BASED on the treaties, firmans, and accomplished facts noticed in the previous chapter, the present Government of Egypt consists ofthe Khedive. The formal work of administration is carried on through a Privy Council and eight Ministers, nearly as originally organised by Mehemet All, who in the machinery of government as in most else revolutionised everything, and introduced a system of Ministersas of infantry and artilleryfashioned chiefly after European models. But in the hands of the present sovereign, as in those of his grandfather, councils and ministers are the mere agents of his personal will, with-out responsibilityexcept to himselfas without power. * From the negotiation of a treaty or a loan, to the approval of a contract for coals or machinery, he is cognisant of every detail of public business, and nothing above the importance of mere departmental routine is done without having first passed under his eye. His relation to and action upon the whole administration are, in fact, as direct as those of an English cabinet minister to and upon his own special branch of the public service, with the difference that, while the latter is responsible to Parliament and is largely dependent on a staff of permanent subordinates, the Khedivebarring only in what concerns foreigners–is simply absolute. In a word, from Alexandria to Wady-Halfa, beyond which he has delegated his authority to Gordon Pasha, his Highness not only reigns but governs.
The Prince who thus holds the whole reins of Egyptian administration in his own bands is, after Mehemet All, the most striking individuality in the modern history of the country. Born at Cairo in 1830, he inherited all the inexhaustible energy of his grandfather, without the sterner qualities of his father Ibrahim; but at an early age this was moderated by an excellent European education into an intellectual activity which, combined with real ability, soon after his return from Paris in 1849, made him the most prominent figure in Egyptian society, and quickly excited the jealousy of Abbas Pasha, who had then recently succeeded to the viceroyalty. As chief of the parti des princesa sort of family ” opposition” formed against Abbashe became especially obnoxious to that indolent but vicious bigot, who accordingly endeavored to crush him by fabricating against him a charge of murder, the failure of which only reacted on its author, and rendered Ismail more influential than ever. On the accession of Said Pasha, in 18M, he at once received a portfolio, and after having been sent to Paris and Rome on special missions, he acted as Regent during his uncle’s pilgrimage to Mecca in 1861 and his subsequent visit to Europe later in the same year. Early in 1862 he went to the Soudan as commander of an expedition sent to suppress an insurrection in the Upper Nubian provinces, and by a combination of tact, energy, and mercy, he completely succeeded with hardly any bloodshed. Said Pasha died on January 18th, 1863, and the destinies of Egypt passed into the hands of the Prince who had thus so well earned his spurs, and has since so enormously increased both her trade and her debt.
He had already a definite policy of government, and in replying, on the morrow of his accession, to the congratulations of the foreign diplomatic agents, he indicated its chief lines by promising an improved and liberalised ad-ministration, and the energetic promotion of the material interests of the country. If, in the one important matter of finance, “the ample proposition that hope made” has, till lately, “failed in its promised largeness,” it will be seen how substantially, in nearly all else, the pledge then given has been redeemed. Indefatigable energy, sound judgment, and administrative ability, applied to the management of his private estates, had already made his Highness the wealthiest landowner in Egypt, and the same qualities now exerted in the higher work of governing the country speedily bore corresponding fruit in the ex-tension of public works, the growth of the revenue, and the rapid expansion of both the inland and foreign trade. Said Pasha had irretrievably committed the Government to the Suez Canal, but the new Viceroy promptly repudiated one most mischievous obligation imposed by thatfor Egyptdisastrous concession, by stopping the monthly conscription of 20,000 men, which, at ruinous cost to the country, supplied M. Lesseps with corvée labour for his work. He had, indeed, to make heavy compensation for this act, equally of humanity and sound economy ; but the relief to the Fellahs was immense, and its effects were soon visible in extended and more productive cultivation in all the districts from which this army of forced labourers had been drawn. His zeal, however, for material progress carried him farther and faster than the re-sources of the country could profitably bear, concurrently with other heavy drains. Commerce and revenue developed rapidly, but canals and railroads outstripped both, and continued expenditure for the same purposesupplemented by further large disbursements for the Suez Canal, by blackmail to Stamboul, and usurious interest on every borrowed poundgradually swelled the small debt-legacy left by Said Pasha into the bloated total that now half smothers Egyptian credit. But, personally, the Khedive has been much less to blame for this result than it has been the’ fashion to assume, and succeeding chapters will show how entirely he is to be credited with the enormous material development that can, in any case, be set against it. The bad inheritance of the Canal, which preponderant French influence rendered so costly, was no fault of his ; and as little could he resist, or be held responsible for, the forced donatives to Constantinople which annually exceeded the treaty tribute. It may be said that with these inevitable drains on the Treasury he should have spent less on public works ; but if he had done so, Egypt would be still pretty much where Said Pasha left her ; whereas she now possesses railways, new canals, docks, harbours, and telegraphs, which,in respect of these potent aids to national progress, place her abreast of most second-class European States, and. which, at all events, have cost more than the net proceeds of her whole foreign debt. The shortest sketch of his Highness’s personal share in the administration, and of the average measure of official work he labours through almost every day of the year, will dispose of another common fallacythat his life is that of a modern Sardanapalus,
The various Ministries are scattered within a radius of less than a mile from the palace of Abdeen, where the Khedive now generally resides, except during the hottest weeks of summer, when he crosses to Ghizereh, on the western bank of the Nile. Abdeen itself is a spacious but architecturally modest building, one wing of which is wholly devoted to Government offices, and to the reception-rooms in which his Highness gives occasional dinners and concerts to the official and other foreign society of Cairo and Alexandria. In this, too, is the small suite of apartments on the first floor, in one of which his Highness transacts business and receives his visitors, within call of his private secretary in an adjoining cabinet, and of a couple of Arab chasseurs on the stair-landing outside. The chamber has no pretension whatever to splendour of furniture or decoration, a thick Persian carpet, a damask-covered divan, a few chairs upholstered to match, with window-curtains of the same material, half a dozen crystal sconces round the arabesqued walls, and a small gilt table behind which the Prince himself sits, forming the ensemble. Here his Highness takes his place every morning about eight o’clock, and receives first his sonswho are now respectively President of the Privy Council and Ministers of Finance, War, and Public Worksand, after them, such of the other Ministers and chief functionaries as may have occasion to consult him or have been summoned to an audience. Then, on till noon, follow receptions of the Consuls-General and such other foreigners as have, or have not, received Consular introduction, and desire to see the great man either to gratify a traveller’s curiosity or to propose a contract. At noonwhich is announced by gun-fire from the Citadelhis Highness retires for an hour to breakfast, and thence afterwards, except on the rare afternoons. when he takes a couple of hours’ drive in a modest two-horse brougham or parouche down the Shoobra or Abbasieh road, he is again at his post, giving more audiences and transacting every sort of miscellaneous business till 7 p.m., when another hour is given to dinner, after which, if the day’s work has been got through, he spends two or three hours, either back in the same room or on the balcony in the balmy Cairene night, smoking and chatting affably with such of the Ministers or others who have the libre entrée as may drop in, and then to bed about eleven o’ clockor, if there be still business to be done, he again works at it from after dinner till midnight, or even later, with the whole staff of secretaries, chamberlains, and other officials kept at their posts till he finally retires for the night. During the twelve or fourteen hours thus given to positive work for certainly more than 300 days a year, there is, as has been said, hardly a detail of public business above the merest routine on which he is not consulted, and that he does not personally direct. He is, in fact, both sovereign and Minister in oneseeing everything, knowing everything, and ordering everything, for himself ; the titular heads of departments being merely so many chefs de cabinet, who do little more than register and execute his will.
The readiness with which his Highness receives almost everybody is one of the incidents of a visit to Cairo that most surprises and gratifies a stranger. You inscribe your name in a visitor’s book in the room of the Assistant-Master of the Ceremonies downstairs, and if you have the shadow of a fair pretext for an audience you are either ushered up after a short delay, or a time is fixed for your reception later. His Highness speaks French like a Parisian, and receives his visitor with a courtesy and affability that at once set him at his ease, rising as he approaches, and motioning him either to a seat on the divan or to a chair near his own, according to the measure of consideration intended to be shown. Be you engineer, merchant, journalist, politician, practical agriculturist, or almost no matter what else, you will soon feel that you have met your match in special intelligence and information ; while as regards Egypt itself, you will find that his Highness understands absolutely everything, from the niceties of its relation to the Porte to the best rotation of crops or the latest Liverpool price of “Fair Middling.” How he has found time to acquire this encyclopaedic information is a marvel ; but there it is on almost every subject, as if he were a specialist in each. The audience over, you retire with the compelled conviction that if an ” intelligent despotism” be under any circumstances the best form of government, Egypt could not well have a better autocrat than her present Khedive. You carry away, too, the feeling, that practically acute as he may be in all the details of business, the man is essentially a grand seigneur, full of a high personal pride, and animated by a dynastic ambition which is but thinly veiled by the tone of loyal respect in which he always speaks of the Porte. His Highness is now in his forty-seventh year, below the middle height, stout though not at all unwieldy, and with nothing of an Eastern but the native dignity, in his easy and polished manners. ” But (quite accurately wrote a recent interviewer) the eye is still clear and bright, and the mouth and jaw are those of a strong and deter-mined character.” There is essentially nothing weak about the man himself and, whatever may be its other defects, weakness is also assuredly the last term that can be applied to his administration.
The rule thus exercised is obviously much more personal and autocratic than that of either Sultan or Czar, It would be easy to indicate its disadvantages ; but on the whole it is suited to the country, and it may be doubted if ever in modern times Egypt has been so well governed as at present. The central machinery through which his Highness works comprises, as has been said, a Privy Council (mejlis khossoussi) and eight different Ministries. The first of these, over which Prince Mehemet Tewfik Pasha, the heir-apparent, presides, consists of the Ministers and eight or nine other high functionaries, including the Sheikh-ul-Islam, who is now no longer sent from Constantinople but, like the chief Cadi, is named direct by the Khedive from amongst the native Ulema. The functions of the Council are to examine and report to his Highness on the budgets and other measures of the various departments, and to act generally as a court of administrative review, whose decisions, when confirmed by the Khedive, are final. Its duties and powers are closely analogous to those which in Russia are divided between the “Council of the Empire” and the “Directing Senate,” the ultimate executive authority centring at Cairo, as at St. Petersburg, in the sovereignwith the personal difference only that in the latter the “Private Cabinet” relieves the Czar of the work which in Egypt is done by the Khedive himself.
Of the Ministries, that of Finance acquired an altogether preponderant rank and power under the late Ismail Pasha Sadyk. For four or five years preceding his fall, the “Moufettish” had been virtual Grand Vizier of Egypt, the one exception among his colleagues whoso great was his personal influence with the Khedive–acted in his own department almost independently of his master, and usurped a right of interference in almost every other. Al-though the provincial administration is properly under the Minister of the Interior then and still Prince Mehemet Tewfik PashaIsmail Sadyk virtually named every governor and sub-governor and most of even the lower officials throughout the country, levying blackmail from each on his appointment, and exercising nearly absolute authority over the whole up to the day before his fall.* In every despotic Government, the Minister who holds the national purse-strings must necessarily wield an exceptional influence ; but in this case influence had grown into almost independent power, and, as Sadyk wished, so his master permitted it to be in nearly the whole financial administration of the country. Originally a fellah himself, his knowledge of the class enabled him to squeeze revenue out of them when every one else failed, and from Alexandria to Khartoum his name had become feared hardly less than that of the Khedive himself. The financial mal-administration of recent years was, therefore, almost entirely his personal work ; and more than one loan-monger could testify to bribes offered and accepted which would sufficiently explain the onerous terms on which their successive operations were carried through. So intelligent and autocratic a ruler as the Khedive can-not escape all share of blame for the result ; since he must have either directly or tacitly approved the action of his Minister, and in either case must be held ultimately responsible for it. In Alexandria and Cairo, however, it was none the less notorious that the prime author of and profiter by the system of financing which so disastrously affected Egyptian credit was the Moufettish himself ; and his sudden fall in November last was, therefore, interpreted as a break with that vicious policy, and has since in fact been followed by a radical change in the character as in the personnel of the Treasury administration. This last now consists of Prince Hussein Pasha, the second son of the Khedive, as Minister, assisted by a wekil, Omer Pasha, for the routine work of the department ; of a Finance Committee, comprising the Minister and two English and French Controllers-general * (whose functions will be described in detail in a subsequent chapter) ; and of a Public Debt Commissioncomposed of foreigners t recommended by their respective Governmentswhich receives and applies the revenue assigned for payment of the debt annuities. The Minister himself, though only in his twenty-fifth year, has already had considerable official experience, and, to a large share of his father’s energy and ability, adds the advantages of a very complete European education. Thus organised, the department is practically administered by high-class European functionaries, and it is hardly too much to say that, if these do their duty, it offers nearly as effective guarantees for the control of the national revenue as our own English Exchequer.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs ranks next, rather in accordance with the grade of this department in other Governments than, as yet, from the importance of its particular functions. As Egypt does not yet enjoy the jus legations, she maintains no political agents abroad, and the foreign Powers are represented in Cairo only by Diplomatic Agents and Consuls-General, whose chief du-ties relate to trade and the “protection” of their resident countrymen under the still technically surviving Capitulations.* But here again, although all purely formal business of this kind passes through the Ministry, every matter of the least importance is discussed and settled by the Agents directly with the Khedive himself. With this department has recently been associated the Ministry of Justice, to which the opening of the new international courts has given increased importance. It also exercises administrative control over the native tribunals, the machinery and procedure of which have been greatly improved during the past two or three years. The use of the new European code compiled for, and now followed by, the international courts is being gradually introduced, Christian evidence is everywhere received, and altogether the work of native judicial reform is making real progress. The actual Minister of the joint departments is Sherif Pashaby birth a Circassianwho last year replaced Nubar Pasha, after having previously held several other high posts. Like most of his present col-leagues he was educated in Europe, and in language, manners, and religious liberality, is a Parisian jusqu’au bout des ongles. His wife is the daughter of the famous French Colonel Séve, who entered the service of Mehemet All, and, as Soliman Pasha, Europeanised his army, and afterwards played a prominent part in his campaigns against the Porte.
The Ministry of the Interiorof which the heir-apparent is the present titular chiefis charged with the general provincial administration, and, except where crossed by the Treasury in matters relating to the revenue, and by the Ministries of Justice and Public Instruction in what concerns the native tribunals and the schools, exercises authority over all mudirs, sub – governors, and other provincial functionaries, subject only to the direct ingérence of the Khedive himself in every mat-ter of importance. His presidency of this department for the past five or six years has given Prince Mehemet Tewfik valuable training in the work of practical government, and the intelligent industry with which he labours daily at its duties augurs well for his discharge of higher functions when his turn for them comes. He speaks and writes French like a Frenchman, and is perfectly conversant with European politics and general affairs.
The Ministry of War, under Prince Hassan Pasha, his Highness’s third sonof whose general and professional education it is enough to say that he is an Oxford D.C.L., and a major in the Prussian armydisposes of a budget of nearly 800, 0001. a year, and is, therefore, the most costly, if not the most important, branch of the Egyptian public service. The army has been no exception to the general growth which has characterised nearly all the interests of the country during the present reign. At the death of Said Pasha its peace strength had fallen to 3,000, and its nominal war footing to 15,000 men. One of the first cares of the present ruler was to reorganise this poor force, and to increase it to the full effective of 18,000 men, stipulated by the convention of 1841. Later in 1866, a new firman authorised his Highness to raise this maximum to 30,000, which was further increased by an ingenious short-service system, under which more than half the force, after being thoroughly drilled, was sent home on unlimited furlough and replaced by fresh recruits, who in turn, after a year or eighteen months’ service, were similarly relieved by others. In 1872, however, all limitation of his Highness’s military prerogative was removed, and, with these ample reserves to fill up its cadres, the force was soon raised to an effective of 30,000 men, which may now be regarded as its average peace strength, although at present less than half this number are actually with the colours.* As now organised, the regular army consists of 18 regiments of infantry (two of which are negroes from the Soudan) of three battalions each, and of four battalions of rifles distributed among the 4th, 8th, 12th, and 16th regiments, of four regiments of cavalry, of six squadrons each ; of four regiments of field artillery of six batteries eachtwo mounted and four on foot, and of three regiments of garrison artillery, and three battalions of pioneers. The number of men in these regiments and batteries varies with the exigencies of the service, and (it may be added) with the state of the military chest. But although not more than 20,000 may now be with the colours, the regimental cadres of commissioned and non-commissioned officers are kept up for an army of 80,000 men of all arms, to which effective strength the force could be raised within a couple of months. The infantry is armed with Remington rifles (of which 200,000 additional stand are in store) ; the cavalry partly with revolver and lance, and partly with sabre and carbine ; the field artillery with 100 Krupp and 50 smooth-bore guns, and the garrison batteries partly with Krupp and partly with 8 and 10-inch Wahrendroff gunsbesides which there are nearly 300 smooth-bore pieces available for field and garrison service. The powder-mills and cartridge factories near Cairo, furnished with the best modern machinery, provide an ample store of ammunition for these various arms of the service, and so render the whole practically independent of a foreign supply. In addition to this full war strength of the regular army, there is a reserve of about 30,000 men, who have served, actually or on furlough, their full time with the coloursfive years in the infantry, six in the cavalry, or seven in the artillery, but are liable to seven years’ further service as redifs; and an irregular, or Bashi-bazouk, contingent of 60,000 mounted Bedoween under their own chiefs, who, like the Russian Cossacks, find their own arms and horses. This considerable army is recruited by conscriptionnot by fixed annual contingents, but by irregular levies every two or three years as men are requiredto which all Egyptians, of whatever rank or religion, are liable. The inhabitants of Cairo and. Alexandria, like those of Constantinople, are exempt in virtue of an old chartered privilege. But payment of a special annual tax also exempts any particular family, and for a mode-rate sum any recruit may purchase his discharge after a year’s service, but he is still liable to enrolment in the reserve. Unlike the Turkish army, therefore, that of Egypt includes Mussulmans, Christians (of two or three sects), and Jews ; and so practically solves the problem of mixed military service which has professedly so much embarrassed the Porte. The various creeds are found to ” regiment” in perfect harmony, and in respect of treatment and promotion no difference whatever is made between them. The chief weakness of the Egyptian army is, however, its still defective organisation, notwithstanding the considerable improvement that has been effected in this direction since 1872, and, what would be nearly fatal to its efficiency in service anywhere out of Egyptits complete want of military train. Not only, too, are there no distinct territorial commands, but in practice there is no organisation into brigades and divisions. It has, nevertheless, one great advantage over the Turkish army, in that the whole of its officers have received a thorough professional educationfirst in the Polytechnic, and then in the strictly military schools in Cairo, through which every one of them must creditably pass before receiving a sub-lieutenant’s commission. Every subsequent step of promotion also involves a distinct examination, which the son of even the most influential Minister cannot shirk. There is thus not now an illiterate officer in the whole Egyptian army, while they may still be counted by scores in that of the Porte. Even in the non-commissioned ranks, also, every corporal must at least read and write, and must similarly pass a higher examination before he becomes sergeant. The drill and tactics of the whole force are French, modified within the last three or four years by such changestaught by Prussian instructorsas the French themselves have adopted from the Germans since the war of 1870. Several American officers, the remains of a numerous staff engaged shortly after the close of the Confederate war, are still in the pay of the Khedive ; but excepting General Stone, who as Chief of the Staff has rendered good service in improving the organisation and equipment of the army, and General Loring, who has charge of the forts along the Mediterranean, they occupy only subordinate posts, and can hardly be said to be actively employed. The present commander-in-chief is Ratib Pasha, a Circassian, who succeeded Prince Hassan on the translation of the latter, last year, to the Ministry of War.
Since the veto put by the Porte, during the jealous Vizierate of A’ ali Pasha, on the Khedive’s possession of ironclads, the Egyptian navy no longer reckons in any estimate of the country’ s military resources. A Ministry of the Marine is, however, still kept upthe present chief of which is Kassim Pashabut as the cost of the service is comprised in the Budget of the Ministry of War, it cannot be separately stated. The present small fleet (all wooden and unarmoured) consists of two screw-frigates, a couple of corvettes, four gunboats, two sloops, and one despatch-boat, besides three large Viceregal yachts which also fly the naval pennant. The whole of these vessels are now of little value except as transports–a service of which happily Egypt has little need, and for which the vessels of the governmental ” Khedivieh Steam Navigation Company ” would at all times suffice at less cost to the State. This latter enterprise is the outcome of a previous one called the ” Azizieh Misri Company,” which, origin-ally formed as a joint-stock adventure in 1862, was bought up seven years later by the Government, and has since been continued under its present name as a commercial and mail service in the Mediterranean, the Red Sea, and (during the winter season) on the Nile between Cairo and Assouan. The sea-going fleet of the Company consists of twenty vessels, ranging in size from 1,900 to 400 tons register ; of these, ten work a regular service between Alexandria and Constantinople, touching at the other chief ports of the Levant, and for both cargo and passengers compete not unsuccessfully with the vessels of the French Messageries and. the Austrian Lloyds. Most of their commanders and all their pilots are Europeans, and their engineers Englishmen, who receive the same scale of pay and allowances as those of the Peninsular and Oriental Company’s fleet.* A similar fortnightly or monthly service (according to the season) is maintained in the Red Sea, between Suez, Djeddah, Souakim, Massowah, and (infrequently) Aden, Zeyla, and Berbera, while from November till March, a Nile passenger boat leaves Boulak fortnightly for Assouan, making the run to the Cataract and back in three weeks.
The Ministry of Commerce is a creation of last year, when, in view of the great development of commerce and of the felt want of a better system of trade statistics and administrative organisation, the Khedive decided on forming a new department, nearly on the model of our British Board of Trade. All commercial business had previously been under the control of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, but was then transferred to a special Minister, assisted by two English officials recommended to his Highness by our Foreign Office. One of these appointments was not a success, and has since terminated in the resignation of the gentleman concerned ; his colleague (Mr. Acton) has also been transferred to other functions, but has been replaced by Mr. Noel Malan, another ex-officer of the Board of Trade, who is rendering useful service in the direction of the foreign section of the department. Raghib Pasha, the new Ministerby birth a Sciote Greek, sold into Egypt after the massacre of 1822is said to be au able administrator, and enjoys a high personal char. acter. He has, however, the disadvantage of being the only holder of a portfolio who does not speak English or French,Greek, Turkish and Arabic being the only tongues he knows.
Public Works and Agriculture form a joint department, nominally under Prince Ibrahim Pasha, the fourth son of the Khedive, but in reality administered by his mustscharsAll Pasha Moubarek, for Public Works (of which also he is chief engineer), and Moukhtat Pasha, for Agri-culture. The first section of this ministry has charge of all the canals, telegraphs, bridges, river embankments and Upper Egypt railwaysthose below and east of Cairo being now controlled by the new special administration while the latter exercises such supervision over the methods of husbandry and the distribution and rotation of crops as can be officially brought to bear on the staple industry of the country. All Pasha Moubarek received a very complete education in the École Polytechnique of Paris, and is said to be a clever practical as well as theoretical engineer.
Until last year the Ministries of Public Instruction and the Wakfs were similarly united under one chief (as they still are under the same roof), but the departments were then separated, and Riaz Pasha was named Minister of Education, with Hussein Pasha Fehmy as Director of the Wakfs. In another chapter some account will be given of the present state of public instruction in Egypt, and it will suffice therefore to say here that, while the primary credit of the great progress made during recent years is due to the enlightened liberality of the Khedive himself, very much of it has also been immediately owing to the intelligence and administrative ability of the present Minister and his predecessor (Ali Pasha Moubarek) and of their indefatigable inspector-general Dor Bey, a Swiss gentleman of long educational training and experience, who is perhaps the ablest European specialist now in the Egyptian service. It is, however, to be regretted that the economies compelled by last year’s financial reforms have extended to this department, involving a reduction of nearly 10, 000 L. in its budget, which, though generously supplemented from the privy purse of the Khedive, can still badly afford the retrenchment. The Ministry of War could have better spared the amount, but in the present political situation its particular estimates are not likely to be cut down.
The sub-departments of the Customs and the Post Office are the only other branches of the central administration that call for special notice. Up till last year, the reforms in the organisation and working of the former of these did not keep pace with its increasing revenue importance. Some few checks on fraud had indeed been introduced, but, barring these, the personal machinery and the system of accounts remained very much as Mehemet Ali left them thirty years ago, when the trade of the country was less than a fifth of its present total. W hen, therefore, introducing a large European element into the administration, the Khedive decided on applying the re-form in full to this department, andas in the case of othersrequested the English Foreign Office to send him a thoroughly able officer to reorganise and assume the control of the whole service. Mr. Scrivenour, an experienced functionary of the London Customs, who had already fulfilled similar missions with success in Portugal and Brazil, was recommended to his Highness, and in October last undertook this new labour of Herculesfor such the chaos and organised corruption which he soon discovered showed it to be. The old (but not exclusively) Eastern systemcarried to its extreme by the late Moufettishof selling all such posts to those who paid highest for them, or who could command the most backstair influence, had long been followed in this branch of the service, without even a pretence of reference to the fitness of the nominee, and with all the resultant abuses that might be expected. The nominal salaries of the whole staff, from the chief director to the lowest searcher, were absurdly low, but the understanding was clearand, it need hardly be said, acted uponthat, to say nothing of direct peculation of the revenue, a fraudulent form of perquisite called “extra money” and the time-honoured backsheesh, should make up for the poor official pay. This ” extra money” payment has a precedent in the practice of Western Custom-houses, where an additional but regularly tariffed charge is made for attendance at extra-official hours and other special facilities in the clearance of goods ; but in Alexandria it was made to cover gross frauds on the revenue, for which the merchant was morally quite as much to blame as the dishonest official. Thus, to illustrate the common practice by an incident of actual occurrence : it was till lately an every-day matter to declare and pass, say, a case of silk worth 3001. as one of cheap cotton stuff worth 30s.a ” facility” for which the importer paid a bribe of a sovereign to the examining officer, instead of a proper duty of 231. 18s. to the Treasury ; and so in countless other analogous cases. Back sheesh, again, similarly covered unfair preferences in the clearance of goods, those who paid most having a first turn without regard to the time of landing, and obtained an under-valuing (the duty on imports being nearly in all cases ad valorem) proportioned to the bribe given. Nor was this all : to these purely administrative abuses, smuggling added another heavy source of fraud on the revenue ; and here the new director encountered not merely native dishonesty, but the now gross anachronism of the Capitulations and the more modem ” treaty rights ” of foreign residents in the countryas abusive as anything in the old conventions. In Turkey, where the same Capitulations and treaties are in force, the Customs authorities have and practise the right of visiting all vessels entering Ottoman harbours, and of keeping officers on board till their cargo is landed. In Egypt, on the contrary, Consular usurpation has overridden this prerogative, and the Customs agents can only watch the discharge and seize the contraband stuff when it is actually on shore. For not only- are foreign ships exempt from search, but the privilege is claimed by the Consulates even for fishing-boats registered as such in Egypt, and for common shore boats owned by Maltese, Greeks, Italians, e tutti quanti, by whom this illicit trade is chiefly carried on. The result has been an amount of smuggling, especially of tobacco, almost under the very eyes of the helpless native authorities, which has had probably no parallel anywhere in Europe. Nor has this been at all confined to the harbour of Alexandria. In the absence of anything worth the name of a coastguard, cargoes are constantly landed in broad daylight at points along the extensive line of coast, or passed over the Syrian land frontier, andwith in many cases the connivance of the native officialsare “run ” into the nearest town without paying toll to either Customs or octroi. Foreigners, again, who grow tobacco in the country claim exemption, under the Capitulations, from paying the special taxes levied on the crop from native farmers, and so further contribute to the heavy deficit that has hitherto resulted in the revenue estimates for this particular article. Another fruitful source of abuse has been the system on which the accounts of the department have been keptperfect in their caligraphy and tabulation, but intricate in a fashion which only their Coptic keepers could understand, and which made easy the concealment of almost any fraud. In this respect, as before remarked, no improvement has been effected since, nor probably from long before, the days of Mehemet Ali ; so that, what with the abuses just noted which have kept revenue out of the department, and this clerical means of glossing over frauds committed in its actual receipts, it is not to be wondered at that the Customs revenue of the country has not grown pari passu with its general material development.
But these were only some of the time-consecrated abuses of the service with which the new English director had to grapple on entering office in November last. He received, however, full powers from the Khedive, and has since been loyally supported by his Highness in carrying out the needful reforms, with the result that great improvement has already been effected in the constitution, working, and fiscal outcome of the department. After fully acquainting himself with the situation, he dismissed a, host of corrupt or incapable employés, and replaced them by fewer but carefully chosen and better paid substitutes ; introduced an efficient system of checks ; and proclaimed open war against smuggling, both in the harbour of Alexandria and along the coast. In the matter of accounts, the old system has been greatly simplified ; and for the first time in the history of the service, receipts are given for all moneys paid, and a rigorous daily audit made of the whole, so that a fraud can now be at once detected and traced to its source. But correction of abuses within the department has been much easier than suppression of contraband outside, and in this Mr. Scrivenour has had to cope not merely with the smugglers themselves but also with their protecting Consulates. Here, however, his nationality has enabled him to dare much that no mere native official of any rank could have attempted. He has established a patrol service along the coast, which, in concert with a couple of cruisers at sea, has immensely increased the difficulties of the illicit trade, and disregarding the letter of Capitulation law as abusively misread in Egypthe has on several occasions searched both fishing and shore boats suspected of having contraband on board. Notwithstanding the recent stagnation of trade, the result of these and other reforms* has already been to greatly increase the revenue of the department, with the certainty of still further augmentation as they are extended. Under the old system, it was estimated that not more than 3 of the 8 per cent. receivable on imports reached the Treasury : this has already grown to 5 per cent., and there is every reason to hope that before the present year is out nearly the whole will be honestly encashed.
But, while complete reform of the Customs service is thus impeded by anachronistic treaty difficulties, the Post Office, which is not so trammelledits liberty of action being now recognised by the Convention of Berne, of which Egypt is one of the signatory Governmentshas made rapid strides towards a European standard of organisation and efficiency. This, which is one of the youngest branches of the Egyptian administration, was worked as a private enterprise up to 1865, when it was purchased by the Government, with its direction, how-ever, being continued in the hands of its old manager, Signor Muzzi, an Italian, subsequently promoted to the rank of Bey. Considerable improvements were introduced into the service in respect of safety and rapidity of communication, but financially it showed regular annual deficits, in the face of a steady increase in the number of letters and ” groups” carried.* As part, therefore, of his new scheme of general administrative reform, the Khedive last year replaced Muzzi Bey by Mr. Caillard, an officer of great special ability and long experience in St. Martin’sle-Grand, and, as in the case 6f Mr. Scrivenour at the Custom-house, gave him plenary powers to re-organise the service as he thought fit. Like his colleague in the Customs, the new director struck at the root of most of the old abuses, by dismissing nearly one-fourth of the whole personnel and replacing many of the remainder, while reducing also most of the other working expenses by nearly 50 per cent. In Europe such sweeping surgery would have seriously crippled the department, but here it had the opposite effect. It had been the old Eastern story of many being employed to do badly the proper work of a few at the cost of nominally low pay, but of grave frauds on both the Government and the public. The result has already been a very positive improvement in the working of the service, and the conversion of the old deficit into a considerable surplus. The staff of the department, which now comprises in all about 380 persons, exclusive of 342 camel-drivers and couriers, for the desert service is still a very motley one, consisting chiefly of Italians, native Egyptians, and Syrians, with a sprinkling of French, Greeks, Austrians, and Russians. The new director-general is endeavouring as far as possible to re-place these foreign elements by natives ; but as yet his experience is that neither Arab, Copt, nor Turk, though in many instances possessed of great intellectual suppleness, can be safely trusted with positions of independent responsibility. Associated with Mr. Caillard, as his lieutenant, is another ex-official of our English Post Office, who has very efficiently helped in carrying out the reforms thus far effected. The department has agencies (post offices) in 67 towns and villages, 34 of which are in Lower and Middle Egypt, 6 in Upper Egypt, 16 in the Soudan, and 6 on the coasts of the Red Sea, besides 7 offices ont of Egyptian territory in the Levant, to and from which it sends and receives mails by the Khedivieh steamers. At present there is at least one delivery daily between Alexandria and Cairo and all the principal towns and villages of Lower Egypt ; while the chief places on the main line of railway receive and des-patch three, four, or in some cases even five mails a day ; the delivery of which is now hastened by the establishment of post-office vans attached to almost every train. A house-to-house delivery, even in Alexandria or Cairo, is as yet impracticable owing to the irregular manner in which nearly all the older streets are built, and the absence of numbers on the houses in all but the new quarters. The delivery is consequently effected from the windows (guichets) of the Post Office, the correspondence being alphabetically sorted into pigeon-holes before being given out. The principal mercantile firms avail themselves of the private box system, which, on payment of a small annual fee, secures to them an earlier delivery and other facilities. Private boxes of this kind are now established in all the principal towns. The correspondence with the interior is chiefly commercial ; what may be called “family letters” forming only a very inconsiderable part of the total number deliveredabout 2,250,000 a year. For this reason the proportion of letters exchanged between the native population is very small as compared with that of any European country, and nothing like the postal development which is in steady progress in Europe can therefore be looked for in Egypt for many years to come. Here, however, as elsewhere, the spread of education will have its usual effect, and with increased facilities of communication private (family) correspondence will also increase. The rates of postage are of course high relatively to those of Europe, though still lower than the old charges in the United Kingdom before the great re-form of Rowland Hill. At present no increase of correspondence would be expected from a reduction in the rate, which would therefore be a mere sacrifice of revenue without compensation to any interest. The heavies; part of the work of the service occurs during the winter months, when, the grab, cotton, sugar and other trades are at their height. During this season large sums of money are sent through the Post Office, chiefly from Alexandria, but also from Cairo, to the villages, in payment of produce bought for exportation. The aggregate amount thus remitted during an average season may be estimated at 10,000,0001., the annual total being about 15, 000, 0001. As the cash thus sent into the villages at any given time is out of all proportion to that received from them, the money-order system is not adapted to this branch of the department’s business, and many remittances are consequently still made in the old form of “groups,” the insurance and transport charges on which, though moderate, form a large part of the postal revenue. It says much for the efficiency with which the service is controlled, that of the large amount thus annually transmittedno inconsiderable part of which goes to the re-mote provinces of the Soudan-only an infinitesimal pro-portion fails to reach its consignees. The development of the international part of the service is hampered by the existence of the half-dozen or more foreign post offices which are still maintained, in pursuance of the old Capitulations practice, at Alexandria, Suez, and Port Said. Since the Berne Postal Union treaty came into operation, these foreign offices have wholly lost their raison d’être; and organised as the native service now is, they are sources rather of delay and confusion than of convenience, even to their respective national colonies. Their withdrawal is therefore as much desired by Europeans as by the native authorities, by whom they are not unreasonably regarded as offensive relics of a political situation that no longer exists.
For the purposes of provincial administration Egypt is divided into three great sections, called El-Bahari, El- Vostani, and El-SaidLower Middle, and Upper Egyptwhich, besides the eight mohafzas, or special city governorships already noticed, are further divided into the following fourteen mudiriehs or Prefectures :(1) In Lower EgyptBehéra, Gizeh, Galioubieh, Charkieh, Menoufieh, Garbieh, and Dahkalieh; (2) in Middle Egypt Benisouef, the Fayoun, and Minieh; and (3) in Upper EgyptAssiout, Girgheh, Kenneh-Cosseir, and Esneh.* These prefectures are sub-divided into departments, and these again into communes or cantons, each of which includes several villages. The respective heads of these divisions are called mudirs (whose rank is commonly that of a moutamaïs, or lowest class civil Pasha), mâmours, nazirs, and sheikhs-el-beled. Formerly the whole of the first class belonged to the old Turkish aristocracy, but they are now nearly all Arabs, as are also a majority of the three inferior grades; the exceptions being mostly Christians, to whose official employment their religion is in Egypt no bar, with a few Egyptian-born Turks, as mâmours and nazirs. The sheikh-el-beled, or village headman, though virtually elected by his fellows, is formally appointed by the Government, to which he is personally accountable for the village taxesin the collection of which he assists the saraffs or tax-gatherersand for such corvée demands as may be made upon it. He is, in fact, the village magistrate and constable in one, whose authority comes most home to the experience of the Fellah, who may, but seldom does, appeal against his decisions to the communal council; so that as he apportions a tax, regulates the distribution of water from the neighbouring canals (his own land generally faring best in this respect), or selects men for forced labour or the conscription, his fiat as a rule is uncomplainingly obeyed. He is, however, personally responsible for the shortcomings of his administrés, and not seldom pays on the soles of his feet for their fiscal or other default. His immediate superior, the nazir, acts as inspector of the group of villages within his commune, and reports to the mamour of his department, who, till the recent reform appointing a Controller-General of Receipts, received the taxes from the saraffs, still ensures the repairs of the canals, sees that the men requisitioned by the Government are duly supplied, and was answerable for the whole to the mudir. Associated with these various functionaries are (1) five ” Councils of Agriculture” two in Lower and three in Middle and Upper Egypt and (2) an “Administrative Council” for each canton of the four-teen provinces. The first consist each of a president and superintending engineer named by the Government, and of as many members as there are cantons in the province, chosen from among the village notables by the communal councils. Their function is to examine all plans submitted for the repair of existing public works or the execution of new ones, and, if approved, to assess on the various districts their shares in the necessary money and labour cost ; and also to supervise and pro-mote the improvement of agriculture within the area of their respective jurisdictions. The inferior communal councils are elected by the villagers from amongst them-selves, chiefly to carry out in detail the measures decided on by the councils of agriculture, and to check abuses by the skeikhs-el-beled. Native tribunals administered by cadis or their naïbs, a sufficient but not numerous force of police, and an ample staff of subordinate engineers, who personally direct the making or repairs of public works complete the machineiv of an administration
which, notwithstanding much uninformed assertion to the contrary, is on the whole merciful and liberal. Great oppression was no doubt practised by the late Minister of Finance, not merely in the collection of the legitimate taxes, but in the exaction of large extra payments that never reached the Treasury. But under the reformed régimé now in operation this is no longer possible, and the danger is rather the other waythat the historical perversity of the fellah will defeat all mild methods of tax-gathering, and the revenue suffer accordingly. For as it was under the Pharaohs, so is it still ; the Egyptian ryot will swear by all the gods that he has not a piastre, and will gladly bear any amount of stick or courbash if only he can, in whole or in part, evade payment of the most equitable tax. Ismail Sadyk knew the limit of his endurance before disgorging, and by exceeding it when necessary got his revenue, and more. It may be doubted if the humaner arguments of Prince Hussein and Mr. Romaine will prove equally’ effective up to even the fair budget point. The corvée tax for other than the communal public works is still a grievance, but already before the fall of the Moufettish, whose vast estates were chiefly tilled by this kind of labour, it had been greatly reduced ; and even on the Daira sugar and cotton farms the fellahs employed, though mostly collected. by forced levies, are all now rationed and paid. It may be true that the individual labourer is cheated out of most of his wage, but the fault is that of his sheikh and the petty functionaries above him, not generally of the Daira nazir.
In 1866 the Khedive revived the defunct Mejlis-Shorael-Nush or Assembly of Delegates, one of the inchoate reforms projected by Mehemet All, but which had not met since his death. This germ of an Egyptian Parliament consists of village sheikhs and other provincial notables, elected by the communes, and assembles once a year to receive from the Privy Council a report on the administration luring the twelvemonth. Its function is also to consider and advise on all proposed fiscal changes, new public works, and other matters of national concern that may be laid before it. It has, of course, no legislative power, but in practice its recommendations are received not merely with respect, but are often acted on by the Government. Thus, when it was a question last year of rescinding the law of the Moukabala, a special meeting of this body was convoked to advise the Privy Council on the subject, and on its vote being nearly unanimous against the repeal of the law, it was maintained, and is still in operation.
Of the character of the native Egyptian official, high of low, but little need be said. With some notable exceptions, chiefly among the higher functionaries who have received a European education, it possesses in full share most of the usual Eastern defectsof apathy, dishonesty, disregard of truth, and general disposition to do as little work as possible for the largest possible sum of peculative gain. Nor in respect of these qualities is there much to choose between Arab, Turk, or Copt; if there be a difference at all, it is in favour of the Moslem rather than of the Christian, who lacks the pride that often preserves the Islamite from a mean or dishonest act. As a whole, however, the officialism of Cairo compares favourably with that of Stamboul. In the former, the effect of the vigorous intelligence and direct personal rule of the sovereign is wholesomely felt through every branch of the administration, minimising abuses which are rampant at the Porte, where, from the Vizier of the day down to the lowest kiatib, personal aggrandisement is the first, if not the only, rule of duty and action to the whole. There are, no doubt, black sheep within cannon-shot of Abdeen ; but since the fall of the late Moufettish their wool has assumed a distinctly lighter hue. In the provinces this salutary personal influence of the Khedive is of course less felt, and the mudir of Esneh, Wady-Halfa, or Dongola may with impunity commit abuses that are never heard of near Cairo, and which, unless reported by some incontinent traveller, are not likely to ever reach the ear of the all-feared Effendina, * who, when they do, seldom tempers justice with mercy to such offenders. As provincial misrule, however, chiefly consists in extorting extra taxes that never reach the Treasury, or unpaid labour for private farms owned by the mudir or his friends, the authority of the new Controller-General, exercised directly through his own agents, will largely operate to protect the fellah from both these forms of oppression ; and, if so, his lot will be easier than that of Egyptian ryot ever was before.
Such is the present machinery of Egyptian administration ; but, regularly organised as the whole may be, its parts form only so many wires all pulled by the governing hand of the Khedive, who, from behind his little gilded table, rules councils, ministers, and mudirs, as a colonel rules his regiment. The only checks on his other-wise absolute power are the foreign revenue controllers, and the international tribunals ; the first of which operate most wholesomely as preventives of financial abuse, while the latterthough as yet incompletelyexert a still more salutary restraint, such as Egyptian sovereign never before acknowledged. It is due to his Highness to re-member that these limitations of his prerogative are self-imposed, and the loyalty with which he has thus far respected both is full of good augury for farther and larger reforms. In the meantime, whatever may still be its defects, this Government of Egypt stands out as the only one between the Danube and the Indus which has broken with the fanatical conservatism of Islam, and placed itself in frank rapport with Western civilisation. That it is so entirely personal is, of course, an element of weakness ; but, apart from the fact that the heir-apparent is a Prince of liberal education, and of already approved administrative ability, a governing staff’ has been created, in whose hands the traditions of the present reign may be safely trusted to lose none of their force. The change in the succession put an end to the scramble for selfish aggrandisement during a single viceroyalty, and substituted a dynastic interest in the welfare of the country, which is, perhaps, its best guarantee for good government in the future.