Mr. Boker to Mr. Fish
Constantinople , October 1, 1872. (Received October 24.)
Sir: At the request of the Egyptian government I have the honor to present to the consideration of the Department of State a scheme of law intended to be introduced into Egypt if the consent of the great powers to the project can be obtained. I also inclose an explanatory circular letter from the Egyptian government.[Page 1101]
It seems to be unjust that there should be any hesitation to permit the Egyptians to take that first step towards self-government which will be the result of an independent judiciary—an institution which forms the basis of human freedom in all civilized countries, and which assures to the citizens liberty and equality in precise proportion to the perfection of their legal systems.
Though all the foreign ministers at Constantinople are in favor of permitting the Egyptians to try their judicial experiment under the inspection of the great powers, and with the reservation that it shall not be persevered in if, at the end of five years, it be found to fail on our own verdict, nevertheless the French government is at present the chief obstacle in the way of the attempt. * * * My opinion, however, is that, sooner or later, all the great powers will agree to permit the Egyptian government to put its legal project into practice, to the great future benefit of a thriving and friendly country, which has so long been restrained in its just political aspirations by the irresistible external pressure of foreign nations. Egypt is in a way to be coddled to death, or to lose everything like national character by the over-solicitous nursing of her two affectionate friends. The Suez Canal has become another bond of closer union and of increased care, and the great powers vie with one another, and amicably wrangle over their protegé, in order to induce her to adopt every policy that may be imposed rather than one which she may evolve from her own consciousness of her political and her domestic needs.
It should be a source of sincere satisfaction to us if the Government of the United States may be the first to recognize the justice of the Egyptian project, and to sanction so far as we may the trial of the system on the terms laid down in the inclosed protocol. Our example would have great influence in bringing about a successful issue to the negotiations with the other great powers. As the matter now stands it is promised that Italy will shortly agree to the proposition; England is favorable, but awaits the action of the other powers; Russia will give in her adhesion as soon as she is satisfied as to what the others will do; Germany and Austria will follow the lead of Russia; France will probably hang back until the last; and as to the opinions or the actions of the smaller powers, they are of no importance, as the system will go into operation as soon as the consent of the great powers can be settled.
At the meeting of the diplomatic representatives of all the powers, at which the Egyptian minister of foreign affairs produced the protocol, human ingenuity was exhausted in objections, observations, and proposed amendments to the document. All of these, Nubar Pacha explained, embodied and accepted as the protocol will show. When nothing further could be imagined and Nubar Pacha had agreed to everything, he was told that the meeting must receive the protocol, as thus altered to suit itself, with reserve, and that he must await the instructions of the various governments represented. The Egyptian government has been at work upon this purpose for five years, seeking advice and negotiating with every court in Europe. Having perfected the plan according to European ideas, it seems hard that it should fall to the ground because of the indifference, the inaction, or the jealousy of the powers whose advice has been had at every step of the proceeding, but whose accredited representatives seem never ready to speak in the name of their several governments. I therefore recommend that the Government of the United States should be the first to do simple justice toward our ancient ally.
I have, &c.,