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Art. III. Egypt and Mohammed Ali. Illustrative of the Condition of his Slaves
and Subjects, fc., 8c. By R. R. MADDEN, M.D., Author of “Twelve Months' Residence in the West Indies,' • Travels in the East,' Slavery in Cuba,' &c. London: Hamilton and Co. 1841.
to enter on a discussion of the general questions which are opened up by this volume. The prominence recently given to Egyptian affairs attaches considerable interest to Dr. Madden's statements, and may dispose us on some future occasion to recur to them for the elucidation of some political points of more than ordinary importance. Our present object is more specific and limited, and however alluring the temptations held out, we shall endeavor strictly to confine ourselves to it. A considerable part of the volume relates to the character and extent of Egyptian and Turkish slavery, and to this we design to call the attention of our readers. We have rarely closed a work with deeper feelings of interest or with a more earnest solicitude to induce others immediately to peruse it. It abounds in valuable information; puts the reader into a position which enables him accurately to judge of the character and condition of the people described, and opens up scenes of human iniquity and sorrow which may well stimulate the labors of Christian philanthropists.
The present ruler of Egypt was born in 1769, at Cavallo in Roumelia. He was left an orphan at an early age, and soon relinquished the pursuits of commerce, in which he had successfully engaged, for the more alluring occupations of the camp. On Buonaparte's invasion of Egypt, he placed himself at the head of a military force; was present at the Battle of Aboukir, and was subsequently promoted to the rank of Sarechesmi, or commander of a thousand men. By a rare union of policy and courage he gradually forced his way to his present elevation, and has succeeded in effecting a revolution in the condition of Egypt which, whether permanent or not, is among the most remarkable phenomena of the day. His character is a singular compound of eastern and western qualities, and his government is the exact counterpart of himself. The following is our author's description of his personal appearance and manners.
· Mohammed Ali is now in his 72nd year. He is hale and strong in his appearance, somewhat bent by age; but the energy of his mind, the vivacity of his features, and the piercing lightning of his glance, have undergone no change since I first saw him in the year 1825, nearly fifteen years ago. He is about five feet six inches in height, of a ruddy fair complexion, with light hazel eyes, deeply set in their sockets, and overshadowed by prominent eyebrows. His lips are thin, his features regular, extremely changeful, yet altogether agreeable in their expression when he is in good humor. At such times, his countenance is that of a frank, amiable, and highly intelligent person. The motion of his hands and his gestures in conversation are those of a well-bred person, and his manners are easy and even dignified. He perambulates his rooms a great deal when he is at all disturbed, with his hands behind his back, and thinks aloud on these occasions. He sleeps but little, and seldom soundly; he is said by his physicians to be subject to a determination of blood to the head, attended with epileptic symptoms, which recur with violence when he is under any unusual excitement. Iu the late difficulties, previous to his answering the proposal of the Four Powers, these symptoms made it necessary for his physicians to bleed him in the arm, and take away a pound of blood. One of these physicians had to sit up with him for some nights, and, as it is customary for the Pacha to do with his attendants, he called up the doctor several times in the night, to tell him something, and the poor drowsy physician was frequently woke up with the habitual query, 'Well, doctor, have you nothing to tell me?"
His palace at Alexandria is elegantly furnished in the European style, with chairs and tables, looking glasses, several pictures, and a large bust of the Viceroy himself. I noticed a magnificent fourpost bed in his sleeping chamber ; both the attendants who conducted me over the palace informed me it never had been used; he continues the old Turkish habit of sleeping on a mattress on the floor. He rises early-generally between four and five-receives every one who comes to him, dictates to his secretaries, and has the English and French newspapers translated and read to him, one of the latter of which is known to be the paid organ of his political views.
• His only language is the Turkish, and he speaks it with the greatest fluency, and in the most impressive manner. In his conversation he is sprightly, courteous, and intelligent. On every subject he gives those about him the impression of a shrewd, penetrating, right-thinking man. He speaks very distinctly (thanks to the effects of English dentistry) and with remarkable precision. He is simple in his mode of living, eats after the European manner at table, and takes his bottle of claret almost daily. His manners are extremely pleasing, and bis general appearance prepossessing ; his expression, as I have before said, is that of a good-humored, amiable man; but when he is disturbed in his mind, he seems not to have the slightest control over his feelings or over his features ; and when he is displeased, his scowl is what no man would willingly encounter twice. A medical friend of mine, who had the entrée of the palace, and had occasion to visit him at a very early hour the morning after the arrival of the Turkish feet, which had just fallen into his power, found him at the dawn, alone, in his apartment, stationed at the window, gazing on those vessels which were destined for the destruction of his Syrian fleet, and which were now quietly · reposing on their shadows ’ in his own harbor at Alexan
dria; and, as he gazed on them, very earnestly talking to himself, as if deeply engaged in conversation...
• The palaces of the Pacha, both at Alexandria and Cairo, are elegantly, though not magnificently furnished. In the latter, I observed an excellent portrait of his son, Seid Bey ; and several other pictures, which showed pretty clearly how the injunctions of the Koran are regarded by Mohammed Ali'—pp. 11-15.
It is probably known to most of our readers that at the Anti slavery Convention held in London last year, a memorial on the slave trade and slavery of Egypt was adopted, which Dr. Madden undertook to present to Mohammed Ali. Of the Memorial itself we need only remark, that it was couched in a calm and dignified style, and breathes a spirit of respectful yet highminded remonstrance every way worthy of the body from which it emanated, and of the patriarchal philanthropist whose signature it bore. This interesting document was presented to the Egyptian ruler at his palace in Alexandria in the autumn of last year, and was received with obvious satisfaction. Dr. Madden gives the following account of the interview.
His Highness received the address with apparent feelings of the greatest satisfaction, and the deepest interest in the object of its prayer. He entered into an animated conversation with Colonel Hodges, Her Britannic Majesty's Consul-General and myself, on the subject of slavery in general. And I have seldom seen him apparently so pleased with any communication made to him, and to all appearances, so well disposed towards the subjects on which he was addressed, as on the present occasion. In fact, nothing could be more gracious than his reception of the address.
* In the course of the long conversation that took place, I was greatly struck with the shrewdness of his observations. He spoke a good deal, and not one word that was not pertinent to the subject, or calcu. lated to make the impression he desired. In the course of this conversation, he said, 'I have thought a great deal on the subject of slavery for months together ; I have thought on this subject. It is a difficult question to settle here.' It is a question of law, and as such it must be decided on in Constantinople, and with a very significant smile, if you would succeed in putting down slavery, you must go to Constantinople.'
• I replied, “ It is because we are very desirous of success, we look to your Highness for putting an end to the abominable traffic in Egypt. It is in the power of your Highness to prevent it on the part of your own subjects.' He smiled and said, " In shallah,' I would be very glad to abolish it altogether ; but we must give the people education first ; slavery here is a very different thing to what it is in your countries.' I said it was a bad thing everywhere, however the slaves were treated; the men were stolen and their country was ravaged.' “You found it a difficult thing to abolish slavery in your colonies,' said Mohammed Ali, and here the difficulty would be much greater, for the people are accustomed to the services of the slaves, and if there were no more to be found in the market, they would complain as they did before, when I prevented my troops making the slave hunts in Senaar.'
• The consul observed, that the existence of the slave market in Alexandria was a scandal to the place. The Pacha replied, 'What can be done ? slavery exists by law, and it is only at Constantinople it can be changed. I told his Highness that the subject we had been speaking about was the trade in slaves, and that it depended on him to put a total stop to the engagement of his people in it.
• The Pacha then said, “I have read lately, that a European vessel had been seized with slaves carrying them to the West Indies, so that you have not yet been able to put down the trade yourselves.'
"I said it was very true, that two European countries, Spain and Portugal, disgraced themselves by suffering their subjects to carry on this trade, and that the trade, so far from being put down, was greater than it had ever been, for that the ravages of this trade annually cost to Africa little short of 300,000 human beings, about one-third of which survived the hardships they encountered, and lived to be sold into slavery in Cuba and the Brazils.'
* The Pacha replied, “The difficulty is to civilize them in their own country, and accustom them to modes of life like ours. I tried to make soldiers of them some years ago, but they died here, and wherever they were sent ; on one occasion, about 7000 of them died in a short time. It was the difference of living and the change from the bare necessaries of life to a sudden abundance of food, which affected their health, and caused them to perish ; now I have only three or four hundred of them, and I do not allow my people to make slave-hunts to procure them any more. In their own country they live on almost nothing. There is no peace amongst them—here is one tribe living on this mountain-here's a second marauding on another-here's a third at war with both, all at war, hunting one another, and making slaves.'
* To this I replied, • In order to sell them, they did so, and the prayer of the memorial I had the honor to present to his Highness was, that he would prevent his people from taking any part in this trade, and give all his assistance to suppress it. He seemed extremely pleased, and concluded the conversation by saying, “May it please God to enable me to do so.' But I have so little faith in Turkish · In shallahs,' that I was a little suspicious of the human assistance intended to be given to our cause by his Highness. The fact is, nothing has been yet done in Egypt to give any effectual check to the slave-trade.'
-pp. 111-114. We regret to find that the expectations entertained by the framers of this memorial have not as yet been realized. These expectations were not unreasonable, as it had come to the knowledge of the Convention that Mohammed Ali had on one occasion expressed his strong dissatisfaction at the employment of his troops in slave-hunts, and his wish to abolish so dishonorable a traffic, even though its abolition should be attended
with some sacrifices. The truth of the matter, however, would seem to be that the promptings of a narrow-minded and selfish policy have countervailed for the present the larger views and nobler purposes of the Egyptian ruler. The exhausted state of his exchequer leaves his troops perpetually in arrears for pay, and these murderous slave-hunts are resorted to as a means of allaying their clamor, and of contributing somewhat to replenish his impoverished finances. Dr. Madden called the attention of his Highness to the continuance of these marauding expeditions, in a memorial replete with the noblest sentiments which an enlightened Englishman could address to the despotic ruler of an eastern country. The following extracts from this memorial evince the wisdom of the choice which the Convention made of their delegate on this occasion.
• Deputed by that body to communicate these sentiments to your Highness, the best token I can give of being in some slight degree deserving of their confidence is, by addressing your Highness plainly and unreservedly, without fear or forgetfulness of your authority, or any feeling of distrust in the disposition of your Highness to hear the truth ; and, likewise by distinctly pointing out the glaring evils of this nefarious traffic in human beings, so extensively carried on by your people, and by respectfully but frankly stating to your Highness that the single measure taken at Fezaglou for the repression of this crime on the part of your authorities is utterly insufficient to meet an evil of such magnitude as this......
* But I grieve to say, that on inquiring into the nature and extent of the measures which your Highness is desirous should be taken to stop this traffic on the part of your officers, nothing whatever has been yet done to give effect to the orders issued for its prevention.....
• And with no less wonder have I learned that within the last twelve months two slave-hunts have been conducted with all the regularity and parade of a large military movement, and not only were connived at, but were actually aided and abetted by the authorities of your Highness at Sennaar and its neighboring districts.
'An opinion, notwithstanding, had of late become prevalent in England, that you had taken such measures for the ultimate abolition of the slave trade, as had already sensibly affected slavery itself, or at least diminished the supply on which that system mainly depended for its continuance. It can hardly be imagined how much error has been disseminated on this subject amongst a class of persons not much accustomed to be deceived by the apologists of those who sanction slavery, or give to its terrors the blandishments of an under-stated account of its enormities, and a very exaggerated one of the steps that have been taken for their prevention. Nor will your Highness be able very readily to comprehend the extent of our credulity, when you consider, only for a moment, the crowded state of the slave-markets of Alexandria and Cairo. At the present time, there are nearly 200 women and children exposed for sale in the slave-market of Cairo,