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We may, as al dissentierce king, i
in number, at the period of the Arabian conquest. They are now only twelve, and most of these settled in upper Egypt, to which the ancient inhabitants seem to have retired from the centre of the conquest *.”
The prophet declares in a most pointed manner, that, previous to the conquest of Egypt by the fierce king, it should be torn to pieces by internal dissention and civil discord. Here again we may, as it were with our own eyes, begin to see this prediction receive its accomplishment. . The Turks,” says Mr. Niebuhr, “as is generally known, conquered Egypt, in the beginning of the sixteenth century, from the Mamelukes; a mercenary militia, who had, for some centuries, usurped the government of this province, which they administered by an elective chief, with the title of Sultan. This species of government seems still to subsist, just as much as before the Turkish conquest; and, with all their despotic pride, they have never attempted to change it. A form of government, that has prevailed so long, and which a haughty and powerful conqueror durst not abolish, must have within itself some principle of stability to maintain it against revolution. It might deserve to be better known and explained by some intelligent person, who should study it in a long residence in the country. A traveller like me, who has had only a transient view of these objects, can neither discern nor describe all the parts of so complete a machine. I have learned enough however to enable me to distinguish, that this government is at present an aristocracy, partly civil, partly military, but chiefly military. Under the protection, rather than under the authority, of the Sultan of Constantinople, a divan, or sovereign council, exercises the supreme authority, both executive and legislative. Even the revenue of the Sultan is rather a tribute paid to a protector, than a tax levied by a sovereign-Such a government must be frequently disturbed by factious insurrections. Cairo is constantly convulsed by cruel dissention ; parties are continually jarring; and the great retain troops to decide their differences by force of arms. The mutual jealousies of the
* Travels, Vol. 1. P. 103, 104.
chiefs seem to be the only causes, which still preserve to the Porte the shadow of authority over this country. The members of the aristocracy are all afraid of losing their influence under a residing sovereign; and therefore agree in opposing the elvation of any of their own body to the supreme dignity. In our own days, Ali-Bey has found how difficult it is to ascend the throne of Egypt, or to maintan one's self upon it. The grand signior sends al. ways a pacha of three tails to exercise his precarious authority in Egypt, in the character of governor. But the pacha of Cairo, far from enjoying the same authority as the other pachas of the Turkish empirè, is entirely dependent on the Egyptian divan. That aristocratical body, regarding the pacha as their tyrant, frequently depose him, unless he have the address to support himself by provoking and fomenting the contentions of the different parties, favouring each by turns. During my stay at Alexandria, the inhabitants of Cairo expelled their pacha. Mustapha pacha was at the same time in Egypt, who had been already twice grand vizir, and rose afterwards a third time to that dignity. Having been sent by the Sultan to Djidda, he had remained in Egypt, on pretence of illness. The inhabitants chose Mustapha their pacha, and found means to oblige the Sultan, however dissatisfied with the electors and the person whom they had elected, to confirm their choice. But the new pacha kept his place only seven months, and was then obliged to yield it to another from Constantinople. The latter died suddenly, upon the arrival of a Kapigi-Bachi, who was sent after him by the Sultan. Thus, in the short time while I was in Egypt, three governors succeeded each other rapidly in the government of that province* In a city, like Cairo, inhabited by a number of petty tyrants, who are ever at variance among themselves, and seeking each other's ruin, and who often proceed to open violence in determining their quarrels, private persons can never consider themselves as in absolute security. The narrowness of the streets, and the crowds which are constantly pressing through them, are favourable to
* Travels, Vol. 1. P. 73-76
disorder. Yet fewer instances of robbery, theft, and murder, are heard of here than in the great cities of Eu. rope—The magistrates contribute to the public security by very prompt administration of justice- All the streets of Cairo have gates, which are shut at night; but a porter waits to open to those, who can allege satisfactory reason for passing from one street to another, and approach with a light in their hands. The man, for a small acknowledgment, opens the gate, but stops every suspected person. This regulation prevents nocturnal assemblies and tumults among the people. It at the same time so entirely separates the several quarters of the city, that the Beys often contend with open violence, while the other inhabitants know nothing of the matter* --The Bedouins, or wandering Arabs, being free, almost independent, and rather tributary allies than subjects of the Egyptian government, are the most remarkable branch of the nation. They are divided into tribes, governed by hereditary chiefs called Schiechs, and these subordinate to a great Schiech, who has authority over several tribes. Upon paying a certain tribute to government, the Bedouins are permitted to feed their flocks through the rich pasturage grounds of Egypt. But they frequently abuse this permission, and pillage without distinction as well the husbandmen in the districts in which they encamp, as those travellers who have the misfortune to fall into their
hands. They are ready too to take part in the dissen'. tions, which frequently arise in this military republic.
When government attempts to punish them or to constrain them to their duty, they either defend themselves by force, or retire into the deserts till their misdemea. nours be forgotten f.”
Such is the government of Egypt; a government, which evidently is impregnated, by the very nature of its constitution, with the seeds of eternal discord. Such were the effects, which naturally resulted from it in the year 1761, when Mr. Niebuhr had an opportunity of observing them. Such likewise were its effects at a yet later period, as manifested since the year 1798 in similar
* Travels, Vol. 1. p. 83-86,
† lbid. p. 108.
date to the restorld has begypt. establish
violent contentions among the rival Beys. And such, though in a much more violent degree, will, I doubt not, be its effects immediately before the final conquest of Egypt by the fierce king of Isaiah, or the wilful king of Daniel.
It is highly worthy of notice, that, as we draw near to the time of the end and the accomplishment of those prophecies which relate to the restoration of the Jews, the attention of the great political world has been in a remakable manner turned towards Palestine and Egypt. An attempt has been already made by Antichrist to establish himself in those regions : and it failed of success only, I believe, because it was prematurely undertaken. The following extract from an intercepted letter, written by an Etat Major in Buonaparte's army, and dated Grand Cairo, July 28, 1798, sufficiently proves, that an establishment in Egypt and Syria was the object of this marauding expedition, with an ultimate view to the English settlements in India. .“ The government have turned their eyes towards Egypt and Syria ; countries, which, by their climate, goodness, and fertility of soil, may become the granaries of the French commerce, her magazine of abundance, and in course of time the depository of the riches of India. It is most indubitable, that, when possessed of, and regularly organized in, these countries, we may throw our views still farther; and, in the end, destroy the English commerce in the Indies, turn it to our own profit, and render ourselves the sovereigns also of that of Africa and Asia. All these considerations united have induced our government to attempt the expedition to Egypt. That part of the Roman power has been governed, for many ages, by a species of men called Mamalucs, who have Beys at the head of each district. These deny the authority of the Grand Signior, governing themselves tyrannically and despotically a people and a country, which, in the hands of a polished nation, would become a source of wealth and profit*.” The manner, in which this scheme was conducted, was by an attempt to sow discord between the Beys and the Egyptians; the very
* Cited by Kett, Hist. the Interp. Vol. 11. p. 268:
manner, in short, in which, we have reason to believe from prophecy, the yet future project of Antichrist will be conducted. The apostate miscreant, who then commanded the French army, and who now disgraces the imperial title, thus addressed by proclamation the natives of Egypt. “ In the name of God, gracious and merciful. There is no God, but God; he has no Son or associate in his kingdom. The present moment, which is destined for the punishment of the Beys, has been long anxiously expected. The Beys, coming from the mountains of Georgia and Bajars, have desolated this beautiful country. Buonaparte, the general of the French republic, according to the principles of liberty, is now arrived; and the Almighty, the Lord of both worlds, has sealed the destruction of the Beys. Inhabitants of Egypt! when the Beys tell you the French are come to destroy your religion, believe them not : it is an absolute falshood. Answer those deceivers, that they are only come to rescue the rights of the poor from the hands of their tyrants, and that the French adore the Supreme Being, and honour the Prophet and his holy Koran. All men are equal in the eyes of God: understanding, ingenuity, and science, alone make a difference between them: as the Beys therefore do not possess any of these qualities, they cannot be worthy to govern the country- The Supreme Being, who is just and merciful towards all mankind, wills, that in future none of the inhabitants of Egypt shall be prevented from attaining to the first employments and the highest honours. The administration, which shall be conducted by persons of intelligence, talents, and foresight, will be productive of happiness and security. The tyranny and avarice of the Beys have laid waste Egypt, which was formerly so populous and well cultivated. The French are true MussulmansThey have at all times been the true and sincere friends of the Ottoman Emperors, and the enemies of their enemies. May the empire of the Sultan therefore be eternal; but may the Beys of Egypt, our opposers, whose insatiable avarice has continually excited disobedience and insubordination, be trodden in the dust and annihilated! Our friendship shall be extended to those of the inhabitants of Egypt who shall join us, as