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After a brief show of resistance, they joined the invaders, and rendered easy the conquest of the country.
With the Arab domination, the final extinction of the Egyptian race as a nation was consummated. So complete •was the subjugation that the Arabs imposed their language, both vocabulary and grammar, upon the native inhabitants ; and by an enormous immigration rendered them i n a far greater degree Arab than Copt. Since that period, the Copt has been little heard of in history. The ancient Egyptian element, already reduced in numbers, was, to a great extent, absorbed by the Arab colonists, and the remnant (called Copt to this day) has gradually dwindled to insignificance, although not without passing through the fiery ordeal of insurrection and persecution. It is now about one-fourteenth of the whole population of the country. The modern Egyptian, however, though far more Arab than Copt, retains many of the characteristics of the latter, and inherits his oppressed condition. The country was at first governed by Arab lieutenants of the early Khaleefehs and of those of Damascus and Baghdad; until with the gradual weakening of that great Empire, and the struggles of the orthodox followers of Othman, or Sunnees with the heretic adherents of "Alee, or Shiy'aees, it became, under the government of a foreign ruler, Ahmad IbnTooloon (whose mosque in Cairo, by-thebye, contains the earliest known instance of the pointed arch), nearly independent, forshadowing its speedy independence as a kingdom, although under foreign dynasties, until its final ruin by the Turks. In the year 908-9, the heretic Fatimee Khaleefehs of Western Africa seized the capital, and transferred their throne to the site of Cairo, calling their new city El-Kahireh, or the Victorious. To these, after a duration of two hundred years, succeeded, by the arbitrament of the sword, the orthodox Kurds, of whom the first and greatest was Saladin (or Saliihed-Deen). Then commenced the system of rearing slaves, or Memlooks, who should hold all places of power, and in the event of the king dying without issue, succeed to the throne; for the offspring of the Kurds and of their successors the Turkish and Circassian Memlook sultans
failed to perpetuate the line, the children of foreigners rarely attaining to manhood in Egypt. During its existence as an independent Mohammedan kingdom,Egypt reached great importance; but the inherent weakness of the government prevented its duration. The people suffered severely from the constant political feuds ! of the grandees and court favorites, and ) it was but the shadow of its former self | that fell to the sword of Seleem nearly four centuries ago. Still how far above what we now find it after those four centuries of Turkish tyranny and lust! Governed by Pashas, following each other at short intervals, the unhappy population has since been used merely to enrich each successive ruler. Every step, until our own times, has been a downward one. Mohammed Ali Pasha found the country distracted by political struggles. A new race of Memlooks had sprung up, and profiting by the wretched weakness of the Turks, bid fair to seize the reins of government We all know the end of these Memlooks. Enough has been written both in condemnation and extenuation of the massacre of the 1st of March, 1811. Of Mohammed All's rule, history will say that he desired a better destiny for the country than it is ever likely to have under Turkish pashas. His political sagacity was Western rather than Eastern, and if he had been allowed to establish his family as independent rulers, a dynasty of men like himself might have raised Egypt again to an important place in the world's history. But England decided against his independence, when the Egyptian army was almost at the gates of Constantinople; and while the country has relapsed into the position of a Turkish province, his successors have not proved themselves to be much better than preceding Turkish governors. The irresistible advance of civilization has made some acts of oppression impossible; some flagrant abuses have been suppressed; the influx of travelers, the overland route to India, and lately, the cultivation of cotton, have thrown more money into the country than it has seen for many years, we had almost said, centuries. But it is more than doubtful if any real improvement in the condition of the people is taking place. The Fellah still hoards his savings, unable to display prosperity lest he should be marked for pillage by the nearest petty governor; unable to buy land lest the Pasha should exchange it for an equal measure of desert; unable to look forward to his sons succeeding to an inheritance, for they are at the mercy of the conscription | and Forced labor. As we now find him, he is spiritless and hopeless, his very manhood almost ground out of him by centuries of debasement. The townsman, by friction with otherminds, retains more mental vigor; he possesses a portion of independence, by combination with his fellow-citizens; [ and a rising in Cairo has always been regarded with apprehension by the Government. But with all this, with his pa-' tient fatalism, and his natural cheerfulness, fostered as they are by the meeting in the coffee-shop and the market-place, j the Cairene has become a melancholy j man. "The faces are all sad, and rather j what the Scotch call '(/our'—votmechantes '• at all, but harsh, like their voices."
Notwithstanding all the disadvantages of his position both past and present, the j modern Egyptian is a remarkable man. He is pious, possessed of strong religious feeling, and exhibits a constant sense of God's providence; his filial piety and respect for the aged are conspicuous, with; benevolence and charity, and humanity to dumb animals. Hospitable and courteous, he is frugal, temperate in food and j drink, cleanly in his person, and honest in the payment of debts. On the other hand, he undoubtedly may be charged with religious pride and hypocrisy, with! a levity amounting in our ears to profani- j ty in speaking of holy things; with indo- j Jlence, obstinacy, and libidinousness, a want of truthfulness, and a habit of cursing. While murders and other grave crimes are rare, netty thefts are common. Such is a very brief summary of his moral qualities, taken from the "Modern Egyptians," and concurred in by all who have had sufficient opportunities of forming a judgment. Of his mental qualities Mr. Lane also says: "The natural or innate character of the modern Egyptians is altered, in a remarkable degree, by the religion, laws, and government, as well as by the climate and other causes ; and to form a just opinion of it is, therefore, very difficult We may, however, confidently state that they are
endowed, in a higher degree than most other people, with some of the more important mental qualities, particularly quickness of apprehension, a ready wit, and a retentive memory. In youth, they generally possess these and other intellectual powers; but the causes above alluded to gradually lessen their mental energy."
The reader will find in these letters abundant evidence of the Egyptian's virtues; and, unhappily, of his wrongs. The authoress witnessed the gangs of unhappy wretches on their way to the forced works 'of M. Lesseps or the Pasha. Writing in the latter part of 1862, she says: "Four huge barges passed us, towed by a steamer, and crammed with some hundreds of the poor souls, who had been torn from their homes to work at the Isthmus of Suez or some palace of the Pasha's for a nominal piastre (three halfpence) a day, finding their own bread and water, and cloak." Again, in May, 1863, she says:
"is my near neighbor, and he comes
in, and we discuss the government. His heart is sore with disinterested grief for the sufferings of the people. 'Don't they deserve to be decently governed,—to be allowed a little happiness and prosperity? they are so docile, so contented; are they not a good people?' Those were his words as he was recounting some new iniquity. Of course, half these acts are done under pretext of improving and civilizing, and the Europeans applaud and say, 'Oh, but nothing could be done without forced labor,' and the poor Fellaheen are marched off hi gangs like convicts, and their families starve, and (who would have thought it?) the population keeps diminishing. No wonder the cry is, 'Let the English Queen come and take us.' You know that I don't see things quite as our countrymen generally do. for mine is another Standpunkt, and my heart is with the Arabs. I care less about opening up the trade with the Soodan, or about all the new railways, and I should like to see person and property safe, which no one's is here,—Europeans of course excepted.
"Ismaeel Pasha got the Sultan to allow him to take 90,000 feddans of uncultivated land for himself as private property. Very well. But the late Viceroy granted, eight years ago, certain uncultivated lands to a good many Turks, his employ&,—in hopes of founding a landed aristocracy, and inducing them to spend their capital in cultivation. They did so; and now Ismaeel takes their improved laud, and gives them feddan for feddan of hia new land (which will take five years to bring into cultivation) instead. He forces them to sign a voluntary deed of exchange, or they go off to Feyzdghloo,—a hot Siberia, whence none return. I saw a Turk the other day, who was ruined by the transaction." (pp. 103-4.)
Forced labor is said to be abolished. It may be so on the works of the Suez Canal; possibly it is so ostensibly throughout Egypt But we are much mistaken if forced labor is not continued, in some of its forms, as long as the country is under Eastern rule. It is certain that it was not abolished in February of this year, at Thebes. The Mahinoodeeyeh Canal, familiar to every one who visited Egypt before the railway was made, is a monument of what it sometimes may be in the hands of the Turks. We read, on the authority of Mr. Lane, in Mrs. Poole's "Englishwoman in Egypt" (p. 48):
"More than three hundred thousand men were employed to dig it, and about twelve thousand of these are said to have died in the course of ten months; many of them in consequence of ill-treatment, excessive labor, and the want of wholesome nourishment and good water. Their only implements in this work were the hoes which are commonly used hi Egyptian agriculture; and where the soil was moist, they scraped it with their hands, and then removed it in baskets. The whole length of the canal is nearly fifty British miles, and its breadth about eighty or ninety feet. It was commenced and completed In the year 1819."
People who know Egypt—who have penetrated beneath the Frankish polish of Alexandria, or the false appearance of the Europen quarter of Cairo, or have wandered out of the beaten track of travelers up the Nile—know that such things occurred and are still occurring. Some of .us may remember, during the past winter, newspaper rumors of an " insurrection" in Egypt The authoress happened to be close to the scene of revolt and heard accounts of it from eye-witnesses. Its origin is quaintly Oriental, however gastly its consummation:
"I hope your mind has not been disturbed by any rumor of' battle, murder, and sudden j death' in our part of the world. A week ago we heard that a Prussian boat had been attacked, all on board murdered, and the boat burned; then that ten villages were in open revolt, and that Efendeena (the Viceroy) himself had come up and 'taken a broom and
swept them clean,' i. c., exterminated t.ie inhabitants.
"The truth now appears to be, that a crazy darweesh has made a disturbance; but I will tell the story as I heard it.
"He did as his father likewise did thirty years ago, made himself ' ism ' (name) by repeating one of the appellations of God, such as 'ya Lateef," three thousand times every night for three years, which rendered him invulnerable. He then made friends with a Jinii. who taught him many more tricks; among others, that practiced in England by the Davenports, of slipping out of any bonds. He then deluded the people of the Desert, giving himself out as 'El-Mahdi' (he who is to come with the Lord Jesus, and to slay Anti-christ at the end of the world), and proclaimed a revolt against the Turks. Three villages below Kine', Gow, Rahaeneel, and Bedu, took part in the disturbance, upon which Fudl Pasha came up with troops in steamboats, shot about a hundred men, and devastated the fields. At first, we heard a thousand were shot, now it is a hundred. The women and children will be distributed among other villages. The darweesh, some say, is killed, others that he is gone off into the Desert with a body of Bedawees, and a few of the Fellaheen from the three ravaged villages. Gow is a large place,—as large, I think, as El-Uksur. The darweesh is a native of Salameeyeh, a village close by here; and yesterday his brother, one Mohammadet-Teiyib, a very quiet man, and his father's father-in-law, old Hajji Sultan, were carried off prisoners to Cairo or Kin£, we don't know which. It seems that the boat robbed belonged to Greek traders, but none were hurt, I believe, and no European boat has been
molested. Baron K was here yesterday
with his wife, and they saw all the sacking of the villages, and said no resistance was offered by the people, whom the soldiers were shooting down as they ran; and they saw the sheep and cattle driven off by the soldiers."
Characteristically, she adds, "It is curious to see the travelers' gay dahabeeyehs passing just as usual, and the Europeans as far removed from all care or knowledge of these distresses as if they were at home. When I go and sit with the English, I feel almost as if they were foreigners to me too,—so completely arn I now' Bint-el-Beled' (daughter of the country). Altogether, we are most miserable here, all we Fellaheen."
And what is the end of this paltry disturbance? Imprisonment, or fine, or banishment, even death after trial 1 Not so in Egypt:
"I know well the Sheykh-el-Arab who
helped to catch the poor people, and I know also a young Turk who stood by while Fadl Pasha had the men laid down by ten at a time, and chopped with the pioneers axes. He quite admired the affair (though a very good-natured young fellow), and expressed a desire to do likewise. The lowest computation of men, women, and children killed, is
sixteen hundred M. M reckons it at above
"I have seen with my eye* a second boatload of prisoners. I wish fervently the Viceroy knew the deep exasperation which his subordinates are causing. I do not like to repeat all that I hear. What must it be, to foiee from all the most influential men and the most devout Muslims such a sentiment as this ?' We are Muslims, but we should thank God to send Europeans to govern us." The feeling is against the Turks, and not against Christians.
"A Coptic friend of mine here has lost all his uncle's family at Gow. All were shot down, Copt and Arab alike.
"As to Hajji Sultan, who lies in chains at Kinc a better man never lived, nor one more liberal to Christians. Copts ate of his bread as freely as Muslims. He lies there because he is distantly related by marriage to Ahmadet-Teiyib; or, to give the real reason, because he is wealthy, and some enemy covets his
foods. All this could be confirmed to you by I. M ." (pp 869-70.)
Let us compare the record of the rebellion of forty (not thirty) years ago fomented by Ahmad-Et-Teiyib's grandfather; it is taken from the "Encyclopaedia Britannica," article Egypt:
"In 1824, a native rebellion of a religious character broke out in upper Egypt, headed by one Ahmad, a native of Ed-8alimeeyeh, a village situate a few miles above Thebes. He proclaimed himself a prophet, and was soon followed by between 20,000 and 30,000 insurgeants, mostly peasants; but some, deserters from the Nizam, for that force was yet in a half-organized state, and in part declared for the impostor. The insurrection was crushed by Mohammed 'Alee, and about onefourth of Ahmad's followers perished, but he himself escaped and was never after heard of. Few of these unfortunates possessed any other weapon than the long statf (ncbboot) of the Egyptian peasant; still they offered an obstinate resistance, and the combat resembled a massacre."
The accounts of the two transactions are very similar, except that the rising of last winter was contemptible in point of numbers. Both were put down with' Turkish barbarity.
We shall doubtless be told that all this
is changed, and certainly some newspaper correspon dents and holiday tourists write accounts all cou/eur de rose of the improvements going on in the country. It has been said of London that one-half of its population knows not how the other half lives. The same may be said with tenfold force of the European residents and travelers in Egypt. Every one who has lived among the Egyptians has remarked the almost entire ignorance of the real state of things displayed by those who looked on them from without, and has been amazed at the information imparted to the British people by "our own correspondent." That matters remain pretty much as they have been for years past is sufficiently proved by these Letters.
Unfortunately, English travelers-have not helped to lighten the poor Fellah's load of trouble. It has been too much the fashion to despise him in common with all "niggers;" and ill as he has frequently behaved he has rarely been encouraged to do better. The remedy for all difficulty in Egypt is the stick, only because the Turks set an example of using it A traveler goes up the Nile entirely ignorant of the language of the people, in the hands of a dragoman, himself generally ruined by contact with Europeans; and he sees everything through the medium of this man. Is an Englishman insulted t no punishment is too severe for the unhappy delinquent. To take one instance from many that have come to our own knowledge: a distinguished traveler was walking with a favorite dog on the bank of the river; the dog was shot by a Fellah, and the man taken before the nearest governor. '• Shall I sentence liim to the galleys?" wastheiuquiry. The Englishman recoiled from so severe a punishment, and the man received five hundred blows of a palm-stick on his feet He was doubtless carried away, his feet swollen to shapeless masses, incapacitating him from doing any work for the support of himself or his family for the next six months. We heard this incident related with singular obtuseness of feeling by the person concerned in it. Aguin, to illustrate our meaning by an instance of comparatively small moment, travelers always carry guns, and seem to think that every bird that flies is fair game. The number of pigeons destroyed annually under the walls of their dovecotes, and thrown into the river as carrion, is almost incredible. We are willing to believe that generally this is done in ignorance of their being private property. Lady Duff Gordon says:
"I am just called away by some poor men wht> want me to speak to the English travelers about shooting their pigeons. It is very thoughtless, but it is in great measure the fault of the servants and dragomans, who think they must not venture to tell their masters that pigeons are private property; I have a great mind to put a notice on the wall of my house about it. Here, where there are never less than eight or ten boats lying for full three months, the loss to the Fellaheen is serious, and our Consul, Mustafa Agha, is afraid to say anything. I have given my neighbors permission to call the pigeons mine, as they roost in flocks on my roof; nud to go out and say that the Sitt objects to her poultry being shot,—especially as I have had them shot off my balcony as they sat there." (p. 184.)
The root of the whole evil is the entire want of sympathy between Europeans and Easterns; and until they know each other better the evil will uot be removed. Hence the Egyptian is as prejudiced (to say the least) as the European. The so-called rebellion of last winter stirred up bad blood enough between the government and the governed; it is scarcely to be wondered at that the Frank should come in for his share:
"The worst thing is that every one believes that the Europeans aid and abet, and all declare that the Copts were spared to please the Frangees. Mind, I am not telling you facts; I only repeat what the people are saying. One Mohammad, a most respectable, quiet young man, sat before me on the floor the other day, and told me the horrible details he had heard from those who had come up the river. 'Thou knowest, O our lady, that we are a people of peace in this place: and behold, now, if one madman should come, and a few idle fellows go out to the Mountain (desert) with him, Efendeena will send his soldiers to destroy the place, and spoil our poor little girls, and hang us: is that right, O lady? And Ahmad-el-Berberee saw Europeans with hats in the steamer with Efendeeua and the soldiers. Truly, in all the world none are miserable like us Arabs. The Turks beat us, and the Europeans hate us and say 'quite right.' By God, we had better lay our heads in the dust (die), and let the strangers take our land and grow cotton for
themselves. As for me, I am tired of this miserable life, and of fearing for my poor little girls." Mohammad was really eloquent, and when he threw his meliiyeh over his face and sobbed, I am not ashamed to say that I cried too.
"I know very well that Mohammad was not quite wrong in what he says of the Europeans. I know the cruel old platitudes about governing Orientals by fear; I know all about 'the stick' and 'vigor,' and all that. But I 'sit among the people,' and I know too that Mohammad feels just the same as John Smith or Tom Brown would feel in his place, and that men who were exasperated against the rioters in the beginning are now in much the same humor as free-born Britons might be under similar circumstances." (p. 184.)
We have doubtless ourselves much to blame for the estimate which Easterns have formed of our national character; the more so, that they give us full credit for every virtue the exercise of which we allow them to see; but forbearance, temper, and consideration for men belonging to the less civilized race of mankind, are not often among those virtues, and we are afraid that an arrogant and overbearing spirit is sometimes exhibited by Englishmen in the East, which may one day cost them dear. We would fain believe that the days of injustice to other nations, whether of act or thought, are passing away. Not very long ago, we regarded the French and the Germans as we now regard the Indians and the Egyptians. The steamboat and the railway, those great missionaries of civilization, are weaiing down our island belt of prejudice, and with better acquaintance we are beginning to learn that other people, black as well as white, are men of like passions with ourselves. A harder lesson is to be more than tolerant, to treat "barbarians," il savages," as you would treat a countryman, remembering that yon lose nothing by the act, and he gains all. It was this kindly sympathy which made the authoress so many friends among the Egyptians:
"I often feel quite hurt at the way in which the people here thank me for what the poor at home would turn up their noses at. I think hardly a dragoman has been up the river since Er-Rasheedee died, but has come to thank me as warmly as if I had done himself some great service, and many to give me some little present. While the man was ill, numbers of the Fellaheen brought eggs, pig