The commoner. (Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-1923, July 20, 1906, Page 2, Image 2

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dredges are constantly at work removing the
sand which drifts in with the wind or is washed
in by the tide. The canal is said to follow the
route laid out more than throe thousand years
ago by Rameses II. About thirty-five hundred
ships pass through the canal each year, an aver
ago of nearly ten a day. Somewhat more than
that passed during our stay, some of the ships
being loaded with Russian soldiers from Japan
and others crowded with pilgrims returning from
nn Mm nftarnnnn of the fifth day the head
physician came out and released us' and at the
same time conveyed to us the cheering, but. some
what belated, information that the three men
taken from the ship did not have the plague; we
had, however, been so courteously treated that
wo did not complain of the board bills or quar
antine fees, oven though the detention proved
to be unnecessary. The spread of the plague
through Europe would be such a calamity that
we realize it is better to err on the side of over
caution. At any rate, we have added to our
experience and are carrying the yellow flag (the
quarantine signal) home as a trophy.
A few hours ride brought us to Cairo, the
metropolis and capital of Egypt. It is not an
ancient city, as they count time in Egypt, having
been founded about a thousand years ago, but it
has in the business portion the appearance of a
European city and contains a population of more
than half a millioii. Of ltd inhabitants thirty
five thousand are European, the Greeks leading
with about ten thousand, and the Italians, French,
English, Austrians and Germans following In the
order named. The British would outnumber the
French if the garrison were included, but the
.city reminds one much more of France than of
England. Many of the buildings recall the streets
of Paris, and the sidewalks adjacent to restau
rants and saloons are filled with tables and
chairs, as in continental Europe.
Cairo is a city of mosques and minarets as
one quickly discovers when he takes a bird's eye
view of the city from the citadel which stands
upon an eminence in the suburbs. "While the main
streets are suggestive of Europe, the native quar
ters and bazaars are distinctly Oriental, many of
the' streets being too narrow for a carriage. The
shops are for the most part little open booths,
and each line of business has its particular sec
tion, On one street silver and gold smiths mo
nopolize the space; another street is gay with
red shoes; in another the red fez, the universal
hat, is conspicuous; and still another is given
over to vegetables. Some of the larger stores
handle Persian rugs, silks, brass ware, inlaid
work and patchwork reproducing the drawings
found on tombs and temples. The bazaars also
abound in interesting reminders of the land of
the. mummy,, the pyramid and the sphinx.
We had not been in Cairo long before we vis
ited the banks of the Nile, that wonderful river
without whose fructifying waters there would
hayo been no Egypt. It is one of the most re
markable in some respects the most remark,
able of all the rivers of the earth. No wonder
the ancient Egyptians included a Nile god among
luuir uuiues, lor next to tne sun, to which they
raised their obelisks, nothing was so necessary
to their existence as this almost magic stream.
The Nile renders fertile two narrow strips, one
on either bank, four thousand miles long, and
but a few miles wide. For thirteen hundred miles
it flows through a desert and receives but a single
tributary in that distance, and yet, after supply
ing irrigation for the crops of some ten millions
of people, it pours into the ocean a scarcely di
minished stream. The annual rise of the river
not only supplies water but it renews the land
by deposits of alluvial soil. Someone has de
scribed the Nile valley as appearing, if seen from
above, like a strip of green carpet on a floor of
gold, so yellow are the sands that hem it in.
No one who has not visited an arid country and
noted the influence t water upon the thirsty
soil can imagine how distinctly the line is drawn
between the verdant field and the barren desert
that adjoins it. Where the waters of the Nile
can bo brought upon the land, a farm will rent
for $30 per acre, while a few feet away the land
can not be given away. Lord -Cromer, in a
recent report, gives, the income and expenditure
of a number of the fellaheen, or farmers. The
statements show that a hundred dollars worth of
cotton is sometimes produced from a single acre
or about thirty dollars worth of corn. The aver-
Sh hnTking a11 CP0PB together, often runs
as high as $50 per acre.
An increasing quantity of land is being
SV6 ?2?e the canftls' but irrigation from
wells Is still the main reliance of a large propor
tion of the people. Water can be found at the
level of the water in the river, and the landscape
is dotted over with oldjfashioned well sweeps
and with wator wheels, where blind-folded camels
or oxen tread their patient round. The land pro.
duces so abundantly and there is such a variety
of garden and farm products that one recalls that
passage in the Biblo in which toe children of
Israel are described as longing for "the flesh pots
of Egypt." Coming from India to Egypt we could
not but notice the difference in the appearance
of the people. In the former country they looked
so enmciated and hungry; in the latter they are
strong and robust and seemingly well fed. In
the markets, too, the food is heaped up in big
baskets while in India it is exposed for sale in
tiny piles that speak only too plainly of the
poverty of the people.
For ages upon ages the fellaheen has drawn
from the inexhaustible storehouse of the Nile.
Cheops, Khephren and their successors built pyra
mids, and the fellaheen fed the builders; Thut
mosis and Sethos and thejr descendants construct
ed tombs and temples, and the fellaheen supported
the laborers; the Rameses added gigantic statues
to the stupendous works of their ancestors and the
fellaheen still furnished food; the Persians over
ran the country and still the hand of the fellaheen
supplied the necessaries of life; then came Alexan- -der
the Great and the Ptolemies, Caesar, Antony
and Cleopatra, and the fellaheen plowed on; after
the Roman came ttie Arab, and after the Arab
the Turk, followed by Napoleon and later by the
Briton, but through all this change of dynasties
the fellaheen kept "the noiseless tenor of his way'
and as a middle man, handed over the bounties
of the Nile valley to the rulers and their armies
and he is doing so today. Of the eleven hundred
thousand land owners, nearly nine hundred and
fifty thousand hold less than five acres each,
and almost half of the total acreage is owned by
twelve thousand three hundred persons. More
than one-tenth of the tillable land is owned by
sixteen hundred Europeans.
Very few horses are seen in the country,
the beasts of burden being the ox (there are a
few water buffaloes also), the donkey and the
'camel. The ox resembles the American rather
than the Indian xx in that it has no hump on its
shoulders and the drawings on some of the walls
represent cattle with horns as large as those
formerly worn by the Texas steer. The donkey
poor, patient creature has not changed materially
in the last four thousand years. The pictures
drawn of him by the ancient Egyptians show
him just as he is now. Then, as now, a large
part of his nourishment went to the development
of his vocal organs and left the rest of his body
woefully small for the large burdens which he
was called upon to carry. If his disposition was
as gloomy in the days of- the Pharaohs as it is
at present, he probably annoyed them when he
lifted up his voice and wept as he now annoys
the tourist.
The camel, however, if the test; is special fit
ness for the country, is the king of beasts. He
pulls the plow, turns the water wheel, draws the
wagon, carries burdens, and for long distance
travel outstrips the horse. Equipped with emer
gency water tanks he can go for several days
without drinking and for this reason is of inesti
mable value on desert journeys. He kneels to
receive his load, though sometimes with pathetic
groans, and is as docile as the horse. He has
sometimes been styled "the ship of the desert"
and seems to have been fashioned for this pe
culiar region. His large, padded feet do not add
to his beauty, but they enable him to cross sandy
plains into which a horse's hoof would sink.
The Bible says that the plague of flies
brought upon Egypt when Moses was endeavoring
to secure the release of the Israelites was re
moved when Pharaoh promised to let the people
go, but one is inclined to think that they after
wards returned when Pharaoh again hardened
his heart, for nowhere have we found flies like
those of Egypt. They bite with unusual vigor and
are very persistent in their attentions. At first
we thought it strange that people should carry
horse-hair brushes as a protection against the
flies, but we were soon driven to follow their
example. These flies seem to be especially at
tracted to "the eyes of children. As these flies,
like those in other countries, carry disease, it is
not strange that sore eyes should be especially
prevalent here. Blindness seems to be more com
mon than elsewhere, and a. very considerable per
centage of the people have lost one eye. So wide
spread is this affliction that Sir Ernest Cassel has
established a fund of forty thousand pounds, the
interest on which Js to be devoted to the treat
ment of diseases of the eye. Already the fruits
of this beneficence are being enjoyed by the
poor. The Mohammedan women in Egypt wear
veils a custom which is but slowly giving way
to western ideas if the eyes of the children
were protected with half as much care as the
faces of tho women, what benefits would result!
The government of Egypt defies definition.
Nominally, the Khedive is the supreme authority,
aided by a native legislative council and assem
bly (their business is to advise, however, rather
than to legislate), but back of the Khedive is
Lord Cromer, the agent and consul-general of
England, whoso power is undefined and almost
unlimited. England's authority in Egypt rests
upon the articles of capitulation signed after
the bombardment of Alexandria in 1882. In
these articles it was announced that England's
occupancy would be of brief duration, but in 1904
she secured from France, Germany, Austria-Hungary
and Italy consent to postpone the fixing of
a date for her withdrawal, she at the same time
announcing that it was not her intention to
interfere with the political situation in Egypt.
England's reasons for remaining in Egypt are
very clearly stated by Lord Milner in his book
entitled "England in Egypt." He says: "On the
one ha"hd, our commercial interests in Egypt are
so great and growing that her prosperity, which
would be immediately wrecked by misgovern
ment, is a matter of concern to us. Secondly,
and chiefly, the geographical position of Egypt
compels attention to her political condition. We
have nothing to gain by owning the country our
selves, but we should have a great deal to fear
from its falling into the possession of another
England's interests in Egypt are numerous.
She takes most of the exports of Egypt and sells
more than any other country to Egypt. In the last
report of Lord Cromer it is shown that Great
Britain has the benefit of considerably more than
half of the contracts (above five thousand dol
lars) entered into by the Egyptian railways for
supplies. Then, England's citizens own land in
Egypt and they are also interested in the Egyptian
debt, which, by the way, amounts to about five
hundred million dollars or, approximately, one
hundred dollars per acre of the tillable land.
The irrigation schemes now developing will
require the expenditure of, large sums on con
tract and these Will give opportunities for Eng
lish capital.
The second reason given by Lord Milner is
emphasized by him and is probably the para
mount one, viz.: that she can not afford to have
the valley of the Nile held by a rival power.
Her interests in the Soudan and in India lead
her to guard the Suez canal with jealous care.
Lord Milner suggests as a reason why England
should remain in Egypt that her withdrawal
might be followed by such an abuse of govern
ment as to lead to bankruptcy and French inter
vention. The old argument "if we don't do it
somebody else will" is presented as the strongest
support of British interference.
English influence, however, has been less
harmful in Egypt than in India, and this is prob
ably due, in the main, to two causes: First, her
Influence is exerted through a native government
whose authority she acknowledges; and second,
because the interests which other nations have
in Egypt make them oppose any encroachments
on the part of England while in India she has a
free hand. As an illustration I might cite the
fact that she compels the Indian to support the
Indian army while she pays the ordinary ex
penses of the three thousand British soldiers in
Egypt and only asks Egypt to pay for the extra
ordinary expenses. It is no reflection upon Eng
land to say that she is better for being watched.
"We believe that in regard to our own public men,
and it is simply a recognition of the frailty of
human nature. Lord Cromer has been in Egypt
for twenty-six years, and his reports indicate a
desire to advance the welfare of the people of
Egypt. He has doubtless been helpful to the
Khedive. He has insisted upon honesty in tho
public service and has been a friend of educa
tion. "While the national debt contains a large '
amount of usurious interest and is therefore much
heavier than it ought to be, it has been funded
at a lower rate of interest and is being gradu
ally paid off; The debts that are being incurred
for the extension of irrigation will be more than
redeemed by the sale of the land reclaimed, and
the country will then have the benefit, not only
of the reclaimed land but of the increased value
of lands indirectly benefited.' Although the salt
tax (contrary to Lord Cromer's advice) is still
over two hundred per eent, the per capita rate
of taxation has been reduced; agricultural and
postal banks have been established, and the gov
ernment railway telegraph and telephone sys
tems have been extended. In his 1903 report Lord
Cromer presents an argument in favor of govern-
, "
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