No. 483.
Mr. Comanos to Mr. Evarts.

No. 329.]

Sir: Referring in particular to the last two sentences of my dispatch No. 324, of the 16th of July last, I have the honor to inclose herewith translation of the Sultan’s firman to the new Khedive of Egypt. A few minutes after the formal reading of the firman, the doyen of the consular and diplomatic body, M. de Martini, agent and consul-general for Italy, read to His Highness a congratulatory address, to which His Highness replied. Translations of the address and reply are herewith inclosed.

On Thursday, August 14, at about 9 o’clock a.m., the doctors of Moslem law (ulema), the high clergy of the various Christian sects, the Jewish chief rabbi, the diplomatic and consular body, the higher [Page 1014] officers of the state, the members of the mixed tribunals, and a number of prominent persons, assembled in the throne hall at the Cairo citadel. Soon His Highness the Khedive entered at a side door, followed by several ministers of state, and took his stand on the floor in front of the vice-regal throne. When the arrival of the firman bearer was announced His Highness advanced to meet him to the platform outside the main entrance to the hall. Ali Fuad Bey kissed the firman, touched it to his forehead, and then handed it to the Khedive, who in his turn went through the same formality, and then gave it to Tala’at Pasha, chief secretary of Turkish correspondence, who also rendered to it the same homage. The Khedive with Ali Bey at his side returned to his former position, and Tala’at Pasha took his stand in the very center of the grand hall facing the Khedive, and having on his right the diplomatic body, and all the Europeans who were present, and on his left the doctors of law, chiefs of sects, &c. Just behind Tala’at Pasha was a large square throne-like seat which he did not use. Without one exception every person present stood on the level floor of the hall while Tala’at Pasha read through in an inaudible voice, in the Turkish language the whole of the firman; 101 guns were fired from the fortress. No sooner had the reading ended than a Moslem doctor stepped forward and recited a “Du’aah,” i. e., a “calling” upon God to bless the Sultan and Khedive. The Khedive then passed out to another saloon followed by the entire assemblage, which, however, did not at once enter the saloon, but waited in various ante-chambers. The first who were admitted to congratulate His Highness were the firman bearer, the highest state functionaries, and the ulemas. After about a quarter of an hour the diplomatic body, and the personnel of the consulates were received—about 40 persons in all. M. de Martino read the address to His Highness to which His Highness replied (inclosure 2). The Khedive then seated himself in one corner of the long sofa; and the whole company sat down on the same sofa in a line around two sides of the saloon, which began with M. de Martino next to the Khedive and on his right, and ended with the consular clerks at the farthest end of the sofa. Pipes and coffee were served to all by about 20 servants. After about 10 minutes the company rose, the Khedive walked to the middle of the saloon and there shook hands with one and all of those present. Cherif Pasha went as far as the door of the saloon.

For three successive evenings the thoroughfares of the city and many palaces were illuminated. Wherever His Highness drove past he was cheered. The public seems pleased with the change of Khedive, although many of the strict old Moslem party would have preferred Halim Pasha, the eldest member of the Muhammed Ali family.

Remarks upon the firman:

1. The Khedive’s full name is Muhammed Tewfik; his age, about twenty-eight years.

2. Sirdar means field-marshal.

3. The Osmanieh with diamonds, is the highest Ottoman decoration 5 the diamond Medjidieh is the next highest.

4. Egypt proper (Upper and Lower) extends from the Mediterranean to the cataract just above Assouan, and from the Libyan Desert to the Suez Canal and Bed Sea. But it has for some time past included also the peninsula of Sinai, and the desert southwest of a conventional line drawn from Arish, on the Mediterranean, to the head of the Gulf of Akabah, at Elah.

5. The territories that have been united with Egypt are:

The Soudan, i. e., all those districts under Egyptian rule that lie [Page 1015] south of the cataracts at Assonan, west of the Red Sea and east of the Libyan Desert, and extends even south of the equator. These districts are: Dongola, Berber, Khartoum, with the city of Khartoum (the capital of all the Soudan), Senaar, Feiz-oghln, White Nile or Afashoodah, Takah, Kordofan, Darfoor (divided recently into four districts).
Zailaá, from the straits of Bab el-Mandab to Cape Guardafui, united with Egypt in 1875.
Sonakin, on the Red Sea.
Mussawwah, on the Red Sea, between the 13° and 18° north latitude.
The oases of the Libyan Desert.

6. The population of the Khediviate of Egypt:

In Muhammed Ali’s time the population of Egypt proper was about 3,000,000, now it is estimated at 5,330,000
Khartoum 750 000
Afashoodah 250,000
Senaar 500,000
Feiz-oghln 500,000
Kordofân 1,000,000
Berber 250,000
Dongola 250,000
Tâkah 1,000,000
Sonakin 250,000
Mussawwah 250,000
Zailaá (unknown)
Sinai Peninsula and Arish Masr 6,000
Total, at least 10,336,000

The foregoing geographical and statistical remarks are taken from the Arabic Geography of Egypt, by M. Amûn Fikri, published early this year, a large volume containing the most recent and authentic details concerning Egypt.

* * * * * *

7. * * * In this connection I respectfully call your attention to the fact that the present Khedive is very unfavorable to the system of harem, and himself has but one wife. * * *

8. The creditors of the Egyptian Government have been well cared for in the new firman.

I will here remark that the entire floating debt of Egypt is to-day estimated at between five and six million pounds Egyptian. The Khedive expects to appoint a commission of liquidation, the European members of which will probably arrive sometime next November. After this is done Messrs. Rothschild will probably pay over the balance still due of the domainial loan (three and a half million pounds), which will enable the Khedive, with economy, to pay the most pressing part of the floating debt.

In 1840 Muhammed Ali had a standing army of 148,000 men, beside the irregulars, and a navy consisting of 60 war-ships and 20,000 seamen. According to the agreement of 1841 he was to reduce his standing army to 18,000 men.

10. Ali Fuad Effendi, the bearer of the firman, is the son of the great Ali Pasha, who for so many years stood at the head of the Turkish ministry during the reigns of the Sultans Abdul Medjid and Abdul Aziz.


Yesterday the Khedive changed the Cherif Pasha ministry, and the new ministry is composed as follows: Presidency of the council of ministers, [Page 1016] the Khedive himself; Zulfiear Pasha, minister of justice and ad interim minister of interior; Mustafa Pasha Fehmi, minister of foreign affairs; Haidar Pasha, minister of finance; Osman Pasha Rofki, minister of war and marine? Muhammed Marashli Pasha, minister of public works; Mahmoud Pasha Sami, minister of wakf; Ali Ibrahim (just created pasha), minister of public instruction.

It is said that Riaz Pasha, formerly a member of the late Nubar-Wilson ministry, is expected soon from Europe, and is to be appointed minister of interior.

As for the address of the doyen of the consular and diplomatic body (inclosure 2), I beg to call your attention to the commanding terms in which it is couched. According to it the Khedive is to walk henceforth in the track marked out for him. This I understand to mean that Prance and England, with the consent of the other European powers, are to have the chief direction of Egyptian affairs.

I have, &c.,

[Inclosure 1 in No. 329.—Translation.]

Sultan’s firman of 19 Shdbân, 1296, August 8, 1879, to Tewfik, Khedive of Egypt.

To my illustrious vizier (adjutant), [1] Tewfik Pasha, &c., &c., &c., called to the Khediviate of Egypt with the title of eminent and real sirdar (commander), [2] and decorated with my imperial orders of the Osmanieh, [3] and Medjidieh in diamonds. May the Almighty grant him everlasting glory, &c.

Whereas Ismael Pasha, Khedive of Egypt, was relieved of his functions on the 6th of Radjeb, 1296 (June 26, 1879); whereas, Considering thy services, thine uprightness, thy loyalty both toward my person and toward my empire, thine experience in the affairs of Egypt, and thy fitness for bettering the unhappy situation from which that country has for some time past suffered; whereas, finally, in conformity with the order established by the firman of the 12th Muharram, 1283 (May 27, 1866), for the transmission of the Khediviate after the order of primogeniture from eldest son to eldest son, we have bestowed upon the, the eldest son of Ismail Pasha, the Khediviate of Egypt [4], such as it is by its ancient limits, along with the territories [5] that have been thereto united [6].

Inasmuch as the development of the prosperity of Egypt, and the establishment of the security and quiet of its inhabitants form the object of our most lively solicitude, we did some time past execute a firman which confirmed the ancient privileges of that land; but as some of the provisions of the aforesaid firman have given rise to the present difficulties, in order to confirm those of these privileges that are to remain intact, and in order to correct and improve those that appear to have need of some changes, we have caused to be inserted the following stipulations:

All the revenues of this province are collected in my imperial name. As the inhabitants of Egypt count among the number of my subjects, and as they in this character are never to suffer the lightest oppression, the Khedive of Egypt, to whom is confided the civil, financial, and judicial administration of the land, shall have the right, under the condition above mentioned, to elaborate and introduce all internal laws and regulations necessary for the object in question conformably with justice.

The Khedive shall have the right, without that thereby the political treaties signed by my government be infringed, nor my rights of sovereignty over his country, to conclude and renew all conventions agreed upon with the agents of foreign powers concerning customs duties and commerce, and in general to carry on all negotiations with foreign countries relative to internal affairs, with a view to developing commerce, industry, and agriculture, and to regulating the exercise of the right of police towards foreigners in all their dealings with the government and the people. These conventions [7], before promulgation by the Khedive, shall be communicated to my Sublime Porte. The Khedive shall have the full and entire direction of the financial affairs of the country, but he shall not have the right to contract loans, unless it be such as are solely in the interest of regulating the present financial situation, and such as shall be concluded in perfect agreement [8] with the present creditors or the delegates officially empowered to represent their interests.

The Khedive shall not under any pretext, or for any motive soever, cede to others In whole or in part the privileges or territories accorded to Egypt, which have been confided to him and which are an emanation of the prerogative inherent in the sovereign [Page 1017] power. The Epyptian administration shall take care and see to it that the yearly tribute, fixed at 750,000 Turkish pounds, be regularly paid. Coin shall be struck in Egypt in my imperial name.

[9] In time of peace 18,000 soldiers suffice for the internal defense of Egypt; this number shall not be exceeded. Still, as the land and sea forces of Egypt are destined also for the service of my government, in case my Sublime Porte should be engaged in war, this number can then be increased in such proportions as shall be deemed proper. The banners of the land and sea forces, and the insignia of the different grades, shall be the same as in my armies. The Khedive shall have the right to appoint to positions of officers of the land and sea forces up to the rank of colonel, inclusive, and to civil functions up to the second rank, inclusive. The Khedive shall no longer be able, as heretofore, to cause to be constructed iron-clad ships without being authorized by my government.

Thou shalt take care to watch over the strict application of the conditions that I have just enumerated, which, after having been sanctioned by my imperial iradé, sealed in my presence, and headed with my sovereign signature, shall be taken to thee by the most honorable Aali Effendi Fuad [10], my first secretary. Given the 19th Shabân 1296 anno Hegirse (August 8, 1879).

Note.—The numbers [1] [2] [3], &c., up to [10] refer to the “remarks upon the firman” in the body of the dispatch with which this is inclosed.

[Inclosure 2 in No. 329.—Translation.]

The doyen of the consular and diplamatic body, Hons, de Martino, agent and consul-general of Italy, to the Khedive.

My Lord: The diplomatic and consular body congratulates Your Highness upon the solemn act that has just been accomplished.

Called by the magnanimity of His Majesty the Sultan, and the goodwill of the powers to the Government of Egypt, Your Highness has a difficult task to fulfill—that of giving to the country a good administration, which can insure to the same a lasting prosperity. Your faighness has pronounced reassuring words—morality and justice.

The moment has now come to apply the principles that are the fundamental basis of all good administration. Set yourself to this work with courage and without delay, my lord. This is no longer the hour for unrealizable promises and ephemeral institutions. Facts are with pleasure counted upon; and our governments, who take an interest in the prosperity of the country, and success of the work which is confided to you, do not doubt that you will prove yourself worthy of their confidence, and of the confidence of the country that has authorized your coming to the power.

Walking steadfastly in the track marked out for you, Your Highness can be sure of the co-operation, the help, and the sympathy of all the powers.

The Khedives reply to the foregoing.

Gentlemen: I thank the diplomatic body for the words that have just been spoken. I am resolved to insure the application of the principles which I set forth the day I was called to the government of Egypt by the good will of His Majesty the Sultan, and that of the powers. The task is difficult. You yourselves recognize this. I shall devote myself wholly thereto, now that my action is more free; and I entertain the hope that, with your efficacious co-operation, I shall achieve its fulfillment.