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146

CAUSES OF MONOPOLY.

the moment-in the improvements of the country and the condition of its inhabitants

-a class whose well being would be dependent upon that of his government, and which could be relied upon to rally round him in resisting any attempt of the Turks to resume their blighting supremacy. But where are the materials for forming this class to be found? He has commenced, as an experiment, by granting lands to several Europeans; but the Mohammedan law obliges them to hold their estates in the names of natives of the country, which, in a great degree, defeats his object. He has also bestowed lands on some few of his Moslim adherents, but they enjoy only a life interest in them; whereas it is a body of hereditary landed proprietors that is called for.

It is the want of this substantial class that in like manner has forced Mohammed Ali to burthen himself with the various monopolies for which he is so generally abused, and to become the sole merchant of the country; but where are the capitalists in Egypt that could embark in manufacturing or mercantile

EXPERIMENTS OF ADVENTURERS.

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speculations? The natives and Turkish inhabitants are out of the question. The Greeks, Copts, and Egyptian Jews, are too pettifogging in their dealings to engage in commercial transactions on a large scale, whilst the Franks resident in the country are not wealthy enough to do so, even if they were sufficiently trustworthy; respectable Euro pean merchants would hardly be found willing to hazard their capital in the enterprises of a government, which, whilst its independence remains unacknowledged, can offer no guarantee for the fulfilment of its engagements. The existence of Egypt as a nation depends entirely upon that of its present ruler. His death might either plunge the country into civil war, or engage it in a ruinous contest with Turkey and Russia.

The greatest fault with which the administration of Mohammed Ali can be charged is the outlay of large sums of money (obtained by an onerous taxation) upon the wild experiments of the Viceroy's Frank advisers. These needy adventurers mostly refugees from

148

WORKS INJUDICIOUSLY PERFORMED.

France, Spain, Piedmont, and Naples - with the word honour on their lips, and a bit of ribbon at their button-holes, have no other object in view than to cut out work that will put them in a way of making fortunes at his expense, in as short a time as possible.

It is thus, that even the useful public works, the execution of which has been entrusted to their direction, have all been hurried on, for the sake of being done quickly rather than with a view to their being done well. The canals, bridges, factories, forts, &c., all partake of this radical defect. The Egyptian ships of war are said to be falling to pieces from the same cause. Much as this system of roguery is to be regretted, the wasteful expenditure of money on wild speculations, that can in the present state of Egypt-tend to no possible good, is yet more seriously to be deplored. That steam-power, railroads, &c., are of infinite service in a country that is already in an advanced state of civilization, and in which they can be used cheaply, will not admit of dispute; and it is to

PROJECT TO DAM THE NILE.

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be hoped that the day is not far distant when Egypt will be in a fit state to receive benefit from their introduction; but at present, the cheap rate at which human labour is obtained there -the facility of water carriage in that level and intersected country the bulky nature of the commodities it produces the expense attendant on the purchase of foreign machinery, and on its repairs the want of fuel, and want of science, cause them to be applied to the purposes of commerce and manufactures at a dead loss.

All Mohammed Ali's bubbles sink, however, into insignificance, when compared to his project to dam the Nile. This notable enterprise has been undertaken at the suggestion of the sect of St. Simonians resident at Cairo, and the " Père enfantin" has been pleased to extend his fatherly care towards it, as chief engineer and treasurer, assisted in his labours by a Monsieur Lelan—an élève of the Polytechnic School at Paris. The spot selected for the stupendous work is a few miles below the bifurcation of the Rosetta and Damietta

150

DAM TO BE FORMED OF STONES.

branches of the river, and its object is to raise the water to the beight of ten feet above its usual level at low Nile, so as to form a head of water, from which every part of the Delta can be irrigated at all seasons of the year.

The work, as originally projected, was feasible, though sufficiently daring to have made even a Brunel pause before undertaking it: but the enormous expense that would have been occasioned for timber fit for piles to make a foundation has caused that part of the plan to be abandoned, and the dam is to be formed altogether of stones, and to rest on the sandy substratum of the Delta! None of the stones which I saw collected for the work exceeded four feet in length, and the whole business looks so like a job, as almost to make one doubt the sincerity of the cosmopolitan father's profession, that he acts solely "pour l'amour de la famille universelle des hommes."

It is proposed to have bridges across the two branches of the river, and an intermediate one over the canal, which must necessarily be

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