Mr. Comanos to Mr. Evarts.
Cairo, August 19, 1879. (Received September 12.)
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|
|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.
CHANGE OF MINISTRY.
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.,