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square at the base, which contains ninety millions of cubic feet of masonry in its construction, and the materials of which may weigh six or seven millions of tons : let alone the building so many of these costly piles so near each other. The dogma that they were the early gnomons from which all the knowledge the Egyptians had of the solar theory was derived, is risibly absurd, seeing that the shadow would fall within the base the greater part of the day, and also for a great part of the year
Examinations of this kind, however, were not fated for me; succumbing therefore to circumstances over which—in usual parlance-I had no control, the survey of the coast of Egypt was pursued, with that of as much of the interior as could be conveniently probed. Mehemet Ali, the Pharaoh of the nineteenth century, expressed himself much pleased with our instruments and operations, and numerous were the topics which he from time to time discussed with me. The same train of events which prevented my going far from the combined shipping, made it also politic for his Highness to remain at the port; thus were we both detained at Alexandria. Our main medium of communication was his Admiral, Ishmael Gibraltar, an. officer of most gentlemanly address and amiable disposition, who spoke English with fluency; and who, poor fellow, was killed in action with the Greeks in 1824. From my having been long acquainted with his son Zadig, the Basha's accredited agent at Malta, Ishmael was zealously attentive to all our wishes.
In the potent Mehemet Ali, I found a most useful coadjutor ; for my situation, with a single ship among so heterogeneous a fleet, might have proved a troublesome one, had not such a decided authority been on the spot. The first case of complaint was fortunately of so grossly insulting a nature as to admit of no misunderstanding; and therefore the prompt proceedings which followed were productive of excellent results. It happened that an English merchantman had sent her launch nearly three miles for a load of water, and had just returned with it alongside, when a Turkish frigate sent a boat and took it from her. On this being reported to me, I forth
with despatched my first Lieutenant, the present Captain Oake, with a violent remonstrance to the Basha. What ensued was consonant with the identical principles of conduct, and rules of action, which have prevailed so immemorially in these regions; so that the vicissitudes of Pharoah's chief butler and baker were somewhat paralleled. The poor Captain of the frigate, who was on shore at the time, and therefore unaware of the action, was superseded in his command; and the unlucky mischief-maker who despatched the offending boat, was most summarily sentenced to be bastinadoed before
At my interference, however, he escaped the corporal punishment; but was forthwith degraded to serve before the mast. Thus, in Haman-like style, he who might be strutting the deck of a superb man-of-war as her commander at one hour, might be in her head wringing swabs in the next. And the absolute sovereign who could command all this had himself originally been a servant, and a retailer of tobacco ; unable, it is said, to sign his name until he had arrived at the age of thirty !
The government of Mehemet Ali may have been too extravagantly praised by panegyrists, and wonder-struck tourists; but it was immeasurably more rational, humane, and beneficial, than that of the odious Mamluks, from which—more suo—he had delivered Egypt. Though far from being a thorough-paced predestinarian, as evinced by his precautions against plague, he yet considered that he was specially destined to be great ; and he expressed himself gratified by the coincidence of having been born in the same year with Napoleon and Wellington. Unlike many of fortune's favourites, he was given to recal his early career: “I was born in a village of Albania,” said he, in his usual quick and lively manner of speaking, “and my father had ten sons beside myself, who are all dead: but while living they never contradicted me. Although I left my native mountains before I had attained to manhood, the principal men of the town never undertook any business of the district without previously inquiring what was my pleasure.
This gave me self-confidence.
I came to this country an obscure adventurer; while I was yet a binbashee, it happened one day that the keeper of the tents had to deliver to each binbashee a tent. They were all my seniors, and therefore naturally pretended to a preference over me; but the tentkeeper said—Stand ye all by; this lad, Mehemet Ali, shall be served first :' I was served first; and I advanced step by step, as it pleased God to ordain, and here I am!” To this he might have truly added—“one of the greatest men of modern times, and certainly the greatest of Orientals.”
Mehemet Ali effected extensive reformation over the whole moral and physical face of Egypt, with keen sagacity and steady purpose; while, superior to the bitter prejudices and debasing tendencies of his creed, he evinced in himself resources equal to the pressure of such eventful times. He was resolute
. without fanaticism; and, though despotic in the strict sense of the word, he acted consistently with the forms and regulations which he had himself established. Summary and terrible in emergencies, his measures yet manifested more of plan and coolness than of vengeance ; he administered impartial justice to all his subjects, with a practical tolerance of race and religion. He founded regular judicial courts, established public hospitals, raised an efficient police, redressed numerous grievances, and suppressed torture. His Highness not only broke through the ignorant prepossessions which prevailed among the Moslems against the arts and learning of Europe, but encouraged instruction, manufactures, and productive labour to an astonishing extent; inviting Christian artizans to settle in his dominions, and sending a number of picked Egyptian youths to England, France, and Italy, to be instructed in science as well as art. Moreover he erected and endowed naval, military, and polytechnic schools; with colleges of physic, law, and belles lettres ; means by which he raised the population of Alexandria from about seven thousand to nearly seventy thousand. By the introduction of improved implements of agriculture, he increased the productions of Egypt beyond what could have been reasonably expected, among a people so wedded to the customs of their ancestors; and he converted whole tribes of nomadic and pilfering Bedoweens, into useful cultivators of the land. He was also a wholesale farmer himself; and here it was that his bump of acquisitiveness cropped out through the general soundness of his polity. In 1822, he planted a large district in Upper Egypt with the gossypium, and so immediately was its due cultivation followed with productive effect, that in the very next year he shipped off sixty thousand bags of cotton, of two hundred and twenty pounds each, from his own stores. On this occasion, he was exceedingly particular in inquiring of me the result of the culture in Malta and Goza ; and when I told him that its value as a staple consisted in making it into yarn, as an employment for the people, he said he was not ready for that yet, but that he would soon supply the market with raw material.
In carrying on his extensive operations, Mehemet had recourse to numbering the people, a measure to which the whole population–Turks, Copts, Moors, and Arabs-entertain the old and rooted antipathy: and though a deplorable loss of life was incurred by exposure and incompetency in cutting his great canal, the loudest complaint of the suffering Fellahs was against being “told off like sheep.” This canal was a grand undertaking, though the effect of the means employed tarnished the brilliancy of its conception. The trading navigation from the mouth of the Nile to Alexandria was always attended with considerable difficulty, and not a little danger to the deep-laden vessels of the river, especially when the on-shore winds raised breakers on the bar of the Rosetta Bogaz.
To avoid this obstacle the Basha, at the suggestion of my friend Mr. Briggs, resolved to cut this canal from Alexandria to a village on the banks of the Nile, called Atfieh ; but as it was necessary that such a work should be accomplished in one season-since the inundation would otherwise mar the proceeding-celerity was urgently demanded. For this purpose his Highness appointed Ismaël Basha director of the works, with various subordinate officers; at the same time issuing orders to the several sheikhs of the adjacent provinces to furnish each a quota of labourers, and to encamp them along the site of the intended cutting. By these means upwards of two hundred and fifty thousand men, women, and boys were simultaneously employed
“navvies" upon the undertaking, so that the main excavation was made in about seven weeks; and in less than seven months a canal was completed of
forty-eight miles in length, from ninety to one hundred and twenty feet in breadth, and from seven to fourteen feet in depth. I own that when I saw this great commercial artery, with its numerous kandjahs and passage-boats, together with the extensive Mahmoudieh granary at its entrance, containing five hundred thousand quarters of corn and pulse—the glories of ancient Egypt flitted before me, and Joseph's “gathering " seemed to be realised in the busy
But the iron energy of the exertion, and the squalor of the working Fellahs, broke the meditation.
This uneasy recollection leads to the contra side of the Basha's character; and, though the habits of Islamism place his morals out of the pale of Christian estimation, his polity must be submitted to that ordeal, even under the acknowledged and peculiar difficulties of the position which he usurped. In his home department, the grasping and monopolizing spirit of Mehemet Ali, who seized the lion's share of the produce, and allowed the growers such prices only as he thought fit, operated ruinously upon the general trade. Yet through this, he created a stimulus by which all Egypt was upheaving to her former consideration, having only one intelligent despot to deal with, instead of the five hundred profligate brutes who lately governed her: so decidedly did he re-introduce commerce, that even his monopolies cannot prevent the whole community from experiencing the beneficial energy of his sway. The most impolitic international act of his life was the expedition to Greece; yet that enterprize was forced upon him by the Sultan, towards whom he maintained a sort of “wide awake" allegiance: the alternative was war with the Porte, and he chose the safer side. Hence arose expenses far too prodigious for a state under regeneration; costs which led him to screw his subjects by violent expedients, grinding taxation, and oppressive conscription. Unluckily, ambition presented still wider views : in an evil hour he undertook to build line-of-battle ships of the greatest tonnage in the world at Alexandria—a place destitute of timber, metals, anchors, cables, ordnance, and indeed all naval munitions and requirements. For instance, of his six large three-deckers, the Sultan Mahmoud was of one hundred and seventy-eight feet keel, two hundred and ten feet in length