of a dominant class, to one of unexampled prosperity
and of social and political freedom not exceeded in any country of the

The three periods into which I have thus divided Egyptian history are
then distinguished by differences so deep and so far-reaching that
almost the only links by which they can be bound into one consistent
whole are the persistence of the people and the preservation of the
monuments that testify to their former greatness.

That the Egyptian of to-day is in truth the lineal descendant of those
who inhabited the country six thousand years ago is beyond all doubt.
Wherever we go in the Nile valley or in the Delta we meet with men and
women whose faces and features are living reproductions of the
portraits of the kings and people of the most ancient times as
sculptured by the artists of their days. And in their habits, manners,
and customs, we find to-day striking traces of those that seem to have
prevailed when four thousand years before Christ, Ptah-hotep wrote his
book of "Instructions," now believed to be the oldest book in the
world. And from their building in those far-off ages down to the
present day the pyramids, temples, and tombs have stood surviving
witnesses of the early greatness of the country, and, though but
heedless spectators of its vicissitudes, silent guardians of its
departed glory, ever linking its present with its past.

Closely united as the living Egyptian thus is with his earliest
ancestors, all the men and almost all the events that preceded the
French invasion are as nothing to the Egypt of to-day. Not a single
ruler, patriot, statesman, demagogue, artist or author, in short, no
man or woman that lived before the dawn of the modern period, has been
instrumental in the making of Egypt or the Egyptians what they now
are. Persians, Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Turks; all these have held the
people in bondage, but their influence never reached below the surface
of the life of the country, and has vanished completely with the men
upon whom it depended, and though some of these have left monuments,
all but imperishable, of their greatness and glory, these to the
Egyptians, heirs of their creators, are but idle relics of a forgotten
and unheeded past. And as it has been with the men almost so has it
been with events, for there are but two of these that, preceding the
French invasion, have exercised an influence of such vitality as to
survive the great change in the condition of the country that has
since been wrought. These two events, with four that belong to the
modern period, are indeed all that the whole history of the country
presents to us as still clearly and prominently exerting an important
and permanent influence upon both the character of the people and the
existing circumstances and condition of their country. Of these six
events the two that belong to the second period are, the conquest of
the land by the Arabs and its subsequent seizure by the Turks. The
other four are, the French invasion, the rise of Mahomed Ali, the
English occupation and the evacuation of Fachoda by the French.

Each and all of these six events have played important parts in
moulding the present-day aspect of Egypt and its people, and the more
closely do we study the existing conditions, the more strikingly do
these six events stand out from all others as the great and dominating
landmarks in the history of modern Egypt. Compared with these all the
other incidents of that story of seventy centuries--the long
procession of dynasties of Pharaohs, Ptolemies, Caliphs, Sultans,
Khedives--are all but shadows that have come and gone. It is not so
with the landmarks I have named, for not only are these events that
have influenced and are still influencing the thoughts and feelings of
the people, but the influence they exert is recognised by the people
themselves and must be taken into account in any endeavour either to
understand the present condition of the country, or to forecast its
future. Although, therefore, the third of these landmarks forms, as we
have already seen, the starting-point of the story of modern Egypt, to
rightly comprehend that story it is necessary we should have a clear
conception of the effects wrought by the first two events and of the
influence these have had and still have upon the affairs of the

Let us remember here that Egypt, like most civilised countries, has in
reality two stories, one the history of the nation as a political
body; in other words, its history as history is commonly understood
and written, the record of the rise and fall of its rulers, the tale
of their triumph and of their failures, and chronicle of their wars,
victories, defeats, and all the events that have made or marred their
destinies: the other the story of the people themselves, of the growth
of their character and institutions, and of the development of their
social and moral surroundings. It is with this latter story that we
have to deal, and it is, therefore, from the point of view thus
assumed that I have estimated the importance of the events of which I
have just spoken.

In the history of some countries the two stories, if rightly told, are
so interwoven that they become as one, but in the first and second
periods of Egyptian history they have scarce anything in common, for
so long as the people remained under the rule of the Pharaohs or of
the foreigners who succeeded them they were little more than passive
victims of the varying fortunes that affected their rulers, and almost
the only fluctuations in their state during the long ages stretching
from the time of Menes to the French invasion were those occasioned by
the varying degrees of the tyranny to which they were subjected. Now
and again under some ruler of more humanity or of greater laxity than
others their condition may be said to have for the time improved, but
such changes were far too slight and their possible duration always
far too uncertain for these benefits to be more to the people than as
the grateful but passing pleasure a fleeting morning cloud brings to
the traveller in a sunburnt desert. Hence, such as the fellaheen or
peasantry were when Cheops was building his pyramid, such they
remained in almost all respects down to the arrival of the French. The
history of the country has, therefore, in the first two periods little
to say of the people. In the modern period the two stories touch each
other more closely, for in it the people have begun to have a
political existence. They have not, indeed, a representative
government, and so they have no direct power, but they have a press,
the freedom of which is absolutely unrestricted, and they have a
"Legislative Council" as a body of elected representatives, through
whom, though they cannot control the action of the Government, they
are at least able to make their voices heard and their wishes known.
More important still, they have begun to comprehend the right of a
people to be governed, not only justly, but with a regard to their
interests as well as to those of their rulers--a fundamental principle
that in the past would have been deemed an unpardonable heresy.

The first step towards the realisation of this improvement, though one
for long wholly unproductive of any political benefit to the people,
was the Arab conquest, which by the resulting conversion of almost the
whole population to the Mahomedan religion, brought about a change
still fruitful in its influence upon their ideals and aspirations. To
fully describe the importance of this event it would be necessary to
enlarge upon the character and tendency of the Mahomedan religion at a
length my limits forbid, and I must here therefore content myself with
noting that, great as was the moral and mental revolution this
conversion occasioned, it was by no means commensurate with that which
followed the introduction of Islam into other countries. On the
everyday life of the people it seems indeed to have had but little
effect other than that of altering their moral standard and modifying
in some slight degree their habits and mode of living. It was,
perhaps, inevitable that this should be so, for of all the peoples of
the East the Egyptians were, and are, the least susceptible of
imbibing the spirit that marked the early spread of Islam, gave it the
energy that carried it to victory, and still gives it such vitality as
it continues to possess. Christianity had been for a long time the
State religion of the country, but it seems clear that the great
majority of the people were never more than mere nominal followers of
the Cross, and the arrival of the Arabs was, therefore, quickly
succeeded by the voluntary adoption of Islam by all but the small
minority to whom Christianity was something more than a name and whose
descendants constitute the Coptic Church of to-day. The political
condition of the people was little, if at all, affected by the change
in their religion; and consequently, under the Caliphs and their
successors, the Egyptian continued to be as he had been before--a man
with no higher ambition than that of passing through life with the
least possible trouble. From year to year his one prayer was for an
abundant Nile and a plentiful crop, not that he might thereby enrich
himself, but that he might thereby secure a sufficiency for himself
and his family and suffer less from the rapacious tyranny and
heartless cruelty of those never-resting oppressors, his rulers and
all who, as officials or favourites, were lifted even a little above
his own level. It was, and is, of the essence of Islam that it appeals
to freemen and favours that love of freedom that is the birthright of
every man; but Islam brought no freedom to the Egyptians, save,
indeed, the spiritual and moral one their rulers could not rob them
of. So such as he had been before, such he remained after the Arab
conquest, but with a loftier sense of the dignity of manhood, a nobler
conception of life and of its duties, and a stronger faith in a
hereafter that should compensate him for all his sufferings and
privations in this life. As an individual, therefore, he was somewhat
altered, but as a member of the State--if we may apply that term to
one who had no political existence save that involved in yielding to
his rulers the utmost pennyworth of value they could wrest from him by
tyranny and cruelty--he was the same helpless, hopeless, downtrodden
being, less valued and less cared for than the beasts in his fields.
But the conversion of the Egyptians has filled them with that intense
attachment to the faith of Islam that, shared by all Mahomedans, has
given rise to the charge of fanaticism so commonly brought against
them--a charge that, in the case of the Egyptians, if not wholly
unjust, is too often exaggerated, although none the less there is
nothing excites the wrathful passions of the people or, in milder
moods, sways their actions more than their fidelity to their religion.
It is the fact that this is so that renders the Arab conquest the
first great landmark in the story of modern Egypt, for it is not too
much to say that this attachment of the Egyptians to their faith is to
the present day the most important factor with which all who are
concerned in the administration of the country have to deal.

If socially and otherwise the Egyptians profited but little from the
establishment of the Caliphate, they gained still less from the
domination of the Turks. To the people, indeed, this change was
scarcely more than a mere nominal one. It left them practically under
the same rulers, for though the system of government was modified, it
placed the executive power, if not in the hands of the same men as
before, at least in those of men of the same stamp, who ruled them as
their predecessors had done, in the same manner, through the same
agents, and with the same cruelty and wanton oppression. Yet the
Turkish, like the Arab, conquest wrought one important effect, the
influence of which time has strengthened so that it is only second to
that in the urgency of its bearing upon existing conditions. Under the
Arabs the Egyptians had been ruled by foreigners, but by foreigners
who were in some degree allied to them. Under the Turks their
sovereign was, and is, not only a foreigner, but one of an utterly
alien race, wholly separated from them by language, character, habits,
by everything, indeed, save the bond of their common religion. None
the less a spirit of loyalty to the Turkish Empire has grown and
spread among the people, which, though it would be an error to credit
it with the intensity popular writers of the country ascribe to it,
has unquestionably a powerful influence upon the views and opinions of
the great majority of the people. To Europeans this loyalty, which, it
is worthy of mention here, is shared by the Moslems of India, has
always appeared somewhat of an enigma. No one, however, who knows the
peoples of the two countries can doubt that, apart from the fact of
the Sultan being the official head of their religion, their loyalty to
him is largely due to the desire of peoples who have lost the place
they once held in the comity of nations to associate themselves with
such kindred peoples as have in some extent maintained their ancient
status. The Indian and the Egyptian Mahomedans alike look back to the
time when Islam was the one dominant, unopposable power in their
native lands, and, conscious of their own fallen condition, would fain
relieve the darkness of their destiny by seeking a place, however
humble, within the only radiance they can claim to share. While,
therefore, the loyalty of the Egyptians to the Turkish Empire is only
a part of their loyalty to their religion, it has this, from the
political point of view, important difference--that it is not
irrevocable, but more or less dependent upon the Sultan maintaining
his political supremacy in the Mahomedan world, for should he lose the
position he holds as the most powerful ruler in Islam, not only the
Egyptians, but his own immediate subjects, would feel justified in
transferring their allegiance to any ruler who might succeed him. But
absolutely as the Sultan may depend upon the loyalty of the Egyptians
as against any non-Moslem Power, yet, as we shall have occasion to
see, not only can he not do so as against a Moslem rival, but he can
only ensure their loyalty and obedience as his subjects by ceding to
conditions they hold they have a right to impose upon him. Were,
therefore, the hopes of the large section of the Mahomedans which is
filled with the desire for the restoration of an Arab Caliphate to be
realised it would entirely depend upon circumstances that it is quite
impossible to foresee--whether the Egyptians would or would not remain
faithful to the Empire. Meanwhile the revival of the Arabic power
being a possibility too far removed from probability to take a place
in the politics of the day, the loyalty of the Egyptians to the
Turkish Empire must be accepted as a controlling feature in the
affairs of the country.

Such, then, are the links that bind the Egypt of the present day to
the Egypt of the past, but important as has been, and is, the part
that the Arab and Turkish conquests have played in shaping the present
and will yet have in moulding the future of the people, it was not to
these events but to others occurring outside the country that we owe
the inauguration of the modern period of Egyptian history.

What these events were and how they affected the making of the
Egyptian what he now is we have now to see.



The period which was to be that of the regeneration of Egypt and its
people was ushered in by social and political storm and tempest. But
the first warning note of its coming, after a brief moment of panic,
was unheeded by the people. Nearly three centuries had passed since
the country had been invaded by an enemy. That enemy was now the
sovereign Power, and under the grasping, selfish rule of its executive
the trade and commerce of the country had almost entirely disappeared,
and thus isolated from the rest of the world the people had no
conception of the growth of the power and civilisation of the European
nations. They were, therefore, completely ignorant of the events and
political impulses that were, though for the moment indirectly only,
shaping the future that lay before them.

There were both Englishmen and Frenchmen in the country at the time,
but the rulers of the land, arrogant in their petty might, and the
people not less so in their degradation, alike held all foreigners in
contempt, and thus profited nothing from their presence. They had,
therefore, no means of knowing what the relations between the two
great European Powers were, or of anticipating how those relations
were liable to affect their country. Yet the fact that brought about
the opening of the modern period in their history and thus decreed the
ultimate fate of the country was the mutual hostility that swayed the
two Powers. This hostility had no relation to Egypt or its people,
and, but for contributing causes, could never have affected these, yet
it was the desire of the French Government to strike what it fondly
hoped would prove a decisive blow at the growth of English power in
the East, that was the chief inspiring cause of its decision to order
the invasion of Egypt. The Directory, which was at the time the
governing body in France, had indeed more than one reason for taking
this step, nor was it under the Directory that the eyes of the French
had been turned to the valley of the Nile for the first time.
Leibnitz, in 1672, had urged upon Louis XIV. the conquest of the
country as an object worthy of his attention, declaring that the
possession of it would render France the mistress of the world, and
though nothing was done at that time to realise the far-seeing policy
he advocated, there can be no doubt that the idea was never abandoned.
Talleyrand, indeed, said that on his accession to office, he had found
more than one project for its accomplishment lying in the pigeon-holes
of the Foreign Office, and he himself entered heartily into the
scheme, believing that it would be a most important move towards the
fulfilment of his theory that the future of France depended upon the
extension of her influence along the shores of the Mediterranean.
Volney, the traveller and author of the "Ruins of Empires," having
visited Egypt had, in 1786, reported that it was in a practically
defenceless condition, and Magallon, the French Consul at Alexandria,
having for years urged the Government to interfere on behalf of its
subjects in Egypt, had, in 1796, made a voyage to France with the
express purpose of protesting against the indignities and ill-usage
from which they were suffering, and fully confirmed the views of
Volney and Leibnitz. The Directory were thus at once shown the
possibility of acquiring a colony of the utmost value and provided
with a reasonable excuse for its annexation. These and other
arguments, against which the fact that the French nation was then at
peace and on good terms with the Sultan of Turkey, the sovereign of
the country, weighed as nothing, decided the Directory. In March,
1798, therefore, the order to organise an expedition for the conquest
of Egypt was given to Bonaparte, and two months later, on May 19th, he
set out in command of a vast armada, sailing from Toulon and other
ports of the south of France.

Thus it was the aspirations of the French nation for the extension of
its influence in the Mediterranean and for the acquisition of new
colonies and its conquest rivalry with England, and not events in the
country itself, that heralded the dawn of the new period, and
eventually, though chiefly indirectly, produced the greatest change in
the condition and prospects of the people that their history records.

The rapidity with which the French expedition was prepared, and the
secrecy with which its destination was concealed, led the Directory
and Bonaparte himself to hope that it would escape all risk of
interference on its way to Egypt. In this they were not disappointed,
but hearing of the assembling of a great military and naval force in
the south of France, and believing that it was intended to make a
descent upon the Irish coast with a view to co-operation with the
rebels there, Lord Vincent warned Nelson to watch for, and, if
possible, destroy it. The people of India were then, however, like
those of Ireland, in negotiation with the French, and in particular
the famous Tippoo Sultan, "The Tiger of Mysore," longing to be
revenged for the defeat and losses Lord Cornwallis had inflicted upon
him, had sought their aid. Nelson was aware of this, and having a
strong sense of the danger to English interests in India and the East
generally the possession of Egypt by the French would be, guessed the
real destination of the expedition, and finding that the French had
got away to sea, immediately started in pursuit, and, acting upon his
own conception as to its aim, steered straight for Egypt. Bonaparte
had, however, after leaving the French coast, proceeded to Malta,
which he seized, and being thus delayed some days on his way to Egypt,
Nelson passed without falling in with him, and thus it was that on
June 21st the Alexandrians were startled by the approach of the
English Fleet.

As soon as the character of the ships thus unexpectedly appearing on
their coast became known the town was thrown into a state of the
greatest excitement, and the Governor, believing that the fleet was a
hostile one, sent off to Cairo the messengers whose arrival there I
have already chronicled, and at the same time sent other messengers to
summon the Bedouins, or nomad Arabs, inhabiting the neighbouring
deserts, to assist in the defence of the town.

Nelson lost no time in sending ashore to seek news of the French, but
the reception given to his officers was far from friendly. Refusing to
credit the statement that the English came as friends and protectors
and not as enemies, the Governor openly expressed his distrust, and in
doing so simply voiced the feelings of the people. Utterly ignorant of
everything outside the narrow range of their own experience, it was
indeed impossible for these to comprehend how the occupation of Egypt
by the French could be a matter of vital importance to the English. So
when Nelson's officers assured the Governor that they asked nothing
more than to await the arrival of the French and to buy a few supplies
of which the fleet was in need, he answered them that they could have
nothing. "Egypt," said he, "belongs to the Sultan, and neither the
French nor any other people have anything to do with it, so please go

It was a bold speech, and as foolish as it was bold, for no one knew
better than the Governor himself that he was quite powerless to oppose
the English if they wished to land, or to take what they needed by
force. It was a speech, too, worth noticing, for it affords a clue to
much that puzzles the ordinary critic of Egyptian history. Judged by
any known canon of social or international courtesy or policy, it was
not less inexcusable than indiscreet, for it was as likely to enrage
an enemy as to anger a friend, but it was just what one knowing the
people might have expected--the utterance of the impulse of the
moment, and, therefore, a full and truthful statement of the speaker's
thought. For to the Egyptian mind the visit of a fleet of foreign
ships of war could have no other object than the conquest or raiding
of the country, hence the English Fleet must be a hostile one. It was
neither lawful nor wise to give provision or succour of any kind to an
enemy, therefore they had nothing to say to the English but "Please go

It was thus that the people of Alexandria argued then, and it is thus
that the people of Egypt generally still argue. For they have always
been incapable of taking a broad or general view of any subject. No
matter how many-sided a question may be, they, as a rule, can see but
one aspect of it at a time. They look, in fact, at all things through
a mental telescope that, bringing one narrow and limited aspect of a
subject into bold and clear relief, shuts from their vision all that
surrounds it. Hence when, as they can and sometimes do, they change
their point of view, the change is commonly as abrupt as it is
thorough, and those who see only the surface tax them with fickleness.
Of late years there have been signs that, at all events, the educated
classes are learning to reason on surer and safer grounds; but if the
reader would understand their story, he must ever bear in mind the
narrow basis of their judgments and, therefore, of their actions.

While the answer of the Governor to the English is thus illustrative
of a point to be remembered in the character of the Egyptians, the
life-story of the man himself also helps us to more fully grasp their
mental attitude under the changing circumstances of the period. This
Governor, Sayed Mahomed Kerim, was an Egyptian of humble birth, but
one of Arab blood, claiming to be a Sayed or Shereef; that is to say,
a descendant of the Prophet Mahomed's family, and thus one of the Arab
nobility. In his early manhood this man, who as a Sayed, was and is
blessed and prayed for by every Mahomedan in the world at every time
of praying, was glad to fill the modest post of a weigher in the
Customs. Gifted with intelligence and other qualities that commended
him to his superiors, by their favour and his own ability he rose
rapidly to become the local Director of Customs, and eventually, as we
find him, Governor of the town. That in this position he had the
confidence and respect of his townsmen seems clear; and it is thus
evident that, tyrannical and oppressive as was the rule under which
they lived, there was an open path to place and power for able men.
Bribery and corruption, it is true, were rife, so much so, that we may
safely assume that Sayed Mahomed did not attain his high position
wholly without their aid, but they did not play the dominating part
assigned them by historians of the time.

We shall see but little more of this Sayed Mahomed, for though still a
young man, he had but a short span of life to run, yet the little we
shall see makes him a notable man, and one that should be studied.
Bold, impulsive, proud and fearless, with that decision of character
so praised by Foster; quick to decide and unalterable in his
decisions, deciding rightly from his own standpoint, but often with
too limited a view--emphatically more of an Arab than an Egyptian
type, and yet in the few glances we get of him, illustrating, most
aptly, the Egyptian character. Thus, as his answer to the English was
essentially Egyptian and not Arab in substance and manner, so also was
his subsequent action. For an Arab in such a strait would have sought
to gain time by fair-speaking, so that he might take such measures as
he could, or at the worst secure better terms, whereas Sayed Mahomed
spoke in a manner that, had the English been, as he supposed, enemies,
must have precipitated hostilities, and having done so, again
Egyptian-like, made no adequate attempt to protect the town from the
possible consequences of his rashness.

Whether fortunately or otherwise no man can say, Nelson, too intent
upon the object he had in view to be moved from his immediate purpose,
took the rebuff offered him calmly, and, after a day's rest off the
port, sailed away, leaving the Alexandrians to congratulate themselves
upon their own astuteness and to indulge themselves in vain-glorious
anticipations of the prodigies of valour they were to perform should
the French land upon their shores.

A week having passed by without the appearance of an enemy, the people
had regained their wonted calm, when as unexpectedly as though no
warning had been given of its coming the French fleet of twenty-one
vessels of war and over three hundred transports was seen in the
offing heading for the port. This sudden and unlooked-for proof of the
reality of the danger they had refused to credit produced the utmost

Once more the Governor despatched messengers in all haste to the
capital, and describing the French fleet as one "without beginning or
end," begged earnestly, but all too late, for aid.

The people of Cairo, like those of Alexandria, when their first alarm
at the arrival of Nelson's fleet had passed away, seeing in his
departure a confirmation of their own conception of his visit, ceased
to think of the matter save as the subject of jest, but were
overwhelmed with dismay at the new alarm, even the Government, which
had been but little moved by the first, being now stirred to activity
and a sense of danger.

The Government of Egypt was then, at least nominally, such as it had
been constituted after the Turkish conquest in 1517 by Sultan Selim.
Keenly recognising the impossibility of enforcing his authority in a
province of the Empire so far off and so difficult of access from his
own capital, the Sultan had, not unwisely, contented himself with
organising a system of government that was, in his opinion, the one
most likely to ensure the permanency of his sovereignty and guarantee
him the receipt of a goodly share of the wealth of his new possession.
Egypt was placed, therefore, as the other provinces of the Empire then
were, and still are, under the government of a Pacha, who was in
effect, though he was accorded neither the style nor the honour of
that rank, a viceroy. But the Sultan, anxious to hold the Pacha in
check by some power ever present and active, divided the territory
under his charge into twenty-four districts, and placed each of these,
as a kind of local governorship, in the hands of a Mamaluk chief or
Bey. Of the Beys chosen for these posts seven were to form a Dewan, or
Council of State, nominally to advise and assist, but in reality to
control the Pacha, whose decisions this Council was empowered to veto.
All real power was therefore vested in the Mamaluks, who, it is
perhaps scarcely necessary to recall, were the troops that, originally
brought into the country as slaves by the Fatimite Caliphs, had
gradually developed their power and influence until their chiefs had
become feudal lords, holding lands and keeping, according to their
individual means, troops of mounted followers, whose physical
qualities and effective training rendered them one of the finest
bodies of cavalry that has ever existed. As must invariably happen
when a weak and incompetent Government seeks the aid of slaves or
mercenaries to sustain its failing dominion, the Mamaluks had
eventually acquired such power that they were enabled to usurp the
government of the country, and had, as we have seen, maintained their
position as Sultans of Egypt from the time of Salah ed Deen up to the
Turkish conquest. Under the system of government established by the
Sultan Selim, though unable to regain the absolute independence they
had lost, they soon recovered almost all their former influence and
power, and as they controlled the military strength of the country,
the small Turkish garrison being quite helpless to oppose them, they
soon became, as before, the real rulers of the land. Being invariably
foreigners, or the immediate descendants of foreigners, Circassians,
Armenians, or other slaves, it was but natural that these Beys should
have no sympathy for the people of the country, and, with the
arrogance characteristic of a military body that has attained
political power, despised all outside of their own ranks, and held it
a disgrace to intermarry with the Egyptians. Actuated by none but the
most selfish aims, they sought and cared for nothing but their own
interests, each of them being a veritable Ishmael, looking upon all
men as his enemies, only accepting the co-operation of his fellow
Mamaluks as a necessary measure of defence, confiding in the loyalty
of his immediate followers only so far as he was able to control them
by rendering their faithfulness to him conducive to their own
interests. Among themselves they of necessity accepted the domination
of the one who by force of arms, intrigues, or other favouring
circumstances, was in a position to enforce his will against that of
the others, and, as might be expected, the Bey who held this prominent
position was the one to whom the post of Sheikh el Beled, or Governor
of Cairo, was accorded, that being the post of all others the most
coveted by them, this Bey being, in practice, the real Governor of the
country, his power being only limited by the necessity he was under of
consulting and conciliating the wishes of the other members of the

It may seem strange that with the power they thus possessed the
Mamaluks should continue to offer even a faint show of respect to the
Pacha, or of loyalty to the Empire, for light as was the yoke these
laid upon them, it was sufficiently galling to men who lived as they
did each wholly absorbed in the prosecution of his own personal aims
and interests, and the more so that, as the wealth of the country
declined under their greedy and ruthless rule, the remittances of
revenue exacted by the Sultan was a yearly draft that seriously
limited their resources. But if the Mamaluk hated and despised all men
not of his own class, he was in turn hated by all others with a hatred
all the fiercer and more bitter that it had no outlet. Thus, with no
friend upon whom he could rely save his own right arm, the Mamaluk
chief, however powerful, was fain to accept the patronage of the
Sultan as the only aid he could look for in his combat with the world,
and he must needs, therefore, be content to pay for that aid with a
certain tribute of grudging loyalty. Nor must it be forgotten that,
ever ready to combine and co-operate against a common foe, each
Mamaluk was equally ready to turn his hand and sword against his
fellow if thereby he might gain aught for himself. Had it not been for
the mutual distrust the knowledge of this fact forced upon them, they
might easily have regained the independence wrested from them by the
Turks. This had, indeed, been momentarily accomplished by Ali Bey,
who, in 1766, not only succeeded in setting himself up as Sultan of
Egypt, but aspiring to extend his rule, had attacked and conquered the
Mahomedan holy cities of Mecca and Medina in Arabia. His triumph was,
however, but shortlived, for Mahomed Bey, the most trusted of his
favourites, to whom he had confided the command of an army for the
conquest of Syria, abandoned his task, and revolting, took his master
Ali prisoner by a treacherous ambush. Unable alone to maintain the
power he had thus for the moment seized, the traitor at once tendered
his submission to the Sultan, and was, in reward for his "fidelity,"
appointed Pacha of Egypt. His tenancy of this office was, however, but
brief, his death soon after, leaving the country once more a prey to
the mutual rivalries of the Beys. In the contest for supremacy that
followed, two of these, freed slaves of his, though constantly opposed
to and frequently in arms against each other, eventually agreed to
share the power between them, the one, Murad Bey, becoming the
military chief of the Mamaluks, and the other, Ibrahim Bey, the Sheikh
el Beled.

Under the joint sway of these two men the country enjoyed a brief
period of greater quiet and peace than it had known for a long time,
and although the tyranny and oppression from which they suffered was
little if at all abated, the people had been so completely despoiled
before and had so little to lose that, as "He that is down need fear
no fall," they had but small anxiety for the morrow.

This was the condition that existed on that memorable night of the
23rd of June in 1798, the eve of the day upon which Cairo had its
first warning of the approach of the French. Could a plebiscite of the
hopes and fears of the people have been taken on that evening, we may
be sure that it would have been unfavourable to any change, and that
they would have elected to bear the ills they had, rather than face
the possibly far worse any change might bring to them.



As soon as the news of the arrival of the French Fleet had been
received by Murad Bey, he rode to the country house of Ibrahim Bey,
now the Kasr el Aini Hospital, on the east bank of the Nile
overlooking the Island of Rhodah.

There a council of the leading men of the city was hastily summoned to
consider the steps to be taken for the defence of the country, and it
was characteristic of the conditions under which the people were then
living, that all those present, with the single exception of Bekir
Pacha, the Governor and representative of the Sultan's authority,
belonged to one of two classes--the military rulers and the religious
leaders of the people. The excitement that prevailed in either class
was plainly evident at the meeting, though the feelings and fears
induced in each by the news they had met to discuss were very

The military element consisted entirely of the Mamaluk Beys, who
formed, as we have seen, the real ruling power, their title of
Bey--or, as it is written in the Turkish language from which it is
taken, Beg--being fairly equivalent to that of Baron as used in our
own country in the days of King John, though it has long since ceased
to signify any more than the French Legion of Honour, save that, like
our Knighthood, it carries a personal title. By the people generally,
these Beys were spoken of as Emirs, a title properly nearly equal to
that of Prince, and the one employed by the rulers of Afghanistan, so
well known to us as the Ameers of that country. I have already spoken
of the dominant position the Beys held, but I may add here, as further
illustrating their character, that if they had not, as the French
nobles had in the days of Louis IX. and Philip the Fair, the right of
carrying on war among themselves, they did not hesitate to put their
rivalries to the test of battle. Confident in the prowess of their own
body, these men had treated with indifference the alarm occasioned by
the arrival of Nelson, but when the warning he had given was confirmed
by the presence of the French, and the extent of the fleet that was
gathering at Alexandria was known, not only through the exaggerated
terms in which Sayed Mahomed had described it, but also by the arrival
of reports from Rosetta and Damietta to the same effect, they awoke to
the necessity for action.

Centuries had then passed since the Arabs or their Mamaluks had
measured their strength against that of European armies, and
altogether unacquainted with the advance their ancient foes had made
in the art of war, it was perhaps natural enough that they should be a
little over-confident in their own might, especially as such stories
of the Crusades as still lingered among them were not of a kind to
excite any very lively fears of an enemy that, according to these
traditions, they had never met but to defeat. Moreover, ignorant as
they were of the progress of the world outside their own country, they
knew that the Moslem corsairs of the Mediterranean were a constant
terror to all ships of Christian countries that had to pass the
inhospitable coasts of the Barbary States, and that throughout the
north of Africa European Christians were found as the slaves of Moslem
masters. Added to this the fact that the insulting treatment they
themselves accorded to European ships visiting their ports, and their
tyrannous behaviour to European subjects resident in the country, long
continued as these abuses had been, had brought no effective or
warlike protest from the nations thus gravely injured and insulted,
and we can easily conceive that they placed no high value upon the
military or naval power of peoples who thus meekly, as it seemed to
them, submitted to such outrages upon their subjects. Hence, while
they regarded the present occasion as one calling for active measures
of defence, they had no presentiment of the disastrous fate that was
so soon to overtake them, and so, undismayed by the news of the
arrival of the French, cried vauntingly, "Let them come that we may
trample them under our horses' feet!"

As to the second class of those present at the Council, the Ulema, or
"learned men," that is to say, those who in virtue of their
proficiency in the study of the laws of Islam were the acknowledged
and duly graduated religious leaders of the people, these looked upon
the danger with very different eyes. Unlike the Mamaluks they were men
of the country, allied by blood to its people, and therefore, though
like priests and ministers of all religions in all countries, forming
a class severed from the great body of the people by special and
mutually conflicting ideals, aims, and interests, they were not, and
could not be, wholly indifferent to the welfare of the people, of
whom, by kinship of every degree, birth, marriage, and parentage, they
never ceased to form an integral part. These, therefore, had a lively
fear of the inevitable distress any warlike operations in the country
must bring upon the people, while the fact that the enemy approaching
was a Christian one, gave to their anticipations a personal character
they would not have borne had the invader been of the Moslem faith.
Like those of the Mamaluks their conceptions of the character of the
European peoples were mainly founded upon the traditions of the
Crusades--traditions that included only too many incidents, such as
that of the soldiers of the Cross, at the taking of Jerusalem, dashing
out the brains of innocent infants; traditions that are still recalled
in Moslem lands, and are in no small degree responsible for the
anti-Christian and anti-European spirit that exists among Mahomedan
peoples. Their feelings at the thought of the possibility of a French
victory were, therefore, quite apart from those of the Mamaluks, if,
indeed, these ever gave such an idea a moment's thought. If they did,
they still had before them three possibilities--victory, which to them
meant gain in many ways; defeat and flight, leaving them at least the
hope of retrieving their fortune later on, or in some other land; or
death in honourable and glorious warfare, warfare too, that being in
defence of Islam, would give them the rank and, better still, the
rewards of martyrs for the faith. On their part the Ulema could see
only two possibilities: a victory that, however glorious, would have
to be paid for at a heavy cost of suffering to the people, or a defeat
involving all that they could imagine of dire disaster and woe.

That we may fully comprehend the influences swaying the members of the
two classes of which the Council was composed, we must recall their
mutual relations. The Mamaluks, then, being Mahomedans in little more
than name, yielding their loyalty to the Sultan and to Islam simply
from a regard to their own interests, were commonly looked upon by the
Ulema, as well as by the people generally, as scarcely better than
heretics, while their ceaseless rapacity and heartless cruelty made
them at once feared and hated. Conscious of these facts, but not
daring to place themselves in open opposition to the Ulema, they
sought in every way to gain these to their support, and more
especially by their professions of loyalty to the faith, and by
treating the Ulema with all dignity and respect. This, indeed, they
were bound to do, since not only was it in the power of the Ulema to
incite the people against them, but with the aid of the Ulema of
Constantinople to secure the Sultan's action on their own behalf in
case of need. In a word, therefore, while despising the Ulema with the
man of action's contempt for the mere student or scholar, the
Mamaluks found it essential to their own safety to cultivate their
toleration, knowing well that this was all they could obtain from

As to the Ulema, fully recognising the insincerity of the Mamaluks,
they were fain to accept their homage as the only course for them to
follow except one of open hostility, which, however little they, as a
body, need fear its results, to each one individually involved risks
not lightly to be run.

Having no power of excommunication, such as that possessed by the
priests of the Catholic Church or the Brahmins, the Ulema had no
direct means of coercing those who displeased them, and were thus not
infrequently obliged to accept or adopt a line of conduct that under
other circumstances they would have refused to follow. It is,
therefore, to their credit that throughout the history of their class,
they have always been an independent and, on the whole, a fearless set
of men, and that it is but rarely indeed they have been opposed to
reason or right as they have understood it, though, unhappily, their
conceptions of these have not always been such as enlightened minds
could approve. Like the clergy of all Churches, with, perhaps, the
exception of the Catholic, they have not seldom been compelled to
choose between interest and principle. That they should never err in
such a case, they must have been more than human.

Diverse as were the interests of the Beys and those of the Ulema at
this Council, the aims and hopes of the two classes were in the most
perfect accord, both being dominated by the single desire to concert
such measures as should seem best for the protection of the country.

In this they were heartily joined by Bekir Pacha. As the
representative of the Sultan's authority, his chief duty and personal
interest lay in seeing that the annual remittances to the Sultan were
made as early and as large as possible, and that the country was kept
as free from wars and seditions as might be. So long as he could in
some fair measure secure these aims, though always, like all servants
of the Empire, at the mercy of intriguing aspirants, he might hope to
retain, if not his post, at least the Sultan's favour. Although thus
constrained to court the goodwill of both the Beys and of the Ulema,
his personal sympathies were strongly with the latter, and were not
weakened by his keen sense of the treacherous nature of the friendship
for himself and of the loyalty to the Empire professed by the former.

The relations thus existing between the three parties at the
Council--the one-man party of Bekir Pacha, and those of the Mamaluks
and Ulema--had then been in force for some years, and, coupled with
the fact that Ibrahim Bey was a man who, though of approved courage,
was withal a constant promoter of peace and concord, had contributed
not a little to gain for the people the few years of comparative
immunity from care and trouble they had been enjoying.

Murad Bey was a man of different stamp. Of great energy, proud and
ambitious, ever ready to sacrifice friends as well as foes for his own
profit, he is said to have been at times daring to foolhardiness, and
again timid to poltroonery, but always consistently selfish, grasping,
and tyrannical. From the time that he and Ibrahim Bey had agreed to
work together in the government of the country they had shared between
them the greater part of the revenue; and Murad, while constantly
adding to his private property large areas of land confiscated from
the people under various pretexts, spent large sums of money in
developing the military resources at his disposal, constructing
cannon, storing ammunition, and building vessels for military service
on the Nile. Passionate, impulsive, and keenly conscious of the fact
that the Sultan looked upon him and his fellow-Mamaluks with no
friendly eye, upon hearing of the arrival of the French he jumped to
the conclusion that they had come, if not as the allies of the Sultan,
yet with his connivance. For Bekir Pacha, both as an individual and as
the Sultan's representative, he had a contempt that, though veiled
under the courtesy of pretended amity, lost no opportunity of wounding
his feelings or depreciating his authority. Swayed by these
sentiments, he did not hesitate on joining the Council to charge the
Pacha with being privy to the invasion, alleging it as inconceivable
that the French should venture upon such an undertaking if they had
not some reason to look for the support, or at least the countenance
of the Turkish Government. The spirit and tact with which the Pacha
repelled this accusation showed that had he been in a position of
greater power he might have proved himself a man better able to deal
with the danger they had to meet than was his accuser. It was soon
evident, however, that the Pacha had the confidence of the assembly.
Murad was obliged, therefore, to accept his denial, and the attention
of those present being turned to the more practical aspects of the
subject that had brought them together, after a brief consultation it
was arranged that Murad should advance to meet and oppose the French,
and, as they all hoped, drive them back into the sea, while Ibrahim
Bey was to remain at Cairo and provide for the defence of the capital
in the event of the enemy pushing their way so far.

Had the Council limited itself to the discussion of these points I
might have passed it with briefer notice; but perhaps the only really
debatable issue brought before it was one the reception of which
throws some light upon the important question of the feelings of those
present towards the Christians then living in the country.

Urged, mainly, in all probability, by the desire not to remain a mere
silent member of the Council, one of those present suggested, as a
measure of defence, a massacre of all the Christians in the town.
There is, I believe, no record as to who made this wild proposal, but
we may be certain that it was one of the youngest, and a man little
read in either the history or teaching of his religion.

To the tolerant spirit that now happily prevails in England and the
West of Europe, such a suggestion, made, even as it was, in an hour of
panic, seems savagely revolting. But in our criticisms of this and
other incidents in history we too often overlook the lapse of time and
compare the Egyptians and other peoples of the past to that which we
are at present, and not to that which we ourselves were at the same
time. Thus when we condemn the fanaticism of those who made and
supported this proposal at the Kasr El Aini Council, we forget to
remember what was even then passing in our own country. This Council
was held on the 4th of July, in 1798, and on that day the Irish rebels
who had been defeated at Vinegar Hill, on the 21st of June, the very
day on which Nelson had reached the Egyptian coast, these rebels were
still trembling fugitives sheltering in the mountains and bogs of
their native land from the ruthless "no-quarter" pursuit of the
vengeance-wrecking soldiers of the Crown. Nor let it be thought that
in speaking of this I am taking a partial or party view of the events
of those days, for my ancestors were with the pursuers, not with the
pursued. And if it be objected that this was in Ireland, and that the
atrocities perpetrated by both parties were due rather to political
than to religious rancour, let us go back but eighteen years, for was
it not in 1780 that for four days the Gordon rioters held London in
their hands, and, crying "Death to the Catholics!" sacked and
pillaged, burned and wrecked the churches, shops, and houses of
Catholics and of those who favoured the cause of Catholic
emancipation? Let it be remembered, too, that the fanatics of Cairo
had at least this excuse, that they were in terror of an approaching
foe to whom those they proposed to slay were friendly, while the only
danger that the London mob had to face was at most a political one,
and that one based upon mere possibilities, and not even on
probabilities. Let us--but no! the Reign of Terror in France, the
echoes of which were then still ringing throughout Europe, the one
unsurpassable horror of all time, that was the maniac outbreak of a
people frenzied by the long pent-up wrath of their endless wrongs and
sufferings, a horror only possible when the inhumanity of a class had
shattered the humanity of the mass. But we may recall the crimes of
the Commune, which in our own days washed the streets of Paris with
blood, and was an unreasoning, insensate outburst of political
fanaticism, and also the recent massacres of Jews in Russia.

These events have had but little in common, except that they were
alike the products of fanaticism--whether political or religious--but
they show that in condemning the fanaticism of the Cairo Council we
must make allowance for time, place, and circumstances, and,
remembering how much more grievously we ourselves and our European
kinsmen have sinned, hesitate to accept such incidents as these as
stamping the people as in this respect other than ourselves.

Bearing these facts and dates in mind, let us now learn what was the
fate of the bloodthirsty proposal thus brought before the Cairo
Council, but first a word as to who and what the Christians were whose
lives were thus endangered.

The Christians then resident in Cairo, as in other parts of Egypt,
were of two classes, distinguished from each other and from the
Mahomedan inhabitants by the different political conditions under
which they lived. These classes were the Copts and the Franks. The
former were the descendants of those Egyptians who, after the Arab
conquest, remained faithful to their religion, and the latter
Christians of European origin. The Copts were, and still are, the
purest descendants of the early Egyptians left in the country, as
since the Arab invasion they have intermarried almost exclusively with
their own race, whereas the Mahomedans have freely mixed themselves
with the Soudanese and other wholly alien peoples. Under the Mamaluks
the Copts almost entirely monopolised the service of the Government as
clerks and accountants, and wherever mere clerical skill was an
essential. Docile, or rather servile, in their submission to all in
authority over them, they were in spirit and act hostile to the people
generally, and readily availing themselves of their power as petty
officials to further the tyrannous oppression of the rulers, at the
same time enriched themselves at the expense of all unable to resist
their rapacity. The Franks, who were mostly Levantines, were almost
all engaged in trade. Like the Copts they were compelled to live
within certain fixed limits of the town, the Frank quarter being the
street still known as the Mousky, and now the "Cheapside" of Cairo.
This locality was chosen for the accommodation of the European
Christians by Salah ed Deen, who, in 1173, granted to the Republic of
Pisa the first of the long list of "Capitulations," or Treaties, which
the Turkish Government has accorded the European Powers, with a view
to encourage their subjects to visit and settle in the country, and
which grant to those who do so, special rights and privileges for the
protection of their lives and property, and the freedom and
encouragement of their trade. As the Copts then did and still do, the
Franks then wore the costume of the country, and at the time of the
French invasion, almost all of those who remained at Cairo had been
born in Egypt. Earlier in the century there appears to have been a
considerable number of foreign-born Europeans residing in the capital,
but in 1770, owing to the gross oppression of all foreigners by the
Mamaluks, who did not hesitate to despoil them by the imposition of
taxes and charges of all kinds whenever the Government was in need of
funds, the number of French subjects resident at Cairo had fallen so
low that there were but fifteen houses there engaged in trade, and a
few years later, the French Consul having withdrawn, the number
continued to decrease until, in 1785, only three French firms were
left, and the English, who had been endeavouring to utilise the desert
route between Cairo and Suez to develop trade with India, finding it
impossible to contend against the constant raiding of their caravans
by the Bedouins and the oppressive exactions of the Government, had
likewise abandoned the town.

The Christians whose massacre had been demanded at the Kasr el Aini
Council were therefore practically all natives of the country, but
natives subject to the same vile treatment, gross injustice, and
wanton outrage that the Christians of Europe then and even now were,
and are, inflicting upon the unhappy descendants of Israel. Indeed, no
one who has read the accounts of the recent persecutions of the Jews
in Europe and will compare them with those of Christians in Moslem
lands, can fail to admit that the balance to be drawn is in favour of
the Moslem. And there has constantly been, especially in Egypt, this
important distinction between Christian and Moslem persecutions, that
persecution in Christian lands has almost invariably originated with
the people, while in Moslem lands, when not occasioned by the
fanatical bigotry of some despotic ruler, it has almost as constantly
been the result of a weak and impotent Government fomenting fanaticism
for the promotion of its own ends. In both cases it is indisputably
true that the greater the fanaticism has been, the more clearly and
surely can it be traced to the teaching of the spiritual leaders of
the peoples concerned. Not that these leaders have necessarily or
directly advocated persecution, but that their teaching, even when
professedly and honestly denouncing it, has been such that it could
have no other effect than that of rendering those who accepted it
fanatical in spirit, for of what avail can it be that the ministers of
a religion should preach toleration, if at the same time they
vehemently denounce the followers of other religions as the "enemies
of God," doomed to eternal damnation?

Now let us take note that the suggestion of a massacre of the
Christians was made at this Council at a moment when almost every
possible condition that could favour its acceptance was present, and
that in spite of this the proposal was rejected.

There was not a man at that Council who did not know that the
withdrawal of the protection of the Government from the Christians
would have been hailed with delight by the populace, not from
fanaticism, but for the sake of the plunder that would thus have been
brought within their reach. It is, therefore, to the credit of Bekir
Pacha and Ibrahim Bey that, waiving the mutual want of sympathy that
separated them on ordinary matters, they in this instantly joined in
protesting against the suggested massacre. Each of them knew that in
thus acting he was risking his own personal interests. On his part
Bekir Pacha was only too well aware that, although he was the
accredited Governor of the country, the small semblance of authority
he was permitted to exercise was accorded to him by the Beys only for
their own purposes; that it was their delight to thwart his aims,
tarnish his honour, and diminish his influence on every possible
occasion and in every possible way, and that it was to the Ulema that
he had to look for any local support in any contest with his powerful
foes. This knowledge, and the fact that, as we have seen, Murad had
openly taxed him with being accessory to the arrival of the French,
although his denial had been accepted, might well have caused him to
hesitate to speak in defence of the Christians. None the less he did
so, promptly and boldly, and, referring more particularly to the
Copts, he reminded those present that as subjects of the Sultan they
paid the Capitation tax, and that while their doing so exempted them
from military service, it gave them a right both by the laws of Islam
and by the laws and customs of the Empire to the fullest protection.
Happily for the Christians of Cairo the good counsels of these men,
supported by the better informed and more enlightened of the Ulema,
prevailed, and the Council, not satisfied with simply deciding the
matter thus, issued proclamations prohibiting any interference with
the Christians.

This matter having been thus settled, the Council broke up never to
meet again, and thus the last official act of the Beys and Ulemas of
Cairo acting together in a Council of State was one for which
Christianity and Humanity should never cease to have a grateful
memory, the more so that the protection given to the Christians was
not limited to mere words, since, finding that the people, whether
instigated by fanatics or acting for themselves, were assuming a
threatening attitude towards the Franks, Ibrahim Bey had these all
brought from the European quarter and placed under the care of his own
and other reliable men. For the ladies of the Frankish colony the
Bey's wife opened one of his residences, a palatial building in the
southern part of the city known as the Birket el Feel, or Elephant's
Pond, then one of the best and pleasantest portions of the town. Thus
the safety and decent comfort of the whole community was provided



As soon as Bonaparte's flagship, _l'Orient_, had arrived sufficiently
near to the shore a boat was sent into the harbour to bring off the
French Consul, Monsieur Magallon. With their usual want of tact in a
sudden emergency the people at once protested against his leaving, and
would have prevented his going had it not been that the commander of a
Turkish warship then in the harbour, having probably a keen sense of
the possible results to himself and his ship a refusal might produce,
persuaded the Governor to allow him to go. From Monsieur Magallon,
therefore, Bonaparte learned the little serious opposition the town
could offer, since not only was the garrison limited to a body of
about five hundred janissaries, a species of militia possessing
scarcely any military training or experience, but it was so wholly
unprovided with ammunition and other necessaries that at the most it
could make but a momentary resistance. Bonaparte, influenced no doubt
by the fear that Nelson returning might surprise him in the act of
disembarking, decided upon landing immediately. It was in vain that
Admiral Brueys pleaded for a brief delay, urging that the weather was
most unpropitious, and that the roughness of the sea, their distance
from the shore, their ignorance of the coast, the rocky and dangerous
nature of the landing-place, and the approach of night, all combined
to render the operation a most hazardous one. Bonaparte would hear of
no delay, and so, the fleet having been warily drawn close to the
shore, the task of landing the forty thousand men of the expedition
was commenced.

The spot chosen for this purpose was one about three miles to the west
of the town, and the first boatloads reached the shore at ten o'clock
at night. The beaching of the boats was a work of the utmost danger
and difficulty, the darkness upon the rocky beach rendering the scene
one of the greatest confusion. Fortunately for the French, no attempt
was made to oppose their landing, for had the full resources of the
town been brought to bear upon them at this critical point, slight as
those resources were, the invaders must have suffered heavily. As it
was, Bonaparte himself landed a little after midnight, and having
slept for an hour or so upon the sands, set out on foot for the town
with a party of four hundred men. He was, we are told, in the best of
spirits, and marched gaily along with no ear for the surges beating on
the beach, and never recking that, even then, other surges were
drearily droning on the shores of St. Helena the melancholy music that
was to be the doleful dirge of his dying days.

Just as the day was breaking a number of Bedouin Arabs attacked the
little force, but after exchanging a few shots retired beyond range,
and Bonaparte, followed near at hand by additional troops, continued
his advance without further incident until close under the walls of
the town.

Although quite conscious of the hopelessness of their position, the
Governor and the townspeople determined to resist, and the arrival of
the French was therefore saluted with a brisk but ineffectual
cannonading from the walls. Promptly dividing his force into three
divisions, Bonaparte commanded a general assault to be made, and soon,
in spite of the fusillading of the enemy and the showers of stones and
burning materials thrown upon them, two of the divisions succeeded in
scaling the walls, while the third forced its way through one of the
gates. A sharp but brief contest followed in the streets of the town,
but the Governor and the militia having retired to one of the forts,
the people, accepting the assurances that Bonaparte had conveyed to
them, that he came to re-establish the authority of the Sultan and to
overthrow their oppressors, the Mamaluks, by whom it had been usurped,
and that their own lives, property, and religion would be respected,
threw down their arms.

The town thus occupied by the French, the Governor, short of
ammunition, and without hope of succour or aid of any description,
yielded to the inevitable and surrendered with his troops. Anxious to
conciliate the people as much as possible, Bonaparte at once offered
to reinstate the Governor upon the condition of his consenting to
remain faithful to the French, and the offer having been accepted he
was replaced in charge of the town, but subject to the supervision of
General Kleber, who having been wounded in the attack was to remain
for the time in command of the French garrison.

Having thus easily established himself upon Egyptian soil, Bonaparte
lost no time in preparing for an advance upon Cairo, and the landing
of the remainder of the troops, together with the horses for the
cavalry, and the whole of the baggage and equipment of the expedition,
was pressed forward as rapidly as possible. Both as a measure tending
to facilitate this movement and as an important part of the policy he
had resolved to follow in his dealings with the people, Bonaparte set
himself to gain their friendship. Strict orders were, therefore,
issued that the people were not to be molested in any way, and some
soldiers having been detected in looting after the surrender of the
town, he seized the opportunity to give a proof that his assurances
were not intended to be an idle parade of words, and had the offenders
summarily and severely punished. In this, as in other ways, it is
evident that Bonaparte was under the impression that he could gain, if
not the full allegiance, at least the passive neutrality of the
Alexandrians, and, indeed, it was clear from the preparations that he
had made prior to his actual arrival in the country, that he had
looked forward to being received by the Egyptians as a deliverer and
saviour. Two of these preparations deserve special mention here. One,
curiously characteristic of the French spirit of the day, was the
provision of an immense number of tricoloured cockades to be
distributed to, and worn by, the people as evidence of their
reconciliation with the French; the other was the composition and
printing of a proclamation in Arabic which was to serve at once as a
declaration of the aims and intentions of the French in entering Egypt
and as an appeal to the friendship and support of the people. This
proclamation has, with great justice, been described as a most
extraordinary document. Of considerable length, it was framed
throughout with the object of soothing the religious susceptibilities
of the Egyptians, and was so worded as to represent Bonaparte and the
French, if not as Mahomedans, at least as the special friends and
protectors of Islam. Beginning with the well-known formula, "In the
name of the most merciful God," invariably prefixed by Mahomedans to
all important writings, it proceeded to state that the French had
arrived in Egypt with the intention of punishing the Mamaluks for
their ill-treatment of the French and other foreign subjects resident
in the country; to restore to the people themselves the rights of
which they were deprived by their tyrannical rulers, and to
re-establish the authority of the Sultan of Turkey, the legitimate
sovereign. Had the proclamation stopped here it would in all
probability have been accepted by the people as a genuine expression
of the purport and scope of the invasion, but it went on with great
elaboration to promise boons to the people that these were quite
incapable of either comprehending, or had they done so, of
appreciating. These promises were couched in the spirit then dominant
in Paris, and, indeed, throughout France, that is to say, the spirit
of the Revolution, the "Gospel" of "Liberty, equality, and
fraternity," that was to turn the world into a paradise. Thenceforth,
it declared, it was to be possible for all to arrive at the most
exalted posts; public affairs were to be directed by the most learned,
virtuous, and intelligent; and thus the people were to be made happy.
All this was in perfect accord with the theory and teaching of the
Mahomedan religion, but it was in some respects very far indeed from
the practice to which the people had for centuries been accustomed. As
to the promise of opening out facilities for advancement, we have seen
that in the Governor of the town the people had a convincing proof
that these already existed, and it is not at all probable that it ever
occurred to them that the facilities at which the French General
hinted were of a very different nature to those of which Sayed Mahomed
had availed himself. It is not surprising, therefore, that these
promises seemed to the Egyptians nothing more than mere idle bombast,
and were by them promptly put down as simply a valueless bid for their
favour. What followed was still less calculated to win their
confidence, for, as evidence of the friendly spirit of the invasion,
Bonaparte went on to declare his faith in the unity of God, his
respect for the Prophet Mahomed and the Koran, and to claim that he
had "destroyed the Pope" and the Knights of Malta because they were
the enemies of Islam. Such professions as these to the Egyptians
carried on their face their own contradiction, for, if Bonaparte was
in truth a Moslem, or a friend of Islam, how was it, they asked, that
he had entered the dominions of the Sultan without some acknowledgment
from him of the claim thus made to be acting upon his behalf?

The concluding phrases of the proclamation came, too, rather as an
anti-climax to the lofty spirit of benevolence and high aim that the
body of it was intended to express, for the whole rigmarole--I can
scarcely find a better word for it--came to an end with a commonplace
promise that those who submitted to the French should be "exalted,"
while those who opposed them should be "utterly destroyed." One can
fancy how the Egyptians smiled to themselves at this conclusion and
accepted it as in itself the whole object and purport of the document.
But whatever may have been their private feelings on the subject, and
their own historians have told us how little reliance they put upon
the professions and promises thus offered them, it is certain that
outwardly the Alexandrians discreetly accepted both the cockades and
the proclamation without any show of feeling other than that of amused
curiosity. So little, indeed, did they betray their true feelings, the
French were unquestionably deceived, and did not realise how different
these were from those which they had expected the proclamation to
excite. But it is certain that none of the Egyptians were in the least
deceived by its plausible tone, and while they refrained from any
display of hostility to the French, they were looking forward with
high hopes to their early annihilation by the Mamaluks.

Large numbers of this proclamation having been printed by the aid of
the Oriental type and printing presses, with which the expedition was
provided, Bonaparte not only had it freely distributed in Alexandria,
but forwarded copies of it to Cairo and elsewhere, using as his
messengers for this purpose some Mahomedans he had released from the
prisons of Malta, and had brought with him to Egypt, with the object
of utilising them as interpreters, and in the hope that gratitude for
their release would cause them to espouse and advocate his cause.

That Bonaparte's conception of the probable attitude of the Egyptians
towards the expedition was entirely erroneous, is clearly evident from
the whole tone of the proclamation. Thoroughly well-informed as he
appears to have been, as to the actual state of the country and the
deplorable misgovernment from which it was suffering, he and his
countrymen seem to have jumped to the conclusion that they would be
received and welcomed by the people as deliverers. That they should
have so thought is a very noticeable fact, for it plainly proves that
all the information that they had received, including that furnished
by the Consul Magallon and other French residents, afforded no ground
for any suspicion that the French would incur any risk or danger from
fanaticism on the part of the people. That they were keenly awake to
the absolute necessity of conciliating the intense attachment of the
Egyptians to their faith, is not more clearly evident than is the fact
that they had no conception of hostile fanaticism as a factor to be
considered in their relations with the people. It was with
self-satisfied bigotry and not fanaticism that Bonaparte considered he
had to deal, and as we shall see in the course of our story, he was so
far perfectly correct. But in arguing from this assumption, he was led
by ignorance of the facts with which he had to deal, to absolutely
erroneous conclusions. The fundamental error into which he fell is one
that, notwithstanding the warning his experience might have conveyed,
was repeated by ourselves in the beginning of the present occupation
of the country, and distinguishes even the recommendations of the
brilliant statesman, Lord Dufferin. This error was the assumption that
a people so sorely oppressed and downtrodden as were the Egyptians
could not fail to be grateful and friendly to any one who should
deliver them from their oppressors, yet it needed but a slight
acquaintance with the people, with the evils from which they suffered,
and the light in which they regarded those evils, to show that this
could not be so. As we have seen, the dominant trait of the Egyptians'
character was, and is, their loyalty to Islam, and, as a consequence,
their fidelity to the Sultan. Knowing nothing of the Christian
religion or of the political condition of Christendom, they looked
with contempt upon Christians generally as in every way their
inferiors, and recalling how great but unavailing had been the
struggle of the Christians for the possession of the Holy Land, they
regarded their long abstention from all further effort for its
conquest, as a proof and tacit admission of their inability to face
the armies of the Sultan. Thus the Egyptians of that day, as indeed
the great mass of them still do, believed the Sultan to be the
greatest and most powerful monarch in the world. That his rule in
Egypt was little more than nominal they did not perceive. In their
eyes it was a real and substantial power. That they should thus be
blind to what seems to us self-evident truth, is largely to be
attributed to the fact that almost all that was done in the country,
was done in the name of the Sultan. It was in his name and, as they
were often assured, by his authority that the taxes and exactions by
which they were ruined were imposed; and since Beys, Ulema, and all
who represented these, were never tired of preaching that all
resistance or disobedience was rebellion against the Sultan, it was
but natural that they should regard his rule as very far indeed from
being the mere fiction it in reality was.

Nor did the tyranny and oppression from which they suffered in the
least militate against their loyalty, for they never for a moment
attributed their woes or troubles to any more distant cause than the
officials by whose immediate action they were inflicted. That the
higher officials did not protect them was, as they thought, due solely
to the misrepresentations, indifference, or ill-faith of those through
whom alone they had access to them. There was not a fellah in the land
in those days, nor is there one to-day, that did not or does not
believe that if he could only lay his grievances before the Sultan or
the Khedive in person, he would receive perfect justice and ample
compensation for all his tribulations. They were confirmed in this
opinion by the nature of the oppression from which they suffered, for
this necessarily varied in different places and at different times,
according to the personal character of the officials through or by
whom it was inflicted. Moreover, among the worst of their tyrants of
high degree, however callous these might be to the miseries of the
people, there were but few, indeed, who did not consider it a matter
of policy, and therefore in some measure one of pleasure, to pose now
and then as a minister of justice, or as a benevolent benefactor. To
render justice to the poor and oppressed, and to be profuse in
liberality, have ever been the surest means of gaming the real and
sincere approbation or devotion of the Egyptians, as of all other
Oriental peoples. None knew this fact or appreciated it more
thoroughly than some of those from whose heartless cruelty they
suffered most. Nor was it difficult in the roughly organised
administration of the country, for the worst of their oppressors to
play the part of an innocent victim of the wrong-doing of others, for
when appealed to, the higher officials threw the blame upon their
subordinates, while these in their turn professed to be the unwilling
but helpless agents of their superiors. Thus finding all complaints
useless, the sufferers always nourished the thought that if they could
only plead their case personally to the Sultan, the one and only
person who could not urge his own impotency to remedy the evils they
complained of, or grant them the relief they sought, they would be
assured of the justice and mercy they so sorely needed, and which they
could gain from no other. That this should be their idea is not
surprising, for they have never as yet risen beyond the idea of
personal government, and therefore while their belief in the
immaculate justice and merciful disposition of the Sultan was
liberally fed and encouraged by all around them, even by those from
whose tyranny and greed they suffered most, they attributed his
evident indifference to their griefs to the impossibility of his
knowing and dealing with all the acts of all the officials of his
Empire. Of an organised system of government, in which the controlling
power is able to exert itself through all grades of its officials from
the highest downwards to the lowest, they had no knowledge, and indeed
could have no conception, nor even in the present day, after more than
twenty years' experience of the working of such a Government, have
they any just idea of its organisation or of the principles or methods
upon which its efficiency is based. Nor did the Egyptians see the
cruelty and tyranny from which they suffered from the same point of
view as the French did, or as we do. However limited and imperfect
were the services that the Government rendered them, they were
conscious that they were in some respects dependent upon it. It at
least afforded them a certain amount of protection for life and
property, and gave them a rude system of justice. As a return for
these benefits they admitted its right to tax them, and being thus
entitled to tax them, it naturally, as it seemed to them, taxed them
to the uttermost penny, while they as naturally paid as little as

It was simply a contest between the Government and the governing, not
unlike the bargaining that was their sole method of carrying on trade
in the bazaars and markets, and they had and could have no conception
of any other manner in which the Government of a country could be
conducted. It was not possible, therefore, for the people to grasp the
ideas Bonaparte was anxious to press upon them, nor was it possible
that during his short stay in Alexandria they should have any
opportunity of gaining a better comprehension of his Republican
ideals, so utterly at conflict with all their conceptions of the
relations of a people with those who governed them. It is true, that
having confirmed Mahomed Kerim as Governor of the town, Bonaparte had
appointed a Dewan, or Council of seven members, to aid in the
administration of its affairs; and to these he, no doubt, gave sage
advice and strict injunctions as to the duty of governing for the
benefit of the people; but while to him this Council was suggestive of
the Directory of Paris, and thus of the spirit of the Republic, to the
Alexandrians it was but a reproduction of the Dewan at Cairo, which to
them was typical of nothing but tyranny and torture. Further, the
strict discipline necessarily enforced upon all the members of the
expedition, and rendered all the more evident and striking, in that
all ranks were ceaselessly engaged in the work of receiving the stores
from the ships and preparing for the advance, when contrasted with the
laxity that prevailed in the ranks of the Mamaluks and of all other
troops that the people had previously had any knowledge of, was not at
all calculated to point with any but sarcastic emphasis the doctrines
of equality and fraternity presented to them.

And not only the spirit, but even the wording of the proclamation, was
fatal to its success. In it Bonaparte had declared that "all men are
equal in the sight of God." This, to Mahomedan ears, was nothing short
of rank and absolute blasphemy, for the Koran, which to the Mahomedan
is the veritable and literal "Word of God," emphatically asserts, and
in the plainest terms, the contrary. This clause was, therefore, in
itself sufficient to stamp the whole document with impotency, and
showed how imperfectly Bonaparte and his advisers were informed on
some of the points most affecting the sentiments and spirit of the
people. To the Moslem all mankind is divided into two classes--the
Moslems and the non-Moslems. Between these they admit of no equality
whatever. Among themselves they are theoretically equal. As a Moslem
the Sultan himself is no more than his meanest servant. Hence the
democratic spirit that exists everywhere in Islam, and hence the
freedom with which servants and even slaves address their masters. But
in contradiction to this, the man who rules, whether as Sultan or as
his deputy, or in any minor degree as the master of a household or
otherwise, is, from the mere fact of his ruling, regarded as being
invested with a Divine right to do so, since, although one subject to
limitations, it is equally a doctrine of the Koran, that all power is
from God, and therefore to be respected as such. Thus in Islam
democracy and despotism go hand in hand; and while the Moslem of
Egypt, as the Moslem of other lands, sees no incongruity or difficulty
in this, to the European mind the concurrent operation of these two
conflicting theories gives rise to many puzzling problems. Yet the
solution is simple enough, for the democracy of Islam is the democracy
of the grave, the recognition of the truth that all must die, and that
in death all are equal; for though this belief be shared by all men as
the one great truism of life, among Mahomedans everywhere there is an
active sense of its verity that ever present with them modifies all
their views of life and death in a manner wholly foreign to the
European mind.

To the Egyptians, therefore, the proclamation was a mere flood of
futile folly, and so little confidence was placed in its promises or
in the French protestations of amity, that many of the people who
could afford to do so made haste to quit the town and seek shelter in
Rosetta or elsewhere, wherever they could speed by boat or by land as
opportunity offered.



That the advance to Cairo might be made as rapidly as possible,
Bonaparte decided that the bulk of his army should proceed direct to
Damanhour, a town thirty-three miles to the south of Alexandria, and
on the most direct road to the capital. As it would have been most
difficult to convey the heavy baggage of the expedition by this route,
lying as it did across desert and inhospitable lands, General Dugua
was commissioned to proceed by the longer but more practical and
agreeable one, usually adopted by the people of the country. This led
by Rosetta, a town situated four miles from the sea on the west bank
of the Nile, and forty-five miles from Alexandria. Thence as soon as
the town had been effectively occupied the General, accompanied by a
flotilla of boats, which were to be sent round from Alexandria as
transports for the troops and stores, was to proceed up the Nile to
Ramanieh, where his division was to meet the main army under the
immediate command of Bonaparte.

Short as was the distance to Damanhour, the march over the barren,
burning desert was a most trying one for the troops of the
expedition, who suffered severely from the want of food and water.
Meat and bread were alike unobtainable, and the famished soldiers at
the end of their day's march had to satisfy their hunger with rude
cakes of grain crushed between stones and roughly baked on open fires.
Nor did their arrival at Damanhour bring them any very sensible relief
or encouragement, for there, as everywhere on their advance, the plain
evidence the miserable homes of the people afforded of the chronic
poverty in which they lived, was such as to wholly damp the ardour of
the troops and fill them with dismay at the prospect of a sojourn and
campaign in such an inhospitable country. Fortunately for them it was
the season of the water-melons, and on these and the coarse cakes of
bread I have mentioned they had to support the fatigues of their march
as best they might. To add to their distress, small parties of Arabs
hovered perpetually around the wretched column and, while keeping at a
safe distance from the main body, lost no opportunity of slaughtering
every weary straggler who got separated from his companions.

These Arabs were all Bedouins, or nomadic Arabs belonging to tribes
inhabiting the deserts that skirt the Delta and valley of the Nile,
and, possessing all the characteristics of their race, were nothing
more than restless, roving bands of robbers, ever ready to prey upon
all unhappy enough to fall into their hands. Arabs by race and
Mahomedans by religion, they yet acknowledged no ties of kinship or
brotherhood outside of their own tribes, and were as ready to
plunder, ill-use, and massacre the Egyptians as the French, or to
unite with either against the other as the interest of the moment
might dictate. In attacking the French, therefore, they were actuated
by no other desire than that of securing the spoil of arms and other
loot to be reaped from the bodies of their victims.

Of the people of the country the French during their advance saw
almost nothing; for fearing, not only the loss of everything they
possessed, but that they themselves might be seized and compelled to
work as slaves in the service of the army or be sent for sale in
foreign lands, and dreading that their women would be outraged and
their children massacred, they had, at the first warning of the
approach of the French enemy, hastened to forsake their homes and seek
safety in distant towns or villages, taking with them their flocks and
herds and as much as possible of their portable property.

After spending a couple of nights at Damanhour in taking the rest it
so badly needed, the army set out for Ramanieh by a route leading
almost at right angles to that which they had been following. On the
way they fell in with a small party of the Mamaluks, with which they
had a brief skirmish, Bonaparte himself narrowly escaping capture
while separated, with a few attendants, from the main column of the
force. At Ramanieh the army again halted for a rest and to await the
arrival of the division for Rosetta.

Meanwhile General Dugua, with the force under his command, had arrived
at Rosetta. This town, now fallen into decay and yearly decreasing in
population, was then a place of considerable importance, owing to its
position at the mouth of the Nile, and the fact of its being the
chosen terminus of the journey by boat of those travelling between
Cairo and Alexandria. In many ways one of the most pleasant spots in
the whole of Egypt, surrounded by gardens and cultivation, and having
markets well filled with all the produce of the country, it was at
that time probably of all the towns of Egypt the one most attractive
to foreigners.

Here as in other parts of the country there was a small colony of
Christians, including some few Europeans, and when the fugitives from
Alexandria began to arrive with the news of the landing of the French
and their occupation of that town, these were thrown into a state of
the greatest alarm by the prompt outbreak of a fanatical cry for their
assassination. There were in the town a number of Candiotes who had
been drawn to it by the fact that the acting Governor was a countryman
of theirs, and these had brought with them the fanatical spirit common
in their own country. It was among these that the demand for a
massacre of the Christians was started, and the Governor himself
appears to have been favourable to the project, which was in fact one
of plunder rather than of murder, conceived in the hope that it would
provide the Candiotes with an opportunity of enriching themselves safe
from all danger of retribution. That the Egyptians did not readily
accept the proposal is clear, as otherwise it would undoubtedly have
been put into immediate practice. Happily for the Christians the
opposition offered was strong enough to delay the carrying out of the
plan the turbulent bigots had formed. The matter was still being
heatedly discussed when messengers arrived from Alexandria with copies
of Bonaparte's proclamation. These testified that so far the people of
that town had not only received generous treatment from the French,
but were being liberally paid for all that the French required from

The assurances they thus received that they had nothing to fear as to
the safety of their lives or property were accepted by the people of
Rosetta with the thoughtless impulsiveness of the true Egyptian. From
a condition of panic and despair they passed at a bound to one of
scarcely doubting satisfaction. Difficult as it may be for us to
realise it, this was but the natural consequence of the character of
the people and of the circumstances in which they lived. As we have
seen, their rulers, the Mamaluks, were foreigners, to whom they were
united by no ties, whom they hated and feared, and from whom they
could expect no benefit or advantage of any kind. When, therefore,
they learned upon the testimony of their own countrymen the generous
behaviour of the French to their vanquished enemy, they had reason
rather to welcome than to oppose them, their hostility to the idea of
being ruled by Christians being for the moment wholly outweighed by
the rapture of their release from appalling alarm.

The panic that had arisen being thus allayed the counsels of the
tolerant Egyptians were promptly accepted, and so heartily was the
suggestion of an attack upon the Christians repudiated by the people
in general, that the Governor and some others who had been foremost in
the agitation for the massacre hastened to leave the town, and set out
to join the forces of the Mamaluks. As soon as their departure became
known it was decided to offer no opposition to the French, and when,
therefore, General Dugua approached he was met by a deputation which
presented the keys of the town to him, and gave him an assurance of
the peaceful disposition of the inhabitants.

Of the attitude of the people of Alexandria and Rosetta towards the
French after their first glad acceptance of the terms accorded them,
we can learn little from the native historians; it is not, however,
difficult to conceive what that attitude really was. Assured for the
time of the peaceful possession of their lives and property, and freed
from the terrors that had assailed them at the first coming of the
enemy, they were in no mood to criticise or question the good faith of
the newcomers, but as their feelings regained their wonted calm doubts
began to arise. It was to them an altogether unheard-of thing that a
military force should occupy a country and not at once seize upon its
wealth, or at least exact tribute of some kind or other from the
people. Nor could they forget that the Mamaluks when moving in the
country, alike in time of peace or in time of war, ruthlessly took all
they needed as a right to which they were entitled. How came it, then,
that the French not only did not despoil them, but paid and paid well
for what they required? Why should they pay when they could if they
would help themselves freely? That, in the abstract, it was but
justice the people knew well enough, but that any people could possess
so keen a sense of justice as to thus conciliate its claims they could
not understand, for, after all, they could not but regard it as a
voluntary foregoing of what seemed to them a clearly defined and
evident right. Hence they were not long in coming to the conclusion
that the forbearance of the French might be a mere trick to enable
them to more effectually carry out some deep-laid scheme for the
complete spoliation of the people. But the honest man has an inborn
sense of the false and true that is seldom misled. Rogues batten upon
rogues. And the Egyptian, by nature honest in thought and deed, is not
slow to recognise honesty in others, so the straightforward sincerity
of the French beat back his doubts; and baffled and perplexed he took
refuge in a halting attitude, a kind of moral armed neutrality,
neither fully accepting nor yet rejecting their proffered friendship.
As to the French, though they could not but be conscious that they had
not been received with the open arms they had expected to greet them,
and were sensible that the people were acting under some restraint,
they had no just conception of the real position, and believed that
only a little time was needed to enable them to gain the full
confidence of the people.

On the whole, therefore, things went smoothly enough in the early days
of the occupation, and General Dugua lost no time in establishing at
Rosetta a provisional administration on the lines of that set up by
Bonaparte in Alexandria. This having been done the work of preparing a
flotilla for the ascent of the Nile was carried on with the utmost
despatch. It took but a few days to do all that was necessary, and
General Dugua, leaving a small force as a garrison, started with the
division under his command for Ramanieh, which he reached without
encountering any difficulty or opposition.

From Ramanieh the French army continued its advance upon Cairo, and
keeping always within touch of the west bank of the Nile, was
accompanied by the flotilla laden with the stores and provisions. As
is usual at that time of the year, the ascent of the river was
facilitated by the strong winds which blow across the country and up
the river with a strength more than sufficient to counteract the swift
downward flow of the stream. Coming from the north these winds
naturally tend to moderate the temperature, but though thus beneficial
to the troops, who had already suffered so much from the parching heat
of the desert, they proved an unexpected source of danger, for, its
progress exceeding that of the troops, the flotilla unexpectedly
encountered near Shebriss a fleet of gunboats from Cairo that, borne
by the downward current of the river, was approaching it at a speed
not less than its own, and was supported on either bank of the river
by large bodies of the Mamaluks. The French finding themselves thus
running right into the midst of their enemies, while their own troops
were as yet too far behind to succour them, the boats of the flotilla
were hastily anchored in the positions they happened to occupy at the
moment. A brisk engagement followed, in which the invaders were so
sorely pressed that had not the explosion of a powder magazine on one
of the Egyptian boats suddenly thrown the enemy into confusion, it is
more than probable the whole flotilla would have fallen into the hands
of the Egyptians. As it was, several of the French boats were
captured, and their crews either driven into the river or ruthlessly
cut down, and their decapitated heads exposed to the horrified gaze of
their companions. So evident was the danger that pressed them that
Bertillon, one of the _savants_ who accompanied the force, began to
fill his pockets with stones gathered from the ballast of the boat in
which he happened to be, and when asked why he did so replied that he
might sink rapidly rather than fall into the hands of the enemy.
Fortunately for the French, ere the Egyptians had recovered from the
confusion the explosion had created the fall of night put an end to
the contest.

Meanwhile, intelligence of what was happening having been sent to
Bonaparte, he had hastened to the aid of the flotilla, but only
succeeded in reaching it too late to take any part in the battle.
Early the next morning, however, the two armies were drawn up in
battle array, and the Mamaluks, with the fearless and impetuous
bravery which had always been characteristic of them, lost no time in
opening the attack and charged right up to the French line. Their
accustomed dash and reckless courage proved, however, of no avail, and
they were speedily repulsed by the veterans to whom they were opposed,
who kept their ranks unbroken, and waited for the near approach of
their foes to pour upon them a galling and destructive fire. Baffled
by the stolid calmness of the French, and puzzled by the impotency of
their own wild charge, the Mamaluks hastily withdrew beyond the French
line of fire and halted, apparently uncertain what course to pursue.
In the pause that followed an incident occurred curiously illustrating
the widely different ideas and spirit by which the two armies were
animated. One of the Mamaluk Beys rode unaccompanied towards the
French line, and boldly challenged his foes to single combat; but, for
the French at all events, as a French historian cynically remarks, the
time for such chivalrous exploits was past, and to the disgrace of the
French the daring Mamaluk was shot down on the spot. Discomfited by
the repulse they had sustained and with the whole of their forces
thrown into disorder, the Mamaluk chiefs decided to abandon the field,
and turning their horses' heads retreated precipitately towards Cairo.

Thenceforth the expedition continued its advance without further
opposition until within sight of Cairo, always keeping close to the
river, not only for the sake of the water, but for that of the more
abundant supplies obtainable in its vicinity, and for the mutual
support of the army and the flotilla. To carry out these latter
objects more effectually a strong detachment was sent across the river
to guard the east bank, and to forage in the villages of the Delta. On
both sides of the river the troops continued to be harassed by small
parties of the Bedouins, who, following all their movements, availed
themselves of every opportunity of cutting off stragglers. One of
these raiding parties having surprised a junior officer, whom from his
uniform and appearance they mistakenly supposed to be a man of high
rank, carried him into their camp with a view to holding him for
ransom. Bonaparte at once sent a messenger to offer a few guineas for
his release. Thereupon a dispute arose among his captors as to which
of them should receive the ransom, and was continued so heatedly that
the chief of the party, enraged at their obstinacy, declaring that
none of them should have it, shot the unfortunate prisoner and sent
the ransom back.

As the force moved onwards towards Cairo the heat became daily more
and more oppressive and enervating to the troops, to whom, fresh from
the genial spring climate of Southern Europe, the fierce and dazzling
glare of the sun in the shelterless lands through which their route
lay, was little short of an agonising misery. To add to their
sufferings the food obtainable was, as before, neither adequate nor
adapted to their needs.

It was not until the 20th of July that the army caught its first sight
of the pyramids and of the Mokattam hills overhanging the city of
Cairo. As they had drawn nearer the capital, the evidence of a greatly
increased density of population, and the greater abundance and variety
of the supplies they had been able to secure, gave the jaded troops
fresh energy and hope. They were still much more than a long day's
march from the pyramids when Bonaparte received intelligence that the
Mamaluk army was encamped at Embabeh, a village on the west bank of
the river, at the spot where it is now crossed by the railway bridge.
As it was then evening the army was halted and bivouacked for the
night at the hamlet of Om el Dinar, but only to rise and resume its
march before the first dawn of day. Animated by the prospect of the
combat now but a few hours before them, and which, as they confidently
expected, was to gain them a fair reward for all the hardships they
had been enduring, the troops pressed onward eager for battle, but it
was not until two o'clock in the afternoon that at the end of a twelve
hours' march, they found themselves in touch with the enemy.

Learning that the Mamaluks had entrenched themselves in front of the
village of Embabeh, and had planted a battery of forty guns in
position behind their trenches, Bonaparte decided that it would be
necessary to advance in such a way as to be able to attack the enemy's
position upon its flanks, and he therefore so disposed his forces
that, each division marching in the form of a hollow square, the whole
would approach the enemy's position in the form of a crescent, and so
that, while the right and left wings would threaten the Mamaluks'
flanks, the centre would be prepared to repulse the front attack he
expected them to make according to their custom.

Murad Bey, who, with his long white beard covering his breast, was in
personal command of the Mamaluks, was not slow to detect the aim of
the French General, and quickly ordered Eyoub Bey, one of the best
and bravest of the Mamaluk commanders, to advance and attack the
division of General Desaix, who was moving round towards the west with
a view to outflanking the left wing of the Egyptian position. Eyoub,
who had under him a large and fearless, but wholly undisciplined, body
of cavalry, at once bore straight down on the French without seeking
cover of any kind, and, when within charging distance, dashed upon the
French square with the wild cries, brandishing of arms, and tumultuous
crowding customary to all Oriental warfare of that day.

Faithful to the orders they had received, the French withheld their
fire until the enemy were close upon them, so close that the ruthless
rending of the ranks of the Mamaluks by the fierce hail of shot poured
upon them was all insufficient to stay their headlong charge, which,
bearing down the resistance of their foes, carried them into the
centre of the broken square. But the French veterans, always cool and
prompt, turned about, and the Mamaluks, finding themselves encircled
by their enemies' fire, fought their way back and out of the square,
but only to bring themselves under a heavy crossfire from the square
and the division of General Kleber, who was moving up to its support.
Eyoub's party being thus routed, the French made a direct attack in
force upon the entrenched position in front of the village of Embabeh
and carried it at the bayonet's point, while the divisions forming the
left wing of the attack pushed on between the village and the river.
The Mamaluks were thus caught between the horns of a crescent that
was threatening to close and entirely surround them. Seeing the
danger, Murad Bey at once withdrew his men, and sought the scanty
shelter of a grove of date-trees at a little distance from the
village. In doing this he was compelled to leave behind him some
hundreds of the Mamaluk troops who, caught between the French and the
river, utterly unable to defend themselves or to fly, were
deliberately shot down by the French or perished in an attempt to
escape across the river. As one historian says, it was no longer a
fight but a massacre; and thus ingloriously ended what is termed by
the Egyptians the "Battle of Embabeh," and by the French the "Battle
of the Pyramids," a battle by which the power of the Mamaluks was
shattered, and Bonaparte was left for the moment master of Egypt; a
battle in which the steady discipline of modern warfare proved once
and for all its immeasurable superiority over the wild chivalry of the
past; a battle which, apart from this and the vast consequences that
have resulted from its issue, is scarcely worthy of remembrance.

The whole combat had lasted rather less than an hour, and when it was
over the French soldiers, forgetting their fatigues and weariness,
turned the field into a vast mart, bartering and selling the spoils of
rich armour, weapons, apparel and other things they were able to reap
from the bodies of their vanquished foes.

Murad Bey, finding it impossible to recover his position, and that his
forces were too disorganised and dismayed by a system of warfare so
strange and incomprehensible to them to make any further effort,
abandoned the field and hastened away to his summer palace at Ghizeh,
whence, after collecting his most portable valuables, he set out for
Upper Egypt.

The justice that never fails had thus overtaken the iniquities of the
Mamaluks. For centuries they had desolated the land, sacrificing all
else to their own ambitious greed, and now they were "shattered and
broken," never again to recover. For a short time they were to
struggle and hope vainly for a return to power, but it was not to be.
The fiat of Heaven itself was against them, and the decree of their
doom went forth as infinitely more inexorable than the laws of the
Medes and the Persians as Omnipotence is to impotency. Some years
afterwards, when the British were encamped upon the banks of the Nile
near Beni Souif, a poor, half-blind, wholly-destitute fugitive sought
protection and a pittance at their hands. It was Ibrahim, the last of
the great Mamaluk Beys, a man by no means typical of the baser of his
class, with many faults, yet with some good points, one who under
happier circumstances might have left an honourable record of service
for the welfare of his fellow-men. As it was, his fate was but a part
of the answer of that wrath that had at last heard the cry of the
distressed, and avenged the wrongs of the widow and the orphan.



Before leaving Cairo to meet and oppose the French advance, Murad Bey
had arranged that a large chain was to be stretched, as a boom, across
the river, and batteries erected upon the adjacent shore to play upon
the enemy in the confusion he anticipated would arise from their
meeting with this obstacle. It was not, however, until the news of the
defeat of the Mamaluks at Shebriss had thrown the capital into the
utmost confusion, that any serious efforts were made to prepare the
defences of the city. When that news came to the people, who had been
looking forward to receiving tidings of the destruction of the French,
then Ibrahim Bey and Bekir Pacha, filled with alarm at this first note
of disaster, jointly called upon the whole population to take up arms
and hasten to the riverside for the defence of their homes and
families. Weapons and ammunition were served out as long as they could
be got to all comers, and when the supply of deadlier arms ran short,
the deficiency was made good in intention, if not in fact, by the
distribution of naboots, long staffs of hard wood, which the Egyptians
of the lower classes are accustomed to use much as our distant
forebears used their quarter-staffs. Other impromptu weapons were
provided by the people themselves, such as knives lashed to the end of
long sticks, this primitive arm which could be either wielded as a
lance or thrown as a javelin being destined at a later date to deprive
the French of one of their ablest generals.

Cairo was at that time separated from the river by an open stretch of
ground, now covered by the avenues lined by the villas and mansions
that form the Kasr el Aini and Ismailia quarters of the town. At the
north end of this space was the small town of Boulac, which served as
the port of the city then as it still does. This was the spot chosen
by Ibrahim Bey as the headquarters for the defence of the town, and
here and around the people were gathered, and quantities of stores and
ammunition of every kind collected, whatever was needed or desired, if
not found in the magazines of the State, being seized without ceremony
wherever it could be got. For several days the space between the two
towns was covered with the crowds coming and going, engaged in the
transport of the various materials required; and so great was the
haste to finish the work and the desire to help it on, that men of
almost all degrees assisted in the task. As it was impossible to find
accommodation for everybody at Boulac, a large number of the people
returned to their homes in the city to pass the night and gain
well-earned repose, but only to return at the first dawn of day.
Unwonted and severe as was the labour they had to undergo, all worked
not only willingly but with the greatest enthusiasm, and with all the
needless noise and tumult that is a never-failing part of any exertion
the Egyptian worker is called upon to make. Not unnaturally the
workers encouraged each other by vaunting cries of contempt and
derision for the enemy they were expecting, and thus incurred the
censure of the Egyptian historian Gabarty, who condemns such conduct
as lacking in the dignity that should distinguish the defence of

The Ulema, who, like the Druids of old, have always been exempt from
military service and taxation, were like them, not backward in
encouraging others in their toil or in assisting in such ways and
manners as befitted their character. Very properly they busied
themselves especially in prayer, and at all the stated hours of
worship offered up fervent supplications to the Deity for protection
and victory, and, the children of all the schools being under their
charge, they gathered these and led them in processions reciting
invocations suited to the occasion.

The dervishes, or, as they are often incorrectly termed, the "Monks of
Islam," who are in reality simply members of lay confraternities, such
as those of the Catholic Church, also assembled themselves and paraded
the streets flying their banners and accompanied by the weird Arab
music of pipes and drums that, unwelcome to European ears, has a
strange fascination for the Arab and Egyptian, and, like the "Ça ira"
or "Marseillaise" in the streets of Paris, fills its hearers with a
fierce longing for action and excitement, a wild craving to be up and
doing they know not what, or why.

Some of the wealthier citizens left the town to seek refuge in the
neighbouring villages, others simply sent their families and valuables
away and joined the gathering at Boulac, and the town being thus
practically deserted--even the Sheikhs el Harah, petty officials
appointed in all the quarters of the town to look after public order,
being engaged at Boulac--the streets, which in ordinary times were
swept and watered daily, were neglected, and business of every kind
being of necessity at a standstill, the poorer classes, who lived from
hand to mouth on their daily earnings, no longer finding any
employment, were driven by sheer starvation to seek in robbery and
crime a means of living.

The Dewan having been broken up by the departure of Murad Bey and
others of the Mamaluk chiefs, no regular council could be held; but
Bekir Pacha, with some of the Ulema and leading men who remained, held
frequent consultations and were in constant communication with Ibrahim
Bey, who remained at Boulac day and night to supervise the work there
and along the river, by the side of which batteries were being erected
for a distance of nearly three miles north of Boulac.

Ibrahim Bey appears to the last to have preserved his confidence in
the certainty of the Mamaluks proving victorious, but Bekir Pacha,
when the news of the near approach of the French was received, decided
in conjunction with some of the Ulema to make an attempt to treat with
the enemy. With this object in view they sent for a Monsieur Bandeuf,
who was regarded as the leader of the French colony, and begged him to
tell them candidly what he thought was the object of the invasion. He,
of course, was no better informed upon this point than they were
themselves, but he could at least form an idea, and his reply was that
he believed it most likely the French desired nothing more than a free
passage through the country to enable them to proceed to India to join
their countrymen there in their struggle with the English. Accepting
this as, at least, a possibly true explanation of the invasion, they
proposed to Monsieur Bandeuf that he should go as an envoy from them
to Bonaparte, and assure him of their willingness to facilitate him in
every way if such were his object. Not without some hesitation
occasioned by his fear that it would not be possible for him to reach
the French camp in safety, Monsieur Bandeuf consented to do this, and
was preparing to set out, with an escort of the Mamaluks of Ibrahim
Bey for his protection, when the reverberations of the cannon at
Embabeh were heard, and they realised that it was too late for such an
embassy as they had proposed.

As soon as Ibrahim Bey heard the commencement of the battle he began
to take such steps as he could to forward assistance to Murad Bey, but
long before any effective move in that direction could be made the
battle was over, and Ibrahim Bey, hearing of the flight of Murad,
hastened back to Cairo with Bekir Pacha, to take their families and
valuables and flee.

Words fail to describe the panic that overwhelmed the people. Utterly
helpless, and unaccustomed to think or act for themselves, unarmed and
without any possible means of defence, they saw themselves, deserted
by their leaders, at the mercy of a foe from whom, as they thought,
they could expect no quarter and no pity, while the military force, in
the protection of which they had felt such unbounded confidence, was
in full flight leaving them to their fate. To any unwarlike and
helpless people to be thus suddenly abandoned as a prey to an unknown
foe must have seemed an appalling disaster, but in this case no
circumstance seems to have been wanting that could by any possibility
add to the natural terror of the people at the calamity that had so
suddenly befallen them. In less than an hour they were plunged from an
exulting ecstasy of triumphant anticipation to the crushing
despondency of the direst despair. The consternation that had been
occasioned by the first news of the defeat of the Mamaluks at Shebriss
had been largely, if not wholly, dissipated by the representations of
the Mamaluks, and so loud and blatant were the vauntings of the people
that Gabarty, whose Arab blood had but little sympathy for any open
expression of the emotions, speaks in the most contemptuous terms of
their conduct as wholly unworthy of a people deserving of any esteem.
Nor had the Mamaluks, knowing well how little love the people bore
them, neglected to contribute all they could to their fear of the
French by attributing to these the lust of rapine and bloodthirsty
cruelty. And with the news of the defeat and flight of Murad Bey came
the tale of the slaughter of the Mamaluks by the riverside to confirm
and augment the worst fears of the people. Later on reports were
spread that the French were still busy slaying and destroying all
before them, and, Ibrahim Bey having ordered the burning of all the
boats to prevent the French using them to cross the river, the people,
ignorant of this, took the dense columns of smoke arising from the
riverside as confirmation of the ruthless ravage the French were said
to be wrecking. In the dire madness of the despair that seized them no
room was left for any other thoughts than those of self-preservation,
and, as the evening closed in and night fell, the whole population,
laden with all they could carry of their goods or wealth, streamed out
of the city gates. In the maddened rush for safety, all the claims of
blood and friendship were forgotten, and men and women alike, frantic
from their fears, fought their way through the fleeing crowds heedless
of parents, wives, brothers, sisters.

More than one writer has taken this wild exodus as a text to accuse
the people of cowardice. Nothing could be more unjust. They were
flying from what to them was a very real and immediate danger, and for
the most part on foot from mounted foes. They could see no other
choice but fly or die, and the darkness of the night, the suddenness
of the danger, everything helped to urge them onward. Not more sure
was Christian that he was fleeing from the City of Destruction than
were they. It was a panic such as seizes a people with all the more
uncontrollable force in that it comes as a sudden revulsion from
peaceful ease; one such as those that in our own days in London,
Paris, New York, and San Francisco have turned laughing, joyous crowds
of pleasure-seekers into mobs of frenzied fugitives. When in the days
of the dynamite scare in London the crash of the Scotland Yard
explosion was heard in the Strand, men dashed here and there for
safety from the danger that had passed. Not long after I saw a roomful
of men hurl themselves headlong down a narrow flight of stairs,
fleeing madly from the report of a detonating cigar! I have seen panic
seize a thousand emigrants on board a German ship in mid-ocean;
another, the pilgrims for Mecca on an Austrian ship in Bombay Harbour;
another, the coolies working on the Hurnai Railway in Beloochistan. In
these cases the panic-creating danger was an imaginary one, and yet in
real danger these same victims of panic remained calm and collected.
It was so, as we shall have occasion to see, with the unhappy

I have spoken already of the fears that the coming of the French had
awakened in the hearts of the people, and to the Cairenes it must have
seemed on that most miserable of nights as if the realisation of all
the worst of those fears was but the question of a few moments. As the
evening had fallen had they not seen the columns of flame-emblazoned
smoke that to them were a proof of the ferocious fury of the foe? Had
they not seen the Mamaluk Chiefs, the bravest of the brave, fleeing
for life with breathless haste? With no arms, no leaders, nothing but
instant flight as the only means of safety they could conceive, surely
a people who had not been panic-stricken in such dire peril would
have been a nation of heroes such as the world has never yet seen!

But if safety for them lay outside the city, it was not beneath its
walls, for there the Bedouin tribesmen, whom Ibrahim Bey had summoned
to assist him in the defence of the town, disappointed of the plunder
of the French army to which they had looked forward as their only
inducement to take part in the contest, with untroubled consciences
turned to the pillage of the unhappy fugitives as a heaven-sent
compensation for their unrealised hopes. Nor were they content with
the rich plunder that thus easily fell into their hands, but with
wanton savagery murdered the men and outraged and slew the women. Thus
finding at the hands of their co-religionists, who had been summoned
for their defence, no better mercy than the unrestrained cruelty they
feared from the French, the unhappy people, or at least so many of
them as escaped from the Bedouins, returned to their homes, while the
Mamaluk Chiefs and their followers rode away through the desert
indifferent to the fate of all they had left behind them.

Meanwhile the French army, after a short rest, had advanced along the
left bank of the river as far as Ghizeh, a village lying in the line
between the city and the pyramids, where Bonaparte decided to encamp.
On their way from Embabeh the troops had an opportunity of seeing
across the river the town of Cairo and the nearly mile-wide stretch of
open land lying between, studded with the gardens and summer
residences of some of the wealthier of the Beys. Elated by their
victory, and perhaps still more so by the rich loot they had gleaned
from the dead bodies of their fallen foes, they forgot the fatigues of
their long advance, and set themselves to enjoy the rest they so much
needed and the comparatively luxurious fare they expected to
compensate them for all the hardships they had endured. Many were the
castles that rose in the air as they sat around the bivouac fires, and
joked and jested until, wearied by the labours of the day, "Nature's
soft nurse" lulled them to the repose she withheld from their
vanquished enemies.

But the coming of daylight on the morrow of the battle brought to the
horror-whelmed citizens some small gleam of comfort. Fugitives from
the west bank of the river told them how the French had settled
peacefully down at Ghizeh, and people coming into the town from Boulac
explained the fires that had added so much to the terror of the night.
With the calmer mood thus induced came the remembrance of what they
had heard of the mildness and humanity of the French at Alexandria and
Rosetta, and along the line of their advance, and though the mourners
were wailing for their dead and missing in every street and corner of
the town, and their homes had been dismantled or disordered by the
flight of the night before, and swept by the thieves of the city of
whatever had been left behind, the people still, as ever, impulsive
and hopeful, began with the truest of courage to repair as best they
might the havoc that awful night had wrought, and to face the fears
and dangers yet before them with a spirit little short of heroism.

Early in the morning the Ulema and the few leading men who remained in
the town gathered together to consult as to what course it would be
best for them to follow. They had not much scope for discussion, for
they recognised from the first that the only question left for them to
deal with was how best to conciliate the conquerors. Eventually it was
agreed to send a deputation to the French camp to announce their
submission and crave the forbearance and protection of the French
General, and thus to ascertain as far as possible what they had to
hope and what to fear. Tactless as he is in a moment of emergency,
when he stays to take thought with himself in calm and serious mood,
the Egyptian not unfrequently shows a wisdom that his critics seldom
accord him. Thus, wholly inexperienced as they were in such diplomatic
matters, they wisely judged that to send as the representatives of the
town men who could claim to be neutrals would tend to further the
objects of their mission. Two Maghribeen Sheikhs--that is members of
the Ulema from the Barbary States--were therefore selected, and with
many injunctions and entreaties counselled to plead the cause of the
town in the most earnest manner they could achieve. Accompanied by the
prayers and blessings of the whole population, the deputation, not
without some small lingering doubt as to the nature of the reception
that might await it, set out for Guizeh.

Bonaparte, to whom their coming was not so unexpected as they
themselves thought it to be, received them with the affability he so
well knew how to show, and which throughout his stay in Egypt did much
to lessen the friction between the two peoples. One of the Sheikhs was
able to speak French, and had had some experience of French manners,
and he, acting as spokesman, discharged his task well and discreetly,
and concluded his address by an appeal for clemency. Bonaparte replied
that he was the friend of the Egyptians--not their enemy--that he came
to the country to release them from the tyranny of the Mamaluks, and
in short gave them a verbal restatement of the proclamation, with many
fine flourishes, about the high aims and noble ideals by which the
French were actuated. So with many fair words the deputation was
dismissed, but with the request that the chief men remaining in the
town should wait in person upon the General to hear from him the
arrangements he proposed to make.

All the town was awaiting the return of the deputation with an
eagerness and suppressed excitement that made their short absence seem
an age, and great was the relief when they were seen once more
approaching the landing, and great the joy with which the news they
bore was received throughout the town. No time was lost in responding
to Bonaparte's invitation, and, taking with them the keys of the city,
all the chief men set out for Guizeh, anxious at once to gain renewed
assurance of the fair hopes awakened by the report of the deputation,
and at the same time give the French General a proof of their
readiness to comply with his desires.

Bonaparte was, if possible, more gracious than before, and again
dilated upon the purely friendly and beneficent intentions of the
invasion, of his sympathy for Islam, and his desire to make his coming
the opening of a new era in the history of the people, who were
thenceforth to enjoy all the blessings that the establishment of the
Republic had already conferred upon the French themselves. He was
listened to with the emotionless stolidity of the Oriental, but not
without occasional exclamations of approval, yet as he went on his
hearers were moved by steadily growing wonder at and distrust of a
speech so utterly unlike anything they had ever heard of, or conceived
as possible, from the lips of a conqueror. They had, indeed, read the
proclamation, copies of which had been sent to Cairo, but it had
failed with them, as with the people of Alexandria, to convey any
intelligible conception of the ideas it was intended to impart, and
the "Little Corporal's" discourse reaching them through the mouth of
an interpreter helped them nothing at all to grasp the real aims and
object of the French. All that they could comprehend was that they
were expected to accept the French as their rulers; that their lives,
property, and religion would be respected; and that the French were as
eager to reward their friends as to annihilate their enemies. But
loyalty to the French and loyalty to the Sultan were so mixed up in
the proclamation and in Bonaparte's speech, and were in themselves, in
the eyes of the Egyptians, two such absolutely irreconcilable things,
that the Sheikhs were completely bewildered by the attempt to solve
the enigma thus presented to them. So they were content for the
moment to accept the French assurance that they were to be treated as
friends, and for the rest God was great, and they put their trust in

But if the speech of Bonaparte thus made upon them but little
impression of a definite kind, the courtesy shown them by all the
French with whom they came in contact was not so barren. Accustomed as
they were to the hollow insincerity of Court life under the Beys, the
Sheikhs could not fail to appreciate the genuine character of the
politeness with which they had been received by the French. It was due
rather to this appreciation than to the plausible promises of the
General that they returned to the city somewhat, though not wholly,
reassured as to the immediate future. On their part the French were
sufficiently pleased with the docility of the deputation, and from the
dignity, self-possession, and courtesy of its members augured well for
the realisation of their own views.

As a consequence of the good understanding thus arrived at, boats were
sent over to Guizeh to convey the advance guard of the army to Cairo,
and returning after sunset with a detachment of the troops escorted
through the town by some of the leading men, and, lighted by torches,
led to the citadel, of which it took possession.

The following day the bulk of the army was moved across the river, and
historians record, with some disgust, the revolting glee with which
the soldiers fished out of the stream the hideously swollen and
disfigured bodies of the Mamaluks and of the horses that had perished
in the attempted escape from Embabeh that they might despoil the
miserable carcases of whatever remained upon them of value. We must
remember, however, that in those days the armies of Europe were
recruited from classes that had scarcely as yet been touched by the
advance of civilisation. Nowhere was human life then regarded with the
sanctity a more enlightened age accords it. To his superiors the
soldier was of no value but as "food for powder," and it is not
surprising that the little value placed upon his life by others should
lead him to look upon the lives of his foes at a still lower rate and
deprive him of all feelings of humanity towards them.

As to the people of the town, released from the fears that had plunged
them in such disastrous despair and as responsive as always to the
impulse of the moment and the play of their surroundings, these
received the French, if not with the open arms that Bonaparte had
looked for, at least with a toleration and absence of hostile
demonstration that speedily put the French at their ease. Everything
thus bidding fair for the realisation of all his hopes, Bonaparte
himself crossed over the river on the 27th of July and took up his
quarters in a new palace that Elfy Bey, one of the wealthiest of the
Mamaluk chiefs, had only just had completed and furnished in a
magnificent manner, on the bank of the small lake to the north-west of
the city, the site of which is now occupied by the garden and
buildings of the Esbekieh quarter of the new town.



Bonaparte having thus accomplished the first and, though he did not
think so, last step on the way towards the building of the great
Eastern Empire that he had dreamed was to "take Europe in reverse,"
despatched a portion of the army in pursuit of the fugitive Mamaluks,
and settled down in his new quarters to scheme and prepare for the

The troops remaining in Cairo, in the best of humour at the agreeable
change the city gave them from the hardships of the advance, began
with the rough good-humour of the soldier to fraternise with the
people. At first, diffident and distrustful of the French, the lower
classes seeing that these went about unarmed, and that not only were
their own lives and property respected, but that even the common
soldiers paid liberally and promptly for all they needed, were not
slow in adapting themselves to the position. They were still depressed
by the loss of kin and property that had resulted from the panic, but
believing, as all Moslems do, in Pope's doctrine that "Whatever is, is
right," they rapidly recovered their wonted cheerfulness, and
wherever the French went in the town they, like Rasselas, "met gaiety
and kindness, and heard the song of joy or the laugh of the careless,"
almost untinged by the dread of reflection Imlac so dolefully
attributed to the merriest.

That the people should have thus readily accepted the rule of an alien
army has often enough been the subject of cynical criticism on the
part of authors compiling the history of the country from such
documents as fell in their way, but from their ignorance of the people
and of humanity in general, incapable of reading aright the true
meaning of the records they perused. Let us avoid their error, and try
to grasp the real meaning of this oft-condemned "levity" of the
Egyptians, and let us do so with the more seriousness of purpose that,
in learning what we can of the real attitude of the people towards the
French in 1798, we shall be learning much that will help us to
understand their attitude towards the English in more recent years. To
begin with let us note that in fraternising with the French the
Cairenes were true to their natural instinct, for they are and always
have been a volatile, light-hearted people, fond of jest and pleasure,
enjoying the present with no heed for the morrow, and the rank and
file of the invaders being of the same temperament, these traits
supplied a ready bond of good feeling between the two bodies. And in
yielding to the spirit of fellowship thus engendered the Egyptians
betrayed no trust, and were guilty of no treachery or disloyalty. To
the Mamaluks they owed no more loyalty than did the Saxon English or
the Celtic Irish to the Normans, and no more love than the French
revolutionists had had for the aristocrats. Whatever of loyalty they
had was given to the Sultan, and since Bonaparte professed to respect
his authority and to be acting in his interest, this loyalty was not
outraged by the presence of the French. Nor did the flight of Bekir
Pacha, the Sultan's representative, impeach the good faith of the
French, for it was no uncommon sight to see a Turkish governor in arms
against, or fleeing from, his sovereign.

Two things only separated the victors from the vanquished, the want of
a common language and the religion, or rather irreligion, of the
French. The former was too trivial a matter to sway either the French
or the Egyptians, and the latter, though it was an effectual barrier
to any deep friendship between the two peoples, was scarcely any
restraint upon such purely social intercourse as was possible between
them. Finally, the Egyptians had but one of two courses open to
them--they must either frankly accept friendly relations or offer a
sullen and unavailing opposition. This was so because they were as
little anxious for, as incapable of, self-government, or
self-protection. Without some governing body to direct the affairs of
the country they would have been like a flock without its bellwether.
Of this they were conscious, and though it is not probable that they
for a moment looked at the question before them with regard to this
fact, it was chiefly this that prevented their seeing any alternative
to the acceptance of the French. To the present day, many of the
peoples of India are influenced by the same sense of their own
incapacity, and it is there one of the strongest of the elements
tending to the consolidation of the Empire under its British rulers.
As this incapacity and the belief that it is an irradicable defect of
the peoples concerned has largely affected public opinion in Europe as
to the present and future of the Egyptians, it will be well for us to
see here to what causes it is due.

Remembering how little we can see beyond the surface of the lives, not
only of our own countrymen but even of our own most intimate friends,
we need not wonder that in seeking to gauge the character of a people
so altogether apart from us as are the Egyptians we are apt to wander
widely from the truth in our efforts to understand the ideas by which
they are guided, and to be misled by giving undue weight to some
feature that seems to mark them out as different from ourselves. It is
thus we find the Egyptians so commonly spoken of as "fatalists"--a
term perhaps not unfairly applied as a reproach to them, but one that
is too often most wrongly taken as a sufficient explanation of all
their real or alleged incapacity. It is this, we are told, that has
rendered them incapable of controlling their own affairs, this that
has made them "the servile slaves of foreign masters." The truth is
that the fatalism of the Egyptians not only plays a very small part in
the framing of their characters or the guidance of their lives, but it
is a fatalism of a kind not commonly understood or implied by the
term. We must look elsewhere, therefore, for the explanation we need,
and a slight knowledge of their history is enough to point us to the
enervation caused by the system of government under which they have
lived for so many centuries as at least a powerful factor in the
limitation of their aptitudes. From generation to generation deprived
of all right or power of initiative, wholly without voice or influence
in the affairs of the country, and habitually treated as slaves,
having no other duty and owning no other privilege than that of the
most perfect submission to all representing the governing power of the
moment, they were of necessity entirely unaccustomed to think of or
discuss any other subjects than the paltry matters of their daily
lives. Yet it must not be supposed that they were debarred the liberty
of speech or of comment and criticism, or that they were in any sense
wholly passive victims of the tyranny from which they suffered. Under
the Beys they from time to time "demonstrated" as loudly, if not as
effectively, as our own people are wont to do. Thus, as a protest
against a new impost, or, as the Tudors and Stuarts would have termed
it, "Benevolence," laid upon them in the year 1794, with common
consent all the business of the town was suspended, and the people
went in a mass to the Cadi, or Chief Justice, and the leading Ulema,
and through their intermediation obtained the revocation of the
impost--for the moment, but for the moment only, for the wily Beys,
though they stormed and fumed, felt it wiser to submit and to annul
the impost, but a little later substituted for it a whole series of
imposts, which, being demanded at intervals and only from one or two
sections of the people at a time, finally proved more profitable to
the Beys and more burthensome to the people than it would have been in
its first form. It is clear, however, from this incident that the
people had a fair conception of the power of united action, but the
mob that marched to the Cadi's, while it was like those of the French
Revolution, leaderless, could not like those march in column, but
pressed forward in a mass, a mere throng of men stirred by a common
impulse. When the Beys, to adopt a military phrase, attacked them in
detail this want of leadership was fatal to their cause, and this want
of leaders was due to the conditions under which the people were
living, for the man who had dared to act as leader would have paid the
penalty of his folly with his life, and the people would have been
helpless to avenge his death. Hence anything in the nature of
effective organisation or combination was impossible. Unlike their
critics, the Egyptians saw then, as they do now, that without the
power and opportunity of arming themselves they were, and must remain,
helpless to combat the tyranny of their rulers, otherwise than by such
passive means as the suspension of all trade and business.

It will be seen, then, that the condition of the Egyptians at the time
of the French invasion was, in a broad way, similar to that of the
Saxons under the Normans, but we need not go back to the time when
Gurth bewailed the condition of his countrymen to find the masses of
the English people but little better off in this respect than were the
Egyptians under the Mamaluks. When in 1795 Bishop Horsley, speaking in
the House of Lords, said he "did not know what the mass of the people
in any country had to do with the laws but to obey them"; and the
Chief Justice, in sentencing Muir, cried, "As for the rabble, who have
nothing but personal property, what hold has the nation on them?" they
might both have been speaking for the Mamaluk rulers of Egypt, and yet
they spoke nothing more than the sentiment of their class. In many
other ways the condition of the English people at the close of the
eighteenth century was not only not better than that of the Egyptians,
but absolutely worse. In Egypt the people suffered from the
Corvée--that is to say, their liability to forced labour. In England
the press-gangs dragged them from their homes for foreign service. In
Egypt the people were liable to be flogged or executed on the least
pretext at the whim of their rulers; in England they were subject to
the same penalties by "just process of law," interpreted by such
humane and benevolent persons as the two men whom I have just quoted.
Let any one who will study the records of the time with regard to the
condition of the people of England, those of France, and those of
Egypt, and they cannot fail to see that the advantage lay with the
Egyptians. I have elsewhere tried to show how the Egyptians looked
upon the evils from which they suffered, and it must be obvious from
what I have there said that this people had but little inducement to
revolt. Could they have risen and annihilated the Mamaluks the only
result would have been the immediate invasion of the country by a
Turkish army that they could not possibly withstand and which would
not fail to exact a terrible penalty from them for their temporary

In Egypt, then, the people had to endure much, but the ills that
afflicted them were intermittent, coming upon them only now and then
after longer or shorter intervals of at least comparative peace and
comfort, reminding one, indeed, of the hurricanes that ravage the
South Sea Islands with death and destruction, but, swiftly passing,
leave the people once more to the enjoyment of the indolent, care-free
life they ordinarily live.

How different had it been in France just before the Revolution! In
Egypt the people always had the Ulema to plead their cause, and if
these commonly urged them to the exercise of patience and submission,
they did so with a sympathy that was real. In France priest and
politician alike were aloof from the people, and the evils that were
crushing these were growing steadily day by day with increasing force,
with no intermission, and with no possibility for a hope of better
days, no possibility but one--one that found its expression in the cry
of "Down with the aristocrats!" There was no such agony of want and
misery for the people of Cairo as there was for the people of Paris in
those bitter days when the Revolution, unseen but with many warning
mutterings, was gathering to itself the hearts of men that these
might form its army of vengeance upon that "cream of civilisation"
that had grown so exquisitely fine and sensitive that it had lost its
natural sympathies and ceased to be conscious of its fellowship with
any humanity not fitted to adorn its salons. To the Egyptian the cry
of "Down with the Beys!" would but have meant "Up with the Turks!" To
the French the cry of "Down with the aristocrats!" meant "Up with
myself!" and so Justice, robed in the crimson garb of Vengeance, swept
over the land and, like another Frankenstein, aristocratic brutality
fled from its own creation.

In England, bad as was the condition of the people, the circumstances
that determined their action were very different from those that
controlled the French or the Egyptians. In Egypt everything tended to
discourage the people from any attempt to permanently better their
condition. In France everything drove them to desperate but victorious
struggle. In England the people had every incentive to action of
another type. There the principle of constitutional government was
recognised, and if the laws were "the most savage that ever disgraced
a statute book" it was within the bounds of possibility to hope for
their improvement. The right of the people to govern themselves was
not yet admitted, but their right to be heard was only denied by a
class which was not beyond attack or defeat by legal means, and in the
last resort rebellion was possible and by no means foredoomed to
failure. The English were in the same position as the Egyptians in one
respect, namely, that it was not a change in the form of government
or the normal and proper condition of the people that they needed, but
simply the abolition of evils that were accidental and not essential
to that form or those conditions. To the French reform had become
virtually impossible. No making or mending of laws or regulations will
mend the hearts of men. The Beys of Egypt, the governing class in
England, and the aristocrats in France were all heartlessly
tyrannical, but the Beys were so through capricious selfishness, the
English through distorted views of justice and right, and the French
through callous, persistent inhumanity. The difference in character of
the tyranny under which each of the three peoples were groaning was,
therefore, not less than that of their hopes for its mitigation.

The mere fact that the oppression from which he suffered was
consistent with the laws of the land stirred the Englishman to hope
for better things, for if he could by any means bring about a change
of the laws he could not fail to benefit from it, and that such
changes as he desired could be brought about he was convinced. French
and Egyptians suffered not from the laws, but from the abuse of such
legal authority as existed. The English, too, might, and did, hope to
benefit from the mutual rivalries of the parties and classes that
jointly oppressed them. The others had no such resource. And the
Englishman's belief in his ability to rebel, and to rebel
successfully, gave him a self-reliance and determination that
everything denied to the Egyptian, and which the French could only
employ in the extermination of their tyrants. Other influences were
in favour of the peaceful realisation of the Englishman's hopes. He
had friends in the classes above him. There were men like Howard and
Wilberforce to plead the cause of the prisoner and the slave, like
Cobbett, Paine, and Wilkes to stir the people up to effort, like Burke
and Pitt to preach reform, and yet more potent than all these, like
Lindsey and Raikes, the founders of Sunday Schools, who, by teaching
the people the value of education, laid the real foundations of the
England of to-day. In Egypt there were not, and could not be, such men
as these. The Egyptians had, as we have seen, friends and protectors
in the Ulema, but friends whose ability to aid them was altogether out
of proportion to their willingness, and whose narrow training and
insufficient culture unfitted them to cope with the evils they had to
face, and which many of them would have honestly laboured to amend
could they but have found a way to do so. Thus all the conditions and
circumstances in the three countries tended in different
directions--in one, to move the people to peaceful action; in another,
to drive them to destructive wrath; and in the third, to lead them to
patient submission. For the Englishman and the French, then, there
were ways to progress--ways encumbered with difficulties and dangers,
but with something more than a mere possibility of success to draw
them onward--while the Egyptian was on all sides hemmed in by the
impossible. Nor have we yet seen all the causes that have helped to
determine the present character of the English and that of the

Then, as now, the Mahomedan peoples were taught by the Ulema, as were,
and are, the people of England by the Church Catechism, that it is
their bounden duty to submit themselves to all their governors,
teachers, spiritual pastors and masters, and to order themselves lowly
and reverently to all their betters. But the reception accorded to
this teaching by the two peoples was, and is, vastly different, and
that it was and is so is mainly due to the conditions under which they
are placed. The blood of the English is largely tinged with that of
the restless, adventurous peoples whose early invasions of their
island fill so many pages of its early history, and by descent, the
influence of climate, and the whole course of their history they have
become possessed of a spirit of independence, energy, and
self-reliance that instinctively leads them to a broad and healthy
interpretation of this doctrine. But this spirit was altogether
foreign and unknown to the Egyptian, and that it should be so was an
almost inevitable result of the peculiar conditions affecting their
country as contrasted with those prevailing in England. Thus in our
sea-girt home, with its uncertain weather, the success of the farmer's
labours was always in a great measure dependent upon his own skill and
energy. Through all the changes of the seasons of the year each day
brought to him its round of duties to be performed, duties exacting
not only toilsome labour, but thoughtful care and wise foresight in
adjusting that labour to the ever-varying conditions he had to meet.
It was not so in Egypt. There the measure of the farmer's success was
mainly the result of the operations of Nature, for the richness or
poverty of his harvest was proportioned, not to his efforts, but to
the abundance or scarcity of the inundation of the Nile. With a
bountiful flood he had little to think of but the purely routine
labours of his fields; with a scanty stream no labour, no energy of
his could save him from the disaster of an impoverished harvest. In
England, therefore, where constant foresight, thought, and
well-arranged labour were needed to win subsistence from an ungenerous
soil, the farmer learned to think and act for himself, whereas in
Egypt, where he was at the mercy of the Nile, he drifted on from day
to day undisturbed by aught but the mere mechanically performed labour
of the fields. In both countries the bent thus given to the minds of
the agricultural classes with respect to their daily labour naturally
affected their manner of regarding other matters. Thus the Englishman
brought to all matters that he had to deal with at least something of
the care and thought he gave to his daily work, and weighed and
balanced probabilities and possibilities in his political and social
affairs just as he did in the choosing of a crop, while the Egyptian
left almost all things to shape their own course, even as he of
necessity accepted his harvest as it came. The character which the
agricultural classes in the two countries thus acquired reacted upon
the people generally, for it is the character of the great mass of the
people that in general finally decides the character and fate of a

And other causes contributed to increase the difference in the
character of the two peoples. In England taxation was excessive and
crushing in its effects upon all but the wealthy, but it was
systematic and did not prohibit or prevent the accumulation of wealth,
whereas in Egypt, while the nominal taxation was lighter it was in
effect far worse, and the more so that its arbitrary assessment and
irregular collection, coupled with the atrocious tyranny and cruelty
by which these were accompanied, and the oft-recurring infliction of
illegal taxes and impositions, effectually deprived the people of all
opportunity of, or desire for, improving their position. In England,
too, labour of some kind was indispensable. Life was a constant
struggle, and he who did not work was ever in imminent danger of
starving. It was quite otherwise in Egypt. The grinding, hopeless
poverty that not only then but still exists, though happily we may
hope in an ever-lessening degree in England, was and is unknown in the
East. There so few and simple are the needs of the poor that the
humblest can always afford to share the little he has, and the
absolute destitution, but too common in England, is there practically
impossible. Moreover, the Englishman, though enjoying the benefit of a
temperate climate, if he would not perish from inanition from the
inclemency of its winter, was compelled to find by some means or other
food of a more nourishing and stimulating quality than that which the
Egyptian needed. He had also to provide himself with an amount of
clothing and artificial warmth which the genial though enervating air
of his native land rendered altogether unnecessary to the Egyptian. Of
necessity, therefore, the Englishman's needs stirred him to an
activity and energy to which the conditions of life in Egypt supplied
no inducement.

Lastly, the Englishman who could acquire wealth was assured of the
peaceful enjoyment of it, whereas the Egyptian knew but too well that
the merest rumour of his possessing aught more than the bare
necessaries of life could but subject him to tyranny and torture,
until he had surrendered his last coin or seizable pennyworth of
value. From this diversity in the conditions and circumstances of the
two people, we can see why to the one the instruction to be content
with that state of life in which he found himself was as unpalatable
as to the other, it was a mere summing-up of the whole philosophy of
life. However hard the condition of the Englishman's lot might be he
could always look to improve it; in fact for him the one hope of
happiness lay in the possibility of bettering his condition, while
that of the Egyptian lay in passive submission to the chains that
bound him. That, of the two people, the Egyptian was in some respects,
for the time, the happiest is at least possible. Like the Englishman,
the Egyptian prizes more than all else his individual freedom: the
mere liberty to come and go, to work or idle as the impulse of the
moment dictates, and detests constraint and compulsion of every kind.
This freedom he enjoyed with no other bar than the recurring fear of
the tax-collector, the Corvée, or the Korbag, to which he was liable.
These, however, were evils that afflicted him only at intervals, and
the Corvée, one that he always hopefully looked to escape from, while
as to the Korbag, the long strip of hippopotamus hide, which was the
common instrument of punishment and extortion, ever in the hands of
his oppressors, though too often used with the murderous brutality to
which the negro slaves of America were then and long after subject,
this would seem in general to have been to the fellaheen not much more
terrible than was the cane of a flogging master to the boys of an
English Dotheboys School of the time. Hence his personal wants being
too few and too easily supplied to give him any serious thought, the
Egyptian sauntered through life on the whole contentedly enough, while
the Englishman was ever ceaselessly engaged in a struggle for the bare
necessaries of life; and it was as natural, therefore, for the
Egyptian to accept with passive acquiescence the submission taught him
by his guides, as it was inevitable that the Englishman should
criticise or ignore that preached to him. Thus it was the
circumstances of their lives, and not, as has so often been said,
their religion, or their "fatalism," that caused the Egyptians to lack
so absolutely the energy and self-reliance so dominant in the
character of the Englishman, and this lack that rendered them so
incapable of self-government.

That this is a correct deduction from the facts, we may see by
comparing the Egyptian Moslems with the Copts, for these are of the
same race, inhabit the same country, and are subject to most of the
conditions of life affecting the Moslem Egyptians, and yet are
essentially different from them in character and aptitude. So great
and so marked is this difference that it is referred to and commented
upon by every one who has undertaken to write of Egypt and its
peoples, although, apparently incapable of discovering the true origin
of the contrast, those who have discussed it have either dismissed it
as a problem admittedly beyond their comprehension, or have claimed
that the Copt's superiority in intelligence and energy is the product
of his religion. But save in matters of doctrine and dogma the
religious teaching that the Copt receives is almost exactly the same
as that given to the Egyptian Moslem, with this important difference,
namely, that the Copts have always considered that obedience given to
a non-Christian Government is but a duty of expediency, one exacted by
force and not by right, and binding upon them only so far as
submission is essential to their self-preservation. It was a matter of
life and death to the Copt that he should court the forbearance and
favour of his superiors. That he should do this he was bound to
acquire all that he could of wealth and influence, and his relations
with the rulers of the country as an indispensable servant enabled him
to do this in a manner, and to an extent, wholly impossible to his
Moslem countrymen.

Thus political conditions acted upon the Copt as climate and social
conditions upon the Englishman, forcing him to bestir himself with
energy on his own behalf, to cultivate and exercise his natural
ingenuity, and trust solely in his own ability. The comparatively
easy-going life of the peasant was not for him, inasmuch as he was not
permitted to own land, and therefore, like the Englishman, he must
either work or starve. And in doing this he had not only to compete
against his fellows, but to make his way against the open hostility of
the governing classes and of the people generally. Hence it is not to
his religion but to the circumstances surrounding his profession of
that religion that the Copt is indebted for both the good and bad
characteristics by which he is distinguished, for it was these that
gave him the energy, intelligence, and self-reliance he undoubtedly
possesses, while at the same time they too often rendered him servile,
false, bigoted, and fanatical.

It should now be clear that it is neither the "fatalism" nor the
religion of the Egyptian Moslem that unfits him to govern his country.
If any further evidence be wanted to justify this conclusion it is to
be found in the Mamaluks and the Jews. The former, although they were
Mahomedans, were by race, training, and all the circumstances of their
lives, exactly opposed to the Egyptian Moslems in all their
characteristics; their restless activity was strenuously employed in
promoting their own interests, and in the acquisition of wealth, and
in seeking these they were recklessly indifferent to the baseness of
the treacheries and brutal tyranny that served their ends, and yet
their religion and fatalism were the same as those of the Egyptians.
As to the Jews, these were a people suffering graver political and
social disabilities than those that burthened the Copts, and wholly
foreign to the Egyptian Moslem or Copt in race, habits, and aptitudes;
yet under the same conditions we see them developing, not in Egypt
only, but in all parts of the world, the same qualities as those of
the Copts and developing them in greater or less degree, precisely as
the exigencies of their surroundings control them. And as the
inhabitants of towns and cities in which the struggle for existence is
always keener than it is in rural districts are invariably
intellectually superior to the people of those districts, so it was in
Cairo, the Moslem traders and artisans, who formed the bulk of the
population there, approaching the Copts in the intelligence and energy
so lacking in those employed in the cultivation of the land.

I have now, I hope, shown with sufficient clearness and detail how the
character and actions of the Egyptians in 1798 corresponded to the
circumstances of their lives. We have been told that men should rise
above their surroundings, but as I have already said, the very
existence of the Egyptian depended upon his submission. The swimmer,
caught in the fierce rush of a cataract, has no hope of safety but in
submitting to the current and devoting all his energies to guarding
himself from the rocks and eddies that are the most pressing of the
dangers of his position. Such was the case with the Egyptian. To have
struggled against the stream would but have been to waste his strength
in futile and fatal effort, and although it was probably unconsciously
that he did so, he acted in the only way to ensure the continuance of
his own existence.



Cairo in 1798 as a city wherein to wander was much safer for the
wanderer than was London in that year of grace. It had no Alsatia,
such as Whitefriars had been in the days of Nigel, nor "Holy Land,"
such as the Seven Dials was down almost to our own day. It had no
criminal class, and its mendicants were then as now few, and almost
all strangers from elsewhere. The peaceful citizen or stranger could
walk through any part of the town by day or night free from the
dangers he would even to-day encounter if he ventured through some of
the slums of the "World's Metropolis." Cairo is to-day unchanged from
what it was in this respect save in the infamous quarter of the town
devoted to the nightly carnival of vice that European civilisation
demands, and, under the august protection of Consuls-General and all
the pomp and glory of diplomatic dignity, obtains.

Volney has drawn a sufficiently deplorable picture of the visible
poverty of the Cairenes as he saw them in 1783, but it is highly
probable that this glaring poverty was to a large extent of the same
self-flaunting type so common in India, where certain sufficiently
well-to-do classes of the people seem by their outward showing to know
no mean between ostentatious prodigality and a pretence of poverty.
But there was then in Cairo a class that gained its uncertain meals
from still more uncertain employment, or from the hospitality or
charity that in the East so seldom fails. There were, too, some waifs
and wastrels, as there will always be in all great cities and towns
until civilisation shall have passed its present hobbledehoy-hood.
These two classes suffered much from the total suspension of business
in the town, and rendered desperate by the complete failure of all
their ordinary means of livelihood, and emboldened by the absence of
all authority resulting from the flight of the Mamaluks and almost all
the officials and leading men of the town, broke out in lawless
disorder, and, joined by many of those whom the panic-stampede had
reduced to poverty, began pillaging the deserted houses and mansions
of all that was left in them.

Bonaparte being informed of this, at once sent parties of soldiers
into the town with the double object of suppressing outrage and
robbery and of seizing everything of value that the Mamaluks and other
fugitives had been forced by the haste of their departure to leave
behind them. Proclamation was also made that whatever had been taken
by any person from any of the deserted houses should at once be
surrendered to the French, and, as a warning to those who might be
inclined to disobey this command, several men who were caught either
in the act of stealing or in the possession of stolen property were
summarily executed. Not content with these measures for the recovery
and protection of what he no doubt regarded as his lawful booty,
Bonaparte is said to have countenanced, if he did not actually order,
the infliction of torture with a view to forcing the disclosure of
hidden wealth.

The prompt and energetic steps taken by the French quickly restored
order in the town, and this having been done Bonaparte began to take
in hand the work of introducing civilisation as it was then understood
in France. Like the common type of "Reformer" and "Philanthropist," in
doing this he effectually barred the way to the success of his efforts
by coupling his professions of friendship for the people with
conditions. It was a case of "Be my brother, or I will slay you." He
was going to render the people for ever happy and content beyond their
dreams, but they, on their part, must yield the most implicit
obedience to all that seemed necessary or advisable to him. They were
to have cake and apples like the good children in the nursery tale,
but, like them, they must all sit in a row and behave nicely--in the
French fashion, which at least was appropriate, since the cakes and
apples they were promised were all of the latest fashion from Paris
itself. It is rather a pitiable picture that the "Little Corporal"
makes, thus playing the part of a glorified Bumble with "Civilisation"
and other fallacious figments for his "parochial" board, and the
porridge bowl of "the house" filled with "Liberty, Equality, and
Fraternity," to be doled out in duly measured spoonfuls to the hungry
and needy. Poor Cairenes! like the hungry Oliver they were to take
what they got and be thankful, and not mutinously set up a standard of
their own. They were not only to be fed but feasted. They were to
remain good Mahomedans, be free in all respects, and be most happy and
prosperous but--they must wear the cockade, and shout "Vive la
République" in such French or Arabic as they could. So, as a foretaste
of the banquet to which they were invited, fair words and fine
promises were lavishly scattered among them, but not without a liberal
seasoning of orders, warnings, and threats. For a short time all went
well, but it was not very long before the people began to think that
the seasoning was somewhat out of proportion to the rest of the dish.

In the time of the Beys, which within a week seemed to the Cairenes to
have grown old and distant, the streets of the town had been swept and
watered by day and lit by night, but, like everything else good and
useful in those days, these things had been done in a manner that left
much to be desired. As the town settled slowly back to its old round
of life, if left to themselves the people would, undoubtedly, have
renewed these and others of their ancient customs; but these were
matters in which French propriety could brook no delay, and orders
were therefore issued that sweeping, watering, and lighting should at
once be brought into play. To this no objection would have been taken
had the order stopped there; unfortunately it is a virtuous vice of
the French to love precision--a quality which the Egyptian
appreciates only when applied to the attainment of grammatical purity
in the use of the Arabic language, but which, being otherwise
repugnant to his spirit, is not to be found in his native dialect or
everyday speech or thought, and still less in more important matters.
Hence when the French, in obedience to their natural impulse, fixed
times and methods and degrees for the sweepings and waterings and
lightings they demanded from the people, and enforced the orders by
the proclamation of pains and penalties to be inflicted upon
defaulters, and, moreover, did all this without consulting anyone as
to the native customs and recognised conventions applicable to such
matters, there was much grumbling. Thus the lighting of the streets by
night was ordered on a scale that made it a real grievance, for each
and every house was commanded to hang out upon its outer wall not a
banner but a lamp--a prodigality of illumination that the Cairene
looked upon as utterly unprofitable. Very primitive were the lamps
available in those days. In London itself ladies returning in their
chairs at night from balls and routs, and not improbably bemoaning the
damage done to their attire by drippings from the spluttering candles
of the ballroom they had left, were lighted on their way by linkmen
carrying torches. And since even the Beau Brummels of those days had
to put up with such primitive forerunners of the incandescent lights
that to-day seem to us as indispensable for comfort, it is not
surprising that the honest citizen of Cairo, when delayed from home
until after dark, was content to be accompanied by a servant carrying
a small, rudely made lamp set in a lantern of paper--a custom that
survives to the present day in the harahs, or back streets of the
native town, though now the lamps used are lit by Russian oil and
sheltered from the wind in lanterns of Austrian glass. But when every
reputable man who went through the town at night had his
lantern-bearer with him there was not much need for the lighting of
the streets in a more general way, and so the Cairenes had been
satisfied to consider a street well lighted if it had a lamp hung out
here and there at longer or shorter intervals to serve rather as a
beacon than as a light. A lamp to every house was to them, therefore,
an absurd extravagance, and when householders were further made
responsible, under penalty of a fine, not only for the placing and
lighting of the lamps, but also for seeing that they were kept alight
throughout the night, this, to the French idea, most judicious measure
became to the Cairenes a very real grievance and one that worried and
annoyed all classes.

To provide for the administration of the affairs of the town
generally, and to act as an intermediary between the French and the
people, a Dewan was constituted similar to that which had already been
established at Alexandria. This consisted of ten Sheikhs, who appear
to have been chosen principally as being those most openly opposed to
the Mamaluks. But on the urgent representations of the leading men,
that the Turks or Mamaluks were the only men in the country accustomed
to, or capable of, exercising efficient authority, Bonaparte very
unwillingly appointed three or four Mamaluk officials who had
remained in the town to different posts; and several Frenchmen were
added, nominally to co-operate with, but in reality to control, the
native members of the Dewan. Notwithstanding the assurances thus given
to the people, that it was the intention of the French to carry on the
government with all respect to their religion and customs, the
merchants and dealers showed some reluctance to reopening their shops
and stores. When, however, the troops mixing freely with the people,
as we have seen, and abstaining from the violence and injustice that
it had always been the experience of the townsmen to receive at the
hands of the followers of the Beys, confidence was restored, not only
was the former trade of the town resumed, but shops, especially
intended for the benefit and service of the French, were started.

Meanwhile, the expedition having been accompanied by a body of
scientific experts, who had been instructed to prepare the most
detailed and elaborate accounts of everything that could throw light
upon the state of the country and its people, and the capacity of each
for development, these men were set to work, each with a definite task
to fulfil. Furnished with quarters in the deserted mansions of the
fugitive Beys, they at once commenced the labours which were to give
to the world the vast, though unhappily incomplete, description of
Egypt, which is unquestionably the most marvellous work of the kind
ever undertaken. Of these men it may be said that they represented all
that is best and noblest in the French nation and the higher
aspirations of the revolution.

But however eager Bonaparte was to restore order in Cairo and to
promote the scientific, commercial, and colonising objects of the
expedition, his strongest desires and ambitions lay in another
direction, and he began therefore to prepare for further action. That
he might do this with the greater ease he resolved upon two steps,
which tended not a little to diminish the contentment of the people
with his rule. The first of these was a demand for money presented to
the Dewan, which was instructed to collect the stipulated amount from
the whole community, Christian and Jewish as well as Moslem. To this,
though not without demur, the Dewan consented; but the announcement of
the impost that was to be raised was to the people the betrayal of the
cloven hoof, and although it was a measure they had been fearing, and
which, had it been imposed upon them immediately after the arrival of
the French in the city, would have been accepted as a natural exercise
of the prerogative of a conqueror, was now looked upon as a breach of
faith, and as such completely destroyed confidence in the fair words
and promises of the French. The discontent and uneasiness thus
occasioned gave birth to open and evident dismay and agitation when
the second measure taken by Bonaparte was announced. From its first
building, the town had been divided into harahs or quarters--districts
separated from each other by the run of the streets, and by walls and
gates. These gates it was the custom to close soon after sunset, and
thereafter no one was allowed to pass from one quarter to another
without the permission of the watchmen charged with the care of the
gates. In thus dividing the town its founders had two main objects in
view--one, by the separation of the inhabitants into a number of
clearly defined groups, to be able to fix responsibility for crime on
a particular group; and the other that, in the event of a mutiny or
rebellion, the closing of the gates might serve to isolate the various
groups from each other, and thus facilitate the work of the Government
in dealing with them. Bonaparte, however, far from thinking the
existence of the harahs as contributing to the maintenance of order,
regarded them as affording dangerous shelter to malcontents, and
resolved to abolish them. Parties of soldiers were therefore set to
work to remove the gates. As soon as the people became aware of this
the most alarming rumours were circulated, such as that this was being
done to enable the French to carry out a wholesale massacre of the
people, either by night or when they should be assembled in the
mosques for the special prayers of the Friday noon, which at that time
it was the pride, as well as it still is the duty, of all Moslems to
attend. So great was the alarm of the people at this idea that the
newly opened shops were closed once more, and business, which had been
growing as brisk as it was profitable, was again suspended; but
nothing occurring to justify their fears, the alarm passed, and the
bazaars, that for the moment had been more or less deserted, again
began to fill with life and animation.

As was but natural, the arrival of the French had from the first been
hailed with delight by the Christian population. Under the Mamaluks
these, whether native or foreign, had suffered from many
disabilities, and, though rarely openly molested by the Moslems, were
at all times subject to the insults and rudenesses of the lower
classes. Now, under the protection of the French, they threw off the
restraints to which they had so long submitted, and excited the anger
of the Moslems by appearing in public in the silk and gold-embroidered
costumes that had been forbidden to them under the Mamaluks. Cafés,
restaurants, and wine-shops were opened by the Greeks and others, and
wine was sold and drunk in public, to the great indignation of the
Ulema and all the better class of the Moslems. These and other things,
of little moment in themselves, became important factors in modifying
the feelings of the people towards the French, by marking the change
in the relative standing of the followers of the two religions, and by
largely discounting the professions of friendship for the Moslem faith
with which Bonaparte endeavoured to conciliate the goodwill of the

Many other causes helped to keep the people from settling down quietly
under the French. Among these was the constant searching of houses for
arms or valuables belonging to the Mamaluks, and the arrest and
imprisonment of those suspected or accused of concealing wealth or
property of any kind on their behalf. One of those who suffered
directly in this way was the wife of Radwan Kachef who had fled with
Ibrahim Bey. This lady had paid a sum of one thousand three hundred
dollars to the French as reconciliation money, in consideration of
which she had been granted the right to remain in Cairo under French
protection. A few days afterwards, a report having reached Bonaparte
that her husband had left a quantity of arms and money in her care, a
search was made, and some clothing, arms, and other things being
found, all the women in the house were arrested and a fine of four
thousand dollars imposed upon the lady as the condition of their
release. Had the French been content to seize the arms no objection
would have been taken to their action, but the fine was, in the eyes
of all the people, a breach of faith.

If thus rigorous with the Mahomedan population, Bonaparte made it
plain that he had no intention of unduly favouring the Christians. On
the 2nd of August Nelson, having returned to Alexandria, had, in the
famous battle of the Nile, destroyed the French fleet, and the army in
Egypt was thus cut off from all communication with Europe and left
entirely dependent upon itself. News of this event having been brought
to Cairo, the Moslems were as elated as the French and Christians were
depressed. Bonaparte at once instituted a search for the persons who
had first made the ill news known, and these proving to be two Syrian
Christians and a Moslem, all three were condemned to have their
tongues cut out or pay a heavy fine. This was in every way a foolish
measure. It had the effect of checking the open discussion of reports
unfavourable to the French, who, by adopting this ostrich-like policy,
deprived themselves of the only method they had of gauging the
tendency of public opinion, and, while they could not thus prevent
the dissemination of news or rumours, gave the people a fresh and
reasonable grievance, for under even the most tyrannical of the rulers
they had previously known they had been allowed a liberty of speech
that it was clear was now to be denied them, and the distrust of the
fair words that Bonaparte was so lavish in offering them was still
further increased. Nor did the punishment of the Christians impress
the Mahomedans with any sense of the impartiality that Bonaparte
intended it to convey, for it was regarded as nothing more than the
wreaking of his anger, at the bad news received, upon those who,
Christian or not, were, according to popular opinion, guiltless of any
real offence. It was thus an act such as they were accustomed to
expect from the Mamaluks, and, in the eyes of the Cairenes, placed the
boasted justice and humanity of the French on the same level as those
of the Beys.

As time went on almost every day brought some fresh incident to swell
the stream of ill-feeling towards the French that Bonaparte, in his
self-sufficient direction of affairs, was creating. Had he but acted
with some little consideration for the wishes of the people, and
consulted their prejudices, it is certain that the storm that was now
rapidly approaching would never have arisen. But Bonaparte was never
able to get beyond the nursery policy of cake or cane. There was no
worse policy open to him. Neither with cake nor with cane was it
possible to persuade or drive the Cairenes to adopt his views. By a
ceaseless play of petty tyranny he was able to force from them an
unwilling compliance with his demands, but every little victory thus
gained served to widen the gulf between the two peoples, and thus to
defeat that which any man of real ability would have seen was the aim
that of all others it was the interest of the French to pursue--the
conciliation of the Egyptians.

While thus blundering along, baffling his own desires, Bonaparte,
always believing in his own tact and good judgment, decided to give
his patronage to the annual ceremony of the Cutting of the Khalig, or
canal, that from the time of the Pharaohs has been held in Cairo in
celebration of the flooding of the Nile. In the old heathen days this
had been essentially a festival of thanksgiving to the gods, but as
the greatest and most popular feast of the year it had survived the
conversion of the people to Christianity and Islam and was kept as a
day of merry-making upon which the people gave unrestricted play to
their tireless love of gaiety. But the Moslems were in no mood to join
in revelry when Bonaparte summoned them to do so, and though the
French have recorded the occasion as one of unbounded success the fact
is that it was far otherwise.

It was the same with the celebration of the Molid, or birthday of the
Prophet, that occurred soon after. This being in its first inception a
religious feast, had, like the wakes and feasts of the saints of
Christendom, long been accompanied by revelries and rejoicings of a
most unsaintly character, and was, to the Moslem population of Cairo,
the great event of the year, the pious celebrating it with prayer and
praise and the zikrs--that would seem to be an Islamic adaptation of
the ancient worship of the Israelites when they sang songs unto the
Lord with timbrels and harps--while others less piously inclined spent
the night in carousings and sports. But whether pious or otherwise the
Moslems of Cairo had no desire to hold the feast of their Prophet
under the auspices of the Christian invader, and the anniversary would
have been allowed to pass unnoticed but that the Sheikh Sadat, the
recognised head of the family of the descendants of the Prophet living
in Egypt, fearing that Bonaparte would take the refusal to hold it in
bad part, gave the order for its celebration, and invited the General
and his Staff to be present.

So, wholly blind to the storm that was gathering, and flattering
himself that what he deemed a wise combination of firmness and
conciliation was gradually building up a strong tower of French
influence in the country, Bonaparte went on from day to day holding
out his cakes and cane temptingly or threateningly, much as a silly
old woman dangles a gaudy trinket or calls for the bogie-man to coax
or terrify a restless child. For the cakes the Egyptians had no
appetite whatever, and for the cane, since they could see no way to
escape from its unwelcome favours, they were content to pray for an
early deliverance from the French and all their abominations.

Some days after the celebration of the Molid, Bonaparte, having
invited the leading Sheikhs to visit him, prepared for them what he
probably thought would prove an agreeable surprise. Receiving his
guests with the affability he generally displayed, he retired to an
adjoining room, and presently returned with a number of tricolour
sashes and cockades. With a smile that was meant to be winning and
gracious, he put one of these across the shoulder of the Sheikh el
Sharkawi, the President of the Dewan. Flushing red with fury, the
Sheikh flung the sash upon the ground. With hurried but soothing words
the interpreter sought to explain that the sash was intended as a mark
of honour--that it was one of those worn by the General himself--and
added that by wearing it the Sheikh would gain increased respect from
the army. "Yes," replied the Sheikhs, "but we should be dishonoured in
the eyes of God and of our co-religionists!" Here was a sudden flood
of mutiny indeed! The tricolour, emblem of all that was honourable,
sacred, flung to the ground as though it were an unclean and unholy
thing, not to mention the rough discourtesy to the General. What
wonder if Bonaparte, as the histories tell us, was "furious" or
"enraged"? Was it not exasperating to be taught in this rude manner
that the everyday politeness and conciliating manner of these wretched
Egyptian Sheikhs really had limits, and that there was a point beyond
which they would not go? And the humiliation of having offered a
favour only to have it rejected with scorn, and that by men whose very
lives depended upon his forbearance! Poor Bonaparte! How many things
there were in heaven and earth that were not dreamt of in his
philosophy! And poor Sharkawi! Quick as was the ready-witted
interpreter to interpose his well-meant explanation, I am well
convinced that he was not quick enough to forestall the Sheikh's
audible or inaudible cry for forgiveness for such hasty and unseemly
anger. But, audible or inaudible, his cry was not to the General, but
to the God to whom, as the Moslem believes, anger and hasty speech are
abominations. The General, being restrained by no such considerations,
and having, we may admit, much more reason to be enraged than the
Sheikh, broke forth in an angry denunciation of the worthy President
of the Dewan as one entirely unfitted for the high and honourable post
he held, and had his wrath increased rather than soothed by the polite
endeavours of the Sheikhs to pacify him, while at the same time
begging him not to press the sashes upon them. At length he yielded so
far as to withdraw the sashes, but continued to demand the wearing of
the cockade, believing, no doubt, like young Easy's nurse, that this,
being such a little one, would be a more pardonable offence against
outraged propriety. But the Sheikhs were as little willing to wear the
cockade as they were to put on the sash, reasonably arguing that it
was not the size of the emblem but its meaning and purport that was
objectionable. Finally, when the question had been discussed with much
good sense and much folly on both sides, it was agreed that the
Sheikhs should have some days' grace wherein to consider and decide
the issue.

On the same day proclamation was made throughout the town to the
effect that all the people were to put on the cockade and wear it as a
sign of submission and amity. A few only consented, but the
opposition of the majority was so strong that later in the day the
order was withdrawn, with the condition that all who should have any
business with the French, or visited their houses or quarters, should
don the despised decoration for the occasion. Here, then, the incident
ended, but we must not wholly dismiss it without noticing that Gabarty
and others of the Sheikhs, although they were not willing to wear the
French colours, were quite clear in their opinion that doing so was no
offence to Moslem law or sentiment. It was simply a silly fad of the
French, without any real meaning or sense. Whence it is obvious that
what is spoken of as progressive or enlightened thought in Islam has
not altogether resulted from the influence of European or Christian
civilisation, but is the natural product of the freedom of thought
inherent in the teaching of the religion.

Learning nothing from the experience that would have taught an abler
man the weakness and strength of his position, Bonaparte was thus
gradually, though wholly unwittingly, driving the people to rebellion.
Misreading the passive acceptance or mild protests with which his
rapidly succeeding mandates were received, he kept on, from day to
day, more hopelessly and more completely widening the gulf already
yawning between the two peoples, and while daily outraging the
Egyptians' conception of liberty and happiness, never ceased to talk
of the benefits he was conferring upon them, or to wonder at their
failure to appreciate all the charm and beauty of the changes he was
so anxious to promote.

Under the Mamaluks the people had had but three grievances to complain
of, and one of these, the destruction of commerce and trade, they only
partly, if at all, attributed to the fault of their rulers. The other
two were the excessive taxation to which they were subjected, and the
acts of more or less wanton cruelty and oppression that classes as
well as individuals were liable to. Apart from these things, their
lives were as free as they could desire. They worked or idled, came
and went, and, in short, did all things as they listed under no
greater restraint than that of the lenient opinion of their fellows,
which even when most censorious, was still prone to the Moslem virtue
of forgiveness. Little by little Bonaparte went on encroaching upon
these liberties the people had always possessed and prized. Births,
marriages, and deaths had to be recorded, and fees had to be paid to
the recording officers. Those entering the town had to give an account
of themselves, whence they came and why. Those who received visitors
or strangers in their houses were responsible for them. Those who
wished to travel or leave the town had to provide themselves with
passports. These and a host of other regulations that, to the French,
seemed but natural and proper parts of the organisation of a State,
were to the Egyptians intolerable outrages upon their personal
liberty, and that nothing should be wanting to make these reforms
unpopular, each was fitted with a fee of some sort, to be paid upon
demand, with dire pains and penalties for all omissions or defaults of
any kind.

It is difficult for the ordinary Englishman or European to form any
intelligent or just conception of the feelings of irritation to which
these measures gave rise, but those who have travelled in Russia and
have there experienced something of the wrath its passport regulations
can arouse in the breast of a freeborn Briton, may perhaps be able to
imagine how the imposition of such restrictions by a foreign conqueror
in his own house would affect him. If he can do this the reader can
form some slight idea of the feelings with which the Egyptians
regarded the "reforms" they were forced to accept and asked to admire
and applaud. But it was not their personal grievances that rankled
most deeply in the hearts of the people, or most surely crushed all
possibility of sympathy or friendship between them and their new

Among the incidents that most strongly affected the people was the
execution of Sayed Mahomed Kerim, the man whom, as we have seen,
Bonaparte had left as Governor at Alexandria. Accused by the French of
corresponding with the Mamaluks, he was sent up to Cairo for such
trial as he was to have, and was promptly sentenced to pay a heavy
fine or, in default, to suffer death. That he was guilty of the
offence appears certain, and according to all known laws of war, he
was therefore guilty of a breach of parole and liable to death. But
the offence that Sayed Kerim had committed was, in fact, nothing more
than a technical one, since it consisted in his having offered to
admit the Mamaluks to Alexandria while these, so far from being in a
position to occupy that town, had abandoned all attempts to face the
French. Bonaparte and his army were no doubt present in Egypt as
conquerors, but the foe had not only been beaten but cowed, the people
of the country had made the fullest submission, and it was an abuse of
terms to pretend that there was the slightest pretext to justify the
application of the laws of war. The option of a fine granted to Sayed
Kerim shows indeed that Bonaparte recognised this fact, and at the
same time proves his utter incapacity to gauge the sentiments of the
people or realise their estimate of his actions. Moreover, according
to the popular view, Sayed Kerim was guilty of no offence whatever,
for his promise of fealty to the French was not made voluntarily, and
therefore was not binding. Some looked upon his sentence as a proof
that the French were afraid of the return of the Mamaluks, others held
that the charge had been brought simply to provide the French with an
excuse for the seizure of the Sayed's property. All their sympathies
were therefore with the prisoner, and they were enhanced a
thousandfold by the fact that he was a descendant of the Prophet. But
Bonaparte, for all his fulsome speeches to the people, cared nothing
for their wishes or desires, and it was in vain that the Ulema and all
who could obtain a hearing pleaded for at least a mitigation of the
sentence. Bonaparte would hear no reason. The full fine must be paid
at once or the prisoner must die. But the Sayed was defiant. "Of what
use," said he, "is it that I should pay the fine? If it is my destiny
to die I must die, and no fine can save me, and if it is not my
destiny to die, who can slay me?" So he died as one expects such a man
to die, openly defying his foes, and Bonaparte had his head carried
through the town, with written and verbal proclamation that such was
the fate that awaited all who conspired against the French, little
recking that the lesson he intended this gruesome performance to be
was taken by the people in a very different manner to that which he
desired, and so far from being a lesson of submission and obedience,
was one of hatred and vengeance.

From the European point of view it is, of course, impossible to
censure Bonaparte for his treatment of Sayed Kerim. In matters of this
kind European civilisation was in those days very little better than
the East. It is true that in England traitors' heads no longer
provided the public with an interesting spectacle on Tower Hill, but
"My Lord Tom Noddy," and the smart set of that day, highly appreciated
the entertainment afforded by the hanging of miserable prisoners
sentenced to death for petty thefts, or even for attempting to steal,
and the bones of highwaymen still hung in chains on the heaths around
London, startling unwary nightfarers with their unwelcome rattle.

So Bonaparte went blundering on. Failing entirely to grasp the
position, and fancying that he was laying the foundations of that
great Eastern Empire of which he dreamed, he was blindly ignorant of
and indifferent to the one and only means whereby he could succeed,
for if it had been possible for him to realise his dream it could only
have been by gaining the adhesion of the Egyptians as his first step.
That he could have done this I do not believe, but it was absolutely
the only possible road to success open to him, and it was the one that
in the futile folly of his overweening confidence in himself and his
methods he would not or could not adopt. He might have gone far on the
road. Had he left the people at rest, had he respected in fact and
deed as in words he professed to do, their prejudices and desires, had
he gained as he might have gained the passive if not active support of
the Ulema--had he done these things, nothing but a greatly superior
force could have dislodged him from Egypt. But these were the very
things that he did not do. As we have seen, instead of giving the
people the rest from tyranny and vexations for which they longed, he
harassed them infinitely more than the worst of all the rulers that
had preceded him. So with the Ulema, instead of seeking their
friendship in the only way in which it was to be obtained, he mocked
them with idle pretences of respect that were never justified by
deeds, and, while loudly declaring his respect for Islam and its
teaching, ignored both in the most offensive way, and thus not only
offended the people, but completely barred himself from the support of
the Ulema. So keeping his way with dogged will and unbroken faith in
his own ability, he was blindly though surely swelling the tide of
discontent fast rising around him, and soon to burst forth in stormy



Looking back now we can see that as the month of September drew to a
close the gathering of clouds betokening the growing storm was
becoming more and more evident. But the French were altogether
unconscious of anything being wrong. That the Egyptians were woefully
wanting in gratitude, and most strangely incapable of appreciating the
benefits that were being showered upon them--this they saw plain
enough. Nor were they blind to the fact that flaunt the tricolour as
bravely as they would, the liberty, equality, and fraternity it
symbolised were flouted by this people, whose whole history was a
record of slavery and degradation. But they did not see that they
themselves were hated and detested, that the cordiality with which for
a time the people had fraternised with the soldiers had been but a
passing reaction, and that, sincere as it was for the moment, it could
not continue.

The French in Cairo were then, as Europeans in the East almost always
are, quite content to see the surface of the life around them. Of its
hidden depths they knew nothing, and therefore judged the strangers
amidst whom they were wholly by their own standards. It is but little
better to-day. In Egypt, as in India, everything "native" is despised,
not because it is native, nor yet that it is bad, but because it is
not such as the critical European has been accustomed to, and is
therefore not "good form." To stop and ask whether the native may not
have good sense, and be acting with good reason in doing as he does,
never occurs to the self-satisfied European. So, having the power to
do so, we thrust our misbegotten "reforms" upon the people, scorn
these for not appreciating our absurdities, and despise them for not
applauding our follies. We talk of the Egyptian as backward, bigoted,
and prejudiced. A falser charge could not be brought against any
people. From highest to lowest, among the most "fanatical" as among
the most lax and liberal, the Egyptian takes and adopts as his own
whatever he finds good in the ways of other peoples. Nowhere is there
a people of greater adaptability, nowhere a people more ready or more
willing to accept innovations. Nor is there in all the East a people
who has the same, or anything like the same, silly self-sufficiency as
the typical Englishman in the East. Other Europeans are bad enough in
this respect, but none fall near so low in the scale of common sense
as does the Englishman.

But if the Egyptian is willing to accept innovations he is stubbornly
insistent upon accepting them in his own manner. He is not willing to
have them forced upon him, nor to accept those that clash with his
cherished prejudices, nor those that do not commend themselves to him
as beneficial, and he demands, further, that whatever change he is
asked to adopt is made smoothly and without any abrupt or violent
alteration of old-established custom or habit. All these conditions
were violated day after day by the French. The reforms they introduced
were opposed to all the traditions of the country. They disturbed the
habits of the people, interrupted the current of their old-time
routine, offended their prejudices, and were forced upon them suddenly
and as peremptory mandates demanding immediate and unquestioning
obedience. Had they been allowed to criticise and discuss each new
proposal they might, being as fond as old Mr. Easy himself of arguing
the question, have been won by patience and tact to accept most of

So as time went on, and the people had abundant scope for comparisons
between French promises and French performances, they were not without
reason in accusing them of the faithlessness that the Turks have
stamped as their characteristic in the rhyming phrase, "Fransiz
imansiz." Still, though daily finding fresh cause of grievance against
the French, the people were outwardly submissive, and it did not occur
to the French that their pacific attitude could be otherwise than
willing. So far, indeed, they were right--it was willing, but the
cause of its being so was very different to that which the French
assumed it to be, for it is clear that these believed that this
willingness was due partly to the people's acceptance of their
professions of friendship and partly to their inability to resist. But
the submissiveness of the Egyptians had a very different origin. They
knew that news of the arrival of the French had been despatched to
Constantinople from Cairo almost as soon as it had been received
there, and they were certain that the events that followed, the defeat
of the Mamaluks and the seizure of Cairo by the French, had also been
communicated to the Sultan, and they were therefore looking forward
from day to day to the coming of a Turkish army, and never for a
moment fancied that the French occupation would or could be other than
a temporary one. These things were discussed freely and fully enough
in the houses of the people, but the French, as we have seen, had
deliberately closed the only door by which a knowledge of the real
sentiments and feelings of the people could reach them. To speak of a
French disaster or defeat was a punishable treason, and so the
Cairenes, doing violence to their natural inclinations, held their
tongues in public, only to talk the more and the more bitterly in
their homes. Nor did the Egyptians look upon the Mamaluks as having
been finally and decisively beaten. French troops had now been in
pursuit of the fugitive Beys for some months, and though the French
were careful to publish everything that could be made to redound to
the glory and credit of their arms, they had not yet been able to
record any success worthy of note or which was not discounted by the
facts reaching the people from other sources. Nor had the severity
with which Bonaparte had punished those who were convicted of
circulating the news of the destruction of the French fleet failed to
impress the Cairenes with the great importance they attached to that
event, or to increase their hopes of the early and utter destruction
of the French army. To the Egyptians, therefore, the ultimate
disappearance of the French was only a question of time, and situated
as they were it is not surprising that they bore the miseries the
occupation was inflicting upon them with the outward semblance of
content that so misled the French.

Towards the middle of September a Turkish eunuch arrived from
Constantinople, and the people, believing that he was the bearer of
letters from the Sultan, flocked in thousands after him as he passed
through the streets. Bonaparte happened just then to be in the town,
whither he had gone to pay a visit to one of the leading Sheikhs, and
returning came in sight of the crowd following the new arrival.
Instantly loud cries broke forth, maledictions on the French, mingled
with shouts of "Victory to the Sultan" and to Islam. Wholly unable to
comprehend the meaning of the demonstration, since it was the habit of
the people to receive him in silence, he asked what it meant, and was
told that the people were acclaiming his presence. "It was," says
Gabarty, "a critical moment, and one that might have had grave
consequence." One can but wonder that the incident passed as
harmlessly as it did, for it is certain that in the temper the people
were in it needed but a word to have stirred them to action.
Fortunately for Bonaparte the dangerous moment passed, and he was left
to return home with no suspicion of how narrowly he had escaped an
ignoble ending of his career.

A few days later the French held high festival in honour of the
anniversary of the Republic. A great space in the Esbekieh was chosen
as the site of the rejoicings, and this was encircled with Venetian
poles swathed in the colours so dear to French sentiment, and linked
together with festooned flowers. A triumphal arch decorated with
frescoes celebrating the defeat of the Mamaluks, was erected in the
centre, and on all sides French and Turkish flags were displayed in
profusion. The Cap of Liberty and the Turkish Crescent, the "Rights of
Man" and the Koran, the glory of the Prophet and that of the French
Republic, were inextricably mixed up in the decorations as emblems of
the hopes of the French, but were in truth more aptly typical of the
absolute irreconcilability of the two peoples assembled in their
presence. In the evening there was a grand banquet, to which all the
principal Sheiks and other leaders of the people were invited, and at
which speeches of great length, but light and witty, full of the
spirit that the French seem always to have at command, were made, and
the night was brought to a close with a display of fireworks, after
which the French went home to sigh for the early coming of the day on
which they could return to their beloved France, and the Egyptians to
pray for the coming of that same day, but for very different reasons
and with very different hopes.

Needless to say that the _fête_ was made an opportunity for the
renewal of all the fine promises and a gorgeous repainting of all the
brilliant prospects that Bonaparte was never weary of holding out to
the Egyptians; but the _fête_ over, he pursued his policy of reform
more vigorously and more recklessly than ever. A new scheme for the
registration of property was introduced, taxes were imposed upon the
inheritance of property, on creditors' claims, on hirings and
lettings, and a host of other things. All the citizens living in the
citadel were turned out, speaking of politics was forbidden, arrests,
confiscations, and executions went on from day to day, the cemeteries
within the city walls were closed, and the disinfecting of the houses
and clothing of the dead was ordered. These, and a host of other
innovations, each in its way reasonable enough, and, according to
modern European ideas, most commendable, came upon the Egyptians as
ruthless invasions of their personal liberty, and were viewed by them
as tyrannical expedients for robbing them. And with these measures for
the social organisation of the town Bonaparte was pressing forward
others for its defence, for in spite of his suppression of speech
among the people he was becoming aware of the fact that they were
looking for the coming of a foe to dispute possession of the country
with him, and an infinitely more deadly foe than Turk or Mamaluk was
already within the walls of the city, and was not to be combated or
ousted by any means that he could command; a foe that mocked the might
of generals and armies, and in the stillness of a night might decimate
the French troops; a foe whose very name--the plague--blanched the
faces and hearts of every European who heard it. So, that the army as
a whole, or whatever fraction of it the plague might spare, should be
in a condition to defend itself from the assaults of Turk or Mamaluk,
the French put feverish haste in the building of defences, and houses,
mansions, tombs, and mosques were pulled down to make room for and
supply materials for forts and other works. Meanwhile the Dewan had
not answered Bonaparte's expectations, and as the almost necessary
result it was neglected. It met from time to time, to disperse again
without having had any affairs presented for its consideration, and
the people drawing their own conclusions from all that was going on,
adding this to other matters, with a steadily rising tide of anger in
their hearts, drew more and more apart from the French, and these
apparently began to have some suspicion that all was not going on so
well as they could wish.

October came, and a new Dewan was formed with delegates from
Alexandria and other towns as members. Then a new law of succession
was proposed, as though the French were determined to leave nothing
undone that would serve to prove how utterly blind they were in the
folly with which they were pushing the people to desperation. The law
of succession that then, as now, prevailed in Egypt, as in all Moslem
lands and amongst all Moslem peoples, is based upon the express
injunctions of the Koran, and being therefore, as all Moslems believe,
conformable to the direct command of God Himself, the mere suggestion
to modify or alter it in any way whatever is an unpardonable offence.
Yet that the madness with which the French were acting should be still
more emphatically proved, not only was the proposed new law of
succession absolutely and utterly rejected by the Moslems, but also by
the Christians and Jews, who declared that sooner than have it they
would prefer the Moslem law. Once more, then, Bonaparte had to suffer
the humiliation of withdrawing a hasty and ill-conceived measure. The
people would no more have his law of succession than his cockades. But
still hopelessly incapable of comprehending the real nature of the
task he was so fatuitously pursuing, he only consented to abandon this
scheme to introduce another not less detestable to the whole
population. This was a proposal for a house-tax, and it was to the
Cairenes the spark that set aflame the fiercely smouldering fires a
hundred others had kindled.

So far the people had contented themselves with verbal protests, and
even these had been so infrequent and so moderate in tone that the
French may almost be excused for misreading the submissive,
all-bearing attitude with which the great majority of their
innovations were accepted, and for believing that the people were
incapable of any more effective resistance. They were now to learn by
evidence that could not be gainsaid that it was no cowardly fear that
had dictated their passiveness. It was not the first time that the
Cairenes were to give a proof that they could act in their own defence
when they chose to do so, but it was the first since the arrival of
the French, and it served to show that, like that of a finely tempered
spring when released from restraint, the pliancy of their temper but
rendered its reaction sharper and stronger. A fiery, quarrelsome
people would have broken out against the French a dozen times while
yet the Egyptian was silently submitting to his wrongs, but their
outbreaks would not have had the weight or force of that which was now
to interrupt and change the whole relations of the vanquished and the

According to custom, the newly proposed house-tax was made known to
the people by printed copies of the decree concerning it being posted
all over the town. On the whole it was a moderate and most inoffensive
measure, and one that trespassed less on the prejudices of the
Cairenes than did many of those that had preceded it. The private
houses and dwellings of the town were to be grouped in three classes
according to their value. The first and highest class was to pay
eight, the second six, the third three dollars a year. Dwellings let
at less than a dollar a month were to be exempt. Shops, public baths,
_cafés_, and other buildings for the accommodation of the public were
rated at from thirty to forty dollars. Many of the people accepted
this fresh burthen without any special comment, looking upon it as but
one straw more of the heavy load being laid upon them; but others
grumbled, less at the tax itself than at the principle involved in its
application. Some of the Sheikhs lending their support to this latter
party, it quickly developed itself, and the angry malcontents, without
any very definite plan or accepted leader, began to arm themselves
with the weapons that, in spite of all the efforts of the French to
disarm the population, they had kept hidden away in their houses and

It was a Sunday morning, but as neither the French nor the Cairenes at
that time paid any respect to the day, the city wore its everyday
aspect, until the discontented began to gather, and with loud cries of
"Victory for Islam!" set out for the house of the Cadi. Alarmed at the
approach of the turbulent mob, and having no clear knowledge of its
aims, the Cadi hastened to have his doors closed and refused admission
to the rioters. Enraged at the reception given them by the man who of
all others they regarded as their natural and proper leader, the
people, without a moment's hesitation, attacked the house, shattering
its windows with stones picked up from the street.

In this attack upon the Cadi's house we have a clear measure of the
wrath that was stirring the people, for the Cadi, the Chief of the
Ulema, Chief Justice of the country, and the local supreme orthodox
authority of the Moslem faith and law, sent from Constantinople as the
representative and exponent of the spiritual authority vested in the
Sultan as the Caliph of Islam, was and is to the Egyptian almost as a
Cardinal is to the followers of "that most fascinating of all
superstitions," as Macaulay styled the Catholic Church. As the
hustling, shouting horde of rioters approached the Cadi's house the
whole fate of the day was placed in his hands, for, as he must have
known, they were approaching him that he might become their leader and
mouthpiece, it being thus that they had been accustomed to make their
protests against the tyrannies and exactions of the Beys. A most
ingenious and effective diplomatic wile, for the people thus
presented themselves to the Beys under the sheltering patronage of the
Cadi, whose definite decision the hardiest of the Beys would not dare
to openly dispute, while the Cadi himself could plead that he was
acting under compulsion and yet give the claims of the people such
support as he deemed fit. A strong man might have used the power thus
placed in his hands with potent effect upon the welfare of the
country, but unhappily there is no instance of a Cadi who has done so.
Like all other officials of the Turkish Empire, their tenure of office
was always uncertain, and, from the worldly point of view, the one and
only wise course for them to pursue was to be, in politics and all
things outside their strict duty as interpreters and administrators of
the law, as absolutely quiescent as might be. This was the conception
that the man who held this post in Bonaparte's time had adopted. Had
he been a strong man, a man with some thought of duty and of right,
with some desire to benefit the people, he might have accomplished
much good. As it was, his influence was mostly that of inaction, that
coming from his not-doing rather than from his doing. And he was a man
loving his own comfort and most anxious to get through life safely and
with the least care, trouble, or vexation of any kind. Of the French
he stood in most unwholesome fear, and, while execrating them and all
their ways with the most intense hatred, was studiously careful to
tender them nothing but the most courteous and affable submission. In
short, he was a miserable, time-serving poltroon, thinking of nothing
but his own most worthless self and the peril to his peace of mind,
and possibly also to his bodily comfort, that any real or apparent
connivance with hostility to the French might bring upon him from the
hands of these enemies of God and man, as he esteemed them. So,
closing his doors, he listened with trembling ears to the stones
crashing through his windows, in deadly fear that the mob would break
in and wreak their anger on himself. For some reason, however, the mob
were content with the smashing of the windows, which having been done
to its satisfaction, surging and shouting it turned about and took a
new direction.

Before we follow the crowd it is as well that I should note how
clearly this little incident vindicates the people from the charge of
slavish servility so often and unjustly brought against them. Let the
reader recall what I have said of the power and influence of the Ulema
and of the Cadi, and that to rebel against the Cadi was, in the eyes
of the people, almost the same thing as to rebel against the Sultan
himself, and thus a crime that brought them perilously close to
infidelity, being, in fact, little short of rebellion against heaven
itself, yet--strange symptom of servility and curious evidence of the
bigotry that is supposed to dominate this people--the shower of stones
went smashing through the Cadi's windows as vigorously and as
recklessly as though the mob were in London and the Cadi an unpopular

There is another point to be noted as to this incident that may help
us to understand the people, and that point is the reason why the
people thus fiercely testified their anger. As to this there is no
doubt. The reason was plain enough, though not perhaps obvious to the
European unfamiliar with Islam and the East. It was well known that
the Cadi stood in fear of the French, and that he was inclined to
temporise and be somewhat too friendly in his relations with them, and
much too willing to promote their views and aims; but all these were
matters which, while they rendered him the subject of jest and
ridicule, were very far from destroying his authority and were quite
insufficient to produce the smashing of his windows, for the
Egyptians, though lax themselves in obeying the duties and obligations
of their religion, and often enough, like others, willing to "Compound
for sins they are inclin'd to, by damning those they have no mind to,"
yet are not given to "prove their doctrine orthodox by apostolic blows
and knocks," unless indeed they be urged thereto by some other and
more pressing inducement, and would never carry their condemnation of
such irregularities to the extent of breaking the windows of the
offenders. It was not, therefore, the Cadi's alleged unorthodox
submission to French influence that the Cairenes so forcibly
reprimanded, but what in their eyes was a much more serious fault,
that shutting his doors in their faces he should refuse to hear their
complaint--this was his offence. I have pointed out before that, in
Egypt as elsewhere in the East, the worst of tyrants, as a rule, poses
from time to time as a benefactor of the people, and it is rare indeed
to find an instance of their openly closing their ears to the cry of
the distressed or the plaint of the suffering. They would hear and
reject the pleas offered to them, but they would at least hear them.
That the Cadi should have done this, that he should have listened to
what the people had to say, and that having done so he should have
refused point-blank to act or speak for them, nay, that he should have
roundly abused them and told them to submit--all this they would have
borne, though it were with murmuring, grumbling, and unwilling
patience and obedience--but that he should refuse to hear them--that
they would not bear and would not forgive. That was an abdication of
his right to their submission and obedience. And since he would not
give them an opportunity of saying by word of mouth what they had to
say, they let him know their opinion of his conduct by the very
audible and self-interpreting voice of the stones whistling through
his windows--a voice admitting of no ambiguity as to the purport of
its message.

Looking at the records of window-breakings in Europe and comparing
those with this particular breakage, the incident seems but a small
one, scarcely worth chronicling, yet, like the battle of the Pyramids,
it is noticeable for the consequence that followed it, for it was the
poltroonery of the Cadi and his desire to avoid any personal conflict
with the French that decided the issue of the day and turned the mob
into the very path the Cadi would have diverted them from. It was, in
fact, upon his reception of the mob that the question of peace or war
depended. No one knew that it was to be so, but, as we shall see, it
was the Cadi's refusal to hear the people that led to the bursting of
the storm that had been so long gathering. Had the Cadi received the
people, had he reasoned with them, warned them of the evils that might
come from any rashness, or had he taken a higher and bolder position
and ordered them to accept the new decree and not to attempt to oppose
the French without the sanction of himself and the rest of the
Ulema--had he adopted either of these courses he would have stayed the
evil that was at hand, at least for the time. Let us follow the mob
and see what happened as it moved away from the Cadi's.

Rumours of excitement in the town having reached the French
headquarters, General Dupuy took a small party of troops and set out
to see what was the matter. He had not far to go, and as fate would
have it, had scarcely entered the town when he met the angry mob
returning from the Cadi's with no very definite idea as to what it
should do next. All doubts they had on this point were set at rest by
the appearance of the General. At once the cry went up, "Death to the
French!" And with the words went acts. The mob vastly outnumbering the
little party of troops with the General and taking them by surprise
routed them before they could do much more than assume a posture of
defence. In the hurry-skurry of this impromptu battle, one of the
first to fall was the gallant General, who was fatally wounded in the
neck by one of the primitive weapons with which many of the people
were armed--a knife lashed to the end of a long staff. Thus the first
result of the Cadi's cowardly action was the committal of the people
to overt rebellion, and the sacrifice of a brave and gallant
gentleman to the fury of an angry mob.

Meanwhile in other parts of the town other parties of the people had
assembled and were apparently acting quite independently. The firing
in the fight between General Dupuy's men and the rebels, as we may now
term them, quickly informed the whole town of what was happening, and,
the news that a French General had been slain and the troops with him
driven off spreading rapidly, practically the whole town rose to arms
to follow up this, as they thought it, most auspicious opening of a
campaign. At once the gates of the town were seized, the mustabas, or
stone-built benches in front of the shops torn up to find material for
the barricading of the streets, and the people set themselves with a
will to prepare for a stubborn fight, little realising the long odds
against them.

The house of General Cafarelli in the Birket el Fil quarter of the
town, formerly the residence of one of the Beys, with ample gardens
and spacious courtyards surrounded by luxurious apartments, was
attacked, and some of the French who happened to be there were struck
down before they had time to realise what was taking place. The
General himself was absent, as well as several others of the French
staff who had their quarters in the roomy buildings of the old Bey's
palace, and the few persons left managing to escape, the mob spent its
energies in smashing a valuable collection of scientific instruments
and engineering appliances.

Elsewhere in the town Frenchmen and native Christians, wandering
about as usual, quite unsuspicious of the danger they were incurring,
were ruthlessly cut down, and while the bulk of the rioters were busy
preparing to defend the town against the French, some of the lower
classes set themselves to pillage the houses of the Christians, but in
their anxiety for booty did not stop to spare the houses of Moslems
dwelling in the Christian quarters.

Entirely unprepared for the outbreak, it was some little time before
the French troops appeared upon the scene, and then they approached
the town just where it was defended by the barricades the defence of
which had been allotted to the Maghrabins, or Arabs from the Barbary
States resident in Cairo, a much more warlike and combative people
than the Egyptians. These, attacked by the French, returned the fire
of their assailants with such good effect that the French had to
retire. Firing was, however, kept up on both sides all through the
night with considerable loss to both parties. When morning broke the
French found themselves favoured by several circumstances. Only a part
of the town had been able to join in the revolt. The people of Boulac
and of Old Cairo, as well as those of the Esbekieh and other quarters
in which the French were established in force, being quite unable to
offer their townsmen any assistance, and the quarters in revolt being
thus those in which there were few, if any, French residents, the
French were able to bring up their artillery and concentrate its fire
upon the rebels. So as the day went on the unequal fight proceeded,
and under the storm of ball and shot by which they were assailed the
Cairenes showed none of the cowardice or distrust of themselves that
their critics would have us believe to be among their characteristics.
They were on that day a people showing very different traits to those
that the great panic at the first triumph of the French had seemed to
stamp them with. All through the night and the following day these
people, scantily provided with arms and patched-up weapons, stood
holding their barricades against the foe that but a few weeks before
had scattered what they had regarded as the invincible army of the
Mamaluks. Truly a stubborn, stiffnecked people when they took it into
their heads to be so--a people who, notwithstanding their everyday
docility, could give their rulers no little trouble whenever they had
a mind to do so.

Midday passed, and the battle went on with no abatement of ardour on
either side, and with no talk or thought of submission on the side of
the rebels. But as the time of the afternoon prayer approached the
Ulema who could, in spite of their pacific character, form a better
and more reliable estimate of the probable final result of the
struggle, appealed to the people, and went to General Bonaparte
himself to intercede for peace, begging him to stop the bombardment
that was making such havoc in the town, and was more harmful to the
innocent and helpless than to those most in fault. Bonaparte, accusing
the Ulema of being responsible for the outbreak, reproached them
bitterly, but finally yielded to their entreaties, and, ordering the
batteries to be silenced, promised an amnesty for all who should at
once lay down their arms.

Evening was drawing near as the Sheikhs returned from their
self-appointed embassy. The people, wearied with the heavy strain of
the long night and day of constant action, with their small stock of
munitions almost exhausted, and finding their strength failing, with
their women and children shrieking and weeping in terror at the houses
crumbling around them under the hail of shell from the French
batteries, were compelled to accept the offered peace, and as the sun
went down the firing on both sides stopped, save that the warlike
Maghrabins, who thoroughly enjoyed the battle, kept up a fight upon
their own account for yet an hour or so longer, being most loath to
abandon it at all.

The storm that thus ended almost as abruptly as it had broken out had
cost the French one of their best generals, and not a few valuable
lives of less degree in the service. The Egyptians, too, had lost
heavily. Many peaceful citizens had been slain, and many houses more
or less completely wrecked. For the Cairenes it had been their
"baptism of fire." They had taken up arms to fight, scarcely knowing
how to handle them, and to be under the fire of an enemy was a wholly
new experience to them, scarce one of them having even seen a cannon
fired save for the harmless purpose of a salute. Yet, astounded as
they were at the destruction wrought by the French guns, they had held
their ground staunchly all through that to them most terrible day, and
in doing so learned something of their own strength though almost
nothing of how to use it.

But whatever the people had learned, Bonaparte learned but little from
the storm. It taught him, indeed, that the people were not quite so
docile as he had thought them to be, and that they were still less
friendly to the French and their ideas than he had imagined possible;
but that was all. It taught him nothing of that which it would have
been most serviceable for him to have learned--something of the real
nature of the people and of the best and wisest way of dealing with
them. Had he been a great man in any true sense of the phrase, had he
been even a clever one, or still less nobly, even a cunning one, he
might have turned the storm and its collapse very greatly indeed to
his own advantage. Never from the day of his arrival had he had the
people so completely at his mercy, so wholly under his own control, if
he had only known how to exercise it. But knowing no means of
attaining his objects but through the brute force of his battalions
and such terror as they could inspire, and no higher diplomacy than
the yielding of minor points as to which he was in truth indifferent,
he, most naturally for him, did exactly the things most calculated to
strengthen the hatred of the people for the French, and thus to heap
up difficulties in his own path.

Whether done through thoughtless indifference or from a wanton desire
to outrage the feelings of the people, the French cavalry were stabled
in the mosque of the Azhar, the great university, not only of Egypt
but of the whole Moslem world, and this venerated building, to which
students came from every land in which Islam had even a small group
of followers, was desecrated and defiled, as well by the horses of the
troops as by the troopers themselves, in every possible way. If it had
been the object of the French to humiliate and insult the people and
their faith in the greatest conceivable degree, this was of all others
the surest and simplest way of accomplishing it.

Once more the Ulema went to Bonaparte to plead with him for the
exercise of a little humanity, and once more he ungraciously granted
their request. The evacuation of the mosque was ordered, but, as
always, the concession was marred, so far as Bonaparte could mar it,
by the arrest of a number of the Sheikhs accused of having fomented or
encouraged the revolt, and by his refusal to hear any intercession on
their behalf.

The storm had come and gone. Like all storms it had left a trail of
damage, but it had to some extent cleared the air. Frenchmen and
Egyptians understood one another less than before and yet better; and
so drawing daily more and more apart, both literally and figuratively,
the French--many of whom had been living here and there in the town
amidst the people--began to move and gather themselves more and more
together, whilst the Egyptians living in the Esbekieh and other parts
that had been specially adopted by the French were ordered to leave.

Other changes followed. The flood-tide of reforms had reached its
height and ceased to flow, to the vast relief of the people no longer
driven hither and thither by its currents and eddies. The Sheikhs
accused of fomenting sedition having been executed, the daily stream
of arrests and executions that had continued throughout the occupation
was checked, and so the people sadly, but not sullenly, settled
themselves down peacefully enough to wait the early coming of the
Turkish army that, as they fondly believed, was to scatter the French
as the sirocco scatters the sand-heaps of the desert, so that the
place should know them no more, and their very name be but as the
memory of a dream. Yet with all this, while the people had just cause
to congratulate themselves that their outbreak was not altogether
unfruitful in its effects, and to grieve over the long list of their
dead and wounded and the crumbled ruins of their dwellings, the truth
is that they were repenting for their wild outburst; for now that the
passionate wrath that had urged them on was gone, the philosophy that
had carried them through so many centuries of woe reproached them for
their faithlessness. They had fought a stout fight against long odds,
and though beaten in form had proved victorious in substance, since,
as I have said, the torrent of reform that had so exasperated them was
stayed, and it was the French and not they who had to abandon in every
way the position they had occupied. But as reflection came they asked
themselves whether the gain was worth the cost, and finding less cause
for exultation than for regret, so far from rejoicing over what they
had done, spoke only of the fight to ask God's forgiveness for their

But the French, knowing nothing of the true feelings of the people,
and quite unable to fathom their thoughts, so far from thinking that
they had never before been so safe from the anger of the people, began
to take all sorts of needless precautions, and not only kept together
in their walks and wanderings, but carried arms and shunned the native
quarters of the town.



Under the changed conditions in which the French were now living they
began to find time hanging heavily on their hands, so they turned
their attention to the task of providing occupation for their leisure
hours, and as a first step in the realisation of this desirable object
built themselves an assembly-room. This and some other projects kept
them busy for some weeks, and helped to heal the bitterness that the
revolt had created, and, like the Egyptians, if not ready to bury the
past altogether, they were willing enough to let it lie in oblivion,
and, largely influenced by the fact that the destruction of the fleet
had left them locked in the country with no very hopeful possibility
of their being soon able to receive help from France, they set
themselves to get on with the people as well as might be, and included
in their schemes some intended at once to please and gratify the
Cairenes and impress them with a sense of the superiority of the

Among the other devices that it was thought could not fail to serve
these ends and win general applause was the construction of a
Montgolfier balloon. This having been successfully accomplished, the
public were invited to come and see a wonderful contrivance by which
the French were able to communicate with far-off lands, and thus, if
need should arise, seek and obtain help from their native country or
elsewhere. Such an announcement naturally brought the Egyptians, who
are always curious to see and inspect novelties of all kinds, in
crowds to the Esbekieh on the day appointed for the ascent. Fortune,
however, was not generous to the French, and though the balloon was a
success in all things that skill could command, an adverse and
indifferent wind left it loitering in sight until the moment of its
collapse arrived, and it sank ignominiously to earth, to the great
scorn of the people, who derisively styled it a "big kite," and
compared it to the kites that the boys of Egypt had long been wont to
amuse themselves with. The failure was a sad blow to the French, who
had hoped to see the balloon float majestically away and disappear in
the north, as though it were indeed bound for Paris.

A worthier and more successful enterprise that the French engaged in
was the opening of a public library in the district to the south of
the town still known as the Nasrieh. Of this Gabarty, who is not
sparing in his ridicule of the balloon, gives an enthusiastic
description, and records with the most unstinted appreciation his
sense of the high courtesy with which the French received all
visitors. He himself went often, and tells us not only of the delight
with which he enjoyed its wonders, but of the pleasure afforded by
the welcome offered to all visitors, and especially to those who
showed an interest in or knowledge of the sciences. For their
inspection all the treasures of the place were freely produced, and
all help given them to understand the object and worth of what they
were shown. There were many things in the library that the Egyptian
visitors could thoroughly appreciate--rare Oriental manuscripts, maps
and atlases of all parts of the world, illustrated volumes,
astronomical and other scientific diagrams and philological works. For
all these, as well as for the French savants who so freely and
liberally put their time and knowledge at the service of their guests,
Gabarty has unstinted praise and admiration.

Even more successful than the library, from the popular point of view,
was the laboratory that the French threw open to all comers. Popular
science was then in its infancy. The chemistry of to-day was
altogether unknown and undreamt of. Electricity was in its early
babyhood, even the telegraph being yet to come. Steam was an
unharnessed giant. Gas, photography, and a host of things that are
now-a-days among the most commonplace of our surroundings were
unknown, not only in Egypt but in Europe. And by the Nile, where art
and science once flourished, the little knowledge that still survived
was the inheritance and privilege of the Ulema, and was sadly cramped
and debased by the false theology that had elevated religious pedantry
above all other knowledge or desire. It is no wonder, therefore, that
the French were able to astonish their guests beyond measure by
showing them a host of those "experiments in natural science" that in
our own boyhood days we delighted in when presented to us as the
"magic of chemistry," such as the production of a solid by the mixing
of two liquids. The marvels of electricity as then known were also
displayed, and, as Gabarty says with his customary candour, "other
wonders that intelligence like ours could neither understand nor

All the visitors to the library and laboratory were not, of course, as
intelligent or appreciative as the Sheikh Gabarty, and some of the few
historians who condescend to mention things unconnected with the
battles and bloodshed that is their proper subject, record with glee,
as a fitting illustration of the native mind, the story of the Sheikh
who, having beheld with Oriental stolidity all the marvels the French
could show him, asked whether the science of Europe was equal to the
task of enabling him to be present in two places at once, and, being
assured that it could not, expressed his contempt for such lamentably
imperfect science. That the incident really occurred there is no
reason to doubt, but the Sheikh's attitude was not such a childishly
absurd one as our friends the historians would wish us to believe. To
understand it we must go back to the time and the place, though even
from the present we may gain a hint. Not long since an Italian boy
showed me a little booklet that had been given to him by his teacher,
a Catholic priest. It was a short history of the life of a saint, and
recorded how a mule had gone on its knees out of respect for the
"Host." The book had the printed imprimatur of his Holiness the late
Pope. I asked the boy if he really believed the story, and he replied,
"Why not?" Why not, indeed! Luther not only believed in the devil, but
saw him, and threw his ink-bottle at him; notwithstanding which, I,
though not a Christian in any sense, most firmly believe in Luther,
and hold him as one far beyond the world's great hero Bonaparte in all
that constitutes true greatness. I can, therefore, quite understand
how a pious Sheikh in Cairo, in the year of grace 1799, could believe
in the possibility of a man being, by the aid of lawful or unlawful
arts and sciences, both here and there at the same time, for to him,
as to Luther, belief in the supernatural made all things possible,
and, just as Luther had a hundred hearsay traditions of the pious and
godly to justify his interpretation of the hallucination produced by
an overworked brain, so the Sheikh had not only traditions but the
sworn testimony of many eye-witnesses to the possibility of the
impossibility in which he thus expressed his belief. And as it held in
the closing days of the eighteenth century, so in these, the early
years of the twentieth, the Church of Rome still holds as heretic
whoever disputes the truth of the worshipping mule, and in the East
not only are miracles firmly believed in, but do actually, in a sense,
take place. A night's march from Hodeidah, up in the hills of Yemen,
there was in the seventies of the last century a certain saint who
held open court for all who came, and it was the tradition, and, as I
can testify, the verity of the place that when his guests sat down to
meals the more they ate the more was left. I have seen this miracle as
it was, and perhaps still is, commonly accounted, repeated not once,
but again and again during my stay. And this same saint was held by
all the populace of Hodeidah, which in those days did not number a
single Christian among its residents, to have on many occasions
attended the public prayers in Hodeidah and those in Sana'a at one and
the same time. The saint, grown old and bedridden when I saw him, was
a fine old Arab, and though speaking with difficulty, asked me a few
intelligent questions about India and England. Whence, as it seems to
me, having abundance of such evidence before him, and having a
boundless faith in the omnipotence of the Creator and of His regard
for the doings of His people, the mocking Sheikh in the French
laboratory was in fact ridiculing not French science but French
infidelity. In the Cairo of to-day there are but few who have such
simple, honest faith as that old Sheikh. Whether on the whole Cairo or
its people are much the better of the change is a question not
altogether so beyond discussion as my reader probably thinks.

But whether the old Sheikh was serious or ironical in his question, it
is quite certain that the Sheikh Gabarty was perfectly serious in his
comments, and in the records of these things that he has left us there
is much to guide us in forming an idea of the Egyptian of the period,
for though he was one of the "learned," he was essentially one of the
people, and, like them, when under no special restraint, accustomed to
speak his mind clearly and without any other bias than the impulse of
the moment. Born in Cairo in the year 1754, he was like Sayed Mahomed
Kerim, the Governor of Alexandria, of Arab origin, and, like him,
though preserving much of the Arab in his nature, essentially an
Egyptian. Originally from Zeilah on the African coast of the Gulf of
Aden, his family had been settled in Egypt for seven generations, and
had taken the name Jibarty, or, as it is pronounced in Egypt, Gabarty,
from their first home, Jibart being one of the names by which Zeilah
is still known. Claiming descent from the family of Abou Talib, that
uncle of the Prophet of Islam who, though unconverted to the faith of
his nephew, accorded him his protection and sympathy in the days when
he so sorely needed a friend, the Gabarty family had in Egypt been
scarcely less famous for its origin than for its piety, learning, and
wealth. Sheikh Ali, the great-grandfather of the Sheikh Abdu Rahman
Gabarty--the historian of whom I am writing--attained full honours as
a saint, and in the time of Bonaparte his tomb at Edfoo was still a
place of pilgrimage for the pious, not only of Egypt, but of Arabia
and Abyssinia and other lands of Islam.

Another notable member of the family was the Sheikh Abdu Rahman's
father, a man of great learning, a deeply read student of all the
sciences and branches of learning then cultivated in Egypt, a noted
bibliophile and the author of many works covering a wide range of
subjects. The "Standard-bearer of knowledge" and "Moon of Islam and
its followers" are some of the phrases in which his son with filial
piety describes him, and it is certain that, considering his time and
place, he was not unworthy of them. Recognised by the Ulema as the
most accomplished and brilliant scholar of the day, in private life he
was beloved for his affability, generosity, and public spirit, the
latter being evidenced by, among other things, his establishing in his
own house a lending library, which he placed at the free disposal of
all students. As an author he produced a long list of works chiefly of
a controversial character, but some of an eminently practical nature,
such as his guide to the ceremonies of the pilgrimage to Mecca. Nor
was he without inventive skill--an instrument for ascertaining the
kibla, or point to which all Moslems are bound to turn when praying,
and a circular calender covering a long period of time, and supplying
corresponding dates for a number of different eras, such as the
Moslem, Coptic and Greek, being among the more noteworthy. He was also
a great amateur of sundials, and constructed many of various types.
His scientific knowledge, public spirit, and practical nature were all
combined to enable him to carry out single-handed a reform in the
weights and measures of the Cairo markets.

Abdu Rahman, the historian, was a worthy son of this distinguished
man. Like him, a great scholar, though less broad in his reading, an
acute thinker, indefatigable worker, an earnest and conscientious
follower of his religion, and yet free, as his history proves, of all
fanaticism and bigotry, independent in spirit, truthful and candid in
speech and writing, yet withal courteous and generous in his
intercourse with others, it was but natural that he should succeed
his father as one of the foremost of the Sheikhs of the Azhar
University, and that he should have been one of the men chosen to form
the Dewan when Bonaparte asked for the names of the leading men.

Such being the man and his origin, it is not difficult to understand
how bitter to him must have been the events that had followed the
arrival of the French. But he records the history of the time with the
staid reserve of the "Father of History," setting down the good and
the bad with equal fidelity, neither concealing the truth as he saw
it, nor speaking aught in malice. All through his story of the French
occupation one can see how greatly his heart rebelled against it, but,
none the less, he never grudges the invaders his admiration when they
could win it, as in the case of the library and the laboratory, though
he could, when he would, be sarcastic enough, as when laughing at the
fiasco of the balloon, and is capable of righteous indignation, not
only against the French but also against the Moslems who sinned
against that which he held to be the laws of right and truth. So while
he more than hints his belief that many of the "reforms" were but
excuses for the collection of taxes, he readily admits the utility of
the registration of births, marriages, and deaths, sees no harm in the
wearing of the cockade, and admits the benefits of disinfection and
quarantine. His book is therefore what he never intended it to be--a
wonderful picture of the man himself as well as it is that which he
intended it to be--a full and, above all else, a truthful account of
the events of his time. And it is even more than this, for it is to
those who know something of the East and its peoples a valuable guide
to the character of the Egyptians, and, without any intention on his
part, or indeed any idea that he is touching such a subject, he is
constantly showing us how and why the French failed to gain the
goodwill or friendship of the people. And through it all, in the
gathering of the storm as in its burst, and in the days of dire grief
that followed it, we see the man himself placid and calm, with
unfaltering though aching heart, going steadily on, maintaining his
daily life as much as might be unchanged, ever in fear and yet never
in fear; ever in fear that the morrow might bring some new trouble or
vexation, never in fear but that, come what might, in the end all must
be well, for after all was not all this flood of affliction let loose
on the country "that God might accomplish His decrees"?

And as Gabarty thought of all these things, so, in a measure, thought
all the Egyptians. Much as they enjoy peace, comfort, society, and all
the good things of this life, they all sit in the tub of Diogenes and
mock at the power and grandeur of the great. Robert of Sicily in his
magnificent attire may be a very gorgeous spectacle, but they are
quite prepared to see him to-morrow, or the day after, running
"bare-headed and besprent with mire," and so when Bonaparte, who, not
having yet heard the dismal droning of St. Helena's surges, by no
means shared such silly ideas, issued his decrees and warned the
people of the certain destruction that was to overtake all who dared
oppose him, they, though they held their tongues, felt inclined to
reply, as did Akhbar the Great of India's prisoner, "Would it not be
well to say 'With God's permission'?" And of what avail all this
bloodshed and rapine? What madness and utter folly all this tumultuous
turbulence of Beys and Bonapartes! What could they gain by it? Did
they forget "th' inevitable hour"? Were there no graves awaiting them
wherein they would lie and rot while others no wiser than they would
be furiously fighting over the heritage they had left?

And so also for smaller things. Why worry and fret about these
reforms? They may be good and beneficial in their way, but peace and
quiet were better. And if the French really desired reforms, why not
give the people the reforms they did really long for? To live in peace
and quiet and be left to seek their own welfare in their own manner?
These were things to be sought after and, if possible, attained:
things worth some little sacrifice. Give them these and leave them
free to enjoy their lives as they would, and they would pay willingly
enough whatever reasonable taxes you might desire, even though these
pressed a little heavily upon them.

And these being the ideals of the Egyptians, it should be easy for the
reader to see that after all for them the French, as rulers of the
land, were scarcely as desirable as the Beys. Instead of giving the
people liberty, this was just what they took from them. Under the
French they felt all the horror that convicts have told us they have
felt in English and other jails at the knowledge that they were always
under restraint and observation. The French complained that the
Egyptians were ungrateful, but it is not easy for a man to be grateful
for a benefit of which he is unconscious. That the French were in many
things their superiors the Egyptians could plainly see; that they were
far beyond them in the arts and sciences and manufactures; that their
ideas of governing and administering the town and country were better
than those of the Turks, or Mamaluks: all these were things that the
Egyptians could and did admit, but they could not and would not admit
that the benefit to be derived from these was worth anything like the
price the French asked them to pay. From the days of the Pharaohs they
had carried their bricks and their mortar in hods on their heads or on
their shoulders. The French wheelbarrows were ingenious and useful
things, and there was no reason why the Egyptians should not avail
themselves of these or any other of the endless conveniences that they
were now seeing for the first time, provided that the employment of
these things was not to be made a burden, and that they were employed
to lighten and not to increase the labourer's task. And it was so in
higher things and among the higher classes. It was good to register
births and deaths--was it not the custom of the Arabs themselves from
the very earliest days?--but it was not good to tie people down to
making their records in a certain way, at a certain time, at a certain
place, or to put them under pains and penalties for any failure in
conforming to the burthensome rules the French had laid down with
respect to such matters.

It was thus that Gabarty and his countrymen reasoned then and it is
thus that the Egyptian still reasons, and while they so reasoned and
so reason it was and is impossible for the European and the Egyptian
to coalesce socially or politically. The ultimate aim of the French
and of the Egyptians was one and the same thing--the happiness of the
people; but their conceptions of happiness were radically distinct,
nor were their ideas as to the means whereby happiness was to be
attained less irreconcilable. Throughout the world, turn where we
will, we find all men engaged in the same pursuit, carrying on the
same struggle. The silly-pated fools lounging at the bars of London
and the hard-handed labourer toiling at his daily work, the Salvation
Army lass tending the sick and poor, and the Buddhist fanatic burning
himself alive--these and the million types that range between these
extremes, these are all seeking the same goal, struggling each in his
or her own way for the attainment of the same end, the realisation of
their own ideal of happiness. I have in an earlier chapter tried to
show why the Egyptian and the English characters are of necessity so
different, and in doing that I have, to some extent at least, shown
why the French and the Egyptians were so opposed in their valuation of
the reforms that Bonaparte was so assiduous in introducing. That
Bonaparte cared the value of a brass farthing for the welfare of Egypt
or the happiness of the Egyptians is simply inconceivable, but that he
really and earnestly desired to see both these things realised is
certain. Had an overwhelming inundation swept Egypt and the Egyptians
into the sea, Bonaparte's chief regret would have been that he had
neither ships nor men with which to avail himself of this new and most
convenient route to India. But so long as their existence was
conducive, or might possibly be made conducive, to his own interests
he certainly desired that the country should prosper, that he might
reap the benefit, and that the people should be happy, or at least
content, so that he need not waste his resources in combating or
providing against hostility on their part. This is the debt, and this
only, that Egypt owes to the goodwill of Bonaparte.

In Gabarty's picture of the library and laboratory we find Frenchmen
of a very different type to the Corsican. To these men and to others
that were yet to come Egypt owes much. Had there been nothing to
counteract their influence Egypt would indeed have had reason to bless
the day the French arrived, for their patient, courteous, kindly
enthusiasm was just what was needed to give the people a real and
lasting impulse towards better things, and as we see the pettiness and
mean ambitions of Bonaparte for ever blocking this the only true road
to the ends he desired, we cannot but feel that, once in the country,
the best thing he ever did for it was to take himself out of it as he
did, stealing away like a thief in the night, deserting the army that
had served him faithfully and well utterly reckless of the fate that
might await them. That, indeed, was good for Egypt.

But the Frenchmen who would and could have benefited the country had
many difficulties to overcome; had they once been in a position to
set themselves seriously to the task, they would have wrought much
good. But they were forced to act as if the happiness of Egypt was to
be attained by casting its social and political conditions in the
mould of the French Republic. To the Egyptian, not yet being able to
fully comprehend the spirit of these men, and seeing nothing in the
French occupation but the worries and vexations with which the tyranny
of Bonaparte overwhelmed them, the only happiness the French could
offer them was to leave them alone. Their ideals and the French were
altogether different and never could agree. The Egyptian could see
this but the French could not, and least of all Bonaparte. What was
possible was that the Egyptians should learn much and benefit much
from French civilisation and its adaptation to the needs and
circumstances of the country and its people. This and nothing more.
But Bonaparte was of all men the least capable of seeing such a fact
as this, and so he kept stretching the Egyptians on a Procrustean bed
of reform, and was wroth that they did not enjoy the experience.

Yet in the daily life of the people around him, if he could but have
seen it as it was, and not simply as it appeared to him to be, there
were ample facts to guide him in the framing of a policy that might
have attracted and so gained, as far as was possible for him to gain
it, the goodwill of the population. Scattered here and there, in and
out of the city, were the ruined palaces and mouldering mosques of the
Caliphs and Sultans of the past, and of the builders the people knew
little more than their names, if so much, and there were tombs of
men, often of the humblest rank, to which the passer-by turned for a
moment to pray with that indifference to the true teaching of his
religion and boundless faith in his own superstitions that is
characteristic of the lower classes in the country. A most significant
fact this survival of the unfittest, for in truth this is the right
adjective to apply to most of these saints of great popularity in
Egypt. There were indeed among these, men, like the Sheikh Gabarty of
whom I have spoken, who were not unworthy of reverent remembrance, but
these would have been the first to forbid the use of prayers to,
instead of those for, the dead. But the Egyptian, like most men, needs
a hero to worship in some form or other, and since he could not by any
possible stretch of the imagination bring himself to look upon the
Caliphs and Sultans and Beys of the past who should have abundantly
supplied his need as worthy of his reverence, he was in a measure
compelled to accept such paltry makeshift heroes as his "saints."
These he endowed with all the virtues that he would have fain seen the
living rulers of the land practise, and adding an abundance of
miracles to their credit, treated them as the heathen of old did, and
as the Hindoos of to-day still do their gods and goddesses, exalted
them into guardian deities for the locality in which they had lived or
were buried. Folly and superstition, and, for the Moslem, rank heresy
and infidelity, yet most significant and instructive for those who
would understand the people thus wandering from the right way. Most
significant, for after all people, however "stupid" and "silly," do
not wander without some reason, without some object to attract them.
Bonaparte could not understand this, and not only could he not
understand it, but he did precisely the same thing himself in dealing
with the people. Like Mr. Worldly-wise-man, he and they were content
to do as other people did without troubling to consider whether there
were not a better way to be found. As for the people, they enjoyed
their bypath as Christian did his--until he awoke to find himself in
the clutches of Giant Despair; but Bonaparte could get no further than
to wonder at the wholly unprofitable roughness of the path he had
chosen, and the utter unwillingness of the people to cross the stile
and follow his way. Had he stopped to ask what were the chief virtues
with which the people endowed their heroes, he would have found that
first, and so far first that all the rest came lagging almost out of
sight, was that wondrous virtue so esteemed throughout all the East,
and to which the Catholic Church lends its applauding patronage--utter
contempt and indifference to the things of this world. The naked
imbecile wandering among the tombs is to the Eastern not a "man
possessed with a devil," but "el Mubarik." El Mubarik! The Blessed!
The man whom God has blessed by freeing his mind from all the cares
and worries of this life. Astounding ignorance! Degrading
superstition! That, my dear reader, is no doubt how you see it. That
is how Bonaparte saw it, and, it may surprise you to hear, that is how
Gabarty the historian saw it. And I will follow such high authorities
so far as to admit that seeing such things as you do and they did,
only "darkly and as through a glass," your view is a very correct one.
But if the people thus err, there is a reason--a reason that you will
never discover so long as you wrap yourself up in your superior
intelligence, and will not stoop to learn from the facts you so glibly
criticise. Not that the solution of this mystery is either recondite
or difficult of attainment. Far from that. If I could present to your
inspection two maps of the world, one whereon was marked by varying
depths of colour those parts of the world wherein the bulk of the
people find life most burthensome and least attractive, and the other
marked in the same way and in the same colours to show where this
reverence for the imbecile and other kindred follies are most rife,
you would say, "But the two maps are the same!" and you would be
correct, for this "lowest of all superstitions" is but the expression
of the hopeless, helpless longing for freedom from care that comes to
those whose lives are one long burthen, unaided and unrelieved by
strength of mind or healthy training. Of what use to appeal to such
with the arguments that might stir the blood and stimulate the
thoughts of the Frenchman, be he chatelain or sans culotte? Surely so
long as Bonaparte and the French could not see these things, neither
he nor they could do much to lift or elevate the people or to render
their lives happy!

Nor if the lower classes were thus effectually shut out from French
influence were the better informed much less widely separated from
them. Children fighting for garden plots and brass-headed nails!
Ruskin might have written that parable to illustrate the aspect which
French ambitions offered to the Ulema. Garden plots and brass-headed
nails! Things useful and desirable in themselves, but not worth
fighting for. "Vanity of vanities, all is vanity!" that is for ever
the song of the Ulema, and though with Pope they hold that "Not a
vanity is given in vain," yet they will not admit that any given
vanity is worth fighting for. They are ready enough to turn aside in
Vanity Fair and to enjoy its vanities, but they never forget that they
are vanities. As the old Arabic has it, "This world is a place of
going, not a place of staying." Why, then, toil and moil for mere
vanities that we must leave behind us? If we labour at all let it be
for treasures, not vanities--treasures that once they are ours are
ours for all time and all eternity, treasures that all the armies of
all the Bonapartes and Sultans and Beys in the world cannot rob us
of--deeds of charity and deeds of piety, kindly words and kindly acts,
mercy and forgiveness.

This is the philosophy of the Egyptian and of the Eastern, as it is
that of Christ Himself. "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God and thy
neighbour as thyself." Christian clergymen of all denominations teach
it and preach it, Christian citizens profess it, Christian
civilisation applauds--and ignores it. That most insignificant-looking
of letters, the Greek iota, was sufficient to split the Christian
Church in twain, but this philosophy has never caused a breath or
whisper of dissent or discord. The Christian priest, the Moslem
Sheikh, the Brahman Guru, the Buddhist Lama, all are agreed in this,
in the dogma, though not all in its application. The Eastern takes it
very literally. The European looks upon it as a pretty ideal, good to
be spoken of now and then, but having nothing whatever to do with the
realities of actual life. Whence Plugson of Undershot, whom Carlyle
places on a level with the Chactaw Indians, with, as I think, scant
justice to the Chactaw, whose ideal is, or rather was, a higher one
that Plugson's, seeing that Plugson has no higher ideal than his own
individual interests, whereas the Chactaw always had the honour of his
tribe in mind, and would, if need be, die for that very unsubstantial
figment, whence it is evident that the Chactaw had in reality advanced
towards the highest real civilisation a full stage further than has
Plugson. For all true civilisation is, in spite of certain
philosophers' opinions, the negation of individualism. The very lowest
type of humanity is the man thinking, acting only for himself, like
the brutes of the forest, knowing no ambition, no need, beyond his own
individual wants or wishes. Such men as these are only possible in a
"highly civilised" community, and will be found most abundantly in the
most civilised and among the highest, or at least the wealthiest
classes of these. Among mere savages, by a merciful provision of
nature, such men wage such ruthless war with each other that it is
well-nigh impossible for two to survive. But if these men exist in and
are a product of civilisation, it is only as the scum floating on the
surface of the molten metal, as base, as mean, and worthless as the
dregs that lie at its bottom.

As to the Egyptian, neither a Plugson nor yet a Chactaw, he is rather
to be compared to poor old Abbot Hugo, or some of his patient,
faithful monks, striving in a certain halting, faltering, wholly
incompetent, and yet withal more or less earnest way to do right--very
prone, like Christian himself, to be tempted over the stile into the
pleasant-looking byways of the road, and to start back at the sight of
the lions at Mr. Interpreter's house, and yet, like Faithful, resolute
enough to stand unabashed in the pillories of Vanity Fair and to face
undaunted the terrors of the Valley of the Shadow. How could such men
as these fall down and worship the golden calf of the French Republic?
How could the French, whose farthest horizon was no further off than
the short limits of "the average duration of life," comprehend the

The first brief fraternising of the two peoples had been as the
momentary intermixing of water and oil suddenly thrown into a common
receptacle; thereafter their inherent mutual repugnance inevitably
drove them apart, and in the calm that followed the riot the
separation became daily more and more complete. Hence it was that
Gabarty and all his kind, while they could admire and wonder at the
marvels the French showed them, and could and did appreciate much of
the law, order, and good discipline they obeyed, yet, weighing these
things in the balance of man's relations to the infinite as they
conceived these to be, rejected them.

It is not to be supposed that the Egyptians measured in any such way
as I have done the difference between themselves and the French, or
that they thought of, or were even aware of, the philosophy by which
they were guided. They simply looked upon the French from a very
simple, practical, everyday point of view, first as usurping
foreigners, and secondly as men with a wholly unaccountable,
extraordinary, and irrational conception of life and its needs; a
people showing a strange indifference to that oldest and most
indisputable of all truths--that man is mortal, and who, giving all
their thoughts and energies to vain theories and ambitions, were
hopelessly bewildered and befogged by their own cleverness, madly
bartering true happiness for a brilliant but worthless imitation; a
people the more mad and the more foolish that there was no need for
them to make such an unprofitable trade. For in the French conception
of civilisation and happiness there was little if anything absolutely
irreconcilable with the Egyptian view. There was no reason why men
should not profit to the utmost from all the arts, sciences,
knowledge, or progress of any kind, but these things should be sought
as the complement and completion of better things and not as the
ultimate good, and they could be sought much better if the people were
not worried by the endless forms and formalities, needless rules and
regulations, and idle and burthensome restraints the French put upon

This was, and is, the Egyptian's ideal of civilisation--not unlike
that of Carlyle and Ruskin: civilisation as a means and not as an
end--an ideal of which we at home seem at last to be getting a faint,
glimmering perception, as evidenced by the victory of the "living
wage" verity over the "supply and demand" falsity--a victory whereby
English civilisation has been advanced a long step towards the
Egyptian and Islamic ideal for which the rabbit-brained "smart set"
and other puerilities and senilities have so much contempt.
Unfortunately the Egyptian fails to see the duty that his ideal
imposes upon him, and thus only too well justifies the criticisms of
those who take the imperfections of the man as those of his ideals.
They did not, and they as yet do not, clearly see that however high
and noble a man's ideal may be, it is useless and vain unless it be
converted into action. The best of seed kept in a glass case for men
to admire is but an unprofitable perfection. That it may be prolific,
beneficial to men, it is needful to take it from its case and plant it
in the soil to grow. So with our ideals--however perfect, however
beautiful, they are worthless unless planted in the soil of that
strenuous effort President Roosevelt has so rightly lauded. Perhaps
some day, when Englishmen in general begin to see these things more
clearly, when we begin to understand that after all the swelling of
the budget and the filling of our individual pockets are not the
highest, nor indeed high aims at all, when we can openly accept and
act upon the creed of Burns, that "the rank is but the guinea's
stamp," then perhaps we may be able to help the Egyptian also to a
higher and purer conception of true civilisation. At present, not
possessing that article, it is scarcely possible for us to transfer it
to or share it with the Egyptian or any one else.



The months succeeding the suppression of the revolt were months of
peace though scarcely of honour, and certainly not of content. The
people were no longer harassed by daily innovations or angered by
daily arrests and executions, and looking forward to the early coming
of a Turkish army as certain to sooner or later bring them relief,
they submitted passively to the presence of the French. The Dewan,
which had been suspended from the time of the revolt, was at the end
of the year re-formed, and Bonaparte took the opportunity to issue a
proclamation in which he had the foolish arrogance to claim to be
inspired. This, addressed to Mahomedans, was a gross mistake, and is
yet another proof of his inability to learn from experience or to
comprehend the task he was so blunderingly pursuing. The Egyptians
received the proclamation with the ridicule it deserved, but they were
careful to keep their opinion of it to themselves, having learned very
thoroughly the exact value of the "liberty, equality, and fraternity"
of which they had heard so much, and knew perfectly well that
"liberty" must by no means be taken to include the liberty of
criticising the French. As to "equality," Bonaparte did certainly show
some impartiality--at all events in matters not directly affecting the
French. Thus some native Christians, who had been too bold in availing
themselves of their new-found liberty to insult the Moslems, were
summarily punished, not so much probably for the offence as to
discourage their provoking reprisals from which the French might
suffer. Some soldiers too, who had been captured after raiding the
house of a Moslem and outraging the women in it, were executed, this
being a serious offence against discipline. These matters were
referred to by the General in his proclamation as evidence of his
friendship for and desire to do justice to the people. But the people
put their own construction upon these acts and his allusion to them.
The whole tenor of the system under which they were so unwillingly
living was, in their opinion, utterly opposed to justice and reason,
and they could not bring themselves to conceive these incidents as
anything more than mere concessions made to mislead them. They had
always been accustomed to receive in their private affairs a certain
amount of justice under the Beys. This was indeed usually of a very
rough and ready kind. Thus one of the Beys one day passing through the
town meeting a citizen who had just bought some meat from a butcher in
the market, took it into his head to see whether the seller had given
his customer full weight, and finding that he had not done so at once
ordered the deficiency to be supplied from the butcher's own body.
French justice was less fantastic and impulsive than this, whether it
was more effective is not so certain, but it had to the Egyptian mind
the great defect of being in general less amenable to the pleadings of
mercy, and was, like the Beys', so often misdirected as to become
injustice. Thus Bonaparte gained but little from his good intentions
in this respect. As to "Fraternity," the cannon of the revolt had been
the stormy requiem of all possibility of that. The battered houses of
the town were infinitely more eloquent to the people than all that
Bonaparte could say, and he could have but little assistance in
preaching or enforcing his ideas on this subject, for the French
generally, though quite loyal, were scarcely enthusiastic in their
efforts to realise his wishes in this direction, and could in any case
do but little, while the native Christians who could have done much,
unable to rise above the pettiness of their own vindictive feelings,
so far from seeking to promote friendship between the French and the
Moslems, lost no opportunity of exciting the one against the other. So
poor Fraternity lay neglected in the tomb that Bonaparte's blundering
had so speedily and so unnecessarily dug for it.

All through the occupation the worst friends that the French had were
the Christians of the country. Divided among themselves, they were at
one, though not united, in the feelings with which they quickly
learned to regard the French. There was no open disunion nor apparent
discord, but the bitterness of sectarian animosities that prevailed
among them was of the keenest. The Franks being Christians of the
"Orthodox" or Greek Church held the Copts as heretics, and these
looked upon those as infidels. Nor were they less divided by their
political and social ideas and habits, and, as such rival sects always
are, were more strongly moved by their mutual distrust than by their
common Christianity. This, indeed, served them as a bond only for evil
in their common hatred for the Moslems. These, though they had for
centuries to endure more oppression, injustice, and tyranny than
either of the two Christian peoples had ever suffered from, were
conscious of and showed a dignity and self-respect that was galling
and offensive to the others. Our friends the historians lose no
opportunity of condemning the Moslems for this characteristic,
denouncing it as "arrogant pride," "fanatical conceit," and I know not
what else. But though the Moslem too often renders himself liable to
criticism on this point, his fault in no way abrogates the truth that
the self-respect that is in varying degrees the birthright of all men
is to him alone justified by his religion, for Islam alone of all
religions, while teaching the frailty of man's nature, teaches also
the doctrine that man is naturally inclined to good, and that his sins
and his follies are the result not of a corrupt nature but of
ignorance and false teaching--a nobler and truer conception than the
degrading superstition that it is their nature to do evil. The Moslem,
unlike those Methodists whose sole anxiety in life is for the
salvation of their own miserable souls, has no salvation to seek. As a
Moslem he is assured of eternal happiness. It is inevitable,
therefore, that he should respect himself, even as the Christian who
has but a jot of belief in the teaching of his religion cannot look
upon himself as other than a "child of wrath," by nature evil and a
lover of evil. Truly a grovelling, debasing creed. And it is with
creeds as with ideals. That they should influence the whole life and
nature of a man it is by no means necessary that he should be
conscious of their influence, much less that he should analyse or even
be capable of analysing it. Whence no degradation, no tyranny, no
misery can deprive the Moslem of the self-respect that is his
inheritance--a self-respect no other religion permits, and one that no
follower of any other religion can by any possibility enjoy, since he
who has it must be a believer in the essential doctrines of Islam and
thus, though he know it not, a Moslem. This is an essential difference
that must for ever hold all Moslem peoples apart from all others. I
have shown already how not the Moslem only, but all Easterns measure
life by a standard irreconcilable with that of the European, and when
we put the influence of these two causes together we get a current of
thought, native to the Moslem wherever he is found, no outside
influence or power can stem or divert. And this being so, apart from
all considerations of their respective political relations, it is
evident that the Moslems and Christians of Egypt as of other countries
could not be otherwise than opposed to each other, and that the very
causes that made them so served to sever both alike from the French.
As Orientals the native Christians had, in spite of their differences,
many thoughts and many habits and customs that they shared with the
Moslems, but which were wholly unacceptable to the French. Nor were
the French less disappointed by the attitude of the Moslems to them
than were the Christians by that of the French towards them. They had
expected from the French a preference they did not get, and a
patronage that was withheld, while the openly professed friendship of
Bonaparte for the Moslems and their religion was to them the act of a
traitor and a renegade, and none the less so that they, like the
Moslems, were by no means misled as to the real nature of the
friendship or of its object.

Great as was the hatred of the Christians for the Moslems it was not,
as we have seen, sufficient to prevent their joining these in their
protest against a French reform that touched their own prejudices; but
though that incident might have taught them that it would be to their
own interests to conciliate Moslem feeling, so far from attempting
anything of the kind they hastened to avail themselves of the collapse
of the revolt to indulge in language and acts offensive to the
Mahomedans. Believing that the permanency of French rule was now
assured, they abandoned all the restraints they had been compelled to
submit to in the time of the Beys, and which they had been more or
less chary of neglecting under the early pro-Moslem policy of their
successors. Having suffered but little from the event that had proved
so disastrous to the Moslems, they had ample funds to enable them to
follow their own inclinations, and, throwing aside the simple
costumes and habits prescribed for them by the old law, went abroad
clad in gold-embroidered garments, carrying weapons and mounted upon
horses--all luxuries that had long been forbidden to them--and did not
fail to flaunt their new-born liberty in the eyes of the Moslems, and
openly exult in the discomfiture that had overtaken these.

Meanwhile a party of the French army was in constant pursuit of the
fugitive Mamaluks, and small parties were being sent from Cairo to
punish raiding Bedouins or villages that obstinately refused to pay
the taxes imposed upon them. These latter always returned to Cairo
with such booty of flocks and herds and other property as they had
been able to obtain, all of which was appropriated to the use of the
French. However excusable or even necessary this continuation of
military operations may have been, it had a most disastrous effect
upon the trade and commerce of the country. The small foreign trade
that the country still possessed at the time of the invasion had
ceased altogether, and the disturbed condition of the country had been
almost equally fatal to local trade. Communications between Cairo and
distant towns, even Alexandria and Damietta, were rare and uncertain,
and the attempts of the French to maintain a postal service between
the scattered portions of the army had almost completely failed. As a
consequence of the general disorder thus prevailing, the merchants and
dealers of Cairo suffered so heavily that large numbers of them were
reduced to indigency and compelled to seek a livelihood by any means
that offered. Some who had contrived to save a small amount from the
wreck of their business opened restaurants or coffee-houses, or took
to the sale of fruits and cakes and other small articles that were in
demand among the French, while yet others gained a living by hiring
the donkeys they had once themselves ridden in state to the soldiers,
who had taken to donkey-riding and racing as one of their chief

The approach of the second year of the occupation brought no change in
the condition of affairs, but rumours of the coming of a Turkish army
were growing not only more frequent but more consistent, and
Bonaparte, believing that it would be better for him to assume the
offensive than to await an attack, began to hasten the carrying out of
preparations for the conquest of Syria. The prospect of active service
was hailed with pleasure by the troops, but the native Christians were
dismayed at the idea of any large body of the French army leaving the
immediate vicinity of the town, fearing that the Moslems would seize
the opportunity to avenge themselves for the insults and injuries they
had been bearing at their hands. Urged by this fear and with the idea
of inducing Bonaparte to postpone his departure if not to abandon it
altogether, some Syrians went to him and told him that the Moslems
were preparing a new revolt. Fortunately for the Moslems these
mischief-makers, in the excess of their cunning and anxiety to
influence the French, gave a number of alleged details which Bonaparte
at once saw afforded him a possibility of testing the truth of the
information given. Some precautions were taken, but it was soon
evident that the Moslems had no intention whatever of modifying in any
way the pacific attitude they had assumed. Enraged at the attempt to
mislead him, Bonaparte not only had the offenders arrested but issued
an order that all the Syrians in the town were to resume the
distinctive costume and be subjected to the other restrictions that
had formerly been imposed upon them by the Beys. The annual fast of
the month of Ramadan, during which the Moslems abstain from eating,
drinking, and smoking from early dawn until sunset, beginning about
this time, a proclamation was issued forbidding all non-Moslems to
eat, drink, or smoke in the streets, or in sight of those who were
fasting, and a Christian who was caught smoking was promptly arrested
and bastinadoed. These and other concessions that were made to Moslem
sentiment were not altogether unappreciated by them, but coming as
they did at a time when, as they were well aware, the French had more
than usual interest in gaining their goodwill, they could not but
regard these things as the husks of the corn that the French were to
eat, and saw, therefore, but little reason to be grateful for them,
but they at least returned them in kind by according the French the
passive submission they were so anxious for, and so, satisfied by the
conduct of the people that he could safely withdraw the bulk of his
army, Bonaparte started for Syria.

With the story of this ill-fated expedition we have nothing to do, for
though usually given at great length in the histories of the country
it forms no part of its history, the Egyptians having no further
interest in it than that arising from their sympathy with the people
attacked. They heard with pleasure of the difficulties and privations
the army had to encounter and endure, with regret of its successes,
and with sincere rejoicing of its ultimate discomfiture. It was in
vain that Bonaparte sent them the most rose-coloured reports; no one
accepted or believed them. The cold-blooded butchery of six thousand
disarmed prisoners at Jaffa was an incident of the expedition which
historians in vain try to gloss over or excuse, but with all the
fawning fallacies with which they seek to save the honour of their
hero, the massacre was one of the most brutal and inexcusable
atrocities of all those that sully the pages of history. No sophisms
can defend it, for not only was there not the slightest ground for a
plea of justification, but the measure was a stupid and impolitic
blunder. The soldiers, we are told, carried out their revolting task
of shooting down the bound and helpless victims with the greatest
reluctance. It was a notable example of the power of discipline, the
immediate, unquestioning obedience of the soldier; but such discipline
as this! When we think of the men on the fast-sinking _Birkenhead_
falling into rank and standing to order as the doomed vessel made her
final plunge one feels that discipline may be great and glorious--but
the discipline that stained the sands of Jaffa with the blood of six
thousand unarmed, pinioned men!

Meanwhile the Ramadan having come to an end, the people of Cairo
celebrated the Eed, or feast with which they return to the ordinary
routine of life, in much the same way but with much less feasting and
rejoicing than usual. According to the regular custom in all Mahomedan
towns and villages, the people assembled on the first day of the feast
to celebrate it with special prayers and thanksgivings, and we get a
curious insight into their manner of regarding the ceremonies of their
religion from an incident that occurred on this occasion. By some
strange forgetfulness the Imam, or official leader of the prayers,
omitted to recite the Fatiha, the prayer which is in Islam that which
the "Lord's Prayer" is in the Christian Church, with the addition that
it is always recited as the opening prayer whenever and wherever
Moslems worship. Under all ordinary circumstances the Moslem idea of
propriety in a mosque or place of prayer is such as prevails in the
churches of Europe, but the reverent attention that is customarily
given to the Imam will not stand any great strain and so, reminded by
a storm of protests from the thousands of worshippers present, the
Imam on this occasion had to recommence the service! Let the reader
try and imagine the congregation at some great festival in St. Paul's
or St. Peter's roaring at his Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury, or
his Holiness the Pope that he had omitted the collect for the day, and
peremptorily ordering him to recommence the service!

Two months later, in May, 1799, the great Eed, or day of sacrifice,
was kept, but in this as in all things the shadow of the French
occupation overhung the people and embittered their feelings. Sheep,
which for several reasons are the animals generally chosen for
sacrifice, could not be had, partly because the flocks of the
neighbouring villages had been almost wholly consumed by the French
and partly because the restless condition of the country prevented
those of more distant places being sent into the town. So the salvos
of artillery with which according to custom the occasion was
celebrated were listened to by the people but failed to awaken the
usual enthusiasm, and, fired as they were by the unorthodox hands of
the French gunners, were to the Moslems little better than a mockery.

Early in the year when the plague had first appeared rigorous police
regulations had been issued for the protection of the French, who
suffered from the dread of epidemics so universal in Christian Europe,
but which, as readers of Kinglake's "Eothen" will remember, so
slightly disturb the Oriental mind. As the year had advanced the
plague had shown no signs of disappearing, and new and more stringent
orders were issued in the hope of restricting it. Dire penalties were
therefore imposed for concealing a case or a death, or for neglecting
the prescribed sanitary precautions, and some idea of the frantic
terror that possessed the compilers of these regulations may be
gathered from the fact that death was the punishment proclaimed for
any one sick of the plague who should dare enter any other house than
his own dwelling.

Thus the first year of the French occupation and the year of the
Moslem calendar came to an end within a few days of each other, and
Gabarty winds up his long and yet all too brief record of the woes and
tribulations of the twelve months by saying that it had been full of
"unheard-of events, the most important being that the people of Egypt
had been unable to make the pilgrimage to Mecca!"

A very notable conclusion of the year's story--a conclusion that tells
us much of the people and their most extraordinary and irrational way,
as you no doubt think it, of looking upon the affairs of life. The
coming of the French, the terrible sufferings of the panic-stricken
town, the gathering of that wild storm of revolt, its bursting,
collapse, the long-delayed hope of relief, the daily outraging of the
most cherished prejudices of the people--all these, the great flood of
evil and sorrow that was the one recollection of that miserable time
for all the people--all this was of less importance than the fact that
a few hundred individuals had been unable to perform the dangerous
journey to Mecca!

Death, want, misfortune and misery of every kind had filled the record
of the year for one and all of the people, but this one thing in which
but a few of them only could have any direct personal interest, this
was "the most important event of the year!"

Is it any wonder that the people refused to fall down and worship the
golden calf of the French Republic that Bonaparte and his Staff were
so vainly trying to exalt!

That the reader may the more justly appreciate Gabarty's comment on
the history of the year he must recall two facts with reference to the
composition of his history--first that it was written at the time. It
is not a record compiled in after years when the feelings, emotions,
and thoughts of the moment had been forgotten or blurred, It was
rather a diary scribbled down from day to day, and one written, too,
with no special object other than that of recording the principal
occurrences of the time. A mere narrative, not written in support of a
theory, nor as a study of men or things, nor as a text for the
exposition of the author's views, but simply in the plainest and most
literal sense a mere narrative. Secondly, it is not as an opinion but
as a fact that he puts this failure of the pilgrimage down as the most
important event of that disastrous year. And he puts it down as a fact
in terms that show clearly that he believes that as a matter of
opinion it is one no one who may ever read his history will for a
moment think of questioning or doubting in any way.

If the reader can by any possibility bring himself to comprehend in
the faintest degree the true purport of this summing up of the year's
history he will have got a long, a very long, way on the road to a
clear comprehension of the Egyptian as he was in 1798, and as he still

It may help the reader somewhat to form some idea of his own on this
subject if I turn aside for a moment to tell him what this pilgrimage
to Mecca is, and how it is regarded by the Moslems of Egypt and other

Itself surrounded by the hills of the desert district of the Hegaz,
the city of Mecca has grown around and encircles a great rectangular
open but cloister-bounded space, in the centre of which rises a
flat-roofed building occupying a mere spot in the vast courtyard, and
which, but for its height, might be termed a cube, clothed on all
sides by a hanging cloth of the deepest black, relieved only by a band
of Arabic lettering wrought in gold. Nature herself has produced no
more impressive sight than that presented by this small building thus
strangely garbed and hid away in the wastes of the desert. In size, in
form, in all things save its sable garment gently swaying to the
slightest breeze, the building is one that would never draw from the
stranger a second glance, but as it is, once seen it dwells upon the
mind for ever with a vividness of detail no other sight can produce.
This is the _Beit Allah_, the "House of God" of Islam, first erected,
as Moslem tradition relates, by the Prophet Abrahim, and ever since a
place of pilgrimage for all true worshippers of God. Hither while yet
Christianity and Islam were yet unknown, in the "days of ignorance,"
when the Arabs still worshipped idols of stone, they came from all
parts of the Arab-speaking world as pilgrims, counting all the many
dangers of the road as nought compared to the rich rewards awaiting in
the future those who should accomplish this duty. Enjoined upon the
Moslems as one of the five great obligations of their creed, the
pilgrimage to-day draws Moslems from the most distant parts of the
world by long and tedious journeys through the wildest and
least-civilised parts of the earth, heedless of dangers and
difficulties, counting it a gain to suffer by the way, and content to
die once their eyes have fallen upon the sacred building. And of all
Moslems the Egyptian, and most especially the Cairene, has a special
and peculiar interest in the pilgrimage since it is the privilege of
Cairo to supply from year to year the new _Kiswa_, or clothing for the
_Beit Allah_.

Here, then, we have a partial clue to the importance attached to the
failure of the pilgrimage by the Cairenes, but, as I have said, the
failure was one that directly affected but a few hundreds of the
people--those who under more favourable circumstances would have taken
part in the pilgrimage. But these, from the point of view of their own
pilgrimage, would accept the impossibility of performing it in that
year as a matter of destiny, and would have regarded the
impoverishment of their resources caused by the endless exactions of
the French as a greater evil, as one not only preventing their making
the pilgrimage in that year, but possibly also in future years, since
the expenses of the journey are such that to the ordinary pilgrim they
are only to be met by the economy of years.

There was, therefore, some other reason why the failure of the
pilgrimage should be looked upon as so great a calamity, and if the
reader will recall the incident of the omitted prayer at the festival
of the Eed, it may assist in guiding him to the solution of the
problem, for in that incident we get an aid to the understanding of
the Egyptian's attitude towards his religion and his interpretation of
its duties. This and other matters that I have had occasion to speak
of may perhaps enable the reader to understand at least this
much--that this people has a standard of good and evil very different
to his own, and that no scale of weal and woe that he could draw out
would be at all likely to commend itself to their acceptance. He who
has grasped this fact will have gained a position from which he may
hope to pursue his study of the Egyptians and their history, with at
least one solid, indisputable fact to guide him--a fact that, almost
impossible as one would think it to be, the ordinary historian of the
country seems quite unable to realise. It is true that in so many set
words or phrases they tell their readers that the Egyptian does not
reason or think as other men do, but having said so much they describe
and criticise their actions and thoughts without the least reference
to this fundamental and controlling fact. Nor is it the historians
alone who make this crass mistake. Men living in the country, nay,
even those born and reared in it, and living in the closest intimacy
with Egyptians, are no wiser, and hence, whenever Egyptian thought or
opinion run counter to their own, they all agree in attributing the
difference to "stupidity" or "fanaticism." And what is still less
realised is that this difference is not limited to the Moslems, but is
shared by the Christians of the country. Severed from each other as
the Moslem and Eastern Christian are in thought and aspiration, they
are, though not wholly one, strongly sympathetic in their estimates of
European civilisation as it is commonly presented to them. The active
effect of their sympathy is partly nullified by the interest the
Christian has in seeing the predominant power in the hands of his
coreligionists, and it was this interest, and this interest alone, and
not any sympathy with French views or French ideals, that gained from
the Christians of Egypt whatever of support they gave the French. In
all books on the East it is tacitly assumed by the writers that were
the East Christianised it would be in full sympathy with European
thought. No greater error is conceivable. The Coptic or the Syrian
clerk in the service of the Egyptian Government of to-day, compelled
as he is by the official regulations, attends his office in European
dress, but goes home to throw that off at the first possible moment to
resume the garb of the country, the loose, flowing garments that good
sense and experience alike tell him are not only the most comfortable
but the most healthy in a climate such as that of Egypt. And as in
this so in other things. Like the Moslem, he accepts many of the
comforts and conventions of European life, but like him he rejects not
a few of these that north of the Mediterranean are deemed

These were things that the French did not and perhaps could not see.
And there was yet another obstacle they had to surmount, but of the
presence of which they seem to have been oblivious. The civilisation
that the French wished to plant in Egypt had not been the growth of a
day, but the fruit of centuries of slow and halting progress. Had it
been possible for a foreign power to have attempted to introduce that
civilisation into France, say in the ninth or tenth century, what
manner of reception would it have had? Think you that the French
people of that time would have hailed the innovations forced upon them
with rapturous delight? that they would at once have appreciated
every little detail, and hastened to abandon all their time-honoured
habits and customs to adopt those of their new teachers? How did our
Hereward the Wake look upon the innovations of the Norman Conqueror?
Was it with an ecstasy of admiration that Gurth the swineherd thought
of the Norman civilisation of his day? Was it enthusiasm for the
benefits advancing civilisation was bestowing upon them that led the
Luddites in their machine-wrecking riots? The parallels are not
perfect I admit, yet there is in them a sufficient resemblance of
circumstance and fact to justify the comparison, and more than enough
to discredit the conclusions that so many authors have drawn from the
attitude of the people of Egypt towards the French.

We have not reached the pleasant lands of our modern civilisation
wafted by a gentle breeze on a smoothly gliding bark, but have won our
way through storm and tempest by paths bedewed with blood and tears,
and withal our progress has been less a striving for good than a
flight from evil, and though we are not perhaps all sensible of it,
our appreciation of our civilisation is largely our appreciation of
our triumph over evils and difficulties. The ignorant and thoughtless,
whether of the "Smart Set" or of the slums, do not see this. They and
all of their class take life, as do their cats and dogs and the beasts
of the field, as they find it. Yet he who can and will think must
admit that it is so, and, admitting this, will see that in addition to
the other causes that prevented the Egyptians accepting the French and
their reforms there was this very important one, that they could not
in any way appreciate them as reforms, seeing that they were not yet
conscious of the existence of the evils they were intended to remedy.
To the Egyptian, as I have said before, the life he had been living
under the Mamaluks needed but little to make it perfect. Moderate
taxation and the abolition of the erratic tyranny from which the
people suffered were the two things wanted to make his life wholly
desirable and pleasant. These evils, so far from being abolished by
the French, were, in the opinion of the Egyptian, increased a
hundredfold. And to these the French added a host of minor evils:
worrying and wearisome regulations, cramping the liberty and freedom
the people had always enjoyed, thwarting their natural instincts and
burthening them with a sense of control they had never before

Again, I ask, what wonder was it that they did not fall down and
worship the golden calf of the Republic?



It was the middle of June, 1799, before Bonaparte got back to Cairo
from Syria. His prolonged siege of Acre had been an utter failure, and
save for a little worthless loot the whole expedition had been but a
sample of that which his whole life was to be--a selfish, reckless
waste of human life, useless, unprofitable, and, in spite of the
servile adulation it has had, entirely contemptible. That this man was
personally brave, skilful in war, a clever general--in short, that he
was a man of many abilities that, rightly exercised, would have
entitled him to respect and admiration--is perfectly true, but it is
not more true of him than of many that the world has rightly and
properly agreed to class as criminals. Seeking nothing but his own
gain, in this futile expedition he had sacrificed thousands of lives,
wrecked hundreds of innocent homes. More than a third of his army had
perished, including twelve hundred of his sick and wounded abandoned
to the vengeance of the enemy for his own ruthless slaughter of his
prisoners. Such is the great hero of modern civilisation!

But defeated and discomfited as he was, he entered Cairo in triumph
with banners flying, drums beating, and all the rest of the idle
fanfaronade and pompous puerilities associated with triumphal entries.
Five long hours the grand procession occupied in passing through the
city gates, and thenceforth for three days and nights his coming was
celebrated with loud rejoicings and feastings, and the Egyptians
looked on and even took such part in the hollow mockery as they were
commanded to do, but they were in no way deceived; the gaunt skeleton
of defeat and failure was clothed but not concealed by the gaudy glare
of lying pretence.

So the "Great" Bonaparte paid honour to himself, heedless of the
droning of the surges on St. Helena's distant shore.

A month later the long-expected Turkish army arrived by sea, and,
landing at Abou Kir on the 14th of July, was besieged by the French
under Bonaparte himself on the 25th. Although aided by Sir Sidney
Smith, who was in command of a fleet that had already assisted in the
defence of Acre, the Turks, defeated by starvation, had to yield on
the 2nd of August.

The news of the arrival of the Turks had been received in Cairo with
unbounded joy, though none but a few of the hot-headed lower classes
had given any open expression to their feelings, but when Bonaparte
returned to the city with a long file of Turkish prisoners the
despondency of the people was overwhelming; yet, though it was felt by
all to be a rebinding of the chains of their bondage, they gave no
sign, and the life of the town went on in the listless way that was
becoming habitual to it. It was the easier for the people to bear this
reverse that they by no means looked upon it as in any way a final
one. The defeat of the Turks was but the defeat of a small force taken
at great disadvantage, and one which they did not doubt was but the
advance guard of an army against which the French could make no stand.
Meanwhile, the period of the inundation having arrived, the rising of
the Nile was celebrated by order, as it had been the year before, but
this time with an abandon on the part of the Christians that gravely
shocked Gabarty, who tells us that the eve of the _fête_ was spent by
them in boats on the river, or in the open along its banks, with
feasting and drinking and women and music. "On this occasion," he
writes, "they forgot their self-respect and cast modesty aside for
indecency, raillery, impudence, and impiety. The pen refuses to paint
the scandals of the night. Licence was carried to its extreme, and the
dregs of the people, following the example set them, the debauchery
and effrontery were without limit." All night the Bacchanalian
festival was continued, the outrageous orgie ceasing only with the
utter exhaustion of the degraded devotees of pleasure.

Some four days later Bonaparte gave a fresh proof of his greatness by
deserting the army that had served him so faithfully, and, abandoning
his dream of founding an Eastern Empire, hastened back to Europe to
pursue with unabated enthusiasm his own selfish ambitions. His
departure, like his coming and all his stay, was accompanied by the
silly rigmarole of braggart falsehoods he was never tired of issuing,
and which deceived no one but himself. He was going, so he said, to
open communications with France, and was to return in three months to
exterminate "the enemies of order."

Under General Kleber, whom Bonaparte had named as his successor in the
command of the French army, matters went smoothly enough, although he
was less affable in his treatment of the natives than Bonaparte had
been. He, like all the French, was heartily sick of the country, and
longing for an opportunity of escaping from it. The first glamour of
the occupation had long since passed away, and the dreary monotony of
their lives, coupled with the debilitating effect of the climate,
needed only the cowardly desertion of their chief to plunge the French
into a state of deep despondency. The task entrusted to General Kleber
was one, therefore, sufficient to try the ablest, and it was not
lessened by the complete destruction of trade and commerce, the heavy
expenses of the army, and the difficulty of dragging any further large
supplies from the impoverished people. It is not surprising,
therefore, that when the arrival of a Turkish army from Syria was
announced, the General hastened to accept the offer of the English
Admiral to give the French army a safe and honourable opportunity of
retiring. A convention was signed by which it was agreed that the
French were to evacuate the country within three months. This being
promptly made known to the Egyptians, the people rejoiced openly and
without restraint, the lower classes going so far as to insult and
abuse the French to their faces, to the great indignation of Gabarty,
who does not fail to condemn their conduct not only as foolish but as
unworthy of a self-respecting people. A few days later a Turkish
officer arrived, and was received with rapturous acclamations. The day
following the Vizier Yosuf, who was in command of the Turkish forces,
issued his first orders to the people through the mouth of the officer
they had thus cordially welcomed. Nothing could well be briefer or
more explicit than these orders. They were but two in number, and
were, first, that the people were to receive the officer in question
as Chief of Customs, with the power of establishing monopolies of all
food supplies; and secondly, the immediate raising of a sum of three
thousand purses, to be paid to the French as a contribution towards
the expenses of their evacuation of the country. "Thus," says the
always candid Gabarty, "from the first moment the country had to
suffer two evils at the hands of the Turks." But the tax levied was
quickly collected, the people paying gladly to hasten the departure of
the French. "Blessed be the day on which the infidel dogs quit us,"
was the cry raised, loudest of all by those who had most availed
themselves of the presence of the French to indulge in a laxity of
living offensive to all the better classes. Notwithstanding the
reminder the people had so promptly received that the Turks, however
much they were to be preferred to the French, were by no means lenient
rulers, the rejoicings for their coming were universal among the
Moslems, and though there were not a few of the more enlightened and
sensible who were wise and bold enough to protest against the
offensive treatment of the French, the current of popular feeling was
too strong, and carried with it even men who had heretofore kept their
heads. So once more the children of the schools were led by their
masters through the streets, as they had been at the first arrival of
the French, chanting songs in derision of, or of malediction on, the
hated feringhees.

But if the Moslems were exultant, the Christians of the town were
plunged in despondency and were keenly lamenting the folly that had
led them to outrage Moslem sentiment in the manner they had done.
Fearful that in the excited state of the people these would now seek
to avenge the wanton insults that had been offered them, they withdrew
from the streets and public places and hid in their houses, awaited in
trembling fear the attack they anticipated would be made upon them.
But the people were thinking of other things, and were too full of joy
at the promise of their early escape from the bitter thraldom of the
French to have a thought to spare for the minor grievances which they
had endured from their Christian countrymen, and so these were left in

Meanwhile small parties of the Turkish troops began to enter the town,
and these, according to a pleasant custom that survives in the Turkish
army up to the present day in outlying parts of the Empire, at once
proceeded to constitute themselves partners in the commercial affairs
of the people, without the aid of notaries or anything more than the
very simplest of procedures. Seating themselves on the mustabahs, or
raised fronts of the shops that serve at once as seats for the
customers and counters for the display of the shopman's goods, they
simply waited until a customer arrived and then demanded from the
shopkeeper a share of his profits, alleging, not always untruthfully,
that they had assisted in the sale of the goods by praising their
quality, cheapness, and so forth, and, when a customer appeared
unconvinced, not unfrequently by threatening him with violence should
he refuse to complete a purchase. Needless to say, customers and
dealers alike soon learned to shun the transaction of business in the
presence of these "partners." Complaints were made to the new Governor
of the town, but the only satisfaction accorded to the indignant
plaintiffs was that they ought to be pleased at the opportunity of
contributing to the upkeep of the troops that had come to defend them
from the French and free the country from their infidel rule.

Eager as the people were to be rid of the French, these were not less
so to get away from a town that no longer had any charm for them, and
was associated with so much of disappointment. The work, therefore, of
preparing for the evacuation was carried on with goodwill, and the
citadel and the forts around the town were handed over to the Turks,
while the French assembled themselves in camps in and about the

The three months allowed for the evacuation was drawing to a close
when the folly of the British Government suddenly altered the whole
position. The convention which Sir Sidney Smith had accorded the
French had been drawn up on a thorough understanding of the actual
facts with which he had to deal. Knowing well that it was entirely out
of his power to dictate terms to the French, and realising how greatly
it would be to the advantage of his own country that the French should
retire, he had treated with Kleber rather as a friend than as an
enemy. But the Government, with absolutely nothing to guide it but Sir
Sidney's report, declined to listen to his advice or to accept the
action he had taken, and ordered him to insist upon the French making
an unconditional surrender. A wiser and stronger man than Sir Sidney
would have ignored instructions so fatal to the honour and interests
of his own country, and so gratuitously insulting to brave and
honourable foes; but, to the great misfortune of all concerned, Sir
Sidney had not the courage to do justice to himself, and so
communicated the decision of the Government to General Kleber. The
blow was a bitter one. Honourable as the convention he had accepted
had been, it had demanded some sacrifice of pride on the part of the
French to adopt it, and Kleber was perfectly justified in terming the
demand now made "insolent." Thus the madness of our Government at the
moment when the French were straining every nerve to leave the
country, forced them to remain, and not only gave them fresh and good
reason to detest us, but laid a train of anti-English feeling in Egypt
that bears consequences prejudicial to English interests even to the
present day.

Finding his hope of an early return to Europe thus shattered, Kleber
took the only line of action open to him, and showed his ability as a
general by immediately re-entering the forts around the city which the
Turks, finding a residence in the town itself more in accordance with
their ideas of comfort, had neglected to occupy. This done, he
hastened to attack the Turkish army, which was encamped at Materiah,
some five miles from the town, and taking it by surprise and wholly
unprepared for action, believing itself in peaceful and unthreatened
possession of the country, routed it with ease and without loss. This
attack was naturally regarded as a most treacherous one by the Turks
and Egyptians, for until the French had actually opened fire upon the
Turks these had remained in careless security without the least
suspicion that anything could occur to bring them into conflict with
the French. But it is quite impossible to blame Kleber. For the French
an early and complete victory was now a matter of life and death. To
have given the Turks an opportunity of attacking them in the forts
around Cairo would have been suicidal madness. With no possibility of
relief they could only have held out against a siege until the
sickness and famine that were bound to assail them should have
accomplished the work of the enemy more effectually than its military
strength could.

As the time fixed for the evacuation had approached the excitement in
the town had increased, but when the French re-seized the forts and
gave other proofs of a sudden activity in a new and, to the
Egyptians, wholly inexplicable direction, rumours of the wildest kind
were circulated. Of these the one that gained most credence was that
the French had discovered it to be the intention of the Turks and the
English to surround and massacre them while on their way to the coast.
Utterly false as this report was, the outbreak of hostilities between
the French and the Turks gave it such apparent verification, that
there are not a few of the Egyptians who still believe it.

The Turkish army, utterly discomfited by the French, after having made
but a poor defence, took the road towards Syria, with the exception of
a part which, finding itself between the French and the town, decided
to seek the shelter of the latter. With these were a number of Mamaluk
Beys and their followers, who at the first news of the arrival of the
Turks had hastened to join them. The Turks who thus entered the town
were under the command of Nasooh Pacha, a bigot and fanatic of high
rank but little ability. His arrival was greeted by the assembling of
a crowd of all the worst characters of the town, who flocked after him
as he made his way through the streets, anxious to learn the truth as
to what had happened. His first act was to give a general but definite
order for the massacre of all the Christians.

We have seen how at the last meeting of the Mamaluk Dewan, and again
at Rosetta, proposals to massacre the Christians had been rejected.
Now, however, there was no question of a proposal, but a distinct and
definite order was given by a Pacha, a Turk, an orthodox Moslem, a
high officer of the Empire, and one who at the moment carried with him
all the weight of being the immediate representative of the Sultan and
Caliph of Islam. Those of the people to whom the order was given were
of the lowest and most ignorant class, precisely the one to which such
an order might be expected to be welcome, people having nothing to
risk but their personal safety, and thinking little of this as weighed
against the prospect of a rich harvest of loot. A wild rush was made,
therefore, for the Christian quarters of the town, the mob slaying on
its way the few Christians who happened to be overtaken by it and
unable to escape. Hastily barricading their doors and windows the
Christians made a bold stand, and the mob, which was much more anxious
to plunder the houses than to slaughter their inhabitants, devoted
their unwelcome attentions to the least protected of these, and
troubling nothing as to whether the houses attacked were those of
Christians or Moslems, were busily engaged in their work of
destruction when the quarters in which they were, were swept by
Turkish troops, who, without staying to expostulate or explain,
quickly routed the rioters with much heavier slaughter than these had
been guilty of, and charging them, more ruthlessly and more
effectively than they had charged the Christians, promptly restored
order. This vigorous suppression of the riot and intended massacre was
the work of Osman Agha, an officer of the Turkish army who, though of
less degree than Nasooh Pacha, had no sooner heard of the riot than he
protested not merely by word of mouth, but by the more practical
measure of despatching troops in hot haste with strict orders to spare
none of the rioters that did not at once desist. Thus once more the
Christians found Moslem protectors ready to defend them against Moslem
foes. We shall see later on how the Christians showed their gratitude.

The riot having been thus promptly suppressed, the Turkish officers
turned their attention to the defence of the town from the attack by
the French, which they rightly judged would not long be delayed. A
hurried survey of the available means of defence showed that these
were of the poorest. Gunpowder and munitions of all kinds were
deficient in quantity and defective in quality, but there was no
thought of submission to the coming foe, and, directed by the troops,
the people were set to work once more to barricade the entrances to
the town. The memories of the sufferings that had accompanied and
followed the great revolt against the French were still vivid in the
minds of the people, but their enthusiasm was as great as it had been
while yet the horrors of a siege were unknown to and undreamt of by
them. Some of the Mamaluk chiefs, seeing how woefully the town was
deficient in the things most urgently needed to enable it to make a
stand, were anxious to withdraw, but neither the Turkish troops nor
the people would consent to their doing so, and they had perforce to
remain and take their part in the defence.

Fighting was commenced by an attack upon the house of Elfi Bey, in the
Esbekieh quarter, which Bonaparte having chosen as his residence was
still in the occupation of the French. One day's firing having
exhausted the supply of cannon-ball, the defect was made good for the
moment by charging the guns with metal weights collected from the
shops in the bazaars, and such other missiles as could be found. Under
the direction of Osman Agha, shot and powder factories were
established, and all the craftsmen of the town whose skill could be
applied to the manufacture of defensive arms or materials were put to
work to provide what was needed, or the best substitute that could be
improvised. Being unable to ascertain anything of the movements or
intentions of the French, the chiefs decided that it was imperatively
necessary to be ready for an assault upon the town at any moment.
Orders were given, therefore, that all the townsmen as well as the
troops were to take up positions behind or near the barricades, and
were to remain on the spot day and night, sleeping as best they could
at their posts.

For eight days the fighting was continued in this way, the firing
being confined to the north-west end of the town, or that facing the
position occupied by the French. On the eighth day the return of
General Kleber, who had been in pursuit of the flying Turkish army,
brought about a change. With the troops he had with him, and those
already in garrison, he had a force quite equal to the siege of the
town in regular form, and he lost no time in surrounding the two
towns, Cairo and Boulac, as Gabarty expresses it, "as a bracelet
encircles the arms." Thenceforth the siege was carried on with
vigour. Amply provided with arms and ammunition, the French poured a
ceaseless hail of shot and shell upon the towns, not only from the
forts around, but also from the heights of the Mokattam hills, which
command the greater part of the city of Cairo.

For ten days and nights the siege and bombardment went on unceasingly.
For ten days and nights the people and the troops were without any
rest worthy of the name, and the long strain was beginning to tell
upon their energies. To add to the horrors of the bombardment under
which the buildings of the town were steadily crumbling away and
filling the streets with their ruins, not only was death busy, but
hunger and thirst were beginning to assail the living. Food was not
only scarce, but what there was was ruthlessly appropriated by the
Turkish troops, and the water was not only short but bad. Still, all
ranks kept manfully to their task, and while the lower classes
laboured cheerfully at what work there was for them to do, in clearing
the streets of the wreckage that threatened to block them entirely,
and in attending upon the troops, carrying ammunition to and fro as
needed, and so on, the highest of the Turks and Egyptians moved
constantly among them, encouraging them and bidding them hope for the
best. Of the Christians many had escaped from the town to seek shelter
with the French, in whose ultimate triumph they had the fullest and
withal most justifiable confidence. Of those that remained in the
town, not a few lent what aid they could to its defence, partly to
conciliate the mob and partly no doubt in recognition of the
protection given them by the leaders of the people, as evidence of
their loyalty to the Sultan, and as the line of conduct most likely to
conduce to their own interests. Many who under the Mamaluks had grown
wealthy and under the French had escaped having to bear anything like
their fair share of the burthens laid upon the people, now bid for
popularity by contributing funds towards the defence. But the steadily
growing weakness of their position, the exhaustion of the people and
the troops, and the prospect of an utter failure of food and other
supplies compelled the leaders to think of making terms with the
French while they were yet in a position to profit from whatever
concessions they could obtain. And the French knowing pretty well how
things were going in the city, and having no desire for useless
bloodshed, made repeated offers to treat. But the people would hear
nothing of a surrender, and nothing of treating for terms. They had
had enough of the French, and would have no more of them, if by any
means, by any sacrifice, they could get rid of them. The Turkish
Vizier with his army was sure to come to their relief soon, and
perhaps the English, for were not the English the enemies of the
French? And Mourad Bey with a large force of Mamaluks and troops was
not far off, and he too must come sooner or later to their aid. So
they would rather starve and thirst and suffer until help came; and
besides, was it not evident that the French must be nearly exhausted?
if not, why did they offer terms?

At last the chiefs took action for themselves, and a deputation of
Sheikhs was sent out to the French headquarters to treat for terms.

Kleber received the deputation courteously, but reproached them for
having taken the part of the Turks, and given these their aid and
support. The Sheikhs very justly replied that they had but followed
the advice he had himself given them when announcing the approaching
departure of the French. Eventually it was agreed that there should be
a truce of three days to enable the Turkish troops and all who cared
to go with them to leave the town. "As to the people," said Kleber,
"they have nothing to fear; are they not our people?" Full of hope and
joy at the result of their mission, the Sheikhs returned to report
what they believed would be accepted as good news by the
famine-stricken garrison. But far from accepting the terms offered,
the people insulted the Sheikhs and denounced them as traitors. "If,"
said they, "the Christian dogs were not at the end of their resources
they would not be so ready to make peace." So fighting was resumed,
and carried on on both sides with vigour until the 25th of April.

Boulac was the first to fall. A heavy thunderstorm had broken over the
devoted towns, and torrents of rain had quickly converted their
unpaved streets into quagmires, that rendered walking almost
impossible. With abundance of skill and material at their disposal,
and in robust health and spirits, the French had every advantage over
the famished, exhausted and undisciplined mob that had so long faced
them at such desperate odds, yet it was but foot by foot only that
they succeeded in forcing their way to victory through streets heaped
with the bodies of the slain.

It was a heroic fight, that of this poor famine-pinched, undisciplined
mob against the well-fed, well-clothed veterans of France. Strange
that our friends the historians, who are always so impartial and free
from bigotry and fanaticism, can see in this desperate defence nothing
more than the contumacy of an ignorant and foolish people. Strange,
for, after all, "how can man die better than facing fearful odds, for
the ashes of his fathers, and the temples of their gods?" For this in
the very literal sense of the words was what these poor starving
Egyptians were doing, it being not the least of their complaints
against the French that these had desecrated the graveyards of the
city, and defiled the temple in which they worshipped God.

A wild carnival of pillage and brutality followed the fall of the
town, and then the troops that had been investing Boulac turned with
revived appetite to assist in the siege of Cairo. There, as at Boulac,
the scarcity of food and water, and the want of proper rest and
shelter, had reduced the people to a condition that would have
justified their abandoning the hopeless struggle without further
effort; yet it was not the people, but their chiefs--the Mamaluk Beys
and the Turkish officers--men whose experience told them how
unavailing the attempt to hold out must prove, that spoke or thought
of treating with the foe. They had, as we have seen, already made an
effort in that direction, now, finding the French gradually gaining
ground, pushing their way slowly but surely into the town and, to add
fresh terrors to those by which the unhappy defenders were almost
overwhelmed, firing the houses as fast as they could reach them, the
chiefs once more asked for terms, and were accorded three days in
which to quit the town. Even then the people would have refused to
yield, and it was with difficulty that their leaders at last forced
from them a sullen and unwilling submission. Kleber, in addition to
granting the Turks and Mamaluks three days within which to evacuate
the town, undertook to supply funds and transport to enable them to
go, but demanded the exchange of hostages. All who wished were to be
free to depart with the retiring troops. These were liberal terms, but
still the people were unwilling to submit, and when the French
hostages arrived they had to be protected by a large body of the
Turkish troops, and even Osman Agha himself, who throughout the siege
had been foremost in the defence, and ever where danger was thickest,
even he had to seek protection from the wrath of the mob that still
furiously cried out against the admission of the French.

At length, peace and order having been restored, the Turks and
Mamaluks made haste to leave the town, and a general amnesty having
been proclaimed, Cairo was once more treated to a grand triumphal
entry of the French, and was once more directed to decorate and
illuminate itself in token of rejoicing.

For the third time the people settled down to bear the rule of the
French with what patience they could, and, in the manner that still
characterises their daily lives, the quarrel of the moment having been
abandoned, they let it sleep and went about their affairs as much as
possible as if nothing had ever occurred to interrupt them. Not that
they were in the least reconciled to the French, or that they had
ceased to long for redemption from the slavery in which they were
held. Far from that, but loyal to the terms they had accepted, they
desisted from all open or, indeed, covert opposition. It would have
been unreasonable to ask or expect more than this. So the truce having
once been made the French, though they did not think so, were
absolutely safe from any molestation or annoyance from the people who,
as a body, with all their faults, fear God, and, obeying the law of
Islam, observe their covenants even when made with an enemy.

One might have thought that this people, who had so strenuously
resisted the making of peace, who had turned against the most trusted
of their own leaders for accepting terms, who, in the hope of
rendering peace impossible, had frantically attempted to attack the
hostages--one might have thought that this people would have
repudiated the terms, and have sought every opportunity to injure and
annoy the French. Nor could they with any reason have been held
altogether blamable in refusing to abide by terms made in direct
opposition to their wishes. Yet this is, as I have said, just what
they did not do, and peace once established, the French went about
among them as safe and as free from molestation as though the people
had no grievance against them.

Let us turn now and see how the French interpreted the amnesty they
had accorded the people.



"They have nothing to fear; are they not our people?"

Was it possible for the people of Cairo to have any better assurance
than these words of General Kleber, that the "Aman," or amnesty, that
was so loudly proclaimed and, by the French, so enthusiastically
celebrated, was to be the full and free "Aman" which alone is
understood by Oriental peoples? One would have thought not, but the
Cairenes were to learn differently. They were to be taught that
"amnesty" is a word which, like so many others, may be interpreted in
varying senses, and that it has no other meaning than that which the
user chooses to accord to it.

Among the rejoicings for the great victory of a strong, well-supplied,
and well-nourished army of well-trained and disciplined veterans over
a famished, half-naked, wholly undisciplined, and almost wholly
exhausted mob of civilians, there had been, among other things, a
great banquet, to which all the notables of the town were invited, and
at which they were received by Kleber in a gracious manner--so
gracious, indeed, that they went away full of pleasant dreams for the
future. General Kleber had taken the opportunity to invite a number of
the Ulema to meet him on the following Friday morning, and believing
that it was his intention, as indeed he had declared it to be, to
discuss with them the revival of the Dewan and other matters, they did
not fail to appear punctually at the appointed time, some of them
looking forward to receiving some recognition of their services in the
promotion of peace. Arrived at the General's, they were not long in
learning that the gala costume with which they had honoured the
occasion was most unhappily inappropriate.

As a first intimation of the vanity of their hopes they were kept
waiting in an ante-chamber until their patience was almost exhausted.
At length Kleber entered, and without any words of welcome or apology
straightway proceeded once more to censure them for having allied
themselves with the Turks. When the Sheikhs once more protested that
they had done so under his own instructions, given at the time that he
had announced the approaching departure of the French, he blamed them
for not having suppressed the "insurrection." They replied that this
was wholly out of their power, and that those who, as he was aware,
had made an effort to stop the fighting had been rudely treated, and
even roughly handled, by the people. But it was the old story of the
wolf and the lamb. Kleber was determined to bring the Sheikhs in
guilty in any case, and upbraided them with being double-faced. This
was not what the poor Sheikhs, who had honestly done their best in the
cause of peace, had expected as the reward of their efforts, or as the
natural sequence of the courtesies extended to them at the banquet.
All this, however, was but the preface to the announcement of what
was, in fact, the real object of their being summoned to meet the
General. This was nothing less than the seizing the Sheikhs as
hostages for the payment by the city of an enormous indemnity and the
infliction of exorbitant fines upon each of five of the leading
Sheikhs. While yet the Sheikhs, dumbfoundered by this novel
interpretation of the word "amnesty," were trying to assure themselves
that they were not the victims of an ill-timed jest, the General left
the room as abruptly as he had entered it, and the Sheikhs found that
they were prisoners.

When at length, late in the evening, the sorely-troubled Sheikhs had
recovered somewhat from the consternation into which they had been
thrown by the General's treatment of them, and the extravagance of the
demand he had made, they proceeded to draw up classified lists of the
inhabitants of the town and fix the sums that each class was to
contribute towards the payment of the indemnity. As a basis upon which
to allot the debt householders were assessed at a year's rent, and
every trade, business, and industry in the town, down to the street
musicians, jesters, and jugglers, was called upon to pay its share.
This done the Sheikhs were, with the exception of a few who were to be
imprisoned until they had paid the special fines inflicted upon them,
released, but under military guard. Among those imprisoned was the
Sheikh el Sadat, the Chief of the Shereefs, or descendants of the
Prophet, upon whom a fine of 500,000 dollars had been imposed.

Then began the darkest days in the history of the country. Thenceforth
tyranny and torture of every kind was adopted to force the payment of
the indemnity, and all that the superior civilisation of France had to
offer the wretched people to whom they had accorded an "amnesty," and
whom they termed "our people," was the introduction of refinements in
the tortures inflicted upon them, such as the bringing of the wife of
the Sheikh el Sadat to witness the tortures inflicted upon her

Historians glide lightly over this part of their story, and being
perforce compelled to mention some of these incidents, are not ashamed
to stoop to the contemptible excuse that such things were "the custom
of the East," that the French were only availing themselves of the
means that would have been employed against themselves in like case.
Indeed, this was the excuse the French offered at the time. "Living in
the East," said Vigo Roussillon, one of those present at the massacre
of the Turkish prisoners at Jaffa, "we adopted the morals of the

There is an old chemical experiment in which the mixing of two
coloured fluids produces a clear, transparent one, but no such
experiment is possible in morality. Evil-doing is evil-doing, and
neither the casuistry of the Jesuits nor the art of man can make it
good or right doing. I myself believe that all evil eventually
produces good--"That every cloud that spreads above and veileth love,
itself is love;" but that affords no excuse for evil-doing. Nor could
the French have found a falser or more barren excuse than this one. It
is true that in the East, as in the West, tyranny and torture had been
for ages the tools of tyrants, but those tyrants had in using those
tools done so ignorantly and stupidly because they knew no better.
They acted upon the natural impulse of men who knew no law but that of
force, no right but that of the sword, no morality but their own
pleasure, and as the circumstances and conditions of the times seemed
to them to dictate. They had no sense of doing evil. To them there was
no other way of influencing men against their wills save by physical
or mental pain, and they acted accordingly. It was quite otherwise
with the French. They, with a perfect knowledge of what they were
doing, did this evil, knowing it to be evil, and they did it
deliberately, not in a moment of anger but with cool, thoughtful
determination, and all the sophistry in the world cannot free them
from the degradation and dishonour of having done so. But we must
remember that Europe in that day, greatly as it had advanced in
civilisation, was still far behind the point it has since reached, and
that if the French are to be censured for what they did in Egypt it is
not because we in England were incapable of evil; nay, what, after
all, was the torture inflicted upon the Sheikh el Sadat to that
inflicted by the law of England on a mere boy sentenced to be flogged
once a fortnight for two years? or to the flogging of a seaman "round
the fleet" that was so often carried out long after? For sheer
brutality and gross wanton inhumanity the world has scarcely any
record that can approach that of the "Holy Office," but the records of
England's prisons are not far behind, and leave us no room for
anything but shame and humility on the score of our humanity in the
past. It is not therefore to picture the French as monsters of
iniquity that I have spoken of this matter, but as the natural reply
of the Egyptian when he is accused, as he so often is, of ingratitude
and want of appreciation of the blessings that we good, kind-hearted
Europeans have so generously bestowed upon him. To the European critic
of Egypt and its affairs the benefits conferred upon the country and
its people by the introduction of European civilisation are so great
and so many as to overshadow and hide all else. Unfortunately it is
not so to the Egyptian. He knows only too well that there has been a
reverse side to the picture that the European draws. The evils of
which I have been speaking have long since passed away, but they have
left a trail of bitter feeling that still survives. Some of the most
prominent of the Egyptian citizens of Cairo to-day are the direct
descendants of the men who suffered so severely under the French.
Would it be human in them to forget that to the present day they are
sufferers from the ills their immediate ancestors had to bear? And yet
these men, true to the traditions of their families, are to-day as
they were in the time of the French, the men most ready to give a
cordial welcome to all real progress--men who, though they cannot
forget the past, are content to bury its bitterness and who fully
recognise that the Europe of to-day is not altogether the same thing
as the Europe of a century ago.

Yet one word more is necessary on this subject. Whatever truth there
was in the French excuse that they were but "doing in the East what
the Easterns did," this was not true of the Egyptians. All historians
agree in one thing--that from the earliest days down to the French
occupation (which, as we have seen, was the introduction of an era of
"liberty, equality, and fraternity") the Egyptian people had always
been the downtrodden slaves of the long string of foreign rulers who
had exploited them in the most merciless manner. Yet in these same
histories we find the people spoken of as if they had been the rulers,
and all the vices and sins of the Mamaluks, their followers and their
servants the Copts, are put down with a most generous impartiality to
the unhappy people who had to bear the bitter burthen these sins and
vices cast upon them. Tyranny, torture, bribery, corruption were rife
in the country, therefore the Egyptians were tyrannical, corrupt, and
so on. And the same writers, with a calm indifference to the claims of
logic and common sense not altogether peculiar to them, tell us that
the people were slothful, lacking in energy, content to live from hand
to mouth, servile and, to cap the pyramid of their faults and follies,
fatalists! How is it that these brilliant historians are unable to see
that the centre and controlling feature of all the history of the
country has been the utter irreconcilability of the characters of the
ruled and their rulers? This was so in the days of the Ptolemies and
of the Caliphs as in the days of the Mamaluks and of the French.

Crushing as was the indemnity imposed by the French upon the miserable
citizens of Cairo, it was not in the eyes of the Egyptians the worst
of the evils from which they had to suffer. We have seen that in their
day of trouble the Christians, if they had found assailants among the
Moslems, had also found very vigorous protectors. Now that the
Christians had an opportunity of showing their gratitude they hastened
to do so. The French, with a paltry spite that admits no excuse,
forbade the Moslems to ride, commanded them, under pain of the
bastinado, to stand up whenever a Frenchman passed, and in other ways
sought to humiliate them as much as possible, not the least being the
permission they tacitly, if not directly, accorded the native
Christians to insult, abuse, and ill-treat the Moslems. And all this
was done to "Our people" in virtue of the "Amnesty" that had been
granted, not in the fiery heat of open hostility or wrath, or to crush
opposition, but with deliberate vindictiveness when all excuse for
such brutality had ceased. And the native Christians, following the
good example set them and in gratitude for the protection they had
received from Moslem defenders, availed themselves to the utmost of
the privilege accorded them.

It has been said that this was but a recoil upon the Moslems of
ill-treatment they had in times past inflicted upon the Christians. No
falser excuse could be offered. It is true that, as I have before
admitted, the lower classes of the Moslems had constantly insulted
and ill-used the Christians, and under some of the Sultans these had
been subjected to degrading and vexatious tyrannies; but, as we have
seen, the better class of the people and the Moslem rulers in general
always afforded them the full and ample protection to which they were
entitled in accordance with Moslem law and religion, even when the
granting of that protection necessitated the shedding of Moslem blood.
Never once in the history of the country had the Christians been
without some of the Moslems for their protectors, and never once had
the Moslems, in cool blood or with deliberate malice, persecuted them
as native and European Christians now persecuted the Moslems. In
moments of wrath and of political excitement Christians had been
massacred and their houses pillaged, the lower classes were habitually
offensive to them, they had been subjected to humiliating conditions
and restrictions by some of the rulers of the land as they had been
petted and pampered by others, but with all this they had always been
not worse but better off than the bulk of the Moslems. Nor must it be
forgotten that it was not as Christians, but as the servants of the
Government, that the Christians were hated by the people. Bigots and
fanatics have existed, such as Nasooh Pacha, but they were and are
regarded by all true Moslems as little better than heretics and
infidels. Nowhere throughout Islam are Christians hated as Christians,
or for the sake of their religion, but for their actions towards and
treatment of Moslems.

No better evidence of the true relations between the two peoples or of
their conduct to each other can be asked for than that afforded by
Gabarty's history, with its perfect freedom from bigotry and
fanaticism. So far from exonerating or condoning the faults of the
Moslems, he speaks of and condemns these more frequently and more
freely than those of the Christians, and the fact that he does so is
the more noticeable, and by far the more significant, that he was
writing, not for Christian or European readers, but solely for his
countrymen and coreligionists. Nor can we forget in weighing its value
that, plain-spoken as it is on the faults and failings of the Moslems,
it is the most popular history written in their language. If the
Moslems of Egypt were the bitter fanatics they are so commonly accused
of being this could not be so. But that the Moslems never did oppress
the Christians is proved by the simple historical fact, attested by
all the Christian historians of the country, that, from the first
introduction of Islam into the country down to the present day, the
Moslem Egyptians have never had the power or means of oppressing or
tyrannising over the Christians or any one else. Not only so, but they
have never had the means or the power to protect themselves from the
tyranny and oppression of the Christians. Under the Caliphs and their
successors the Mamaluks whatever there was of tyranny and oppression
fell with fullest weight upon the Moslems. Their grievances were real
enough, and not, as were those of the Christians, little more than
sentimental; the kurbag, the corvée, extortion and injustice of every
kind, were the evils from which the Moslems had to suffer, while for
the most part the Christians escaped these and had as their chief
grievances the facts that they were treated socially as an inferior
race, were not allowed to ride horses, or to hold land, and had to
wear a distinctive dress. And as a set-off to these grievances they
had no small share in the golden harvest extorted by cruelty and
torture from the Moslems. What wonder if the Moslems felt bitterly
against them, or that their bitterness was increased by their
impotency to protect themselves. And yet, save for such wild outbursts
as that incited by Nasooh Pacha, they were content to leave the
Christians alone.

And when we recall the relative position of the Christians and the
Moslem people in the country we cannot be surprised that the
bitterness I have spoken of should develop into hatred. So far as the
people were concerned, it was the Christians, and the Christians
alone, who were mainly responsible for their sufferings. It was the
Christians who were the real oppressors of the people. They
constituted the one class in the country which, if it had willed to do
so, could have softened the endless sufferings of the people--the one
class that, without a complete change in the government, could have
benefited them. But far from benefiting they were the one and only
class that in season and out of season never ceased to pursue the
miserable people day or night, grinding them in the dust from pure
malicious hatred. It was they who carried on the atrocious tyranny
that wrecked the commerce of the country and well-nigh desolated the
land, for it was they who fixed and they who collected the assessments
that crushed and starved the peasantry. They might, with little loss
to themselves, have vastly bettered the condition of the people, but
far from doing so they pushed their power for evil to the utmost. That
is why the Moslems hated them. Ruthless, savage as were the Mamaluks,
they were always under some restraint. As a mere matter of policy they
could not wholly resist the intercessions of the Ulema, and so it was
to their Coptic and other Christian clerks that the Beys turned for
advice and counsel as to how much and how the people could be forced
to pay. The Beys thought nothing of annihilating a village that would
not or could not pay the sum demanded of it, but it was the Christian
clerks of the Beys who fixed the amount to be paid and who persuaded
the Beys that it was unwillingness and not inability that kept the
people from paying. These are facts that cannot be denied or disputed.
They are practically admitted by all historians, none of these failing
to point out that the administrative branch of the government has
always been in the hands of the Christians, though none of them seem
to have ever cared to recognise the logical and inevitable consequence
of this fact. It was not in the power of the Christians to have wholly
averted the evils from which the people had to suffer, but they might
have done much that would have vastly mitigated not only the
outrageous extortion practised but also the cruelty and brutality with
which it was enforced. It was, then, not as Christians but as their
heartless oppressors that the Moslems hated the Christians, and the
sole excuse that these could offer for their wanton inhumanity was the
contempt and social ill-treatment they received, not from the people
but from the men they served.

And as it was with the Christians of the country so it was with the
French--whatever of hatred the people had for them was due not to
religious fanaticism or bigotry but to the oppression they inflicted
upon the people.

I have dwelt upon this point at the greater length that I am convinced
of the importance of the European critics of Egypt and the Egyptians
learning to look at this question from the true point of view. At the
present day it is the commonly asserted belief of almost all the
Europeans in the country that the Egyptians are a bigoted and
fanatical race. I deny it entirely. I have travelled and lived among
Moslems in more lands than one, among Kurds and Afghans, Indians and
others, and I have never met a Moslem people not only so free from
fanaticism but so lax, from the Moslem point of view, as the
Egyptians. Nor must the reader forget two points that tend to show
that the bitterness of the people towards the Christians was the
result of political and not of religious animosity. These facts are
that Moslems of whose orthodoxy there was no doubt were during the
revolt and during the siege assaulted, ill-treated, and in more than
one case killed, by the mob on the accusation of befriending or simply
of being in sympathy with the French. The Sheikh El Sadat was one of
those who had to suffer in this way, and almost all of the Sheikhs who
had gone as a deputation to treat for peace during the siege. So, on
the other hand, the Jews, who have always refrained from interfering
in politics, and who have ever been studiously careful to avoid taking
sides with any party or sect in the country, although they are the
subject of far stronger personal and religious dislike than are the
Christians, were never the object of direct attack from the people,
though they, like the Moslems, on many occasions suffered when the mob
broke out against the Christians. In the time of the French occupation
the Harat el Yahoud, or Jews' Quarter, was situated, as it still is,
off the Mousky, then the principal residence of the Franks and
Christians, yet in the list that Gabarty gives of the quarters of the
town that had been raided by the mob this is not included. All through
the troubled days of the French occupation the Jews had to bear their
share of the ills that fell upon all; but the people bore them no
special hatred, had no special grievance against them, did not look
upon them as their personal enemies, and thus they escaped the direct
attacks that were made upon the Christians.

The hatred, then, with which the Egyptians had learned to regard the
French was not the hatred of fanaticism and had but little reference
to the question of religion. Had the French understood the people and
been willing and able to rule them with due regard for their
prejudices and desires, there was no reason why they should not have
gained the goodwill, and with certain limitations, the loyalty of the
people. It was not only possible for the French to have done this, but
it would have been easier for them to do so than to follow the mad
course they chose to adopt. The fact of the French being Christians,
for as such the Egyptians regarded them, would have had but small
weight if they had conceded to Moslem sentiment its reasonable
demands. To the Egyptian mind the Mamaluks were not much better
Moslems than the French might easily have been. This the French could
not see, and not being able to see it, or to understand the people,
they could find no other way to rule them but that which the Mamaluks
had adopted--force. And it was with them as with every government that
has ever existed or ever can exist, the admission that it is compelled
to use force to rule any people whatever is a confession that the task
of rightly ruling that people is beyond their strength, that it is one
for which they are unfitted and one in which they never can succeed.
It is a law of nature in the moral as in the physical world and one
from which there is no escape--that no force can operate without
creating resistance to its own action, and the greater the force the
greater the resistance. A given force may for a time appear to crush
all opposition, but if it could do so in reality it would be but to
find itself exhausted and effete. Unable to understand either the
people of Egypt or their history, the French could not see that while
for centuries the rule of the country had been founded upon force, it
had been maintained not by force but by the pliancy of its rulers. No
one knew this better than the Mamaluk chiefs. These cared nothing for
the people or their desires, and they never hesitated to drive them to
the uttermost, but they knew equally well that there was a limit and,
though they but yielded to conquer, they yielded when that limit was
reached. Nor did they, like the French, waste their force in
unprofitable directions or in exciting needless opposition, but
devoted it wholly and solely to the attainment of their one great
object--the procuring of the funds they needed.

In the East the shepherd goes before his flock; whither he leads they
follow, and his dogs serve only to bring up the stragglers or hasten
the steps of the laggards. It is much the same with the people.
Caliphs, Sultans, Beys, and French may seem to be driving them, but in
reality they are not being driven but led, led by perhaps unseen and
unknown shepherds that are yet more potent for good or evil than any
ruler that ever sat on an Eastern throne. Europeans cannot see this,
yet every Eastern who has given the subject a moment's thought knows
that it is so. As often as not the real leader and ruler of the people
is himself unconscious of his power or position. It was so in the days
before the revolt of Cairo. An open avowed leader the people would
most probably have distrusted, but the almost silent man who said but
little, who assumed no authority but rightly gauged the feelings
stirring around him and knew how, by simple words, to influence the
current of those feelings, could sway the people as he willed. The
demagogue who cries aloud in the market-places, bidding men accept him
as their guide and friend, obtains but a poor following. He may stir
up latent feeling to action, but he cannot direct either the feeling
or the action. So far as he can rightly interpret the feeling he may
pose as the spokesman and leader of a party, but true leader he never
is. Mahdis are for ever arising to preach, like Peter the Hermit, the
glory and duty of a "Holy War," but among the people of the East they
gain but poor success. The negro races flock to the standards of these
men and have died in thousands for their sake, but the Eastern asks
for a miracle before he will be convinced, and, holding aloof from the
would-be guide, follows all unknowingly some other.

If the reader has followed me so far he will now have pretty clearly
grasped the truth that the rule of the French in Egypt had proved an
utter failure, and to some extent he will have seen why this was so.
That failure was brought about by not one but many causes. Of these,
besides those that I have already dealt with, there is one that I may
speak of here.

I have shown in a previous chapter how, although the teachings of the
Christian and Mahomedan religions are almost identical as to the duty
of obedience to those in authority, the varying circumstances
affecting the peoples of England and those of the East lead these to
interpret and apply those teachings very differently. It is so with
other matters. Christianity and Islam are at one in ranking Justice
and Mercy as the greatest of the virtues. "The Lord thy God" is "a
just God," but also "a merciful God" is the teaching of the Koran as
well as of the Bible. It is the belief of the Moslem as well as of the
Christian. But the European conception of justice is to the Moslem,
and indeed to all Easterns, hopelessly imperfect, so imperfect that
in their eyes it becomes injustice. One law for all, for high and
low, rich and poor. That is the ideal of civilised Europe--an ideal
that never has been and in all probability never will be accepted in
the East. The man of high position who commits an offence should, says
the West, be punished in the same way and in the same degree as an
humbler man would be for the same offence. That, says the East, is
just in theory but impossible in practice. And the East is right. In
no conceivable case is it possible to accord to two men an exactly
equal amount of punishment. Whether it be a sixpenny fine or the death
penalty, every penalty inflicted affects the person upon whom it is
inflicted precisely in proportion to facts and circumstances that it
is not possible should be known to or weighed by his judge. That this
is so is admitted by all, but in England and other countries men are
content with an attempt at "justice" that almost wholly ignores this
fact. Not so the Easterns. That one of the Ulema, a Pacha or any other
person of position should be punished by a penalty such as might be
inflicted upon any ordinary citizen is to the Eastern mind not justice
but gross injustice.

But the difference in the Englishman's conception of justice and that
of the Eastern lies even deeper than this. To the English mind the
idea of justice is mainly associated with the administration of
punishment to the guilty and with abstention from injustice in dealing
with others. The Eastern, until he has acquired that tinge of European
thought and sentiment that unconsciously yet constantly causes him to
mislead Europeans as to what is and what is not Eastern thought on
such subjects, but rarely connects the idea of punishment with that of
justice. To him punishment is not the administration of justice but
the administration of a deterrent. That as such it may be just or
unjust he quite recognises, but the justice or injustice of a
punishment is to his mind an incident and not an essential of the
punishment, and the justice so often lauded in the East is not the
justice of the courts but the personal quality that prevents a man
wronging another or leads him when he has acted unjustly to admit his
error and seek to remedy it.

And while the two peoples are thus apart in their interpretation of
justice, they are still more widely so in the positions they assign to
justice and mercy. The European, and perhaps especially the
Englishman, places justice first and only allows mercy to come in a
long way off. Not so the Eastern. To him mercy is first and justice
second. That this should be so is a direct result of the conditions
under which the two peoples have lived for many centuries. As all
history shows, the races of Europe have always had a genius for and a
tendency towards organised government. Whether we peruse the records
of liberty-loving England or of thraldom-trodden Spain, of republican
France, or of despotic Russia, in every European country we find the
people regarding an organised government, a government acting in a
prescribed manner upon a prescribed system, as a natural complement of
existence as a nation. It is not so in the East. There the whole bent
of opinion tends towards autocratic if not to pure despotic rule. The
difference is due to various causes, but possibly to none more than
this--that in Europe the community of interests binding individuals
together and causing them to recognise each other as members of a
group are territorial, limited chiefly and sometimes wholly by
geographical boundaries, whereas in the East this community of
interest rests almost entirely upon the religious distinctions that
divide peoples living in the same countries. In Europe, though there
have been religious wars, war has in the main been the result of the
rivalries of peoples distinguished from each other by language,
habits, and character. In the East religion has in general been the
line of distinction. It has followed from this that in Europe the
peoples have been and still are obliged to group themselves as
nations, while in the East they group themselves by their religions.
The European nation or community is therefore a secular body, and as
such seeks a secular government, whereas the Eastern peoples are not
nations so much as religious communities. To each an organised
government is necessary for self-protection and internal adjustment.
This the European is obliged to find in the organisation of a special
governing body, while the Easterns find it ready to hand in the
organisation of their Churches. Now in the organisation of a nation
with regard to its internal affairs, justice is almost of necessity
placed before mercy, whereas in that of a religion, mercy is exalted
above justice. Hence a people like the English learn to look upon
justice, or whatever near approach to it can be attained, as the
greatest good to be sought for from their rulers and in their efforts
to attain this end, like the political economists of whom Ruskin
complained, forget the human equation, and that justice, however
finely balanced by tale and weight of legal prescription, can never be
more nor less than a failure, if it be not dominated by mercy. In
Europe peoples have again and again revolted against the tyrants that
have oppressed them that they might thereby secure justice and its
complement liberty, and they could do this because there was no higher
or conflicting interest to hold them back; but it has not been so in
the East. There all the organisation that the peoples have needed for
the administration of their internal affairs has always been found in
the organisation of their religion, and whether the tyranny and
oppression from which they have suffered from times immemorial
afflicted them through the hands and acts of their co-religionists or
from those of other and rival religions, the interests of their
religion, and therefore of their fellows, demanded submission to such
ills rather than a resistance that could not fail to injure that which
they deemed the higher and better cause. And in the sufferings they
were thus called upon to bear they naturally turned to their religion
for consolation, and found it in their belief in the ineffable mercy
of the Deity, and thus learning to look upon mercy as the highest
attribute of God inevitably rank it as the noblest virtue in man. And
to the Moslem the appreciation of mercy he thus acquires is enforced
by the teaching of the Koran. The law of retaliation, an eye for an
eye, is ordained to Moslems, but with the promise that to him who
exacts less his forbearance shall be accounted as a charity and as
such shall gain him a rich reward. To bridle one's anger, to forgive
men and to intercede "with a good intercession"--these are virtues
that are endlessly praised and commended in "The Book of God."

What a poor substitute for these is the "even-handed justice" that is
the boast of our vaunted civilisation!

Is it necessary for me to say now that the price the French asked the
people of Cairo to pay for the peace that had been accorded them, was
to them a violation of all justice? Or need I point out at length that
this incompatibility of ideals on the subjects of justice and mercy
was one of the principal causes of the failure of the French to
realise the anticipations with which they had entered the country, as
it is still one of the causes that hold the East and West apart, and
forms a never-resting cause of misunderstanding between all Orientals
and Europeans. Unfortunately in this, as in other matters, the
Oriental is too prone to keep his ideals as a standard whereby to
judge the merits and failings of others, rather than as a guide for
his own actions. It is one of the greatest of the Englishman's merits
that he does not do this. He strives as best he may to realise his
ideals, and in this it would be well indeed for the Egyptian to
imitate him. With both people, as indeed with all others if we would
judge them justly, we must, however, take account first of their
ideals and next of the sincerity and earnestness with which they seek
to bring these into practice.



Boulac had fallen on the 14th of April, 1800. Exactly two months
later, on the 14th of June, General Kleber was assassinated. He was
taking a morning walk in the garden of General Dugua's house, when a
young man, a Syrian, approached him as if to offer a petition, and
before the unfortunate General could detect his purpose, struck him
several blows in the breast with a dagger. The assassin was arrested
soon after, and made a confession. Of his guilt there could be no
doubt, but his confession being made under torture was of course
perfectly worthless. In it he stated that he had been employed to
commit the infamous deed by a high officer of the Turkish Army that
Kleber had defeated at Materiah. That he was a Syrian, and that he had
only been in Egypt for a few weeks, were facts that were easily
established. The French believed, however, that he was encouraged if
not instigated by Egyptians, and although there was absolutely nothing
to suggest that this was the case, except perhaps their keen sense of
the hatred with which they were regarded, they determined to discover
all that could be discovered of the origin of the crime. The wretched
prisoner was therefore handed over to the care of the Chief of the
Police, a Greek of infamous character, a notorious evil-liver,
detested and abhorred by all for his wanton cruelties, abominable
vices, and utter depravity. Selected for the post he held as one whose
unbridled and unconcealed hatred for the people of the country was a
guarantee of his fidelity to the French, his selection is an all too
eloquent testimony as to the real nature of the relations between the
French and the Egyptians. No man viler, more depraved, or more
despicable, could have been placed in a position such as that accorded
to this villain--a position that practically placed him above and
beyond all law and all restraint, and gave free scope to his
inhumanity, his outrageous vices, and devilish passions. Like Oates,
he delighted to seduce and betray his fellow-men; like Jeffreys, he
rejoiced when sending them to prison, torture, or death; like the
caitiff James, he revelled in witnessing their anguish and agonies. To
this wretch Kleber's assassin was handed over, and by him almost all
that could be done by torture or otherwise to induce the criminal to
denounce others as his accomplices or abettors was tried. At length,
when all other means had failed to accomplish the end at which he
aimed, the wretch persuaded his miserable victim, by a promise of free
pardon to himself, to give the names of some Sheikhs of the Azhar to
whom, as he admitted, he had made known the purport of his visit to

One of these Sheikhs, it was found, had already left the country, but
the others were at once arrested. These admitted that they had been
spoken to on the subject by the prisoner, but asserted, and as it
would appear truly, that they had endeavoured to dissuade him from the
commission of the crime, and, on finding that he persisted in his
intention, had kept aloof from him; but while granting the full value
of the plea the Sheikhs thus offered, it must be admitted that the
French were justified, by all known law and custom, in sentencing them
to death, as, had they denounced the Syrian's intention, there is no
doubt but that his crime would have been effectually prevented.

The sentence passed upon the assassin does not admit of equal
justification. Kleber, whatever his faults or errors as an
administrator, or however harsh and faithless his treatment of the
Egyptians had been, was a brave and gallant gentleman, a man of whom
his countrymen were and are justly proud, and one who had endeared
himself to all under his command, while in the position in which they
then were the whole body of the French looked up to him as the only
one from whom they could seek or obtain the leadership so essential to
their almost desperate case. But with the fullest sympathy for the
bitterness of spirit that must at the moment have oppressed the
French, it is impossible to condone the sanction they accorded to the
base treachery of their minion, the Chief of the Police, by whom the
pardon he had promised the assassin, as the price to be paid him for
giving up the names of the Sheikhs, was withdrawn immediately the
names had been given, and without the slightest pretext being offered
for this vile breach of faith. Nor can the sentence passed be
regarded as otherwise than a brutal one, though it was not indeed more
so than others that have been passed by nations and peoples claiming
to represent the most advanced civilisation. It was that the
prisoner's right hand should be cut off, that he should witness the
execution of the Sheikhs, and that he should himself be impaled alive.

The execution of the condemned men was fixed to take place immediately
after the funeral of the General, and it was wholly in vain that some
of the Sheikhs and notables pleaded for a mitigation of the penalty.
On the appointed day the prisoners were marched out to a rising ground
on the route the General's funeral was to follow, and posted there, at
the spot selected for the execution, they were compelled to view the
mournful procession that, with all the pomp of a State ceremony,
accompanied the General's remains to the temporary burial-ground in
which they were to be laid. There, on the completion of the funeral
rites, the sentences on the condemned men were carried out, and the
Sheikhs having been beheaded the wretched assassin was impaled alive
and left to linger in the most horrible anguish for over four hours.

A punishment such as this was not then, nor ever can be, other than
purely and simply an act of vengeance. In the East especially it is
but a perversion of terms to pretend that such penalties can be
justified as deterrents. History proves conclusively that they have no
such effect, except perhaps for the moment, but that they have the
effect of hardening and brutalising the hearts of those they are
supposed to terrify is certain. In the present case there was not even
the slightest ground of excuse. The criminal was a foreigner, and it
had been clearly proved at his trial that his crime had met with no
encouragement or sympathy from the people of the country. The whole
conduct of the people from the first arrival of the French had been
sufficient to show that there was absolutely no reason to suspect them
of any desire to repeat, in any form, the crime that this foreigner
had committed. Three times "peace" had been declared in Cairo by the
French, and three times the people--though on two occasions most
unwillingly accepting the peace--had kept it loyally and with the most
perfect and submissive good faith. In the revolt and the siege they
had shown with what pleasure they could set themselves to the task of
slaying the French, but peace once declared all ranks and grades of
Frenchmen went about in perfect safety. The French complained that the
people were ungrateful; but does it not seem that the people might
have retorted that the French were infinitely more so?

There remains but little to be said of the French occupation. After
the death of Kleber the command of the army devolved upon General
Menou. As he had for some time professed himself a convert to Islam,
and had married a woman of the country, it might have been thought
that the change would have tended to promote better feelings between
the two peoples. It proved otherwise. None of the Egyptians believed
in the sincerity of the General's conversion, and it had therefore no
other effect than to discredit the professions of sympathy for Islamic
ideas that other Frenchmen made, and perhaps to raise hopes that were
not to be fulfilled.

As a measure tending to conciliate French feeling, the Ulema had asked
for and obtained permission to close the Azhar mosque, which, from its
great extent and the straggling, irregular arrangement of its courts
and their surrounding buildings, was of all others the place most
capable of affording shelter to strangers visiting the town with evil
intent. But the French were quite unable to appreciate the true
meaning of this action, and, actuated by a vindictive spirit most
unworthy of a civilised people, sought further vengeance for the crime
of a foreigner upon the unhappy Egyptians. A heavy "contribution" was
therefore exacted, and European and native Christians vied with each
other in heaping insult and contumely upon the Moslems. Some steps
were indeed taken by Menou that seem to have been intended to favour
the Moslems and gain their support. Thus the Dewan was reorganised,
and, for the first time under the French, was composed exclusively of
Mahomedans, one French official only being appointed to assist at its
meetings. In the Government service also Copts were largely replaced
by Mahomedans--a step that exceedingly embittered the Copts--and the
French were subjected to the taxes from which they had theretofore
been free--a measure that excited their indignation. With scarcely an
exception, the French were heartily sick of the country. All the
enthusiasm by which they had at first been stimulated had vanished.
They had arrived in Egypt, looking for a sojourn that should be a
triumphal progress towards the attainment of great ideals and vast
projects. It was to be the first step, as they had hoped, towards
making France the Mistress of the World, but, save for the first
victory over the Mamaluks, the story of their stay in the land was
little else but one of disappointments, losses and vexations; for the
suppression of the revolt, the routing of the Turkish Army, and the
retaking of Cairo were not events upon which they could look with
other than bitter feelings, since, although victories, all the
circumstances surrounding them tarnished the little glory they might
have possessed under happier conditions. But General Menou was not so
weary or so hopeless as his countrymen; he still thought it possible
to colonise the country and to establish French influence upon a safe

It had been the blunder, or rather the weakness, of Bonaparte and
Kleber, that they had not realised the truth Burke taught, that "The
temper of the people amongst whom he presides ought to be the first
study of a statesman." Bonaparte had thought to win his way by
wheedling, and, failing to do so, had turned to force. Kleber had had
no other conception than that of "the iron hand," as we nowadays term
it, and had not the tact to clothe it with the pretence of a glove.
Menou seems to have sought to play the part of the old man in the
fable, and try to please everybody, with the inevitable result of
pleasing none. On the one hand, as we have just seen, he favoured the
Moslems in some few respects, on the other he offended their keenest
prejudices by allowing wine to be sold and drunk openly in the
streets, while, encouraged by the protection granted them by the
French, the lowest classes of the Christians and Mahomedans gave
themselves up to an open practice of vice and immorality that had
never before been permitted. This alone was a wanton outrage upon the
sentiments of the whole of the respectable population, Christian as
well as Mahomedan, that was sufficient to make the French hated and
detested by all but the most debased--a class which in Egypt, even
to-day, after a century of the nourishing protection of European
civilisation, is infinitely smaller in proportion to the population
than in any other country, except a few like Persia, that are almost
entirely outside of or beyond that protection. Not that the French in
Egypt by any means laid themselves open to a charge of profligacy.
There seems no reason to believe that they did anything of the kind,
but that which to them was entirely unobjectionable was to the
Easterns, among whom they were dwelling, utterly abominable. Thus the
drinking of wine in public, and the free intercourse of the two sexes
in public places, however innocent to the French, were to the
Egyptians something more than simply distasteful; and that they should
be so is a matter not only of custom and habit, but one of climatic
and other conditions which Europeans ignore. To the Moslem peoples
these things are subject to the further objection that they are
opposed to the teaching of their religion.

At length the day came for the French to go. The English and the Turks
had brought their combined forces to bear, and not only was an English
fleet once more off Alexandria, but Colonel Baird, with a strong force
of Sepoy soldiers from India, had arrived by the Red Sea. For the
French to have attempted to hold out against the enemy that was now at
their door would have been an act of madness, but it was at least
possible for them to ask and to obtain honourable terms; and these
having been granted, the evacuation of the country was agreed upon,
and the French, rejoiced at the prospect of once more returning to
their beloved native land, for the second time during their stay
prepared to quit a country to which so many bitter memories were
attached. In June, 1801, just a year after the death of Kleber, the
French garrison of Cairo capitulated, but Menou held out for some time
longer, and only resigned himself to the inevitable on the 30th of
August, and on the 18th of September sailed for Europe.

Thus ingloriously ended the great dream of a French Empire in the
East. At Cairo nothing could exceed the joy of the people as they at
last saw the now utterly hated and detested foreigners leaving. In
their case it was eminently true that "the evil that men do lives
after them." They had sown the seeds of a bitterness of feeling
towards all Europeans, and of a mistrust of European civilisation,
that still bear fruit and still retard the advancement of the country.
It was the French occupation that proved the greatest difficulty and
stumbling-block in the way of the English occupation, and for such a
long time rendered the task that the English administrators had
undertaken seem almost a forlorn hope. Every promise and pledge
offered by the English was weighed in the scale of those made by
Bonaparte and his successors. Every profession of respect for the
institutions and religion of the country was interpreted by the
recollection of the French cavalry stabled in the Azhar, and the
tyrannies, vexations, and outrages upon their most cherished
prejudices that the people had sustained under the French. It has been
the custom to trace to the French occupation whatever advance the
country has since made. In two ways only had it any lasting beneficial
effect--it brought to the attention of the few men like Gabarty a keen
sense of the great advantages of an orderly government, and a warm
appreciation of the advance that science and learning had made in
Europe, and it opened the way for the man who was to be the real
founder and maker of the Egypt of to-day. These were the only two
benefits that the French left behind them, and the greatest of these
was quite unintentional and unforeseen. As to all else, the occupation
left nothing but evil memories and evil influences behind it. It had
lowered the moral standard of the lowest classes, had taught these to
look upon vice and immorality from a new and more debasing point of
view, and had almost wholly destroyed the controlling influence the
Ulema and better classes had theretofore exercised upon them. European
historians have never seen that this is so--that they should fail to
see it is not surprising, since even the Europeans living in the
country are incapable of perceiving it. The European's standard of
morality is so different to that of the Eastern, and he is so
fanatically attached to his own ideas that he cannot understand any
one rejecting these, except from sheer perversity. For thousands of
years the Egyptians have been accustomed to bathe freely in the Nile,
to-day they are debarred at Cairo and elsewhere, lest the sight of a
nude figure should shock some sensitively minded European who happens
to look up from his, or her, perusal of the latest London society
scandal. It is so much easier to see the mote than the beam!

The modern Englishman will scarcely admit that his ancestors who, in
the time of Shakespeare and long after, were accustomed to call a
spade a spade, and never blushed to crack a plain-spoken jest, had in
truth a moral standard higher than his own, and that the man who keeps
these things for his intimate friends and his hours of abandon is less
healthy in mind and morals than the man who thinks no shame to speak
them openly. The difference between the two types is the difference
that prevails between the European and the Oriental standard of
decency. Hence to-day, as in the time of the French occupation, the
verdict that either of the peoples would pass upon the decency and
morality of the other, would be utter condemnation. But this fact
remains--that throughout the whole of Islam openly practised vice and
immorality exist only under the actively exercised protection of the
Christian Powers. Not only so, but if the traveller wishes to gauge
with infallible accuracy the extent of the influence exercised by the
Christian Powers in any Mahomedan country, he can do so by simply
ascertaining the extent of the open vice and immorality that is
permitted. This is the true hall-mark of European civilisation in
Moslem lands.

But among the Frenchmen with the expedition there were, as there
always are when a number of Frenchmen are brought together, men of
high ideals, men whom to know is to esteem. From their altogether too
restricted and hampered intercourse with such, the men of kindred type
among the Ulema and notables learned to appreciate, to some extent,
the better side of European civilisation. They saw clearly, too, that
there was nothing in the civilisation that such men represented that
could be held as inimical to Islam or contrary to its teaching. To the
present day the conviction they thus acquired is bearing good fruit.
Prior to the French occupation, thanks to the utter isolation of the
country, it was the common and universal belief that everything
connected with the social and moral condition of Europeans was in its
nature essentially anti-Islamic and accursed. Precisely the same idea
still widely prevails in Persia and other parts of the Mahomedan East
to-day, as well as throughout the whole of the North of Africa. But
the truly honest man, honest in spirit as well as deed, recognises his
fellow of whatever race, religion, or speech he may be. Gabarty and
his peers in Cairo were no exception to the rule, and could discern
with infallible accuracy the men who really desired to benefit the
country and the people. For such they had unbounded goodwill and
respect, and through their intercourse with these they acquired some
knowledge of the latent possibilities of that civilisation of which
the expedition, as a whole, was such a poor exponent.

It was in this way that the arrival of the French in Egypt was, as I
have termed it, "The dawn of the new period," but I have used the word
"dawn" as the only one the language gives me, though it does not
rightly express the meaning I wish to convey, for this dawn of the new
period was not the "bright, rosy dawn of day," but the faint, dimly
discernible dawn to which the Arabs give the name of "el Fujr." The
true dawn was to come later, and its herald was to be not a Frenchman,
nor a man of learning or culture, but a Moslem, an illiterate and
wholly self-made man.

I have had to say some hard things of the French, but before passing
on to consider the events that followed their departure I must pause
to say that I would not have the reader suppose that in speaking of
the occupation, I have myself forgotten the necessity of remembering
time and place I pointed out to others in an earlier chapter. In this,
as in other things, the reader must remember that I am in this book
endeavouring to present to him the story of the development of modern
Egypt as it presents itself to one who knows the Egyptians of to-day,
and who, from his religious and other sympathies with them, can
understand how the events of which he speaks has affected them in the
past and does so in the present. There is no charge more constantly
or more unjustly brought against the Egyptian than that he is
ungrateful for the benefits and blessings that European Governments
and peoples have conferred upon him. The charge, I repeat, is
absolutely unjust, and could never be made were it not for the failure
of those who make it to recognise two of the most important factors in
the evidence they ought to weigh before attempting any judgment upon
the question. These factors are--first, that the Egyptians and their
rulers were never one and the same people, and secondly, that to a
large extent the very things for which their gratitude is asked are
frequently those that most grate upon their feelings and
susceptibilities. I have pointed out these facts before, but they are
so constantly and so widely ignored that I desire to impress them upon
the reader's attention in the hope that he, at least, will in future
bear them in mind whenever he is called upon or tempted to criticise
the Egyptians. It has, therefore, been from no wish to say unkindly
things of the French that I have felt bound to speak strongly of the
darker side of the French occupation. This should indeed be clear from
the references I have made to the conditions prevailing in England at
that time. I no more think that the French in Egypt were actuated by
any evil or ignoble intentions than that the English Government of
that day did not believe itself the most perfect conceivable, but the
facts of history show that both were, in blundering ignorance,
pursuing their way by means and methods that truth, justice, and
equity must condemn. If, then, any French reader should feel aggrieved
by what I have said of the occupation, let him console himself with
my assurance that, if I had been writing of the English Government of
that day and its conception of justice, I should have had to denounce
it as one of the most brutal and brutalising ever known, and
infinitely worse than any that Egypt has ever had. Let him who doubts
the justice of this judgment turn to the records of the time, or, if
he prefers to seek its confirmation in lighter literature, let him
take up Dickens's "Barnaby Rudge."

The failure of the French occupation was due to the fact that it was a
military occupation, having for its first and chief aim the
acquisition of territory and the extension of empire, and that its
leaders were mainly men of the ambitious, unreflecting temperament of
the typical soldier, or freebooter, who looks to a victory of arms as
the highest and noblest achievement worthy of his efforts. Had it been
possible for the French _savants_ to have landed in the country alone,
and to have pursued their aims in the peaceful way they would have
chosen, nothing but good could have come of their presence in the
country. But the exigencies of a great military expedition and the
selfish aims of its leaders destroyed almost all possibility of the
occupation benefiting the country, and, placing endless barriers in
the way of those who would and could have influenced the future of the
country for the welfare and happiness of the people, baffled all their
efforts to do so. It is, and for ever must be so. Civilisation and
empire are two different aims; and just as no man can serve two
masters, neither can he pursue two aims, least of all two aims that
must be in so many points in constant and irreconcilable conflict;
not indeed that there is any such incompatibility as to prevent the
coexistence of civilisation and empire, but the man or Government that
seeks to introduce either into a foreign country will for ever find
that he must sacrifice now one and now the other if he is to attain
either. Unhappily, in the French occupation in Egypt it was
civilisation that had to give place to empire, and the result, as we
have seen, was the utter failure of both. Many thousands of lives had
been offered up on the altar of the "Great" Bonaparte's ambition. When
he entered the country the feeling of the people towards Christian
Europe was one of disdain, when the last of the expedition had
departed it left behind it bitterness and illwill born of tyranny,
broken promises, and outraged prejudices and susceptibilities--a
bitterness that all the long years that have since passed have not
wholly buried--a bitterness that still exists, and that always will
exist, unless and until Christian Europe learns that it has no right
to force its ideals upon a Moslem people, and that, however pure and
beneficent its intentions may be, so long as it persistently and from
day to day insists upon outraging their religious, moral, and social
instincts and desires, it has no just ground for accusing them of
being an ungrateful people.



The three years of French rule in Egypt had been to the people an
endless round of trials and vexations such as they had never before
experienced. Compared with the worries and tribulations they had
endured at the hands of the French the evils from which they had
suffered under the Mamaluks appeared to them as mere trifles. For the
future, therefore, their highest aspiration was to live once more the
free, unfettered lives they had been wont to enjoy in the past. Had
the departure of the French left the government in the hands of the
Beys as of old all would have been well. The lordly tyranny of the
Beys would, no doubt, have promptly exacted the utmost "contribution"
that could be extracted from their impoverished pockets, but however
harsh their measures might have proved they would have been seasoned
and softened by concessions here and there, and the people would have
borne them patiently enough as being for the good of the Moslem faith
and therefore for the glory of God and, above all perhaps, as a
thankoffering for their release from the rule of the once disdained
but now detested feringhee.

But this was not to be. The French had gone but the Turks were within
and the English were without their gates, and the unhappy people soon
found that instead of the period of repose for which they longed they
had entered upon a new era of misfortune. We have seen how the Turkish
troops had behaved at their first arrival just before the siege of
Cairo, but their conduct then was mild and humane compared to what it
now became. Adopting the convenient theory that they were in a newly
conquered country, the army acted accordingly, and no appeal to their
chiefs or to the civil authority that had been set up in the name of
the Sultan, was of the slightest effect in checking this fresh flood
of outrage. For four years, therefore, the country was so torn by the
intrigues of rival parties, the contests of opposing factions, and the
incapacity of the nominal rulers that its condition can only be
described as one of lawless anarchy. At length, picking his way step
by step with wondrous skill and boundless energy and self-reliance,
one man slowly but surely, with unfaltering persistency, advanced to
the front, and while yet making no pretence or show of power suddenly
planted himself as master over all. This man was the famous Mahomed
Ali, the founder of the present Khedivial family and the man who first
set in motion the train of events that have led directly to the
present Anglo-European occupation of the country.

A Sherlock Holmes in his power of reading the thoughts of others, a
Doctor Nikola in his art of subduing them to his own will, and a
Captain Kettle in the calculating daring of the resources by which he
won his way, the story of Mahomed Ali, could it be told in detail and
truthfully, not as it appeared to the many who could not understand
the man, but as it really was, would be one of the most engrossing
pages of history that could be told. As it is, the mere bald recital
of its incidents is a narrative that, even badly related, is full of
interest. But to deal with his story at all adequately or justly needs
not a chapter but a long volume. Here, therefore, I shall not attempt
to even enumerate the principal events of his career, but content
myself with merely mentioning the few points essential to the purpose
of this book, the facts necessary to enable the reader to understand
the influence he had upon the formation of the Egyptian of to-day.

Born at Cavala, the small seaport town facing the Island of Thasos at
the head of the Ægean Sea, in 1769, Mahomed Ali had early settled down
to the peaceful and uneventful life of a tobacco merchant when, in
1800, the Sultan having decided to send an army for the expulsion of
the French from Egypt, he was appointed lieutenant of a contingent of
three hundred militia recruited from his native district. Soon after
the arrival of the troop in Egypt the officer in charge, abandoning
his post, returned to Turkey, and Mahomed Ali, assuming command, gave
himself the rank of Bim-Bashi, or Colonel. In the turbulent times that
followed his arrival he courted the support now of one party now of
another abandoning each in turn as his own interests seemed to
dictate, and seizing every opportunity that offered or that he could
create, by the exercise of a masterful combination of tact, cunning,
and cautious boldness, succeeded, in the course of four years, in
placing himself at the head of affairs and getting himself recognised
as the Governor of the country.

This was in the early part of the year 1805. The people of Cairo had
grown so weary of the tyranny and turpitude of the Turkish soldiers
and of the ceaseless and unmeasured evils from which they were
suffering, and, rightly attributing these to the incompetency of
Khurshid Pacha, the Governor of Egypt appointed by the Sultan, came to
the determination that they would have no more of him. Recognising, as
the Sheikhs had said when Bonaparte first formed the Cairo Dewan, that
to secure good government it is necessary to place power in the hands
of men who can and will use it and who are capable of ruling, and that
there were none to be found among the Egyptians themselves qualified
to undertake the task with any hope of success, they looked around to
see who among the many men then contending for power and in a position
to take definite action, would be the best to replace the Governor
they had decided to depose. Of all they could think of Mahomed Ali was
the one that met the most general approval. He had not then taken any
very prominent place in the turmoil of the time, but he had made
himself known to the leading Sheikhs and notables as a Turkish officer
of but little ambition, great modesty, wise in council, an advocate
of smooth things, and one who sympathised with the people and their
troubles, and withal a man who could act and who could command. To the
Sheikhs, indeed, he must have seemed little if at all less than a
God-sent candidate for the post they chose to consider as at their
disposal. On the whole they were probably not far wrong, for difficult
as it would be to picture Mahomed Ali as a messenger from heaven, so
far his career, to the extent to which it was visible, had been almost
entirely such as to justify the Sheikhs' belief in his good qualities.
That he was shortly to assume a different character the Sheikhs could
not possibly foresee. Could they have done so, most probably they
would not have chosen him, but as it was they made unquestionably the
wisest choice open to them.

Having made their choice the Sheikhs went, on the 14th of May, 1805,
to the residence of the Arnout Commander, and being received by him
with the courtesy he always extended to the representatives of
learning and religion, as compensation perhaps for his own
deficiencies in respect of both, they told him, with scant waste of
words, that the townspeople had come to the decision that the Pacha
must be "sent down," in plain English--deposed. "And whom," said their
host,--"whom do you desire to put in his place?" They answered that he
was the man whom they desired to rule over them. To this he raised
objections. But though like Macbeth he had not thought it within the
prospect of belief that he should be king, he had no mind to let "I
dare not" wait upon "I would," and finally consented, whereupon the
Sheikhs wrapped him in a robe of honour and brought him forth mounted
upon a gallant steed that all the town might salute their new

But weak and incompetent as Khurshid Pacha was, he had no intention of
abandoning his post until he should be deposed therefrom by the man by
whom he had been appointed. So, shutting himself up in the citadel, he
bid defiance to Mahomed Ali and all who dared question his most
impotent authority, and would not even enter upon a discussion.
Thereupon Mahomed Ali besieged the citadel, and, being unwilling to
resort to extremes, contented himself with investing it so as to cut
off supplies; and while his enemy, to whom, in passing it may be said,
he owed much of the progress he had made in Egypt, was thus cooped up
in the citadel, the wily Arnaout began to lay a train more effectual
than one of powder for the attainment of his own aims. This was the
despatch to Constantinople of messengers, with an account of the
action he had taken, an abundance of justifying facts and arguments,
and an humble petition that his Majesty the Sultan would be pleased to
sanction the steps taken, to recall Khurshid Pacha and issue the
firmans, or imperial mandates, necessary to place the acting
government on a proper basis. Unable to oppose this usurpation of
authority, and being further moved by the appeals sent by the Ulema of
Cairo on behalf of their choice and action, the Sultan granted the
request made, and sent a messenger duly empowered to recognise Mahomed
Ali as the Governor of Egypt and to recall the unlucky Khurshid.

Thus it was by the spontaneous act of the Egyptians themselves that
they were released, as it proved to be, once and for ever from the
atrocious misgovernment to which they had so long been subject. Apart
from this fact, which in itself possesses an importance none of the
historians of the country appear to have realised, this incident is
one that must not be overlooked in considering the attitude of the
Egyptians, and indeed of all Moslems, towards the Sultan of Turkey
both as Sultan and as Caliph. Of the general aspect of that subject I
have already spoken, and we have here one of those limitations to the
loyalty the Sultan can command which I then mentioned as
existing--that that loyalty is only due so long as the Sultan acts
consistently with the law of Islam as interpreted by the Ulema, whence
the deposition of Khurshid having the approval of the Ulema it became
an act almost of necessity assumed to be consistent with the dignity
and authority of the Sultan, and one that must have his ultimate
consent and sanction. The election of Mahomed Ali as Pacha, or
Governor, of Egypt was not therefore, as historians have incorrectly
represented it to be, an act of rebellion, but the exercise of a power
legally invested in the Ulema; moreover, it was at once referred to
the Sultan for his approval, and could therefore claim to be a simple
forestalling of what the Ulema conceived would have been his own
action had he been on the spot. But while the Ulema in this matter
acted upon their own authority and within the limits of their
privileges, it is plain that they did so at the instigation of the
people, and their action must accordingly be taken as that of the
people. As such it is a noticeable fact that in the emergency in which
they were placed this people, so little accustomed and so unwilling to
concern themselves in the organisation or administration of the
government, intuitively selected the one and only man in the country
capable of accomplishing their desire and of reducing the anarchy that
prevailed to order. Their choice is the more remarkable in that, up to
that moment, Mahomed Ali had had no adequate opportunity of showing
that he possessed the masterful character the Ulema recognised as a
necessary qualification of the man who would successfully rule the
country. He had until then played the part of a modest spectator
interfering in public affairs or in the rivalries of parties and
factions only when forced to do so, and then always as a promoter of
peace and harmony. There were, however, two facts strongly in his
favour. These were the sympathy he showed towards the people, and the
manner in which he restrained his own small body of troops from
imitating the licentious conduct of the rest of the Turkish army.
These were points the people could and did appreciate, and points in
which he had no rival. And though not a few writers have hinted that
his sympathy was but a hollow pretence, I see no reason for believing
that this was so. Prior to his going to Egypt his life had been such
as might well render him sympathetic towards peaceful citizens
outraged and robbed by a turbulent soldiery. If, in after years, he
proved a grinding taskmaster to this same people it is quite possible
he never realised the fact, but thought that he was dealing well and
fairly with them and as was best for their own interests. If this
were so he has had many well-intentioned but equally fallible
successors, and was withal but repeating the great blunder of the
French--a blunder that, as I have elsewhere said, is a common fault of
the philanthropists and reformers of the day, and which is, perhaps, a
failing of the majority of men, that of wrongly estimating the needs
and wishes of others and of seeking to force upon them a false and
inadequate standard of life and happiness.

Of the early life of Mahomed Ali but little is known, and that little
mainly on the authority of his own statements. According to the
version most generally accepted he was, if not a Turk, at least of
Turkish blood; yet the whole story of his life and character seem to
me to mark him out clearly, not as a Turk but as a Moslem Macedonian:
in some things alike, the two races yet stand apart in character and
aptitudes, for the Turk is first and chiefly an Oriental, and the
Macedonian essentially a European. Coming originally from a Greek
stock--the Arnaout--the Albanian or Macedonian Moslem whom Sir Richard
Burton so cordially detested is, like the Turk, by nature a gentleman,
and the world has no race that it can put before these two for the
manly qualities of bravery and self-respect; but while the Turk might
find his ideal of social life in the stately circles of the Seize
Quarterings of Europe, the Arnaout would more quickly be at home
amidst the hurly-burly of American life. A lover of peace, though
dauntless in battle, the Turk is content to pass his life in the dull
pursuit of a settled routine; the Arnaout, though no brawler, is
quick to resent offence, fearless in fight, and full of restless
energy and ambition. No one, knowing the two races and reading the
story of Mahomed Ali's life, can doubt to which race he was most akin,
for on every page of it is written, in the most legible characters,
"Arnaout," and most strongly of all in the quick decision, steady,
unbending determination and strong will-power that carried him
successfully through dangers and difficulties that must have
overwhelmed any man not armed, as he was, with these mightiest of
weapons in the warfare of life.

To our friends the historians this Mahomed Ali is a source of much
perplexity. On the one hand, they find him achieving what by all the
canons of probability should be deemed impossibilities, and setting up
an empire rather by force of wily wits than of martial might, and by
masterful force of will turning the whole current of Egyptian life and
thought into new and unwelcomed channels. Were this all, what a hero
they could make of this man! But alas! over and against these things
the historians are compelled to place the means whereby they were
accomplished, betrayed friendships, treachery, ruthless massacre,
bloodshed and tyranny. No wonder his biographers seem always halting
between the desire to laud his achievements and their perception of
the need to censure his acts. Yet if we make allowances for all the
circumstances of his position--the time in which he lived, the men he
had to overcome, the fact that, once entered upon, the contest for
supremacy was a contest without quarter, that he must either triumph
or be crushed--we may comprehend that, utterly inexcusable and
unpardonable as his offences appear to us, to him they may have seemed
to be far otherwise. The worst of all his crimes--the massacre of the
ill-fated Mamaluks--was unsurpassable in its baseness as an act of
treachery, but viewed apart from that it was a mere bagatelle in crime
compared with Bonaparte's massacre of the Jaffa prisoners. To Mahomed
Ali the extermination of the Mamaluks was almost a matter of life and
death to himself, and a winning move in the great game he and they
were playing. These men have to die--it was thus, no doubt, he
argued--in the field or elsewhere, for there can be no peace, no
settled government in the country while they are at large; and since
they must die, what matter how or when? Surely now, and all of them in
one grand sacrifice to the cause of peace! Poor Mahomed Ali! he has
long since learned a little better, and knows now that the end does
not justify the means, and that such foul deeds as this, with all
floggings, tortures, hangings, killings, massacres, and all kinds of
inhumanities and abominations, are the price men have to pay when they
attempt to govern a people with a lying policy, a hollow pretence of
serving God and man, when in truth they are but seeking their own

And yet there are authors and others who speak of the "Great" Mahomed
Ali even as they do of the "Great" Bonaparte. "Great" they both were
in the sense of occupying a great space in the history of their time
and in that of having done much, principally evil, but "great" in the
sense of noble, worthy of esteem or admiration! Like a miser greedy
for gold but that he may hoard it, these men were avaricious of power
solely from the lust for it; both attained it in high degree, and if
to-day men are in any way better for their having done so they are so
rather in spite than in virtue of their success. And withal they were
men of mean ideals. Mahomed Ali was accustomed to boast that he was
born in the same year as Bonaparte, apparently thinking this a matter
for congratulation as if in some occult way he thereby partook of the
glory of the Corsican. Unfortunately there were a million or two of
other people born in the same year, "mostly fools," and these two were
but the most eminent of that miserable majority, for what else were
they but fools, strenuous fools wading through seas of blood, and
trampling upon the hearts and souls of men, the one that he might end
his days with the surges of St. Helena droning in his ears, the other
that he might still more miserably sink into the living death of
dotage? Fools indeed, sacrificing all that should attend old age and
death for less than a wretched mess of pottage, bartering all the
realities of life for the pursuit of a phantom they were never to
grasp. Unlike Sam Weller, I cannot fix the date on which I first wore
small clothes, but it was about that time that I first read the story
of Bonaparte's boyhood, and I can still recall a tale told of his
going about "with his stockings half down." It was thus, figuratively,
if not literally, he went through life, his mental stockings and
clothing generally shiftlessly loose and out of order. "Clothed"
indeed, but by no means "in his right mind," "clothed" and yet a
wanderer among the tombs of false ideals and unholy aspirations.

Rather pitiable greatness this!

Yet Mahomed Ali did some good. Out of the chaos that existed as the
legacy of the French occupation he produced order. It was his lawless
self-seeking that opened the path whereby the Egyptians have had their
future placed in their own hands. That was probably the very last
thing he thought of doing--a thing, indeed, that he would have laughed
to scorn if anybody had been so rash as to propose it to him. The
Egyptians did not know that then, perhaps even now they only partly
recognise it, but they did very fully recognise the fact that he had
rid them of the rats that had been preying upon them for so long. For
that they were not ungrateful, but their gratitude was that of Lazarus
for the crumbs that fell from the rich man's table.

Mahomed Ali ruled in Egypt for forty-two years from that memorable day
on which the people had called upon the foreigner to come and rule
over them, even as the English, in 1688, had summoned William of
Orange to do the same for them. But his election did not place him at
once in full power. It was, in fact, nothing more than the opening of
the portals admitting him to the upward path he was destined to tread,
and the way beyond was still crowded with obstacles that might well
have caused even a daring man to halt. Nor did the arrival of the
Sultan's firman place him in a much stronger position, for it was not
long before another firman arrived appointing him to the Governorship
of Salonica, whither he was instructed to repair without delay. This
he refused to do, and being again supported by the Ulema and the
people, sent presents and such well-devised explanations to the Sultan
that he received in return yet another firman confirming his
appointment as Pacha. Thenceforward his progress was unchecked,
culminating in 1841 by obtaining from the Sultan the firman granting
him the hereditary government of Egypt which is still the foundation
of the authority of his successors.

His power once fairly established, Mahomed Ali paid but little heed to
the interests of the people, and, in spite of the tears and protests
of all classes, proceeded to abolish private property in land. This
done, he next, by means of government monopolies and exorbitant
taxation, practically took possession of all the produce of the land.
With the aid of European experts, he at the same time did much to
benefit the country by the extension of irrigation, the introduction
of new and profitable crops and better methods of cultivation. From
the progress thus made the people gained little advantage. Under the
Pacha's administration they grew steadily poorer and poorer, and,
though they were freed from many of the evils and vexations that had
burthened their lives in the days of the Mamaluks, they had still to
suffer from some of the old wrongs, and had, in addition, to bear some
new ones. One of the first of the steps taken by the Pacha for the
consolidation of his power had been the creation of an Egyptian army.
Recruited by conscription, this was an innovation that excited
universal indignation, increased by the fact that the army was based
upon a European model. Almost the only benefit the reign of Mahomed
Ali conferred upon the people was therefore the establishment of
order. Under his vigorous rule men's lives and what little property
was left to them were safer than they had been under either the
Mamaluks or the French, and if the people had but little to enjoy they
were, save for the exceptions I have named, allowed to enjoy it in
their own way, and that to the Egyptian was a privilege that
compensated him for much evil.

In 1848 Mahomed Ali, whose health had failed, fell into a state of
dotage that rendered him quite incapable of attending to affairs, and
his son Ibrahim Pacha was therefore placed in power, but dying two
months later was succeeded by his nephew Abbass. The following year
Mahomed Ali died, and was buried in the citadel of Cairo with gorgeous
ceremony. But a few years before the eyes of all Europe had been
watching his every move, now that the tragedy of his life was over,
his death, as Talleyrand said, was "not an event, only a piece of
news," but there were many, Europeans as well as natives, as we are
told, who followed him to his last resting-place with deep regrets,
and not a few who were moved to tears--a fact to be noted and
remembered as in a large measure a key to the life-story of the man,
for it shows that at bottom of all his sins and all his crimes the
essential element of the man himself was good. The evil he had done
was the outcome of false training and false teaching whence he derived
false ideals and false ambitions, and with his vision thus disturbed,
seeing all things distorted and out of just proportion, he naturally
and inevitably erred from the paths of truth and justice by which real
greatness is alone to be attained.

Cairo, the City of the Caliphs, beloved by tourists and artists, the
home of a laughter and jest-loving people, is, to those who know its
history, a city of ineffable sadness. Wherever one goes, in its
crowded bazaars, through its lonely lanes, wherever one plants a foot
or casts an eye, there is some sad recollection of the spot or of its
vicinity to be recalled, but there are few, if any, overshadowed by a
deeper pathos than that where the great Mahomed Ali lies in a
dimly-lit corner of the great mosque built by himself, on the highest
point of the citadel.

Abbass, the new ruler, was unlike his grandfather in many respects.
Mahomed Ali, so far from being a bigot or fanatic, was lax in his
views, an intense admirer of the civilisation of the West. Abbass has
been praised for his tolerance by many writers, yet the fact is that
it was but a part of his policy, and was in no way to be compared with
the true tolerance of men like Ibrahim Bey, who so warmly protected
and defended the Christians at the Mamaluk Dewan. He was, to some
extent, both a bigot and a fanatic, adverse to the extension of
European influence in the country and lacking in all the personal
qualities that had enabled his grandfather to triumph over so many
difficulties. Mahomed Ali, though he could be generous and liberal,
and was lavish in spending money on his army and for the
accomplishment of his own projects and purposes, was grasping in his
demands upon the people and as ruthless as the Mamaluks in all his
dealings with them. Abbass cared little for the army, had no grand
schemes to promote, and finding the revenue amply sufficient for the
administrative wants of the country and his personal needs, the people
profited greatly from the relaxed strain he placed upon their
resources. The benefit they thus derived from his rule was increased
by his abolishing the Government monopolies and by other measures that
at once encouraged trade and gave the people generally a larger share
in the profits to be derived from their labours and enterprise. The
great stain on the life of this man was his addiction to vice--a
failing for which he paid the extreme penalty of his life, being
assassinated in his own palace by two of his minions.

Abbass was succeeded by Mahomed Ali's youngest son, Said. Brave,
frank, friendly to all, tolerant and enlightened, the new ruler
steered a middle course between that of his father and that of his
nephew. Many improvements were introduced by him in the administration
of the country. The land was returned to the people, trade and
commerce were facilitated, and many of the worst abuses of the past
abolished or restrained. Unfortunately for Egypt, the Pacha did not
stop here. The introduction of railways and other public works that he
undertook created a demand for funds that his lenient collection of
the revenue was insufficient to meet, and he was induced to raise the
first of the State loans that were so soon to reduce the country to
practical bankruptcy. But the commencement of the Suez Canal, the
laying of the railway between Alexandria and Cairo, the introduction
of steamers on the Nile, the demand for Egyptian grain during the
Crimean, and for Egyptian cotton during the American War, combined
with the internal peace and the justice and benevolence that Said made
the keynotes of his government, all combined to render his reign a
period of prosperity and happiness for the people. The fellaheen
enjoyed incomes such as they had never dreamed of, and their
prosperity reacted upon the townsmen and commercial and other classes,
and in Cairo and the country at large contentment was almost universal
and complete.

Said died in 1863, and was succeeded by his nephew, the famous Ismail
Pacha. Abbass at his death had left a surplus in the treasury. Said
had not only exhausted this but built up a debt of several millions.
Starting with this debt, Ismail, though possessed of a keener judgment
than his predecessor, instead of seeking retrenchment, gave way to his
natural disposition, and commenced an era of lavish expenditure that
was the direct cause of all the troubles that were so soon to follow.
As long as the American War lasted all went well, but when once more
the cotton fields of the Southern States were open to the world,
Egypt, like India, had to face the disastrous failure of the tide that
had borne it such prosperity. From the possession of wealth that they
had squandered in extravagant living and profuse gifts to their wives
and families, the fellaheen quickly fell back to a condition of
poverty. Trade and commerce suffered equally heavily, and the Pacha
and Government having to bear their share of the general depression,
he sought to relieve his necessities by borrowing from the European
markets. Had the money thus obtained been wisely employed, all might
have gone well; but it was wasted in lavish and unprofitable
expenditure, led to the appointment of the dual control by which
France and England undertook to supervise the financial affairs of the
country, and finally brought about the deposition of Ismail in favour
of his son Tewfick, under whom the rebellion headed by Arabi broke
out, bringing the English occupation that has lasted to the present

It was during the French occupation that the Egyptian ceased to be
that which he had been for long centuries before. In the account I
have given of that occupation, I have endeavoured to show what manner
of man the Egyptian then was. From that day to the present he has been
slowly, but surely, changing; but it was not until the evacuation of
Fachoda, the last of the six great landmarks in the history of the
modern Egyptian, had taken place that the development of the Egyptian
character has taken the definite and clearly marked form it now
possesses. That event we have now to consider, and having done so we
shall be in a position to understand that which the Egyptian of to-day
is and how he has become that which he is.



"Marchand is at Fachoda."

Day and night, night and day since the great fight at Omdurman the
telegraph had been busy sending and receiving messages of all kinds: a
wondrous medley of tidings, congratulations, lamentations, inquiries,
hopes, fears, rejoicings; almost all the emotions that stir the hearts
of men, going to and fro over the wires mingled with dry, official
reports, prosaic details of army and commissariat work, and now and
then the flowing periods of some war correspondent still at the front.
But of all the telegrams that went down to the city of the Khedives in
those days, there was none other that had a message to move, not only
the people of the town and country, but those of the whole civilised
world, such as that which went, not in simple English words, but
wrapped in the mystery of an official code, as the confirmation of the
rumour for the verification or contradiction of which all the
news-reading, news-hearing world was anxiously waiting.

"Marchand is at Fachoda."

That was the purport, though not the words of the message, and never
since the day on which the English troops had entered Cairo, just
sixteen years before, had there been in the town or country anything
like the excitement this intelligence induced. Everywhere, among all
classes and nationalities, the words "Marchand" and "Fachoda" were on
the lips of all.

It was natural enough that it should be so.

Over two years had passed away since news had been received in Cairo
that a French expedition, under the command of a certain Captain
Marchand, had started from Loango, on the West Coast of Africa, bound
for the interior of the continent. Nothing was known as to the
ultimate object or destination of this expedition, but as, from time
to time, rumours of its progress reached the outer world, the
suspicion that it was aiming at the Nile began to spread. When,
therefore, the report that there were white men at Fachoda went down
to Cairo, all Egypt jumped to the conclusion that these white men must
be Marchand and his companions.

Only those in close touch with the life of the country at the time can
form any idea of the intense eagerness with which the confirmation or
contradiction of this rumour was awaited. That eagerness arose from
the recognition of the fact that if Marchand were indeed at Fachoda,
his presence there must inevitably bring France and England face to
face for a struggle which, whether it should be carried on by force of
arms or by might of words, must decide once for all which of the two
Powers was thereafter to be pre-eminent in Egypt. The reactionary
party was jubilant. Now, at last, the French would have to assert
their rights and privileges, defend their honour and justify their
claims; and how could they do aught of these things otherwise than by
maintaining the position the gallant Marchand had gained? And how
could they maintain that position without driving the English out of
Egypt? And if some of the party were less confident than others in
their anticipations of the answer that France would give to these
questions, they were not less hopeful of the coming early discomfiture
of the hated English. So hopeful were they, indeed, that the veriest
stranger might have picked them out in the streets by the joyous air
they wore.

By the Englishmen in Egypt, as by those elsewhere, the news was
received as news of the greatest gravity. It was impossible to ignore
the fact that the position was one of the most serious nature, and one
from the difficulties of which there was no possible escape except by
war or a happy and scarcely to be hoped for combination of diplomatic
skill and generous consideration on the part of each of the two
rivals. For Marchand himself the greatest sympathy was felt. His
presence at Fachoda was the practical realisation of a daring and
almost hopeless ambition, proving that he possessed in the highest
degree those lofty qualities of the best of his race, the courage,
vigour, enterprise, that in spite of all obstacles have always kept
alive among us something of a spirit of comradeship for our oft-time
ally and oft-time foe. We laugh, now and then, freely enough at our
neighbour across the Channel, but we respect him all the same, for no
one knows better--nor, indeed, so well as we--the sterling qualities
of his race. And Marchand's feat was one that placed him in the
foremost rank of men of fearless heart and daring action, and entitled
him to a place beside our own Stanley as a dashing and heroic pioneer.

Gladly, however, as we should have seen Marchand reap the full fruit
of his long, toilsome, and perilous journey, we could not, with
justice to either Egypt or ourselves, yield it to him. Our aims were
alike. His magnificent march through the unknown dangers of some of
the wildest parts of Africa, the campaign we had just brought to a
successful and triumphant conclusion, were alike efforts to win the
same prize--the possession of the Egyptian Soudan. We could not both
have it. We could not share it. It must go to either France or Egypt.
One or the other must surrender the prize so nearly within its
unquestioned grasp. We could only be generous to Marchand and France
by being disloyal to Egypt and ourselves.

There is no need to repeat here the story of the negotiations that
followed. That belongs, indeed, not to the story of Egypt, but to that
of England or France; for Egypt by itself could no more have contended
with France for the possession of the Soudan than it could have
regained it without the aid of England. The question, therefore, was
one between England and France; and, happily for all, the mutual
goodwill of the two nations so tempered their discussion of the
interests and claims involved, that war was averted and the French
consented to withdraw from the Soudan. But the course of the
negotiations was necessarily slow. It demanded little less than heroic
fortitude on the part of the French Government to give a decision that
it well knew could not fail to be extremely unpopular, and some weeks
therefore elapsed before the decision could be announced and the order
issued to Marchand for his retirement from Fachoda.

Meanwhile it was quite natural that to the amateur politicians of
Egypt the problem should seem to be unsolvable save by an appeal to
the sword. To the educated Egyptian especially this appeared the one
possible solution. Unable to comprehend rivalry without enmity, or to
see in an open opponent anything but a foe to be crushed at any cost,
they never dreamed that England and France could both approach the
subject in a conciliatory spirit, and it is a striking illustration of
the attitude they took that they discussed the question solely and
entirely as one between England and France. Scarcely anywhere was a
word to be heard from the natives as to the claims of their own
country, or the least recognition of the fact that it was Egyptian and
not English interests that were at stake. The truth is that at the
moment the only question in which the Egyptian took the smallest
interest was the one whether England or France was in the future to
control the destiny of the country. There was much talk of liberty, of
independence, but it is doubtful if even the most sincere looked upon
all this as anything more than a phase of the anti-English agitation.
Assuredly there was not a man in the country who did not know and
believe, however reluctant he might be to admit it, that Egypt had,
and could have, no other future before it than one dominated by some
foreign Power or Powers. That the independence they talked of, and
that of which they were as unceasingly dreaming, were very different
things no one more thoroughly recognised than they themselves. And
though the "Patriot" politicians never said so, and probably never
realised that it was so, the one real objection they had to the
presence of the English in the country was the fact that they
themselves were out of power and hopelessly incapable of attaining it
so long as English influence should prevail. This was particularly the
case of the so-called "Turkish" party, which was in much the same
position as that of the Protestant Ascendancy party in Ireland after
the Union. Unlike that party, however, they had one hope--that the
rivalry of the European Powers might afford them an opportunity of
regaining something, if not all, of their lost prestige and power;
and, unlike that party, being bound by no ties of loyalty or blood to
the Power that wounded their susceptibilities, or to the people of the
country, they cared for nothing but the gratification of their own
ambitions. Towards the English, therefore, their feeling was one of
invincible hatred; towards Egypt and the Egyptians of utter
indifference; towards France one of hopefulness, such as the Irish
insurgents had turned towards the same country while yet Bonaparte was
on his way to Alexandria. Fachoda was consequently to these what
Killala had been to the Irish, and Marchand another Humbert. The
parallel is completed by the entire lack of support the two daring
adventurers met with, and by the absolute frustration of all their
hopes. It is a curious coincidence that of the two events thus
compared, the former, which cannot now be regarded as anything but the
knell of French influence in Egypt, should find its parallel in an
event taking place in the very year and month in which Bonaparte had
struck the first blow in favour of French ascendancy in the land of
the Pharaohs. Had the members of the anti-English party been skilled
in history, the parallel might have seemed to them an omen of
disaster. As it was they had but the single fact of Marchand's
presence at Fachoda to consider, and most earnestly they prayed that
it might prove the downfall of English influence in Egypt.

How, apart from the classes I have spoken of, the great body of the
people thought was not so evident, but it is none the less certain.
This vast, patient mass of humanity had for years been hearing, and
was still daily hearing, that the English had no other object and no
other ambition in Egypt than that of self-aggrandisement. They were
taught by the Press, the Pachas, and the Ulema that they were being
despoiled and downtrodden by the hated feringhee, but if they listened
silently and apparently approvingly, they could not but feel that it
was not so. Of what the English were doing or not doing they really
knew almost nothing. Everything that was done was done in the name of
the Khedive. When it was good, he, and he alone, got the credit; when
it was bad, or such as they could be persuaded to believe was bad, it
was invariably attributed to the "tyranny" of Lord Cromer and the
"malice" of the English. All that the peasantry and the people
generally knew for certain was that on the whole they were satisfied
with things as they were. The English might be ruining the country and
enslaving the people, but each man felt and knew that whatever they
were doing, he himself, the individual, was personally better off than
he had ever been before. Almost all the evils that had most oppressed
him, the corvée, the korbag, the endless fear of the tax-collector, of
the officials of all grades, and the perpetual uncertainty as to what
new trials another day might bring him--all these and other evils had
either disappeared or had been mitigated in a degree, of which he was
fully conscious. He could not understand it, and felt indeed as the
man who fell among thieves must have felt towards the Good Samaritan.
The one he had been taught to despise and revile as an incarnation of
evil had come to him as a benefactor. And against the solid and
invaluable advantages that the people were conscious of there was no
set-off save their rooted aversion to non-Moslem control, while this
again was counterbalanced by the fear that any further change might,
and most probably would, be a change for the worse. But ages of
oppression have engrafted upon these people a habit of the utmost
reticence in the expression of their thoughts--a reticence so deep, so
perfect, that no man among them ever wholly unburthens his soul to
another, not to his nearest kin, much less to a stranger. Whatever
thoughts they uttered were consequently but the echoes of those which,
so far as they could judge, were most likely to keep them in favour
with those immediately around and above them. It is not surprising,
therefore, that the English in Egypt could learn nothing of their real
thoughts or that they regarded the people as ungrateful and
unappreciative. But if, of necessity, the English failed, as in the
East they ever do fail, to understand the people, those who were
working in the districts in close daily touch with them could see by
incontestable and constantly growing signs that they were developing
an absolute confidence in the Englishman's love of justice and in the
reality of his desire to benefit the people, and clear-minded
Anglo-Egyptians were beginning to see, as the wisest Anglo-Indians
have long since seen in India, that these two characteristics are the
battalions that best buttress the might of England in the East, for
from Cairo to Calcutta the peoples sum up what they regard as the
typical Englishman almost in the words of the Eton boy--"He is a
beast, but he is a just beast."

Nor was it only among the peasantry and those classes of the people
who derived most benefit from the presence of the English that this
feeling prevailed. Of all classes in the country the "effendis," the
small officials, were those who gained the least and suffered the most
from the English occupation. From petty tyrants they had been
degraded to mere quill-drivers. Their service no longer opened to
them vistas of possible elevation to high places, no longer brought
them the servile submission they had in the old days been able to
extort from the people in general. They could no longer, more or less
openly, enhance their incomes by selling their favour or by other
means that had formerly made their posts valuable, nor could they
practise or benefit from the nepotism and favouritism that had been
their prerogative. They, of all classes, had in the past been the
least prejudicially affected by the rise or fall of Governments or
rulers, and suffered least of all from the tyranny and cruelty that
wrecked the lives of others, and they, of all, gained almost
absolutely nothing from the benefits that under the English were
already enriching the classes above and below them. But of all classes
of the people probably none has been more misunderstood or more
misjudged than this. Amidst all that has been written of Egypt and its
peoples nowhere do we once find a suggestion that this class has ever
been anything but a greedy, grasping, servile pack of bribe-seeking,
torture-using, petty tyrants. That such a description was too often
and too generally a just one cannot be denied, but we must remember
the circumstances in which these men were placed. For the most part
younger and more or less penniless sons of fathers too poor or too
uninfluential to give them a fair position, they were invariably
crippled at their start in life by want of money and their complete
dependence upon the favour of their immediate superiors. The first
lesson taught them in their new career was to bend to the _esprit de
corps_ which ruled the official life of those days, that is to say, to
recognise the value of their positions as these were seen and valued
by their fellows, to look upon the superior officials as patterns to
be followed and imitated without question in all things. What wonder
if the young official bowed to the inevitable, and learning as his
second lesson that taught by Iago, "Put money in thy purse," and
knowing that resistance or remonstrance could only result in his being
thrown aside and plunged in want and misery, yielded, whatever
protests his better nature may have been inclined to make, and so
became such as he has so often been painted? And as time went on, with
every step he made onward in his official career he was plunged deeper
and deeper in the mire of the necessity that swamped every good or
honest aspiration he might have had, for as he progressed step by step
so the claims upon his purse rose steadily and the demands upon his
services increased. It was then, and still is, the custom of the
impecunious Egyptian to settle himself as a dependent upon some of his
well-to-do relations, and thus the rising official had, in general,
not only his own family to support but a troop of indigent relatives
of his own and of his wife or wives' families; and thus as he
advanced, if his increased influence enabled him to gain a larger
income from bribes and commissions, it doubled and redoubled his
expenses and compelled him, in his turn, to pay larger bribes. What
result could such a system bring about other than the corruption of
the whole service? Yet, atrocious as were the consequences, those who
have criticised this class have been unjust to them. It has invariably
been forgotten that the abominable corruption that existed in Egypt up
to the purification of the Government services by the English was not
only not of necessity the result of the true character of the people,
but that it might have existed in absolute opposition to that
character. None the less, I am convinced that this is the truth, and
that the fact that it is so has been one of the most potent influences
in facilitating the work of reform that has been and is being
accomplished, for as soon as this much-abused class had discovered
that under English control they might look for a fair wage according
to their rank, feel secure in the possession of their pay, and free
from the exactions and oppressions of their superiors, they began to
settle down contentedly under the new conditions, and accepted it as a
gain that they were no longer subject to the old necessity for
acquiring wealth as rapidly as possible that they might satisfy the
greed of those above by despoiling those beneath them. This release
from the never-ceasing cares and worries that were inseparable from
the old system was perhaps the one direction in which the small
officials felt themselves benefited by the English occupation. In the
main, therefore, they were content with their lot, and had no desire
for any change. The continuance of the occupation would ensure them
practically all the conditions that made life most enjoyable to them
and gave them all the liberty they cared for, and they could look for
no improvement as a likely or even possible result of any alteration.
They knew, too, how perfectly futile it was to hope that Egypt would
ever be able to free herself from European or Christian interference,
and though they, not less earnestly nor less sincerely than any of
their countrymen, deplored the fact, they had the sense to see that
whether that interference was exercised through a visible occupation
of the country, or simply through diplomatic channels, the eventual
result must be the same, so far as Moslem or Egyptian independence was

Among the European colonists the presence of Marchand at Fachoda
produced a ferment compared to which the deep but publicly restrained
excitement of the Egyptians was indifference. With the single
exception of the Greeks, their sympathies were wholly anti-English, so
much so indeed that it might be said that among them the chief gauge
of a man's patriotism was the measure of his professed hatred to
England and everything English. But, as with the Egyptians, the
individuals of each race were, perhaps as often as not, moved rather
by self-interest and the Pickwickian desire to shout with the crowd
that is a characteristic of the Latin races, than by any real
hostility, and thus, though apparently solidly united in their enmity
to England, they, like the Egyptians, were in reality divided into two
camps, the one prepared to welcome almost any change and the other
quite content with the occupation.

It was not, therefore, until Marchand had actually abandoned Fachoda
that the public regained its normal tranquillity. In the interval he
had passed through Cairo on his way to Paris, but though, as was but
just, he had a cordial reception, there was no demonstration of public
feeling. It was then an almost foregone conclusion that the French
Government would withdraw whatever claim it could have made, yet even
when Marchand had returned to the Soudan to put the final stamp of
failure on his brilliant success by hauling down the flag it had cost
such heroism to hoist, even then there were in Egypt some who were
still hopeful that, in spite of all, the wheel of fate might yet take
another turn. Fortunately the decision that the French should withdraw
by pushing on to the Red Sea avoided all risk of further incident, and
so with the news of the departure of the expedition from Fachoda the
last hope of the anti-English party left it and the public, Egyptian
and European, quietly and silently accepted the event as the seal of
British supremacy in Egypt.

Thus once more the irony of fate made sport of the strenuous efforts
of England's foes, and rendered their hostility contributory to her
strength. All that it could do to hamper and hinder the reconquest of
the Soudan had been done by the anti-English party with no greater
result than to strengthen, if not altogether to establish, England's
claim to an absolute share in the possession of the country. So
Marchand struggled onward on his magnificent march and succeeded in
his daring ambition to plant the tricolour on the banks of the Nile
only, in the end, to give English influence and authority in Egypt the
unchallenged supremacy England had not sought and that it had been his
chief aim to render for ever unattainable by her.

It is scarcely possible to overrate the service that it was thus the
destiny of the gallant captain so unintentionally to confer on England
and Egypt alike. From the commencement of the occupation down to his
departure from Fachoda, the most powerful influence for evil in Egypt
was the uncertainty that hung around the position of the English in
the country. With his retirement that uncertainty came to an end.
Thenceforth the people knew that they had to deal with England and
with England only, and the effect was immediate. Everywhere and in all
things the English were accepted as the masters, not only for the day
but for the future. That they should now evacuate the country was a
proposition at which the Egyptians and colonists alike scoffed, and
both alike abandoned as futile whatever hopes they may have had for
the realisation of some other solution of the problem. From that day
English influence continued to grow steadily, and almost all the
difficulties that had restricted the efficiency of the Anglo-Egyptian
administration steadily diminished. The Government of the country
ceased to be a house divided against itself, and the endless friction
that for many years had persistently hindered the efforts of Lord
Cromer and his colleagues for the advancement of the country's
interests was at an end.

That which of all things had been most needed to facilitate the
regeneration of the country that England had undertaken had been the
appreciative co-operation of the people. The vast benefits the
occupation had conferred and the reconquest of the Soudan had been all
insufficient to gain this co-operation, and had it not been for the
Fachoda incident forcing a solution of the problem of English
supremacy in Egypt it would still be lacking. As it is, however
defective the assistance now accorded may be, its deficiencies are due
to causes not arising from either hostility to English influence or
the fear of its cessation.

From the landing of Bonaparte in July, 1798, down to the departure of
the French expedition from Fachoda in December, 1898, just five months
more than a century later, no single occurrence in the history of the
country has had such deep and, as it will assuredly prove, lasting
influence as this latter, for it wrought in a day what all the might
of England and the devoted labours of the English in Egypt could never
have accomplished. The English occupation is and will for ever remain
the chief landmark in the story of modern Egypt. The happy conclusion
of the Fachoda incident was not only its ratification as such but the
birthday of a new era. Since that day the Egyptians have had new hopes
and ambitions. All their aspirations have been turned into new
channels. No longer harassed by hesitating doubts as to which of two
courses it were wiser for them to take, they now enjoy a degree of
political and social liberty such as was never before within their
reach, for, no longer dependent upon the uncertain favour of despotic
masters, the Egyptian of to-day is as free to pursue his individual
course as any native of the freest countries of the world. As,
therefore, the landing of Bonaparte in 1798 was the early dawn of the
new era in the history of the people, the evacuation of Fachoda has
been its sunburst.



Though the outline I have given of the history of Egypt under Mahomed
Ali and his successors has been of the briefest, it is sufficient for
the purpose of this volume. It would no doubt be a study of great
interest to see in some detail how the varying characters and actions
of their rulers and the events these gave rise to affected the people,
but the effects thus produced have proved for the most part of a
purely temporary nature, and have been of such conflicting characters
that without a very elaborate study it would be well-nigh impossible
to trace their influence upon the Egyptian of to-day. Fortunately for
my reader's patience, what we have to do with is the influences that,
broad and general in their results, have also been lasting and are
therefore still in operation, and just as we may appreciate the force
and volume of the mighty Mississippi without studying, as Mark Twain
and his brother pilots had need to do, its ever-varying currents and
eddies, its snags and snarls, so we may learn the strength and
tendency of Egyptian opinion without stopping to analyse all the
incidents that have helped or hindered its development.

As I have said in my last chapter, the full development of the
Egyptian character dates only from the evacuation of Fachoda. As yet,
indeed, the people have taken nothing more than the very first steps
towards the adoption of a definite and clearly shaped policy such as
can alone give them a truly national and distinctive character. During
the whole of the past century, beaten hither and thither by
fluctuating influences and impulses, the constant uncertainty that
overhung their future reacted upon their thoughts and rendered these
as unstable as the events by which they were stirred, but since the
commencement of the English occupation influences have been at work
with steadily growing effect consolidating and directing the thoughts
and aspirations of the whole body of the people and gradually creating
a true public opinion such as has never before existed. These
influences have been but three in number--the increased acquaintance
of the people with European civilisation, their increased knowledge of
the social and political condition of the Mahomedan countries of the
world, and the development of the Arabic Press.

Except in so far as it has contributed to the strengthening and
enlarging of these influences through the facilities it has afforded
for their operation, the English administration of the country has had
but little effect upon its political or mental development as a
nation, although upon the personal character of the people, that is to
say upon the people as individuals, it has had a much greater and
stronger effect than either the English or the Egyptians realise. The
young Egyptian who has grown up under English rule is of altogether a
different type to that which his father was. Whether of the highest or
of the lowest rank, he has a conception of his personal rights and
responsibilities that places him socially and politically upon a
totally different plane to that of his elders. The general effect thus
produced is that he is more self-reliant, more independent, and less
willing to submit to restraint of any kind than was his father. That
this change is the source of some evil is as certain as natural, but
that on the whole it is a change for the better, and one tending to
the elevation of the people, is equally certain. Eventually it must
have a powerful influence upon the political feeling of the country.
As yet those who are most strongly affected by it are for the most
part too young to have any very definite or influential place in the
political affairs of the country, but they are gradually swelling the
ranks of the journalists, and in but a few years will be the men in
whose hands will be gathered most of the strings by which the people
at large are likely to be most strongly moved. Of all the tasks,
therefore, that the Government of the country and those responsible
for it are called upon to perform, if they would ensure the future
stability of the present prosperity and the real welfare of the
people, there is none more important than that of endeavouring by
every legitimate and possible means to guide the development of this
change into healthy and vigorous directions.

Joined with that loyalty to Islam and the Turkish Empire I have shown
to be dominant forces in the country, the three influences I have just
described are those which are to-day, and must be for long to come,
the real controlling influences in the political and social growth of
the Egyptians. It is conceivable, of course, that events might
possibly arise to divert, nullify, or even destroy the effects of one
or more of these influences; but this is a contingency so remote and
so little likely to occur that it is needless to discuss it here. It
will be well, however, for us to see a little more of the nature and
effect of these influences as they actually exist.

That these influences have been healthy will have been gathered from
what I have already said of them, but it is necessary to show in what
way and how far they have been so. First, then, let us see what has
been the effect of the increased acquaintance of the people with
European civilisation. Omitting all consideration of such minor
effects as the adoption of changes in dress, in the furnishing of
their houses and other details of their daily life, the effect that is
most potent for good is one that goes much deeper and further than
such merely superficial matters as these. This effect is the
constantly increasing desire for the improvement of the social and
political conditions that prevail. Keenly awakened to a sense of the
deficiencies from which they have suffered in the past, the people are
more and more being influenced by the wish and the will for
self-improvement. As yet, however, their views are but vague and
indefinite, and lie rather in the direction of ambitious dreams than
of purpose-giving aspirations. But though they are eager, rather than
emulous, to be regarded as the intellectual equals of the European
peoples, it is certain that this desire is at least one of the most
powerful of the impulses by which the life of the nation is being

As we have seen, Mahomed Ali, though a Moslem and a native of Turkey,
was essentially a European. His knowledge of and sympathy with Islamic
ideals were of the slightest. Familiar as he necessarily was with
Oriental thought and life, the Egyptian and Arab were to him more
alien than the Western Europeans. Hence his love of European society,
his passion for innovation on European lines, and his frequent
sacrifice of Mahomedan sentiment to European utilitarianism. All that
was best in the man was strikingly European in type and character, all
that was bad was eminently Oriental. Had he had such advantages of
early education and such surroundings as Bonaparte had had, he would
in all probability, nay, certainly, have proved a really great man, a
man of high ambitions and great if not glorious achievements. As it
was, hampered by the want of the most elementary education, cramped in
aspiration by the narrowness of his experience, and with a mind
vitiated by the false ideals of those amidst whom he was reared and
lived and by the evils of the only political system he had any
knowledge of, it is not surprising that his rapid rise quickly
brought him to a point at which he became the victim rather than the
ruler of affairs. His personal influence with the people was but
small, for the popularity that led them to choose him as their
Governor did not long stand the strains he placed upon it, and in
carrying out his schemes for the Europeanising of the country he met
with more opposition than approval and failed to awaken any desire for
the change he was so anxious to bring about. He succeeded, indeed, in
rendering the people more familiar with European thought and ideals
than they had been, and thus set in motion the current of thought that
is to-day leading the Egyptian to look to the West for his standard of
social and political life. As we have seen, the people had been quite
ready and willing to adopt all that they found good in the methods of
the French, and now that Frenchmen and other Europeans came amongst
them, not as conquerors and dictators, but as the guests and friends
of a Moslem Governor, they were much more willing to hear their views
and profit from their advice and instruction. The good results that
might have sprung from this cause were, however, very largely barred
by the spirit of opposition created by Mahomed Ali's attempts to force
the adoption of unwelcome innovations. It was therefore rather in
spite, than in consequence of his European tendencies that during his
reign the Egyptians began to have a clearer conception of and more
friendly feelings towards European civilisation as a whole. Under the
French, with all the faults of their administration, a conviction had
spread in favour of the advantages of a regularly constituted and
properly organised government, and with this had also come the
recognition of the principle that it should be the aim of a government
to protect the interests of the people, and that it was for the good
of all that the various classes should be treated with equity. These
are things taught indeed as part of the law of Islam, but they were
parts of that law of which the people had had no practical experience,
and the discovery they had thus made that Christian nations and
peoples could and did hold out as ideals, and still more, to a certain
extent bring into actual practice the teachings of the Moslem faith,
awakened in them a new interest in the civilisation to which they had
so long felt the most irreconcilable hostility. It was under the
French that these thoughts first began to impress the people. Under
Mahomed Ali they were extended and grew more familiar, but still,
hindered and checked by the unfavourable conditions that encompassed
them, they made but little substantial progress. Yet, in defiance of
all difficulties, they took solid root, and when later on, under the
successors of Mahomed Ali, they were presented under a more favourable
aspect, they began to sway even the classes that had at first most
strenuously opposed them.

The steady growth of the desire for reform that has thus gone on from
the time of the French invasion, has been almost entirely spontaneous.
It has sprung, as I have said, from the increased acquaintance of the
people with European ideals brought about by the presence of Europeans
in their country, but this presence, which has been the chief cause of
the progress made, has at the same time been the greatest obstacle in
the way of that progress. To the present day this is so. All that is
reactionary in the spirit of the country to-day is almost wholly and
directly due to the presence of Europeans in it, and the consequences
entailed by that presence. Again and again have I heard some
enthusiastic advocate of progress and reform silenced and put to shame
by some quietly made allusion to some of the evils nurtured by the
European Consulates, or some of the anti-Islamic laxities, the
presence of Europeans, and the political influence they possess, force
upon the people. This is indeed the great hindrance to progress, the
drag that stops the Egyptian from advancing as he might and could.
Yet, in spite of all difficulties, that which is really good in the
intercourse of the two peoples is bearing fruit. Of necessity the
first produce of the new feelings, thoughts, and aspirations, stirring
to activity the long latent abilities of the people, has been little
more than a few weak saplings of progress, too frail and immature to
send forth aught more than a few fragile blossoms; but the crop is
thriving, and though as yet rich in neither quality nor quantity, it
is the fair promise of a sound, healthy, and abundant harvest to come.
It was not until the first half of the nineteenth century had passed
that the appreciation of European civilisation became at all general;
it is to-day almost universal. Nor is it less powerful for good that
it appeals to various classes with varying aspects. To many it is no
doubt nothing more than an appreciation of the physical advantages
offered to the individual by railways, electric tramways, telegraphs,
and telephones, and the hundreds of other minor inventions that add to
the pleasure or tend to the comfort or convenience of life; to others
it is the higher side of civilisation, its intellectual and social
advantages that appeal most forcibly, but these are at the same time
appalled and repelled by its evils, and thus the very men that it is
most desirable should be most strongly influenced are held back from
accepting much that they would otherwise welcome. And these men, while
always candid and open in their intercourse with Europeans in the
expression of their sense of the merits of European civilisation, and
of the backward condition of their own countrymen, are withheld, by
their fear of appearing discourteous or offensive, from even hinting
at their perception of its evils. Thus, left in ignorance of one of
the chief reasons why the Egyptian does not more enthusiastically
adopt and practise that which he so freely commends, Europeans are
wrongly led to believe that the appreciation he expresses is not
sincere. It is not so. He thoroughly comprehends the advantages he
commends, but at the same time he sees clearly enough, what most
strangely the European seems incapable of perceiving, that the
unrestricted adoption of Western standards could not fail to set loose
a flood of evils far outweighing all the benefits it could confer.
Hence at the present day the problem that of all others attracts
discussion in native circles in Egypt is, How may we secure the
benefits, without incurring the evils of European civilisation?

This, then, is the net result of a century of almost daily increasing
acquaintance with the people of Europe and the civilisation of which
they boast. It is a problem that many earnest men are studying in
various parts of the Mahomedan world, and which is tending to solve
itself by slow but yet perceptible steps. In Egypt the most hopeful
feature of the difficulty to be faced is, that no one appreciates the
need of reform more than, or indeed as much as, the Egyptian himself.
Fortunately he is by no means inclined to accept too hastily the often
ill-considered advice Europeans are prone to give him, for he can see,
as they cannot, the real difficulties to be overcome. Rightly
comprehended, then, the very slowness of the progress being made, so
far from being discouraging or to the discredit of the Egyptians is
quite otherwise, for it shows that the advance being made is sure and
well-grounded, and not a mere passing impulse, and it is a guarantee
that all further progress will be well-considered and deliberate, and
will thus be certain of producing more enduring benefit than any
hastily adopted reforms, however brilliant their first effects might
seem to be, would be likely to secure.

Directly connected with the healthy influence which is thus at work
in Egypt and other parts of the East is another of a very different
character in some respects, but tending in exactly the same
direction--the elevation of the moral, social, and political standards
of the peoples affected by it. It is, however, of much more recent
origin, for it was not until after the English occupation that the
Egyptians, profiting from their increased intercourse with Europeans,
and the development of the native Press, of which they are such avid
readers, began to give attention to the condition of Islam outside the
narrow limits of the Ottoman Empire. To the present day the fellaheen
indeed are indisposed to credit the fact that a majority of the
Moslems of to-day are not only not subjects of the Turkish Sultan but
do not speak either the Arabic or Turkish language. Naturally the
English occupation turned the attention of the more enlightened
classes to the question of England's relations with her Mahomedan
subjects in India and elsewhere. Their conception of those relations
were at first drawn from uncertain and most unreliable sources, and
were scarcely less accurate than unfavourable. Thanks mainly and
directly to the honesty of the _Moayyad_, the leading Mahomedan
journal of the country, the ignorance that formerly existed has
largely disappeared, and the news-reading public are now able to
follow the progress of events in India and other Moslem lands with a
fair knowledge of the circumstances affecting them.

The interest thus excited in the affairs of their brother Mahomedans
in other lands is steadily increasing, and this has led the Arabic
journals to pay special attention to all that appears in the European
Press with reference to any matter in which Moslems are concerned. The
outcome of this is clearly marked. The Egyptians no longer regard
their country as they did a few years ago, as an isolated unit, but
see it as part of a great whole of which it is its right and privilege
to be the head. And with this increased knowledge of the Islamic world
has grown side by side an increased knowledge of the condition of the
European nations and more particularly of the Great Powers. Throughout
Islam it is now recognised that if these Powers are no longer inclined
to enter upon crusades against the Moslem states it is not from any
enlarged tolerance for Islam nor from any peace-decreeing doctrines of
Christianity or civilisation, but because they are restrained by the
political conditions controlling their relations with each other. This
is a matter on which it is no use saying smooth things that have no
basis of actual fact. There is not a single Mahomedan in any part of
the world who believes any of the many protestations of friendship for
Islam made by nations or peoples or governments. That these
professions are genuine enough for the moment, that they are not based
upon either falsehood or dishonesty of intention is not asserted.
Under existing conditions they are honest and true enough, but they
depend wholly upon the continuance of those conditions. Side by side
with the growth of this knowledge and the diffusion of the ideas to
which it gives rise, there has been a similar increase in the
knowledge that the various Moslem peoples have of each other and a
growing perception of the causes that have led to the decadence of
Islam. Of these latter, as every student of history knows, the two
principal have been disunion among the Mahomedan peoples and the
stagnation of social and intellectual progress that followed the
overthrow of the political power of Islam. The recognition of these
facts by the Moslems themselves has pointed them directly to the
obvious remedy--the reunion of Islam and the development of the social
and intellectual capacities of its peoples. Hence the rise of that
Pan-Islamism which has of late been so much discussed and is as yet so
completely misunderstood in Europe and by Europeans living in the

The journalism of to-day is a very different thing to that of the
past. Its writers are for the most part young men of the day
essentially out of touch with the days of their fathers. Whence we
find them presenting to us as novelties ideas that were familiar to
all newspaper readers of the last generation and asking us to solve
problems that we had thought buried with our grandfathers. But in the
modern craze for rush and hurry and inefficiency the public have no
time to stop to inquire the history of the topics brought before them.
To some extent conscious of this defect in themselves and others, the
modern journalist turns to the first comer who can show any pretence
of special knowledge on any subject of the day and, accepting him at
his own valuation, takes him as an expert and builds up his own
theories and speculations on his authority. Thus the Cook-conducted
tourist who rushes through Egypt and the East without ever exchanging
a word with any native, save perhaps Cook's dragoman or donkey-boy, is
invited to give his ideas on the "Egyptian Question" and so forth, and
in doing so very often quotes as an authority some European who has
been living in the country for heaven only knows how many years, and
who, if the truth were known, knows scarcely less of the people than
the tourist himself, since all that he has gained by his years of
residence has been the accumulation of a number of prejudices which
are to him the explanation of all things touching the past, present,
or future of the land and its peoples. If the blind thus lead the
blind whither can their progress tend? As an answer look at the recent
comments upon Pan-Islamism in the European Press. Journals that years
ago spoke of Pan-Islamism as an idea full of lofty promise for the
future, not of Islam only but of the world, have taken it up as a new
subject, treated it as a new movement, and hastened to point out that
it is a menace to civilisation. Some thirty years have passed since
Lord Beaconsfield, speaking as the Minister for Foreign Affairs at the
Guildhall dinner in London, drew a brilliant picture of the effects
that might spring from the regeneration of Islam under the protection
and with the aid of England. His speech created a world-wide interest,
but, as I pointed out in the _Bombay Gazette_ of the time, I had
previously drawn attention to the same idea, and I was thus one of the
first, if not the very first, to discuss the subject in an English
newspaper. In India and in England, after filling the public mind for
a brief space of time, the subject was dropped and the truly Imperial
views of Lord Beaconsfield were relegated to a pigeon-hole in the
Foreign Office, where, if the rats have not yet devoured them, they
are probably still lying. But if England thus neglected the idea that
as the _Globe_, if I am not betrayed by memory, described as the
offspring of a "stupendous intellect," it was not so with the
statesmen of other countries, and from that day to this more than one
of the Foreign Offices of Europe has not lost sight of the subject,
needless to say, not with any intention of promoting the views of Lord
Beaconsfield. Nor among Moslem peoples has the subject ever been
dropped. The yearly increasing facility of travelling in the East and
the growth of the Arabic and Indian Mahomedan Press, have naturally
tended to help forward the efforts of the more enlightened Moslems in
various lands who were first stirred to movement by the discussion in
the European Press, and to-day wherever Islam exists there is a
Pan-Islamic party, generally small, but always having as its leaders
the most enlightened and most advanced men. Under the guidance of
these men Pan-Islamism is essentially a defensive and not an
aggressive movement--one for the elevation of the people, and
therefore an intellectual and peace-promoting and not a military or
war-provoking one. That a few of the most ignorant of the people
should attach some hazy idea of Moslem conquest to their conception of
Pan-Islamism is but natural, but to assume that because their vague,
ill-formed, and wholly undigested thoughts now and then find
expression in the columns of irresponsible journals, run for the most
part by men of no position, education, or influence, these are to be
taken as the true exponents of Moslem thought is absurd. Instead of
being a danger to Europe or civilisation Pan-Islamism is a movement
that should have the support of every lover of peace and civilisation,
and the fact that it is making progress in Egypt is but a proof that
the Egyptians have awakened to a sense of the only way in which the
best and truest interests of their country and their religion can be
served. If the world at large is ever to see that higher and truer
civilisation of which it is capable, the Powers must abandon that lust
of conquest that is but a drag on all true progress, they must cease
to look upon the interest of each as a claim to which the interests of
all others must yield, and combine to seek the benefit of all. The
more nearly that ideal is reached the more important will it be that
Islam should be prepared to take its fitting place in the grand scheme
of regeneration. That it should do so it must follow now and for ever
the ideas that are the mainspring of Pan-Islamism.

The third and last of the healthy influences I have named is the
development of the Arabic Press. Were we to consider merely the number
of years the occupation has lasted, it might seem reasonable to
suppose that it has been the most powerful of all the influences
affecting the general character of the people, but, as I have pointed
out in the last chapter, it was not until after the evacuation of
Fachoda that it had any really solid or lasting effect. Prior to that
event the Egyptians had undoubtedly learned to appreciate the
principles illustrated in the administration of the country by the
English, but the uncertainty that overhung the future prevented even
the warmest admirers and advocates of English methods taking up a
strong or definite position in their favour. During the earlier part
of the occupation which as yet has been by far the longest, the
greatest benefit conferred upon the Egyptians was therefore the
freedom it gave them to profit from the influences with which I have
already dealt. When the change came it found the great majority of the
people ready and willing to accept the friendship and guidance of
England, and the strength and honesty of this feeling was clearly
visible in their attitude during the disastrous opening of the South
African War which followed so soon after. While the Armenians openly
and offensively rejoiced at every fresh telegram of disaster and
defeat, the Egyptians not only preserved in public the calm they had
shown during the Fachoda incident, but among themselves were not slow
in expressing sympathy. The reactionary party and some of the lower
classes were, perhaps not unnaturally, pleased to see English pride
humbled, but the one and only class that really rejoiced at the
humiliation was, as I have said, the Christian Armenians. Among
Pan-Islamic circles there was a sincere wish for the triumph of the
English, for these knew that the interests of the Moslems of South
Africa were bound up with theirs, and that though the Moslems had
many just grounds of complaint against the treatment accorded them by
the colonists, and the lack of protection afforded them by the Home
Government, they knew that the tyranny of the colonist was, after all,
better than the friendship of the Boer. In this view the majority of
the people shared, and though the reactionary Press thought it good
policy to profess a desire for the collapse of British rule, and to
laud the Boers as heroes fighting for liberty and so forth, they knew
well enough that the Boers would have laughed to scorn any idea of
granting social or political freedom or equality to any Egyptian, or
Mahomedan, however high his rank.

Under the Mamaluks, as we have seen, contrary to the commonly held
idea that the people dare not even protest against the injustices by
which they were oppressed, it was no unusual thing for them to do so,
and if they did not profit more from the power of resistance they
possessed, it was because they were too indifferent to, or too
ignorant of, their own interests to defend these as they might have
done. Under Mahomed Ali and his successors they were not only
tongue-tied, but enslaved in a far worse manner than they had ever
been by the Mamaluks. Under the English they have enjoyed the most
perfect liberty of speech--a liberty that is only slowly subjecting
itself to the self-restraint that alone can render it as serviceable
to their true interests as it ought to be. It was but natural
therefore that the Press, for a large part written and conducted by
men of no position or influence, and actuated by no higher desire than
to gain the momentary applause of their readers, should put the
_Eatanswill Gazette_ to shame in its own particular line, and that the
folly and ineptitude of its articles should make the Egyptians
ridiculous in the eyes of all intelligent people. But these are the
faults of youth and inexperience and lack of education, and are
largely due to the bad example of European papers of little if any
higher merit. Slowly but steadily the Egyptian Press has moved, and is
still moving, towards a worthier standard, and the fact that its
movement is a spontaneous and voluntary one is an incontestable proof
that the Egyptians are a people not only capable of, but anxious for,
self-improvement, and a people entirely deserving of liberty. It is a
maxim in mechanics that the weakest link in a chain is a measure of
the strength of the whole. Of the newspaper Press of a country I think
it may be said that its strength and merit are to be judged by its
best. So judged we cannot but think well of the Egyptian Press. That
the liberty accorded to it is still abused by journals on a par with
the lowest type of journalism in Europe is to be regretted. It is an
evil that will eventually cure itself. Meanwhile the liberty granted
to the Press has undoubtedly been the chief boon conferred by England
upon the country. It is a gift that has done more to educate and
elevate the people and promote healthy progress than all else, or
aught else, that has been done for the attainment of these ends.
Slowly but surely it is doing the great work accomplished in England
mainly through the establishment of Sunday and "Ragged" Schools--the
raising of the intellectual standard of the people, the formation and
nurturing of healthy ambitions, and the creation of a higher and purer
conception of all the relations of life. All that England has done for
the financial, commercial, and general material welfare of the country
and of its inhabitants, almost immeasurably great and good as this
work has been, is but a trifle to the results that may ultimately
spring directly from the liberty given to the Press. As I have said,
the progress being made is slow, so slow that European critics fail to
grasp its real extent and value, but it is steady, widespread and
real, a progress that will not be easily checked, and one that is
doing more to change the character of the Egyptians in a healthy,
life-giving manner than any other influence tending in the same

The good work that is thus being done is due in the first place to the
sound and enlightened views of Lord Cromer, who has persistently
refused to be guided, or rather misguided, by the suggestions of those
who would fain see a censorship established. By the course he has
adopted Lord Cromer has thrown upon the journalists of the country a
degree of responsibility of which, though as yet its obligations are
not fully recognised by those on whom they lie, must tend, and is
indeed tending, to render the Press worthy of the trust reposed in it.
It is due to the sense of this responsibility already felt both by
journalists and the public, that the serious journalists find
themselves compelled more and more to justify the policy they
advocate, and to maintain it with consistency. Thus instructed by
experience, the people are yearly exacting a higher standard of
excellence from the Press, and the demand is being met by a
corresponding improvement. We must not forget, however, that the
possibilities inherent in Lord Cromer's wise policy might have still
been lying dormant and unproductive, if among the Egyptians there had
been no one to see these, and, taking them up, render them in some
degree an actuality. Fortunately the occasion brought the man. It was
in the year 1887 that a small weekly Arabic paper styled the _Adab_
was first established at Cairo. This rapidly becoming known for the
ability with which its articles were written, continued to grow in
favour with the Mahomedan public, to which it was specially addressed,
as a journal devoted to science, literature, and religion, until the
year 1890 when its editor joined the staff of the daily newspaper, the
_Moayyad_, of which, three years later, he became the sole proprietor.
From that date onward the _Moayyad_ progressed rapidly, and becoming
the recognised organ of the Ulema of the Azhar, took the position it
still maintains as the leading Arabic and Islamic journal, not only in
Egypt but throughout the Mahomedan world. Various journals have been
started from time to time in opposition to or rivalry with the
_Moayyad_, but none have ever succeeded in impairing its supremacy.
From first to last this success has been attained and preserved by the
Sheikh Ali Youssef, its proprietor and editor. Well read in all
learning that qualifies a man to take his place among the Ulema, but
ignorant of every language save his own, the Sheikh, as a newspaper
man and a leader writer, is not only foremost among the journalists of
the East, but one who in his chief merit has few, if any, rivals among
the journalists of the world. "His paper," says Mr. Hartmann in his
"Arabic Press of Egypt," "is a power to be reckoned with. Moslems read
it with pleasure, finding in it what most delights their hearts. There
they read in strong, well-chosen and simple language their own
thoughts, or rather, what they imagine to be their own thoughts; for
such is the art of the cunning journalist, that the unsuspicious
reader follows in the track of the writer's thoughts and fancies them
to be his own." When I add that this man is a man of thought, of great
self-restraint, endowed with patience, energy, and perseverance, I
have drawn the picture of one who, in any community, must exercise a
large influence as a journalist, but amidst a people like the
Egyptians, so little prone to think for themselves, must indeed be a
power to reckon with. As a fact, he has done more to guide and mould
Moslem opinion in Egypt than any other ten men that could be named.
Like the historian Gabarty, of Arabic origin he is personally a
reserved, thoughtful man, leading a quiet, studious life, adverse to
ostentation and parade of every kind, and yet possessing keen
business instincts. The position he has won for his journal has been
gained by the steady pursuit of the policy which he from the first
adopted--the love of justice and the desire to promote the interests
of Islam and of Egypt. He has again and again had to meet the open
hostility of different classes of the people he has been trying to
serve, for he has not hesitated to advocate unpopular measures and
ideals when these have commended themselves to his judgment, and yet
he is persistently set down by Europeans as a fanatic and intriguer!
Recognising as fully as any man can do the advantages that the English
occupation has conferred upon the country, he is yet as a Moslem
compelled to weigh these against the disadvantages due, not specially
to the presence of the English but to the influence of the European
Powers generally. Striving always to hold a just balance, never hasty
to judge, fearless though moderate in the expression of his views, he
is the one and only journalist in the country who for years past has
steadily and with absolute honesty of purpose endeavoured to promote
harmony and goodwill between the people and their English rulers. The
Egyptians have long since recognised this. There was a time, indeed,
when not a few of them cried out that he had been bought by the
English. Unfortunately Europeans understand neither the man nor his
policy, and seizing upon some extract from his paper, as often as not
wrested from a qualifying context, and possibly written by an outside
contributor, paint him as a firebrand and fanatic.

The best gift that England has yet given Egypt is, then, the freedom
of the Press, for this has been and is the influence tending more and
more strongly than any other towards the healthy development of the
character of the people. There are some, if not many, who, claiming to
know the country, will be inclined to deny this, but should no malign
counter influence arise to stay the progress now being made, I am
confident the verdict of the future will justify my view.

The three healthy influences I have thus described--the the increased
knowledge of European civilisation, and of the present condition of
the Islamic world, and the development of the Arabic Press--are each
stimulating and correcting the other, and are those which of all
others are working to modify and improve the national character. The
result they have so far jointly produced has been that the Egyptian is
learning to take a broader and therefore a healthier view of himself
and his surroundings, and has acquired new and nobler aspirations. His
ideals are no longer what they were but a quarter of a century ago,
and, in recognising this fact, he recognises that the change has been
brought about very largely through the English occupation, and that it
is a change for the better. Nor is the Egyptian ungrateful, as he is
often and unjustly accused of being. If his gratitude is not more
pronounced, unfortunately there is too ample reason for its

Long years ago my old nurse once showed me a pot of my favourite jam
and promised that my watering lips should feast upon it without
restraint provided I were a good boy and first took a spoonful of
Gregory's Powder. I can still remember how my lips dried up at the
very mention of that most abominable of all the medicines ever thrust
upon suffering humanity, and I turned with loathing from the jam that
a moment before had been so lusciously appetising.

Let us see what is the Gregory's Powder that taints the sweetness of
the benefits that England has conferred upon Egypt.



I should have been well contented if it had been possible for me to
write this chapter as a parody of that ever famous one on "The Snakes
of Ireland." Unhappily there are unhealthy influences in
Egypt--influences placing difficulties in the way of the English
administrators of the country, ever discouraging and disheartening the
Egyptian, ever tending to turn him from the path of progress,
influences that have been and are holding back the advance that is
being made.

In my last chapter I spoke of the benefits derived from the liberty of
the Press; in this I have to speak of the evil it produces, for first
and chief of all the unhealthy influences in Egypt is the _Mokattam_,
the newspaper that is regarded as the special organ of English
interests in Egypt. While yet Sheikh Ali was wholly unknown, three
Syrian Christians who had established a monthly literary magazine at
Beirout, decided to transfer it to Cairo. There it acquired a
well-deserved popularity it still maintains. Possessed of ability, and
full of the energy and enterprise that is a characteristic of their
race, the proprietors of this monthly saw in the English occupation
an opportunity of enlarging their sphere of action and started a daily
paper, the _Mokattam_, just a year before the _Moayyad_ appeared. The
policy that this new journal adopted, and has persistently maintained
to the present day, was the twofold one of supporting English
interests in Egypt and of attacking Islam and the Turkish Empire on
all possible occasions. Caring nothing for their adopted country, and
ever mindful of the fact that it was the interference of the European
Powers that compelled Mahomed Ali to abandon Syria, they entered upon
their task with enthusiasm, and, though the _Moayyad_ was not long in
passing it in popularity, they early succeeded in gaining for the
_Mokattam_ the position it holds of undoubtedly the ablest of all the
Christian journals published in the Arabic language. Save only as to
the lines upon which it seeks to promote the policy it advocates, it
may indeed justly claim the highest praise for the manner in which it
is written and conducted.

In the days when the English occupation and the two rival journals,
the _Moayyad_ and the _Mokattam_, were all still young, Egyptian
politics and therefore Egyptian newspapers were run upon purely party
lines, and as Dr. Johnson thought he was best fulfilling his mission
in seeing that "the Whig dogs did not get the best of it," so all who
dabbled in any degree with Egyptian politics thought it their bounden
duty to admit no good or merit in any who opposed their views. Hence,
while the English administrators were still blunderingly trying to
find their way through the maze of difficulties they had to encounter,
and trying first this and then that remedy for the evils they had to
contend with, from the newspapers and people of the country they could
get no assistance whatever. It was the policy of the _Mokattam_ to
support the English, and with the editors' primitive ideas they could
find no other way of doing this than by lauding with indiscriminate
praise everything the English did or proposed to do. It was the policy
of the _Moayyad_ to decry and depreciate all that the _Mokattam_
approved or supported. Each of the two papers was thus pursuing
exactly the line most calculated to defeat its own aim, and throw
discredit on its own cause, for as the praise of the _Mokattam_ was
constantly being discounted by the admitted failure of the measures it
had lustily approved, so the discrimination of the _Moayyad_ was
belittled by the success of those it had condemned. From that day to
this the _Mokattam_ has learned nothing. It pursues the same line
to-day that it did then. It has not been so with the _Moayyad_. Sheikh
Ali Youssef was far too able a man to be long in seeing the folly
inherent in politics of this puerile type, and he determined to adopt
a higher line. It was no easy task he thus set himself. He was still a
young man, and as such his abilities received rather stinted
acknowledgment from the greybeards, who were the leaders of the Moslem
and National party. His journal was not yet strong enough to choose
its own position, and its existence and influence, as well as his own
future, depended wholly upon the support he received from
self-satisfied, self-willed men, who thought it their province to
dictate and not to learn. And with this difficulty Sheikh Ali had the
graver one of having to find a policy and a method of advocating it
that would practically reconcile the almost irreconcilable. Like all
Egyptians, and indeed all non-Christian Easterns, he held then, as
now, that of all the European Powers England was the one with which
friendship was most possible. It was, however, at the moment the
approved policy of the Egyptian National party to profess a preference
for France, and therefore the Moslem papers were expected to hold up
France and the French as the friends and allies of Islam. Had Sheikh
Ali attacked this view, his rashness would have been the death-knell
of the _Moayyad_. He saw this clearly, but he was not a man to be
deterred by difficulties, or daunted by dangers. That which was right
and true was right and true, and it was his duty, as one of the Ulema,
to teach and to preach that which was right and true. But to run amuck
against the prevailing prejudices would be to ensure failure. If he
were to succeed, it must be by degrees, by the slow and patient
conversion of others to his views, by a steady and almost stealthy
diffusion of his ideas. In the East the circulation and writings of a
journal are often but little guide to the power and influence really
possessed by its editor, for an editor is frequently able to
accomplish far more by his direct personal influence, outside his
journal, than he could by the most earnest or able advocacy of those
views in its columns. It was so with Sheikh Ali. There were men of
influence who were quite prepared to listen attentively to anything he
had to say to them in private, and to accept and adopt his views in
the same way, but who would not have tolerated a journal that rashly
published the same ideas to the world at large. Starting boldly, yet
with due caution, Sheikh Ali set himself to the task of educating his
supporters. Slowly, and in sugar-coated pills of homeopathic size, he
administered to them minute doses of the ideas he wished them to
digest. Slowly, but surely and steadily, he overcame the difficulties
before him. One by one, even those who would not consent to the
_Moayyad_ propagating such ideas, admitted that the Sheikh was right.
Time went on, and with its flight the old fiery spirits of the
Nationalist party, the "No surrender" men of the old type, gradually
died out, and changes of many kinds came to pass, and still the Sheikh
was struggling with opposition, and still he was steadily gaining
ground; but as falling bodies gather speed and force in their descent,
so intellectual movements gather force and speed in their ascent, and
thus in spite of all difficulties, difficulties that only undauntable
pluck, unwearied patience, and ability could face, much less triumph
over, the Sheikh accomplished his purpose, and scarcely knowing how,
or why, or indeed that it is so, the Egyptians have adopted the
Sheikh's policy, a policy that may be summed up in the phrase, "Peace
and Progress."

It would have been well for Egypt, and not less so for British
interests, if the editors of the _Mokattam_ had followed in the wake
of Sheikh Ali, but, as I have said, their policy is to-day what it was
at the beginning, the same narrow-minded bigotry in its pro-English
partisanship and the same foolish fanaticism in its anti-Turkish
crusade. The true interests of the country, or of their
co-religionists, or of the occupation, are all alike sacrificed to
their morbid love of wounding and hurting the religious and social
sentiments of the Egyptians, or of venting their impotent hatred of
the Turk. Thus their record is a record of evil, a record of needless
difficulties heaped up in the way of the English administrators of the
country, of ill-will and animosity excited among the people. The two
strongest factors in the formation of Egyptian opinion are, as I have
shown, the attachment of the people to their religion and their
attachment to the Turkish Empire. Both these sentiments are
persistently and wilfully outraged by the _Mokattam_. It does not
indulge in the rabid rant of the anti-Turkish Press in England, but
while keeping within the limits of decent language it loses no
opportunity of saying aught that can wound the feelings, offend the
prejudices, or excite the anger of the Moslems, and it does this as
the organ of the English occupation, as a journal universally believed
to be largely subsidised by the English, and therefore a journal
believed also to be the expression of the real views, aims, and
sentiments of the English occupants of the country. Is it any wonder
that the pacific policy, the unbroken respect for Moslem prejudices
that Lord Cromer has always shown, should assume in the eyes of the
Egyptians the character of a temporary policy--a policy to be
abandoned as soon as circumstances should permit the open adoption of
the anti-Islamic policy of the avowed organ of English interests? The
old reactionary party has almost wholly died out; what remains of it
is not less in touch with the real sentiments of the people than is
the Young Egypt party that to a certain extent is its successor, but
neither of the two parties ever has done, or could do, a tithe of the
harm the _Mokattam_ is still doing. The attacks of the anti-Turkish
Press in England, the anti-Islamic writings of the late Sir William
Muir and other critics affect Moslems in Egypt or elsewhere but
little, for it is known that these represent but narrow circles of
thought, but that the local journal which is spoken of by Englishmen
themselves as the "English organ" should be for ever out-Heroding the
efforts of those circles has, and could have, but one result--a
profound distrust of the professions made as to the true aim and
object of the occupation. This is the key to the lack of enthusiasm,
the want of gratitude, for which the Egyptians are so often rebuked.
Men like Mr. Dicey may build up theories of their own on what, to the
Englishman at home, may seem at least plausible arguments, but they
are only drawing herrings across the trail of the true explanation.
Thus the journal which, as Mr. Hartmann says, has "gained favour with
Lord Cromer," has been of all other causes the one which has most
freely and wantonly strewn his path with needless difficulties. Face
to face with the anti-Islamic sentiments of the English organ in
Egypt, it is utterly hopeless to expect Moslems in Egypt or elsewhere
to regard the English occupation with any other feelings than those of
distrust. Had the _Mokattam_ been conducted upon conciliatory lines,
had it striven to guide the English with the healthy, honest advice it
could have given, had it endeavoured to promote an intelligent
appreciation of the good work that has been done and is doing, it
would have rendered a service of incalculable value to the English and
to the Egyptians alike, and with their undoubted ability its editors
would have taken their place among the greatest benefactors of the
country. As it is they have wrought no service and much ill, and may
pride themselves upon having been the greatest obstacle in the way of
the progress that has been made. The one thing that Lord Cromer has
needed most of all throughout his long, brilliant, and self-devoting
struggle has been the cordial co-operation of the people. The one
thing that more than all else has tended to deprive him of that
co-operation has been the anti-Islamic attitude of the Arabic organ of
the occupation. Had I been writing this a year ago it would have been
possible for me to say that happily the growing confidence of the
people in Lord Cromer and in the intentions of the English Government
was steadily, if very slowly, undoing and counteracting the evil thus
done. Unfortunately I cannot say so to-day. Events have occurred that
have almost wholly scattered all the fruit of the progress that had
been made in this direction.

We have seen that, little inclined as the Egyptians were to welcome
any prolongation of the occupation, they had accepted the evacuation
of Fachoda as at least a temporary resolution of all the doubts and
uncertainties that had worried them for so long. It was what those who
understand them might have expected. They are essentially an impulsive
people. In every emergency their decision is made without hesitation
or faltering, too often without consideration or thought of any kind
but the impulse of the moment. To such a people nothing could be more
trying, more irritating than that they should be kept on from month to
month and year to year helplessly waiting on the decision of others,
or on a development of events they were powerless to control. This
cause was alone almost sufficient to stay all progress, social or
political, prior to the evacuation of Fachoda. For years they had been
"waiting to hear the verdict," and when it came, the mere fact of the
ending of their long, anxious suspense, took much of the sting from
the bitterness the verdict itself might otherwise have created. And
apart from all political and religious feeling there were two causes
that greatly intensified the Egyptian's burthen during that trying
wait. These were his love of freedom and his love of peace and
concord. As an individual there is nothing the Egyptian prizes more
than his freedom--not his liberty, but his freedom; not the legal and
formal admission of his rights, but the absence of restraint that
gives a sense of unfettered ease; not the liberty that is the
birthright of every British subject, be he master or man, but the
freedom the master enjoys as master. For this the Egyptian can and
will make many sacrifices, even bartering much of his liberty that he
may enjoy it. And this freedom he could not enjoy while yet the fate
of the country was in the balance. Reticent to his nearest kin in the
expression of his thoughts, he yet loves to speak freely within the
limits he allows himself, and this he could not do while yet he had to
guard against exciting the animosity of rival parties and interests.
He was neither sitting on the wall nor trimming. On the broad general
question at issue he was clear in his own mind and did not hesitate to
say what he thought, but he could not get beyond that. He could not
discuss men and matters as he should have liked to have done. Once the
die was cast and the supremacy of the English settled, he was no
longer tossed on the horns of the dilemma, Which of two evils is the
least? but free to take a side and say as he would, This thing is good
or bad. It was the same with his love of peace and concord. Hospitable
and kindhearted, ever ready to surrender his own comfort and
convenience, not only for his friends but for the stranger, the
universally prevalent discord was to him a real grievance, so real
that he would have accepted almost any solution provided only that it
offered a reasonable hope of the re-establishment of harmony. When
after the revolt of Cairo, and again after the siege, truce was
declared, the people of the town accepted it loyally and kept it
faithfully. They submitted to the rule of the French most unwillingly
and only under compulsion, but having done so they adhered without
murmur or quibble to the pact. It was the same after Marchand had left
the Nile behind him on his homeward way. Finding themselves
definitely under the English, they accepted the inevitable, and were,
as they still are, ready to loyally, honestly, and fully discharge
their acceptance.

There was therefore a complete change in the attitude of the people
towards the English, and it was not unnatural for them to look for a
corresponding change on the part of the English. No such change
occurred. Up to Fachoda the Egyptians had been courted and flattered
by the anti-English Europeans in the country. The English, with a few
rare exceptions, held aloof from them. After Fachoda the anti-English
quietly dropped the Egyptians. The English maintained their attitude
of indifference, and to the Egyptian seemed rather to assume a
haughtier air, to adopt more and more the tone of conquerors in a
hostile land, to treat the people as enemies, and as enemies scarce
worthy of a thought. The Boer War broke out, and in the torrent of
disasters that pursued the British troops the Egyptians found excuse
for the reserved and chilling manners of the English. But the closing
of the war brought no change, and the Egyptians began to ask
themselves, Of what avail is it that we seek to conciliate the English
when they make no response? None the less they adhered to the position
they had taken, and hoped, as they still do, that Englishmen would
wake up to a sense of the injustice with which they were acting.
Meanwhile the utter failure of the English to understand the real
attitude and feelings of the people towards them lends weight and
force to the evil wrought by the _Mokattam_. If, the Egyptians ask,
the English are really anxious to benefit us, how is it that they thus
hold us at arm's length? How can they benefit us without knowing or
understanding what are our hopes, our wishes, our aspirations, our
prejudices, our predilections? And how can they know aught of these
while they sedulously avoid all intercourse, friendship, or
familiarity with us?

But it is not simply English aloofness of which complaint is made, but
the vulgar and aggressive self-assertion, the rudeness and want of
common civility so many are constantly guilty of in their accidental
intercourse with the people of the country. These are things
complained of by Europeans, and, as is well known, in Europe as well
as in Egypt. The Englishman flatters himself that these complaints are
due to envy and fanaticism. Nothing could be more contrary to the
fact. It is the expression, not of envy, but of contempt, the utter
scorn of the man of the world for the uncultivated boor. That this is
so is proved by the fact that this antipathy is felt and shown only
towards two classes of Englishmen: classes that have unfortunately of
late years grown--as other unhealthy excrescences are prone to
do--rapidly, the cads and those who ape these under the guise of "good
form." Men of the latter type are much too numerous in Egypt, and may
claim the credit of placing endless difficulties and obstacles in the
way of Lord Cromer and English interests. The men who have made the
Empire were men cast in another mould. They were masterful men; men
who could and did command respect through inherent force of character
and ability; men born to command; men whom others followed and obeyed
as a privilege. The men I speak of are of a different type. Lacking in
the high qualities of their predecessors, and sensible of their
defects, these seek to obtain by arrogance the respect they cannot
command. With many it is their misfortune. The true cad owes his
contemptible character to his narrow training and the want of a
healthy, manly brain. "Born of a butcher, by a bishop bred, how high
he holds his haughty head!" But the great majority of those who by
their caddish behaviour, like the ill-birds of the old adage, foul
their own nests, have not this excuse to offer. They sin wilfully,
deliberately choosing to act as cads in toadying compliance with what
the monied cads whose society they crave are pleased to consider "good
form." Like the pariah dogs of the street, fawning upon all who
perchance may have a bone to throw to them and snapping and snarling
at all others, the true cad can never rise above his brainless,
soulless self, but the man whose caddish manners are as the
mud-stained garb of he who has rolled in the gutter is, often enough,
at heart a sound and healthy-minded man, a brave and honest gentleman,
a lion wrapped in the skin of an ass! Verily a wondrous spectacle,
most strangely reversing the old fable! I have seen and known such men
in times of stress and danger to be all that men should be, and I have
marvelled to see them return to the old false, lying lives.

Happily the evil is one that will not last. Already he who hath eyes
to see may see that once more a great revolution is in progress. The
old English aristocracy of men who ruled at home and abroad by right
of their high qualities is fast dying out. The stately old oak that
has weathered the storms and stresses of so many long years is
withering and perishing, smothered under the unhealthy growth of
parasites that are sucking its life-sap. The old aristocracy is almost
gone, the new with nothing but its money-bags to sustain it, has not
succeeded, and never can succeed, to the political or social power of
its predecessors, and these, therefore, are passing on to the strong
men of the plebeian world, men who, without the polish, have much, if
not all the virtues of the Empire-building classes of the past. For
the last time that history will ever record a government that might by
any just use of terms call itself "Conservative" has sat in the
English House of Commons. Look back at the life of France ere yet the
hurricane swirl of the red flag of revolution had scattered its
aristocracy as a fierce autumn storm scatters the lingering leaves of
the bygone summer. The lesson is an old, old one--one taught in many
pages of history, one coming down to us from those far-off days
wherein men first heard the proverb, "Pride goeth before destruction,
and an haughty spirit before a fall."

The evil is one that will not last. Pharaohs, Ptolemies, Mamaluks,
Cesars, Bonapartes; patricians, feudal lords, aristocracies; in short,
all caddisms and flunkeyisms and falsities and other abominations,
however they may flourish and thrive for the moment, if it were not
for the clamour and blare of their own conceit, would ever hear Time
tolling the passing bell that tells of their open graves.

Meanwhile, in Egypt and elsewhere, the two cads, the real and the
mock, are among the most potent and the most active of the enemies of
England and the English Empire, and the most costly luxury that the
easy-going British taxpayer allows himself. This is so, for the
ill-will and hatred that these excite leads thousands who might be the
friends and promoters of English interests to devote themselves to
hindering and counteracting those interests in every possible way. And
this same dislike serves as a bond of union between the enemies of
England everywhere. It is doing more than all else to unite the people
of India of all races and creeds in one compact nationality, and is
elsewhere, and in other manners, working evil for the Empire.

There are other unhealthy influences retarding the work of the
administration of the country and the progress of its people. Notable
among these is the education question, or rather questions, for there
are several. The system adopted in the Government schools is objected
to as tending to the formation of a class separated from the rest of
the people by special aims and interests, and having standards of
life, of morals, of religion, entirely different from those of their
own kith and kin; a class whose manners, customs, and habits are at
variance with those of all their countrymen and co-religionists; a
class slowly but surely drifting more and more apart from all who do
not belong to it, and which is thus losing all possibility of exerting
the healthy influence upon others it should be easy for them to do
with the advantages they possess, or of becoming the leaven in the
mass tending to raise the whole. There are men who have passed through
the schools who are doing good work, but they are few in number, and
the good they are doing is largely due to their having been subjected
to influences counteracting the pernicious effects of their school
training. A part of the evil thus charged to the schools, Government
and others, is that they are destructive of the religious sentiments
and aspirations of their pupils. They do not convert these to
Christianity nor, as is so often said, to atheism, but they do lead
them to despise the duties of their religion, to mock at its
obligations, and to ignore its social and moral restraints, and thus
destructive of all that goes to make the Moslem a worthy citizen and
man, gives them nothing in exchange, and leaves them to go through
life like wanton children drawn hither and thither by every passing
whim or fancy. Is it a retribution that for the most part they go to
swell the ranks of the anti-English party?

The direct result of this evil is that the whole of the people are
being gradually divided into two classes--the so-called (and very much
mis-called) "educated" class and the, by contrast of terms, uneducated
class, the class which, by the perversity of facts, includes almost
all who are really and truly educated, those who have had moral and
religious training, have been taught to comprehend the most essential
fact that can be taught, that every man has duties to perform, that he
is not an isolated unit with nothing to think of but his own pleasure
and profit, but one of the vast congregation of humanity whose
members are linked together by the recognition of the obligations of
their common duties to God and their fellow-men. It is true that the
schools give their pupils lessons to this effect, but all the
circumstances that surround the giving of those lessons and the whole
tendency of the life of the schools is to render these lessons
ineffective, mere tasks to be learned as part of the daily routine,
pretty theories to be applauded and admired, not verities to be
believed and put in practice. And since the education given in the
schools is held up as the very life-blood of all progress, it follows
that all that is best in the country turns aside and says, "If this is
progress, then give us stagnation; if to be an 'educated,' 'advanced,'
'enlightened' man means to be a man who ridicules duty, despises
religion, and mocks at piety, then, in the name of God, let us remain
ignorant so only that we still worship Him, and strive as best we may
to fulfil what we believe to be His law!"

Nor are the schools the only things mainly, if not wholly, due to the
occupation that offend Moslem sentiment, and thus retard progress and
decrease the sympathy there might be between the people and their
rulers. I can only just mention two or three of these without staying
to comment upon them, as perhaps the most active among many others.
The sale and consumption of intoxicating drinks in the open streets,
the almost unchecked promenading of brazen-faced European women in the
busiest and most crowded thoroughfares; the open eating, drinking, and
smoking during the Ramadan fast; quarantine and other sanitary
measures frequently trenching upon Moslem sentiment, such as
restrictions upon the pilgrimage and the holding of the religious
festivals of the people. These things are to the Egyptian as the
breaking of the Sabbath to the Scotchman. What would the Scotch
Sabbatarians say if a number of Englishmen were to settle among them,
and insist upon carrying on business, opening the theatres, and
breaking the Sabbath in a dozen other openly offensive ways? Would
they be considered "unreasonable" if they protested? Would they be
regarded as "ungrateful" because they did not thank the invaders for
the financial benefit they were conferring on the country? Yet when
the Egyptians protest, however faintly, against such outrages upon
their sentiments, they are told that they are "unreasonable,"
"backward," "unenlightened," "narrow-minded," and "fanatical."

There is another influence for evil to which my reference to
Sabbatarianism naturally leads me--the Christian missions and their
agents. Of the magnificent social and humanitarian work done by
Christian missions and Christian missionaries in India no one has a
higher opinion than I have. Years ago I spent a couple of days in one
of the wildest parts of the Bengal Presidency as the guest of a grand
old man who, with his wife--a worthy mate for him--were dwelling, as
they had been for years, among the semi-savage tribes of the jungle,
isolated from all the comforts and conveniences of civilisation,
seeing no European faces other than their own save once or twice in
the year when the Commissioner made his annual rounds. A grand old
couple--labouring with endless self-devotion for the good of the
stolid, stunted-brained, almost naked people, more than half savage in
nature and habit, and by dint of tedious toil and never-resting effort
lifting some few of these out of the depths, and winning them to
humanity. I have met many men and many women in my life, but none that
have claimed from me a more sincere or lasting respect than these. But
there are missionaries and missionaries; and in Moslem lands there are
some who do much ill, and not less by their speech than by the
literature they circulate. In this they are backed up by missionary
and other journals, which take a pleasure in representing Islam as a
religion that inculcates bigotry and fanaticism. I have myself heard a
missionary undertake to prove to Mahomedan hearers that unless they
hated Christians they were no better than infidels. Taking passages
from the Koran, ignoring their context and the teaching and
interpretation placed upon them by the orthodox Ulema, he had little
difficulty in apparently justifying his promise, with the result that
some of his hearers went away filled for the first time with the
conception that it was their duty to hate Christians. Such incidents
are by no means rare, and it would be difficult to estimate the
mischief they do. A few years ago the late well-known Canon MacColl
flooded the Press at home for a brief time with speeches and writings
of this kind. Every word of what he wrote was reproduced in oriental
languages, and did far more to excite fanaticism than any of the most
inflammatory articles that have ever appeared in any portion of the
Moslem Press. How often have Pan-Islamists, advocating friendship with
England and other European nations as a means of advancement for
Moslems, been met with the reply, "But they themselves say that it is
our duty to hate them"! So the bigotry that takes unholy pleasure in
misrepresenting the truth reacts with fatal effect upon the cause it
pretends to serve.

The unhealthy influences of which I have spoken so far all originate
from sources outside the direct action of the Government. None the
less, they are perhaps all influences that it lies within the province
of the Government to correct, and so long as they are permitted to
flourish so long will their existence be regarded by the people as
subjects of grievance against the rulers of the land. It may be, and
is, said that some of these matters are things in which it is wiser
for the Government not to interfere. There is much to be said on both
sides, but in all matters thus admitting of discussion there cannot be
the least doubt that the deciding consideration should be the effect
they produce upon the people at large. That which would be best in a
country like England, the people of which have long been accustomed to
look upon themselves as the final arbiters in all questions, is
entirely out of place in a country like Egypt in which, almost for the
first time, the people find themselves absolutely impotent to enforce
their wills in any matter whatever. Under the Mamaluks, as we have
seen, they had this power, and they did not lose it until Mahomed Ali
had succeeded in enslaving them. If they exercised the power they
possessed but rarely, to a limited degree, and mostly in a futile
manner, this was largely due to the ignorance that prevailed, and to
the violent methods of suppression to which their attempts in this
direction were always liable. To-day the people no longer suffer from
the crass ignorance of those of the past. The most illiterate peasant
in the country is an enlightened man compared to his ancestor of the
eighteenth century. Increased knowledge has brought, as it should do,
increased desires and aspirations, and there is nothing that could
testify to the sterling merits of the Egyptian character more than the
fact that these desires and aspirations are such as the most
enlightened cannot but approve. That the people, as a body, are not
yet capable of giving their new-found ideas a healthy, practical issue
without the aid of those more advanced than themselves is nothing to
their discredit. The path of political progress is a long and
difficult one to tread, and it is trodden most successfully by those
who, like the Egyptians, advance diffidently rather than daringly, and
the Egyptians have made such progress as entitles them to be heard. As
yet, however, they have no adequate means of making known their views.
The Press of the country is yearly filling better and better its duty
in this respect, but under the occupation the true voice of the
people--the Ulema, who in all times and in all countries have always
been the natural and most fitting representatives of the people--has
been, and is, practically silent. Among Moslems the authority of the
Ulema is greater than that of the ruling prince of their country, and
the Ulema, drawn from among the body of the people, have always
exercised the beneficent influence Macaulay has ascribed to the
Catholic priesthood, for, like it, the conditions of their existence
are such that, as Macaulay expressed it, they "invert the relations
between oppressor and oppressed, and force the hereditary master to
kneel before the spiritual tribunal of the hereditary serf." So in the
days of the Mamaluks, we see the people going for the redress of their
wrongs to the Ulema, and these going to the Beys, and rarely failing
to obtain some concession. Since the English occupation this
primitive, but in its essentials most complete, measure of
representative government, has been in abeyance.

The Ulema are no longer regarded as the spokesmen of the nation. Their
voices are heard only indirectly, and then not as speaking for the
people but as those of individuals. It is quite true that the people
of to-day belong to a generation that has never had any experience of
conditions other than those practically such as now exist; but that
they do feel the need for some such system is certain, and it is their
sense of this need that is giving force and body to the demand made by
some of the "reformers" for the introduction of a representative
government, after the pattern of those in being in Europe. For this
the people have no real desire. What they want is what their ancestors
had--an informal but ever-present means of making their wishes known
to their rulers. No formally established body could supply their need.
They have now the Legislative Council, which is intended expressly to
be the voice of the people, but while, like the Press, this is yearly
growing in merit and utility, it is not, and never can be, to the
people that which the Ulema have been in the past, and should always
be to the people of a Mahomedan country--the representatives to whom
these can go at any time and in any manner to seek counsel and advice,
and to consult with that they may act as their intermediaries with the
administrative body of the country.

It may seem to the reader that in my last paragraph I have been
wandering somewhat widely from the subject of unhealthy influences,
but it is not so, for the Egyptians' sense of their inability to make
their wishes known is unquestionably not only an unhealthy influence
but one that is very steadily growing. The Press does much to instruct
the Government as to what are the thoughts and feelings moving the
people, but at best it can only do this as the Press of other
countries does, rather as the expression of individuals or classes
than of the masses, and while it thus acts as spokesman for the people
to only a limited extent, it can never be, what is most needed, an
intermediary that can not only speak for them but bring them a reply.



We come now to consider unhealthy influences arising either from the
present constitution of the administration of the country or directly
or indirectly from the action of the Government.

That we may understand the position taken by the Egyptians with
respect to these matters, it is necessary to see what are the
conditions they consider the English administrators of the country are
bound to fulfil to justify official statements as to the objects and
extent of the occupation. These, as seen by the Egyptians, may be
summed up in one sentence and are--that the country is to be governed
with due regard to the rights of the Sultan as sovereign, the religion
of the people, the general interests of the country, and with a view
to the ultimate independence of the native Government. On all of these
points there is much dissatisfaction. Of the first two I have spoken
in the last chapter. As to the third it is commonly admitted that the
commercial and financial interests of the country are well cared for
and administered, but the criticism is frequent that this is so, not
for the sake of the country or of its people, but for the sake of the
European interests involved. The Englishman's sense of, and devotion
to, duty are recognised by all save perhaps a few, but the common
feeling is that in Egypt this devotion is not stimulated by any
feeling of duty or obligation to the country or its people, but solely
by the desire to perpetuate the occupation. Englishmen of the cad type
of which I have spoken, including unfortunately too many military
officers and Government officials, by their behaviour towards the
people do much to justify this conclusion and, if one may judge by
their action in public places, even seem anxious to do so. That there
are Englishmen in the country and in the Government service who are of
a very different type is fully recognised, and the Egyptian is too
just and too generous in sentiment to confound these with those, yet
he cannot but feel that while such conduct is allowed, apparently
unrestrained, and that even the men of the better type make no open
protest, he can draw no other conclusion but the one that the
Englishmen who really are honest in their desire to serve the country
and conciliate its people are not only few in number but small in
influence. It may be said that this is at most but a sentimental
grievance, and that the solid good done in the country far outweighs,
or should outweigh, such causes of complaint. Those who think so know
nothing of human nature, and might, perhaps, benefit by studying
Ruskin a little. Nor must it be overlooked that with this, as with
other unhealthy influences, it is not the direct or isolated influence
of each that is to be considered, but its cumulative effect as one of
a large number of forces tending in the same direction. As a thousand
feeble threads that an infant might snap one by one, scarce conscious
of the effort it was making, when united may form a cable that will
drag a mighty ship against wind and tide, so these little threads of
discord united serve to draw the ship of State into troubled waters.

It is often made a subject of complaint that the Egyptian fails to
appreciate the great work that has been done and is being done in the
country. This is true to some, but only to some, extent. It is very
much less true than it is thought to be. That the Egyptian should
largely fail to comprehend the Englishman and his work is the outcome
of that irreconcilability of Eastern and Western ideas and mental
processes I spoke of in my first chapter. And the Egyptian, in his
endeavour to understand the Englishman, has to encounter difficulties
far greater than those that baffle the Englishman who seeks to
understand the Egyptian. The Englishman in Egypt can, if he will,
place himself more or less in direct touch with all classes of the
Egyptians, and can study them at his leisure. The Egyptian has no such
opportunity of studying the Englishman. He is barred from any but the
scantiest and most formal social intercourse with the English, and,
even in this, as in his other efforts, he is perplexed and bewildered
by the ever-varying aspects the English character presents, for to the
Egyptian the Englishman is a veritable Proteus, as inconstant as the
unstable element he boasts of ruling. Now an Imperialist, and anon a
"Little Englander"; now a courteous gentleman and again a braggart
cad; now an earnest man of lofty aim and again a "flannelled fool" of
witless brain; now commanding respect and esteem for his sterling
qualities and again exciting contempt and censure by his ill-bred
manners. And in these varying shapes and forms the Egyptian sees but
little of the Englishman, and that little for the most part amidst
surroundings that confuse his vision and disturb his judgment; what
wonder, then, that he should be at a loss to reconcile the conflict
between official statements and private views, between friendly words
and unfriendly acts? Yet it is one of the most promising of auguries
that, by the mere force of his own generous spirit of tolerance and
his desire to be just, the Egyptian is slowly solving the problem for
himself, is sifting the wheat from the chaff, learning to recognise
that which is best and truest in English character and politics, to
wholly despise the cad for what he is and to appreciate the manliness
and merits of the self-respecting Englishman of all ranks and grades.
If Englishmen in Egypt cared to do so they might easily learn so much
at least of the character of the people, and would learn that the
Egyptian can and does appreciate merit, that while he is ever lenient
and forbearing towards the faults of ignorance, he can and does most
heartily despise those of perversity of character, and that if he so
constantly ignores the rudenesses to which he is subjected it is
because he looks upon those guilty of them as men beneath reproach.
Naturally reticent, the little familiarity he has with Englishmen
makes him hesitate to speak to them with even the freedom he extends
to other Europeans. How can it be otherwise when he is in constant
fear, only too well justified by unpleasant experience, of the snub
direct of a contemptuous or offensive response? And this evil is
greatest in the official world. Egyptian "Ministers" are placed at the
head of all departments of the Government, but it is the English
"Adviser" who is the real "Minister." As a matter of simple
indisputable fact there is no Egyptian Government in existence. This
is the constant complaint of the people. The "Ministers" and the whole
official world are but the obedient servants of the "Advisers," whose
words are law. It is useless to tell the "Ministers" or others that
their candid advice would be appreciated, valued, and possibly acted
upon. That I believe is the truth, but it is most certainly the truth
that the Egyptian entirely and unconditionally believes that were he
to accept the assurance he receives he would find himself playing Gil
Blas to the Englishman's Archbishop. The English seaman has it as the
cardinal point of all his duty to "Obey orders, though you break
owners." Absolute, implicit obedience to his captain's command, even
if it means the immediate destruction of the ship, that is his ideal
of duty, and it is the ideal that prevails among the Egyptian
officials of to-day. It is said that these officials have no power of
initiative, that they are incapable of justly criticising the measures
and methods adopted in their Departments. Possibly those who think so
would alter their views if they could hear the criticisms of these
same officials when they discuss these matters in Egyptian circles;
but under such a system as this it is, of course, impossible for the
Egyptian to learn to govern his country on sound administrative lines.
No trade, business, or profession of any kind is taught, or could be
taught, in this way. You cannot make a carpenter or an engineer by
putting an apprentice to watch the work of others, however expert
these may be. If he is to learn, tools must be put in his hand and he
must not only be shown how to use them, but must be taught why he is
to use them in this or that way and in no other. And the work of
governing a country can only be taught in the same way. The Egyptians
see this, though it must be admitted that, like the average apprentice
who has made some little progress, they are apt to overrate their
knowledge and ability, and to fancy that they are quite able to act as
master workmen and teachers.

No one who has any knowledge of the English seaman and his training
can have failed to see that the great merit of the "Handyman," as
indeed of all seafaring men, is that they are invariably taught "the
reason why." In pulling and hauling on a rope, in letting it go, in
holding on to it. In all these simple actions he is guided, not only
by the knowledge of which is the best and most proper way to do them,
but also by the knowledge of the reason why that way is the best; and
with that knowledge and the mental training it gives he is ready at a
moment's notice not only to pull, and haul, and let go, and hold fast,
with the utmost economy of labour and the utmost efficiency of result,
but to modify his method of doing any of these things to suit any
possible emergency or special conditions he may have to deal with.
Every seafaring man recognises that it may at any moment be a matter
of life and death to him and all on board a ship that some one of the
crew should have had, or should not have had, this training, and so
every man on board is ever ready to help and aid in the training. Does
it not seem reasonable that this same spirit should prevail amongst
all who form the crew of the ship of State? That every one who has a
hand in guiding or working that ship should reflect that its safety
and good working are only to be secured by the intelligent efficiency
of all concerned? The man who is the chief of a Government Department
should, like the captain of a ship, be entitled to instant,
unhesitating, unquestioning obedience from all under his command, but,
having this, is it not his own interest and an absolutely necessary
condition for efficient working that he should see that that obedience
is based upon an intelligent comprehension of the principles by which
the administration is guided? A Government that is not conducted in
this way may attain for the moment good results, but it is, and can
be, nothing more than a mere temporary makeshift, for it must depend
entirely upon the personal qualities of the man at its head.

I have now to touch upon some matters that have attracted almost
world-wide notice and have wrought much evil. Of these the first to
produce a noticeably ill effect was the trial of Menchawi Pacha.
Charged with having caused some men to be flogged with a view to
extorting from them a confession as to the theft of a bull belonging
to His Highness the Khedive, the Pacha was arrested, tried, convicted
and sent to prison as an ordinary prisoner. His arrest caused intense
excitement throughout the country and among all classes. During the
Arabi revolt he had, with great risk to himself, given the utmost
protection to Europeans of all nationalities and creeds, and had
gathered all he could of these in his own palace and there guarded
them in safety until the danger had passed. For the services he had
thus rendered he was given the official thanks of almost all the
Powers of Europe. Whatever his faults or errors may have been, he was
therefore a man entitled to the most lenient judgment from all
Europeans. The whole Press of the country, excepting the English
organs, took up his case, and while none condoned or in any way sought
to justify his offence, they all pleaded that his was a case in which
common gratitude demanded mercy.

Unfortunately there was only too much to be said on the other side,
and the Pacha had therefore to undergo the three months' imprisonment
to which he was sentenced. The trial was intended not only to punish a
case of wrong-doing, but to impress upon the people the fact that the
law was strong enough to protect the poorest and weakest against the
richest and most influential, and upon minor officials that no excuse
would be taken for gross neglect of their duty. That the trial has
largely had the desired results is certain, but two causes contributed
to lessen in some degree the effect produced. In the first place the
Egyptian, while accepting the theory of "even-handed justice" and
"one law for all," which is, indeed, an essential part of the teaching
of Islam, has so long been accustomed to see that teaching ignored in
practice that he has come to look upon the strict administration of
justice as an injustice, and thus clings to the old fallacy which, if
I am not greatly mistaken, under English law still entitles a peer of
the realm to the luxury of a silk rope should he be so unfortunate as
to incur the penalty of death by hanging. The other cause sprang from
the Egyptian's habit of attributing all the acts of public men to
their personal feelings and desires--a vice that is a constant source
of evil and one of the greatest obstacles in the way of progress, not
only in Egypt but throughout the East, utterly destroying, as it does,
the growth of anything like a healthy and vigorous public spirit. The
vice is one not unknown in home politics, but it is there less
prolific of evil, for the sterling common sense of the people teaches
them to weigh acts and deeds by their intrinsic qualities and not by
mere surmises as to the motives of the actors or doers. In Egypt there
is, I think, a tendency towards improvement in this direction. As I
have said, the people are learning to think, they are less prone to
cling to the first idea that presents itself to their minds as being
necessarily the first and last worthy of consideration, and they have
thus made one step towards healthy progress--one, too, that must lead
to others.

One and all of the unhealthy influences I have described were in force
and were marring the goodwill that should exist between the two
peoples, and yet, in spite of all, the Egyptians, balancing the good
with the evil, buried their dissatisfaction under hopes of better days
to come and a future recognition by the English of their true spirit.
So evident was it that the people really desired to conciliate their
rulers, to co-operate with them and accept their guidance and control
in all things, that Lord Cromer announced that the time had come when
the army of occupation might be safely and wisely decreased. At once a
panic cry went up from a portion of the English colony. Every one in
the country knew that the few who really disbelieved Lord Cromer's
assurance that the measure he had proposed was a perfectly safe one,
were in a hopeless minority, but there were many who, without the
least sense of possible danger, had very strong reasons for opposing
any reduction of the garrison. Every one who has lived in a garrison
town can understand this. The withdrawal of a single battalion of
English troops from Cairo or Alexandria is a very serious matter to
many very excellent people and to a great many people who are by no
means excellent in any sense of the word. Unfortunately for these
their interests cannot be allowed to control State affairs, and these
therefore swelled the chorus of alarm, probably with no thought that
in doing their best to protect their own interests they were doing
much ill. The Egyptians, as might be expected, received Lord Cromer's
announcement with unqualified pleasure. It was the first recognition
of the efforts they had honestly been making to promote goodwill and
they were grateful for it, though the warmth of their gratitude was
lessened by the violent opposition to the measure and the unjust and
unfounded charges of fanaticism and hatred to the English brought
against them. None the less Lord Cromer's action in this matter was an
influence wholly for good and an influence that did more to strengthen
and extend English influence in the country than the addition of an
army corps to its garrison could possibly do. All then was going well.
There was every possible reason to accept Lord Cromer's optimistic
view of the position when the Tabah incident occurred, and, like a
sudden gale, almost sundered the graft that was fast tending to unite
the aims and hopes of the two peoples.

News was received in Egypt that Turkish troops had occupied Tabah,
near the northern end of the west coast of the Gulf of Akabah, a post
that lies well within the Egyptian frontier. To the Egyptian, however,
Egypt is bounded by the Suez Canal. He knows that the Peninsula of
Sinai is part of the Khedivial territory, but he takes no interest in
it whatever. When, therefore, it was announced that an ultimatum had
been sent to the Sultan, the one and only point that for the moment
troubled the people was the possibility of a war between Turkey and
England. That was the last thing that they wanted, and the
gratuitously bellicose tone of the pro-English Press raised an alarm
throughout the country. The people could see no excuse or reason for
the peremptory demands of the English. There was no Turkish army at or
near the place in dispute, and if the possession of it was really
important to Egyptian interests, it was a question that might be
settled by discussion and was in no sense a pressing or urgent one.
Why should the English be in such a hurry to pick a quarrel with the
Sultan if they had no ulterior aims in view?

All the old fears as to the real aim of the occupation were
reawakened. Have not all the rulers of Egypt sought the conquest of
Syria and the Hejaz? Was not this the object of the English?

And there were not wanting those who held that the aim of the English
was to stop the construction of the railway to the Hejaz. So little
did the people know of the question at issue that many believed Tabah
to be a station on the route of the new railway to el Medina and that
what the English really wanted was to secure the control of that
route. These and many other ideas were freely circulated and
discussed, and rumours of the wildest kind were echoed through the
bazaars. The English had landed troops on the Syrian coast, a vast
army was on its way from Turkey, the Arabs of Arabia were assembling
for the protection of the holy lands of Islam. Nothing was too absurd
to be repeated or believed. As to what was actually occurring the
people had no means of knowing, and while the great majority could
not, of course, understand the interests involved, it could and did
understand that the English were threatening to make war on the
Sultan, and that those to whom it looked for guidance held that it was
not in the interests of Egypt, but in those of England, that the war
was to be made. What more natural than that there should be
excitement in the country? And seeing this the pro-English Press took
the very course common sense should have taught it to avoid, and began
crying out about "fanaticism" and Pan-Islamism, thus throwing oil into
the fire that had begun to smoulder. That the real attitude of the
people was wholly and entirely misunderstood by the English generally
is beyond question. The one thing that the Egyptians were wishing for
was the avoidance of war. The one thing that had given birth to the
excitement that arose was the fear that war could not be averted, that
the English were determined upon forcing the Sultan's hand. The one
question the Egyptians were asking themselves was not, What shall we
do if the war breaks out? but, How can war be prevented? Had it not
been for the attacks of the pro-English Press upon Moslem sentiment
and the oft-repeated statements made as to "unrest" in the country no
other thought would have occurred to the people. Those who understood
the questions at issue would have felt, as they did and do, aggrieved
by the action taken by the English, but they would have given their
thought no open utterance and would have trusted to time to see their
wishes realised. There was, therefore, absolutely no "unrest" in the
country, for I take it that "unrest" implies a desire for, or tendency
towards, action, and this is precisely what did not exist. Agitation,
uneasiness, and excitement, were visible clearly enough, but "unrest"
no. But the wanton and utterly unprovoked anti-Islamic tone of the
pro-English Press added one more to the unhealthy influences at work
in hindering the progress it should be the first aim of that press to
promote. And once more the Egyptian showed his self-control and gave
proof of his desire to live in peace and harmony with all. Had this
not been so the consequences might have been serious; on the one hand,
the anger of a people naturally hasty and impulsive, was being
awakened; on the other, a vague, unreasoning fear was beginning to
seize the colonists generally.

Fear is a failing that shows itself with many faces and in many
phases. There is the timid fear that starts back, "e'en at the sound
himself had made"; the panic fear that overwhelms men's reason and
sends them madly fleeing they know not where or how; the cowardly fear
that palsies the arm, paralyses the brain, and turns men into craven,
cowering creatures from whom all manhood has fled; and there is the
fear that urges a man to wild, unreflecting action, to strike lest he
be struck, the fear of the unbalanced mind that in the sudden presence
of apparent danger loses its self-control, the fear of the brave man
who for the moment has lost his presence of mind. This was the fear
that was seizing many in Egypt when the Tabah excitement was at its
height. The cry of alarm that had been raised when the reduction of
the army of occupation had been proposed had disturbed the minds of
many--good folk who cared nothing for politics, but much for their own
peace and comfort. The weather was hot, heavy, brain-heating, and
enervating. Had it been otherwise people would not have lost their
heads and begun calling for an immediate increase of the army of
occupation. It is true that at the prospect of a war between the
English and Turkey some of the lower classes had spoken vaingloriously
of what the Moslems would do, but that was an incident that no
European knowing the people and living among them, thought of as
anything but amusing. Yet many Europeans living in the country but, as
indeed the great majority of them are, wholly out of touch with the
people, scarcely ever meeting or speaking with an Egyptian, living
entirely among Europeans, their servants even not being natives but
Berbereen negroes, the most fanatical, bigoted, anti-English class in
the country, as much out of touch with the Egyptians as the Europeans
themselves--these Europeans became seriously alarmed and made their
voices heard in the papers and elsewhere. So the cry of danger was
echoed and re-echoed, even in official documents, until the
announcement was made that the army of occupation was to be increased,
and then, their end attained, the agitators began to admit that, after
all, the danger from Egyptian fanaticism was a remote and far from
pressing one!

The truth is that the danger had been a very serious one. The
agitation among the European colonists had begun to react upon the
people of the country, and while there was no "unrest" among these, in
the sense in which I have used the word, the excitement that was
growing was such that the real gravity of the position was rather
under- than over-stated in Lord Cromer's report upon the incident. At
any moment the excitement that prevailed might have been turned by an
unlucky incident into "unrest" of a deplorable and disastrous
character. Happily the collapse of the agitation among the colonists
reacted upon the people as strongly as the agitation itself had done.
Seeing that the Europeans no longer feared an outbreak of hostilities,
they themselves became reassured, for the cessation of the agitation
among the Europeans was to them evidence that there was no longer any
intention of forcing war upon the Sultan and that the English were as
anxious for peace as they were.

Hardly had the heat of this incident passed when the country was
startled by the report of the Denshawi affair. Telegrams appeared in
the papers stating that English officers had been attacked and killed
by some of the fellaheen. The Moslem papers, in publishing the
telegrams, expressed regret that such an incident had occurred, hoped
that the report was exaggerated, but withheld all comment until the
facts should be more fully known. Not so the pro-English Press. This
at once broke out about the "fanaticism rampant in the country,"
demanded "an exemplary punishment" and the instant ordering of
reinforcements for the army of occupation.

Everywhere, among all classes, the excitement became intense, but the
first full account of the affair published calmed the minds of all but
a section of the English colony. There had been no murder. The
fellaheen had interfered to prevent some English officers shooting
pigeons close to their village, and had become very excited when a gun
belonging to one of the officers went off and a native woman was
accidentally wounded. The officers were attacked by the people and
severely beaten with heavy sticks and some of them carried as
prisoners, with much ill-treatment, to the village. One of them who
had been badly beaten had set out for the camp and was found dead on
the road at a considerable distance from the village, his death being
due, as medical evidence proved, to the combined effects of the
injuries received and exposure to the sun. This was the case as it was
heard and understood in Cairo. All the Press condemned the fellaheen,
but, with the exception of the pro-English Press, recognised that the
affair was simply one of those unhappy occurrences that take place in
all countries, and had nothing whatever to do with fanaticism. That
the possibility of such incidents had been increased by the disturbed
condition of public opinion was evident, but that this case was a
direct result of fanaticism was not credited by any in a position to
gauge the real feeling of the country.

The Egyptians were very far indeed from sympathising with the outrage,
though it was well known that the fellaheen have much cause of
complaint from the injuries they suffer at the hands of "sporting"
Europeans who, in all parts of the country, trespass freely on their
lands, damaging their crops and property, and only too often
needlessly offending the people. Yet here again it was not the facts
at issue but the tone of the pro-English press that was most
abundantly productive of evil. The renewal of the unfounded charges of
fanaticism, the repeated cry for "exemplary punishment," the hurry to
try the prisoners, the formation of the special Court, various
incidents at the hearing of the case, the severity of the sentences,
the haste to carry them out--all these things tended to irritate the
minds of the people, but of all these it was the tone of the
pro-English press that was productive of the greatest evil.

As time passed on, though much soreness of feeling lingered, the
agitation was dying out when some Englishmen at home decided to enter
upon a campaign against Lord Cromer. These misled by their sympathy
with the pretensions of the self-styled "National Party" and backed by
a few journalists, rejoiced to find a new and prolific subject, almost
simultaneously broke forth in an attack upon Lord Cromer. Taking
somewhat different standpoints, they all preached the same moral--that
the one thing evil in Egypt was Lord Cromer.

It was perhaps but natural that the Egyptian papers should follow
suit. They did so, and for a time it seemed to me that all the
progress they had been making towards healthy, honest journalism, was
to be swept away. There was something to be said in their excuse. Were
they not following the lead of Englishmen?--and of Englishmen who
professed to sympathise with all their views? Surely these Englishmen
knew how to influence their countrymen; and how, then, could the
Egyptians do better than imitate their methods and manner? And for the
Egyptian journalists we must remember that they work in the face of
disadvantages and difficulties that would appal a London pressman.
Their articles are for the most part sent hot from the pen to the
press; they have no cautious, well-trained colleagues to advise or aid
them in any difficulty, no accomplished, painstaking Readers to point
out errors, slips, or inconsistencies in their articles; and the work
of writing these articles is liable to a hundred interruptions. All
these things must be allowed for; but even granting these as largely
excusing the imperfections of the Egyptian journals, there is much
left that is a just subject of reproach to the writers. They are far
too anxious to swell the chorus of the moment, to harmonise their own
ideas with those floating around them, to take the tone and colour of
their articles from the reading or conversation from which they have
just turned. In short, they lack a right sense of the responsibility
of their position, and almost all the mental training absolutely
indispensable to the journalist who would take a really honourable
position in his profession. In the old days in England, when a man had
failed in all else he bought a birch-rod and turned schoolmaster.
To-day, the first idea of the young Egyptian who has not been caught
up into the Government service, is to become a journalist, for
Journalism is looked upon as the one happy profession exacting no
other qualification than "the pen of a ready writer." Time will
improve all this. The Egyptian press will one day yet be worthy of all
that is best in the Egyptian people, and _that_ will prove worthy of
the esteem of all men.

Meanwhile, under the malign influence of their English "friends," the
Egyptian journalists have done much to injure their own cause. They
are crying out for a "representative government" while, by the very
articles in which they make their demand, they show the want of
self-restraint, of the capacity to appreciate facts, to weigh
arguments, to form well-balanced judgments, which are the very first
qualifications needed in men who would guide or rule others. And they
err in other ways. No one more fully absolves them of all intention to
promote or even countenance fanaticism than I do, but as I have said
on page 61, when speaking of religious teachers, it is useless for men
to preach toleration while they denounce others as "enemies," describe
them as "filled with hatred to the people," and so forth. In the days
of "Harry Lorrequer," when a greatly daring dun or bailiff ventured
into the great square at Trinity College in Dublin, he was fortunate
indeed if he did not hear the cry of "Oh! boys, boys! don't nail his
ear to the pump." I do not think that the professed toleration of the
Egyptian press is of this type, but I am certain that, accompanied
with wild, unreasoning "criticisms," it is only too likely to have the
same effect.

For the young Egyptian of the so-called "Nationalist" party there is
also something to be said. His education separates him almost wholly
from the bulk of his countrymen. His ideals, his aspirations are not
theirs. He comprehends and understands them as little almost as do the
foreigners in the country. With his lack of that home-training which
forms the Englishman's character far more than aught else, and with
his imperfect knowledge of French or English and of European life and
thought, he falls an easy, self-sacrificing prey to that
ultra-Radicalism which is the refuge of the brainless and uneducated
in the political world of Europe. In doing so he belies his own
nature, decries his countrymen, and disparages his religion. Rightly
named the party to which he attaches himself should be termed the
"Anti-Egyptian and Anti-Islamic" party, and yet this is the class that
Lord Cromer's assailants would have Europeans accept as the
representatives of the Egyptian people!

If there is a party in Europe essentially and wholly in all its forms
and all its aspirations anti-Islamic, it is the ultra-Radical party.
Yet it is this party that the "Nationalist" party of Egypt is pleased
to accept as its ally. Radicals and Radicalism are the ideals that
Mustapha Pacha Kamel holds out to the Egyptians. He does not use the
terms, but the principles he advocates are those proper to the terms.
He may call himself a Mahomedan but the policy he preaches is the
policy of a Radical, and a man cannot be both a Radical and a
Mahomedan. If, then, the "Nationalists" desire to promote reform, to
protect and develop their own interests, let them fling their
Radicalism aside and return to Islam.

As Spencer has shown, the social and political history of mankind is
the history of an evolution. Whether created in the image of God, or
slowly developed from some primitive amorphous atom, so far as we can
trace our origin, man has been moving, on the whole steadily, though
with many halts and set-backs, towards perfection. As yet our
civilisation--the highest point yet reached--is but a miserable
makeshift for that we should aim at. Let us hope that when the present
agitation shall have died out Englishmen and Egyptians will find it
possible to join hands in an effort for the mutual attainment of
something better.

Thirty years ago in India I preached the doctrine that the welfare of
the Indian Empire and its peoples was to be sought in the mutual
understanding and co-operation of rulers and ruled. Twelve years ago I
began to preach the same doctrine to the Egyptians. To-day I repeat
it. Some time ago, urging my views on a Moslem friend, he said, "There
is only one thing needed to make your policy a success--that all the
Egyptians should be angels and all the English archangels." There is
an evident moral in the criticism that needs no pointing. Knowing
Englishmen and Egyptians as I do, I believe that the flood of evil
that has swept between them will pass away and that even out of all
this evil some good will come. If Englishmen in Egypt and at home will
but try to realise the patient forbearance, the manly self-control
that the Egyptian has been and is practising under the steadily
pressing burthen of the unhealthy influences of which I have written,
I have so much faith in the English sense of justice, fairplay, and
manly straightforwardness, as to believe that these qualities will
compel them in the near future, if not now, to form a new estimate of
the Egyptian, and to feel that, with all his faults, he has some
sterling merits and is a man to whom all honest, right-thinking men
may fitly hold out the hand of friendship. It is my hope that what I
have written may tend to this effect, and help to bring about a good
understanding between the two peoples.

The English can, if they will but do justice to their own better
feelings, gain and retain the sincere friendship of the Egyptian
people, and in gaining that friendship they will gain the friendship
of all Islam, and thereby acquire a power and influence in the East
such as they can gain in no other way--a power and influence that must
prove of endless benefit not only to the British Empire but to the
world at large. But if this result is to be attained the Egyptian must
contribute his share of effort to realise it. That he should do so
needs nothing more than that he should follow his own healthy and
natural inclinations and the teaching of his religion, and in doing
this he will be serving not only the cause of Egypt, but that of
Islam; he will be benefiting not only his own countrymen, but all
Mahomedans. In this way, and in this way only, will he find all his
best aspirations become not merely possibilities, but actualities, and
Egypt will take its rightful place as the great centre and fountain of
all Mahomedan progress. If, on the other hand, he allows himself to be
seduced by the plausible speech of Radical agitators and, following
the advice of Mustapha Pacha Kamel and his party, abandons the
teaching of Islam for the teaching of Radicalism, he will assuredly
defeat his own aims and sacrifice the claim of his countrymen to be
the true leaders in the world of Islam.



So far I have spoken of the Egyptians collectively, and I have aimed
at sketching as faithfully as possible, not the views or ideas of a
class but those which are common to the whole body of the people of
all ranks and grades. Whether there is any one Egyptian, or any class
of the Egyptians, to whom my description might be applied without any
qualification or modification is probably doubtful, but that that
description, taken in the sense and to the extent intended, is
absolutely correct there is no doubt whatever. The Egyptians of to-day
are divided in opinion upon many points, social, political, and
religious; how much so is evident in the fact that of their many
newspapers and periodicals not one is wholly and fully in accord with
any other. To have attempted to give the reader a well-defined
portrait of each and all of the classes thus formed--had it been
possible to do so--could only have resulted in bewildering him; all
the more so that, as yet, there is no one class in the country that is
not undergoing, more or less consciously, a process of change. It is
scarcely possible that it should be otherwise. I have written, so
far, entirely in vain if I have not succeeded in conveying to the mind
of my reader a clear conception of the fact that the people are as yet
but slowly feeling their way towards the adoption of a definite social
and political programme. In the maze of conflicting ideas resulting
from this condition there are clear and indisputable evidences of a
general tendency towards the final acceptance of certain principles
that, once definitely adopted, must dominate the whole future of the
people. Of these the most prominent is that internal and external
peace are absolutely essential to the welfare of the country and of
the people, collectively and individually. Of any one thousand
Egyptians taken at random from among any grade or large class of the
people, I am certain there are not ten who do not sincerely hold this
opinion. One and all desire a greater or less change in existing
conditions, but they desire that change to be wrought without any
sudden or violent disturbance of those conditions. This, without any
qualification whatever, is the fact that is the most essential to be
realised at the present moment by anyone who would understand the
Egyptian of to-day. It is the one influence that practically controls
all the others that are affecting the people. The existence of the
"Nationalist" party does not in the least disprove this, nor does the
popularity of the organs of that party disprove it. The attacks upon
the English occupation so widely spread in the country, and almost as
widely applauded, have no more influence upon the people than a
"transpontine" melodrama of the old type had upon the "gods" who
roared themselves hoarse in rapturous applause of its most virtuous
sentiments. All the Arab-speaking peoples are alike in this--that
there is nothing else that can so stir their enthusiasm or so fill
them with delight as the sonorous melody of well-turned phrases and
sentences in their native tongue. If the sense of what they hear be
clear and evident, they enjoy it the more, but however dense and
impenetrable its meaning may be, the music, the rhythm and harmony of
its sounds draws their applause. So even the most illiterate of the
people will listen with keen enjoyment to a long political article of
which the meaning of all but a sentence or two is wholly beyond their
comprehension. Thus the glowing periods of the Nationalist Press find
ready applause, but awaken no echo in the hearts of the people.
Unfortunately it is only too much the same with the papers of a higher
type, and these labour under the disadvantage that, of necessity,
their articles dealing with prosaic topics do not admit of the ornate
style of their rivals. None the less it is unquestionable that it is
these papers which are exercising the greatest influence upon the
thoughts and ambitions of the people, and their influence is, as I
have said, almost wholly one for good. The great mass of the people
listen to the reading of the newspapers just as the great majority of
church-going people at home listen to sermons--as most edifying and
commendable, but as having no practical bearing upon the affairs of
life--yet, as I have already pointed out, the _Moayyad_ has been, and
is, exerting a wider and always growing influence, and is not only
teaching the people to think, but teaching them to think clearly and

And now we may look for a moment at the Egyptian as an individual. To
do justice to this subject would need a volume, not a paragraph.
Fortunately the reader can turn to "Lane's Modern Egyptians," in the
pages of which he will find a wealth of detailed information needing
but little modification to bring it up to date, though it fails to
give a clear, well-defined idea of the Egyptian in his daily life. Let
me attempt to supply this deficiency, by saying that, according to his
class, the average Egyptian corresponds very closely with the average
Englishman. Roughly, the whole of the people may be divided into five
classes. First, the Ulema, the natural leaders of all the others;
secondly, the wealthy landowners and others of independent means;
thirdly, the "educated," mainly professional men and Government
servants; fourthly, the great middle class of small land and house
owners, lower grades of the Government services, merchants, and so
forth; fifthly, the working classes, including artisans, craftsmen,
labourers, and all who work for their living. Of each class a book
might be written, yet I may sum up in broad but accurate outline the
character of each by saying that it is in the main that of the same
class at home. Let me take the middle-class man. Getting through his
morning and the day's work, his one idea is to reach home. On his way
by train or tram he greets cordially his acquaintances, discusses with
them the news of the day, compares their business or official
experiences, growls at the shortcomings of the Government or the
tramways, deplores the growing cost of living, and laughs over the
latest joke or jest. Once home, he has his favourite easy-chair and
newspapers, and has an hour or so of rest with these, seasoned with
the chat of the harem as to the misdoings of the children or of the
servants, the coming of visitors, household finance, and a hundred
other topics. Then out for an hour or so to this favourite _café_,
where he reads the latest papers--Moslem and Christian--and has a game
or two of backgammon, all the while taking an active part in the brisk
fire of conversation going on around him. Then home again to the ease
and comfort of the harem, or possibly to entertain some visitors with
the unstinted hospitality of his race. Then supper, and then to bed.
And through all the day, at home, in his office, on his way to and
fro, if you could but follow his doings and his sayings, you would
find him in both a very close copy of the man of the same class at
home, interested in the same subjects, discussing the same matters,
laughing at the same type of jest, grumbling at the same grievances,
and withal a man anxious to please and be agreeable, and easily
pleased and conciliated. Freer than the Englishman in his amities and
friendships, ready to chat or joke with his barber or his baker, but,
like the Englishman, most at ease and enjoying himself best in his own
special circle.

And now I must hasten to a conclusion, and reply briefly to one or two
questions that my reader may possibly be inclined to ask.

What has the occupation done for the Egyptians?

It has secured them the personal freedom they so highly prize, it has
given them the liberty of getting, keeping, or spending wealth, a free
Press, a knowledge and keen appreciation of the advantages of a
properly organised Government, a clearer perception of the natural
"rights of man" and of the personal dignity of the humblest, and, as a
result of these, enlarged ambitions and aspirations, greater
independence of spirit, and a better conception of the interdependence
of each one upon his fellow-men.

Not much in mere words, but in the reality of the resulting whole an
entirely immeasurable amount of good--an amount of good no living man
can even approximately estimate, much less appreciate. Possibly some
of our children's children will be able to form some adequate
conception of its greatness. We of to-day can no more understand its
meaning than did the Barons at Runnymede understand the meaning of the
great charter they wrung from the unwilling John.

Has the occupation failed in any respect?

It has in two vitally important matters. It has not in any way
qualified the people or any class of the people to undertake the
government of the country. It has not educated the people, or done
anything whatever to ensure the permanency of the good that has been

As to these failures, I do not think that any other result could have
been attained under the circumstances that have prevailed. Lord
Cromer, as a sincere well-wisher of the people and a man of advanced
liberal opinion and progressive mind, was the man of all others to
work for these things directly and openly if it had been possible for
him to do so; but it was not possible, or has only become so since the
evacuation of Fachoda. Up to that event the only possible form of
Government by which the welfare of the country and of its people could
be secured, was that which Lord Cromer adopted--a "benevolent
despotism." No other form of Government could by any conceivable
possibility have attained the results that have been attained, and
that form of Government could only attain those results when in the
hands of a man such as Lord Cromer. None the less, as Mill has said, a
benevolent despotism "is an altogether false ideal.... Evil for evil,
a good despotism, in a country at all advanced in civilisation, is
more noxious than a bad one; for it is more relaxing and enervating to
the thoughts, feelings, and energies of the people." In Egypt,
however, this effect is modified by the attachment of the people to
the Turkish Empire, by their objection to non-Moslem rulers, and by
all the unhealthy influences of which I have spoken; but while the
great mass of the people would much prefer to see the administration
of the country entirely in the hands of Mahomedans, they have
absolutely no desire for any other change in the present form of the

To-day, in spite of all that has been done, Egypt in one most vital
matter stands absolutely far behind the position it occupied when the
English occupation commenced. Then there was a governing class in the
country--a "misgoverning" class, if you will, yet a class that had
some conception of, and experience in the art of governing; a class
the members of which were accustomed to bear the responsibility of
Ministers. To-day that class, and those men, have ceased to exist.

If there had been no foreign intervention at the time of Arabi's
revolt, if the Egyptians had been left to work out their own destiny,
there would in all probability have been a long period of wild
disorder and anarchy such as followed the French evacuation. That in
its turn would have been followed by the rise of a new Mahomed Ali.
The occurrence of this sequence of events would have been absolutely
certain and inevitable, the only doubtful point being how long the
anarchy might have lasted. As it was, there was no man in the country
competent to deal with the crisis. Nor was there one in Europe.
England was the only country that had a man willing to face the task,
and he undertook it under conditions that for a long time rendered it
an almost impossible one. The success Lord Cromer has attained is the
one and only justification of the occupation as far as its initiation
is concerned. In itself the occupation was essentially a blunder.
Having been undertaken, only British pluck and resolution could save
it from disaster, and even these, without a man like Lord Cromer to
guide them, would very certainly have failed. But the Egypt of 1906 is
not the Egypt of 1882. A new revolt, could we imagine its occurrence,
would now bring a party, not an individual, into power. There is no
man in the country who could by any possible combination of favouring
circumstances establish himself as a despotic ruler. Nor is there any
one party that could seize the government of the country and hold it.
Anarchy would therefore be inevitable, yet it would not be the
helpless, hopeless anarchy of former days, but that of rival parties
with more or less definite aims and more or less stable cohesion. The
only possible salvation of the country after the departure of the
French was the rise of a despot like Mahomed Ali. The only possible
salvation it could have after a collapse of the existing system, would
be the triumph of a party, or a renewed occupation by England or some
other Power. But omitting all consideration of the latter contingency,
the rivalry of parties would be a rivalry of systems; the men engaged
in it would fight--as do those of all parties--largely and mainly for
their own interests, but they would fight under the banner of some
principle through the profession or adoption of which they would seek
the support of the people, and they would, one and all, at least
profess a standard consistent in the main with European ideas. The
struggle would be a long and exhausting one. The country and the
people would suffer heavily, but in the end the Egyptian--if left to
do so--would work out his own salvation and a strong Government, built
upon sound and healthy lines, would start a new era. Unfortunately the
one condition necessary to the attainment of this result--the
non-interference of any outside Power--this one condition would be
wanting. Hence the collapse of the British occupation would be fatal
to all the interests of the country and its people. Nor would the
withdrawal of the occupation with all adequate precautions for the
preserval of order and a capable administration be much less
disastrous, if prior to that something has not been done to qualify
the people for self-government.

Were the English to leave Egypt to-morrow the people throughout the
country would hail the evacuation as they did the evacuation of the
French, and among the most blatant in celebrating it would be those
who would be the greatest losers by the change. Step by step all the
old abuses would be renewed. Individuals and classes alike would be
powerless to stay the flood of evil. Least and last of all the
Khedive, who would be the helpless puppet of the intriguing factions
that would fasten around him. No matter how pure his intentions, how
high his aim, how great his ability; no effort, no sacrifice on his
part would avail aught, for the one condition absolutely indispensable
to enable him to follow his own inclinations or to deal with his
people as a wise or benevolent ruler, would be wanting, since that one
condition would be the utter exclusion of all European influence from
his councils. It is not, therefore, the weakness or faults of the
Egyptians themselves that would render an evacuation disastrous, but
the selfishness of Europe, the very cause that to-day ensures the
prosperity of the country. Nor does it need any supposition of lust or
greed on the part of the Powers to bring about this evil issue. The
controlling hand of the British being withdrawn, it would at once
become the imperative duty of each of the Powers to seek to
strengthen its own position in the country; and let them strive as
earnestly as they might to do so in the most honest, most generous
manner, the clashing of interests would be such that none of them
could afford to withhold what pressure it could bring to bear in its
own favour. They, like Egypt itself, would be helpless. Nothing could
enable them to avoid the wrecking of the country save the immeasurable
impossibility of a common accord for the harmonising of their rival
claims. England must remain, therefore. Not to protect her own
interests in the country itself or in the Sudan, not that she may
control the Suez Canal, nor that she may carry the Cape railway to the
shores of the Mediterranean. All these she could do without a single
soldier or official in the country. She must remain to protect the
Egyptians, or rather that they may protect themselves. She must remain
that the Powers may, as I believe they most honestly desire to do,
preserve the common accord essential to the true interests of all;
that she may the better act as their intermediary in the prevention of
discord and ensure that each may benefit in just share from its own
contribution to the general welfare.

But if the cessation of the British occupation would thus inevitably
mean disaster, unhappily its continuance is not without the
possibility of evil. As I have shown, in spite of the earnest desire
of the Egyptian people for peaceful progress, there is much
dissatisfaction in the country. It amounts to-day to nothing more than
a want of harmony, but a Government that has not the confidence and
goodwill of the people it rules is like a seaman sailing into unknown
ports, ever liable to encounter unforeseen and unforeseeable dangers.
Apart from all other possibilities, and they are many, the continuance
of the occupation under a man less able than Lord Cromer to cope with
all the difficulties of the position might easily lead to endless
troubles. With a weak, rash, or obstinate man in Lord Cromer's
position, and an able diplomat, with a knowledge of Eastern ways, in
one of the other consulates, no one could foretell what the result
might be. England will, therefore, not have fulfilled her duty to the
Egyptians or to herself until she has taught the people to govern
themselves. That she may do this the people, not a class or section,
but the whole body of the people must be educated. There are some
among the Egyptians who have seen this, and there is strong reason to
believe that their views will ultimately prevail. Meanwhile schools
are being established throughout the country at the expense of private
individuals, and if they are marked by an anti-English bias, however
regrettable this may be, I am afraid it is but a natural result of the
existing conditions.

It must not be forgotten that the Government of Egypt to-day is
exactly the same in form and principle as that which existed before
the occupation. The Administration has been organised on sound lines,
but the Government is still that of an autocrat ruling through agents
responsible to him, and to him alone. In other words, it is
absolutely the worst form of government conceivable; the most
unstable, the most liable to disaster and calamity of every kind. As
Mill has said, the one of all others most tending to the degradation
of the people. So far, under the benign sway of Lord Cromer, it has
proved a beneficent institution, but that has been the accident, not
the property of its form, and as an accident it has been wholly
dependent upon the extraordinary combination of high abilities, and,
even more, the self-sacrificing zeal of Lord Cromer. Since the days of
the Caliphs no man that has ruled the land has ever had such absolute
power as Lord Cromer has had. With all the might of England to depend
upon, he has known how to secure the sanction of all Europe for his
work. Happily for Egypt and the Egyptians, he has sedulously sought to
use the unlimited power he has thus commanded solely for their good.
But it must be granted that, vast as has been the good he has wrought,
his task is incomplete, and must for ever remain so until the
Government of the country has been placed upon a footing that will
ensure the stability now wholly lacking.

       *       *       *       *       *

The preceding pages were already in type when Egypt and Europe alike
were startled by the wholly unexpected announcement of Lord Cromer's

For five-and-twenty years he had guided and shaped the destiny of the
country, and by steady, patient, self-sacrificing labour had brought
it from a condition of desperate disaster to one of stable prosperity
such as but few countries enjoy and none other has ever attained in
such a brief period of time. From first to last during those long
years of indefatigable effort he has striven to exercise the powers
entrusted to him with the most absolute impartiality and justice
towards all the many conflicting interests with which he has had to
deal, and all the nations of Europe have borne voluntary and ample
testimony to their appreciation of his services in this respect. Yet,
as was but just, in doing this he never for a moment forgot that the
most even-handed justice demanded that the Egyptians were in all cases
entitled to a preference wherever their interests and those of other
peoples in any way clashed. So markedly was this the governing
principle upon which he acted that "Cromer's pets" has long been in
Egypt a synonym for the "Egyptians." The mere knowledge that this has
been so has been one of the factors most potent for the welfare of the
people, and has been sufficient in itself to prevent a host of little
evils that would otherwise have tended to mar the perfection of his
work. Without ever deviating in the smallest particular from what
rigid justice might have dictated, Lord Cromer might have enhanced his
popularity with the European colonists in Egypt and with their
Governments in Europe, but he has never wavered or hesitated for a
moment in giving to Egypt and the Egyptians the first and strongest
claim wherever and whenever there has been a conflict of interests, or
wherever and whenever a concession to the interests of others might
even only possibly have a liability to injure or trespass upon those
of the Egyptians. And what is the return that this people have offered
him? Guided by men whose influence in the country is wholly an
influence for evil, they have largely refused to join in any
expression of thanks to Lord Cromer for his long and brilliant

It has been my object in writing this book to endeavour to promote
friendship and goodwill between Englishmen and Egyptians. I have tried
to bring into prominence the good points that I believe the Egyptian
to possess. For twelve years I have been an open advocate of an
autonomous government for Egypt, and I still believe that it is only
under such a government that the interests of the country and its
people can be ultimately secured, but, much as it may grieve my
Egyptian friends, I do not hesitate to say that their action in this
matter, apart from all else or anything else, demonstrates in the most
absolute manner the fact that they are not yet fit for self-government.
The very first qualification for a people who desire to govern
themselves is that they should be competent to weigh and value the
services of the men in whose hands the administration of the country
is placed or to be placed. A people who can see nothing in the
services of Lord Cromer worthy of their thanks are utterly incapable
of forming any accurate or reliable judgment upon the choice of
administrators, and therefore unfit for and incapable of self-government.
There is no room for doubt or discussion on the subject. I have
pointed out in the course of this work that the Egyptians have some
reason to be dissatisfied with various features of the occupation. For
these, as I have said, I do not think that either Lord Cromer or the
Government can be justly blamed. They are almost all the inevitable
incidents of the effort to plant Occidental civilisation in an
Oriental country. But neither these nor anything that has occurred can
in any way derogate from the fact that has been the most salient point
in the whole history of Lord Cromer's administration--that he has
persistently and consistently, in season and out of season, laboured
unceasingly with a single eye to the benefit of the Egyptians. If the
Egyptians are unable to see that this has been so, they are unable to
estimate the services of any administrator, and therefore unfit to
govern themselves.

Lord Cromer has himself been all through a steady advocate of an
autonomous government for Egypt, but he has seen that such a
government can, in the interests of the Egyptians themselves, as well
as in the interests of Europe, only be granted when, by the
self-education of the people, they shall have fitted themselves for
the task. I say self-education advisedly, for it is only by
self-education that the Egyptians or any other people can ever qualify
themselves to guide their own destinies. As I have said on a previous
page, I believe that if left to themselves the Egyptians could and
would work out a sound form of government for themselves, but the most
essential feature in the question of the future of Egypt is this--that
whoever undertakes to govern Egypt, whether the Egyptians themselves
or any other people, the government of the country must be one that
can and will govern it, not only with sufficient care and regard for
the interests of the people, but, with equal care and regard for the
interests of the European colonists and the other European interests
involved. It is the inability of Mr. Dicey and the other critics of
Lord Cromer to see this that stamps their writings and arguments with
futility. "Egypt for the Egyptians" in any literal interpretation of
the phrase is an idle dream. It is no more possible of realisation
than would be a cry of "the ocean for England."

It is, I think, Lord Cromer's belief that in time, if he would once
set himself the task of learning to govern on sound and healthy lines,
the Egyptian would become qualified to take charge of the destinies of
his country. If that time does not arrive it will be the fault of the
Egyptian himself. It is not England only but all Europe is ready and
willing to aid him in learning. No other people has ever had anything
like the same opportunity of self-advancement, and keenly as I
sympathise with them, warmly as I appreciate their good qualities, I
am assured that if they do not attain self-government the fault will
be their own and their own only. If they elect to be domineered over
by the Anti-Islamic "Nationalist" party, and to be false to their
country, their religion, and themselves, the fault is theirs, and it
is they who must bear the consequences.

The official statement that the administration is to be carried on by
Lord Cromer's successor in the same spirit and on the same lines as
those Lord Cromer has followed is the best guarantee that the
Egyptians or European nations interested in the country could have
that the magnificent work he has accomplished is not to be lost.

Years ago, in India, an engineer was busy putting the last finishing
touches to a great undertaking that had cost him years of thought and
labour. The success of his work seemed almost secured when the rising
floods of the rainy season, seizing on a weak and unprotected point,
threatened to wreck the whole. I trust I may never again behold such
awful agony of mind as that which almost crushed the unhappy man as he
gazed upon the roaring rush of the ruthless flood, slowly, surely
destroying the very foundations of his work.

Assuredly it would be a calamity of untold magnitude were the vastly
greater work of Lord Cromer to be imperilled for want of any
reasonable precaution!


  Abbass Pacha, 290

  Agitation in Egypt, 369

  Aim of all men the same, 186

  Alexandria, English fleet at, in 1798, 11
    Nelson arrives at, 37

  Ali Bey, Sultan of Egypt, 46

  _Al Moayyad_, Arabic newspaper, 321, 337
    teaching the people to think, 384

  Ambition, Egyptians regard it as folly, 183

  "Amnesty" as interpreted by the French, 240

  Anniversary of French Republic at Cairo, 155

  Anti-Egyptian and Anti-Islamic party in Egypt, 379

  Anti-English feeling of European colonists, 306

  Arab and Egyptian character contrasted, 41

  Arab Caliphate, Desire for, 33

  Arabic language, Egyptians and the, 132, 384
    Press in Egypt, 326

  Arab invasion, Effect of, 28

  Arabi's revolt, 389

  "Are they not our people?", 232, 237

  Armenians allied to European races, 18
    and the Boer War, 327

  Author, A famous Egyptian, 180

  Author's aim, _Preface_, 396
    criticisms of the French, 271, 272

  Azhar University defiled by the French, The, 170

  Bacchanalian festival at Cairo, A, 219

  Balloon at Cairo, 174

  Battle of Embabeh, or the Pyramids, 90
    Matarieh, 225
    Shebriss, 86
    the Nile, 138

  Bedouins, Character of the, 80
    plunder Egyptian fugitives, 102

  Bekir Pacha, Governor of Cairo, 48, 62

  "Benevolences" in Egypt, 113

  Berbereens, Character of, 373

  Bey, Value of the title, 49

  Bigotry of the Egyptians, Alleged, 249

  Birket el Feel, quarter of Cairo, 63, 166

  Birthday of the Prophet at Cairo, 140

  Bishop Horsley on the rights of the people, 115

  Boer War, opinions in Egypt, 327

  Bonaparte and the Egyptians, 71, 130, 144
    at Alexandria, 42, 64
    character of, 217
    claims to be inspired, 197
    fails to learn the lesson of the revolt, 170
    has a narrow escape, 154
    leaves Egypt, 219
    Luther greater than, 178
    the "Great,", 285
    "with his stockings half-down,", 286
    yields to the opposition of the people, 144

  Bonaparte's best deed for Egypt, 187
    blundering, 144-148, 265
    dream of an Eastern Empire, 109
    erroneous conception of the people, 71
    failure to understand the Egyptians, 144
    massacre of his prisoners, 206
    policy of cake or cane, 139
    proclamation, 68
      offensive to Moslems, 77
    professed friendship for Islam, 69
    suppression of free speech, 138
    triumphal entry into Cairo, 218

  Boulac besieged by the French, 229
    Fall of, 232
    the port of Cairo, 95

  Bribery in Egypt, 40

  British and Moslems, Friendship between, _Preface_
    Government, Folly of, 223
    _see_ English

  Brotherhood of mankind, 15

  Brutality of English laws in 1798, 241

  Brutal sentence, A, 262

  Cadi, or Chief of the Ulema, 160

  Cairenes, Character of, 10
    and French, Mutual satisfaction of, 107
    a stiffnecked people, 168
    attack the Cadi's house, 160
    plundered by Bedouins, 102
    resist the Mamaluk Beys, 113
    their "baptism of fire,", 169

  Cairo, a city of ineffable sadness, 290
    Disorder in, 129
    Improvements in, 9
    in 1798 safer than London, 128
    Lighting of streets in, 131
    night in the old town, 9
    Panic in, 98
    in time of Mamaluks, 97
    Reform of weights and measures in, 181

  Cap of Liberty in Cairo, The, 155

  Character of Egyptians,
    _see_ Egyptian

  Christian Missions, 353
    protection of vice, 269
    slaves in Africa, 50

  Christians and European civilisation, Eastern, 213
    better off than the Moslems, 245
    defended by Moslems, 62, 227, 245

  Christians in Cairo, Evil influence of, 199
      Treatment of, by Moslems, 137
      Two classes of, 58
    join Moslems in opposing French reforms, 158
    less oppressed than the Moslems, 200
    of Cairo and the French, 201
    Offensive conduct of, 137, 202
    responsible for the sufferings of the Moslems, 247

  Christ's philosophy, 192

  Church of Rome, Credulity in, 178

  Civilisation and Empire, incompatible aims, 273
    Eastern views of, 213
    Egyptian view of, 195
    in 1798, 148
    The highest, 380
    True, 196
    won with blood and tears, 215

  Cockade in Egypt, The French, 67, 142
    Gabarty on the wearing of the, 144

  Commune in Paris, 58

  Condition of Egyptians before the French invasion, 27

  Copts, or native Christians of Egypt, The, 59
    and Moslem Egyptians of same race, 59, 124
    Causes affecting the character of, 124
    their superiority to Moslem Egyptians, 124

  Corruption in Egypt, Official, 304

  Corsairs of the Barbary coast, 50

  Council of State at Cairo,
    _see_ Dewan

  Credulity, Egyptian and European 177, 178

  Creeds, Influence of, 201

    _see_ Lord Cromer

  "Cromer's pets," 395

  Crusades, Traditions of the, in Egypt, 49

  "Custom of the East, The," a false excuse, 240

  Cutting of the Khalig, ceremony at Cairo, 140, 219

  Daily life of the Egyptians, 385

  Dawn of the Modern period, 34, 271

  Demagogues in the East, 252

  Denshawi incident, The, 374

  Dervishes, or "Monks of Islam," 96

  Despotism, Mill on a benevolent, 388

  Dewan, or Council of State, 43, 48, 133
    Last official act of the Mamaluk, 63
    of Cairo suspended and reformed, 157
    reformed a second time, 197
    revived by General Menou, 264

  Discipline, glorious and inglorious, 206

  Discontent in Cairo under the French, 135

  Dress, The healthiest, in the East, 214

  Dupuy, Death of General, 165

  East, The glamour of the, 20

  Eastern Christians and European civilisation, 214
    ideas of justice and mercy, 253

  Eastern peoples chiefly divided by their religions, 256

  Easterns are led, not driven, 252

  Education in Egypt, 350

  Eed, The, or day of sacrifice, 207

  Egypt and the Powers, 391
    Condition of, in 1798, 46
    Foreign rulers of, 23
    in 1906 and 1882, compared, 389
    "for the Egyptians,", 398

  Egyptian, A brilliant, scholar, 180
    and Arab character contrasted, 41
    adaptability, 151
    a mystery to Europeans, 17
    anxious to please and easily pleased, 386
    credulity, 177
    desire for peaceful progress, 383
    "Fatalism,", 112, 124
    faults and failings, _Preface_
    fond of novelties, 175
    gratitude, 242, 334
    greatly misunderstood, _Preface_
    hero-worship, 189
    incapacity for self-government, 111, 396
    impulsiveness, 83
    "Ingratitude,", 185, 263
    lack of initiative, 363
    lax in their religion, 163, 249
    love of freedom, 123, 344
    loyalty, 263, 345
      to the Sultan and Islam, 30, 32, 72
    misunderstood by Bonaparte, 144
    national character not yet formed, 312
    naturally honest, 85
    not always tactless, 104
    not bigoted, 151
    reticence, 301
    self-control, 372, 380
    undergoing change, 382
    wrongly accused, 243
    The, as an individual, 385
    The, historian Gabarty,
      _see_ Gabarty
    history, The most interesting century in, 13
    Six great landmarks of, 25
      Three periods of, 22
    idea of civilisation, 195
    idea of freedom and liberty, 123, 145, 344
    ignorance of other countries, 34
    indifference to the invasion of Syria, 205
    standard of good and evil, 212
    reasoning illustrated, 39
    mosques monuments of shame, not of glory, 23
    newspapers, 376, 382
    opinion of England's duty in Egypt, 359
      of Bonaparte's government, 184
      of Bonaparte's proclamation, 69
      of the French, 195
      of English, how formed, 298, 300

  Egyptians accustomed to free speech, 139
    allied to Asiatic peoples, 18
    Causes affecting the character of, 117, 378
    and French after the revolt, 171
    and the Boer War, 327
    and their rulers, 73
    ask for Mamaluks as officials, 133
    begin to have a political existence, 28
    compared with the Anglo-Saxons, 115
    to Scotch Sabbatarians, 353
    Condition of, compared with that of French and English, 116
    their grievances under the Mamaluks, 145
    in 1798 better than that of the English, 115
    under the Arabs, 30
      Mamaluks, 73, 145
      Pharaohs, 27
      Turks, 31
    oppressed by Christians, 247
    difficulty in understanding Englishmen, 361
    distrustful of the English, 12
    divided in opinion, 382
    five classes of, 385
    Tourists' opinions of, 18
    uninfluenced by those of former times, Modern, 25
    Empire and civilisation incompatible aims, 273
    Links between ancient and modern, 22
    Philosophy of the, 192
    their attitude towards the French, 84
    their conversion to Islam, 28
    their sufferings due to Christians, 247
    tortured by the French, 130

  England's best gift to Egypt, 334
    duty to Egypt, 393
    strength in the East, 302

    and French rivalry, Effect of, 35
    and Islam, 381
    approaching Islamic ideals, 196
    aristocracy, Decay of the, 349
    cads, Evil influence of, 347
    Empire-makers, 347
    Government in 1798, 273
    must remain in Egypt, 392
    occupation, Newspaper attacks on, 383
    self-sufficiency, 151
    taxpayer's most costly luxury, 350
    Unpopularity of the, 347

  Englishmen imperfectly understood by Egyptians, 361
    in Egypt in 179, 34

  Europe and the East, 274
    of to-day and of a century ago, 241

  European and Egyptian cannot coalesce, 186
    and Oriental thought, 17
    civilisation in the East, Hall-mark of, 270
    colonists in Egypt, Anti-English feeling of, 306
    credulity, 177
    fear of epidemics, 208
    may study Orientals, How a, 19
    ignorance of life in the East, 150
    kindness and Egyptian gratitude, 242
    misconception of Egyptians, 319
    soldier in 1798, The, 108
    vice in Cairo, 128

  Europeans in Egypt, Influence of, 318

  Europeans, slaves to Moslem masters, 50

  "Even-handed Justice,", 258

  Evil-doing cannot be justified, 240

  Fachoda, Capt. Marchand at, 294

  "Faithless French, The," a Turkish phrase, 152

  Fanaticism of Egyptians, Alleged, 30, 249
    at Cairo and in Europe, 57
    due to spiritual leaders of the peoples, 61
    taught to Moslems by Christian missionaries, 354

  "Fatalism" in Egypt, 112, 124

  Franks or European Christians in Egypt, The, 59

  "Fraternity" in Egypt, 199

  French and Cairenes, mutual satisfaction of, 107
    in Egypt, 35
    and Mamaluk rule compared, 275
    and the Egyptian Christians, The, 201
    Arrival of the, 42
    Attitude of the people towards the, 70
    Author's criticisms of, 271
    Condition of, compared with that of the Egyptians, 116
    destroy public buildings in Cairo, 157
    distrusted by the people, 78
    enter Cairo, 107
    experts with Bonaparte, 134
    invasion, the starting-point of the modern period, 24
    Influence of the, 36
    leave Egypt, 267
    occupation, cause of its failure, 273
    Effect of, upon trade, 203
    Evil effects of, 267
    Good effects of, 270
    "Most important event" during, 209
    opinion of Egyptians, 71
    relations with Ireland and India, 37
    welcomed by the Christians of Cairo, 136

  Frenchmen in Egypt in 1798, 34
    of high ideals, 270

  Friendship between British and Moslems, _Preface_, 380

  Gabarty, Egyptian historian, 96, 181
    censures the Mahomedans, 96, 221
    character of his history, 209
    personal character, 179, 181
    his criticisms of Moslems and Christians, 96, 99, 221, 246
    origin and family, 180
    on the wearing of the cockade, 144
    praises the French, 175

  Gates of the Harahs in Cairo, 135

  Gordon riots in London, 57

  Governing class in Egypt extinct, 389

  Government by force, 251
    of Egypt in 1798, 42

  Governor of Cairo, 45

  Greeks and the English occupation, 306

  Haeckel and the Monists, 15

  Hall-mark of European civilisation, 270

  "Handyman, The," training of, 364

  Hero of civilisation, The great, 217

  Hero-worship of the Egyptians, 189

  Hindoos and their gods, 189

  Historians, Admissions of, 248
    Mistakes of the, 213, 243
    of Egypt, 268
    perplexed by Mahomed Ali, 284
      by the Copts, 124

  History, Character of true, 15
    Most interesting century in Egyptian, 13
    of Egypt, Early, 12
    Two kinds of, 27
    Unity of, 13

  Honest man, The, 270
    men and rogues, 85

  Horsley on the rights of the people, Bishop, 115

  Humanity, The lowest type of, 193

  Ibrahim Bey, Governor of Cairo, 46, 54, 93
    protects the Christians, 63

  Ideals, English and Oriental, 258
    Influence of, 196, 201

  Indian peoples incapable of self-government, 112
    Moslems' loyalty to the Sultan, 32
    sepoys in Egypt, 267

  Influence of French occupation upon the English occupation, 267

  "Ingratitude" of the Egyptians, 185, 272

  Inventor, A famous Egyptian, 180

  Irish rebels, Pursuit of, 57

  Islam, Despotism in, 78
    favourable to freedom, 30
    Fidelity of Egyptians to, 30, 33
    inconsistent with radicalism, 379
    Progressive thought natural to, 144
    Democratic spirit of, 77
    teaches self-respect, 200

  Islamic ideals being approached by England, 196
    spirit affects the Egyptians less than other peoples, 29

  Ismail Pacha, 292

  Jaffa, Massacre by the French at, 206

  Jews, Character of the, 126
    in Cairo, 249
    join the Moslems in opposing French reforms, 158

  Journalism of to-day, 323

  Justice and Mercy, Eastern idea of, 253
    Even-handed, 258
    under the French and the Mamaluks, 198

  Kasr el Aini Hospital, 48

  Khedive, difficulty of his position, The, 391

  Kleber succeeds Bonaparte, General, 220
    Assassination of, 259

  Knowledge in Egypt, Spread of, 356

  Koran, the "Word of God," The, 77, 258

  Korbag, its use in Egypt, 123

  Laboratory at Cairo, French, 176

  Law of retaliation, Moslem, 257

  Leaders of the people, 252

  Legislative Council of Egypt, 28

  Liberty, Egyptian ideas of, 123, 145, 344

  "Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity,", 130, 197, 243
    of Press in Egypt, 330

  Library at Cairo, French, 175
    in Cairo founded by an Egyptian, 181

  Lighting of London and Cairo in 1798, 131, 132

  Links between the Egyptians of the present and past, 22

  London, Safety in Cairo and in, 128

  Lord Cromer and the Press, 330
    Attack on, 376
    a well-wisher of the people, 387
    Egyptian Press on, 376
    his devotion to the Egyptians, 395
    his "pets,", 395
    his resignation, 394
    his work incomplete, 394

  Loyalty of Mohamedans to the Sultan, 281
    of Cairenes to their treaties, 235

  Luther greater than Bonaparte, 178

  Lying policy, The price of a, 285

  Mahars and Mangs of India, 14

  Mahomed Ali, an Arnout, 283
    and his successors, 275
      their influence on the people, 311
    Death of, 289
    essentially a European, 315
    his early history, 277
    impoverishes the people, 288
    his tomb, 290
    the "Great," 285

  Mamaluk and French role compared, 275
    Beys, their contempt for Europeans, 50
      their loyalty to the Sultan, 52

  Mamaluks, better than the French for the Egyptians, 184
    Character of, 44, 126
    and the Egyptians, The, 251

  Marchand at Fachoda, Captain, 294
    effect of his withdrawal, 307

  Massacre by Bonaparte at Jaffa, 206, 285
    of Christians proposed at Cairo, 56
      opposed by Egyptians, 82
      ordered, 226
    of Jews in Russia, 58
    of the Mamaluks, 285

  Mecca, The pilgrimage to, 209

  Menchawi Pacha, Trial of, 365

  Mercy and Justice, Eastern ideas of, 253

  Methodists' anxiety for salvation, 200

  "Ministers" and "Advisers,", 363

  Miracle, A modern, 178

  Moayyad newspaper, The,
    _see Al Moayyad_

  Mokattam newspaper, The, 336

  "Monks of Islam,", 96

  Morality, European and Oriental ideas of, 269

  Moslem and Christian persecutions contrasted, 61
    distrust of European friendship, 322
      to the Sultan, 281
    "pride,", 200
    sentiment outraged, 266

  Moslem treatment of Christians in Cairo, 244

  Moslems and Copts of Egypt of the same race, 124
    in Egypt more oppressed than Christians, 200
    protect Christians, 62, 227, 245

  Mosques destroyed by the French, 157

  Murad Bey, his character, 54
    Military Chief of the Mamaluks, 46

  Music, Effect of Arab, on the people, 96

  National character, Effect of circumstances on, 16

  "Nationalist" party, 378, 383

  Negroes and their leaders, 253

  Nelson at Alexandria, 37

  New era, Birthday of the, 309

  Newspaper attacks on the English occupation, 383

  Newspapers, Influence of Arabic, 384

  "No Popery" riots in London, 57

  Object of this book, _Preface_, 21, 396

  Occupation, Good done by the English, 386-7

  Official corruption, 304

  Officials in Egypt, Minor, 302
    Training of, 365

  Oriental and European thought, 17

  Orientals capable of high education, 18

  Orientals' difficulty in understanding Europeans, 18

  Panics in Europe and elsewhere, 100

  Pan-Islamism, 324

  Pan-Islamism the true interest of the Moslem world, _Preface_

  Peace, The people of Cairo refuse, 232
    price of, 237
    without honour, 197

  Persian deserts, The villagers of the, 13

  Pharaohs, Egypt under the, 27

  Philosophy, Christ's, the philosophy of the East, 192

  Pilgrimage to Mecca, The, 209

  Pitiable "Greatness,", 287

  Plague in Cairo, 156, 208

  Police, An infamous Chief of, 260

  Policy, Price of a lying, 285

  Politeness has a limit, Egyptian, 142

  Popular science in 1798, 176

  Poverty in Egypt and in India, 129
    in England and the East, 122

  Prayer, An omitted, 207

  Precision, French love of and Egyptian dislike to, 131

  Pro-English Press, 369, 371, 374-5

  Progress, a flight from evil, 215
    The great hindrance to, 318

  Progressive thought in Islam, 144

  Prosperity of Egypt under Said Pacha, 292

  Radicalism inconsistent with Islam, 379

  Ramadan, Fast of, 205

  Reform of weights and measures in Cairo, 181

  Reforms, French, opposed by Moslems, Christians, and Jews, 158
      how regarded by the Egyptians, 145
    in Cairo under Bonaparte, 130

  Reign of Terror in France, 58

  Religion the chief division among Orientals, 256

  Representative government not desired by the people of Egypt, 357

  Retaliation, The Moslem law of, 257

  Revolt of the Cairenes, 165

  "Rights of Man, The," in Cairo, 155

  Rise of the Nile feast in Cairo, The, 140, 219

  Rogues and honest men, 85

  Ruskin's parable of the children, 191

  Said Pacha, 291

  Sayed Mahomed Kerim, Governor of Alexandria, 40
    Execution of, 146

  Sayeds or Shereefs, Respect paid to, by Mahomedans, 40

  Scotch Sabbatarians, Egyptians compared to, 353

  Servants in Egypt, Character of, 373

  Sheikh Ali Youssef, 331

  Siege of Cairo, 217, 229

  Slaves, Christian, in Africa, 50

  Statesman's first study, 265

  Sultan and the Ulema, 281
    Moslem loyalty to, 281

  Survival of the unfittest, 189

  Syria, French invasion of, 204, 217

  Syrians accuse Moslems falsely, 204

  Tabah, the incident, 369

  Telescope of the Egyptians, Mental, 39

  Tewfick Pacha, 293

  Tombs destroyed by the French, 157

  Torture in Cairo under the French, 130, 240, 260

  Tourists' opinions of Easterns, 18

  Training of officials, 365

  Treasures that are ours for eternity, 192

  Turkish army arrives from Syria, 220
    conquest, Effects of, 31
    estimate of the French, 152

  Turks in Cairo, Outrageous conduct of, 222, 276

  Tyranny, Bonaparte's petty, 140
    in England, France, and Egypt, 117
    of Turkish troops, 222
    of the French in Egypt, 244, 264

  Ulema, The, advocates of the people's rights, 116, 357
    and the Sultan, 281
    authority of, 356
    beneficial influence of, 357
    Bonaparte's treatment of, 149
    character of, 50
    intercede for peace, 168
    their relations to the people, 51
      to the Mamaluks, 52
    the term defined, 50
    the true representatives of the people, 356

  Ungrateful people, An, 259

  Vice in Cairo under Consular protection, 128
    Open, in Moslem lands under Christian protection, 269

  Wine-shops in Cairo, 137

  Zikrs, religious chanting so called, 141


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       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber's note:

Archaic spelling and variations in spelling and hyphenation have been
retained except in obvious cases of typographical error.

Page 244: (And all this was done to "Our people" in virtue of the
"Amnesty"). The closing quotation mark after 'people' has been
supplied by the transcriber.

Page 405: Index item--Englishmen imperfectly understood by Egyptians,
361 in Egypt in 179 , 34.

There appears to be a digit missing after 179.

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