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vested in an enterprise in a distant quarter of the 10,000,000 francs. The rest of his subscription globe, was found to be an impossibility. And in was to be paid at other intervals. 1860 they were at the end of their resources. The success of this negotiation gave to the But the project was not to be abandoned. The company a new life, and they pressed forward company had already borrowed from the Khe- the work, not only on the main canal, but also dive 2,394,914 francs. This money was all gone. on the sweet-water canal, which was to start Then they set to work upon him in earnest, and from the Nile. they persuaded him to subscribe for 177,662 Said Pasha died in January, 1863; Ismail Pasha shares of stock of the company. Now, the en- succeeded him. The company now needed more tire number of shares was only 400,000, so that, money, and they pounced upon him at once. one may say, the canal which was to have been They represented to him that the supply of wadug through Egyptian territory, not only at no ter in the canal from Cairo to Zagazig (on the cost to Egypt, but from which she was to receive way to the marine canal) would not be sufficient fifteen per cent. of the profits derived therefrom, to supply the canal which was to be dug from and four fifths of the cost of which were to be the point where that canal was to touch the maripaid out to Egyptians, was now to be largely time canal to Suez with water. They persuaded built with Egypt's money.
him that the construction of this canal, particuThe Pasha did not have the money in hand larly in respect of the appropriation of lands bewith which to pay up his subscription. But this longing to individuals, would give rise to quesdid not matter : the affair could easily be ar- tions of interior administration which might prove ranged, for at that time Egypt had no debt to difficult and serious, and which it was important speak of, and her credit was good. So it was to the Government to have under its exclusive agreed that he was to be charged on the com- control. To prevent such an unhappy possibility, pany's books, to date from January 1, 1859, with the company agreed to renounce the right to the proportionate amount due on his stock-viz., construct their canal from the Nile to the mari17,764,200 francs, from which was to be deducted time canal; to make the canal from the point the amount already advanced by him, 2,394,914 where it touched the maritime canal to Suez of francs, with interest thereon (1,211,242 francs), sufficient dimensions not only to serve the purso that his actual indebtedness on his called-in poses of irrigation, but also to answer the pursubscription was 15,248,042.88 francs; and, as poses of navigation. At the same time they rehe had no money, he was to, and did, give Treas- troceded to the Government the lands which had ury obligations, payable—2,305,175 francs on De- been given them. The plain English of which cember 8, 1863, and the balance in three equal was, that they could not comply with their enannual installments of 4,314,305.96 francs, all gagements, and that, notwithstanding all the asbearing interest at the rate of ten per cent. persistance which they had received, they were unable annum from January 1, 1860.
to complete the work which they had agreed and Therefore on the first amount he paid : had commenced to do. The ground upon which
they placed their request to be freed from that part
of their contract which is now under consideration
2,305,125 In interest...
691,557.50 was a mere pretext. It was simply ridiculous in
them to say that they could not complete the On the second :
sweet-water canal; and the idea that questions In principal...
4,314,305.96 of “interior public policy" would have been seIn interest..
2,157,152.98 riously considered by the managers of the enterOn the third :
prise, if their private interests had not made it
convenient for them to do so, will not certainly In principal...
be entertained for a moment by those who have In interest..
any knowledge of Egyptian affairs or the methods On the fourth :
of Egyptian government. Still they were suffiIn principal..
ciently clever to obtain from the Khedive a reIn interest..
lease from this part of their contract. This done,
they commenced the attack upon him. In all....... 24,705,734.60
They had already excavated the sweet-water
canal from Ouady (the point where the canal for which he was to receive bonds amounting to from the Nile was to touch the maritime canal) 15,248,042 francs. In other words, he was to to Suez. In consideration of the retrocession pay 24,705,734.60, and was to receive, in bonds, above mentioned they compelled the Government 15,248,042 francs a difference between what he to agree to complete the canal from the Nile to paid and the sum he was to receive of nearly Ouady as it was to have been built by them, but
the work was to be done under the supervision was talked about the world over. The moral of their own engineers. The canal was to be sense of the British people took offense at the completed by the ist of March, 1864; when com- character of the labor which was employed upon pleted, it was to be kept in repair by the com- it, and the manner by which it was controlled. pany, but at the cost of the Government; it was Accounts, not exaggerated, reached them of the to be properly supplied with water at all seasons ; “corvées " which were driven to the banks of the was to be subject to all the services which had canal (for the Khedive, when he stipulated that been established upon it in their favor by the Egyptians should be employed, also agreed to see original contract, and its water was to belong to that they should be forthcoming). The work them !that is, the Government was to build the was distasteful to them, not remunerative, and canal, give it to the company, keep it in thor- unhealthy. They were driven to it by force ; ough repair, and always well supplied with wa- they were perishing by thousands. Does the ter!
reader know how their tasks were performed ? Let us consider for a moment what a grant Those who carried the earth away from where it this was.
The company embarked upon their was dug were not furnished anything in which enterprise under the express stipulation that all to carry it. They were required to stoop, to the work was to be done at their own expense, place their arms behind their backs, the left wrist with the further obligation to complete, also at clasped in the right hand, and then as much earth their own expense, important works connected was placed in the hod thus made as it would therewith. They were to allow the Egyptian hold. They were forced to walk away with it Government fifteen per cent of the profits which up a steep acclivity, and, when they reached the they might derive from the work, and four fifths dumping-spot, they let go their hold, straightened at least of the laborers who were to be employed up, and, shaking themselves like a spaniel who upon it were to have been Egyptians. See how has just come out of the water, relieved themcompletely, in a few years, the positions of the selves of their burden. A large proportion of parties were changed ! Instead of nothing, the them were under twelve years of age. EnglishGovernment had contributed £8,000,000 to the men almost fancied they could hear the thud of enterprise (exclusive of the interest heretofore al- the "courbash" as it fell upon the more than luded to); had agreed to construct important half-naked bodies of these wretched and defenseworks and to keep
them in repair, the company less people, as it forced them to and kept them to derive the sole benefit therefrom. From being at these dreary tasks. The Sultan was urged to the beneficiary, the Government became the bene- withhold his consent, and it was a long time befactor. It was to do the work; the work, when fore it was finally obtained. Backsheesh" at completed, was to belong to the company! length prevailed, and his consent was given, but
It would appear that the company had now it was coupled with the express proviso that the obtained everything they could possibly have work by the “corvées " should cease. It was wished for. The Khedive could reasonably have time; for, as has already been said, thousands of hoped that the war was over, and that he would these creatures had died miserably, and had been not be called upon for anything in addition to buried in the sand. what had already been wrested from him. He In the mean time, while diplomates were nedoes not appear to have known the extent to gotiating at Stamboul, excavating had been going which engineering skill can be carried. The war on at the Isthmus, the parties in interest never which he thought at an end had scarcely begun! seemingly having taken into consideration the
We must bear in mind always that the sine possibility of any interference on the part of the qua non to give to the different concessions from Sultan. No one entertains the smallest idea that the two Khedives to the company validity and the Sultan's course in this regard was dictated vitality was that they should be approved by the by any humane consideration ; whether twenty Sultan; that the Sultan withheld it; and that, or a hundred thousand Arabs died mattered little notwithstanding this, the work was commenced to him ; neither could he have supposed that and prosecuted as rapidly as the company's capa- suppressing the “corvées” would be anything but city for raising money would permit.
a benefit to the company, as it would enable them In the mean while England had seen with to use the machinery which they had already in great and natural concern that a short route was readiness and were then employing; it was nobeing opened to the Indies, over which she was thing more on his part than a concession to Engnot to have a controlling influence. She could not lish public sentiment. He felt obliged to grant but feel apprehensive lest large French posses- something to the British ambassador, and so he sions in Egypt, situate as were the lands which granted him this. had been ceded to the company, might result to But, unhappily for the Khedive, when the deher disadvantage. The work as it progressed cision of the Sultan was made known, the com
pany's chronic state of greed had increased, and other Haussmann; it was to be made to resemble out of this simple modification made in their Paris as much as possible. Life there was to be concession they invented a scheme which pro- of the same character, and was to be kept up duced marvelous results. They had suffered a with the same display. In short, one of his many grievance! The Khedive had agreed to see that ambitions seems to have been that he should they were furnished with laborers. As the Sul- make Cairo the most beautiful capital in the Oritan had prohibited him from carrying out his ent, as Louis Napoleon had made Paris the most agreement in this regard, when without his con- beautiful capital in Europe ; and that he, Ismail sent nothing was binding, the Khedive must pay! Pasha, should, in splendor and in power, be in And immediately they cried, “Havoc !" and let his country what Napoleon III. was in France. slip the dogs of war upon him.
Into the hands of such a model prince he could, For the suppression of the “corvées " they he thought, safely intrust his interests. Napodemanded heavy damages ; and, while they were leon's sense of justice would protect him from about it, they claimed the amount which they being despoiled; he was sufficiently powerful to had already expended on the canal which was do right without the fear of consequences; and, intended to connect the Nile with the maritime although the organizer of the raid upon him was canal, and which, as we have already seen, they a member of the Emperor's family, he consigned had abandoned to the Government. Then they his interests into the Emperor's keeping without claimed the amount which they estimated it fear. In quick time came the award. It must would cost to complete that canal; then the have taken his breath away. value which the canal would have been to them His Imperial Majesty decided that the stipuif it had been completed; then the value of the lation contained in the second concession, to the lands lying along the banks of the canal, and effect that four fifths, at least, of the labor upon which were to be irrigated from it, which had the canal were to be done by Egyptians, was a been given to them, and which they had retro- contract between the company and the Khedive, ceded to the Government when they declared by which the latter bound himself to furnish the their inability to complete it; then the value of labor; the violation of which on the part of the the water which the canal would have furnished Khedive made him liable in damages, notwiththem.
standing that everything relating to the concesThe Khedive protested against these demands. sion was subject to the approval of the Porte; His protests availed him nothing. The claims and notwithstanding that the form of labor had were there, and they had to be settled. The been changed by the Porte-all of which the Emmore he protested, the more they insisted. He peror admitted. was threatened ; he was not in a position to fight. Upon this item, however, he mulcted him in He was negotiating with Constantinople to have damages 33,000,000 francs for labor on the canal, the Mohammedan law of succession, by which and 5,000,000 francs for labor which should have the eldest of the family inherited, changed so been furnished for the completion of buildings that he might secure the viceregal throne to his which would be necessary to enable the company own children; but these demands upon him were to carry on their works. Suppose the Sultan had so unconscionable that he opposed them as far refused his assent to the entire scheme, and, at as he dared. Finally an arbitration was proposed, the time his refusal was made known, the comand to this proposition he, in an unlucky mo- pany had expended $50,000,000, or any other ment, consented.
sum thereon, would Egypt have been responThe arbitrator called upon was Louis Napo- sible for the sums which had been expended, leon. In his hands the Khedive considered him- in the face of the express stipulation that the self safe—from oppression at least. Louis Na- validity of the entire agreement depended upon poleon was his beau-idéal of a man; he was his the Sultan's consent thereto? If so, then Egypt exemplar as a sovereign; he imitated him, as far would have been responsible, not only for the as he could, in all things. His mode of life was amounts which had been already expended, but fashioned after the French Emperor's; his sol- also for the profits which the company might diers were uniformed after the French pattern, have hoped to make during the ninety-nine and were drilled on the French system; his pal- years of their charter! Apart from the absurdity aces were furnished with the product of French of the proposition, from a legal point of view, labor; his equipages were copied after those in what man, in his senses, could be made to beuse by the French Emperor; even the railings lieve that it is more economical to use hand-labor which inclosed his public buildings and the places than to use steam, upon such a work as the exof public resort were tipped with a golden tint in cavating a ship-canal large enough and deep imitation of the Tuileries and the Bois. His enough to float vessels of the greatest tonnage? capital was to be remodeled and rebuilt by an- But that was the conclusion, or rather the decis
ion, to which the Emperor came! He said: “The must have been considered by them as essential Khedive bound himself to furnish the hands; he to the success of their enterprise ; that these adhas not done so; the company are obliged to use vantages were threefold-it assured to them the machinery instead, and the cost of the work quantity of water which would be necessary to remaining to be done on the canal will be work the machines employed in dredging the 33,000,000 francs more if done by machinery maritime canal, and to furnish the laborers with than if it had been done by hand; and on the water; it would furnish water to irrigate the lands works which were to be erected 5,000,000 francs which had been ceded to them; they could have more”!
expected benefits resulting from the tolls which In point of fact, the dredging-machines had they would have been entitled to levy upon those already been constructed, and were at work, when who would have used it when completed. the decision was made known. The hand-labor Therefore, in consideration of the retrocession would necessarily have been abandoned. How of these supposititious benefits to the Government, could it have been otherwise? Egyptians are the Government was to reimburse the company not beavers ; they can't work with twenty-six feet the amounts which they had expended upon the of water over their heads. The water was pour- canal, represented to be 7,500,000 francs, with ing into the places from which the earth was be- 3,750,000 besides for interest and the amount it ing dug as fast as the earth was removed, and would have required to complete it, so as to make in such quantities that it was impossible to keep a round figure of 10,000,000 francs ! the places free. If the digging of the canal had He also found that the profits which the comdepended upon manual labor, it would never pany might have expected to make from those have been accomplished. The Egyptians em- who might have used the water of the canal ployed upon it would have been drowned again, for the purposes of irrigation should be estimatand in about the same spot that they were when ed at 6,000,000 francs! In other words, a piece they went in pursuit of Moses.
of land is given to me upon the condition that In diminution of any demand against him I shall erect a building thereon at my own cost. upon this point, the Khedive claimed 4,500,000 After the building is partly erected, I acknowlfrancs that had been curtailed, to use a mild edge my inability to complete it; I return the phrase, by the company from the laborers he had land, and must be reimbursed-1. The amount furnished. This, with great show of fairness, expended by me; 2. The interest thereon; 3. the arbitrator allowed. That is, he found that The amount which it would have cost me to from the already miserable pay which these complete it; 4. The profits which I might have wretched people were promised, a large propor- hoped to derive from it had I completed it! tion of whom were children under twelve years of The arbitrator also found that the retrocesage, 4,500,000 francs had been filched! Fancy, if sion of the lands could not have been intended one can, a great company, presided over by barons except with the reciprocal obligation of receiving and others wearing decorations on their breasts, and giving payment of their value; that the condeliberately setting themselves to work, and cent cession, although not expressing the number of by cent, to rob a lot of helpless men and children, acres, should be fixed at one hundred and twenwho were dying around them like flies ! But in- ty-six thousand acres, less six thousand acres neasmuch as the company claimed interest on the cessary to the company to erect their works upon sums which they had paid to laborers, up to the-a result obtained by surveys made in 1856 time when their further employment was prohibit- (which surveys had been, by mutual consent, set ed, amounting, as they stated the sum, to 9,000,000 aside in 1858); that this land was worth one thou'francs, and as the Emperor considered that the sand francs (1) per acre; and that, as the company change in the labor was not the result of the Vice- had given it back to the Khedive, he should pay roy's action, although the arbitrator considered them 30,000,000 francs! That is to say, the comthat the interest claimed was due, still he thought pany were to have these lands upon the conthat equity (!) required that this sum should be dition that they were to do a certain work upon divided equally between the parties, and so he them, without which work they were utterly compensated the interest by the filching, and al- worthless. They admitted their inability to comlowed the award to stand, on this point, at thirty- ply with their contract; they were only too glad eight million francs—that is, the company had to get rid of it; and, because the Khedive anagreed to pay for the labor, but the Khedive nulled the gift at their own request, he was made must pay the company an interest on the sums to pay them 30,000,000 francs! These several they had expended upon it.
sums aggregate 84,000,000 francs, which he was The arbitrator also found that the concession awarded to pay upon concessions which he had to the company of the right to excavate the sweet- partly inherited, and not one penny of which was water canal assured to them advantages which due !
Consider that, when these different changes in It is related that on one occasion Voltaire had the concessions and retrocessions were made, not invited a number of the celebrities of Paris to a word was said about compensation, and then dine with him. During the dinner a violent storm say what are we to think of judgment by arbi- arose, which continued beyond the time when tration.
his guests should have taken leave of him. Certainly the French Emperor was enlight- Drawn in a semicircle in front of the fireplace, ened upon the company's legal rights by very it was suggested that each person present should many French lawyers, who found no end of rea- recite some incident of a lugubrious character. sons to show that the company were entitled to a He who related the most doleful one was to be great deal more than they asked for. I have read awarded the palm. By chance Voltaire was the them all—a volume--but the most conclusive first upon whom the lot fell to speak. Rising, argument in the batch is contained in one of five he said, “Gentlemen, once upon a time there words : “ Contre avanie Turc, justice française,” was a tax-gatherer," and he resumed his seat.
The Turkish affront consisted in the Khedive During the remainder of the evening there was having given to a French company everything it kept a profound silence. There was not wit asked; the French justice consisted in making enough in that assembly of wits to banish the him pay 84,000,000 francs for having done so ! horror which the pronouncing of that one word
But this was not all the decree contained. “tax-gatherer” had conjured up. The 84,000,000 francs was cash, which was to So with the Khedive. The bare word “ be paid. In addition to the money, the exclu- bitration" was enough. Like Zaccheus of old, sive use of the Ouady Canal, from Timseh to he came down from his tree, and surrendered. Suez, was declared to be in the company; no In his turn he sued for peace, and begged for water was to be taken from it except with their mercy, and finally agreed to pay 30,000,000 francs consent (that is, Egypt was to furnish them with if the company would go away and never come the water, and they were to sell it). Government to him again for more. To this the company was to complete the Zagazig Canal, joining it to finally agreed, but they rounded him off by makthe Ouady Canal, so as to insure to the latter a con- ing him pay them 10,000,000 francs for a piece stant supply of water; Government was to com- of property which they had purchased not a very plete the canal from Ouady to Suez, according to great while before for 1,800,000 francs ! the original plan; the company were to keep this To pay this last amount, being without money, canal in perfect order, but Egypt was to pay the the Khedive gave the coupons which were atexpenses thereof, either by giving them 300,000 tached to his canal bonds, running down to the francs per annum, or by refunding the actual year 1895, the face value of which runs up to cost, according to the bills which might be fur- 125,000,000 francs! These bonds his necessinished by them, as Government might prefer, the ties compelled him subsequently to sell to Engindemnity for this work to be revised every tenland. He was obliged to assume the payment years.
of the coupons which he had taken from them, The height of the water in the canal was to which amounts to nearly £200,000 per annum! be, at high Nile, about seven feet; at mid Nile, Add these different sums together, and it will about six feet ; and at low Nile, three feet; the be seen that (inclusive of the subscription to company at all times to be furnished with three stock) the Suez Canal will have cost Egypt some hundred and twenty thousand cubic feet of wa- 500,000,000 francs, or largely over what it was ter per diem (a physical impossibility), thus open- estimated the entire work would cost, and which ing out to them another boundless field in which it did cost! Now, if you reflect that when the to sow the seed of future damages, which they Khedive, who first consented that the canal could cultivate and harvest at their leisure, and should be excavated, did so upon the express which they did not fail to set to work upon im- condition that the entire work was to be done at mediately.
the cost of the company; that four fifths of this For, as soon as the award was made known, cost were to be expended upon Egyptians; that, the company discovered that their just demands when completed, fifteen per cent. of the profits had not all been included in their original claim. which the work might produce was to go to the Several items had been omitted. It would be Egyptian Government, and that, instead of these tedious and unprofitable to enumerate them all. benefits the result was over-expenditure, made One was the value which the take of fish from and to be made, of upward of 500,000,000 francs, the sweet-water canal would have been to them. I think ample justification is to be found for And these new claims they pressed with the vigor the statement with which I started out, that the which springs from success. The Khedive re- Suez Canal is the greatest scheme of plunder sisted, protested, refused. Finally, the company that was ever conceived, or, if conceived, that suggested “arbitration."
was ever carried to such successful execution.