26 DECEMBER 1914, Page 5


IN their recent dealings with Egypt the Government have not only done the right thing, but done it in the right way. The fact that we are at war with the nominal suzerain of Egypt, the Sultan of Turkey, and at the same time are in military occupation of Egypt, as we have been for the last quarter of a century, has automatically put an end to the technical sovereignty of Turkey. Egypt, as the Royal Proclamation in effect, if not in word, shows, has passed into the British Empire. She is as much a part of it as any of the Feudatory States of India. Technically we have not annexed Egypt, nor do we desire to do so, since we are able to show a consideration for Mohammedan feeling which we are very glad to show, and for which Mohammedans will be grateful. In the case of a country like India, where things are on a gigantic scale and where there is a great mixture of creeds and races, direct British rule may very often be essential to efficient government. In the case of Egypt, however, where the native population—we are not speaking, of course, of the imported European population in coast towns such as Alexandria or Port Said—is fairly homogeneous in race, and wholly homogeneous in creed, there is a great deal to be said for government by a controlled, advised, and defended Mohammedan Sovereign. Though we can be just as considerate to Mohammedan feeling and just as careful protectors of the rights of Islam when we rule directly, there is no doubt that many of the less educated Mohammedans feel a greater sense of security in having a Mohammedan on the throne, while the amour propre of the educated is consulted by the fact that one of their own faith reigns. We cannot say " one of their own race," for the family of Mehemet Ali is, of course, of purely European origin. Blood, however, matters comparatively little to the Mohammedan, and he would as soon have an Albanian as an African Sultan.

As proof of our assertion that the Government have not only done the right thing, but have done it in the right way, we desire to draw special attention to the raising of the rank of the ruler of Egypt from that of Khedive to that of Sultan. Though Egypt is now formally included in the British Empire, and our position advanced from that of military occupiers to that of supreme sovereignty, we have not depressed the native ruler, but have raised his status, and as it were shared what the fortune of war has taken from the Turks. The act, if we may praise ourselves, is charac- teristic of British rule. We did not want to grab every shred of power and prestige for ourselves, but were perfectly williug, as long as there was no injury to the Egyptian people, to share the inheritance with the Khedivial Instead of being a province of a decadent Empire, occupied and controlled by European troops, Egypt now becomes a nation and a kingdom withinthe BritishEmpire. But though we have made it our care that Egypt and the Egyptians, and even the Khedivial family, should not suffer from the misdeeds of the Turks, we have at the same time seen to it that our generosity and chivalry of conduct—for such we have a right to call it—shall not have in it any seeds of future trouble, or hamper us in our main, our essential object—the good government of Egypt and the welfare of her people. We are trustees for the Egyptian people, and, in order to be efficient, our hands as long as our trust lasts must be free and not tied. Sultan Hussein, who now sits on the Egyptian throne, is an enlightened Prince in whom we feel every confidence, and whose record makes it certain that that confidence will not be mis- placed. He is, however, a man past middle life, and in any case we have to think of a future far longer than the life of any man, whether young or old. We have got to make provision for the time to come. Fortunately the terms of the Proclamation show that, as

in the case of the late Khedive, we are free to select from the House of Mehemet Ali the ruler in whom we have confidence, and whose influence we believe will be good for Egypt as a whole. The Sultans of Egypt will hold sway (like our Judges) guamdiu se bene gesserint—as long as they behave themselves well. No doubt, as with our Judges and the Indian native Sovereigns and Princes, this tenure may prove to be one of the most secure in the world. At the same time, it leaves the trustees' hands free. We are not in the least pledged to maintain on the throne any member of the

House of Mehemet All simply because he is in the succession. If he does not prove himself worthy of the position, we shall have the right to place a bettor man upon the throne. More than that, though we should naturally desire to maintain the succession, we are not even tied to the House of Mehemet Ali should that House be found wanting. At first sight it might seem as though this might not give enough security to the present reigning family. As a matter of fact, however, they have nothing to fear as long as they are loyal—we will not say to us, but to the true and best interests of Egypt. As our whole history shows, we are the most conservative people in the matter of Constitutional dealings, and especially in the case of Eastern peoples. As long as the descendants of Prince 'Hussein help us to govern the country in the interests of the Egyptians, they will sit as firmly on the throne of Egypt as the King of Britain does on his. But this they know already. They know that the ex-Khedive Abbas was given chance after chance of ranging himself on the side of good government, and was forgiven until seventy times seven for his intrigues, petty and great, against the British Govern- ment.

It was only when Abbas deliberately ranged himself on the side of our enemies in the great European war, and did his hest to help and succour them, that we deprived him of his power to injure us. We did our best to restrain him from his act of political suicide, but we failed, and lie has to take the consequences. Fortunately he leaves none except a few sycophants to deplore his self-made deposition. The mass of the Egyptian population will shed no tears over his departure, and we need not be afraid of an Abbasid Pretender. As long as they are protected from rapine and outrage and can till their fields in peace, the Egyptian peasantry are content. They are not politically minded men. Such political sentiment as they have will, how- ever, draw them towards Sultan Hussein, who knows them and sympathizes with them, and who, not without good cause, has received the title of " the Father of the Fellah." A great and far-seeing agriculturist and a lover of education, he will, we are sure, always cast his influence on the right side, and cast it with knowledge.

Here we should like to say that, while we thoroughly sympathize with the Sultan of Egypt's desire for un- proved education, we sincerely trust that His Highness will help to see to it that education in Egypt shall not come to mean, as it has too often done in India, a literary educa- tion of an exotic, and therefore useless, type. Though we have no desire to depreciate higher education, we greatly hope that there will be no neglect, in the case of the vast portion of the population, of that technical training of which all Eastern countries, and Egypt, perhaps chief of all, stand in need. The Egyptians are skilled cultivators of the land, but it is surprising how little they know of the ordinary technical arts. Strange as it may seem, things are quite hidden from them which five thousand years ago must have been known to half the population. Though Egypt is a land of great buildings, there is only a very small portion of the population that can make bricks or lay them, that can cut and work hard stone, like the rose granite of Syene, or can even deal with wood like those first and greatest of cabinetmakers, the constructors of the mummy-cases of the best period. If one of the early Pharaohs whose bodies still lie in the museum at Cairo could be called back to life, and asked to re-establish the old civilization, he would, we fear, be driven to despair by the dearth of native labour skilled in the arts of civilization. As a patriot, he would not want to employ Englishmeu, Frenchmen, Italians, or Greeks, and yet he would be forced to do so or leave his palaces and his tombs unbuilt. As an example of what we mean we may recall the fact that when, during Lord Cromer's tenure of office, the great Barrage was built at Assuan, he found it impossible to obtain Egyptians skilled enough to quarry the granite, to work it or to lay it. All these -functions had to be performed by Italians, who are still the greatest builders and stone-workers in the world. Lord Cromer no doubt did something to lay the foundation of technical education, but, as his writings show, he al wa vs regretted that he could not do more in this direction. We feel certain that we shall have his sympathy in teuderine our respectful advice to the Sultan to make elementary technical education, especially in the simpler arts, his special gift to the Egyptian people. The higher European culture will be obtained by the upper classes comparatively easily when they desire it. Let us, however, not place the top story on the building before we have put in a solid foundation.

There are many political problems of supreme import- ance awaiting solution in Egypt. Before, however, her rulers can tackle these the menace of foreign invasion must be dealt with. No doubt the deserts that sur- round her leave her to a great extent in the position of an island. Still, those deserts may be crossed, and till the Turks have been beaten in the field the garrison of Egypt, perhaps the most marvellous collection of men ever gathered together—Lancashire Territorials fresh from the loom and the weaving-shed, hardy toilers on land and sea from New Zealand, cavalry- men from the backblocks of Australia, British professional soldiers and sailors, and for all we know Sikhs and Pathans—must stand to arms. Till peace returns Egypt, then, can only mark time. When peace does return we and the people of Egypt must jointly take up that part of the burden of Empire which is Egypt's. And here we desire to offer one more word of advice. With international financial control completely got rid of, as it will be, and with the interference of the Powers under the Capitula- tions put an end to, there will be a great temptation in Egypt to create a boom—to get, as our American friends would say, " a hustle on." It is a temptation which must be sternly resisted. Improvement, and im- provement through Government, there must be, but the greatest care must be taken in our zeal for improvement not to lay upon the people of Egypt burdens too heavy to be borne, or, what is as bad, which will be thought by them too heavy to be borne.

Lord Cromer was very wise when he told us that the thing for which Oriental peoples are most grateful is low taxation. They can and will appreciate that when they appreciate nothing else. That we shall keep our hands out of their pockets as far as British interests are concerned is obvious ; but we must go further, and keep our hands out of their pockets as far as possible even when our intentions are of the very best, and when it may be mathematically provable that the taxed man will gain double or treble for all the taxes he pays. We must remember that the Oriental peasant is very hard to convince in matters of this kind. He thinks much more about the sums he is forced to pay out to a Government than of what he gets back from it. That which ho gets he regards as a piece of good fortune which has nothing to do with the odious tax-collector. Providence may have given him better irrigation, better roads, and a convenient railway, but he will stare in your face and disbelieve you if you tell him that all these benefits come from the great demands which the tax-collectors are making on him. We must keep down taxation in Egypt, even if by doing so we have to deprive the Egyptian population of many benefits that they could otherwise receive with great rapidity. Let us do what we can out of the surplus of existing taxes, but let the essential rule be—No fresh taxation. If that is our guiding principle we shall get, we will not say blessings, but at any rate much fewer curses.

That Sir Henry M'Mahon, the new High Commissioner —an office, remember, which for the future will have nothing diplomatic about it—will prove the right man in the right place we do not doubt. His firm yet con- ciliatory habit of mind, his great experience, and his high character should make him a sure guide for the Egyptian State.