« PreviousContinue »
territory of Karadja-Hissar, and the title of “Sulțân," and permitted him to use a red flag with a white crescent in the centre. Neither Hamdi-Bey nor Artîn Pâsha is able to say at what period the star was added to this flag, which began the national flag of the Turks, but it seems certain that the Turks took both the star and the crescent from the moneys of the Seljûk Princes, although these symbols in conjunction do not appear to have become common among the Ottomans until the end of the XVIIIth century (Artin Pâshâ, op. cit., p. 155). In fact it was not until the reign of Selîm III (1789-1807) that the imperial Ottoman flag, which was hoisted by both land and sea forces, bore on it the crescent and the star; and the star had six points, like the famous seal of Solomon.” In 1826 Muḥammad 'Ali adopted the Ottoman flag, but gave only five points to the star. In, or aster, 1878 a star with five points took the place of the star with six points on the Ottoman flag, and thus it remains until the present day. Authorities say that both horns of the crescent should face the right, and that one ray of the star should point directly to the right; to fix the true position of the star, draw a straight line from the tip of one horn to the tip of the other, and make the centre of the star coincide with the centre of that line. The Khedive's Flag bears on it three white crescents and three five-pointed stars on a red field. For legends ainong the Turks as to the crescent, see Artin Pâshâ's “Blason en Orient," . I6 ff.
The Egyptian Pound (£ E.) is worth £1 0 6, or 25-872 francs.
The Egyptian Piastre, i.e., the “piastre tariff” (P.T.) is worth twopence halfpenny; it is sometimes called the “ big piastre” in contradistinction to the half-piastre, or "little piastre.”
The Egyptian millim (from the French millième) is worth one-tenth of the piastre tariff, or one farthing. In silver we have :-1. The Riyal, or dollar, value 20 piastres, or 200
millims, or 45. Ind. 2. The Half-dollar, value 1o piastres, or 100 millîms,
or 2s. Od..
millims, or Is.
5. The One-piastre-piece, value 21d. In nickel we have :
1. One-piastre, value 2d.
4. One millim, value one farthing. In copper we have :The Para, value a quarter of a farthing ; 40 paras =
one piastre, or 2žd. The English Pound = 973 piastres = 2562 25 francs. The English Shilling = 4:88 piastres = 1'26 francs. The Napoleon = 77'15 piastres = 16 shillings. The Turkish Pound = 87.8 Egyptian piastres (P.T.)
= 18 shillings,
BRITISH FINANCIAL POLICY IN
EGYPT. The progress made in Egypt since the country passed under the rule of the British is astonishing, even to those who know its wonderful powers of recuperation. Its material prosperity is so great, and it still advances with such rapid strides, that it is difficult to understand its miserable and bankrupt condition at the time of Arabi Pâsha's rebellion. Everywhere improvement is seen, and those who visit the country year after year see that the improvement is continuous, and that it extends in all directions. The lament is often heard that the country is being too much Europeanised, but those who make it should remember that dirt, squalor, disease, misery, poverty, ignorance, oppression, injustice, and official corruption of every kind may appear to be exceedingly picturesque when seen by the foreigner for the first time, but that such things make neither for material prosperity noi progress. Cairo was occupied by the British on September 15th, 1882, and it will be instructive to note the principal changes which have been effected in Egypt since that time by Lord Cromer and by ihe extremely able body of men who have carried out his plans. In the first place the Sûdân has been conquered, and the Egyptian flag flies side by side with that of Great Britain at Kbarțâm ; the condition of the army has been improved, and the soldiers are well fed, properly clothed, and have their salary paid to them regularly, without deductions or drawbacks, or the payment of bakshish. Very large sums of money have been spent on irrigation works, and now, thanks to the repair of Mougel's Barrage, near Cairo, and the Asyûț Barrage, and Aswân Dam, the value of the crops has been more than doubled,
the value of much land has been doubled, and even trebled, and when the projects now under discussion have been carried out, Egypt will be, from a material point of view, one of the most prosperous countries of the world. The water supply is regulated with justice, and the peasant obtains his share as surely and as regularly as the Pâsha, and it is now practically impossible for any large landowner to irrigate his garden at the expense of the parched plots of his poor neighbours. A re-assessment of taxation is now going on and, wonderful to relate, but few complaints are heard among the landed proprietors.
The upper classes have been deprived of the benefits to which they were not entitled by the abolition of the Corvée as it existed in 1883. Under the old system the entire estates of many wealthy men were tilled, sown, reaped, and worked wholly by the corvée, the wretched gangs of men from which were compelled to dig and clean the canals, without receiving thanks, or payment, or food. Under the skilful manipulation of the ruling classes, who usually obtained exemption for their own servants and those of their friends, the whole burden of the system was thrown upon the poorest inhabitants, who were in every way the least able to bear it. The abolition of forced labour costs the Government at least £420,000 a year, but it is one of the greatest of all the boons which has been conferred upon the Egyptian peasant. At the present time out of a population of over 10,000,0co only about 12,000 men are called out to protect the banks of the river for 100 days during the Inundation. In 1892 the number was 84,391, and in 1901, 8,763. Tho taxation, moreover, has been considerably reduced. Thus in 1881 the taxation per head of the population was £1 25. 2d., and in 1897 it was only 175. 9d. ; and the debt per head of the population which amounted to £14 8s. 9d. in 1881 was reduced to £10 os. 2d. in 1897. In January, 1882, “Egyptian Unifieds” were quoted at 615, and in January, 1901, at 106. In Cairo and Alexandria and other large cities money has been freely spent by the Government in making new roads and streets, in lighting and repairs, in creating a pure water supply, and careful attention has been, and still is, given to hospitals, prisons, a lunatic asylum, etc. Great reforms have been brought about in administration of justice, and each year sees some new attempt to bring Egypt more and more into line with the civilization of Western nations. Changes of this kind have been brought about only by steady and persistent work, keen judgment, strong determination, and an honest administration of the finances of the country, notwithstanding the opposition which was offered from many quarters, both native and foreign.
In one of his recent reports (Egypt, No. 1, 1903) Lord Cromer makes a statement as to the financial policy which he has followed for the last 20 years ; he makes no mystery of the process by which he has so successfully won Egypt's “race against bankruptcy,” and as the main facts cannot be too well or too widely known they are summarised here. The Report of the Commission of Enquiry which sat in 1878 declared that “what had to be done was to create an entirely new fiscal system, and that with a very limited staff, for hardly anything of that which ought to exist is in existence at the present time.” In other words, the abuses which had grown up in every branch of the Egyptian body politic were so general and so deep rooted as to defy the application of any remedy which would be effectual and, at the same time, speedy. Finance, instead of being used as the most powerful of all engines for the social and material improvement of the people, had degenerated into a series of clumsy and often cruel devices, conceived with the object of first extracting the maximum amount of revenue from unwilling contribuíors and then