Mr. Farman to Mr. Evarts.
Cairo , June 27, 1879. (Received July 19.)
Sir: I had the honor to send you yesterday the following telegram
Secretary Evarts, Washington:
Khedive, accordance orders from Sultan, has abdicated in favor of his son Tewfik, who will be proclaimed Khedive at citadel 6 o’clock to-day. All quiet.
On the evening of the 21st instant, the Khedive gave to the French and English consuls-general his reply to their demand for his abdication. His Highness had been given forty-eight hours for his reply, instead of the time mentioned in my dispatch No. 303 of the 20th instant.
His answer was in substance that he had telegraphed to Constantinople for instructions, and had not yet received a reply; that when it came he would have to trouble them to come and receive his answer. He added that he could not relieve himself of the responsibilities of the Government of Egypt without the orders of the Sultan.
The French consul-general, much irritated by this unexpected response of the Khedive, said to him: “How long has Your Highness been the humble servant of the Porte?” “Since my birth, monsieur,” was the quick reply of the Khedive.
Other conversations took place which, on the part of the French consul-general, were at least animated. Two days after the German consul-general and the acting Austro-Hungarian consul-general also advised the Khedive to abdicate, and the following day the Italian consul-general did the same.
All possible pressure was brought to bear upon the Khedive to obtain his abdication without awaiting the decision of the Sultan. He was promised in that case a civil list, certain private property, and the succession of his son, and threatened, in case he did not yield, with having his uncle, Halim Pasha, as his successor, and being sent away without anything.
On the 24th, the French and German consuls-general went to the palace at three o’clock in the morning and had him called, causing great terror in the harem by the fear of an assassination, to inform him that they had come to give him the last chance to abdicate in favor of his son, and that in a few hours Halim Pasha would be appointed, and it would be too late. The Khedive told them he thought there would be time enough yet to abdicate; said he would see them the next day, and bade them good night, and went back to his rooms.
During the day other attempts of the same character were made, based on information claimed to have been received from Constantinople, that the Sultan was about to appoint Halim, and offers of written guarantees [Page 1006] of what had been promised. But the Khedive firmly said he would only resign his power into the hands of the Sultan or by his orders.
The next day (yesterday) in the morning, a telegram came to the palace from the Sultan, directed to the Crown Prince, Tewfik Pasha, informing him that he had been appointed Khedive of Egypt, and directing him to proclaim the fact himself. At the same time another telegram came directed to the Khedive, and ordering him to surrender his powers into the hands of his son Tewfik, who has been appointed Khedive.
His Highness immediately sent for his ministers and the prince, who resides at the palace Ismailia, half a mile distant, and on his arrival informed him that he was Khedive of Egypt, and at the same time expressed to him his wish that his reign might be successful, adding that he hoped he would not forget that he was his father. The prince is a very kind-hearted, sympathetic person and devoted to his father, and the scene that followed is said to have been very affecting. The Khedive, however, acted manfully, and soon afterwards, in the presence of his ministers, abdicated in favor of his son.
At five o’clock the consuls-general in uniform, such judges as there were in Cairo, and a large number of prominent persons, met at the palace Ismailia to accompany the prince to the citadel, about three miles distant, to attend the ceremony of proclaiming him Khedive.
The prince left his palace accompanied in the same calash by his two brothers, Hussein and Hassan Pashas and Chéréf Pasha, and followed by a long train of carriages. Cavalry were drawn up on either side of the street leading from the palace, and for a considerable distance before arriving at the citadel were found soldiers arranged in the same manner.
The news of the change in the government, which was not generally known until after two o’clock, was quickly spread through the city, and the crowd became so great near the end of our route that we could not have reached the place of the ceremony had not the way been guarded by the soldiers.
While we were ascending the high hill on which the citadel is situated one hundred and one guns were fired, which announced the entering upon his reign of the new Khedive.
Within the fortification of the citadel is the old palace of Mohammed Ali, lately used as offices for the department of war, the mosque of Mohammed Ali, and a small palace used on occasions of ceremonies of state.
On their arrival the Crown Prince, his brothers, and the ministers, all in full uniform, were seated in a large room in this palace. The diplomatic and consular corps were first presented. As they entered the prince arose and came forward to meet them. The doyen of the diplomatic body made a short complimentary speech in French, to which the prince responded in the same language. We were then seated, smoked the chibouk, drank coffee, and soon afterwards took our leave.
After our departure various civil, religious, and military bodies were received, and the ceremony of the inauguration of Prince Mohammed Tewfik Pasha as Khedive of Egypt was ended.
The same hour marked the termination of the reign of Ismail Pasha, who had remained almost alone in his palace Abdin.
This termination was for him as sad as it was sudden and unexpected. It is said that even up to that morning His Highness did not believe that the Sultan would depose him, and there was scarcely a person at Cairo who two weeks before anticipated any such result.
There will be very different opinions not only as to the merits and demerits of the reign of Ismail Pasha, but also as to the arbitrary act of [Page 1007] the powers in procuring his deposition or abdication without any request of his own people, and against the wish of all the leading personages of the state, civil, religous, and military.
However much may be said against him, one thing is beyond dispute: Egypt, during the sixteen years of his reign, has advanced more in all that pertains to modern civilization than in the hundred, or perhaps five hundred, years next preceding, and more than it will be likely to for a long time to come; and for this advancement the country is almost wholly indebted to him.
Unfortunately for His Highness personally and perhaps for his country, he had seen too much of Europe, and conceived the idea that a great African state, perhaps empire, could be established on the European model on the banks of the Nile, and extending from the Mediterranean to the equator.
He learned too late that the engrafting of European civilization upon the old Oriental system is expensive and ruinous. It is easy, as the world’s history shows, to successfully plant new colonies; but to create new and vigorous states by engrafting modern civilization on the stocks of old ones, is an experiment the possible success of which remains to be demonstrated. No one has tried more faithfully and persistently this process than the Khedive, and he has attained a certain measure of success, but in so doing he has incurred an immense debt and ruined himself.
Among the improvements made are 1,200 miles of railway, built at a cost, including interest, of $65,000,000; over nine thousand miles of telegraphic lines; the ports of Alexandria and Suez, which have cost over $20,000,000; canals of navigation and irrigation, that have cost over $25,000,000; and the reclamation of several hundred thousand acres of desert land.
These are some of the greater improvements. There are smaller ones in greater numbers, all of which have been very expensive.
The Suez Canal has cost Egypt, including interest to date, over £16,000,000; and if we take into consideration the rate at which bonds have been sold to procure money for this object, this sum represents in the presentindebtednessofEgyptnotlessthan£25,000,000 ($125,000,000).
Where else in the Ottoman Empire have any such improvements been made? Asia Minor has a few miles of railroad built by an English company; Syria has not a mile nor a port, except the poor ones nature has given her; she can only boast of a wagon road built twenty years ago, from Beirut to Damascus, by a French company.
And yet the Ottoman Empire has contracted a debt that no one expects to be paid.
It is not, however, my purpose to enter at this time into any details concerning the Egyptian debt, or the causes that have led to the fall of the Khedive.
I will add that the newspaper war that has been carried on in Europe against him for the last two years, principally through the influence of groups of large stock speculators, and by means of their money, has created an erroneous public opinion and very unjust prejudices. Enough can be truthfully said against the reign of any Oriental prince; but the overthrow of the Khedive is not at all, or only in a small measure, due to the causes that have served as the texts of the principal newspaper articles that have been published on Egypt, since the commencement of its financial crisis.
It is true that the Khedive while in Europe saw many costly palaces and beautiful gardens, and theaters and operas, and learned to like this [Page 1008] part of modern civilization. As every little city in Europe had its theater, and all the large ones many, and an opera house, why should not the great city of Cairo also have its amusements? Thus with the useful improvements of Europe came also its luxuries; and this has undoubtedly added to the indebtedness of Egypt, but the amounts expended in this manner have been greatly exaggerated, and have only exceeded the like expenditure of European cities because of the greater expense of sustaining such institutions in this country.
No objection is made by any one to the new Khedive. Like crown princes generally he may be said to be popular. But princes usually develope into the sovereign very soon after coming to the throne, and in the difficult position in which he is placed, it cannot be expected that he will govern long without serious opposition on financial questions.
Personally he is agreeable. He is of fair complexion, a little under the medium height, but stout and robust. He speaks French well, though, perhaps, fortunately for him, he has never seen Europe. He is kind, quiet, modest, and naturally very diffident, but of more than ordinary capacity and intelligence. He has had considerable experience in governmental affairs, though he is but twenty-six years old. He is of a much more serious character than his father, and a devout Musselman, though he has, like his brothers, but one wife, and lives, so far as regards his family, as nearly like a European as the customs of the country will permit.
Judging from his character we should naturally expect a successful reign, but between the Sultan and the powers of Europe, the Khedive of Egypt is placed in a situation, the difficulties of which can only be understood by one who has resided for a considerable time in the country, and had an opportunity to become acquainted with its governmental affairs.
Immediately after the arrival of the telegram announcing the appointment of the new Khedive, the old ministers all offered their resignations, which were not accepted, and they were requested to continue in their respective positions.
It is expected that Cherif Pasha will remain at the head of the ministry.
I have, &c.,