1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Sherif Pasha

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SHERIF PASHA (1818–1887), Egyptian statesman, was a Circassian who filled numerous administrative posts under Said and Ismail pashas. He was of better education than most of his contemporaries, and had married a daughter of Colonel Sèves the French non-commissioned officer who became Soliman Pasha under Mehemet Ali. As minister of foreign affairs he was useful to Ismail, who used Sherif’s bluff bonhomie to veil many of his most insidious proposals. Of singularly lazy disposition, he yet possessed considerable tact—he was in fact an Egyptian Lord Melbourne, whose policy was to leave everything alone. His favourite argument against any reform was to appeal to the Pyramids as an immutable proof of the solidity of Egypt financially and politically. His fatal optimism rendered him largely responsible for the collapse of Egyptian credit which brought about the fall of Ismail. Upon the military insurrection of September 1881, Sherif was summoned by the khedive Tewfik to form a new ministry. The impossibility of reconciling the financial requirements of the national party with the demands of the British and French controllers of the public debt, compelled him to resign in the following February. After the suppression of the Arabi rebellion he was again installed in office (September 1882) by Tewfik, but in January 1884 he resigned rather than sanction the evacuation of the Sudan. As to the strength of the mahdist movement he had then no conception. When urged by Sir Evelyn Baring (Lord Cromer) early in 1883 to abandon some of the more distant parts of the Sudan, he replied with characteristic light-heartedness: “Nous en causerons plus tard; d’abord nous allons donner une bonne raclée à ce monsieur” (i.e. the mahdi). Hicks Pasha’s expedition was at the time preparing to march on El Obeid. (Vide Egypt No. 1 (1907), p. 115). Sherif died at Gratz, on the 20th of April 1887.