No. 789.
Mr. Beardsley to Mr. Fish.

No. 150.]

Sir: I have the honor to inclose herewith an official copy, with a translation in English, of the imperial firman granted to His Highness the Khedive by His Majesty the Sultan, on the 9th of June, 1873.

This document has just been officially, issued by the Egyptian government for distribution to the foreign powers. Its principal features, some of which render it of more interest and importance than any former firman issued to the viceroys of Egypt, are, 1st, it confirms the change in the order of succession, fixes the rules which shall govern the succession, and confirms all the privileges granted by former firmans; 2d, it provides for a regency in case of the minority of the new Khedive, and establishes the manner of electing the regent in case no regent has been appointed by a will of the late Khedive 53d, it invests the Khedive with full and unlimited authority to make all internal laws and regulations necessary for the government of the country; 4th, it authorizes him to contract loans without the consent of the Sultan, and to enter into commercial and other treaties with the agents of foreign powers not prejudicial to the political treaties of the Sublime Porte; 5th, it empowers him to increase his army and navy to any extent, forbidding him only [Page 1179] to construct armored ships; 6th, it confirms the Khedive’s right to bestow the military grades as high as colonel, and civil grades as high as bey; and, 7th, it fixes the annual tribute to be paid to the Porte at 150,000 purses, which is equivalent to about $3,750,000.

These are the principal features of this important document, which confers upon the Khedive all the most important prerogatives of sovereignty. Although complete independence would add to his political importance, it is a question whether the Khedive would be materially benefited by its possession. He now enjoys all the material advantages of a sovereign, and escapes many of its responsibilities. It would be most fortunate for Egypt if His Highness would abandon his dreams of political independence and devote himself to the development of the country’s commercial and industrial resources. Without the embarrassment of foreign complications, and with the responsibility of the public defense shared with the Porte, he might reduce his army to the smallest force consistent with internal security, and thus, while relieving the country of a heavy monetary burden, enjoy all the substantial advantages and escape the gravest responsibilities of sovereignty.

I am, &c,


Imperial firman issued to the Khedive of Egypt

Imperial firinan of the 13th Rabi Akher 1290.* * * * *

After the usual form, the firman thus continues:

As thou art aware, we have taken into consideration thy demand, relative to the emanation of an imperial edict, uniting in detail, and with the modifications which have been deemed necessary, all the hatts and firmans since granted to the firman, according the right of succession to the late Mehemet Ali Pasha, being intended either to modify the form of succession, or accord fresh rights and privileges in harmony with the position of the khedivat, and the character of its people.

The present firman will in future replace all former imperial firmans; and its orders, hereafter expressed, will forever remain valid and executory.

The order of succession to the khedivat of Egypt, accorded by the firman given in our imperial hand, and dated the 2d Rabiul Akher 1257, has been so modified that the khedivat of Egypt passes to the eldest son of the person who shall find himself clothed with the dignity of Khedive; from him to his eldest son, and so on; that is to say, the succession is established exclusively by order of primogeniture, as we are persuaded that this will be conformable to the interests and good administration of the khedivat, and the welfare of its people.

On the other hand, taking into consideration the extent and importance of Egypt; appreciating thy care and efforts to promote her prosperity and the improvement of her population; the fidelity and devotion of which thou hast given me proof, I have admitted thee to all my confidence and favored thee with my good graces; to give thee signal evidence of which I have established as right of succession to the khedivat that the Egyptian government, its dependencies, together with the Caïmakamats of Souakum, Massaoua, and their dependencies, shall pass, as above stated, to thy eldest son, and after him, in accordance with the rules of primogeniture, to the eldest son of whosoever may be Khedive.

In case of the Khedive dying without male issue, the khedivat will pass to his younger brother; and should he not survive, to his eldest son. This definitively established rule does not apply to male children by the female line.

In order to assure the maintenance of and the carrying out of this mode of succession, the regency that will govern Egypt in case of minority is thus established:

At the death of the Khedive, should his eldest son still be a minor, (that is to say, under the age of eighteen years,) as he will still be Khedive, though minor, by his right to the succession, his firman will be immediately granted.

Should the deceased Khedive have previously appointed a regency, in a will signed and witnessed by two high functionaries, with a view to the proper administration of [Page 1180] the khedivat during the minority of his son, the regent and members of the regency shall immediately undertake the management of affairs, previously informing my Sublime Porte and imperial government, who will instantly approve and confirm, by firman, the regent and members of the regency in their respective positions. In case of the khedivat becoming vacant without a regency having been named, the latter will be formed of persons at the head of the administration of the interior, or war, finance and foreign affairs, council of justice, commanders and inspectors of the Egyptian army, and inspectors of provinces. The regency being thus formed, will proceed in the following manner to the election of a regent: These different beads of administration, having deliberated, will then elect one from among them as regent. This election will be decided either by unanimity or the majority of voices.

Should two persons receive the same number of votes, he who occupies the highest position, commencing with the administration of the interior, will be selected as regent, and the other members form the council of regency. They will undertake with the regent the administration of affairs, and in giving notice through Mazbatta to my Sublime Porte will be confirmed in their different functions by an imperial firman. Whether the regency should have been appointed during the lifetime of the Khedive or after his death, by election, in neither case can the regent or members of the regency be dismissed until the expiration of the term of their mandate. Should one of the members be removed by death, the survivors will choose and name another Egyptian functionary to replace him, or in case of the regent’s death the members of council will select his substitute from among themselves, and have another Egyptian functionary in the place vacated by the new regent.

When the young Khedive shall have attained his eighteenth year he will be considered of age, and govern alone as his predecessor.

Such is my will and my imperial decision.

I attach the greatest importance to the prosperity of Egypt, to the wellbeing, tranquillity, and security of her people, and as these depend equally on the administration, civil and financial, of the country, on the development of its interests, material and otherwise, which are the resources of the Egyptian government, we shall briefly and simply mention all the privileges which my imperial government has granted during past years at the present time to the Egyptian government, that they may in future be continued in favor of all succeeding Khedives.

The administration of the country, both civil and financial, together with its interests, material and otherwise, being in all their relations the creations of the Egyptian government, and as throughout the entire country the administration, good order, and the development of the resources of the land and the prosperity of the population depend entirely upon the harmony existing between, and the proper management of, the different authorities, on the one hand, and the exigencies of the times, local conditions, and the character and customs of the people on the other, the Khedive of Egypt is authorized to make all and whatever laws and regulations the necessity of the” country may demand.

He is also authorized to contract and to renew with the agents of foreign powers, without prejudice to the political treaties of my Sublime Porte, all necessary conventions relating to commerce and customs, or concerning the internal affairs of the country, and having for object the development of commerce and industry and the regulation of foreign police in all their relations with the government and people. The Khedive has the complete and entire disposition of the financial affairs of the country; he has full liberty to contract, without authorization, foreign loans in the name of the Egyptian government whenever necessary. The first, most essential, and most important duty of the Khedive being the protection and defense of the country, he is fully authorized to procure, establish, and organize such means of defense and protection as the necessities of time and place may require, and to augment or diminish, as may be necessary, and without restriction, the number of my imperial troops in Egypt.

The Khedive will retain, as heretofore, the privilege of conferring, in the military service, grades up to the rank of colonel, and in civil service up to that of Rutbeï Sanie.

The money coined in Egypt will be stamped in my imperial name; the colors of the troops, both naval and military, shall not differ from those of my other troops, and it is understood that, as regards ships of war, ironclads alone cannot be constructed without my permission.

By my imperial will, I send thee, through my imperial divan, this illustrious firman, invested with my imperial hatt, and confirming the above-named dispositions.

This firman includes, elucidates, modifies, and renders more complete all the firmans and imperial hatts which have, up to the present time, been granted to the Egyptian government, either to establish the order of succession, the nature of the regency in case of necessity, or to regulate the civil, military, and financial administrations, as well as the material and other interests of the country. It is my imperial [Page 1181] will that the rules and principles contained in this firman shall be forever maintained and observed instead of those named in my former firmans.

As for thee, in conformity to thy character, full of zeal and integrity, and to the knowledge thou hast acquired of the condition of Egypt, thou shalt faithfully execute the conditions fixed by this firman, and consecrate all thy efforts to the good government of the country, to assure by every possible means the repose and security of the people, and thus repay all my imperial favors and bounties in thy behalf. Thou shalt also pay the greatest, attention to remit each year, without delay and in its entirety, to my imperial treasury, the one hundred and fifty thousand purses of tribute established.