Tewfik Pasha - Reign

Reign

The new khedive was so displeased by the news of his accession that he soundly boxed the ears of the servant who first brought the tidings to him. Egypt and Sudan at that time was involved in financial and political troubles brought about by the policy of Ismail, and the situation was made worse by the inaction of Britain and France for some months following Tewfik's accession.

Tewfik's people were dissatisfied, his army disaffected; his advisers were nearly all of the adventurer class, with their own ends to gain; and he himself had neither the character of a strong ruler nor the experience that would have enabled him to secure an orderly administration of affairs.

Disorder prevailed until November 1879, when the dual control was reestablished by the governments of Britain and France. For over two years Major Evelyn Baring (afterwards Lord Cromer), Mr. (afterwards Sir) Auckland Colvin, and Monsieur de Blignieres practically governed the country, endeavouring to institute reforms while possessing no means of coercion.

During all this time the disaffection in the Egyptian army was increasing. Tewfik had been blamed for his failure to take a firm line with the rebels, but his attitude was governed by his relations with Britain and France, and he was unable to control events.

The dissatisfaction culminated in the anti-foreign movement headed by Urabi Pasha, who had gained complete command of the army. In July 1882 the attitude of Urabi, who was carrying out defensive works on a large scale, made the British admiral (Sir Beauchamp Seymour, afterwards Lord Alcester) to declare that he would bombard the forts of Alexandria unless they were handed over to him.

Before the bombardment began it was suggested to Tewfik that he should leave the city and embark either upon a man-of-war belonging to one of the neutral powers, or in his own yacht, or in a mail steamer which was then in the port. His answer was, "I am still Khedive, and I remain with my people in the hour of their danger." At his palace of Qasr el-Raml, three miles (five kilometers) from the town, he was beyond reach of the shells, but his life was nevertheless imperiled.

When the rebel soldiers attacked the palace he managed to make his escape and to reach another palace after passing through the burning streets of Alexandria. Here he was obliged to agree that a guard of British bluejackets should protect him from further risk. He showed his courage equally during the cholera epidemic at Alexandria in 1883.

He had gone back to Cairo after the Battle of Tel al-Kebir, had consented to the reforms insisted upon by Britain, and had assumed the position of a constitutional ruler under the guidance of Lord Dufferin, the British special commissioner.

When cholera broke out, he insisted upon going to Alexandria. His wife accompanied him, and he went round the hospitals, setting an excellent example to the authorities of the city, and encouraging the patients by kind and hopeful words.

In 1884, Sir Evelyn Baring (Lord Cromer) went back to Egypt as diplomatic agent and Consul-General of Britain. His first task was to demand that Tewfik should abandon the Sudan. Tewfik gave his consent with natural reluctance, but, having consented, he did everything he could to ensure the success of the policy which Baring had been sent to carry out.

He behaved with equal propriety during the negotiations between Sir H. Drummond Wolff and the Turkish envoy, Mukhtar Pasha, in 1886. His position was not a dignified one but that of a titular ruler compelled to stand by while others discussed and managed the affairs of his country.

The Sultan was his suzerain; in Britain he recognized his protector: to the representative of each he endeavoured to show friendliness and esteem. As time went on his confidence in Baring increased, until at last he deferred to the British agent in almost everything.

On occasion, however, he acted on his own initiative, as when in June 1888 he dismissed Nubar Pasha and summoned Riaz Pasha to form a ministry, an action influenced, nevertheless, by Tewfiks knowledge of the divergence of views between Nubar and the British agent.

Baring encouraged Tewfik to show his activity in matters of administration, and he took a great interest in all matters connected with irrigation, education and justice. He was not an imposing man, but he showed a genuine desire to govern his country for its own benefit. He understood the importance to Egypt of British assistance and support; his natural shrewdness made him accept the British conditions; his natural good feeling kept him from any inclination to intrigue.

In private life he was courteous and amiable. He had no desire to keep up the unapproachable state of an oriental ruler. Indeed, in many ways his manners and habits were less oriental than European. He married in 1873 his kinswoman, Amina Hanem, with whom he lived very happily. She was his only wife and Tewfik was a strong advocate of monogamy.

He died on 7 January 1892, at the Helwan Palace near Cairo, and was succeeded by his eldest son, Abbas II.

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