No. 476.
Mr. Farman to Mr. Evarts.

No. 283.]

Sir: Referring to my dispatch No. 281, of the 22d of February last, I have the honor to inform you that no new ministry has yet been formed, and that since the resignation of Nubar Pasha, on the 19th ultimo, we have had neither minister of foreign affairs nor minister of justice. There has been during this time much public agitation, but nothing that has resulted in any acts of violence, though it must be admitted that there has been and still is danger of an open revolt. The public sentiment is strongly against what is termed the inundation of the country by foreigners, principally English, who have taken possession of a large number of the most important official positions at high salaries, which are regularly paid, while other employes and creditors, in great numbers, and of all nationalities, are reduced to a state of destitution by the nonpayment of their claims.

The Khedive is much stronger personally with his own people, and also with resident foreigners, than he was six months ago, but there is much feeling against him on account of his having, as is claimed, permitted those who have not heretofore resided in Egypt, and who have no knowledge of the country, its people, or their language, to so completely take possession of his government.

The inclosed translations of the notes that have lately passed between the Khedive and the two powers that have assumed the control of Egypt will sufficiently explain his present position, which, it will be seen, is not one that has depended wholly on his will.

The Khedive’s letter to His Excellency Nubar Pasha, of August 28, 1878, has been heretofore transmitted to the Department. In this letter His Highness expressed his firm determination to establish an administration in harmony with the principles that govern European administrations, instead of that of a personal power, which up to that time had been the principle on which the Government of Egypt had been based, and stated that he wished to govern with and by his council of ministers.

[Page 997]

Nubar Pasha was instructed to form the new ministry, and took himself its presidency, and the portfolio of the minister of foreign a flairs and of justice. It is understood here that Mr. Wilson, who had been some time in Egypt as vice-president of the commission appointed by the Khedive to examine into the financial condition of the country, and to determine whether its revenues were sufficient to pay the rate of interest stipulated by the Goschen-Jaubert contract, was, at the voluntary request of the Khedive, and without any official pressure on the part of the English Government, made minister of finance. He was simply appointed as the Khedive’s minister, and had no representative character on the part of England. But immediately on his being appointed, France asked the appointment of one of her citizens as a member of the new cabinet, and, after considerable negotiation, Monsieur de Blignerè was appointed minister of public works, and this department was considerably enlarged, so as to include the railroads, the docks, except those of Alexandria, the post, the museum, and many other departments that had not theretofore belonged to it.

Up to the 18th of February these two Europeans and their colleagues were considered only as the Khedive’s ministers, appointed to assist in the government of Egypt, and to aid in introducing certain reforms, but responsible to His Highness, and liable to be replaced by others at his pleasure.

The above-mentioned notes have, however, very materially changed the situation.

On the resignation of Nubar Pasha the two European ministers demanded that he be reinstated, and asked their governments to sustain them in this demand.

The two powers, by their note of the 2d March, in reply to the Khedive’s of the 28th of February, say that they do not demand that he be reinstated as president of the council, but they consider it as very important that he continue to form a part of the cabinet, and they make no objection to the appointment of Prince Tewfik to be president of the council.

The Khedive, in his reply, says that he is ready, in order to better assure the working of the new system, and the carrying out of the reforms, to add a third European minister, or give such other guaranties as the two governments think they ought to suggest, but he formally declares his opposition to the re-entry of Nubar Pasha into the cabinet.

The suggestion of the Khedive to appoint a third European minister was designed to meet an objection that had been made to the retirement of Nuba Pasha, that in that case the two Europeans would be in the minority, and would not be able to do anything in the council of ministers against a majority that would adopt any policy suggested by His Highness. It was also understood that in case of such appointment the place was to be given to an Italian, the Government of Italy, following the precedent made by France, having already asked that one of its subjects be given a place in the new cabinet.

The English and French Governments seized at once upon the declaration of the Khedive’s willingness to conform to their decision in relation to such guaranties as they should suggest, without giving any answer to the suggestion of the appointment of a third European minister, and proceeded in a very formal manner to name the conditions on which they would consent to the retirement of Nubar Pasha, to wit:

That the Khedive could in no case be present during the deliberations of the council of ministers.
That the two European ministers should have jointly the power of giving an absolute veto to all measures that they should disapprove.
That in consideration of these concessions they would abstain from insisting upon the return to the ministry of Nuba Pasha.

The two governments took, at the same time, occasion to remind the Khedive of the serious responsibility he assumed in calling forth these new arrangements, and the gravity of the consequences to which he exposed himself if he should not be able to insure their entire execution, if difficulties should hinder the working of the government, or if the public order should be troubled a second time. This note was presented on Sunday morning, the 9th instant, with a demand that an answer be given that day. The answer, signed by the Khedive, was as categorical as the note of the powers. In it His Highness submits to all their demands, and adds that he understands the responsibility that he assumes by these new arrangements, and affirms that all his efforts shall tend to insure their entire execution, and that, under all circumstances, he will give the most complete and faithful co-operation to the cabinet for the maintenance of the public safety, and the working of the new order of things.

It was supposed by those who knew the facts in relation to the negotiations that a ministry would be formed on Monday, the 10th instant, but new difficulties arose.

The Khedive proposed to appoint Riaz Pasha, who, since the organization of the Nubar Pasha ministry, has held the portfolio of the minister of interior, to be minister of foreign affairs and of justice, and to supply his place with some one else, proposing at different times several good men. But the European ministers formally protested against the removal of Riaz Pasha from the department of the interior, and again called upon their respective governments to sustain them. It seems they were not satisfied with their power of an absolute veto, but proposed to have a cabinet of their choice. Since then the Khedive has awaited the further answer of the two powers, and no appointments have been made except that the hereditary prince has been appointed president of the council of ministers. It is, however, said to-day that the reply of the powers came last night, to the effect that Riaz Pasha must be retained as minister of the interior.

A telegram was also received two days ago by the English agent and consul-general, the Hon. C. Vivian, ordering him to London to confer on Egyptian matters. It is well known here that his opinion as to the proper policy to pursue in relation to Egypt is directly opposite to that of Mr. Rivers Wilson, and this difference of opinion is such that it does not seem possible for both of these gentlemen to remain in their respective positions. Mr. Vivian is an only son of Lord Vivian, and is understood as belonging to the liberal party, and his being summoned to London at this time, in connection with the decision of the English and French Governments that Riaz Pasha must remain in the department of the interior in accordance with the demand of Mr. Wilson, is construed as a victory for the latter.

It will be seen from what I have said that very little power is left to the Khedive.

* * * * * * *

I have, &c.,

[Inclosure 1 in No. 283.—Translation.]

Written declaration of the Khedive, made on the 28th February, 1879, to the two powers, England and France.

The Khedive will appoint the hereditary prince minister, without portfolio, to be president of the council.

[Page 999]

The Khedive will write to the prince a letter confirming his firm wish to govern according to the terms of the rescript of August 28, which must continue to be the governmental rule, and again affirming his sincere desire to see the financial engagements entered into by his government strictly executed.

His Highness adds that, the powers holding him responsible for the public safety and the regular working of the new administration, it is indispensable, in order that he be able to assume a responsibility, that he be in a position to follow the general action of the government, and he consequently asks—

That all measures needing his sanction be submitted to him by the competent minister, and be thereafter discussed and definitely decided upon in a meeting of the council presided over by him.
The right of convoking the council in order to bring before it the measures that he believes to be of use for insuring the public safety and the advancement of the prosperity of the country, the Khedive being always obliged, according to the terms of the rescript of August 28, to conform to the opinion of the majority of the council.

In a word, the Khedive desires to be heard on all questions of general interest; it is on this condition that he can accept the responsibility of the execution of the measures decided upon by the council; otherwise this responsibility will fall back upon the powers.



The French and English Governments, considering that the recent events raise a very serious difficulty, think that the two European ministers ought to have by them (or by their side) a native colleague of recognized capacity, in order that the system inaugurated by the rescript of August 28 may be maintained; moreover, it is to this system, and the benefits that Egypt ought to derive from its administration, that England and France attach a capital importance. The two governments see, outside of Nubar Pasha, no Egyptian personage who at the same time personifies the reform, and is capable of giving to his European colleagues the support and the information they need. They do not demand that Nubar Pasha remain president of the council, but they consider it as very important that he continue to form a part of the cabinet, and instruct us to declare this to His Highness, adding that in their view the experiment which is hardly commenced ought to be continued under the same conditions in which it was inaugurated and accepted by them.

The incident which occurred within the last few days is doubtless vexatious, but the two governments are of the opinion that it depends upon the Viceroy to efface the traces and remembrance thereof, by reconciling himself with a minister who is in a position to render great services to Egypt.

The two governments make no objection to the presidency of the hereditary prince, and, without entering into a discussion of the other propositions made by the Khedive, they willingly admit that the nature of the relations between His Highness and the council of ministers can be modified and bettered conformably to the usages of constitutional governments, i. e., in the sense of the propositions that have been made by the European ministers.


The Khedive’s reply to the preceding declaration.

In reply to the note which was transmitted to him by the representatives of England and France, in the name of their governments, the Khedive hastens to confirm his firm wish to maintain intact the rescript of the 28th August, 1878, and further, by his full co-operation, the new order of things which, in his view as in the view of the two governments, is to bring about great good to the country. The Khedive declares that he is also ready, for better assuring the working of this system and strengthening it, to admit of the appointment of a third European minister, or any other guaranty that the two governments think they ought to suggest.

The Khedive, moreover, considers that, for the new system to yield the results which one has a right to expect, it is indispensable that the cabinet include only such native elements as will give to the European ministers experience and authority, whilst insuring to them the respect and sympathy of the country. The Khedive can give the [Page 1000] assurance to the two governments that men fitted for the fulfillment of this purpose are to be found in the land. Of this he will take the responsibility.

It is for these reasons that the Khedive finds himself obliged to declare very frankly and openly that the return of Nubar Pasha into the cabinet would be an obstacle in the way of the purpose proposed.

This return, which would be a humiliation for the Khedive in the eyes of his people, would produce in all the native elements, without exception, very serious discontent; it would be a defiance thrown against their most susceptible sentiments, and one which might have the most unhappy consequences. The Khedive cannot have the idea of opposing himself even to a desire of the English and French Governments; he yields in advance if France and England persist in their wish to see Nubar Pasha return to the cabinet, but he considers it a duty to forewarn them, so that, if the new administration should hereafter through this step encounter difficulties in its working, or if the public safety should be again jeopardized, the governments will not be able to hold him responsible therefor and reproach him for not having apprised them.

The Khedive thanks the two governments for having given their adhesion to the appointment of the hereditary prince as president of the council of ministers. He admits that the relations between the chief of the state and the council of ministers cannot be modified except in conformity with the usages of constitutional government, i. e., by insuring the entire independence of the deliberations of the council of ministers.


The undersigned, agents and consuls-general of Great Britain and France, have been directed by their governments to make to His Highness the Khedive the following declarations:

The English and French Governments accept the expression of the Khedive’s willingness to conform to the decisions of France and England, and take note of the same.
It is understood that the Khedive can in no case be present at the deliberations of the council of ministers.
Prince Tewfik shall be appointed president of the council.
The two European ministers of the cabinet shall have jointly the right of opposing an absolute veto to every measure they shall disapprove.
In: consideration of these concessions the two governments will abstain from insisting upon the return to the ministry of Nubar Pasha, who himself declares that without the Khedive’s invitation he wishes no longer to form a part of the cabinet.
His Highness will comprehend the serious responsibility that he assumes by calling forth these new arrangements, and the gravity of the consequences to which he exposes himself, if he should be unable to insure their entire execution, if difficulties should hinder the working of the government, or if the public order should be troubled a second time.

The Khedive’s reply of the 9th of March to the declarations of Great Britain and France communicated to him on the same day.


The Khedive acknowledges, to Messrs. the agents and consuls-general of Great Britain and France, the receipt of the declarations that they were directed to transmit to him in the name of their governments, and to which he gives his entire adhesion.

The Khedive renews the expression of his firm will to conform to the decisions of the English and French Governments, and keep intact the rescript of the 28th of August, 1878, excepting the modifications upon which an agreement has been effected.
It is understood that the Khedive shall not be present, in any case, at the deliberations of the council of ministers; he only reserves to himself the right of summoning to him the ministers, either separately or together, to make known to them his ideas about the measures submitted for his sanction, or those which he may judge it useful to have brought before the cabinet.
The two European members of the cabinet shall have the right of opposing an absolute veto to every measure they may disapprove. This right cannot be exercised by the two European ministers except conjointly.
Prince Tewfik Pasha shall be appointed minister of the council.
The Khedive thanks the two governments for having taken his observations into consideration, and for not having insisted upon the return of Nubar Pasha to the cabinet.
The Khedive understands the responsibility that he assumes by these new arrangements; he affirms to the Governments of Great Britain and France that all his efforts shall tend to insure their entire execution, and that under all circumstances he will give the most complete and faithful co-operation to the cabinet for the maintenance of the public safety and the working of the new order of things.

The Khedive seizes this occasion for renewing to Messrs. the agents and consuls-general of Great Britain and France the assurance of his high consideration.

[Inclosure 2 in No. 283.]

[From the London Mail of March 14, 1879.]

egyptian finance.

Sir G. Campbell, who had given notice that he would move “That it is not desirable that Her Majesty’s Government should do anything to facilitate the raising of new loans by Oriental governments which have failed to meet the old ones,” said that, although he was precluded by the rules of the house from making his motion, lie wished to draw attention to the subject to which it referred.

He was in hopes that the proposal that Her Majesty’s Government should intervene in the raising of a loan for Turkey had gone off, and would not come up again. But in regard to Egyptian transactions of that kind, he was afraid that our government were venturing upon dangerous and slippery ground. Various missions had been sent out to improve Egypt, and, among other things, to enable her to pay her debts honestly. After the missions of the Right Honorable members for Shoreham and for the city of London came that of Mr. Rivers Wilson. Mr. Wilson had in one respect been much more successful than his predecessors, because his proceedings had had the effect of largely raising the price of Egyptian stock. It was a question, however, whether that result had been produced by fair means, and he confessed that he himself had grave doubts on that point. In his opinion, the present attempt ostensibly to introduce good government into Egypt was nothing less than a great stock-jobbing operation to raise the price of Egyptian funds, and enable those interested in those loans to unload them on the general public. He was given to understand great financial bodies in Paris and also bodies having political influence, had very much burnt their fingers by meddling with Egyptian loans, of which they held enormous amounts, and that unless they could put their bonds on the public they were likely to lose millions.

He understood that some arrangement had been made, he would not say a conspiracy, because that was an ugly word, by which those great financial bodies undertook that they would not throw their stock on the market, and so depress the stock for a certain time, and that, on the other hand, the Egyptian Government undertook that they would pay the interest for a certain period, and in the mean time those financial bodies would be enabled to unload their stock on the public, who would be duped by the transaction. There was a general belief abroad, although it might be unfounded, that the policy pursued by the present Government of Egypt, and which had to some extent, apparently, the support of Her Majesty’s ministers, was distinctly opposed to the views of Mr. Consul Vivian. The newspapers told them that the present Government of Egypt looked not to the interest of the bondholders only, but sought to reform the administration in order to benefit the people. That he believed to be a mere sham. The proof of the pudding was in the eating. Had the people of Egypt been treated more fairly and kindly by the present than by the former administrations of that country? They were now, he believed, quite as much, and probably more, ground down than they ever were before.

If the English public presisted in supposing that the administration had lately been carried on in Egypt with a pure and simple regard for the welfare of the people, they were not without the means of knowing better in the shape of the information given by able correspondents of the Times. Some very striking communications on that subject had appeared very lately in that journal. One letter in the Times of that day de-y scribed the state of things in Upper Egypt. The writer said:

“We rode on donkeys 200 miles through the more remote districts. Everywhere the most heart-rending state of poverty was revealed. Taxation having taken from the Arab every reserve he may have saved in years of comparative prosperity, the failure of the dourra corps through the excessive inundation of this year deprived him of any possible means of subsistence. Near the sugar factories the famine was proportionately [Page 1002] greater, as the drain upon, the resources of the people is of course heavier, where a large area of land has been seized for a crop which returns nothing to the actual cultivator, and where forced labor in the fields and factory deprives the peasant of his most valuable time. It was sad, in the midst of so much want, to see men driven with whips to labor for the English bondholder while the fields were lying unfilled.”

He was afraid there was too much truth in that.

With respect to the late proceedings at Cairo another correspondent of the Times, on Monday last, stated that, notwithstanding an authoritative declaration made last May that all the arrears of pay were to be paid, the claims of the army were neglected; that that most dangerous element was brought to a state of almost excusable disaffection; that in vain Mr. Vivian had remonstrated against the dangerous folly of disbanding an unpaid army, and that an outbreak would result. He would ask, was it true that the present finance minister of Egypt refused to pay the just dues of those officials, and that Mr. Vivian remonstrated against such refusal? Another correspondent said that all those men were in arrears of pay, some of them for a few months, some for a year, some even for two years; that severe hardship and privation resulted to them and their families in consequence; that they had petitioned again and again peacefully for what was owing to them and were told that there was nothing for them, because all the taxation was mortgaged to pay the public debt. Were Her Majesty’s ministers supporting a government which, while it paid the bondholders in full, treated its own officials in that way? He feared the allegation was true that during the last two years Egypt had been administered for the benefit of the foreign bondholders and not for the benefit of the inhabitants of the country. He was aware that Her Majesty’s Government had become involved in their present policy because they felt it necessary to stand well with France, but he hoped they would not persevere in the course they had adopted. The chancellor of the exchequer would, he hoped, inform the house whether he thought it was proper for Her Majesty’s Government to support the plans which had succeeded in raising the price of Egyptian bonds. For some time longer we might hear of these successful plans and of the good government of Egypt, but as soon as the great financiers of Paris had induced the people to take the bonds they would throw up the cards altogether.

He hoped the government would say something which would relieve the public from that apprehension. He should like to ask Her Majesty’s Government on what general grounds they had thought it desirable, to a certain extent in the case of Turkey, and in a decided degree in the case of Egypt, to assist, by the appointment of commissioners, those governments which had not been able to pay off their old loans, to raise new ones. Clever as Mr. Rivers Wilson undoubtedly was, he had raised the price of the bonds not by any action of his own, but because it was generally believed that he had the support not only of Her Majesty’s Government but also of the Government of France. Her Majesty’s Government were undertaking a very heavy responsibility if they misled a credulous public into believing that the Government of Egypt was solvent. A statement had been made in The Times which would lead the public to suppose that Mr. Rivers Wilson was, to a certain extent, a representative of the British Government. He maintained that statements of that kind had a considerable effect in misleading the public, and he hoped Her Majesty’s Government would inform the house that they did not countenance them. He trusted that the first object of Her Majesty’s Government was the decent government and fair treatment of the unhappy people of Egypt, and that they regarded, as a matter of only secondary importance, the claims of the French and other foreign bondholders.

Colonel Alexander said, having only just returned from Egypt, he could confirm everything that had fallen from the honorable member from Kirkcaldy. While in Egypt he met the gentleman whose letter appeared in The Times of to-day, and that gentleman stated to him then exactly what had appeared in The Times. The honorable member for Kirkendbright (Mr. Maitland) accompanied him, and were he in the house could confirm what had been stated by the honorable member from Kirkcaldy. One of the gentlemen who had been sent to inquire into the condition of the people, and who, from his knowledge of Arabic, was admirably qualified to do so, was unfortunately taken ill of small-pox soon after leaving Cairo. But if any one on the spot were to say the distress was exaggerated he could not have made use of his eyes. (Hear.)

Coming down the Nile he had seen sights which proved that the statements of the gentlemen in The Times were not in any way exaggerated. The people were in some places living skeletons, and almost resembled the condition of the natives of India during a time of famine. (Hear.) He was also on the spot when the outbreak-of the officers occurred. Arrears of pay for two years were due to them, and that the government acknowledged the justice of their claims was plain, when, after the outbreak, three months’ arrears were paid. Mr. Rivers Wilson and M. de Blignièrs were members of the administration of Nubar Pasha, and, therefore, parties to his conduct. It was useless to look for improvement in the country as long as such things were done.