Men of the Time, eleventh edition/Arabi, Ahmed

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ARABI, Ahmed, the leader of the military insurrection in Egypt, was born of a fellah family, resident in a small village in the province of Charkièh, in the Eastern portion of Lower Egypt, nearly on the borders of the desert. He was enlisted in the army during the reign of Said Pasha, who initiated the system of replacing the foreign officers by native Egyptians. Arabi was one of those thus selected, and he rose rapidly in rank; but the Viceroy was capricious, and one day he had Arabi punished with some hundred blows of a stick, and relegated him to half-pay. Arabi, who had learned to read and write, and had compatriots at Ezher, the religious university of Cairo, went thither to study science, and although he could not complete a course which requires about twenty years to accomplish, he learnt sufficient to enable him to pass for a savant among his colleagues in the army. Ismail Pasha restored him to the army, and from this time Arabi was regarded by his Egyptian colleagues as a pious and learned man, his conduct being, according to Mussulman morality, irreproachable. He married the daughter of the nurse of El Hami Pasha, son of Abbas Pasha, who had been brought up in the Prince's palace: this afforded him somewhat of a competence. During the Abyssinian campaign he managed to have the charge of the transport, and remained at Massama to forward the convoys. After the campaign he was employed in the transport of sugar from the Khedive's factories in Upper Egypt, and having a quarrel with the manager of the Khedive's property, he returned to Cairo, and was again replaced in the army, being at the time lieutenant-colonel. He became the intimate counsellor of Ali Bey El Roubi, who was the means of raising Arabi from his obscurity. During the years 1876–8 he organised a sort of secret society among the fellah officers, which was not noticed, in consequence of the events that were then engaging the attention of the Khedive and the State. Some weeks previous to the coup d'état of Ismail Pasha against the European Ministry, several officers, among whom were Arabi and El Roubi, went to Ali Pasha Moubarek, a fellah of Charkièh, and proposed to place him at their head to overthrow the Khedive and the European Ministry. Ali Pasha Moubarek, who was a member of the Ministry of Wilson and Blignières, related the whole to the Khedive, who had an interview with the society of El Roubi and Arabi, and with their aid made the famous revolution which brought about the fall of the European Ministry of 1879. Ismail Pasha would doubtless have suppressed the society had he remained a week or a fortnight longer in Egypt. At the accession of Tewfik, the bulk of the public were yet ignorant of the name of Arabi. In a short time afterwards the Khedive made him colonel and entrusted him with a regiment. Ali Bey El Roubi was sent to Mansourah as President of the Tribunal of First Instance; but the conspiracy could not be destroyed, especially because no one in the Government, except perhaps the Khedive himself, considered that it had any real importance. At this time commenced the intrigues of the ex-Khedive, of Halim Pasha, and the Porte, and each party endeavoured to get hold of the only power that appeared to remain in Egypt, that is to say, this conspiracy of officers, which had drawn to it a large number of non-commissioned officers, and even of soldiers, by promising them an increase of pay, with better clothing and rations. The tactics of Arabi were to awaken the interest of the people in the movement which he was preparing, and to which he gave the name of "The Awakening of the National Party." In Sept. 1881 Arabi appeared at the head of a military and popular revolt, compelling the Khedive, Tewfik Pasha, to dismiss his former Ministry, and to convene a sort of Parliament called the Assembly of Notables, which met about the beginning of 1882. The affair of Sept. 8 resulted in the overthrow of Riaz Pasha's Administration, which was unpopular because it was supposed to be too deferential to certain foreign interests. Sheriff Pasha, who was thereupon appointed Prime Minister, pledged the Khedive to establish a Parliamentary Government. A manifesto was issued by the "National Party" on Dec. 18, 1881, containing an exposition of their views and purposes. They professed loyalty to the Sultan both as Imperial Suzerain and as Caliph of the Mussulman community, but would never suffer Egypt to be reduced to a Turkish Pashalic, and they claimed the guarantee of England and of Europe for the administrative independence of Egypt. They also professed loyalty to the Khedive, but would not acquiesce in a despotic rule, and they insisted upon his promise to govern by the advice of a representative assembly. At the beginning of 1882 the Khedive and Sheriff Pasha called together the Assembly of Notables. Arabi was then appointed Under-Secretary for the War Department, and was raised to the rank of Pasha. The Assembly of Notables wanted to vote the budget. This claim was refused by the Khedive's Government on account of the financial Controllers, and hence arose the Egyptian crisis. Arabi and the army had, however, a monopoly of power. The Khedive was forced to accept a National Ministry, and the Organic Law, adopted in defiance of the protests of the Controllers, placed the Budget in the hands of the Notables, thus subverting the authority of England and France embodied in the Control. Arabi, now substantially Dictator, and supported almost undisguisedly by the Sultan, proceeded to more daring measures. Eventually the English Government felt obliged to intervene by armed force. Then followed the bombardment of Alexandria by the fleet under the command of Sir Beauchamp Seymour (July 11, 1882), and subsequently (Sept. 13), the decisive defeat of Arabi and his army at Tel-el-Kebir by the British troops under Sir Garnet Wolseley. Arabi and his lieutenant, Toulba Pasha, fled to Cairo, where they surrendered to General Drury Lowe. It was intended at first to charge Arabi with murder and incendiarism, but he was actually brought to trial on the simple charge of rebellion (Dec. 3). He pleaded guilty, and was condemned to death, but immediately afterwards the sentence was commuted by the Khedive to perpetual exile from Egypt and its dependencies. Ceylon having been chosen as the place of banishment, Arabi, with other leaders in the rebellion, were landed at Colombo, Jan. 16, 1883.