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ISMAIL (1830-1895)

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Originally appearing in Volume V14, Page 876 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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ISMAIL (1830-1895), khedive of Egypt, was born at Cairo sterling (as opposed to three millions when he became viceroy) on the 31st of December 1830, being the second of the three sons had been incurred by the khedive, whose fundamental idea of of Ibrahim and grandson of Mehemet Ali. After receiving a liquidating his borrowings was to borrow at increased interest. European education at Paris, where he attended the Ecole The bond-holders became restive. Judgments were given d'etat-Major, he returned home, and on the death of his elder against the khedive in the international tribunals. When he brother became heir to his uncle, Said Mohammed, the Vali of could raise no more loans he sold his Suez Canal shares (in 1875) Egypt. Said, who apparently conceived his own safety to lie in to Great Britain for £3,976,582; and this was immediately ridding himself as much as possible of the presence of his nephew, followed by the beginning of foreign intervention. In December employed him in the next few years on missions abroad, notably 1875 Mr Stephen Cave was sent out by the British government to the pope, the emperor Napoleon III. and the sultan of Turkey. to inquire into the finances of Egypt, and in April 1876 his report In 1861 he was despatched at the head of an army of 14,000 to was published, advising that in view of the waste and extravaquell an insurrection in the Sudan, and this he successfully gance it was necessary for foreign Powers to interfere in order to accomplished. On the death of Said, on 18th January 1863, restore credit. The result was the establishment of the Caisse Ismail was proclaimed viceroy without opposition. Being of an de la Dette. In October Mr (afterwards Lord) Goschen and M. Orientally extravagant disposition, he found with considerable Joubert made a further investigation, which resulted in the gratification that the Egyptian revenue was vastly increased by establishment of Anglo-French control. A further commission the rise in the value of cotton which resulted from the American of inquiry by Major Baring (afterwards Lord Cromer) and others Civil War, the Egyptian crop being worth about £25,000,000 in 1878 culminated in Ismail making over his estates to the instead of £5,000,000. Besides acquiring luxurious tastes in his nation and accepting the position of a constitutional sovereign, sojourns abroad, Ismail had discovered that the civilized nations with Nubar as premier, Mr (afterwards Sir Charles) Rivers of Europe made a free use of their credit for raising loans. He Wilson as finance minister, and M. de Blignieres as minister of proceeded at once to apply this idea to his own country by public works. Ismail professed to be quite pleased. " Egypt," transferring his private debts to the state and launching out on he said, " is no longer in Africa; it is part of Europe." The new a grand scale of expenditure. Egypt was in his eyes the ruler's regime, however, only lasted six months, and then Ismail disestate which was to be exploited for his benefit and his renown. missed his ministers, an occasion being deliberately prepared His own position had to be strengthened, and the country by his getting Arabi (q.v.) to foment a military pronunciamiento. provided with institutions after European models. To these England and France took the matter seriously, and insisted objects Ismail applied himself with energy and cleverness, but (May 1879) on the reinstatement of the British and French without any stint of expense. During the 'sixties and 'seventies ministers; but the situation was no longer a possible one; the Egypt became the happy hunting-ground of self-seeking financiers, tribunals were still giving judgments for debt against the govern-to whose schemes Ismail fell an easy and a willing prey. In ment, and when Germany and Austria showed signs of intending 1866-1867 he obtained from the sultan of Turkey, in exchange to enforce execution, the governments of Great Britain and for an increase in the tribute, firmans giving him the title of France perceived that the only chance of setting matters straight khedive, and changing the law of succession to direct descent was to get rid of Ismail altogether. He was first advised to from father to son; and in 1873 he obtained a new firman abdicate, and a few days afterwards (26th June); as he did not making him to a large extent independent. He projected vast take the hint, he received a telegram from the sultan (who had schemes of internal reform, remodelling the customs system not forgotten the earlier history of Mehemet Ali's dynasty), and the post office, stimulating commercial progress, creating addressed to him as ex-khedive, and informing him that his son a sugar industry, introducing European improvements into Tewfik was his successor. Ile at once left Egypt for Naples, but Cairo and Alexandria, building palaces, entertaining lavishly eventually was permitted by the sultan to retire to his palace and maintaining an opera and a theatre. It has been calculated of Emirghian on the Bosporus. There he remained, more or less that, of the total amount of debt incurred by Ismail for his a state prisoner, till his death on the 2nd of March 1895. Ismail projects, about 1o% may have been sunk in works of permanent was a man of undoubted ability and remarkable powers. But utility—always excluding the Suez Canal. Meanwhile the beneath a veneer of French manners and education he remained opening of the Canal had given him opportunities for asserting throughout a thorough Oriental, though without any of the himself in foreign courts. On his accession he refused to ratify moral earnestness which characterizes the better side of Mahomthe concessions to the Canal company made by Said, and the medanism. Some of his ambitions were not unworthy, and question was referred in 1864 to the arbitration of Napoleon III., though his attitude towards western civilization was essentially who awarded £3,800,000 to the company as compensation for cynical, he undoubtedly helped to make the Egyptian upper the losses they would incur by the changes which Ismail insisted classes realize the value of European education_ Moreover, upon in the original grant. Ismail then used every available spendthrift as he was, it needed—as is pointed out in Milner's means, by his own undoubted powers of fascination and by England in Egypt—a series of unfortunate conditions to render judicious expenditure, to bring his personality before the foreign his personality as pernicious to his country as it actually became. sovereigns and public, and he had no little success. He was made " It needed a nation of submissive slaves, not only bereft of any G.C.B. in 1867, and in the same year visited Paris and London, vestige of liberal institutions, but devoid of the slightest spark where he was received by Queen Victoria and welcomed by the of the spirit of liberty. It needed a bureaucracy which it would lord mayor; and in 1869 he again paid a visit to England. have been hard to equal for its combination of cowardice and The result was that the opening of the Canal in November 1869 corruption. It needed the whole gang of swindlers—mostly enabled him to claim to rank among European sovereigns, and European—by whom Ismail was surrounded. " It was his early to give and receive royal honours: this excited the jealousy of encouragement of Arabi, and his introduction of swarms of the sultan, but Ismail was clever enough to pacify his overlord. foreign concession-hunters, which precipitated the " national In 1876 the old system of consular jurisdiction for foreigners movement " that led to British occupation. His greatest title to was modified, and the system of mixed courts introduced, by remembrance in history must be that he made Eteropean interven- which European and native judges sat together to try all civil 1 tion in Egypt compulsory. - (H. Ca.) Ismail's book Tagoua7yat el Iman was published in Hindustani and translated in the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, xiii. 1852.
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