Justin H. (Justin Huntly) McCarthy.

England under Gladstone, 1880-1885 online

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tion for the way in which they made no outward sign of being
ufiected by any such rumours. The surest way to have pro-
voked some collision on such an occasion would have been
to make an overawing demonstration of military or police foi'ce.
The executive wisely did nothing of the kind. Every precau-
tion was taken to meet any sudden emergency of unexpected
riot, but no evidence of these precautions was made visible.
In Sackville Street, which was of course the theatre of that
day's events, Avith its exhibition at one end and its statue
at the other, there were practically no police. As far as could
be judged by the outward appeai-ance of the city, its safety
and welfare, its j^eace and order, were left in charge of the
people themselves. The people acquitted themselves of their
trust admirably, and thoi'oughly justified the authorities in
acting with an unfortunately too rare sense and prudence.


There was no rioting, no disturbance of any kind. The great
procession of Dublin trades and guilds, headed by carriages con-
taining the popular Irish members, went its appointed way all
through the city in perfect quiet and order. The statue was un-
veiled; the exhibition was opened, all in peace. There was enthu-
siasm everywhere, but it was perfectly law-abiding enthusiasm.
The next day the freedom of the city was conferred on Mr.
Parnell and Mr. John Dillon. The same day another popular
Irish member, Mr. Edmond Dwyer Gray, M.P., owner of the
FreemavbS Journal and High Sheriff of Dublin, was committed
to Richmond Prison, O'Conn ell's old prison, on a charge of
contempt of court, which was afterwards the cause of a Par-
liamentary inquiry into the exercise of that curious judicial
privilege. Mr. Gray had written in the FreemarCs Journal
some censures on the conduct of a jury whose verdict had sen-
tenced a man to death. The jury had been accused of spending
the night previous to the finding of the verdict in a condition of
noisy intoxication in the Imperial Hotel. Mr. Justice Lawson,
the judge before whom the case had been tried, immediately
summoned Mr. Gray before him, sent him to prison for three
months, and fined him 500/. After two months' iuiprisonment
Mr. Gray was released; the fine was paid by public subscription
in a few days. There was great excitement in Dublin when the
news of the arrest was made known, and the fears of disturbance
were at once revived ; but a proclamation, signed by the Lord
Mayor, Mr. Dawson, and by Mr. Parnell, was distributed
through the city, urging the people to make no disturbance, an
order which was implicitly obeyed. Some of the Irish members
in Dublin Avent back to London, where Parliament was just
drawing to its end, to put the case before the House. Mr.
Gladstone, however, pointed out that the House of Commons
was powerless to take any action in the matter. It could not
possibly release Mr. Gray, and therefore he judged it best to
leave the matter over for consideration until the House met in
October. When later in the year the whole question was made
the subject of an inquiry of a committee of the House of
Commons, it was decided that no action could be taken, as
Judge Lawson was within his legal right in what he had done.


"When the Land League was suppressed the secret societies
began to thrive again. In some parts of L-eland an organisa-
tion known as Moonlighters, headed by a mysterious Captain
Moonliglit, committed various ciimes for some time in secret,
until a man was arrested who seemed to be, and said he was,
Captain Moonlight himself This man turning informer, many
arrests were made. But the kind of outrages which moon-
lighting represented did not cease. Nor did the accounts of
outrages that never took place. The record was gloomy
enough without the busy voices and tongues of rumour being
allowed full licence to spread abroad the wildest exaggerations.
Archbishop Croke declared that many of the outrages were
either invented or exaggerated vrith the intent to rouse hostile
feeling against the Land League and the National movement.

Early in January two bailiffs named Huddy, an old man
and his grandson, were murdered in Joyce's country, Conne-
mara, and their bodies thrown into Lough Mask. In February
an informer named Bernard Bailey was shot dead in the streets
of Dublin. In April an attempt was made to murder Mr.
Smythe, an unpopular landowner in Westmeath. The shots
fired missed Mr. Smythe, and killed his sister-in-law, who was
sitting in the carriage with him. In May came the Phoenix
Park murders. In June Mr. Walter Bourke and his military
escort were shot dead. In the same month Mr. John Henry
Blake and his steward Mr. Keene were both shot dead near
Lough Pea. In August, a fresh murder in the Joyce country
was supposed to reveal the authors of the murders of the
Huddys. This murder took place in Maamtrasna, on August
17. A fiimily of the name of Joyce were murdered by a party
of men, their neighbours, Avho feared that the victims knew
and would betray the murderers of the Huddys. The
alleged murderers of the Joyces were arrested, tried, con-
victed ; three of them were hanged. One of the three, Myles
Joyce, was declared by his companions to be innocent. The
evidence against him was terribly unreliable, but though
an inquiry was often asked for it was always refused.
Five others pleaded guilty, and were sentenced to death,
but the death penalty was commuted. In November a man


was arrested for an attempt to assassinate Justice Law son.
Towards the end of the same month an attack was made.
There was a scuffle in Abbey Street between some detectives
and some armed men whom they were watching, and one of
the detectives was killed. The next night, November 26, a
man named Field, who,had been a juryman in the trial of a man
named Walsh, who was executed for the murder of a policeman
at Letterfrack, was attacked outside his house in Frederick
Street, and dangerously vrounded. His assailants escaped for
the time, and their victim, though severely wounded, recovered.



To understand the position in which England found herself
placed with regard to Egypt, it is necessary to look back a
little into the history of modern Egypt, and examine the causes
which led to the present crisis.

As far as we are immediately concerned, the Egyptian
question began when Mehemet Ali flung off the complete
control of the Porte, and finally established himself as a vassal,
indeed, but only of a nominal vassalage, to the Turkish Empire.
Mehemet Ali had made himself master of Syria, and he and
his adopted son, Ibrahim Pasha, inflicted defeat after defeat
upon the armies of Turkey. In 1839 a series of events com-
bined to give over Egypt into the hands of Meheuiet Ali.
Ibrahim gained a great triumph over the Porte. The Sultan
Mahmoud died. The Turkish Admiral with all his fleet went
over to the caiise of Egypt. Had he been left to himself,
Mehemet Ali would not even have allowed the Ottoman Empire
to keep any semblance of authority ; but the Powers of Europe
interfered then, as they have interfered since, with Egyptian
politics. England, Austria, Prussia, and Russia combined to,
restrain the Porte's rebellious vassal. France alone, swayed
by the jealous spii-it of Thiers, who dreaded an English plot


to lay hold of Egypt, held aloof from the alliance, and was at
one time not very far from going to war with England. Two
treaties, signed in London in the Julys of 1840 and 1841,
arranged the affairs of Egypt, and compelled Mehemet Ali,
sorely against his will, to give up his Asiatic possessions, and
to accept the suzerainty of the Porte. But he demanded, and
demanded successfully, the hereditai-y transmission of the vice-
royalty to the eldest male heir of his own line, and a degree of
independence which left the Sultan little more than the shadow
of command. The most varied judgments have been formed of
the character of Mehemet Ali. All historians are compelled to
agree upon the ferocity which crushed the power of the Mame-
lukes by a more than Elizabethan treachery ; but Mehemet
Ali appears to some historians as on the whole, for an Oriental,
a great and just ruler. lie seemed to Richard Cobden nothing
more than ' a rapacious tyrant.'

Cobden, who saw Mehemet Ali at Cairo in 1836, when
the Pasha was still dreaming of the future of Egypt and himself,
wrote thus : — ' Mehemet Ali is pursuing a course of avaricious
misrule which would have torn the vitals from a country less
prolific than this, long since. As it is, everything is decaying
beneath his system of monopolies. . . . The Pasha has by dint
of force and fraud possessed himself of the whole of the pro-
perty of the cotmtry. I do not mean that he has obtained
merely the rule of the Government, but he owns the whole of
the soil, the houses, the boats, the camels, etc. There is some-
thing quite unique in finding only one landowner and one
merchant in a country in the person of its Pasha.* Cobden
goes on to describe the magnificent cotton works which Mehemet
Ali had built, and the miserable way in which they were
allowed to go to ruin. ' All this is not the work of Mehemet
Ali. The miserable adventurers from Europe who have come
here to act the parasites of such a blood-stained despot — they
are partly the cause of the evil. But they know his selfish
nature and his lust of fame, and this is only their mode of de-
luding the one and pandering to the other.' The opinion of a
man like Eichard Cobden on such a matter is of the profoundest

EGYPT. 225

poHtieal importance, but we who are his warmest admirers may
well believe that the picture drawn by the young traveller of
thirty-three years was somewhat highly coloured; that the
peculiar characteristics of all Oriental rule were not sulEciently
taken into account in estimating the character of Mehemet Ali.
At least he tried to make Egypt great as he had made her in-
dependent, and lie failed only because he attempted to raise
Egypt at once to the level of a great power. In 1848, when
madness deprived Eg}'pt of her strange ruler, the succession
came to his son, Ibrahim Pasha, whose statue stands in the
Cairo Square, to remind the traveller from afar, and the Arab
who lounges at its base, that Egypt had a past, and may yet
have a future. But the hero of Koniah and Nezib was not
destined to be famovis as a Pasha of Egypt. He died within
four months of his accession, and was succeeded by Abbas
Pasha, the son of that son of Mehemet Ali whose tragic end is
told by Warburton. Ismail Pasha, Mehemet All's second son,
was burnt to death by a Soudan chief, Nemmir, ' the tiger,'
King of Shendy, fx-om whom he had too imperiously demanded
tribute. Under Abbas Pasha nothing was done to advance
Egypt. A Tacitus or a Suetonius is needed to fitly present this
Egyptian copy of the degraded Cfesars. He lived like a later
Pioman Emperor, a vicious, fearful life, ever dreading the death
by assassination which came at last in 1854, and handed over
Egypt to Said Pasha. The contrast between Said and Abbas
Pasha is as great as between Marcus Aurelius and Nero.
Where Abbas was lonely, hostile to foreigners, and unable to
speak any of the alien tongues, Said was hospitable, closely
linked with Europeans, whose life he carefully imitated, and he
was a brilliant French scholar. He encourasred foreisrn immi-
gration, inaugurated the custom of employing Europeans in all
the important administrations, and he greatly advanced the
genei'al condition of the country by removing many of the
meaningless restrictions upon trade and commerce, and by
seeming to recognise that the Egyptian laboui-er was something
more than a mere beast to be worked and taxed to death.
Through the influence of England, the railroad system had



been established in Egypt during the rule of Abbas. Under
Said's prospering reign railways and telegraphs were extended
over Egypt. The Suez Canal was begun. Machinery of all
kinds became familiar to the Egyptian mind, and the finances
showed an increased revenue of six millions a year. But while
Abbas, with all his faults, left Egypt not only agriculturally
prosperous, but clear of debt. Said, with all his virtues, left her
the beginning of that public debt which is now of such intense
interest to the outer world. A series of strange chances
allowed Ismail Pasha, warrior Ibrahim's second son, to become
the immediate successor of Said Pasha, and with his accession
in 1863 begins the particular condition of things which we
i'amiliarly speak of as the Egyptian question. Under the
foreign policy of Nubar Pasha, Ismail succeeded in 1866 in
obtaining from the Porte the title of Khedive, and the direct
descent of the title from fither to son, on consideration of
increasing the annual tribute from nearly four huncbed thousand
pounds to nearly seven hundred thousand pounds. Again, in
1872, the Khedive obtained the privilege of making treaties
with foreign Powers, of owning vessels of war, and of raising
troops. Indeed, the whole of Ismail's reign was marked by
steady and incessant aggrandisement of the power and the
position of Egypt, and the weakening of the chains which
bound her to the Ottoman Empiie. But for every step which
Egypt thus took, for every link she severed in the Turkish
chain, she had to pay a heavy price to court and courtiers at

If the Khedive was prepared to spend money freely for his
own personal advancement and authority, he was no less lavish
for the advancement of his country. Improvements of all
kinds were carried out ; the Suez Canal was completed — by the
corvee — railroads and telegraphs increased rapidly. Ismail was
going too fast. Egypt prospered socially and commercially;
financially it was a great failure. With all his talent, Ismail
Pasha lacked several of the qualities necessary for a great finan-
cier, and between his fingers the money of Egypt ran like
desert sand. Cotton fell. Ismail became deeply in debt to the

EGYPT. 227

European Pov.'ers, most of all to France and England, and
anxiety for the security of the shareholders furnished these
two Powers with justification for a close iuquiiy into the
financial condition of the country.

The first decade of Ismail Pasha's reign showed an appa-
rently widespread prosj^erity, and a corresponding increase in
the public debt. The 1864 loan of 5,700,000^. was supplemented
in 1868 and 1870 by further loans for 3,000,000^., 1,200,000^.,
and 2,000,000^., and in 1873 there was another for 32,000,000^.
in Mr. Dicey's round numbers. The Khedive's private loans
were about 11,000,000/., and the floating debt represented from
25,000,000/. to 26,000,000/. Up to 1876 the regular payment
of the high rate of interest kept good the credit of Egypt.
But the Kusso-Turkish war, while it revealed the emptiness
of the Ottoman treasury, served also to unsettle men's certainty
of the credit of Egypt. Unable to raise fresh loans, or to meet
the demands upon him, the desperate Khedive sold all his shares
in the Suez Canal to England for the sum of four millions in
November 1875. The idea of buying the Khedivial shares belongs
to Mr. Frederick Greenwood. It was hailed with general delight
at the time, though it was then, and has since been, savagely
attacked by a certain kind of Liberal politicians. Mr. Dicey
points out that it is certainly a financial success, as the shares
are now worth more than double the price we paid for them.
Assuming the importance of a control of the Suez Canal to
England, it is difficult to see how she could have done better
than buy of the well-nigh bankrupt Khedive. The politicians
who were most bitterly opposed to the purchase would have
been still more unwilling to see England set a corporal's guard
at Port Said, and hoist the Union Jack in the Egyptian Delta.
At all events, England had her shares, and the Khedive his
four millions, but he did not keep them long. Four millions
were soon swallowed up in the whirlpool of his debts, and money
was as much needed as ever. The Khedive turned aijain to
England. A nation who was so ready to buy might no less
readily lend, but the Khedive was shrewd enough to know that
she would not lend without security. He invited England to

Q 2


stufly tbe state of his finances before advancing, and England in
reply sent out the late Mr. Cave, at the end of 1875.

The revenue was drawn from direct taxes on land, on date
trees, on trade licences ; from indirect taxation in the form of
custom and tobacco duties ; from the Moukabaleh, the village
annuities, from railway profits, and miscellaneous dues. The
Moukabaleh, which means compensation, was a fancy measure
introduced in 1871 ostensibly to redeem half the land tax, in the
hope of paying off the floating debt. The Government under-
took to give the Egyptian landholders, who had no regular title-
deeds, indefeasible titles, and to reduce permanently the land
tax by one-half, in consideration of tlieir paying six years' land
tax in advance ; a financial operation which has introduced ter-
rible complications into the duty of unravelling the Egyptian

Mr. Cave made his famous report, showing that nothing
could be done Avithout accepting lieavy pecuniary responsibility.
Then lie returned home, and 31r., now Sir Ilivers Wilson, the
controller of our own National Debt Office, went out to advise
the Khedive, only to be recalled soon after. The Khedive had so
far failed to draw England, and at last, in May 1876, he calmly
issued a decree of repudiation. This was rendered a dead letter
by the international courts, tribunals which had been substituted
by the European Powers for the old consular jurisdiction, and
which had great authority in Egypt. These courts decided that
the Khedive had broken his contract to his foreign creditors,
and his 31ay decree took no effect. The French bondholders
then proposed a scheme of their own for the consolidation of the
debt, which fell through owing to the objections of the Englisli
bondholders. The two parties then agreed to send out a joint
mission to negotiate with the Khedive, and Mr. Goschen and
M. Joubert proceeded to Egypt at the end of 1876. The
Khedive agreed with them to pay an annual sum, as interest
and sinking fund, of about, in round numbers, seven per cent,
on a capital of 100,000,000/. But Ismail, who, when the
question was one of borrowing money, had contrived to show
marvellously good revenue statements, was equally dexterous

EGYPT. 229

in showing bad statements when the question was how much
the State coukl j^ay on its deht. In less than a year, he de-
clared that this arrangement was based upon highly untrust-
worthy returns, that the debt must be reduced, or Egypt would
be ruined by the taxation enforced to pay the interest, and
once more he demanded a fresh commission.

When a country has once accepted an investigation of its
finances by foreign Powers, and given the practical control of
its treasury into the hands of foreign representatives, its clyim
to independence can hardly fail to be regarded as signally
diminished ; and it is hardly surprising that both England and
France began to think themselves something more than the
mere friends and advisers of the Khedive. A suspicion of the
Khedive's honesty led the French Government to decide that
any inquiry now set on foot should apply itself, not only to
ascertaining the resources of Egypt, but the causes which
brought about Egypt's embarrassments. In this demand Eng-
land was induced to join, and the Khedive was forced to allow
a commission to practically place him upon his trial. It was
soon shown that the Khedive had become the owner of one-
fifth of the entire cultivated land of Egypt, and tliat the funds
oppressively raised fi-om this vast monopoly were, in ]\Ir. Dicey's
words, ' so miserably administered as to result in a loss, not only
to the country at large, but to the Khedive himself.' A threat
of the Khedive's that he would be unable to pay interest on the
Unified Debt in full forced matters to a crisis. France insisted
on the interest being paid in full, and somehow or other paid in
full it was. This strong action on the part of a European Power
may have convinced the Khedive of the hopelessness of his
position. At last he met the report of the commission, which
declared that real financial reform must commence with the
concession of his estates, by yielding up a million of acres of
Daira land to the creditors of the State.

The next step in the work of the commission — the inquiry
as to what amount the country could afibrd to pay annually in
respect of its debts, without injury to its own interests and
to those of its creditors — was interrupted by the Khedive's


unexpected summons of ISTubar Pasha from exile to form a
Ministry, in which the portfolio of finance was to be entrusted
to Mr. Rivers Wilson. Mr. Rivers Wilson was controller-general
of the English National Debt, and he succeeded in obtaining
permission from his own Government to retain this office while
accepting the portfolio offered him by the Khedive. This per-
mission aroused the gravest suspicion in France, where it seemed
to statesmen as if England, after all her pledges, was seeking
by .underhand means to obtain comjilete supremacy in Egypt ;
and, in order to satisfy the complaints of France, M. de
Bligni^res was appointed, much against England's will, as the
colleague of Mr. Rivers Wilson in the new Nubar Ministry.

Having yielded thus far, and made such concessions, the
Khedive was seized again Avith a despotic mania, which led
him, on the strength of a small army emeute, to dismiss Nubar
Pasha, and shortly after to dispense with the services of his
French and English ministers. The dismissal of the Anglo-
French ministers caused greater annovance even to France
than to England, and the French Government proposed to
compel the Khedive by armed force to reinstate Mr. Rivers
Wilson and INI. de Blignieres. The arguments of England,
however, prevented this step, and strong despatches alone were
addressed to the Khedive. This action convinced the Khedive
that he was perfectly safe in doing as he liked, and naturally
he did not reinstate his Ministry. His former clique of
Pashas were restored to power, Nubar and Riaz Pashas were
exiled, and money was raised in the old evil ways. The
warnings of England and France were despised, and he finally
issued a decree, leaving entirely in his own hands the regula-
tion of the liabilities of Egypt. The Khedive appeared to be
entirely triumphant, and France and England seemed content
to do nothing, when the sudden intervention of Germany forced
them into action. The German consul at Cairo informed the
Khedive that the German Government was prepared to defend
the interests of German subjects at all hazards. Then England
and France joined together, and accepted the offer which had
been made before by the Sultan tj depose the Khedive. The

EGYPT. 231

moment the order came, the power and triumph of Ismail
Pasha vanished into nothingness, and the bold deiier of imited
England and France hurried away as rapidly as he could to ,
Naples with his harem and his ill-gotten treasure, leaving his
son Tewfik on the throne.

After the fall of Ismail the Anglo-French influence was re-
established, M. de Blignieres was reinstated, and Mr. Baring,
who was afterwards succeeded by Mr. Colvin, took the place of
Mr. Rivers Wilson. They were given great authority. They
had tlie right to be present on the ministerial council, to advise
on all financial questions, to appoint resident inspectors and
receive their reports, and they were irremovable save with the
consent of England and France. But in the face of their trying
task even such powers seemed slight. Their diiEculties lay not
alone in Egypt ; Austria, France, and Italy insisted that any
financial settlement must be arranged by an international com-
mission, in which other Powers besides France and England
should be represented ; and such a commission was at length
appointed, with French, English, German, Austrian, and Italian
members. The powers of the commission were theoretically
unlimited ; practically they had many limitations. They could
not, like ordinary liquidators, bring the bankrupt whose estate
they were considering to reason. So long as the European
Powers were not agreed together in compelling the Khedive to

Online LibraryJustin H. (Justin Huntly) McCarthyEngland under Gladstone, 1880-1885 → online text (page 21 of 38)