No. 784.
Mr. Beardsley to Mr. Fish .

No. 125.]

Sir: Since my return to Egypt both His Highness the Khedive and his excellency Nubar Pasha have spoken to me very earnestly on the

subject of judiciary reform.

* * * * * *

I remarked that I thought the subject had been considered by the United States entirely on its merits, and I endeavored to explain to His Highness that a question of so much importance as that of judiciary reform, which proposed to change the status of American interests in Egypt and modify our treaties with the Ottoman Empire, could not be finally accepted by the United States without the approval of the treaty-making powers, the President and the Senate. His Highness asked me if the President and yourself accepted the reform, subject to the approval of the Senate, I replied that I was not prepared to answer that question at present.

His excellency Nubar Pasha is very desirous to commence the organization of the new courts early next year, but does not feel warranted in doing so until at least two other powers shall have accepted the project. England, Prussia, and Italy have formally accepted it. The [Page 1170] interests of these countries in Egypt are very great and the reform has been accepted by them only after mature consideration. So far as I know, there is not a single foreign representative here, unless it be the Greek, who has lately arrived, who is not personally in favor of the project; and a knowledge of the existing state of things in Egypt would convince the greatest stickler for consular authority of its necessity for the good administration of justice.

A few of the nationalities represented here support regular organized consular courts of law, presided over by judges competent to administer justice according to the laws of their respective governments. Such courts are maintained only by England, France, and Italy. With the thirteen other countries represented here by consuls-general, justice is administered by the consul-general or his vice-consul-general, or whoever may be delegated for the purpose or happen to find himself in charge. I do not know that it is a very serious reflection on the consular corps of Egypt to say that, as a rule, justice is not administered in their courts. Legal attainments are not always made a test of appointment to these positions, and even the best legal mind might be confused with sixteen different codes of laws to deal with. Besides, several of the consuls-general in Egypt are not natives of the countries they represent, and have a very imperfect knowledge of their laws.

From this state of things results legal chaos, and the consular tribunals are choked with thousands of cases which, owing to disputed jurisdiction, unjust decisions, lack of executive power, &c, can never be settled until some reform is introduced.

The guarantees given by the Egyptian government in the project of reform now proposed appear to be ample, and the probation clause removes all apprehension of a permanent mistake being made. Every feature of the proposed reform was so ably represented to the Department by my predecessor, Mr. Hale, at the time the subject was under discussion in Egypt, and by Mr. Boker, during the consideration of the project by the commission at Constantinople, that I need enter into no details. The subject has not been officially considered in Egypt since I have been here until now. Now, however, that his excellency Nubar Pasha has returned to Egypt, the basé of operations has again changed to Cairo, and it becomes desirable that 1 should know exactly how far our government has committed itself to the project.

The speedy acceptance of the judiciary reform now under consideration by all the powers would be an act of mercy to Egypt, and it would be a great satisfaction to me to be able to assure His Highness that we have accepted it in all its details, subject only to the approval of the Senate, and that the matter will be submitted to the consideration of that body as soon as it shall have assembled.

I am, &c,