- The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 24 Nov 1921, p. 311-330
- Currelly, Chas. T., Speaker
- Media Type
- Item Type
- Conditions in Egypt as the speaker found them. A presentation of the position as it comes from the workmen of Egypt; the position that the speaker found appealed to practically all the British who were there. The sympathy of the British entirely with the labouring class in Egypt, and it is the expression of that sympathy that has had a great deal to do with bringing about the present condition. First, in order to understand Egyptian affairs, a consideration of the very peculiar geography of the district. The individual playing a very small part in his own maintenance; the Government playing by far the larger part. Ways in which that is so. Individual but complete dependency upon the Government for their water, which means their food, leading to a condition of mental dependence on the part of the people. The Egyptian something of a slave by nature. The rule in Egypt invariably a foreign rule. Coming to modern times, the last turnover in the way of mercenaries being that of Mahomed Ali. Historical events since that time, with many anecdotes. Stories of financial chaos; of England and France trying to control the economic situation; of British authority; of discoveries of treasure. How these stories shape the country. The dread of the people their fear of their officials. The whole of officialdom as a class. Widespread financial corruption and graft. Consequences brought about by the terrorism in which many Egyptians live. Difficulties for the Egyptians in tackling the problem of English Government. The speaker's experience in going to Egypt as a Canadian. The inability to live in that country without yourself becoming a petty judge. Conditions under which the English officials administer. Other classes in Egypt, and how they live. How unrest developed. The prominent characteristic of the British Government that England does not desert her friends, nor punish her enemies.
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- 24 Nov 1921
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- Full Text
- THE PRESENT UNREST IN EGYPT
AN ADDRESS BY MR. CHAS. T. CURRELLY, M.A.,
DIRECTOR ROYAL ONTARIO MUSEUM
Before the Empire Club of Canada, Toronto,
November 24, 1921.
PRESIDENT MITCHELL: We are exceedingly fortunate in having one of our own citizens to speak on a subject which at this particular period is most important in the affairs of the Empire. A few weeks ago you heard a gentlemen talk on a similar subject mainly about the Arabs and the European questions involved; he also touched on Egypt. Prof. Currelly today will devote his attention entirely to Egypt, a subject and a country with which he is thoroughly familiar, as he spent many years there at various times, and he still keeps up a close contact with Egyptian matters. This is particularly interesting to us, because Prof. Currelly is one of ourselves. I think he will be able to weave into his story of the political and economic situation some of the more intimate incidents of his own experiences and of his knowledge which will make more clear to us the situation in Egypt as it is today. It is opportune just now, because you will have observed in the press two or three days ago that the delegation from Egypt which has been in London for three or four months past has not yet been able to make an arrangement, as they call it, with the British Government whereby the Empire may be able to give to Egypt complete independence with proper safeguards. On that account that particular part of the Empire is still in an uncertain condition. I have much pleasure indeed in calling upon Prof. Currelly.MR. CURRELLY
My. President and Gentlemen, -I feel that I owe you an apology for appearing before you here, before such a serious body as yours, with a subject that is of a very personal and almost private kind. I am not in a position to treat this matter from a diplomatic standpoint; I can only speak to you about the conditions as I saw them, and the conditions about which I talked with the Egyptians themselves when living with my own workmen-all alone with them, and night after night sitting around after the work was over and talking to diem. Therefore to a certain extent I am biased. I am presenting to you the position as it comes from the workmen of Egypt; that is the position that I found appealed to practically all the British who were there for their sympathy was entirely with the labouring class in Egypt, and it is the expression of that sympathy that has had a great deal to do with bringing about the present condition.
Now, I do not think anyone can understand Egyptian affairs without considering the very peculiar geography of the district. As you know, the whole of Upper Egypt is just the flats of a river. You can see across it. It is a very long country, but all the way along you can see from one side of the country to another. It is just the flats of the Nile. The moment you get to the hill that the river has cut away you are into barren land worth absolutely nothing; so that the people are strung out in a long line on each side of the river banks. This has always prevented them from getting very close together. People in a place like Ontario, in a square block, can mass; you get massed opinion; you get a community in Egypt; it has its neighbours on one side and on the other, that is all. Furthermore, according to that curious thing that has always caused men to desire a certain amount of feud, the sides of the Nile have been at feud with each other from the earliest time, so they have comparatively little to do with each other. Now. that leaves the two strips of people strung along the bank like a village with one street, and consequently there is very, very great difficulty in the Egyptian people getting together physically, mentally or any other way.
Again, owing to the nature of their country, the individual plays a very small part in his own maintenance; the Government plays by far the larger part. If the Government will give them irrigation they can grow crops; if the Government will not, they must die. So that they are in a very different position from any other people that I know of, because they are entirely dependent upon the Government; which has tended very much indeed to sap their sense of independence. It is very difficult for a man to face the next year and say, "If I get water I can do so-and-so All my work is in vain if for any reason I am debarred from getting a proper amount of water." Now, this has made it that Egypt has either been a very wealthy or a povertystricken country, according to the Government. One can trace it through all the ages.
One of the most dramatic instances of this took place at the close of the Greco-Roman period, the Byzantine period, when the country was too poor to float a copper currency, and the people got along with the few lead tokens. Four thousand Arabs conquered Egypt, and within a century and a half it was the richest country in the world. One example after another of that kind can be given. Geographical conditions often tend to make mental ones. Perhaps that very dependence upon the Government for their water, which means their food, has brought about the condition of mental dependence on the part of the people. We very proudly say that Britons never will be slaves. I think it is quite right; I don't think any master could put up with us. Just imagine a real good Scotchman with a turn for argument as your own slave, for instance. (Laughter) I speak a little from the master's standpoint, because I have had slaves-rented ones-but still I know what the question is, and there is a masters' side to that situation. I am sure that Britons never will be slaves-at least no one will ever pay for them; that I am sure of. (Laughter) Now, the Egyptian is something of a slave by nature. He has never been a fighting man. From the earliest times one finds a negro mercenary or some other type of mercenary being hired to do his fighting for him. These two things go together; the fighting man, as a rule, is not a very good slave; the man who will not fight seems, as a rule, to end in becoming more or less of a slave.
Now, the rule in Egypt has been invariably a foreign rule. The mercenaries who were brought in there from time to time, going as far back as you like, said very naturally, "Why should we fight to keep the country in order for those people? We will run it ourselves." And so the head of the mercenaries was pretty well the king of Egypt. That must be borne in mind when we speak of the Egyptians. And here I would remind you how curiously in the east there are races living side by side. When I speak of Egyptians I mean the Egyptians in blood. One often speaks of the Turks as if they were the people of Turkey; but there is a race called the Turks somewhat related to the Chinese, who came in and conquered the country, but they are very few in number, although they have held that great Empire. I am sorry to say the Turks have very little to do with the Government of their own Empire, owing to this condition of mercenary soldiers that I spoke of. This foreign rule has produced, of course, a foreign aristocracy, which had tended more to reduce the people to something very close indeed to serfdom.
Coming to modern times, the last turnover in the way of mercenaries was that of Mahomed All. He was an Albanian peasant, but enlisted in one of the regiments of mercenaries kept by the Mahmouds. He was a man of enormous physical strength and great power of organization, though he could neither read nor write, and-perhaps for that very reason-he had an amazing memory. He could punish people himself, which endeared him to that class. If a man was brought in front of him he took up his whip, gave him the punishment then and there, and then the court went on again. He finally became a colonel, and this command was his opportunity. He got the other Albanians to agree to another division of spoils, and with a sudden movement one afternoon he swung a revolution, massacred the whole of the Mamelukes, who had been the nobility and governing class of the country before, and put himself in their place. Now, you can see how all his colonels and captains and majors, and so on, would each take a share from those massacred Mamelukes, and thus you had a new nobility setting itself up, controlling this large land. Mahomed Ali was a roughly honest individual; he gave them extremely good Government, and the result was that Egypt prospered very much indeed under his rule, so much so, that he tried to make an attack on Constantinople. His descendants were not as good as himself, and in our own days when Ismail Pasha, who was a very good farmer, came to the throne a great deal was hoped from him. However, the moment he ascended the throne of Egypt he instituted the greatest riot of expenditure that possibly the world has ever known. Everybody who could bring a new show to Cairo was sure of a fortune. Ismail required 200 carriages and pairs and coachmen to drive out his harem every morning. The riot of expenditure gradually sapped the resources of the country. Then the Suez Canal question came on; and to give you an example of how mad things were, practically everybody who applied was invited to attend the opening of the Suez Canal at the Khedive's expense; that is, practically any one of you could have written saying that you were particularly interested in canal construction, etc., and you would have had a letter which would have meant a free pass from here to Egypt, everything free in Egypt, and put you back home again. (Laughter) Extraordinary places were instituted where wonderful free lunches were given, and if you had the right badge you walked in and got a champagne lunch as many times a day as you liked, and free cafe, and everything else, and the whole thing went in the bill to the Government.
Now, this mad riot of course drew attention to things. The Khedive had been borrowing money till he was down. If a man felt that his position in society, or diplomacy or anything else, was threatened, he could call on the Khedive and would usually get, at least, a five pound note out of him before he left. The condition was something appalling. The different financial interests then stepped in and implored England and France to do something, and the country was taken over as a kind of receivership. When that took place things had reached their limit. Taxes were collected three years in advance-I hesitate to mention that fact in Toronto (laughter) but that is the fact. The coinage had been reduced by sending out silver-plated currency, and then when the people started to pay that back as taxes they were informed that a very bad man had been at the head of the currency at that time and the Government could not take that back except at fifty cents on the dollar, so that they were making a little on that again. Every mortal thing that could be done was done.
One of my men, who was with me for some years as a young man, rose to considerable importance in the Province, because as a torturer he could extract money from people long after any other torturer in the Province had given them up; so that that little hoard, often consisting of a little Roman gold, or even of Greek gold coin, or a little bit of golden something that the oriental hangs on to like grim death, had finally to come down his sleeve and go into the Government's coffers. To give you an example of how mad things were, there is a story told-and believed-of one of Ismail's favourites coming in to him on one occasion and saying, "Look here, your Excellency, I have got to have a hundred pounds; I have got to have it." "Well," he says, "I don't know. I can't get any money out of the treasury; the treasurer says he hasn't any and he can't borrow any, and I have to 6 without it." But the man says, "Your Excellency, I really must have one hundred pounds"; so Ismail said, "Well, let us see, isn't there any way of getting it? By-the-bye, I have got it; so and so, that cigar man, you go down and buy 10,000 boxes of Havana cigars and see if he won't give you a hundred pounds rake-off on it, and then have him send the bill in to the treasurer." (Laughter) I think even my friend over here (bowing to Mr. A. E. Ames) would say that that was really high finance (laughter) but it ruined the country.
Then came England and France taking the position of receivership to see if something could not be done to check this waste, and enable the financial interests of Europe to get their money. The thing did not last very long until Arabi Pasha, urged on by certain people-I believe he didn't want it himself-brought about a revolution. The French were not in a very good position to send any soldiers there, so they said to the English, "For goodness sake, go on and handle this yourself, and we will withdraw except in accordance with certain agreements, and in a nominal way"; so there was a bombardment of Alexandria and the battle of Tel-el-Kebir that ended this revolution. It was a most astonishing thing when Arabi chained a number of gunners to their guns in Alexandria, and the gun-boat fired a number of shots at the bridge, and the poor fellows had to stand there and take the fire from the ships. There is an amusing story of a Scotch doctor who was visiting his patients, and who went into one of the side batteries. One of the British ships got exactly opposite his battery and banged near the Scotchman, and enthusiastically he said to the gunner, "Now, now is your chance, give it to them now!" But the gunner replied, "Me shoot at him, he shoot at me!" and he would not take any part in the proceedings; the British had not discovered him yet, and he was not going to give the show away. (Laughter)
At Tel-el-Kebir a very remarkable thing happened. One group of artillery men stood to their guns while the bombardment took place. Their commanders were both hit in about the first five minutes' fighting. One of them had himself propped tip, and shouted to the other men to defend their guns, and when the British got in the officer said, "Who are the Europeans that defended this battery?" and this colonel said, "I am." He was then taken to a hospital where he got better, and promptly joined the British Army. (Laughter)
Now, with the taking over of Government of Egypt the whole situation depended on the problem of water. A real genius took over that matter-Sir William Wilcox. He was not only a good engineer, but a good linguist, and he walked the whole length of Egypt-1,000 miles up .and 1,000 miles down. He kept his tents and men about a mile and a half behind, so that he was always alone. Any peasant could drop into step with him and discuss the whole water question, and it was perfectly amazing how rapidly he began to stop the leakages which allowed one man to get more than his portion of water, and thereby prevented the other man from getting enough -because in Egypt there is really no water to spare, and if one man gets a little too much by way of feeing the right people, it means that his neighbour must get that much less, because each division of the country gets so many millions of gallons, and that is all. Wilcox, by this method of getting in direct touch, got to know all the ins and outs of it as very few officials ever have. They say he knew practically every citizen of Egypt of the male persuasion, and so he knew how everything was going, and the change in affairs was something perfectly extraordinary.
During the Ismail Pasha orgy of spending, the peasants were not allowed to leave their land, because of course that left it without the taxes. Most of the time the land w-as not paying the taxes, but they were not allowed to ,give it up. They were driven back to the land by soldiers, and the man had to stay on his land and pay the taxes, whether he got anything out of it or not; and of course a great deal of the time there was no water, and the land would grow no more than would that table. Egypt will grow nothing unless it is given water; for it is nothing but a dry sandy desert, if lacking water.
The rise in price of land was extremely rapid. The opening up of branches from the canal carried the water out from the Nile in every direction, and dividing the water evenly with as much honesty as could be drilled into the petty officials, immediately began to make land rise in price. Certain men saw their opportunity, and bought heavily, and those men became enormously wealthy, because land advanced. When the British took it over the value was about $2.50 an acre, and it advanced to from $300 to $1,000 an acre for ordinary farm land, on which, as you understand, they get many crops a year. In this time the worker, who forms the largest part of the population, suddenly found himself in a certain land of peace. He could get justice. He is always a hopeful person; he is a marvellous optimist; and I think that perhaps the stories they love to tell each other, more or less founded on facts, and relating to the finding of treasure, and getting on in the world have had no mean part in keeping up the buoyancy of the people.
But it is sometimes disastrous to find a treasure. I remember that some years ago, near Karnak, a peasant earning ten cents a day suddenly found in a wall that he had opened up, a little pocket with three large jars of Roman gold coins. It upset his whole nervous system very seriously. He took the jars home, however, and then grabbing a handful of them, he stuck them into his garment and rushed off to the big man of the district and said, "You think you are the big man of the district, but I want you to understand you are not any longer so; I am the rich man of the district, and I thought I would come at once and tell you so." The man said, "What are you talking about? You are all right; you are a decent chap, and I have employed you many times; now, go home." The peasant replied, "You don't believe that f am the richest man of the district? Just look here!"---and he pulled out the gold. The man said, "Go hone, and don't say a word to anybody; I have been your friend, and I will always see you through everything." So he got the man out, and he immediately sat down and considered the situation-from a financial man's standpoint. (Laughter) He had a straight buttoned-up coat, very much like a parson wears, tight to the neck, which is called a Stamboul uniform; that is what important men wear on important occasions. He knew that the head of the police was a friend of his, so he borrowed a policeman's uniform. He put one of his servants into the police uniform and another into this Stamboul, to act as Governor, and he coached them very carefully. He then had some of his men dressed up till they looked pretty much like Government officers. When it got dark he rushed into the peasant's but and said, "You fool, you have been talking about this thing, and the government is going to seize the whole treasure; you know you have been talking about it." The peasant thought the man was talking business all this time, and he said, "What can I do, Your Honour?" He replied, "They are going to seize it, no doubt about that, but they don't know how big it is. I will buy half of it from you, and I will give you a half of an English sovereign for each one, and I am afraid we will have to give the other over to them, there is no way out of it, but I will stand by you, and we will both swear that that is all there was." So the gold was counted out, and the half passed over, very, very beautiful gold pieces worth about a hundred dollars, and the peasant received an apron full of halfcent pieces in return-that is why I mentioned it as a financial deal. (Laughter) The man had timed the whole thing very nicely, so that by the tine he had received the treasure, a rap came to the door and the policeman said, "Open, in the name of the law." So in came the Governor-another of his servants, in this Stamboul uniform-and said he understood the treasure had been found, and he came to claim it in the name of the law. The' poor peasant handed out the half of it; among the most scrupulously honest, individually; that is, I may have a servant, or a man, or a thousand men, working for me who would not steal a pin from me, yet they might steal everything you had. It is personal.
Now, I think a great deal has been brought about by the terrorism in which they have lived. I might speak of one thing that the government had to do, that was, to shut up the witness booths. It took a long time to shut them up. The witness booth is not familiar in our own courts, I believe, but it is very familiar in the east. It is often an expensive matter to bring up witnesses for a trial; it is much cheaper, and they are much better witnesses, if you will hire professionals just outside the court; so witness booths line the streets which are near the court-house, and the more money you have the better witnesses you employ, and therefore the more chance you have to win your case. (Laughter) It was a long, time before the British succeeded in clearing out those witness booths. I can give you a story of a trial before an English judge where practically the whole village came up-in this case, not employing professionals at all----and half the village came up and swore that their man's ground had been tumbled out of its crop by the herds of the defendant's cattle being driven across it by another man. The other part of the village swore that a cow had walked across his land, and the damage was not to be reckoned at more than a cent or two at most, that practically not a blade of grain had been damaged. The judge was supposed to go on the next day, but something prevented it, and he decided he would ride over, though a very long distance, to find out for himself. When he got there he discovered that the landowner who was suing for damages did not own an inch of land, and that the man whose cattle had done the damage did not own a hoof; but there had been a row over a woman, and they thought it would be more polite to try it as I have shown it. (Laughter)
and then the commander stood with him to pat him a little bit, and then joined the two servants as quickly a; possible, because he could not trust them any too much; (laughter) so he got home with the three pots of gold, <-nd the peasant had about fourteen or fifteen cents. (Laughter)
Now, these stories of finding things are frequent, I may say. The story of the rise of that family is that years ago they were boatmen in the north, and in the middle of the night a beggar came, and was driven away. but came and came, and was driven away again and at last, being tired of being wakened up, the boatman got, up and gave him a measure of Indian corn, and he said, "Good!" He then went to sleep again, and a little while after was called up by a very brilliant-looking person who came and said, "Come with me!" He was taken .to the great temple of Karnak, and mysteriously a couple of stones were turned back, and he walked into the passage and then into a room where gold was heaped up right from the floor to the wall. He piled it into his garment, but the man shook him and handed out his small measure and said, "This much and no more." That is the rise of that very family, who added to their already considerable riches by getting these three pots of gold.
Now, those stories tend tremendously to shape the country. There is that hope that every little while they are going to get up, up! up! If you want to read a fascinating book on the whole east, read "Hadji Baba"; this hope is very marked now in Egypt.
The dread of the people is their fear of their officials. The whole of officialdom is a class-a class bound together by millenniums of traditions, a class that never will go back on itself, but always knows that it must keep the peasants in check; so that one of their great difficulties is to protect the peasant from his own fear. I think that has tended to make him childish, too. The graft, of course, is something terrible. Honour, in an abstract sense, is practically unknown; honesty, in an abstract sense; is unknown, though a person may be among the most scrupulously honest, individually; that is, I may have a servant, or a man, or a thousand men, working for me who would not steal a pin from me, yet they might steal everything you had. It is personal.
Now, in tackling the problem of English Government, you see you have the peasant with his fear, who is afraid to give honest testimony, because he does not know when the Englishman will withdraw, and he is beginning to wonder about his withdrawal, feeling that he is his only saviour; yet he may often turn on the very Englishman who is trying to help him, because of his age-long fear of his own officials. Not only have the officials had the terrible difficulty of handling this proposition, but certain Englishmen, with a desire for advertising for political purposes, have gone out there and stirred up all the trouble they could, so that the officials found themselves more or less knifed from within. Some time ago I went out in the desert a very long distance with one of the men of the interior, to settle a difficulty owing to an attack being made on some salt works. There was a salt lake away out in the desert, and some Scotch boys were turning it into soda by a process they had that was not so bad; they were also making salt. This man raised all kinds of a row, then got up in the House of Commons in England and asked if they knew that the people of Egypt were being poisoned in order to make money for British millionaires. I might say these were only quite poor boys who were charged with poisoning the people of Egypt with poisoning salt. Chemical analysis showed that the impurity was one in ten thousand of Epsom salts, which was pretty good for them. (Laughter)
Again, a certain labour member came out, went to Lord Cromer, and 'said, "My Lord, I have proof that Mr. So-and-So, the head of Such-and-Such a department, has been taking huge bribes for the suppression of punishment of crime. I am thoroughly capable of going into the matter, and evidence has been laid before me, and there is not the faintest possible doubt that he is guilty; therefore, I demand that he be tried, as there is no doubt whatever that he is guilty." Lord Cromer is a very shrewd man. He said, "If you have gone into it there can of course be no doubt in the matter, therefore you will not object to sign an agreement that if Mr. So-and-So should be proved to be innocent you will apologize to him in every paper in the United Kingdom, because an official in the Government at once is condemned in the minds of most people, and even if he is acquitted they usually say that the commission has White-washed him." The labour member got up and walked out. He was lying. One of the best men in the whole Egyptian service was the one he had attacked, and the whole thing was a long story that I will not tell you.
Now, the difficulty is that, knowing that everything is watched with the view of making trouble for advertising purposes in the British press, the men sometimes do not know where they are. Here are a number of people with tears in their eyes appealing to them for help, appealing to them for mercy, appealing to them for a living, and they find themselves impeded in trying to give them this living, not only by the people who have for years oppressed those poor people, but from behind, too.
I remember a case down in Suakin, a little out of Egypt, but under similar conditions, where a young lieutenant was sitting in front of his hut, and he saw a Bagara Arab passing with a sack on his shoulder. He thought he saw the sack move, and he said to his coolie, "Go and open that sack." Out rolled a small nigger whom he recognized as the son of one of his own soldiers. Now, those Bagara Arabs had been known to take boys and run them across to Yeddo, where they had been made into eunuchs, about one percent of them, and if they could get one across in a year those fellows could live in very great comfort. There was a boy from the garrison stolen. The lieutenant asked his sergeant major, "What will I do? If I shoot or hang that fellow there is not a particle of doubt I shall lose my commission; some Greek or Armenian, or somebody will get the story through to the press and there will be talk of British brutality, and hanging without proper trial, and all this sort of thing; yet if I don't do it, and send him down, he will spend three months in jail, perhaps at Suez, and he will be better fed than ever in his life before, and he will sit in the sun and play tick-tack with a lot of other scoundrels, and he will be back to his old tricks again." Well, the sergeant-major knew his own people, and he said, "Well, Sir, if I were you I would not do anything to him, but I would put a soldier on each side of him, and make him take the boy back to the women's quarters." The lieutenant said, "I didn't know of that; that will do splendidly." The fellow was marched back to the women's quarters, and it was announced that he had this boy in the sack, and it was told them what he intended to do with the boy; and those women flew at that fellow and they tore his flesh off his bones, and he died on the spot; he was dismembered by their fingers. That stopped the practice.
Though I went to Egypt as a Canadian, without predisposition to look at the matter from one side or the other, you cannot live in that country without yourself becoming a petty judge. They come to every Englishman. During my time, and even much earlier, the oath by the word of an Englishman was more serious even than an oath by the beard of the prophet; and men who would lie when they had sworn by the beard of the prophet would not lie if they had sworn by the word of an Englishman. (Applause) That was a thing to be proud of; and every Englishman becomes a little petty centre of justice, because the things are brought to him for settlement without taking them any further.
In order for the English officials to administer, of course great masses of natives, of those original oldfangled ways, are employed; they are watched as closely as possible, but you cannot catch them, one of the reasons being that the native is so afraid of them that he will not give evidence against them. I have known, when one of our own men was hurt, in a row, and was taken away for treatment, the treatment was that he was kicked into a room and told that he would be let out when he paid the attendant half a sovereign. You cannot get anything done; you cannot make them talk. Graft is their only view of life, absolutely. The English are trying to cut that down. Of course the peasant got richer and richer when the land went up from $2.50 an acre in many cases to $1,000, and the native officials were getting only a small salary. Here was the peasant, out of whom he could have wrung thousands of dollars, but that puzzling Englishman there would not let him. Can you wonder that the native official was angry? His whole training was that he had the right, by right of birth, to wring the last dollar out of the peasant.
Then there was another class, the very large class of the Scribes, or those mentioned in the Bible, the writers, they could float their sons out into the world by the fact that they could read and write. They charged a quarter of a day's wages for simply writing a letter, a whole day's wages for writing and addressing a letter, and that was put into their contract. They slipped into the side of the contract many a nice little plum that the peasants had been working hard for. So that here was another class to be reckoned with. The English opened schools, and of course absolutely raised the hatred of the whole class of Scribes, because their sons would have to go to work the moment the peasant learned to read and write. Then there were the sons of the adventurers who had come under Ismail's regime. Those men had the stories from their fathers, of the riot of money of Ismail's time, and now they contrasted their own poverty with it. They started to work on those people. One of the head men, who gave himself the title of Sheik Musem, tried to import a prostitute whose father kept drug bane, and was objected to on the ground of his character by the father. (Laughter) That will give you some kind of a clear idea as to the gentleman himself. They employed a man to edit a paper or two. They started working up unrest. We believe now that they were financed by German money. We did not know it then, but there was evidently plenty of money going. I was living with a man who was paid by the government to try to keep a watch on them, and the whole question was where the money Was coining from that kept those scoundrel going, because they were nothing but adventurers, who did not do anything of any kind. It surprised the people very much indeed when they started this propaganda to drive out the English.
I visited Abraham Bush, who had 7,000 acres of land without one weed-a proud old Egyptian farmer-and he said that two or three days before an old peasant had run into him and said, "Your Excellency, what is this about driving out the English? What are we going to do if they go? What in the world can we do? You were governor, you know how you used to watch us yourself." The people were in absolute terror. I suppose literally thousands of them came to me and said, "What is this about the English going to go away? What are we going to do if they do? What if there is nobody to hold those fanatics in check?" On the other hand, it appealed to other people. One of the big Assyrian merchants, when the trouble was just beginning, said, "Why should the English violently take themselves out, of here? I said, "Mr. Hademby, I do not expect you to understand it, I could hardly expect you to believe it, but I would like you to take my word for it that the British have no such notion in the matter; but you cannot understand that without being British, no one can understand the way Britain handles things unless he is British, and then he realizes that he knows nothing about it." (Laughter) He said, "Well, do you mean to tell me that when twenty police men could stop this whole miserable affair, and the British Government will not send the twenty policemen to do it, that they do not see something in it for them?" I said, "No. By the way, suppose the British left, what would you do?" He said, "I would leave within seven days; that would be the whole time that anyone as rich as I am could stay here; I don't think I could realize on everything and be out in seven days, but if I did not my wealth would mysteriously disappear." That was the feeling of the rich men. Old Abraham Bush told me, "There is not one man of any property or tradition in this affair"; and that was the condition at that time. They started out on a most extreme propaganda. First they began to spread all over that the Egyptians showed the Greeks everything; the Greeks had taught the rest of Europe, and therefore the Egyptians must be the greatest people in the world. One particular proposal that was quite seriously considered was that the poets and orators should sit in council and prepare a dictionary of abuse so that the English could be
abused while they were talking, while they were in bed, while they were even taking their siestas. It would be difficult to imagine anything more silly.
Now came a curious turn. There was no revolution on the part of the government, but the soldiers were covered with filth, and had to hold their hands at their side and walk back to their barracks, and open insults for the soldiery became more or less a national sport in certain parts of Cairo, and the soldier had to straighten his shoulders and go back and get cleaned up as best he could. This was put down. Stringent laws were put in force that you must not attack a native, no matter what he said or did, but you were to take him to the court.
I remember an old gentleman who had never been in Egypt before, who was listening to a diatribe of abuse from a native. He could stand it no longer, and he way-laid the man, and broke his cane, then the man ran into the canal up to his neck, and the old man proceeded
down the brick wall and began to hurl bricks at him. The owner of the wall came out and, being an oriental, he said, "This is not the right way to do; we will bring a charge of assault against him out there and get him sent to prison". (Laughter)
Now, here is one side of the things that the people discovered-that England does not desert her friends and does not punish her enemies; and that is a very prominent characteristic of the British Government. If you oppose them they do not repulse you. If you side with them they don't forget you. Therefore the people, being very shrewd, saw very quickly that if they sided in with those rascally fellows, and the English left, they would be in with that one crowd. If the British did not leave, they would not be touched; but if on the other hand they did as they believed to be right, and remained true to the English cause, and the English did leave, then they knew that every scrap of their property would be confiscated at once. So they continued to swing over and say, "This is awful; we will go right in with you." Sometimes they would go a little too far. I remember one of the Coptic papers, when asked to join with people of their own race said, "Yes, we remember the good old days when cattle and copts were sold"-the Copts being Christians. Now, the new generation is present, that know nothing of the old past days; they have become rich, they are restless; they have had this propaganda pushed on them without any counter propaganda for years. Cairo is very, very doubtful; there are no reliable ones in Cairo. We cannot keep the streets clean. The cry of the young men is, "Why cannot they enjoy themselves? Why does he have to go off to Paris to Monte Carlo?" So that the dullness of Cairo has affected those young rich men, and this big nationalist movement has been growing for many reasons I have touched upon, and for many that I have not.
When it was thought that the British garrison was going to leave last Spring, two followers of Lloyd George went up to one of the chief nationalists, a very shrewd man indeed, and said, "It is wonderful; now we are going to have Egypt for the Egyptians. What do you advise us to do with the British?" He said, "Sell whatever land and stocks you have and invest money in Europe." That is the condition of every thinking man. Within twenty years after the British leave the people will again be back to starvation.
I thank you Gentlemen for extreme patience in listening to this rather rambling harangue.
MR. A. E. AMES, in a brief address, expressed the thanks of the Club to Mr. Currelly.BANQUET
In the Ball Room of the King Edward Hotel, on the evening of November 29, 1921, Ladies' Night, the Empire Club had the privilege of entertaining as Guests of Honor His Excellency, the Governor-General of Canada, and Lady Byng of Vimy.
After dinner, the President in felicitous terms proposed the health of His Excellency which was received with musical honours. Lord Byng, of Vimy, replied in happy vein and spoke very appreciatively of the work of the Club and the pleasure it gave Lady Byng and himself to be present.
After musical selections were rendered, a reception was held in the drawing room and a pleasant evening brought to a delightful close.