Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 49.djvu/168

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Egypt has been a practical abolition of human slavery. Under existing regulations every slave in Egypt (the former great market for enslaved people of Africa) may demand bis manumission if he chooses; and if the Soudan be retaken by Egyptian troops under British leadership, it will be equivalent to opening the prison doors to hundreds of thousands of captives.

In 1876 the district known as the "Payoum" on the west side of the Nile, southwest of Cairo, was, according to a correspondent of the London Times, "reduced by misrule to the greatest depths of misery ever probably experienced in modern times in Egypt. The burden of taxation and oppression bad produced an amount of want which almost bordered on starvation. At the present time (1894) it is one of the most prosperous and contented of provinces, and bids fair to become in the future the very garden of Egypt."

A further striking proof of the prosperity of Egypt under British administration is afforded by the financial report for 1895, made by Lord Cromer, the British diplomatic agent, which shows a revenue in excess of all expenditures for that year of £1,088,000 ($5,440,000).

That the continued prosperity and development of Egypt are dependent on the continued administration of the country by the British Government seems too clear to admit of questioning; and it is also not less evident that if Egypt should now be abandoned by it, all that has been done for it would be speedily undone.[1]

Finally, in considering the recent and remarkable fiscal experience of Egypt, one point of great economic interest should not be overlooked—namely, the lesson it teaches of the closeness of the relations of the finances of a state to the welfare of its people; and that these relations, which are apt to be obscured, or even wholly lost sight of, under conditions of high and complex civilization, speedily make themselves apparent, and are therefore more easily traced and studied in a country of limited area and simple conditions of living on the part of its people. This experience historically groups itself under three separate and distinct periods: First, the period of reckless prodigality under the reign of Ismail Pasha, from 1863 to 1879, of sixteen years. Second, a period of sudden retribution fraught with widespread misery, from 1879

  1. In a recent debate (1896) in the British House of Commons, Mr. Chamberlain, the Secretary of State for the Colonial Department, said: "It would be impossible to pass judgment upon the policy of the Government unless the Government first made up its mind definitely in regard to the immediate evacuation of Egypt. Nothing in recent history could be looked back to with more pride and satisfaction than the peaceful revolution in Egyptian affairs which had been accomplished with a handful of men and a British civil administration. If Egypt should be abandoned, all this would be undone. Egypt must be defended if her prosperity was to continue."